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15 Most Recent Questions

Do you have an idea what the historical MLB suspension was for on field brawls? I feel like the Angels-Mariners brawl suspensions were harsh. 12 people were suspended from it. My impression was that historically, players got lesser suspensions and fewer players received suspensions. The Red Sox-Yankees playoff brawl resulted in zero suspensions despite Pedro Martinez throwing Don Zimmer to the ground. Robin Ventura only got 2 games for the fight with Nolan Ryan. A-Rod and Varitek received 4 games for their brawl.
Asked by: Taylor

Answered: 6/29/2022
 I don't think there is an historical standard.  There have been hundreds of serious brawls in history from which no one was suspended.  It's pretty much like asking what the general rule is for how many people are injured when there is a traffic accident.  Each one is different.  


Hey Bill,  
In the "I've never seen it before" category, Austin Nola drove in the only run off brother Aaron in a 1-0 game last week. The only remotely similar occurrence I recall is Phil Niekro beating brother Joe with a home run in another 1-0 game. That won't happen again due to the dh. Do you recall anything else like that?  
Asked by: AJD600

Answered: 6/29/2022
 No, but I remember Mike Maddux saying he could kick his brother's ass at Whiffle Ball.  


Speaking of low RBI totals, I read that Aaron Judge is on pace for 61 HR and 125 RBI. Yes I know the caveat about projections. The RBI total seemed oddly low until I found out the Yankees have Judge hitting 2nd in the lineup. Every 60+ HR man in history had over 140 RBI with the exception of Barry Bonds 73 HR total which netted him 137 RBI due to bad OBP hitters in front of him.  
I know that analytics believed that the best hitter should be placed in the #2 slot. However, doesn't make sense to have the best hitter at 3-5 if he's a HR hitter? A Juan Soto .420 OBP, 35 HR type seems more suited at #2 than a Aaron Judge .370 OBP, 60 HR type.
Asked by: Taylor

Answered: 6/29/2022
 I'm really not sure what analytics you are referring to there.  I don't know that anyone has a good general understanding of the issue.  IF there is an advantage to having your best hitter batting second, I would be that it is an advantage of less than one run a year.   


With the boys we were talking about Bonds and the 2002 World Series.  20 years celebration the other day at Angel Stadium.  I don't like the intentional walk.  I've been told you don't either.  Barry was the king of the world then.  During the Series he went 8 for 17 with 4 home runs, and the Angels walked him 13 times.  (Stats courtesy of evanecurb).  An argument can be made that if the Angles had pitched to Bonds every time, the Giants would have won the World Series.  As much as I hate the intentional walk, I'm happy to have the World Championship.  Do you agree?
Asked by: mauimike

Answered: 6/29/2022
 About what?   Am I happy the Angels won the World Series in 2002?  I'm kind of indifferent about that.   
The rules SHOULD say that a team drawing a walk has the right to reject the walk and insist that you pitch to the batter at any time, regardless of whether it is an intentional walk or not, and then if you walk him again the cost goes up.. . .for example, batter could go to second base if he is "repeat walked", or the second walk could become a "force walk" which advanced all runners by a base even if there is an empty base between them.   
The reason it should say that is that the point of the walk rule is to say to the pitcher's team, "OK, you can't get him out, so he wins.   He gets to take his base."  That's the purpose of the walk:  to force the pitcher to pitch to the batter.   But sometimes, the cost of the walk is not adequate to enforce the underlying rule, not adequate to force the pitcher to pitch to the batter.   When that happens, rather than allowing the pitching team to jump down an escape hatch at what they regard as an acceptible cost, the rational thing to do is the allow the team receiving the walk to double the bet if they choose to do so.  


