Print

Hey!

Welcome to Hey Bill, where Bill answers questions from his subscribers almost every day. Visitors can read the most recent Hey Bill's on this page.  Subscribers can ask Bill a question directly and also view our archive of questions and answers.

 

The fifteen most recent questions are listed here and will change almost every day.

Hey Bill

FAQ Categories

15 Most Recent Questions

It seems to me that two of the biggest (if not the biggest) objections to how pitcher wins are currently assigned is that (a) a relief pitcher can get a full win (i.e. ALL the credit) by only getting one or two outs, if the winning run(s) are scored by the winning team at just the right time, and that (b) a starting pitcher gets NO credit in a team win for getting somewhere between 15-24 outs, if the run(s) are scored by the winning team at just the wrong time. A "percentage" or "proportional" win, based on how many of the 27 (or 30, or whatever) outs a pitcher gets in a team win would seem to correct both of these errors, with one major objection I can see is that a starting pitcher would only get a "full" win if they pitched a complete game. I ran this for four pitchers (Hubbell, Reuschel, Appier, and Kevin Brown) for their entire careers to see what would happen--interestingly enough, the win totals, over the course of their careers, don't change much (+6, +6, -2, +14). Thoughts?
Asked by: rtallia

Answered: 4/25/2017
 I don't believe the public would adopt a proportional assignment system in any case.   

 

The platoon discussion brings to mind the old Earl Weaver lineup selection process. As I understood it at the time, Singleton and Murray and later Ripken would play every day and the many of the other starters were chosen by what they had done against that particular pitcher in the past. That might mean a righty would start against a righty, and it would also would let him choose which righty or lefty with a platoon advantage to start.  
 
1) Is that recollection accurate?  
2)Do you think the sample sizes he was dealing with gave this method little real advantage? In other words, is "Lowenstein is hitting .420 against pitcher x as irrelevant as the so-and-so is hitting .380 against lefties" ?
Asked by: Brian

Answered: 4/25/2017
 Well. . no, I don't think the recollection is accurate, although i could be wrong, but that's not the way I remember it.   I think it was what we might call platoon plus.   He might have three catchers and three left fielders, of whom two of the catchers were right-handed but two of the left fielders were left-handed.   Who played on any given night might depend on the matchups and on defense, but i don't think he would play a left-hander against a left-hander if he had a right-hander available. . .other, than, as you say, Ripken and Murray and Singleton and Don Baylor and Bobby Grich, a few other guys sometimes.    
 
On the larger question, I think all pitcher-vs.-hitter data--including the most extreme examples--have zero predictive value, and I would encourage managers to pay no attention to that stuff whatsoever.   

 

Interesting question about Adam Jones' positioning. Regardless of who's right, I'm impressed with Jones' approach to the issue. It wouldn't be that surprising if a veteran player, who's made the all-star team and won Gold Gloves, said something like, "No number-cruncher is gonna tell me where to play." But it sounds like Jones was receptive to the idea, as long as they could show him some solid evidence -- a condition we should probably all be ready to ask when anybody tells us we need to change things. If I was a manager, that's just the attitude I'd like to see in my team leaders.  
 
Asked by: BobGill

Answered: 4/25/2017
 Right. 

 

Hey Bill, apparently Dan Duquette asked Adam Jones to play deeper this season to cut off extra base hits going over his head.  Duquette explained to Jones that the O's analytics department thought that it was a good move, and Jones sort of said that he'd like to talk it over with the analytics people to see if they had considered everything, like the fact that his throws would now be longer, so runners would be more likely to take an extra base.  
 
This seemed like a good idea to me, but what do I know?  What do you think about players speaking directly to the analytics people?
Asked by: NigelTufnel

Answered: 4/25/2017
 Well, we have to get there.   We have to reach the point at which analytics people and players can talk to one another.   It's progress.  
 
On this issue, I would like to have that discussion--Adam Jones' discussion--myself.   I'd like to see someone have to prove to a skeptic that it is actually better to play deep.   I'm not convinced myself, because I haven't seen a skeptical analysis of the issue. 
 

