Effectively Wild Email Question Database
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EpisodeSubmitter & Question
74Dane: "I am a Royals fan who hopes some rotation help is coming soon. David Glass in some media outlet has stated that the club would be looking to bolster the rotation and Dayton Moore has discussed trying to do so via free agency or trade. Can you discuss the potential starting pitcher possibilities for the Royals including but not limited to the following names [Ben does not read the names]. What pitchers might make the most sense for the Royals? are there any DFA'd players... [Sam interjects]. Love the podcast; highlight of my day when I can shut my door and listen in."
77Mike: "Gentlemen your show has become my favorite baseball related podcast for its lack of fluff and smart insights. It takes balls/brains to mostly issue playoff predictions. You are a central part of my morning shower routine, so hearing that you will be keeping the daily schedule makes me very pleased. As for a topic I'd like to see something to the effect of tipping point teams for free agents. What I mean is teams who fall into that 85-90 win range due to a weakness or two that could be addressed via free agency or competitive teams that are aging and could fall out the 85-90 range if they don't do something this off-season. When all is said and done I guess I'm looking for a top 5 list of teams in need of free agents and your suggestion of how they could fill those voids considering salary and the degree of impact their signing would have to have?
78Kevin (Toronto): "Good evening or morning Ben & Sam, I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to your baseball discussions as I start my mornings whether they include crickets or not. My question has to deal with evaluating the performance of a baseball coaching staff in general. Its been generally accepted that a manager is responsible for maybe one or two wins over the course of a season, growing up in the mid 80s and early 90s I remember hearing many baseball people and broadcasters praising certain coaching staffs or coaches for their expertise. Specifically, I remember the Oakland A's staff of Dave Duncan, Dave McKay, and Rene Lachemann being heralded for their skill in dealing with the team. Given the advent of more advanced metrics do you think there might be a way to quantify one coaches skill over another given a time period? It cannot be as simple as looking at, say, one pitching staffs' ERA from one year to another and saying a coach was more effective. I realize that interpersonal skills and teaching methods cannot be easily measured for performance evaluation either. How well a staff performs given the general direction and responsibilities given by a manager and organization would also have to be factored in. I ask this question, for currently in Toronto there has been a coaching exodus which has confused many fans and media. John Farrell's exit has been something most have been resigned to accept. He was a rookie manager who did a decent job with the injuries to the team and the youth on the roster. His leaving, while unexpected, has been met with the attitude that a manager is just a manager. Brian Butterfield and Torey Lovullo's departure from the Blue Jays has been harder to pin down. They have a good reputation here and elsewhere for being quality coaches. I guess this is all a long winded way of saying is there any way for us to know how valuable a coach is to an organization? How good is good? Can we measure it? Is a good staff worth 1-2 wins over a season or less?
78Allen: "I always read and hear how Adam Jones and Curtis Granderson are considered great center fielders by the mass of casual fans, but sabermetrically they are below average. When I watch Jones, he glides through the outfield making every catch seem effortless. What do the sabermetrics say that we cannot see on a daily basis as I watch every game?"
78Matt: "Hey Ben & Sam, I know that there is a lot made of pitchers getting out of shape and not living up to what the ball club believes is their potential: John Lackey, Fernando Valenzuela. But last year Tim Lincecum came into Giants spring training 15 pounds lighter due to not eating In-N-Out Burger and Dave Righetti said he was too light. I was wondering if there were other pitchers that have lost their potential, according to the ball club, due to getting thinner and if a pitcher has an ideal BMI that would help his potential."
83James: "Hello, in the wake of the big trade there is an obvious question: who will win more games in 2013, the Marlins or the Astros? [Sam skims the email] The Marlins had a 14 game head start on the Astros but the Marlins have done a lot more work to get worse this offseason, and the Astros are also changing divisions in a most disadvantageous way."
83Saxon: "My question is in regards to Yasmani Grandal's 50 game suspension. I'm curious what you guys feel is the timeframe for his return after the 50 games. I ask because a similar issue came up during this season in regards to Melky Cabrera. The Giants had the option to bring back Cabrera but chose not to with Bochy saying something to the effect that Cabrera wouldn't be in form after a lengthy suspension."
83James: "I was thinking about Chipper Jones' farewell tour this season with all the gifts bestowed upon him. Who do you think will be the next player to experience this?"
83James (different listener): "The Angels have said their outfield will be Trumbo, Bourjos, and Trout next year. Given that they have two amazing ground covering outfielders, does it make any sense to play Trumbo in center, and have Trout and Bourjos play the corners with a huge shade towards center field?"
87Tim in Seattle: "The Giants likely wouldn't have played in the World Series if a combination of the media and computer rankings chose who played the World Series. I don't believe the Giants would have been in the discussion. I think the Giants earned their place in history by their epic comebacks against the Reds and Cardinals. Still, if there existed a BCS-type system in baseball, I think the Nationals and Yankees would have been the highest ranked. Should baseball adopt a system like the one college football is abandoning? Do people smarter than me think baseball should adopt such a system? Are people smarter than me satisfied with the way baseball chooses a champion? Does this discussion matter?"
87Jason Wojciechowski: "Would you prefer Roy Halladay plus creamy peanut butter or Cliff Lee plus chunky? Note: The peanut butter need not actually be put on the player or anything gross like that, you just get the pitcher plus a nice jar."
