Thursday, October 27, 2011

Phone between dugout and bullpen: are gambling and social networking issues for MLB?

The curious and much over stated impact on game five of the MLB finals, aka, World Series, has two components: game strategy and MLB policy on communications during a game.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TEX/TEX201110240.shtml

Regular season:
Marc Rzepczynski (L) 28 SO, 23 Innings; WS 4 SO, 1.66 Innings
Jason Motte (R) 63 SO, 68 Innings; WS 1 SO, 1.33 Innings

Why was Motte so much more likely to SO Napoli (R)?

Rzepczynski entered with two on, one out to face lefty Murphy who singled.  Then Naploi doubled.  But then there was another lefty batter: Moreland who sucks, which is why he's batting 9th. Rzepczynski SO Moreland.

For all the fuss about Napoli winning the previous game he was batting 8th.

Having Rzepczynski pitch to lefty, righty, lefty was not such a bad idea.  Too bad Tony La Russa didn't have it.

The pundits all seem to rush to the same conclusion and then repeat it even if it doesn't make the most sense.


Here is a coherent analysis that makes a case for Rzepczynski not pitching to Napoli:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/too-much-craziness-for-one-post/

Some of my perspective:

Napoli was 3 for 12 in WS before that double.

Game 1: 
Rzepczynski SO both batters faced: Gentry and German, both righties.

Game 2: 
Rzepczynski faced two, SO Torrealba (R), German grounded to 1B.
Game 2: Motte faced two, two hits, two runs, loss.

Game 5: 
Rzepczynski SO Moreland (L).  You know the rest

I'm not into nit picking in-game decisions, I just dislike when people pile on.  To say that a pitcher with more SO than innings should not pitch to the number 8 batter seems silly.  In WS 
Rzepczynski retired 6, 4 SO (3 righties), 0 BB, 2 H (left, right).
__________________________________________


OK, now about MLB policy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/sports/baseball/world-series-baseballs-game-of-telephone.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha27

"only real restriction baseball placed on communication between the dugout and the bullpen was that it be conducted through a direct line with no outside-calling capabilities"


That would preclude ordering pizza but who knows how long that prohibition has been in effect.  If you enlarge the image the phone appears to have a dial pad.

"Over the decades, though, baseball teams have stuck mainly to the landline dugout phone."

This suggests using the public switched telephone network.

"Regular cellphones are banned from the dugout ...  telephones have been used in major league dugouts and bullpens since at least 1930"

"In addition to cellphones, laptop computers are also banned for dugout-bullpen communication, according to the baseball spokesman Pat Courtney. A pre-approved form of walkie-talkie can be used if a landline fails, Courtney said, provided the affected team alerts the umpiring crew."


It's still not clear to me what MLB teams use now.  I'm guessing that in 1930 they used a simple point to point line, which was live. i.e., no dial tone.  No charges from the phone company.


MLB forces managers and coaches to bring those big binders into the dugout, rather than  laptops, iPads, etc.

Part of it may be MLB does not want players and coaches with access to the Internet.  Otherwise they could just use smart phones.  NFL bans that in games.  One issue, especially for MLB with its history would be communicating with gamblers during a game.  That would be a HUGE scandal.

Gambling.  Devices that connect can be used to communicate with gamblers.  That's my guess.  Also, general purpose stupidity like tweeting moronic thoughts.

You could only let the manager have one but I think they're banned in dugouts because MLB does not want a Pete Rose memorial laptop.  Wasn't Pete supposedly on the phone during games that he managed for Cincinnati, possibly calling his bookies.  That's also probably why the phones are not supposed to reach anything other than the bullpen.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MLB shortens WS game but only on MLB network.

Last night's World Series game number four took only three hours and seven minutes.  The score was 4-0 and the game was fairly quick by 2011 standards.

This afternoon MLB network replayed that game in TWO hours, including commercials.  MLB merely removed much, but not all, of the dead time between batters.

During the season when I record a game and watch it the next day I fast forward between pitches, which reduces viewing time to under one hour thirty minutes.

So why doesn't MLB speed up the real game by removing all that dead time, which cannot even be used to show commercials?  This is a rhetorical question.

Is MLB dumb?  Lazy?  Unimaginative?  Inconsiderate?  Unappreciative?

Why would a billion dollar business be so careless with its showpiece event?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Trend toward managers who never played MLB. Finally!

Click title to see data for MLB 1903-2010.  Minimum 50 games per season per manager.