 

"In this case I can see where ‘lower’ standards are helpful."  
 
Not to nitpick, but wouldn't this actually be a "higher" (i.e, more stringent) standard?
Asked by: Marc Schneider

Answered: 4/25/2017
 Wouldn't that be nitpicking?    And No; lower standards is the correct phrase.   The standards for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other things have been made dramatically LESS stringent.   

 

Hey Bill,  
 
What do you think of this (potentially very stupid) idea to evolve the "win"?  If the pitcher throws a "quality start" (which itself is a generally accepted and tracked stat) and his team wins the game, he gets the win?    
 
This seems to somewhat split the difference between the current convoluted definition and the suggestion (promoted by Joe Posnanski) that the starting pitcher of the winning team get the win regardless of performance.  
 
I haven't studied it or thought it through, so I'm sure there are 100 reasons why it wouldn't work, but wanted to contribute the idea in case someone found value and wanted to run with it.
Asked by: esolo25

Answered: 4/25/2017
 The value is in studying them.   

 

Just trying to help, because it surprises me that people question that platoon advantage is the norm.  If you point out that RH pitchers have more success against RH batters, and LH vs LH, then it seems to me to be clear as day that platoon advantage exists.  Be well.
Asked by: Cypher

Answered: 4/25/2017
 That isn't the issue.   Everyone agrees that the platoon advantage exists.    The issue is whether it is a product of the skills of the players, or (from the standpoint of the hitters) simply an inherent advantage in the game, applying more or less the same to everyone. 
 
Every baseball broadcast will include some statement such as "Harry Armpits is hitting .380 this year against left-handing pitching!" or "Johnny Fattbutt hasn't had a hit yet this year against a southpaw."   Probably the broadcast will have MANY statements of this nature. 
 
But I would argue that all such statements are a waste of time, because there is no reason to believe that hitting well against lefthanders or righthanders is an individual skill.   It is simply part of the game.   If a player hits .380 against lefthanders, or if he doesn't have a hit against lefthanders, that's just something that has happened.   It doesn't mean anything.   
 
Of course there are limitations to this generalization, among them (1) Adam Jones, (2) switch hitters, (3) the fact that a player who has a high percentage of three true outcomes will have a larger platoon differential than a guy who just puts the ball in play, since there is little or no platoon difference if the ball is put in play, and (4) certain exceptional players who, after years of being platooned, lack confidence in their ability to hit against the wrong kind of pitcher.   
 
But the damage done from the false belief in these platoon splits for individual hitters is vastly greater than the damage that could be done by a false belief that there is no individual effect at all.   Real mistakes are made every day in lineup construction and in the handling of players, the shaping of careers, based on a baseless and arbitrary belief that this particular player has no platoon split, or that he has an exceptionally large platoon split.  

 

I used to be an academic at a major state university (I now work for an auto company).  I received direct government funds for some of my research, in addition to my taxpayer/tuition  funded salary.  I also got some private funding.  The government funders were only interested in the quality and importance of the work.  The likely findings were more significant to private funders, though they did not dictate them.
Asked by: Robinsong

Answered: 4/25/2017
Thanks.   It is in everyone's interest to advance knowledge.   

 

HeyBoll:  re "Science funding" .... Wikipedia (for what its worth) says most research is funded by the private sector  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funding_of_science   agrees with your assertion.  
 
I worked in research centers for both a major oil company and an major avionics company. When I was in graduate school, our research was funded by both private and government sources - the dominate (by far) source was non-government. In the oil business all research we did was funded by the company. For the avionics company the research money was both government and corporate with government money probably about 60% of total. We helped the government develop avionic standards. Doing studies as to what is feasable, how accurate sensors are/were, failure rates, false positives, etc., all this info was used to aid in developing standards.  
 
Asked by: FrankD

Answered: 4/24/2017
 Thanks. 

