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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.

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15 Most Recent Questions

Not a question, but apropos of current events, it seems to me that in a free country no one should be forced to participate in a patriotic display against his will.
Asked by: bobfiore

Answered: 8/28/2016
 Or a birthday party, either; nobody should have to be in a birthday party.   Or a human resources training session.    Marathon.  Gunfight.   Knife fight.   Marching band.   Shouldn't have to do any of these things.  

 

Regarding the right handed left handed splits, what is the ideal amount of platoons a team should have?
Asked by: Steve9753

Answered: 8/28/2016
Isn't that question 25 years behind the time?   Who really platoons anymore, straight platoon?   

 

Hey Bill, do you put much stock in the notion that teams play better when they're "psyched up" or ""fired up?" The question is prompted by the Yankees two blow out wins in must-win games against the orioles. In football everyone accepts that there's such a factor but what about baseball?
Asked by: manhattanhi

Answered: 8/27/2016
 It isn't really a question of whether I THINK this is true, but of whether one can PROVE that it is true.   Otherwise we are just wasting words.  

 

Do you play any sort of tabletop baseball game nowadays?  I find it a welcome departure from my computer screen and TV.  
Asked by: jollydodger

Answered: 8/27/2016
 I play Ballpark Baseball.   It's a local game. . .

 

Hey Bill  
 
I just watched Jace Peterson run into a batted ball with two out, one of the few little things that have gone right for the Giants in the last month or so. It occurred to me that this usually seems to happen (at least in my shaky memory) with two outs. Do you know if that's true? It would make some sense since runners always move on a batted ball. On an even more trivial question, why is it scored a single? I was thinking about if this had happened yesterday, when the Giants had a no-hitter going into the last out. Thanks.
Asked by: wafna

Answered: 8/27/2016
 The interesting question is why this is scored as a hit, although it has no characteristics consistent with it being a hit.   I think that pre-dates the current scoring system. . .that is, it probably goes back to the 1860s, when games were sometimes 30-23, and the significance of having a hit as opposed to an out was not yet clear.   But that's a "my impression" answer; I'd be happy to hear from anybody who had a better informed answer.  

 

Cynicism is just an ugly way of being naive.
Asked by: bobfiore

Answered: 8/27/2016
 I like it. 

 

Hey, Bill, I was looking at yesterday's baseball scores this morning, and as has happened often this season, I was struck by how many high-scoring games there were.  For example, Toronto scored 15 runs, the Yankees 14, Cleveland 12, and the Mets scored 9.  I think I've read that  scoring overall is up this season, but even given that, is the number of high-scoring games--let's say at least 10 runs for the winning team--higher than one would expect this year?
Asked by: flyingfish

Answered: 8/27/2016
 No idea.  

 

Carl Sawatski came up? I remember him well from his time with the Cards, because he was my mother's favorite player, at the time when we were just starting to get numbers of games on TV. It seemed like, every time he got in a game, he would hit at least one mountain of a fly ball right down the right field foul line. 9/10 or so of them were foul, but mom lived for that one monstrous homer. He fit Sportsman's Park very well: huge fly balls way too high and far for the RF screen, along with a willingness to take walks. He was just a dead pull hitter who couldn't keep the ball fair. I might guess that his late-career quality jump might be related to the ballpark. Oddity: Johnny Keane actually played Sawatski in CENTER FIELD once, July 19, 1961. He pinch-hit Carl for Curt Flood, who was hitting .304 himself, and then put Carl in CF for one out before replacing him with Carl Warwick. Sawatski may have been the worst defensive CF candidate of all time.
Asked by: Brock Hanke

Answered: 8/27/2016
 It's not a park effect, no.   He went through a frustration cycle early in his career, which is a common thing, and a better organization than the Cubs would probably have pulled him through it and gotten out of him better years than he ever had.   The Cubs let the frustration cycle win, sent him back to the minors and messed up his career.   
 
Framed Sportsmans Park - (St. Louis) Sepia Print

 

Is cynicism really that bad? Any outlook applied to 100% of all cases is bad, of course, but I think of cynicism (which I would define succinctly as "extreme skepticism") as pretty healthy. All you have to do is listen to campaign rhetoric on either side, in any election, and say to yourself, "Well, I don't know if they really mean ALL of that, in the exact way they expect their audience to take it," and voila--you're both quite sane and quite cynical.
Asked by: 337

Answered: 8/27/2016
 That's not cynicism; that is skepticism.   Cynicism is the assumption that values are ALWAYS pretense--and yes, it is always bad, and always wrong.   

 

Have you played computer simulations of two identical teams against each other--except that one of them always has the home field advantage? If so, what results did you get? It seems like that would help shed light on the question of whether home field advantage is the product of inherent strategic advantage (like getting the last turn at bat) or something else.
Asked by: waisanhart

Answered: 8/27/2016
I did do that, 20 years ago, yes, but it doesn't show much; it shows like a .003 advantage for the home team.   It's an overly simplistic approach to a extremely complicated problem.   Very, very little of the home field advantage comes from the strategic advantage of batting last. 