87Scott from Pelham, New York: "A Fangraphs piece posits we do not have the forecasting capabilities to look at a 75-win team and tell them that they can't be a 90-win team in the following year (He's talking about a Dave Cameron post from a couple days ago). So, do you believe that's true? If so, what are the implications for Jonah Keri's 2002 BP piece about the "Success Cycle"? At the extremes, the answer is that nobody expects the Astros (AL West) to contend in 2013, fewer still would expect next year's Yankees to win only 55 games. In other words, is it folly for a GM to identify a window for contention or should more teams be trying to win 85 games every year?
90Scott (Cincinnati, OH): "I was wondering if moving Chapman to the rotation is the best move for the Reds. Obviously there is no debate on starter innings versus reliever innings but I'm looking at this more from the financial standpoint and what is better for the Reds. Specifically, I believe Chapman has 3 years left on his deal. Being left handed I'm sure he would get a huge deal as a starter even if he wouldn't meet expectations. That probably puts the Reds out of the mix where they could pay him to be a top rate closer. So my question is, would it be better for the Reds to have three seasons of Chapman starting, or another 8 or so years of him closing?"
90Joel: "I've been thinking a lot about the Jose Molina discussion a few weeks back in relation to the Phillies, the team I most closely follow. Watching their starting staff, they are all so reliant on command and getting calls on the corners for success. Whether its Holliday, Hamels, or Lee, or even Kendrick or Worley, all five pitchers excel when they are getting calls. I'm sure this is true of most pitchers in baseball, no doubt about it, but it does feel particularly unique to this staff or maybe it's my own view as I watch the Phillies more than any other team. Anyways my question is this: how much better could a great framing catcher add to a staff like this? Carlos Ruiz has a great reputation in the Phillies clubhouse for game calling and handling of the staff but what if you added Molina-like framing to his arsenal? Is he saving 50 runs as a catcher with any staff or is it possible that number goes up when he is catching pitchers more reliant on this skill set?"
90Chris (Durham, NC): "Rank in order of importance to the history of baseball: Marvin Miller, Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Bud Selig, Rob Deer."
95Mike: "At what point should a switch hitter stop being a switch hitter? When there's a large discrepancy between their performance, at what point is it better to scrap the platoon advantage and hit from the favorable side?"
95Joel: "What does the gap in OPS or OPS+ need to be between their (unintelligible) AB LH and RH hitter and for how long etc.?"
95Scott: "What are some key takeaways that you and other Prospectus writers have learned from (The Book) and why do so many..."(rest of the question blocked on Sam's screen).
95Corey: "As a Phillie fan I've been paying close attention to what other teams in the division are doing. This morning Dan Haren signed with the Nationals and many of my Phillie faithful friends have been complaining that Amaro hasn't made any moves yet, while division rivals have added some big names. This got me thinking. Dan Haren is basically replacing Edwin Jackson in their rotation. Years ago this would be a pretty substantial upgrade, but at this point, is it a lateral move? Haren has injury problems and hasn't been the same pitcher lately. I'm no Edwin Jackson fan, but I think he would be cheaper and probably more reliable than Haren next year. Am I wrong in that thinking?"
95Aaron: "Should the Yankees pursue Yunel Escobar with A-Rod expected to miss many games? Any other realistic trades (or) free agents?"
101Matt Trueblood: "Hey gust, first of all love the show. Brief though it is, the lack of distraction through which to wade is terrific. Easy baseball listening. What is the virtue of a left-handed starting pitcher? Invariably, when discussing options a given team might have reporters bring up their desire to add a lefty to the rotation. When discussing a specific starter handedness always comes up and being a lefty is treated as a virtue. Ben did it in passing with Brett Anderson during Tuesday's episode. I don't get it. Southpaw starters usually have the platoon advantage in 18-23% of all plate appearances; righty starters enjoy the advantage twice as often, even a bit more. More importantly, starters are usually selected in part for small platoon splits because any starter is naturally vulnerable to the opposing manager's lineup manipulation. I know no one is saying that handedness is a primary concern in evaluating a starter but why is this mentioned so often? Is there some tangible but real advantage to mixing lefties into the rotation so opponents have to carry more right-handed guys and can't line up average lefty swingers to kill your righties, or so as to be ready for a lefty heavy lineups like the recent Braves and Phillies. It seems backwards is all, that left handedness is seen as an asset for a starting pitcher."
101Brian: "Hey guys, this longtime Yankees fan is struggling with the signing of Kevin Youkilis. I realize the Yankees have a need at third base (a fact I don't think changes when A-Rod returns, by the way), but I've spent so much time and energy disliking Youkilis that I can't imagine rooting for him, let alone keeping a meal down while watching his horrific batting stance. On top of that, I see a guy who can only put up decent offensive numbers and play a below average third base. Was this a case of slim pickings or am I missing something here?"
101Steve: "How do contract status and salary impact player performance? Is there research on that? Do you have any hunches? Do higher/longer contracts reduce performance? How about performance over the length of the contract? Controlling for the aging curve, do players play better in their walk year? Do they play better or worse than you would otherwise expect in their first year? Does it depend on whether or not the contract is with a new team?"
