Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mark Teixeira would not bunt for a single against the shift, down two, 9th inning, tying run on deck.

Yankee manager Joe Girardi did not order Mark Teixeira to bunt. Mark Teixeira did not even consider bunting even though a single was almost a sure thing against the extreme shift. Mark Teixeira wanted to preserve his inalienable right to hit a home run even if a home run could not even tie the game. Here are the basic facts.

Sunday, June 28, 2015, 2:10pm, Minute Maid Park
Attendance: 31,961, Time of Game: 2:24
Astros 3, Yankees 1

Top of the 9th, Yankees Batting, Behind 1-3, Astros' Luke Gregerson facing 2-3-4

Chase Headley Groundout: 2B-P (2B-1B)
Alex Rodriguez Groundout: 2B-1B (SS-2B)
Mark Teixeira Groundout: 1B unassisted

The game ended with Brian McCann and Garrett Jones waiting to hit, two lefty power hitters who could have tied the game or put the Yankees ahead with a home run.


Both Chase Headley and Mark Teixeira are switch hitters who batted lefty against righty pitcher Luke Gregerson.  So Houston was playing the extreme infield shift against both Headley and Teixeira.  Against righty Alex Rodriguez it's largely mute since Rodriguez has at least implicit permission to save his legs and not run hard.

I could rip Headley as much as Teixeira in this case but Headley has bunted a couple of times since joining the Yankees in late July 2014.  Plus, for a couple of years Teixeira has repeatedly and explicitly insisted that he would not bunt against the shift.  Girardi has done nothing to force Teixeira to do it.

Shame on both Girardi and Teixeira.

Teixeira has made a big comeback in 2015: 18 homers in 244 at bats: 244/18=13.55.

BA: .246
OBA: .354
SLG: .529
OPS: .883
OPS+: 142

Very good.  But if Teixeira could match my minimum estimate for a Major Baseball League (MBL) non-pitcher bunting into a large area with no fielders, he would have:
BA: .500
OBA: .500
SLG: .500
OPS: 1.000

Mickey Mantle and others who bunted for hits. Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mickey Mantle batted .527 for all of his regular season plate appearances I could find that ended in a bunt.  My many 2014 posts encouraging the likes of Mark Teixeira to bunt against the extreme shift assumed that any big league non-pitcher should be able to achieve a .500 batting average (BA) bunting against the extreme shift.  It turns out that research had been done on all batters back to 1950 and that a .500 BA was low among the best.  And this was for batters against whom the fielders were positioned to defend against an attempt for a bunt single...

Mickey Mantle bunting 1950s
James Gentile Dec 10, 2012: "players who had most often bunted themselves aboard in their careers ... Lee Mazzilli ... Don Blasingame rate of Reaching Base while bunting with the bases empty ... 88.3%" (BA: .883)
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Mark Teixeira: smart or dumb hitting against the shift? Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dumb.  And boring.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Five infielders: twice in three days and yet we survive.

Five Infielders: how often this millennium? Saturday, April 7, 2012

Baseball is so stuck in its ways.  Come on, come on!  Try something, anything!  Switch from zone to man-to-man.  Press.  Do something different before we all keel over from abject boredom.

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Friday, June 26, 2015, 8:15 pm, Busch Stadium III
Attendance: 45,558, Time of Game: 3:25
Cardinals 3, Cubs 2 in 10 innings

Bottom of the 10th, Cardinals Batting, Tied 2-2, Cubs' Justin Grimm facing 9-1-2

Peter Bourjos double
Kolten Wong single, Bourjos to 3B
Matt Carpenter IW, bases loaded
Jhonny Peralta safe on throwing error by RF, Bourjos Scores


Unmentioned in that play by play is that right fielder Mike Baxter was playing second base. Baxter fielded the ground ball by Peralta and threw home for a force play by Baxter's throw was wild. Cubs manager Joe Maddon had done something that he had done previously when he managed Tampa: positioned an outfielder in the infield. In this case Maddon had three regular infielders play on the left side between second base and third base, rather than have the extra fielder play near second base to field balls missed by the pitcher.

Saturday/Sunday, June 27/28, 2015, 4:10 pm, Citi Field
Attendance: 32,531, Time of Game: 4:33
Mets 2, Reds 1

Suspended Saturday after six innings; Completed Sunday.

