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Hey Bill,  
RE: Luis Leal/Blue Jays. I was a young teenager when Luis was pitching and my recollection is that the Jays didn't like him very much, but of course as a Venezuelan I am biased and really don't trust my memory very much. However, this was him from 1981 thru 1984: 107ERA+, 11WAR, 26 COMPLETE GAMES! including 10 in 1982, but a W/L of 45/48. His numbers look pretty decent although his ERA was in the high 3's, and I don't see any sign of his performance dropping. Then he pretty much disappeared after '85. Do you have any idea why was he gone that fast? Also, that early 80's Jays pitching staff was something else!
Asked by: llozada

Answered: 5/18/2019
 No, I don't remember what happened to him; some sort of injury I would assume.  For a young pitcher to have a career-ending injury after one really good year or two or three really good years is more the rule than the exception.  Most pitchers do.  


Hey, Bill. When a pitcher throws a shutout and hits a home run in the same game, as Noah Syndergaard did today, I call that a "Superman game." As in, that's what would happen if Clark Kent, tired of hiding his powers from the world, tried out for the Smallville High baseball team. Superman game.  
What do you think?
Asked by: Jason

Answered: 5/18/2019
 Syndergaard's was certainly a Superman game.   When Rick Wise pitched a no-hitter and also hit two home runs, that was certainly a Superman game.   It would seem to me that you need to stretch the definition a little; what if an outfielder drives in 6 runs in a game and also throws out the tying run at the plate.  George Brett had a game in the '85 playoffs where, as I recall, he got four extra base hits and also made a completely incredible defensive play to nail a runner at home plate.  It would seem to me that if ONLY a pitcher is eligible for the term, that that's a limitation.   But it could work.  


So what's the deal with Stormont-Vail Hospital? PS: if I rode 3000 miles on an exercise bike, my feet would crack. Jes sayin'....
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 5/18/2019
 My feet used to crack, too, when I wasn't doing any exercise.   But since I put lotion on them every day, they don't crack.   I suspect yours wouldn't, either.  


The MLB/AAA baseball is contributing to more homeruns this year.  Some say you can measure the how ball is different with Statcast data-- (velocity crossing home plate)/(velocity at mound) .  If the ball has less drag it carries further causing more homeruns.  
As is, pitchers are getting hijacked (but maybe not on teams with more information) because MLB does not adequately control or MLB decides to change the equipment of the game without telling everyone.  
Should MLB measure and publish what is going on with the balls so that the information is more uniform?  
Asked by: bertrecords

Answered: 5/18/2019
 Not sure EXACTLY what you are asking.   MLB has been insisting for years that (a) we rigorously test our baseballs, and (b) the tests show that there is no change in the baseballs.   To which my answer is "Well, goddammit then, CHANGE IT."   What is the point of measuring something if you're not going to do anything with the measurement.   I suppose that publishing the data would be a small step forward, but I don't think they're lying about their tests showing that the resiliancy of the baseballs has not changed.  I'm sure they're telling the truth.   My argument would still be that if the resiliancy of the baseballs has not changed, WHY HAVEN'T YOU CHANGED IT?   


As an old Yankees fan (since switched to Cleveland), I was tickled to see Mattingly make your list there. And no mention of Kirby Puckett!
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 5/18/2019
 Yeah. . .well, Kirby was a fun player.  


You mentioned awhile back that Nolan Ryan was known for messing with the ball in his later years, but no one would talk about it.  
I had the feeling that some of what Greg Maddox was able to do with the ball seemed... astounding at the end. He had darting movement he lacked early on. Maybe that was craftiness, but it sure seemed like he was doing something.
Asked by: Christopher

Answered: 5/18/2019
 Yes.  You never know; if one player is able to do something that nobody else can do, is that because he has a unique skill, or is it because he has figured out a trick?   In the case of Mariano, for example, pretty sure that was a unique skill.  In the case of Maddox. . .hey, that ball sure moves funny, don't it?  


Not a question but a comment. It was a treat to meet you at the Library of Congress last Saturday; thanks for taking my question. I must confess that when you said old teams that don't care about being good would try to move a player to a defensive position where he might be over matched (paraphrasing here) my mind immediately jumped to Josh Bell's latest adventure at first base for the Pirates. Under present ownership I fear I'll not see another World Championship in my lifetime and I'm only 63.  
All the best.
Asked by: DanaKing

Answered: 5/17/2019
 Not sure what I said that you're paraphrasing there, but it was nice to meet you, as well.  Thanks for coming to the event.  


Just curious. Who are some of your all-time favorite players? Not in any analytical sense but just guys you were a big fan of.
Asked by: earlweaver

Answered: 5/17/2019
 Amos Otis.  MInnie Minoso.  Ron Santo.   Jim Kaat, when he was young.   Catfish Hunter.  Bert Campaneris.  Ed Charles, Norm Siebern.  Lonnie Smith.  David Ortiz.  Jason Varitek.  Don Mattingly.  