101Britney: "Hi Ben & Sam, I find it quite interesting that the trade value for one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball (third overall pick in 2011) is a defense only shortstop. This seems quite bizarre. What is the overall gameplay for Arizona? Why give up so soon on Bauer?"
101Tom: "I have a question that, while you guys can probably not answer, may know people that can. I saw that the Greinke deal had a $12 million signing bonus, this made me curious: are teams this year using signing bonuses as incentives for players to sign quickly in the 2012 year as a way of giving players a larger portion of their salary before the tax rates go up in 2013?"
105James: "In August, when the Red Sox seemed to sacrifice Adrian Gonzalez to rid themselves of Beckett and Crawford's contract, it appeared the Red Sox were making a conscious decision to either spend money wiser or pursue a new core group of players in the upcoming offseason. However, neither of these things have happened. Instead they overpaid for good supporting players Napoli, Victorino, and Dempster and signed them to two or three-year deals that suggest these guys aren't just placeholders. Do you think there's a consistent front-office philosophy on how to retool this team to make them a contender again?"
105Allan: "Jason Parks stated Alex Anthopoulos was bullish on R.A. Dickey in the dome. Do we know the reason?"
106Robert: "After the Hamilton signing the Angels' lineup seems pretty much set, except possibly for the departure of one or two of the outfielders. That said, is it particularly likely to be a better offense than it was last year? [Sam skims the email]...The Angels have a decent chance of getting more help from Ianetta and another step forward from Trumbo, but it sounds to me as if it adds up to a better than even chance of fewer runs scored."
106Allen: "I heard on a pod last year that one scout said Bauer had the yips. What's your thought on the yips?"
106Donald: "Is there any comparative data on starting pitchers who are fast workers versus slow workers? Commentators will compliment both styles, for example "he works so quickly, he keeps the hitters off balance", or "he works so slowly, he ruins the hitters' timing and interrupts their routines". I also wonder if there is data on batters stepping out and asking for time and whether or not that really does negatively impact pitcher results."
108Matt (Brooklyn, NY): "Hi guys in podcast 105 you discussed the impact of wind on knuckleballers. It's a convoluted answer but a steady wind directed towards the pitch is preferable, the lack of psin exhibited by a knuckleball is what causes it to move inconsistently, which causes it to be difficult to hit. Wind directed toward the pitcher increases the friction and the amount of movement that can be imparted on the ball. It's the same basic concept of throwing a ball with spin into the wind or a plane taking off; the effect is an increase in drag. As for the effect of pitching in a dome, I would imagine having a consistent temperature and humidity would be helpful for Dickey's controlling of the knuckleball."
108Ryan: "Hope you guys are having a happy holiday. I have a question regarding Ian Kinsler and his possible position change. While Kinsler may have potential at first base in terms of power, having similar numbers to Adam LaRoche among others, wouldn't it behoove the Rangers to fit him into an outfield spot? I suppose having Mike Olt play first would hurt his value but I still think finding an average first baseman would be easier than filling in a corner outfield spot."
108James (Sarasota, FL): "This one is a trivia question, it will be easy to research the answer, but I want you to respond instinctively, within five seconds. Of the 30 ballparks currently in use in Major League Baseball, how many have never hosted a World Series game?"
108James (Sarasota, FL): "When is the right time to fire the GM? Sometimes it's obvious. The GM has and executes a plan and the plan doesn't work and the team becomes/remains terrible. But sometimes a move is obviously awful, not because of the short term on field impact but because of the long term financial impact. Hypothetical example, what if the Orioles and their hypothetical GM, Duke Dinette, signed Josh Hamilton to a 10 year $220 million contract this offseason. On the one hand there is arguably no other single move that could make it more likely that the 2013 Orioles would make the playoffs than signing Hamilton would. On the other hand, guaranteeing that much money for that much time to Josh Hamilton at this stage of his career is a fireable offense in my book. So you've got the solid evidence staring you in the face that this Dinette person has no business running the baseball operations of any team, and you've also got the solid evidence that the team will be better next season. Waiting for the inevitable consequences of such a signing to play themselves out would not make things any easier for the successor GM, and would give Dinette that much more time to make terrible moves. On the other hand, firing a GM when the team appears to be getting better...would be rather odd. What are your thoughts on the binds that GMs put their teams in by these kinds of moves?"
108Bill (Silver Spring, MD): "If a) you draft in position 20-30, say, or have a protected pick and b) you made a qualifying offer to a player who turned it down then c) if you in turn sign a player who got a qualifying offer d) you're trading a low first round or high second round pick for a compensatory sandwich pick. It's pretty close to a wash, so teams in that position shouldn't be inhibited by the new rules, or did I miss something?"
110Mark: "I wanted to ask about your comments about not hiring people with criminal pasts. I wondered about other jobs; would you think that, say, a plumber should be stopped making a living because of a criminal record? I get worried about stuff like this, often when people in the public eye have made a mistake and come back from it they can be a force for good."
110Shawn (NJ): "Was wondering about pitcher valuation. In the recent AL MVP debate, defense and baserunning were big factors for many voters. Does anyone ever consider a pitcher's hitting, baserunning, and defense in factoring their WAR or other stats? I would think that each NL team is probably giving about 400 at-bats to their pitchers and this is a full time player who is sort of ignored. Thanks for your time."