Solid 21-24% 2007-2010.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Merger: AL and NL merged years ago. How come no one noticed?

Note: wikipedia.com indicates that the merger technically happened in 2000, not 1994.  See Major League Baseball:

the National League and the American League ... merged in 2000 into a single MLB organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball after 100 years as separate legal entities. (Source): "Year In Review : 2000 National League". www.baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 2008-09-05

The two leagues were once totally separate rival corporate entities, but that distinction has all but disappeared ... This difference in rules (DH) between leagues is unique to MLB; the other sports leagues of the US including the NFL, NBA, NHL each have all teams playing under the same rules.
_____________________________

If the merger between the once independent American and National Leagues had been treated as such then the new organization, MLB, Inc., might not have made such absurd decisions about organizing the new single league.

When the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) agreed to merge in 1966 the merger was set to take place four years later.  In the interim they agreed to play an additional game between the two independent leagues.  It became known as the Super Bowl, a name that stuck even after the merger when the game more properly should be called the NFL championship game.

Similarly the baseball AL and NL agreed  to play a series of games starting after the 1905 season, usually best of seven, between the champions of their respective leagues.  It became known as the World Series.  Since the generally unrecognized merger of the AL and NL, the World Series description has persisted for what more properly should be called the MLB finals.

More of a mess is that MLB did not even attempt to reconcile the different rule, the 1972 designated hitter (DH), which applied to the AL but not to the NL.  That schism persists to this day, the first of the MLB finals, and MLB is not even embarrassed by that as it should be.  FORTY years and MLB has not resolved a simple rule aberration.

The NFL and AFL resolved their major rule difference by having the entire league play with one set of rules.  Initially the merged NFL used only the one point conversion but eventually the AFL two point conversion option after touchdown became the NFL rule in 1994.

The absorption of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1976 by the National Basketball Association (NBA) resulted in the NBA adopting the ABA three point shot for the 1979-1980 season.

Neither the NFL nor the NBA played with different rules after their respective mergers, not even for one season.  That's how it's done.  See my post:

SATURDAY, JULY 9, 2011   The unique absurdities of MLB.

Not treating the new MLB, Inc. as a merger caused other problems.  I recall stories many years ago that serious consideration was being given to geographic realignment, which could still be done today and would remove the structural straight jacket that dominates the narrow unimaginative thinking applied to improving the obviously deficient MLB playoff format.  And please, call it playoffs like the other sports do and stop with the silly and clumsy description "post season".

The AL and NL identities, especially the DH, continue to thwart any real reform.  Here's what you tend to get: add another wild card team.  Earth to baseball people: adding a wild card to the playoffs in 1994 did not suddenly change the system.  What changed it was DOUBLING the number of teams that qualified for the playoff!  Wake the heck up!

MLB in 1994 could and should have DOUBLED the number of playoff teams simply and more fairly by leaving the AL and NL entities with two divisions each and allowing second place teams to qualify.  Those divisions, introduced in 1969, had a decent amount of geographic balance, which is why they were named east and west.  Instead, MLB tried to mindlessly imitate the other sports by creating mini divisions, which in turn provided more first place teams and fewer second place teams in the playoffs.  I suppose that it was intended to camouflage the inequity of having teams play 162 games only to have them then subjected to a tournament, which as often as not, produces a random champion as is happening in 2011.

It was a merger.  A damn MERGER!  Treat it as merger and realign the teams geographically with all the rich and natural regular season rivalries that baseball fans deserve before they totally turn their backs on boring four hour games, which I predict will happen within ten years.  MLB, Inc. will suddenly and irreversibly be left high and dry as it should be for ruining a once great national pastime.

Geographic realignment will produce a more fair and compelling playoff system naturally, one that even MLB, Inc. may not be able to prevent.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

400 home run hitters HBP

Click title to see data.

HBP among batters with 400 HR:

High: Robinson 198
Low: Foxx & Mantle 13 (play by play data has Mantle with 12)

HBP/PA:
High: Giambi
Low: Mantle (could be lower if based on 12 HBP)

Hit least frequently includes all three switch hitters (B):
Mantle B
Foxx R
Chipper Jones B
Murray B

Hit most frequently:
Giambi L
Delgado L
Robinson R
Rodriguez R

Ruth & Gehrig only four places apart.

