Hey Bill

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15 Most Recent Questions

Perhaps, I don't read or listen to enough sports talk, but an obvious question I'm not hearing any answer to: Why the gigantic penalities for stealing signs? There is no rule against it. I know it is frowned upon as is showboating, but come on, make a rule if it is so egregious.
Asked by: hotstatrat/John Carter

Answered: 1/16/2020
 The rule is not against stealing signs; it is against using electronic equipment to steal signs.  


Bill, you are absolutely right about the flap down. I checked Leonard in Wikipedia, and they cleared it up. According to Wiki, Leonard started the one flap down thing while in the minor leagues. They do mention that he managed to hack off the Cardinals in the 1987 NLCS by his base running. That's almost certainly where I saw it, and there was a media flap about it in STL. The important point is that it goes back to his minor league years, so it's probably impossible to say when he first started it.
Asked by: Brock Hanke

Answered: 1/16/2020
 Thanks.   I appreciate the research.  Yes, Wikipedia is research.  


I just now noticed that your "I'm moving on" article mentions that you have a TV project in the works.  Will it be baseball-related?  Crime-related?  Or something else?
Asked by: jgf704

Answered: 1/16/2020
 It's crime related, but I don't really want to talk about it until things advance to a certain point.  


Bill tweet: I don't like it when TV shows "sell" the company and then merge with somebody else and dissolve and re-form the company, etc. Mad Men, The Good Wife, The Office and others have done this. Does that seem like real life to you, or just a cheap way to re-set the story lines?  
JC: The highly acclaimed series The Wire seemed to reform its team every season in a similar manner. I agree this has became a cheap cliché now.
Asked by: hotstatrat

Answered: 1/16/2020
 Yeah.  It didn't bother me on The Wire because I just saw it as setting the groundwork for a new season. . . a couple of new characters, etc.   I see the connection, though, now that you point it out.  
I think my real issue with it, which I would not have the space to explain in Twitter, is that the conflict that it creates are just not interesting.  In Mad Men, in particular, Don Draper is trying to do certain things, Peggy Olson is trying to do certain things, Pete Campbell has an agenda, Joan Harris wants certain things; these competing wants and needs interact with the demands of the clients and also with the background of the 1960s to create outcomes that nobody really wants, but which are the soup created by the mix of elements.  But when the company is sold to somebody else, it turns into a fight about who gets 15% and who gets 20% and who gets a million dollar buyout and who gets what role in the new company, and. . . who gives a rat's ass?  It's just not interesting.   And every time you do it, it is less interesting than it was the last time.  It becomes a track and field event rather than a basketball game or a football game, only the subject is not focused athleticism, but just money and power.   I don't care.   I don't want to see it.  


When I look overall at WAR there are traits it seems to extremely favor and doesn't favor.  Looking over stats in conjunction with WAR it is easy to see why a player was so valuable after a while.  One player that who's stats vs. WAR ratio that has baffled me is Jack Perconte.  In 1984 and 1985 he posted a combined 5.4 WAR while hitting a total of 2 home runs and 54 RBI's.  Though he didn't strike out much, his walks weren't off the charts either.  I thought maybe it was his dWAR, but here again, it was a combined 0.7 for those two seasons.  He did steal some bases but, either way, there was no glaring reason for why his WAR made him look much more valuable than his stats would indicate.  What made Jack Perconte way more valuable for two years than his stat line would indicate?  What under the radar stats generally boost WAR?  Are there any other players like this, that come to mind, who's WAR looked out of balance with their stats, without being a defensive wiz or walk machine?
Asked by:

Answered: 1/13/2020
 Well (a) 5.4 WAR over a period of two seasons is not actually a lot, and (b) Perconte in 1984 hit .294, scored 93 runs, had 180 hits, 29 stolen bases, a .357 on base percentage.  Those are really good numbers.   The real question, is why you want to ignore the 180 hits and 93 runs scored, and pretend that his modest WAR value is unexplained.  


Not the Man From the Train, but the same general theme, suggesting that work is being done all the time on ice-cold cases:
Asked by: SGoldleaf

Answered: 1/12/2020


Bill - sigh - not a question, but I remember when Jeffrey Leonard got the "one flap down" nickname. In a postseason game, he hit a homer, and then trotted around the bases with his right arm extended out and his left arm held by his side. The opposing team was not amused. But he had been called "Ol' Penitentiary Face" long before the flap came down.
Asked by: Brock Hanke

Answered: 1/12/2020
 Well, OK, but.   I think that that was the way that Leonard characteristically ran the bases after a home run.   Very often people think that something began at the moment when they first became aware of it.   From my perspective, I have no way of knowing whether that is where this nickname actually arose, or merely if that is where you became aware of it.  