115Matt (Chestnut Hill, MA): "When we look back at player statistics for Hall of Fame posterity purposes, we account for things like disadvantageous ballparks, extenuating non-baseball factors (military, racism, etc). Should we also credit players for poor management due to what was not known at the time? For example, Orel Hershiser was crazy overworked in the 80s because that's what you did back then. As a result his numbers aren't what they could have been. But really, he was just playing by the rules of the time, which didn't include things like pitcher abuse points, etc. Within that realm he was extremely successful. What he was being asked to do was only going to last for so long without blowing a rotator cuff. Should we add to his legacy for this in the same way we would a pitcher who put up good not great numbers in a good hitters park, or something like that?"
115James (Sarasota, FL): If we blow up the Hall of Fame (not literally) and start over how would we define the criteria for membership and who would be our first ten inductees?"
115Michael: "In reading and listening to the various offseason podcasts, articles, etc. quite a bit is being made out of teams such as Cincinnati and Arizona having too many outfielders. I am wondering if the media is not properly factoring in the effect of the new schedule. With the Astros moving to the AL interleague play will go on every day. As a result, NL teams in AL parks such as the Reds and the DBacks will be able to play their fourth outfielders (Ludwick, Kubel, Ross) at DH. Given that everyday DHs seem to be becoming a thing of the past, is this not just NL teams taking advantage of the schedule change to get competitive advantage and quality at bats in that spot?"
115John (Detroit, MI): "The dearth of baseball news which characterizes this part of the offseason got me thinking about the MLB schedule. I love how long the season is but why 162 games? Needless to say no other major sport plays nearly as many and sometimes I wonder if baseball would be better off with fewer games spread out over the same six month period. I know this is tantamount to heresy and there is 0 chance of it ever happening, but what do you guys think? What ramifications might there be to, say, halving the number of games? Would the quality of play improve? The average attendance go up? The amount of money in the sport drop dramatically?"
115Nick (Canberra, AUS): "As a Giants fan I look with wonderment and horror and the Dodgers' spending since the new ownership took over. Does this mean the mechanisms for promoting parity in baseball's collective bargaining agreement are now obsolete? It seems MLB has achieve parity in spite of, rather than because of, the incentives in the current agreement. No other sport outside of European soccer has the same disparities in salary, and yet the playoffs are far from predictable. If the Dodgers become a dynasty spending $300 million in annual salary, will this lead to more harsh penalties to promote parity?"
120Aaron: "I'd like Ben to play GM of the Diamondbacks and Sam to play GM of the White Sox. I'd like you to act as the GM, not try to emulate the actual GM. Now, negotiate and finalize a trade centered around Justin Upton for Chris Sale."
120Sean: "Piggy backing off of your 'who has the farm system to get Justin Upton' segment yesterday, who do you feel have the top 3-5 farm systems in baseball?"
120Doug: "Could we quantify the effect of PEDs? I am initially inclined to think any player testing positive should be ineligible for the hall, but I do think we can start to have an intelligent debate about the effect. The whole 'PEDs didn't teach Bonds to hit a baseball' argument seems to be rather banal to me, and if they didn't help him significantly why would he risk his own personal health, etc. And yes while MLB did not have an effective testing program PEDs were always against league rules, they were just not effectively policed. So, could we quantify the effect of PEDs? It appears from the investigations that he likely began using in 1998. If you take his PECOTA projections based on aging and historical performance level and use that as a baseline, compare what his actual performance was to this projections."
124Matt: " Does the notion of TINSTAAPP (there is no such thing as a pitching prospect) have anything to do with pitching prospects or does it simply point to the unpredictability of pitchers? In other words, are pitching prospects more unreliable relative to big league pitchers than hitting prospects are to big league hitters? Sounds convoluted, but I think this is a coherent question, maybe."
124Eric: "How would personnel evaluations be different if pitchers' injury risk was equal to that of hitters? Would Zack Greinke have gotten more than six years? Would TINSTAAPP ever have been popularized? Would I even know who Dr. James Andrews is?"
124Paul: "Sam & Ben, I find BABIP to be a grossly overused statistical tool in comparing players to each other. My logic comes from the obvious fact that typically the players with the highest BABIP are the best hitters. That's obviously the case because the best hitters hit the ball harder and would therefore be more likely to get hits when they hit the ball, and anybody who played baseball at almost any level would readily acknowledge that. Therefore, BABIP should be exclusively used to compare players to themselves from year to year. I am just so tired of hearing that Mike Trout was lucky this year (BABIP of .383), based on that stat when anyone who watched him play would know he hits lasers all over the field and can also fly. Am I off base here with my logic? Looking forward to hearing your response."
124James (Fayetteville, AR): "Now that you are both members of the BBWAA, you are no doubt immune to the knee-jerk reaction that causes an average fan to boo a player. I too, a BP subscriber and self-titled enlightened fan thought I was above doing it. As a Rangers fan, when Josh Hamilton signed with the rival Angels I was able to temper my friends with talk of 'these are professionals who should seek out the most money for their services just like anyone else' and other arguments of listening to the rational baseball talk of you and Sam. However after hearing that Hamilton didn't give John Daniels a chance to match the offers they discussed, my ill will for Hamilton peaked. Of course Hamilton didn't have to wait to see if Daniels would match the offer (which he almost certainly wouldn't have) and of course I should relish the home runs instead of the two-strike whiffs he had as a Ranger, and of course he can sign with whatever team he likes, even if it was his previous team's rival. None of these are appropriate reasons to boo a player, and yet when Hamilton comes to Arlington I might do just that. Which brings me to my point, what do you think about fans booing players? Considering that rivalries are vital to the sports' prosperity, is booing a necessary side effect of a popular sport, or can a more tolerant sport be equally as prosperous. And the final, perhaps most interesting question, when was the last time you booed a player? Reach back to childhood if you must, and why?"