Have you ever looked into creating some kind of similarity scores for teams? I was wondering if there might be a way to look back and see which teams won most similarly - strong starters vs. bullpens, a few stars vs. a balanced roster, pitching & defense vs. hitting prowess. Obviously, the most similar teams would probably be two teams that were .500 and pretty mediocre at everything. But maybe it would be interesting to research among teams that won pennants or made the postseason or something. Have you ever looked at something like that? If not, what factors might you consider if embarking upon such research? (sorry if that's too big a question.)
Asked by: DrDoom

Answered: 6/29/2022
 Yes, I created (and published) similarity scores for teams many years ago.   I remember after the 1983 season I was on Nightline with Ted Koppel four days one week heading into or during the Playoffs, and I described the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox, the American League division champions, as being "Twin Teams", based on having a very high similarity score.  . . .Chicago was 99-63, Baltimore 98-64, Chicago had scored 800 runs, Baltimore 799, Chicago had allowed 650 runs, Baltimore 652, similar numbers of home runs hit and home runs allowed, both teams hit in the .260s.   Tony Kubek was broadcasting the series, and he took the time to say at length that they were NOT twin teams, because Chicago stole a lot of bases and Baltimore didn't, etc.   One perception is as valid as the others; I was just suggesting that it was a way to look at them; they were alike in a lot of ways.
I always intended similarity scores to be a flexible concept, different for every study, re-invented for every study, and, to me, they are.   On the level of teams, one way to look at it is infield strength vs. outfield, hitting vs. pitching, bullpen stregnth.   Team age.  No two teams are going to be similar in all respects, so how similar they are depends on what it is you are trying to study.   In other words, similarity scores are not supposed to produce an absolute outcome; they are supposed to be a part of a process of enquiry.  Which is the same thing Tom says about WAR; it is supposed to adjust relative to the inputs. 


Bill, a hitter’s "success rate" can be quickly, roughly determined by his OBP. Are "good at-bats" that result in an out also recorded by teams as a positive for a hitter? For example: Caught line drives, 6+ pitches, deep fly ball, or just executed the game plan as per his manager and hitting coach. Is it possible that (H+BB+SAC+ROE+("GOOD AB")) is over 50% for good hitters?
Asked by: DHM

Answered: 6/29/2022
I'm sorry, but I think it is almost impossible to answer the question the way it is worded.  Terms like "success rate" and "good at bats" could have a thousand different definitions.  It isn't generally teams that count things like hard-contact at bats; it is mostly done by companies like this one, although many teams now count those kind of things, but it has always been us who have taken the lead in counting things like that, not teams.   It is just not really clear what you are asking.   If all you are asking about is that formula. . . the average hitter now has about zero sacrifice hits in a season, so that wouldn't change anything very much, but Reached on Error is also counted and published, so that wouldn't be hard to figure.  


Hey Bill,  
No real question here. I just wanted to say thank you for your response to my question regarding shrinking the roster size and positional players taking the mound. I think your addendum on added athleticism is an excellent one, and as you say, these changes would greatly increased the enjoyment value for the fans. I would strongly support a roster reduction to 20 players. Now if only Major League Baseball and the Player's Association could see the long term benefits of making the game more fun.
Asked by: Roel

Answered: 6/29/2022
 When they do, we'll appoint you to be commissioner.


Hey Bill, about Rabbit Maranville. I'm sure you remember that Leo Durocher as a young boy was heavily influenced by Maranville. In 'Nice Guys Finish Last' Leo remembers that rabbit taught him to cut the palm out of glove to help toughen his catching hand up. Durocher continued this practice right into his major league career and then, breaking in a new glove he suddenly thought to himself, "Why? Why am I doing this?" and stopped.  
I love that story for the lesson it imparts about respect and tradition being modified by independent thought, about reconsideration of...I don't know...tribal wisdom?  
Durocher is an interesting character, isn't he? He brought the benefit of disrespect to the game of baseball, his attitudes holding sway for a time and then being supplanted by those who didn't respect what he did.  
Another gem from that book, Durocher writing about his relationship with his father, that '...the parent does everything for the child, and the child is ungrateful.'
Asked by: Gfletch

Answered: 6/28/2022
 I actually don't remember that passage from Nice Guys Finish Last.  Thanks. 