Mickey Mantle played from 1951 through 1968.  He was not HBP until April 13, 1955 (McDermott); he was hit again April 23 (Delock) and April 28 (Bishop).  He has another four year period without HBP: 1963 through 1966.  Click to see his HBP events.  It shows 12 HBP, 8 in April.  No pitcher hit Mantle more than once:
Tom Brewer 1
Art Ditmar 1
Billy Loes 1
Tom Phoebus 1
Joe McClain 1
Frank Lary 1
Jim Lonborg 1
Charlie Bishop 1
Ike Delock 1
Billy O'Dell 1 lefty
Pedro Ramos 1
Mickey McDermott 1

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ted Williams: the mythology of the final games of 1941.

See data.

The Ted Williams mythology had two components:
1. Williams did not need to play on the final day of the 1941 season, because his batting average (BA) would round up to .400 and that would be recognized as .400.
2. Williams boldly and courageously batted in both games of a doubleheader in Philadelphia against the As, risking his .400 BA with each plate appearance (PA).

Neither of these is correct.

1. is contradicted by Williams own website.  See below.
2. is contradicted by the arithmetic.

From the Ted Williams website:

According to the mythology, Joe Cronin asked Ted if he wanted to sit
out the doubleheader ... The Boston Globe reported that he had fallen
below .400 ...

Didn’t Cronin know that? Of course he did. When you read the journals
of the day, you can see that the exchange quite probably took place a
day or two earlier, at a time when Ted was hitting .401. “If he’s over
.400 after two games, I may bench him,” Cronin was quoted as saying
during the first off day in Philadelphia. “Whether he likes it or
not.”

___________________________

The real mystery is how Williams and/or Cronin made the mistake of letting Williams BA fall below .400 in the first place.

Williams was stumbling badly and he had three games remaining against Philadelphia.  Maybe in the first game he did not think that he would go 1 for 4.  That's what dropped him below .400.  That's why he had to play on the final day.  After going 2 for 3 in game 143 Williams BA was .41062801932367.  Boston played 155 games in 1941.

Sunday September 28, 1941 Williams BA before the final day doubleheader: .39955357142857.  The Philadelphia  As finished last: 64-90 .416.  The 1941 AL H/9 innings was 9.3.  Philadelphia had 10.0; only St. Louis Browns were worse: 10.1.

Starting for Philadelphia in game one of the doubleheader was 20 year old rookie right-hander 6' 4" Dick Fowler who was making his fourth MLB appearance and third start since Sept. 13, 15 days earlier.  Fowler pitched well in his debut: CG, 7 hits, one run (earned).  A week earlier in his second start Fowler went 8 innings: 9 hits, 6 runs (4 ER).

Had Williams gotten a hit in first PA of game 154 against 
Fowler then made out in his second PA his BA would have been .400 on the nose.  Boston player/manager Joe Cronin could have pulled Williams.  Once Williams went 2 for 2 he was playing with house money.  Continuing to bat was not a risk.  Here is how Williams BA changed that day:


Game one of doubleheader (game 154):

0.40089086859688 1 for 1
0.40222222222222 2 for 2 HR
0.40354767184035 3 for 3
0.40486725663717 4 for 4
0.40397350993377 4 for 5

Game two of doubleheader (game 155):

0.40528634361233 1 for 1
0.40659340659341 2 for 2
0.40570175438596 2 for 3

Williams did display courage that day but not the way that the myth suggests.  Williams needed courage to deal with the pressure and harness his talents to execute.  Getting that hit in his very first PA completely defused the situation.  Williams was home free, raising his BA above .400 where it could be monitored by his manager Joe Cronin who could and would have removed Williams in order to preserve that special achievement for which Williams is best known: the last batter with a .400 BA, not someone whose BA rounded up to .400.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To fix MLB playoff, fix the regular season first.

The fish rots from the top.  I'm hearing more narrow unimaginative suggestions about fixing the mess of MLB playoff, chief among them, expanding round one from best of five to best of seven.  Big deal.  Until you correct the even bigger unfair mess of the MLB regular season, minor changes in the playoff structure are silly and meaningless.

As documented here, four of the six mini divisions play only 44% of their 162 games in division.  NL central has six teams that play 48% in division but vary the number from 18 to 14 against division rivals.  AL west four teams play a ridiculous 35% in division.

What the heck?

Two other things that clinch MLB as by far the most amateurish compared to NFL and NBA: home field advantage in the MLB finals determined by the winner of the All Star game AND, lest we forget, MLB plays with different rules.  The DH, remember?