158Eric (Brooklyn, NY): "How many wins would you predict for an all-star team of the three worst teams in the majors?"
158Logan: "Are the rules prohibiting another player from helping the catcher block the plate? For example, say there is one out in the bottom of the 9th and a man is on 3rd, pop up to left, potential collision at the plate to decide the game. What prevents Prince Fielder from running over from 1st to help the catcher block the plate like an offensive lineman? I'd say the pitcher could help as well, but they usually back up the catcher. The ideal of physically impeding the path of the running being illegal seems not to apply at home plate, so why not help out when the situation dictates it?"
158Matt: "I found myself wondering why we don't just expand big league rosters to 26 men. Obviously, a great challenge to the liver shot model [reference to Episode 157] is that you have to carry 13 pitchers to do it, maybe 14. Roster flexibility doesn't exist anymore it seems and it shouldn't really surprise us that strikeouts are sky high and run scoring is low at a time when teams have ceded the platoon advantage. Yet, it's clear that what teams are doing in terms of pitcher handling is working. Pitchers are staying healthier and pitching as well as ever, the natural solution to me would be to expand rosters to that teams can keep pursuing this sound pitching strategy without feeling so hamstrung. The 26th guy would be a minimum wage player so it's not like owners should get up in arms over it. It's been 25 forever, seems like a change is past due."
165Michael: "If the phone rang and it was the Marlins, do you take the job?"
165Sam paraphrases a question from Steve: "...to retain a live ball and get rid of outfield fences...This would enhance the value of speed and devalue fly balls...might be a more athletic game...you could still have stands in the outfield but they would have to be high enough to not interfere with most batted balls."
165DP: "Yesterday the Royals' Ned Yost announced that Luke Hochevar was out of the running for the fifth starter spot and would be moving to the bullpen. It was an unpopular move by the Royals to offer him a contract, most fans would have chosen to part ways. Now the Royals seem to be stuck. How effective do you think Hochevar could be out of the pen? More importantly, when is the right time to give up on the first pick? Dayton Moore seems to be paralyzed by fear of releasing him and him going to have success with another franchise.
165David: "I can't get my arms around the idea that 60 or so starting pitchers in the history of baseball are greater than Mariano Rivera (as career WARP stats would say). So maybe the real answer to my question is how many relievers, relative to starters, ought to be included in any all time team of 25 or 30 players? Is that a question for analysis or only for opinion?"
168James: [Sam paraphrases the beginning of this question. It is about how PECOTA has the Yankees finishing 7 games ahead of the Blue Jays.]..."There are a few counter intuitive statements PECOTA seems to be making to reach this overall conclusion. Which of these seem most/least plausible? 1) The yankees catchers taken as a whole are not below replacement level 2) Melky Cabrera is not for real 3) For 2013 Kevin Youkilis is almost as good as Brett Lawrie 4) Colby Rasmus is not about to break out 5) Reduced playing time Mark Texiera is almost as valuable as Edwin Encarnacion 6) C.C. Sabathia is the best pitcher in the division and about 3 WARP better than R.A. Dickey. 7) More than half of the Yankees perceived advantage comes from the bullpen."
168Xander (Brooklyn, NY): "Auction drafts made me wonder what the impact would be if MLB were to adopt this type of format for the rule 4 draft? How would you feel about such a change? I think this would be the fairest possible manner in which to portion out talent among teams. A team scouts a player, they put a dollar value on him, and then they have an opportunity to bid on his services regardless of where they placed in the standings the previous year. If MLB wanted to continue to advantage inferior teams they could allocate each team's money on a sliding scale inversely to their record but no team would be prevented from going out and taking any individual talent if they think he's worth the investment."
168Eric: "Let's pretend the draft bonus restrictions don't exist. Should generational talents (except like Harper or Strasburg) accept a lifetime contract offer of $100 million as their draft bonus? Would it have been wise for Washington to have offered it at the time? It seems that right now both contracts would have been big wins for the team but of course it was no guarantee. Does your answer depend on if it is a pitcher or a hitter?"
173Eric: "Following J.A. Happ's extension...I don't think it's a bad deal by any means but Happ is nobody's savior or sexy extension candidate. On the other hand, I find Alex Anthopoulos and his front office to be very smart. Would it be reasonable to assume he may be better than a fifth starter or swing-man based solely on the fact that the Blue Jays are willing to give him such an extension. Financial situations aside, would you ever change your view on a player based on how they are valued by a front office? Did people try and find reasons to think James Loney may be better then we all think because he signed with the Rays than if he had signed with the Royals or with the Marlins?
173Spencer (Ontario, Canada): "On the October 30th episode you guys predicted the first and last place teams of 2013. In that episode you committed to revisiting the predictions when the season starts. Sam said it would happen 'on the eve of the 2013 season'. That didn't happen yesterday so I wanted to make sure it still happens since I think comparing pre and post offseason predictions would be a lot of fun."