 

My cynical take on the Braves is that Liberty Media, the owner, did not want to carry a relatively high payroll unless there was going to be an immediate payoff, ie, a championship.  Thus, rather than try to improve incrementally, they decided to tank all the way, reduce the payroll and hope that the new stadium would maintain attendance until the team improved.  I think the rebuild actually got out of hand; the story being put out by the team initially was that the idea was to be a contended by the time they moved into a new stadium in 2017.  Obviously, that's not going to happen.  I think that Liberty Media figured that fielding a average to slightly above average team with a medium-level payroll wouldn't have much effect on attendance, so why not go all the way and carry a much lower payroll, with the expectation that the higher revenues from the new park would support a larger payroll later?  They have put money, apparently, into scouting and player development.
Asked by: Marc Schneider

Answered: 8/26/2016
 I think the weakness of that argument. . .apart from the fact that cynicism is almost always false--is the Melvin Upton signing.   If you've decided it isn't worthwhile to spend money, why lay out $60 million or whatever it was for Melvin?   

 

Here's a link to Lopata in his stance:  
 
 
Here's a Wikipedia mention of his stance & his glasses:    
Midway through the 1954 season, Lopata started to assume a new, very low batting stance. Dizzy Dean remarked that, "He looks like a man hittin' from an easy chair." Stan met with Rogers Hornsby in Chicago, where Hornsby helped inspire Lopata to assume his new batting stance. He tried various stances in batting practice before settling with a semi-squat. The first time it was seen by opposing players and the fans, he was considered a laughingstock....The stance has since been related to that of Jeff Bagwell...Around this time, Stan also began to wear tinted glasses...becoming the first catcher in National League history to wear glasses
Asked by: 337

Answered: 8/26/2016
 Time Machine, You tube. . .it's about the same.    Thanks.  

 

Your mention of Carl Sawatski called up some memories, mostly of his baseball cards.  I hadn't realized that he had as long a career as he did.  Looking at hi numbers...four of his five best offensive seasons (as measured by OPS+ were in his age 31-35 seasons--his last 5 seasons.  That seems pretty unlikely to have happened back then, and I wondered how unusual it is.  (A sSawatski is a great name for a hitter.)
Asked by: doncoffin

Answered: 8/26/2016
 I just said that.    Yeah, he definitely had a late peak. . .I'll try to see who else is like that (among part-time players.)   Late in his career the Cardinals had him and Gene Oliver, who was kind of the same guy except right-handed.   They could both hit.  
 
(Later)
Sawatski's late-career improvement is highly unusual, if not a record.  Sawatski's career OPS was .610 through age 30, and .809 after age 30.  There are 1,669 players in history who had at least 500 plate appearances by age 30 and at least 500 after age 30, and who were not active in 2015.   On average their OPS was 24 points lower after age 30 than before, and 1,092 of the 1,669 had lower career OPS after age 30 than through age 30; the other 577 were higher.   
 
Sawatski's 199-point improvement in OPS after age 30 is the fourth-highest in the group, behind three steroid-era players (Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Ken Caminiti.)  4th is Sawatski, and then there are three guys who were about 30 years old at the start of the lively ball era (Cy Williams, George Harper and Ken Williams), so that their pre-30 production is in the dead ball era, but their post-30 production is in the lively ball era.   There is really no other Carl Sawatski in history, although there are guys who are vaguely similar like Jim Hickman, Tom Prince, Hank Gowdy, Hank Severeid and Charlie Lau.  

 

WOW!  YOU added a picture to a reply?  Congrats on your technical growth...
 
 
Image result for charles manson photos
Asked by: Bruce

Answered: 8/26/2016
 Be careful with the sarcasm.   Next I'll add a picture to your question. . .in fact, I'm going to try that right now. 

 

Being a four-eyed Khoury League catcher in St Louis during the days Carl Sawatski was a Cardinal, he was obviously my hero. Besides, he taught me the truth of one of the Great Truths in Life, as espoused by the Dean of Great St. Louis Backstop: It ain’t over till it is over.  
 
Back when the Cardinals still played in Sportsmen’s Park, they featured Fri Night Teen Nights. The place was packed with pubescent. Most of us took one of the two-dozen Redbird Expresses. Seating was at a premium. My friend and I stood the entire trip to the ballpark. We were not about to repeat that ride in reverse.  
 
Sometime during the top of the ninth, even with the score tied, we started to wend our way down to where all the buses were lined up. We had just found and boarded ours when we heard the crowd erupt. Carl Sawatski had hit a walk off that we missed  
 
.1961-07-14 ://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196107140.shtml  
 
Only in emergencies or if prearranged have I since left a game before Mama Cass sings …  
 
 
 
Asked by: villageelliott

Answered: 8/26/2016
 Great name for a hitter, too. . .Sa-WAT-ski.  

 

 
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