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

Who would you rather have, Bill, Acuna or Juan Soto?
Asked by: matt_okeefe

Answered: 9/10/2019
 I actually polled that exact question in the off-season, before this season.  At that time the vote went to Acuna, although I would have chosen Soto.    It may be too close to call.  Intuitively, I guess I like Soto better.  


Hey Bill,  
What is going on with the strike zone outline as presented on TV? Watching games this past week, it has changed drastically to a smaller outline. The top line is at or under the batter's belt from between the armpits to belt. The bottom line is over the knees for short batters.  
Are the owners trying to pump up scores or are we getting indoctrinated to the new Robo-ump?  
Asked by: td2k

Answered: 9/10/2019
 ???   Anybody else seen this? 


Hi Bill,  
Why don't walks count toward a hitter's total bases? Is the idea that a walk is more a function of the pitcher's control than the batter's ability?
Asked by: dburba

Answered: 9/10/2019
I don't know, but I'm glad they don't.   You're second-guessing a decision that was made probably in the early 1870s.   It's difficult to guess exactly how the logic went at the time.   But counting a walk as a Total Base would basically just deprive of evidence, thus making the analysis of value more difficult, it would seem to me.  


Hey, Bill -  
Is there not an unprecendented number of career years this year - say, players 27 or older creating 5 win shares or more than they ever have before? (or some such measure).
Asked by: hotstatrat

Answered: 9/10/2019
 I hadn't noticed it.   Maybe.   I dunno.  


Browsing through BB Ref... How did Mo Vaughn win the 1995 MVP over Albert Belle?  You can argue Edgar Martinez too, but Albert is a direct comparison and he's better everywhere.  Maybe because Albert was a jerk?
Asked by: rtayatay

Answered: 9/10/2019
 There is zero evidence, in my view, that BBWAA voters are influenced by personal likes or dislikes of players.  There are many cases in baseball history of votes going to complete jerks who were no better than nice guys who finished third in the voting.  
Before you threw in the unsupported assumption about the voters, it was an interesting question.  There must have been something about Vaughn's that we don't see now, studying the record. But I don't know what it was.  


Twins just beat the Major League homerun  record - in August!. Bill what conclusion do we need  to have with this, homerun derby every night? Is baseball going in the right direction?
Asked by: laferrierelouis

Answered: 9/10/2019
 My guess is that this season is both the culmination of a long-term trend, and an anomaly.   Like 1930; runs got higher and higher, until finally they reached an extreme level, and baseball said "Uh oh; we'd better fix this."   This is a similar thing.  My guess is they'll fix it this winter.  


Is there any tendency of lineups that can avoid the strikeout to do better in the post-season?
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 9/10/2019
 I don't know.   I would guess that it depends on how you define "better".  


Did you see the game score of 100 for the Verlander no hitter?  14 K, 1 BB, 9 IP
Asked by: bertrecords

Answered: 9/10/2019
 I did, yes.  Thanks.  


It seems to me batters now swing at many pitches that are out of the strike zone. I can understand this happening in two-strike counts, but it seems to happen a lot even when the count is 2-0, 3-1 and 3-0. When I was a kid, if a batter was "on his own" in those counts, he would swing only at a fastball in his favorite area. Now they flail at damn near anything. Also, it doesn’t matter who the batter is. I’ve seen pitchers swing on 2-0 and 3-1.  
Have you noticed this? Do managers give a take sign anymore? What happened to working the count?  
Asked by: champs6

Answered: 9/10/2019
 I haven't noticed it, no.  I believe that the take sign is rarely used anymore, which is consistent with other evidence of changing assumptions about the power of the manager vs. the players.  In the 1960s managers gave orders.   Managers now have less authority in certain areas, I think.  


Hi Bill, been an avid follower of yours since 1983. I was wondering if you were planning on finishing that project from several months ago where you analyzed what was the best player at each position down through history, and came up with a score based on how long they held that status as best at their position. I believe you only had a couple positions left to do? Hopefully you remember the study I’m referring to. Thanks.
Asked by: RichEddy44

Answered: 9/10/2019
 I don't remember at the moment.  I'll try to look it up. . .thanks.  


An abnormally large number of players in the 70s and 80s had very long careers without ever being full-time players, or while only having 1-2 years as a full time player.   I'm thinking of players like Jim Dwyer, Jamie Quirk, Buck Martinez, Terry Crowley, Denny Walling.  Was there a philosophy of how to set up a roster in that era that led to this, or something else?
Asked by: tjmaccarone

Answered: 9/10/2019
 You'd have to establish that the premise is valid before it would seem to be worthwhile to speculate on why it was true.  


Re: Steroids as "banned substances," in MLB, Wikipedia cites a 2005 article in ESPN: The Magazine for that quote, but there's no link to that article.
Asked by: JohnPontoon

Answered: 8/22/2019
 I need context.   You're giving this to the reader with no context.   The reader wouldn't know what you were talking about.  


Hey Bill,  
I was just tooling around Baseball-Reference and noticed that Eddie Murray was only hit by a pitch 18 times in his entire career and only 3 times after 1986. He was last hit on 7/8/90 and played another 970 games without another HBP. Any idea if this is a record? Thanks.
Asked by: joedick

Answered: 8/22/2019
 Is what a record?   The record for the lowest HBP rate for a player with 1,000 career games is by Mark Lemke, who was never hit by a pitch in his career, 1,069 games, 3,664 plate appearances.  Lemke is the only player with 1,000 games who was never hit by a pitch; other players with very low HBP rates include Doug Flynn, Juan Castro, John (I am not a) Kruk, and Sandy Alomar Sr.  
Lemke, however, does not hold the record for consecutive games without being Plunked by the Potato.  That would be Ruben Sierra.  Sierra was hit by pitches only 7 times in his career which I think was 2,186 games.  He was hit by a pitch for the last time on September 4, 1990.  He played 1,461 games after that, but was never hit again.  


Hey Bill,  
For some obscure reason I just looked up Joe Smith's record.  As of this morning he has been in 768 games during his career.  
He's been in the majors for 13 years and had about half a season as a closer for the Angles, and did well.  
Solid to good and virtually unknown.  Is it because the name is so forgettable or that he has never been outstanding?  
I guess that it is pretty rare to be good to OK for so long.
Asked by: SteveN

Answered: 8/22/2019
I have forgotten who you were talking about.  


It was likely intended, but one value that the methodology used in the HOF and presidential polls is that it made me look at all candidates more closely and critically.    
I never would look and learned about some of the few percenters without the poll questions. Likewise, it made me look more deeply at the front runners when I had to answer the very simple question: who do I see as the better president.  (As opposed to who would I vote for for president - very different question)  
Same is true for the HOF candidates. You can dig deeper and compare more accurately 1 candidate to 3 others - it's impossible to do that for all candidates in one fell swoop.  (This is, of course, an intended consequence I believe).  
But my point is - it seemed to work for me in terms of making more intelligent, or at least make more thoughtful, studies and conclusions. Not only is that indicate it is a good process - on a selfish level, I thank you for helping me educate myself better.  
Asked by: lidsky

Answered: 8/22/2019
 Thank you.  I appreciate your writing. 


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