173Mike: "What event marks the 'beginning' of the sabermetric revolution? The advent of the internet? The publishing of Moneyball? The increasingly popularity of fantasy baseball? I know it's a confluence of these things, but what do you think had the most impact?"
178Luke: "Currently, teams take turns hitting and pitching and alternate offense and defense after three outs are recorded. Instead of alternating at the end of each inning and half inning, what if teams only alternated offense and defense once? Teams in the field would be required to record 27 outs before they are able to go into the dugout and get their turn at the plate. Then the home team would come to bat and record 27 outs at the plate. What do you think the implications of this rule change would be?"
178Colby: "Small sample sizes are the talk of the early season but we continue to use them all season in matchup vs. pitcher stats. How many ABs against a single pitcher would it take before that stat is meaningful, especially how many ABs is ideal to start making conclusions?"
178Zachary: "Imagine that you are the manager of a NL team that possesses a player with Bonds-ian or Ruth-ian ability at the plate. Every time this player comes up to bat you are virtually assured that this player will cause damage, but there is a catch. The player is completely incapable of playing defense. He cannot catch, throw, or do anything that remotely resembles that of a baseball defender. My question is where would you play this player on the field?"
178Nate: "I have a question regarding outfield defensive alignments that's been bugging me. Sometimes you'll see managers feature an outfield lineup one day and they'll later switch that lineup despite featuring the same personnel. For instance on opening day at home, Joe Maddon had Matt Joyce in left field and Sam Fuld in right. On Monday in Texas he put Fuld in left and Joyce in right. I know something like ballpark configuration may influence a manager to leverage his better defender in one corner, depending on the park. Maybe this was what Maddon was up to?"
183Allen: "Pertaining to the Rangers and Nationals, opening day was on the road versus the two worst teams in baseball. Considering the huge series following, why didn't each respective team start their rotations out with their number three? Today we would have had Darvish vs. the Angels and Strasburg vs. Cincinnati."
183Timothy: "I went to a Mariners game and saw Elvis Andrus playing DH. I asked myself a question, 'Are the days of David Ortiz and Jim Thome over? Are the days of the later stages of Carl Everett's career over? Are there no more professional DHs? Is the DH slot now just a chance to sneak an extra position player on the roster and delegate the odd rest day from one player to the next by relieving them of their responsibility of playing the field one day ever two weeks?"
183Ken: "I listened to your Stanton podcast today and it made me wonder: would there be any benefit to batting Stanton in the leadoff position? There seems to be a particular emphasis on throwing strikes to a leadoff hitter, and this might be the spot get the most out of Stanton the hitter given the strength of the current lineup. It might mean more strikes to swing at it and might force him to be a bit more selective."
183Chris: "I was watching the Tigers/Blue Jays game and it was 35 degrees in Detroit. Both Josh Johnson and Doug Fister fought the cold early on, barely warming their hands between pitches and in the dugout. It got me thinking, quarterbacks everywhere wear hand warmers around their waist to fight the cold when not in action. Why isn't there a secure light weight equivalent for pitchers? I can imagine it could hypothetically get in the way of your mechanics but I have to think that a loose, warm pitching hand outweighs the cost."
183Dayne: "I am a big Royals fan and I am frustrated by the number of AAAA players that Kansas City seems to "develop". Most recently Johnny Giavotella. Are there any statistical ways to identify AAAA players? Are there any organizations that are particularly good at identifying AAAA players before they arrive to the bigs?"
188Steve: "I am a Red Sox fan (ex-pat living in Brooklyn). Right now the Yankees seem to be holding their own (and then some) despite an array of injuries that one would expect to be crippling. I can't remember a season when the New York Yankees did not outperform their PECOTA expected win total. Where do the Yankees rank in terms of realized versus expected PECOTA wins since the inception of PECOTA? If they have been a consistent outperformer, do you think it is luck or something else? If you conclude that PECOTA does have an anti-Yankee bias, would it be appropriate to build some kind of aura and mystique factor into the projection system or is that idea fundamentally un-PECOTA?"
188Brad: "My question is, what if Coco Crisp just won the MVP award this season? I mean, what if he just kept playing well, hitting for power, helping his team win, and then he ended the season with great stats for a great team and won the MVP. How crazy would that be? How odd would that be to watch Coco Crisp accept an MVP award? Is Coco Crisp the most unlikely of all MVP candidates? I know that in reality a guy like Drew Butera is the most unlikely of all MVP candidates, I get that. However if I had you list your choices for AL MVP at the beginning of the season, basically until you run out of players you would actually consider, Coco Crisp would eventually be on the list but he would be one of the last guys before you give up and stop making the list. He might even be the last guy. He is probably a better candidate than other guys on his team, but still he's Coco Crisp."
188Stephen: "Considering pitchers do not average 9 innings per start, I've been thinking it would make more sense to use an earned run ratio rather than ERA. If we use a ratio of average innings per start:average earned runs, looking at one ratio would provide a frame of reference for what the pitcher usually does in one game. For example, in 2012 Cliff Lee had an ERA of 3.16, which we intuitively know is good. But his earned run ratio was 7.03:2.85, which means he went an average of 7.03 innings per game and allowed an average of 2.85 runs per game which gives us a clear indication of his average performance on a game by game basis."