Ever studied who has managed the teams that hit the most batters?  I'd like to see the average number of hitters that get plunked per season by pitching staffs managed by xxxxxxxxxx compared to the average number of the same by staffs managed by anyone other than xxxxxxxx in those seasons.  
Asked by: Jaytaft

Answered: 6/28/2022
 I'm sorry, but there is no way I can allow you to slander a manager in this space based on your just not liking him.   The research would be pretty easy, but I've never done any research the point of which is to make someone look like a bad person.   A bad PLAYER, maybe.  


Hey Bill,  
you once said Willy Mo Pena had the best workout the Red Sox ever had.
Asked by: Stevez9753

Answered: 6/28/2022
Incorrect; I have never said that. 


Hey Bill,  
I know that you mentioned an ideal MLB maximum roster size for you would be about 20 players per team. But you are also opposed to position players being asked to pitch. Would those two principles end up in opposition to each other -- wouldn't a 20 player roster force more innings from position players? Or am I missing something (as usual)? Thanks!
Asked by: Roel

Answered: 6/27/2022
Any two principles you can act, if they are in the same arena, will ALWAYS, at some point, come into conflict, absolutely 100% of the time.  You cannot create two principles that never come into conflict.   That's why Republicans can always accuse Democrats of hypocrisy, and Democrats can always accuse Republicans of hypocrisy.   The principles espoused by both parties do, in fact, create internal conflicts.   Resolving those conflicts is not a matter of absolute fealty to principles, but rather, of balancing the obligations created by the conflicting principles.  
I would not object to position players pitching IF IT WAS NECESSARY.   However, I question your assumption  that shrinking the roster would increase the number of those situations.   Much more likely, it would decrease them.  
When I became a baseball fan, teams commonly had 9-man pitching staffs, occasionally 8.   Outfielders pitching (I think) was far less common then than it is now.   As the number of pitchers on a staff increases, the roles assigned to each pitcher become more specific, more limited, and therefore more limiting. 
In 1960, although there was SOME left/right switching and although there was very common pinch hitting for pitchers, every pitcher took the mound with the INTENTION of finishing the game.  Whether he started the game or came in in the 4th inning or the 7th inning, every pitcher was hoping to reach the 27th out, if he could be effective enough to stay in the game and if it was not necessary to pinch hit for him.  
Now, if your starting pitcher is knocked out of the game int he 4th inning, that starts a parade of relievers, each of whom is only going to pitch one or at most two innings--even though, with the universal DH, there is never a need to remove him for a pinch hitter.  This guy can't pitch two innings at a time; that guy can't pitch on consecutive days, so you run out of pitchers.   If you shrink the roster, that mindset goes away (because it is massively unsustainable)  and we revert to the world in which each pitcher hopes and expects to pitch until the seagulls cover the field.   Which is a much, much better game FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE FAN.  
Expanding a little more, a little later, on what may already be an overlong answer.   
"Athleticism" has a very, very broad definition.  If you ask "what is an athlete", athleticism involves strength, speed, quickness, agility, co-ordination, endurance, balance, determination, and other qualities.  "Strength" implies arm strength (the ability to throw), core strength, leg strength, shoulder strength.  Co-ordination means hand/eye co-ordination, but also footwork, upper body/lower boy co-ordination, and other things.  
Any sport involves all of these things to some extent, with the balance in each sport being different than any other sport.  However, as you expand the roster, you narrow the range of athleticism demanded from each player.  A football lineman needs STRENGTH, immense strength, but not great running speed, and he doesn't need to be able to throw.  
Strategy in all sports, I suppose, but certainly in baseball. . . .evolving strategy depends on finding more efficient ways to USE the roster, which in effect expands the roster.   Moving players constantly up and down between majors and minors, as is done now, in effect expands the roster.   
In adding more pitchers to the staff, we have demanded more arm strength, but have dismissed almost entirely the concept of endurance.  A pitcher doesn't need to run fast, necessarily (although many do or can). . .but a pitcher doesn't need to run fast, he doesn't need to hit.  He just needs to throw really hard, have two or three release grips that make the ball move in different directions, and he needs to be able to hit his target.  
But is this optimal from the standpoint of the fan?   I would argue that it is not; further, I would argue that it is NEVER optimal, from the standpoint of the fan, to narrow the range of athleticism demanded of the athlete.  The more you narrow the range of athleticism demanded of the athlete, the less of an athletic contest it becomes.  