Maybe I’ve got this defensive shift thing all wrong, but here is my thought. I want you to tell me what I've got all wrong...or some wrong.  
Keep the SS & 2nd baseman in their normal position, up the middle as if they are in DP position. Then just move the 3rd baseman to short right field where the game slows way down for him as compared to the Hot Corner.  
That means only one player is out of position and not two or three. The SS & 2nd baseman are making all their regular plays and are not out of position. The 3rd baseman may be even better defensively in short rightfield because we've slowed down the game for him.  
What am I missing? Why does this seem so natural to me?
Asked by: Carmen Corica

Answered: 1/12/2020
 Good to hear from you, Carmen.  I have seen the shift that you advocate used, but then, I've seen all kinds of different shifts used.  I don't know enough about it to be second-guessing the use of shifts by major league teams.   The Red Sox hire several people who study those issues; I wouldn't want to second-guess them, since they clearly no more about it than I do.   
I would think it would depend on the personnel.   I don't think MOST third basemen are going to be measurably effected by moving 35 feet to the left, or most shortstops are going to be effected by switching to the other side of the base, OTHER THAN in a potential double play situation (and most teams are cautious about using a shift in a double play situation.)   But data may emerge, over time, as to how much different fielders are effected by being out of position.  


I submitted this question earlier. Not sure if there's a really long wait, or it just got lost somewhere.  
When I was growing up in the '60's, baseball books always mentioned 'Chief' Bender as one of the premier pitchers of his day. You didn't rate him in the top 100 pitchers in the Historical Abstract, and I've been wondering since:  
Was he left out by mistake?  
Was he *not* one of the top 100 pitchers?  
Or was there another reason he wasn't included?  
Asked by: DrewEck

Answered: 1/12/2020
 Oh, I have NO idea.  I would think it was a close call whether he was one of the Top 100 pitchers, wouldn't you?   I just don't remember that kind of stuff.  


There's another interesting article on Biden in this month's Atlantic:  
Asked by: Michael Skarpelos

Answered: 1/12/2020
 OK.   RT is not an endorsement.  


Will you be doing anything with MLB network this off season?  Or during the season?  
Asked by: shthar

Answered: 1/12/2020
 There is nothing planned.  Still friendly with Brian Kenny, but have no plans to go to New Jersey for the studio.  


Bill, that’s an awfully cute pup you’ve adopted. Looks like maybe part Border Collie. What’s the name?
Asked by: chuck

Answered: 1/12/2020
 Amos thanks you.  We have named him Amos, in honor of Amos Otis and also Amos Lawrence, for whom my city is named.   The Shelter told us he was a mix of border collie and terrier.   Shelters have been known to be wrong about these things.  


Bill, your recent articles mentioning the career drop-offs of John Mayberry and Nate Colbert now has me intrigued.  Fascinated to find out more, actually...I really enjoy being reminded that these are human beings, subject to the same crap we all are, and not baseball robots.  I find it makes the game and players more relatable and easier to root for once you find out they have flaws.  Maybe someday we'll learn something about A-Rod or Kevin Brown and think "...hmm, that explains a lot, perhaps I misjudged him too quickly..."
Asked by: DHM

Answered: 1/7/2020


I currently attend a small D1 school in Northern Colorado. Football is king while the baseball program sits nearly ignored.  
Are there any resources or writings you can recommend concerning analysis in college scouting or that will help me gain a better grasp on statistical analysis at such a low level of play?
Asked by: DougMellon

Answered: 1/7/2020
 I'm sorry to say that I don't think so.   The types of analysis that I do rely on stable data covering large numbers of games. 
I would say this:  that is you want to, you could easily know more about that than I do.  If no one really knows a lot about it, that's an opportunity for you to establish yourself as the expert in that area, by simply collecting, collating, and analyzing the data which exists scattered around here and there on thousands of uncorrollated sites.  


Hey Bill, have you had any communications with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred about approaches to speeding up games? From what I read Manfred sees this as a worthwhile goal, so it seems he might favor some of the steps you advocate.  
Asked by: jfadams

Answered: 1/7/2020
 No direct contact, no. 


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