188Daryl: "I am playing Scoresheet for the first time and part of the fun is weekly determining batting for my team. I initially used Baseball Prospectus' projections and the rule of thumb from the book to determine my lineup, which led to my batting Nolan Reimold first against left handed pitchers even though the Orioles had him ninth. But now that I have some 2013 data, I am tempted to base it on that even though it certainly is a small sample. Do you recommend I continue to use the projected stats and risk putting slumping players at the top of the order and not riding streaks? Or should I use what little 2013 data I have and risk missing out on slumping players regressing positively to the mean?"
193Mike (Fairfax, VA): "To what extent should pickoff throws be accounted for when thinking about pitch counts? Granted, it's less stressful than a maximum effort pitch, but it seems like it should play into the calculus. Should it count as a half pitch? Three-fifths?"
193Matt (San Francisco, CA): "Doug Thorburn wrote in his article yesterday about how John Farrell has had a tremendous impact on the resurgence of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. If this is true, then why did the Blue Jays let him go to their interdivision rival for Mike Aviles? It seems as though the effect Farrell would have on the Red Sox may have been overlooked by the Jays management. If the Red Sox win the division and the Jays miss the playoffs, or if the Red Sox cause the Jays to miss the playoffs, could this be a fireable offense? Maybe that's a bit extreme, but it seems as though this is a big oversight."
193Dustin: "In light of Anibal Sanchez's 8-inning 17-strikeout domination of the Braves on Friday, I made the offhand comment to some friends that I didn't believe this would be the last time this season that my favorite team would fan at least 17 times. I was met with some ridicule and I fully realize this number of Ks is far from a common occurrence but I don't think it is an outlandish prediction consider the Brave's roster and its collective proclivity for going down on strikes."
193Mark (Tacoma, WA): This weekend the Cubs have a four game series against the Marlins, which is about as bad as MLB gets since the Marlins don't play the Astros this year. As a Cubs fan, I'm happy about this series because they finally have competition that's at their level. That got me wondering, is there a AAA team that is actually better than an MLB team? I'm not thinking of a team whose AAA affiliate is better than they are (I think we can assume that's not the case anywhere, though I'm not totally convinced that the starting lineup but not the pitching Tacoma Rainiers isn't better than the Mariners). I'm thinking of a AAA team that has a good record and is part of a good organization (like the Durham Bulls with the Rays). Could they be better than the Marlins or Astros? Probably not, but would a AAA All-Star team be better than the Marlins or Astros? Or, thinking about it another way, how would the Astros or Marlins do in the International League or the PCL? First place I assume, but by how much?"
193Bobby: [On the idea from Episode 188 to improve ERA with a ratio]..."I like the idea but it feels like a part measure. If we're gonna improve let's dream bigger, replace ERA with something that makes more sense. If you're gonna look at innings per start, look at durability, I'd rather take someone who goes 6.1 on average but takes every turn on the hill over someone who can go 7 but misses starts. I guess really what I'm getting at, maybe it's better to have a counting stat than a rate stat, something like pitching runs prevented, but isn't that what WAR is?"
193Juan (Panama City): "We've all heard of superstar players, we've also all heard of hall of fame players. At what point is a superstar player implicitly a hall of fame player? Phrased differently, can you reasonably be a hall of fame player without being a superstar player? I realize that length of career has some bearing on the issue. You can be a superstar for five years, say, and then have your career derailed due to injuries, but I've been wondering about the relationship between superstar status and hall of fame status and would like to hear your thoughts on the matter."
198Joe (Rancho Cucamonga, CA): "Do you think a grade 60 hitter with grade 40 power will hit more homers in the big leagues than a grade 40 hitter with grade 60 power? Some may think the grade 60 hitter will hit more bombs based solely on their ability allowing them to run into more balls, is this trackable?"
198Chris: "The DFAing of Rick Ankiel led me to remember how he completely forgot how to pitch while with the Cardinals in the early 2000s. This caused me to consider how a team would react if one of their established hitting stars were to have a similar drop off. Josh Hamilton has been pretty terrible this year, but I'm thinking of something more extreme, like what if Miguel Cabrera suddenly lost the ability to make contact and went 0 for his next 60 or 80? What would the Tigers do, how long would something like this have to go on before the Tigers benched him or just released him?"
198Matt: "I'm wondering what you each make of Starlin Castro. Tuesday marks the three year anniversary of his major league debut which was a resounding success and of course he has flashed star potential in each of his three (more or less) big league seasons. The only thing is is it's three years later and he hasn't become a star. He is useful, don't get me wrong. Average to average-plus defense at shortstop, average to average-plus bat, but the MVP candidate people occasionally mention hasn't show up yet. His intentional walk rate has been static, his contact rate has degraded, his power has ticked up but not exploded. He's a hacker who can absolutely bash breaking balls but doesn't catch up to really good fastballs. He's 23. This is technically the first age appropriate season of his life. We know historically even guys who are average regulars at 20 as he was end up being stars more than half the time. Does it worry you that he's stalled out this way? Do you think batters who fundamentally lack the ability to do more than programmed pitch taking face certain obstacles in reaching that top echelon that other's don't? He's had just over 2,000 MLB plate appearances and owns a career .263 TAv. What do you think his true average will be for his next 2,000 plate appearances?"