Bottom of the 13th, Mets Batting, Tied 1-1, Reds' Nathan Adcock facing 9-1-2


Dilson Herrera BB
Curtis Granderson single to RF, Herrera to 3B

Ruben Tejada safe on SS error, bases loaded
Lucas Duda safe on Fielder's Choice 1B; Herrera Scores, RBI

Fielder's Choice my eye. That was Mets home town scoring completing a classic Mets game winning rally. Reds 1B Joey Votto completely butchered an easy chance on a high bouncer by Duda who did not deserve a game winning RBI. In the 11th Votto had let a routine ground ball go right under his mitt for a two base error; shades of Bill Buckner handing the Mets a win in game six, 1986 World Series, which the Mets won in seven; the grounder missed by 
Votto was much more difficult than the easy grounder hit by Mookie Wilson and missed by Buckner that would have won the WS right then for Boston.
Bill Buckner, Boston Red Sox circa 1986
by Craig Johnson from San Diego, CA
via Wikimedia Commons

As in the Cubs game unmentioned in the play by play: Reds manager Bryan Price had moved left fielder Skip Schumaker into the infield.


In common for both games:
- tied in extra innings
- minor point but facing 9-1-2
- bases loaded, no outs.

In other words both the Cubs and Reds were facing almost certain defeat and with their resources depleted.  They were desperate.  And yet both of these are VERY rare examples of something a little different being tried.

Defense as a Competitive Advantage. Monday, December 29, 2008

Competitive Advantage.  That's what a team hopes to achieve.  Any significant change that the team can master can result in a competitive advantage.

My friend Eric Weiss has this suggestion: five infielders.  Not just as a rare late game gamble but as an alignment for a ground ball pitcher.  My implementation would position the outfielder turned infielder behind second base.  That player would handle all plays at second, allowing the shortstop and second baseman to play further from the bag.

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That was SEVEN years ago!

Innovation: basketball yes, baseball no. Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday, June 26, 2015

Best players who played for only one team.

Keith Hernandez has been a Met TV announcer for many years.  This has confused some Met fans into thinking that Keith Hernandez should be considered an all time Met.  This is absurd since Keith Hernandez was a Cardinal player far more than he was a Met player.  Plate appearances (PA):
Cardinals 4,724
Mets 3,684

This is a common problem when trying to pick all time teams.  How much should a player have played for a particular team?  Should the player have played more than half his games for that team?  For players who played for more than two teams, should the player be considered only for the team for which he played the most?  What if that is close?

What a mess.  Here is the solution.  What about teams of players who played for only one team?  No wiggle room.

I'm willing to let Honus Wagner be considered as having played only for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Wagner played for the Louisville Colonels in his first three National League seasons, 1897-1899, after which the Louisville Colonels ceased to exist in the National League.  Wagner then played for the Pirates for the rest of his career.  You decide for yourself.  Here are some well known players eliminated from consideration.

- Christy Mathewson, the greatest Giant pitcher, pitched one game for the Cincinnati Reds in 1916.  It was his final game.

- Willie Mays, Giant CF, played 135 games for the Mets in 1972 (69) and 1973 (66).
- Zack Wheat, Dodger OF, played his final season (1927) with the Philadelphia As.
- Ty Cobb, Detroit Tiger OF, finished (1927-1928) with the Philadelphia As.
- Lefty Gomez, New York Yankee pitcher, pitched one game for Washington in 1943.  It was his final game.
- Yogi Berra, New York Yankee C, played four regrettable games for the Mets in 1965 after managing the Yankees to the AL pennant in 1964 but being fired by the Yanks.
- Warren Spahn, Braves pitcher, played seven games in 1965 for the Mets and Giants.
- Richie Ashburn, Philadelphia Phillies CF, played two full season for the Chicago Cubs before succumbing to the Mets in their first season, 1962.
- Gil Hodges, Dodger 1B, played 54 games for the Mets in 1962 and 11 in 1963.
- Duke Snider, Dodger CF, played full time for the Mets in 1963 and 91 games for the Giants in 1964.

- Ron Santo, Cub 3B, played his final season (1974) with the White Sox.
Dodger Jackie Robinson had the right idea: quit rather than hang on, especially with a hated rival like the Giants.

Those Amazing Mets ruined several players.  But they have their very own Ed Kranepool who played in three 1962 games right out of high school.  Kranepool is probably the all time Mets only first baseman.

Using this absolute criteria, let's try to determine the best player per team, then an all time team by position and finally an individual.