Hi Bill,  
Based on your comments about women's college basketball, I know that you occasionally enjoy watching women's college sports. On May 10, 2019, Drake senior Nicole Newman set a new record by throwing her fifth perfect game in a season. I feel like fast-pitch softball has a competitive imbalance that is too advantageous to the pitcher. Do you think they should change the sport so that hitters have a greater chance to influence a game? Or is the sport fine the way it is? And if they changed it, what would be the easiest way to introduce more offense? Thanks for your thoughts!  
Asked by: RoelTorres

Answered: 5/17/2019
 If it was my decision, I'd modify the sport so that games were 4-3 or 6-4, rather than 1-0.  But if they're happy with the audience they have, well. . .who am I to complain, you know? 


Bill: I was looking at Verlander's career box this morning and noticed he's now 27-10 with the Astros, which I immediately recognized as Carlton's W-L record with the '72 Phillies. Here's how they line up in some other key categories:  
        Carlton             Verlander  
IP:      346.1                305.1  
H:        257                   216  
K:        310                   401  
BB:       87                     56  
HR:       17                     42  
ERA:    1.97                  2.36  
Obviously you're looking at different eras ('72 was a big pitcher's year), different parks, and, most of all, the difference between playing for a WS winner and a terrible last-place team. I give Carlton a big advantage in HR, Verlander a big advantage in strikeouts, and a smaller edge to Verlander in walks. All in all, I think Verlander has basically pitched as well as 1972 Steve Carlton since coming over to the Astros (split over two seasons, mind you, so not as valuable).
Asked by: Phil Dellio

Answered: 5/17/2019
 Verlander is the number 1 pitcher in baseball right now.   Carlton was the #1 pitcher in 1972, I would suppose.   But you know. . .doing something over the course of three seasons is not the same as doing it in one season.   


Hey Bill,  
We hear a lot about how pitchers today are throwing every pitch at maximum effort and this is taking a tremendous toll on their arms.  I wonder if there's a better way that's worth trying.  I heard a recent quote from Jim Kaat.  The father of a pitching prospect told him that his son was striking guys out in high school and his fastball had been clocked in nineties.  Kaat's response was "That's great, but if you want him to learn to pitch, teach him to get guys out throwing the fastball at 86."  All that is prelude to two questions:  Are pitching prospects today who don't throw in the mid nineties seriously considered as prospects?  Would pitchers be more durable if they were able to limit the number of max effort pitches to a fraction of their total?  
Asked by: evanecurb

Answered: 5/17/2019
 I think probably every team in every draft picks up a few guys who don't throw hard.   Sometimes the scouts may project that they MAY throw hard in the future, but what is called "pitchability" is still a huge, huge element in evaluating prospects.  
You have to get people out; that's still the bottom line.  If you can get people out throwing 86, somebody will notice, and you'll move up the ladder.   You certainly will jump up the ladder more quickly if you throw harder, but if you can get people out, there is a place for you.   


How does management typically feel about a mid-career player running through a stop sign for an inside the park HR making the score 11-0 in the 8th inning?  Head case?  Over exuberant?   Smart?  No reaction at all?
Asked by: bertrecords

Answered: 5/17/2019
 I couldn't speak for a typical management.   


Hey, Bill!  
When/where is [i}Floating Kansas[/i] going to be available.  Am really looking forward to reading it.
Asked by: Davidg32

Answered: 5/17/2019
 I appreciate the thought.   We don't have a contract to publish it; will start working on that next week.  I would anticipate that it will be at least a year until we are out in print.   I'll keep you posted here and via twitter.  Thanks.  


Hey Bill, looks like there are some similarities so far between Xander Bogaerts second season in 2015 at age 22 and Rafael Devers second season at the same age. Are they that similar as hitters ?  
Asked by: gingras

Answered: 5/14/2019
 I wouldn't say so, no.  Xander is a right-hander with a really easy stroke.  He'll take a comfortable, easy swing and, if the bat collides with the ball, you'll say "Wow; I can't believe he hit the ball that far with that swing."  Devers is a lefty with an astonishing quick bat; in his case when he connects you say "Wow; I can't believe he got to that pitch."  Devers is like. . .not suggesting that he is going to be as good a hitter as Willie Stargell was, but he reminds out of Willie Stargell, in that he generates incredible power with a tremendously QUICK swing.  The pitches they are looking to hit are different, so their chase patterns are different.  They may post similar numbers, but they're not similar hitters.  


Re: players maintaining the field... about 5 years ago I attended a Brooklyn Cyclones game (short season A, Mets), there were MASSIVE rains, and the whole team was out there with squeegees to get things going. The tradition isn't dead yet.
Asked by: PB

Answered: 4/8/2019
 That's minor league ball.   The fact that this kind of thing happened in what people call "major league" ball in the 19th century is the central reason that it isn't actually major league baseball.   


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