As mentioned previously, this can be corrected only with these changes:

1. Treat MLB as ONE league, which it has been since the merger in 1994.  Treat it as the other mergers were treated: NFL and AFL; NBA and ABA.  Rules were made uniform and they were treated as ONE league.  This is essential to move teams into geographic alignment (Yankees/Mets, White Sox/Cubs, blah, blah, blah) AND to finally, after FORTY embarrassing seasons, resolve the DH impass.  To do it: obliterate the old AL and NL identities.

2. Reduce the number of divisions from six (three in each conference) to four (two in each conference).  This means increasing the number of teams to 7 or 8 per division.

3. Play at least 66% of games in division.

If these fundamental changes to the regular season are made then a proper playoff structure will almost automatically result.  If all you do is jerk around within the current mess of a structure, then no meaningful reform of the MLB playoff is possible.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yankees v. Phillies seven game old style series.

The autumn weather in New York and Philadelphia has been beautiful, warm and sunny.  Perfect weather for the final baseball games.  We should have already started that seven game series that we all anticipated between the two best MLB teams in 2011.  It could have been staged for charity so that even MLB, Inc. might have difficulty saying no.

It should have started yesterday, Saturday afternoon, and all the games should be played in the afternoon on seven consecutive days as the old World Series had been from about 1946 through 1956.  Afternoon games would not conflict with those stupid MLB playoff games with teams that most Americans do not care about.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yankees lost in first round: some facts.

Click to see supporting data.

Small market teams can stop their whining.  Commissioner Bud Selig has created Las Vegas night in MLB.  The three biggest markets with the biggest payrolls are out of the annual playoffs.  Boston never even made it to the 2011 playoffs and the Yankees and Philadelphia lost in the fifth and final game of round one.  At least they lost to traditional franchises: Detroit and St. Louis respectively.

Conventional wisdom in New York is that the Yankees lost because Rodriguez, Teixeira and Swisher did not hit enough.  Of course if either Rodriguez or Swisher had homered wih the bases loaded in the seventh inning of game five instead of striking out against Benoit the Yankees would have won.  But let's look at a bigger picture.

During the five games against Detroit the Yankees averaged 5.6 runs scored.  In the regular season they averaged 5.4, second to Boston in AL.  Scoring is what counts, not whether particular individuals do certain things.  Yes, the Yanks scored 19 (10,9) runs in their two wins and only 9 (4,3,2) in their three losses but that's the nature of baseball, especially this Yankee team.  It is unrealistic to expect a team to score more in the playoffs than in the regular season.  The Yankee offense was not the problem.

Yankee fielding was almost flawless.

Pitching was good but not great.  Detroit scored 5,5,3,3,1.  No shutouts.  No big numbers.

In the regular season the the Yankee defense (fielding and pitching) allowed 4 runs per game, third best in AL to Rays and Angels.  Against Detroit it allowed 3.4.

One problem was that the playoff standard deviation for Yankee scoring was 3.7 and for Detroit 1.7.  Detroit was steady but not spectacular.

The Pythagorean winning percentage is basically a fancier version of runs scored minus runs allowed divided by games played.  For the regular season:
Yanks won 97 but should have won 101.
Detroit won 95 but should have won 89.

The Yankees under-performed and Detroit over-performed.

During the season Detroit added two players who helped them defeat the Yankees:
August 15 OF Delmon Young (3 HR)
July 30 starting pitcher Doug Fister who started and won game five.

The Yankees made no key additions during the season.

Maybe the Yankees rely too much on the home run.  In the playoff series Yanks hit 4 HR, Detroit 6.  Runs from HR: Yanks 8, Detroit 6.  In game one the Yanks scored 9 runs and Cano hit a bases loaded HR, which accounts for half the Yankee runs on HR.  In game four the Yanks scored 10 runs without any HR.

In game five Detroit hit two HR in the first inning and that 2-0 lead controlled the game.

OPS (On Base Plus Slugging, playoff/regular:
Yanks: .749/.788
Detroit: .690/.773

Based on both OPS and actual runs Yankee scoring was about as close to its regular season performance as one could expect or hope.

Each team scored at least three runs in four different games.  In their three losses Yanks scored 3,3,2 and allowed 5,5,3.  See Yankee run distribution in the 2011 regular season:
Yanks scored 3 runs in 21 games: 10-11
Yanks scored 2 runs in 11 games: 0-11
Yanks allowed 5 runs in 20 games: 6-14
Yanks allowed 3 runs in 30 games: 23-7.