When I originally researched this in 2009, despite the loss of Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez and Yogi Berra, the Yankees dominated:
        - third most players (44) behind Twins (54) and Giants (48)
        - most All Stars (26), Giants (15)
        - most HoF (7), Giants (5)
        - most All Stars selections (148), Red Sox (77).

Yankees:
C - Bill Dickey (HoF), Thurman Munson (MVP, AS), Jorge Posada (AS)
1B - Lou Gehrig (HoF), Don Mattingly (MVP, AS)
SS - Derek Jeter (AS), Phil Rizzuto (HoF), Tony Kubek (AS), Frank Crosetti (AS)
3B - Red Rolfe (AS)
OF - Earle Combs (HoF)
OF - Joe DiMaggio (HoF)
OF - Mickey Mantle (HoF)
Utility infielder - Gil McDougald (AS: 2B, 3B, SS)
Reserve OF - Tommy Henrich (AS), Roy White (AS), Bernie Williams (AS), George Selkirk (AS)
Starting pitchers:
Ron Guidry (CY, AS)
Reviever - Mariano Rivera (AS)
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Three other teams did pretty well:

Dodgers:
2B - Jackie Robinson (HoF) even though he only played four seasons at 2B, Jim Lefebvre (AS)
SS - Pee Wee Reese (HoF), Bill Russell (AS)
3B - Jim Gilliam (AS) played more 2B but what the heck
OF - Carl Furillo (AS)
Starting pitchers:
Don Drysdale (HoF)
Clayton Kershaw (MVP, CY)

Red Sox:
C - Jason Varitek (AS)
1B - 
SS - Rico Petrocelli (AS)
3B - 
OF - Ted Williams (HoF)
OF - Jim Rice (HoF)
OF - Carl Yastrzemski (HoF)
Reserve OF - Mike Greenwell (AS), Dom DiMaggio (AS)
Starting pitchers:
Reviever - Bob Stanley (AS)

Tigers:
C - Bill Freehan (AS)
1B - 
SS - Alan Trammell (AS)
3B - Bob Jones
OF - Al Kaline (HoF)
OF - Pat Mullin (AS)
Reserve OF - Gates Brown

Starting pitchers:
Justin Verlander (MVP, CY)


As you can see it starts to thin out pretty quickly.  Per team let's pick the best player and maybe the best pitcher starting with teams that existed in 1960.

Yankees:
Lou Gehrig/Mickey Mantle - toss up
Whitey Ford

Red Sox: Ted Williams

Orioles:
Cal Ripken; honorable mention: Brooks Robinson
Jim Palmer

Senators/Twins:
Joe Mauer?
Walter Johnson

Tigers:
Al Kaline; honorable mention: Charlie Gehringer (MVP)
Tommy Bridges/Justin Verlander

Indians:
Al Rosen
Bob Feller

White Sox:
Luke Appling
Red Faber/Ted Lyons

Athletics: ???

Dodgers:
Jackie Robinson
Sandy Koufax

Giants: Mel Ott (In addition to losing Mathewson and Mays they lose Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.)

Cardinals: Stan Musial; Albert Pujols was on his was to becoming the all time Cardinal but he took the Angels money.

Cubs: Ernie Banks (Billy Williams played his final two seasons in Oakland.)

Pirates: Honus Wagner or Roberto Clemente if you don't think Wagner should be included.  Willie Stargell gets honorable mention.

Reds: Johnny Bench

Phillies: Mike Schmidt

Braves: Chipper Jones (Hank Aaron played his final two seasons for Bud Selig's Milwaukee Brewers.  Eddie Mathews also left.)
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Mets: David Wright

Astros: Jeff Bagwell; honorable mention: Craig Biggio

Angels: Tim Salmon; Mike Trout soon

Rangers (Senators): Rusty Greer: only Rangers only player among WAR top 20.

Royals: George Brett

Brewers: Robin Yount

Nationals (Expos): Ryan Zimmerman; soon Bryce Harper

Padres: Tony Gwynn

Mariners:
Edgar Martinez
Felix Hernandez

Blue Jays: ???