 

Hey Bill, about standards…I’m now considered borderline diabetic (actually I’m officially considered diabetic; they don’t like the term ‘borderline’). As a result I was scheduled to see an ophthalmologist.  
 
He told me that 30 or more years ago hardly anyone was officially considered diabetic, but occasionally people lost a limb or went blind. Now, because the standard for that designation is so low (blood sugar levels) it seems like almost everybody ends up being considered diabetic. He finished up, saying, "In a way, it’s silly, but on the other hand very few people are losing a limb  or going blind from diabetes compared to years ago."  
 
In this case I can see where ‘lower’ standards are helpful.
Asked by: Gfletch

Answered: 4/24/2017
 OK.  Thanks. 

 

I plan on discovering a last-place all-star team of the last 35 years, based on your comment about doing it that long ago.    
Is it logical to think that with 6 last-place teams per year (6 divisions) instead of only four, would the more recent last-place all-star team be automatically better?    
 
And also, did you draw from last place teams in each division, or just from the worst individual team in each league?
Asked by: jollydodger

Answered: 4/24/2017
 If you're doing the work, you get to make the rules.   I would think any team that finishes last in their division was a last-place team. 

 

HeyBill, you mention that the pace-of-play wizards are looking at throws to first....what sort of measures do you think could work? I
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 4/24/2017
 I am in favor of completely eliminating the balk rules--which would be a tremendous favor to the pitcher--but then limiting the pitcher to one throw to first (one per plate appearance.)    He can do anything he wants on the mound; he can go into his motion, start to throw home, but then break off and throw to first--but if he does it twice and doesn't get the runner, then the runner goes to second base, or the next base.  
 
But then you get back into the nuts and bolts issues again; what if a pitcher repeatedly breaks off his pitching motion and FAKES a throw to first, but doesn't MAKE the throw.    So you have to prohibit that, too. . .

 

The Angels are in last place, though Mike Trout is having another fine year. What is the best season for a player on a last place team? I know Andre Dawson won an MVP with a last place Cubs team, and Ralph Kiner hit '51 homers for a last place Pirates team. Who am I missing?
Asked by: JackKeefe

Answered: 4/24/2017
 Chuck Klein in 1930 hit .386 with 250 hits, 158 runs scored, 170 RBI, 59 doubles, 40 homers.   That was a pretty good year; his team finished last, at 52-102.   I know somewhere I picked an all-star team of players from last-place teams, but that was probably 35 years ago.    Roy Sievers in 1957 hit .301 with 42 homers, 114 RBI, .967 RBI; in the context of time and place that may be an equally impressive season.    Steve Carlton in '72 was 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA for a last-place team, a team that went 32-87 for other pitchers; that was pretty good.   I ought to re-do that all star team. . .   

 

Re: Throwing to firsL  
 
I don't have the interview to quote exactly, but pieced together from his SABR biography I found conformation of where I read it:  
 
For a pitcher so significant in Red Sox history, surprisingly little is known about Samuel Pond "Sad Sam" Jones (1914-35). not to be confused with Samuel Sam "Toothpick" Jones from the 50's.  
 
"...In his interview with Laurence Ritter for The Glory of Their Times  
 
"'...Jones maintained that during a five-year stretch he only once threw over to first base to hold back a runner, believing that "there are only so many throws in an arm," something future Hall of Famer Eddie Plank had told him.'"  
 
Not reported in the bio but I remember reading in the interview:  
 
"I had the runner picked off by three feet, but the first baseman was so surprised that he dropped the ball and the runner was safe,"
Asked by: villageelliott

Answered: 4/24/2017
 Thanks. 

 

Not that he needs to get any better, but Mike Trout has played at about the same level since he came into the league. What do you think the chances are he takes it up a notch in the next few years?
Asked by: matt_okeefe

Answered: 4/23/2017
 Small, certainly.   I wouldn't know if it is small or remote.  

 

 
©2017 Be Jolly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.|Web site design and development by Americaneagle.com|Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy