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

I wonder if the Bobby Bragan magazine article you referred to was one written about him, by Melvin Durslag, in Collier's, March 1956. I did a little google searching and that's the only magazine article from that period that seems to turn up. The article is easily seen online at this address: https://www.unz.com/print/Colliers-1956mar02-00052/. Admittedly I'm not real confident that that's it, including because I don't find any highly striking strategic ideas in it. The most unusual one in there seems to be that due to wanting the players to be aggressive, he didn't believe in having a steal sign, just an occasional don't-steal sign.
Asked by: MarisFan61

Answered: 2/15/2019
 Appreciate the effort.  


So, I think Sewell hated Cullenbine, but the SABR bio on Cullenbine attributes the lazy player quote to Bill DeWitt, Sr.  (father of the guy who currently is part of the Cardinals ownership group).  To quote the quote:  "General manager Bill DeWitt said, "Sewell would give him the hit sign and he’d take it, trying to get a base on balls. Laziest human being you ever saw.""  
Do you think someone with a million dollars and a time machine could go to 1948, buy the A's or Browns, trade for guys like Cullenbine, Stanky, Yost, Joost, etc and compete with the Yankees for the pennant every year?  In other words was there that much inefficiency because of the failure to understand why walks or not making outs matter that you could build a great offense out of underappreciated players at that time?
Asked by: bhalbleib

Answered: 2/15/2019
 Yes, there was that much market inefficiency.   Certainly.  


I think Bragan used Felipe Alou as his leadoff guy one year. Was that what you were thinking of? (Checked--in 1966, F. Alou batted leadoff in 127 games "despite" hitting 31 HRs, which struck people as strange. Overall, the pious Alou batted 666 times in '66, which I'm sure he wouldn't have done if he had known.)
Asked by: the empty-handed painter from your streets

Answered: 2/15/2019
 Nah. . . .I remembered that.   He wrote an article for LIFE or LOOK or somebody, about 1957 maybe, in which he outlined some controversial ideas about managing, some of which were ahead of their time.  I will be disappointed if nobody in our audience remembers it more clearly than that.  


I ran the Instant Runoff system against the 2016 AL Cy Young, which you may remember that Porcello won, even though Verlander had more 1st place votes.  In the Instant Runoff, Porcello wins 16-14:  
Asked by: tangotiger

Answered: 2/15/2019


Not a question but perhaps an expansion of your point about hitter walks in the Cullenbine answer.  In the early to mid seventies I lived in a town that was home to the Pirates’ high A affiliate.  I knew two guys who worked for the team and both told me the same thing: the way the Pirates played offense was to be aggressive:  swing the bat and hit line drives.  Walks were for sissies.  The Lumber Company meant hitting, not walking.  The Pirates May have been the epitome of this philosophy but they weren’t it’s sole practitioner.  It was a common belief in 20th century baseball, just as you said.
Asked by: evanecurb

Answered: 2/15/2019


A while back you mentioned that teams sometimes overshifted in the old days, but nobody remembers -- except for the case of Ted Williams -- because not many games were on TV and the only people who saw it were those at the games. Just adding to that, I came across a reference in the Sporting News (July 6, 1963) that the Braves had "stationed three infielders between second third base on Rookie Bob Bailey." And Bailey hit .228 that year, so he wasn't exactly Willie McCovey.
Asked by: BobGill

Answered: 2/14/2019
 That would have been Bobby Bragan, managing the Braves.   Bragan did a lot of forward-looking stuff.  He used Eddie Mathews as a leadoff man.  I can't call it up now, but I remember Bragan doing something else that was perceived as weird at the time, but which is now standard.  
He was too far ahead of his time in those things.  His ideas didn't sell, and also I think that SOME of what he tried to do may have been a little goofy.   Thanks for the reference.   


You mentioned Roy Cullenbine in your last article. I don't know a thing about him, but how do you figure something like that could happen, such a valuable player and nobody realizes it? Have you ever come across any anecdotal evidence... you know, like guys saying "what the hell's wrong with the front office, releasing the best player on the team."
Asked by: manhattanhi

Answered: 2/14/2019
 In one of those imitiation "Glory of their Times" books, I think it was a Donald Honig book from the 1970s.. ..sportswriter interviewed players from the 1930s.  I am sure somebody can give us the details.  Anyway, Luke Sewell, who had been Cullenbine's manager during the war, talked about getting rid of Cullenbine because he said. . .I am pretty sure this is almost a direct quote. . .that Cullenbine was a lazy player who was always trying to get on base by the walk.   
I know that this level of ignorance about that subject is inconceivable to us now, but baseball men of that era genuinely had no understanding of the value of the walk.  Information about how often each player walked was not widely available.   On Base Percentage, as a stat, basically did not exist.   There were regular stat summaries in the Sunday newspapers every week, lists of league leaders in the papers every day, box scores every day, information about players in Who's Who in Baseball, The Baseball Register, baseball cards and other sources, but there were very few sources for batter's walks.  The SPorting News in the 1960s would print "complete" player stats every week, but those did not include walk totals; about four times a year they would print a "special" list of stats that included strikeouts and walks by each hitter.  
I know this is incredible, but Cullenbine's managers almost certainly did not KNOW how many times he had walked in a season, and certainly did not know what his on base percentage was.  They made decisions based on the information that was in circulation, and that information was not in circulation.  