Rockies: Todd Helton

Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton

Rays: Evan Longoria

Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt
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Now an all time team by position:
1B: Lou Gehrig, Yankees
2B: Jackie Robinson, Dodgers
SS: Honus Wagner, Pirates or Cal Ripken, Orioles
3B: Mike Schmidt, Phillies
OF: Mickey Mantle, Yankees
OF: Joe DiMaggio, Yankees
OF: Ted Williams
P: Walter Johnson, Senators
P: Whitey Ford, Yankees
P: Jim Palmer, Orioles
P: Sandy Koufax, Dodgers
Photo of Lou Gehrig
All time individual: Lou Gehrig, Yankees or Mickey Mantle, Yankees

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cole Hamels intentionally hit Bryce Harper and Alex Rodriguez.

In yesterday afternoon's Phillies game at Yankee Stadium Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels intentionally hit Alex Rodriguez with the first pitch with two out and bases empty in the first inning.  Hamel's intent was so obvious that the plate umpire immediately warned people on both benches.  Cole Hamels fancies himself some kind of enforcer but he's still the same jerk he was in 2012:

Major Baseball League: a new phrase is coined. Monday, June 11, 2012

Much better.  Now when some jerk like Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies takes it upon himself to hit a rookie like Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals with a pitch he can accompany his cowardly act with a paraphrase of the line used for decades by players in the National Football League (NFL): "Welcome to the Major Baseball League".

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Change teams, change signs ... and passwords.

Duh.

This computer thing between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros is sort of a player thing but in reverse.

If a player had gone from the Cardinals to the Astros, in future games the Cardinals would use different signs so that their former player would not read them and help his new team to defeat his old.

In the computer "hack" case, non-players went from the Cardinals to the Astros.  They built a computer system similar to the one they had worked on with the Cardinals.  But in this case it was not the former Cardinals people trying to access the data of their former team, at least not as far as we know.  It was some remaining Cardinal people who used ID and password info to access the new Astros system.  Apparently the Cardinal people who left not only took some intellectual property to their new employer but they also took at least one ID/password pair, which was used to access the Astros system.

Actually, it would have been more difficult for it to have worked in reverse.  It would have worked as it has for decades: the old team would change its signs (ID/passwords).  System administrators (sysadmin) for the Cardinals would have purged any old ID/password pairs used by their departed employees.  The Cardinals sysadmins would probably have had all their current people immediately change their passwords and ensure that any previous passwords were not used again.  The Cardinal sysadmins would also have put their system's security on high alert and been looking for a possible breach by their former employees.

So in a strict baseball protocol, was there an ethical violation?  Weren't the Astros negligent?  Didn't they get what they deserved?  The analogy so far may be incomplete.  If baseball signs, say those between the catcher and pitcher, are observed and deciphered by a runner at second base, then it's OK.  But if the observation is made from the center field bleachers using binoculars, then it's not OK.

The Cardinals who accessed the Astros computers, seem to have done so remotely by first accessing the Astros computer network.  That's where the FBI and U.S. Attorney get involved.

F.B.I. Struggles to Pinpoint the Fingers Behind a Hacking
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT JUNE 22, 2015 The New York Times


... personnel in the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office ... are accused of breaking into the network that housed the Houston Astros’ closely guarded baseball intelligence ...

Whoever gained access to the Astros’ network tried to take some measures used by experienced hackers to disguise their location. But, law enforcement officials said, the intruders were not adept...

The inability to properly cover tracks proved to be a significant break for the F.B.I... trail of the intrusion directly to the computer that had been used at the residence in Jupiter (Florida)...

... logging in as Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager, or Sig Mejdal, whose title is director of decision sciences. Both officials joined the Astros from the Cardinals...

Franchises have tried to develop elaborate information-sharing platforms in recent years, but they have increasingly relied on young and inexperienced programmers and analysts, like the ones now under investigation in the Cardinals’ front office.

While paying players exorbitant salaries, teams maintain small budgets for their front offices, often leading to the hiring of analysts and programmers right out of college. Those workers, who are paid significantly less than what they could make at a technology company or a start-up ...

... the analysts and programmers have been given significant leeway in building programs, and until now there has been little pressure to put tight security in place. One team executive said he had not changed his password for his team’s network in three years.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pete Rose, Hit King, is also the Out King.

Like many athletes who made millions of dollars Pete Rose never had a real job, not like most Americans.

Your real job at a real company probably had conditions of employment implemented through a code of conduct.  Your real job probably had at least one rule, which, if violated, would definitely result in your being fired and never being considered for future employment.

That rule would have been made very clear and it would have been reiterated regularly.  Suppose that you did well and were promoted into a supervisory position.  Now suppose that you consistently and knowingly violated the rule that would cost you your job.  Then you were found out ... and you were out.