198Ryan (Tampa, FL): "I don't know if you've been following the media coverage of the Reinhart/Rogoff study, how do you think the mainstream media would react if a few sabermetric publications suffered similar credibility issues? Would casual baseball fans revert to adopting a Mitch Albom-like outlook on the game, putting more emphasis on heart and grit?"
203Timothy: "A lot has been made of the high strikeout rates over the last few seasons. Does a high strikeout rate negatively impact the value of defense, positively impact, or have none at all? How large will strikeout rates have to be to impact defensive stats?"
203Nicholas: "Has any pitcher made his major league debut and only recorded one out or no outs? I remember Steve Garrison in 2011 for the Yankees recorded two outs and I doubt he will come back to the majors. I assume somebody has gotten fewer, but who?"
203Daniel (Pittsburgh, PA): "Having just listened to you wonder about what would make for an interesting all-star game and what would have happened if baseball went the novelty route, I found myself wishing the all-star game consisted of pitchers hitting and playing the field and position players [pitching]. I feel like Chris Davis and Wilson Valdez would be the starting pitchers, Yovani Gallardo would bat cleanup, etc."
203Daniel (Pittsburgh, PA): "Am I the only one who feels strange when I hear sports new people hyping David Ortiz's late game double on Monday night to extend his hitting streak to 26 games. Do you think there's a point where baseball people would say, 'No, that's too many missed games between at-bats for us to call this consecutive...[Ben trails off]"
203Brian: "What do you think of a rule change where the worst team in each league would have to play a three game series at the end of the season on World Series travel days? The day before the world series started they would play the first game and then play on subsequent travel days. Just as the second wild creates incentive for more marginal teams to compete, so this rule would create a more interesting race to the bottom."
203Kerry: "At what point do we start to root against perfect games and no hitters? This season I have already reached that point. What made them fun was the rarity, but after last year that seems to have gone away. I'm sure that after a couple years without these accomplishments I will return to rooting for them again."
205Andy: "Ben, I recently read your piece for Grantland about pitch framing and it makes a lot of sense. As a pitcher myself, nothing makes me happier than when a catcher steals a strike for me. But with the recent discussion about how bad umps have been, and that there needs to be something done, there have been talks about robot umpires and with that an automatic strike zone. My question for you is, if baseball were to institute an automatic strike zone, would the quest for a good pitch framer become worthless, as there is no pitch than can be stolen?"
205Danny: "Jason Parks mentioned on this week's Fringe Average Podcast that he could see teams investing more in their catching prospects, focusing more on their game calling and pitch receiving/framing skills. If you were a GM, would you make this a higher priority than developing plus hitters? Plus hitting catchers? Also what is the average salary of a roving minor league catching coordinator? And how much above average would you, particularly Ben, offer Jose Molina to be your catching coordinator when his playing days are over?"
205Eric (Brooklyn, NY): "I have a hypothetical question for you guys: would there be room on a MLB roster for a pitcher who could only throw one inning every five days, but is guaranteed to never give up a run?"
205Wes: "Why is it that teams don't more liberally use MRIs on their pitchers? For instance, why are we stuck wondering if Strasburg has an injury? If I were a GM/manager and a pitcher showed diminished velocity and/or mechanical change (for instance Roy Halladay) I'd get an MRI done immediately, not wait for him to finally reveal after weeks of ineffectiveness or an injury that he's been hurting or compensating To take it a step further, what's to stop teams from giving their pitchers MRIs after every outing and comparing them to preseason baselines? With so little science behind innings limits, why not use MRIs as part of the post-start process to determine if a rehabbing pitcher needs to be constrained or shut down?"
208Mark: "Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to pay for games that our team loses? It's hard enough to sit through a game where our team is 2-hit and nobody reaches third but to pay for it is just wrong. So here's my idea: double the price of all tickets, let people choose to buy either a home ticket or an away. If the corresponding team loses the ballclub would refund or credit the entire price. No more post game 'our club was a little down today but that's OK because you guys paid for it anyways' attitude for the team."
208[Name not given]: "What is the origin of the term 'catcher framing'? Is it because the catcher's body forms a frame around the ball like a portrait or because the catcher is framing the batter to look like he just passed on a strike?"
208Adam: "If an automated strike zone was implemented you would see massive changes in the ways guys play the position. Instead of squatting with your butt above your ankles to avoid blocking the umps, would you see more catchers standing close to a 90 degree angle with runners on to get in better position to throw out base stealers? Could you see catchers turn sideways?"
208Matthew: [Sam paraphrases the start of the question as being about base rate fallacy]..."happens when the values of sensitivity and specificity which depend only on the test itself are used in place of positive predictive value and negative predictive value which depend on both the test and baseline prevalence of the event...[Sam jumps ahead]...In this case, the questions we need to be able to answer in order not to have been suckered into this fallacy are: 1) how often would a given pitch, though we know it to be outside the strike zone, be called a strike anyway by an average ump with an average catch behind the plate 2) how many missed calls either way are really left once we take out the standard variance in umpire performance. We have so much data these days it is difficult to sort signal from noise, is it possible? The alluring specificity and nuance of catcher framing is distracting us from the fact that most stolen or lost strikes are the result of umpires, random chance, or twitches that don't actually reflect a catcher's baseline receiving skills?"