Runs Cum Win% Cum Games
0 0.000             8
1 0.0588 17
2 0.0357 28
3 0.224 49
4 0.338 77
5 0.422 102
6 0.479 117
7 0.504 129
8 0.519 135
9 0.552 145
10 0.564 149
11 0.570 151
12 0.583 156
13 0.586 157
15 0.589 158
17 0.59375 160
18 0.596 161
22 0.599 162

These numbers are astonishing although I have yet to compare them to Detroit or the entire AL.  The Yankees scored fewer than SEVEN runs in 117 games and their winning percentage was .479!

In the regular season the Yankees had a winning percentage of .599.  Had they won game five against Detroit and gone 3-2 their winning percentage would have been .600.  The Yanks were within one game of matching their 162 game performance.

Had these two teams played ten games the Yankees probably would have won five or six games.  But they played only five games and that's the Las Vegas element that MLB has morphed into, intentionally or otherwise.

What's the point of any playoff, professional or college?  It's to make more money.  It's certainly not to determine which is the best team.  A long and fair regular season does that.  The MLB season is certainly long, though not fair.  However, it is much more fair than playing best of five.  What does that prove?  What is affirmed except randomness?  Where is the merit?

See post:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2011

BCS (Baseball Championship Series) or March Madness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bring back the city series.

At the 2011 annual SABR convention Eric Weiss did a presentation about the city series, which were prevalent 100 years ago.  If the two Chicago teams were not in the new World Series they might play a series between themselves and pocket all the money.  Other cities did it, too.  Maybe that would work today.

I'm writing this while Texas is playing in Tampa in the first round of MLB playoffs.  In other words, I'm killing time waiting for the Yankees to play in Detroit tonight.  Tampa and Texas.  Who the heck cares?  Not even people in Tampa.

Dump the stupid divisions.  Have American and National conference teams play only in conference.  After 162 games we'll have legitimate regular season champions and two teams that people would want to see play in the MLB finals, aka, World Series.

Here's the cool part.  ALL of the rest of the teams may then play a five game series against another team and keep all of the money, not share it with MLB, Inc.  This season, the White Sox could play the Cubs.  The Red Sox could play ... the Mets.  The Giants could play the Dodgers or even Oakland.  The only limitation: they may not schedule games at the same time as the World Series games.

Even if your team sucks it may still play a traditional rival.  Cool.  Everybody is happy.

BCS (Baseball Championship Series) or March Madness.

I wrote about this previously, mostly as a goof.  But as the first round of MLB playoffs are putting the Yankees (1-2) - Phillies (1-1) match up in doubt maybe BCS is not such a bad idea.

Isn't that what we all want, MLB finals between the two best teams, which they proved to be for 162 games, not in a silly five game series?

Let  writers, and fans vote.  The other teams can play with themselves in meaningless series.  You know, like NCAA college football.

OR we could embrace another of my suggestions based on NCAA college basketball: put all 30 MLB teams into the tournament with heavy ceding.  In the NCAA basketball tournament no 16 seed has ever defeated a one seed.  If that passes for March Madness, why not do in MLB?

Monday, October 3, 2011

BA championship: sit on a lead?

Click to see data.

Met Jose Reyes had the highest NL BA in 2011.  Ryan Braun of Milwaukee finished a close second.

On the last day of the regular season, the Mets played a day game.   Milwaukee was scheduled to play a night game.

Before those games Reyes led Braun:
0.33582089552239
0.3345259391771
0.001294956345286 difference


Reyes beat out a bunt single in his only plate appearances.  He left the game in the first inning to preserve his lead over Braun.  His lead had increased to:
0.002531788942079


That didn't sit well with many people but I also wonder if it made sense for Reyes to play at all.


What if Reyes had made out?  These would have been the leads for Reyes had he continued to bet against the house.


0.000669591549155    0 for 1
0.000046551529218    0 for 2
-0.000574176653911    0 for 3
-0.001192605843769    0 for 4

If Reyes went 0 for 1, Braun could have passed him with either 1 for 1 (How ironic would that have been, had Braun pulled himself out?) or 2 for 3.

It would have been like gambling.  The odds always favor the house.  Chances were 1 out of 3 that Reyes would have gotten a hit in his first at bat.  What then?  Cut your losses and have less of a lead than you had before?  How big of a jerk would Reyes look like if he had quit after making out?

So let's say Reyes rolls the dice and bats again.  Another out and his lead has shrunk even more and he would look like a total jackass if he quit now.

So Reyes bats again and ...  You can see how this might have unfolded.