Hey, Bill,  
I’m confused. On 6/25 you wrote:  
If, as you say, gambling is a cash cow FOR baseball, then that wouldn't seem to raise an issue.  The issue is raised if there is gambling external to baseball that baseball does not profit from, but someone else does.    
Seems to me that the potential of home plate umpires shaving points is an issue whether baseball makes money from it or not. The fans’ implicit acceptance of the integrity of the game is all that keeps the game from living on a plane with professional wrestling. What am I missing?  
Asked by: DanaKing

Answered: 6/27/2022
 The context in which the comment was made.  


The Automatic Ball-Strike (ABS) system means that the cameras/software determine the ball-strike, and a ball/strike call is sent to the umpire's ear piece.  The umpire repeats what he hears.    
The "challenge" system means that the umpires continues to make the calls like they've always done, but the manager can ask for an ABS-intervention.  And those very times, the ABS system would then take precedence.  
We have a detailed account of how ABS works, along with what we've learned (things you might not even think about it, until it's actually in use) here:  
Asked by: tangotiger

Answered: 6/27/2022
 Thanks.  Guessing you meant very FEW times?  
I remember when instant replay started, before it was actually used, the umpires were all against it because it was somehow going to undermine the prestige and respect of umpires.  And within a half-season of it being in use, the umpires spun around and became its biggest backers.  No umpires wants to be Don Denkinger, haunted to his grave by a call that becomes infamous.  
You do see games occasionally that turn on an umpire blowing a strike call. .  .I know the Red Sox have lost at least 2-3 games this year because umpires missed a strike call, and I am sure that we have won as many as we lost, but I just don't remember those.   I remember a game in that horrible April period when we were blowing leads in the 8th and 9th inning almost every day, there was an obvious strike three (by our pitcher) that would have ended the inning, but it was called Ball Four, the inning continued and the inning blew up on us, cost us the game.   Things like that are "part of the game" in the same sense that an unsightly rash is part of your body.  You get rid of it if you can.  


you blocked a friend of mine on Twitter for making a silly joke instead of appropriately responding to your Joe Maddon manager poll. He has a heretofore unblemished record of never being blocked by anyone on Twitter. Any way we can get him "unblocked" if he promises to not respond snarkily to any more polls?
Asked by: sprox

Answered: 6/27/2022
I have a very short leash on Twitter, because Twitter can turn so nasty so quickly, so suddenly, that you just can't let things go that would ordinarily be . . . .well, no worse than stuff that I say here or that others say to me here.  
I always feel bad about blocking people, and I always wish there was some way to ask or inform people that this is a no-insults-allowed account, but I've never figured out how to do that.  When I have tried to give people a little bit of space to back off of offensive comments, what has always happened--literally 100% of the time in my experience--is that instead of recognizing my limits, they always get their back up and double down on whatever the offensive material was.   I don't want to block people, but even more than that I don't want to engage in a nasty back-and- forth with them BEFORE I block them.   So my rule is, if you say something offensive, I immediately block you   If more people would follow that practice, twitter would not be what it is.  
Anyway, send me his Twitter handle (here) and I'll un-block him.  


Where have you stood on Rabbit Maranville being in Cooperstown?  Do you think his glovework was enough to merit his inclusion?  I know he was a famous player which didn't hurt his cause.  
Thank you!
Asked by: Manushfan

Answered: 6/27/2022
 I don't have a stance on the issue.  There is no one in history truly comparable to Maranville, so it is hard to say he doesn't belong.  


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