You'd have no one to blame but yourself.  Your friends would have no sympathy for you, except that maybe you had some self destructive compulsion that needed treatment and counseling.

But you don't get treatment or counseling.  You don't get another job.  You just linger on the outside of your old industry, hoping that you can get back in.  But you're out and you're never getting back in.  You put yourself out.

Pete Rose Placed Bets on Games as a Player, a Report Says
By RICHARD SANDOMIR JUNE 22, 2015 The New York Times


... on baseball’s permanently ineligible list since 1989 because he bet on baseball — and the Cincinnati Reds — when he was their manager ...

new ESPN report that he also bet on baseball while he was still playing in 1986 ...

ESPN’s report, unveiled on its “Outside the Lines” program, contradicts Rose’s assertion, which he reiterated as recently as April, that he did not bet on baseball while he played...

John Dowd, the lawyer who investigated Rose for baseball, told ESPN ... "absolutely establishes that he was betting with the mob in New York, which was always my biggest concern, that they had a mortgage on the guy.”

Dowd said: “I can’t imagine that he’s reinstated. He’s done nothing to make himself a credit to the game. He’s done nothing to reconfigure his life or help the game.”

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Black Sox: some thoughts. Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reviewing the 1919 scandal shows why current MLB, Inc. continues to have an absolute policy against gambling and against consorting with gamblers. In the 1980s Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were banned from MLB activities for as long as they worked as greeters at Las Vegas gambling casinos. That is why the banishment of sure Hall of Famer Pete Rose because of his gambling while he was the Cincinnati Reds manager is warranted, just like the banishment of the 1919 White Sox players who dumped the WS. The admonition against consorting with gamblers and against gambling itself has been posted in every clubhouse for decades.

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My Pete Rose Hall of Fame rule: for every day you lied, you wait a day for consideration. Wednesday, January 21, 2015

... before you can even be considered for something good, like eligibility for election to the Hall of Fame.  Rose has five more years to cool his heels...


http://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/bbwaa-rules-for-election

5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon
- the player's record
- playing ability
- integrity
- sportsmanship
- character
- contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.


Note that four of the six criteria deal with character.  Rose could reasonably be denied election even after my wait rule had been applied...


Why don't we apply the commissioner Landis standard, which seems to be that of the U.S. military academy honor code:

"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

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Steroids: what about Pete Rose? Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This summer when Rose seems close to being forgiven for his gambling on baseball games while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, maybe people should ask Rose whether he used PED. Since Rose lied for 14 years about his gambling, his credibility may not be worth much.

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Conduct unbecoming: HBP, gambling, PED. Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hit by Pitch (HBP), gambling, performance enhancing drug (PED) use.  Where are the priorities? ...

Tax evasion
On April 20, 1990, Rose pleaded guilty to two charges of filing false income tax returns not showing income he received from selling autographs and memorabilia, and from horse racing winnings. On July 19, Rose was sentenced to five months in the medium security Prison Camp at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois and fined $50,000...

Hopefully Rose is now paying income tax on that autograph money he is being paid. Signing autographs is his regular job? That's a job? What kind of idiot would pay for that? And Pete "works" where?

Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, which includes a casino:


http://www.mandalaybay.com/casino/ ...

Pete Rose was player/manager of the Cincinnati Reds 1984-1986, then just manager in 1987 and parts of 1988 and 1989. Rose was 43-48 years old in those years.

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Alex Rodriguez vilified, Pete Rose employed on MLB Network. Friday, June 19, 2015

... on Fox Sports One ... pre-game show started at 8:00 PM featuring Pete Rose, banned for gambling on baseball games while he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1980s.


Pete Rose is scheduled to be part of the All Star game activities in Cincinnati in July.  No doubt his old fans will treat him with affection despite his transgression.  Many baseball fans think that Rose has suffered enough...

For me their transgressions are not close...

Rose broke a fundamental rule, which was created because seven members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox took money from gamblers to intentionally lose the World Series to ... the Cincinnati Reds.  A bit of irony there.  For me Pete Rose can remain outside forever.

Alex Rodriguez served his full punishment, which was much more severe than that of Rose.  Rodriguez was not allowed to play for an entire season, much longer than anyone else with a similar offense.  Further, Rodriguez was not considered for commutation and so does not need to allocute or apologize.  Rodriguez does not owe anyone anything.

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