Sorry for burying the question prompted by the Oscars' "preferential" or "ranked choice" voting for Best Picture.  Do you think that preferential/ranked choice voting produces more sensible results for political elections or baseball elections (Golden Glove, MVP), than current systems?
Asked by: tkoegel

Answered: 2/14/2019
 I'd have to study it.   In baseball, a weighted ballot such as is used for the MVP Award works vastly better than a one-vote system because it collects much more information about how the voters really feel.   I would be concerned about a system such as that used in Maine, because it eliminates information in the "extended rounds" of the process, rather than making fair use of the additional information which is collected. 
Politicians are geniuses are manipulating ballots.  A friend of mine ran for State Treasurer maybe 15 years ago; the man holding the office had been involved in a financial scandal.  All of the newspapers endorsed my friend for the office, but the incumbent (in the primary) got three of his friends to also run for the office.   They divided the anti-incumbent vote four ways and allowed him to "win" the primary with 38% of the vote or something like that.  Then he got crushed in the general election. 
I would be concerned that a ranked-vote system in a political election would lead to "straw man" candidacies and general confusion, and thus would become another tool used by the two parties to evaporate the center and inflame the passions of the extremists.   It works in baseball because you can't run a straw man candidate for MVP.   In order for it to work in politics you would have to have some sort of very solid ballot qualification procedure which did allow one side or the other to manipulate the process.  


I love the list of top 25 position player who qualify for the Hall in the 2019 BJH based on HOFV.  Will you be doing a version for pitchers any time soon?
Asked by: wiley1842

Answered: 2/14/2019
 I don't really plan out my work that way.   I can see an argument for doing it.  


RE: the Wikipedia page about Tommy John-  
That claim that Mike Marshall aided Tommy John's recovery from UCL surgery is partly true. But I believe whoever updated that page back on September 9 2010 (I checked to find when that information was added) mistakenly confused Dr. Marshall's current teachings with what he knew back in 1975 and overstates that contribution.  
Mike Marshall's words, part of his reply to question #980 from 2010:  
The writer wrote that Tommy John miraculously returned in 1976 and continued playing until 1989.  
What the writer did not know or write was that I taught Tommy John how to do my wrist weight exercises and how to pendulum wing his pitching arm to driveline height in one smooth, continuous movement.  
Even though he did not understand why I taught him to use my wrist weights and pendulum swing his pitching arm to driveline height in one smooth, continuous movement, that is what I did for my Dodger teammate and friend, Tommy John.  
Asked by: stevebogus

Answered: 2/14/2019


Do you think it is a coincidence that our two most revered presidents are also likely the first two you would pick in a presidential battle royal?  Perhaps Gerald Ford, star offensive lineman of the 1932 national champion Wolverines, would be in the mix, but both Washington and Lincoln are clearly in the top 3, with Lincoln my #1 pick.  Both of those men gain ever more if you adjust for the era.  Did you know that Honest Abe is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame?  
Asked by: Ben from New York

Answered: 2/14/2019
 I didn't know that there was a National Wrestling Hall of Fame.  


I'm responding to a comment that you retweeted:  "I miss the days when two ace starters would match up and go 9 innings each."  The last game in which that was literally true (both starters pitched at least 9 innings, not just an 8-inning complete game loss for one of them) was April 16, 2014.  Julio Teheran of the Braves outdueled Cliff Lee of the Phillies for a 1-0 win.  Pitch counts were 115 and 128.  Who knows if we'll ever see such a game again.  
I don't have a question here but just thought it was worth sharing that tidbit.
Asked by: MWeddell

Answered: 2/14/2019
 Consider it shared.  


What do you think of Julian Edelman's Hall of Fame case?  
Aside from the extremely high bar for the NFL, it's interesting due to the playoff contribution.  He was a key player on 3 Super Bowl champions and is #2 in playoff receptions and receiving yards.  It's maybe like El Duque on steroids.  Metaphorically, of course.
Asked by: Ben from New York

Answered: 2/14/2019
 I don't know enough about Football to comment, honestly.  


In a Feb. 2 article, you shared an equation based upon 3 variables, for establishing an estimate of playing time; and made it clear that, This is only dealing with position players; not dealing with pitchers right now.  Is there a chance (as you see it) that an establishment of a pitcher's playing time, for a similar project, could be had from the pitcher's innings pitched or batters faced, without further computation?  Does the proposal of such an unexamined suggestion put you immediately in mind of a potential pitfall(s), that you might share with me, that could ruin the usefulness of the pitching data were the calculations to be carried out with such simplicity (or simple-mindedness, as the case may be)?
Asked by: articmike

Answered: 2/14/2019
 Not sure that I'm following all your words there, but. . . .I did develop a parallel system to evaluate the playing time of pitchers, and thus the .500 point for Win Shares based on playing time.   I developed that system (for pitchers) a day or two after I published the previous article, but I have been working on this series of articles (starts tommorrow) and i haven't had time to write up the other method, the pitcher's method.  I'm not sure when I will get to it; I am buried in work.  


HeyBill! So it struck me suddenly while watching the AOC tax proposals the it would cause a seismic shake in contract designs, unless Mookie likee giving 70 percent of his income over 10 million to the feds.  
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 2/14/2019
 There would be some adjustments.  Canada used to have high tax rates in the upper brackets; don't know where they are now, since I'm not in the contracts end of the business.   But it became a workaround in negotiating contracts with Canadian teams.   You had to find ways to dump the money in places where it could eventually flow to the player without going through the wrong wicket.   
If anybody cares. . . I'm all in favor of actions to address excessive income inequality.   I think great and obvious income inequality is corrosive of democracy and corrosive of our culture.  I am skeptical that you can fix the problem by tax brackets.   In my view there are other things you can do that have a better chance of flattening out the Lorenz Curve than creating confiscatory taxes.   


©2019 Be Jolly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.|Web site design and development by Americaneagle.com|Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy