BILL JAMES ONLINE

Hey Bill

FAQ Categories

15 Most Recent Questions

I recall in one of your early Abstracts (I think it was the first that was widely available from a commercial publisher), you discussed Johnny Pesky and Dick Stuart, and their long-running argument over who was more valuable, a high-average low-power hitter like Pesky or a low average slugger like Stuart, and the punchline, so to speak, was that they both created almost exactly the same number of runs per year, at least during their prime.  Have you ever re-examined Pesky and Stuart in light of the more advanced sabermetric techniques that have developed since the 80s, to see if they would still come out about equal?  
 
By the way, did you ever hear the story about Pesky being at a football game in which the receivers kept dropping the ball, and someone yelled out, "Put in Pesky, he knows how to hang onto the ball."  A reference, of course, to Pesky's supposed fatal hesitation with the ball when Enos Slaughter was breaking for home during the World Series.
Asked by: pbspelly

Answered: 9/20/2019
 No, I haven't looked at it.   Johnny Pesky. . .who by the way could talk a good bit himself once you got him started, since we are on that topic. . . but Pesky had read that article and asked me about it years later.   I could go back and look at it.   I always mean to write a book about all the stuff I was wrong about years ago. . . .

 

A month ago I whined about how little the Jays got for Marcus Stroman.  
I have seen Anthony Kay pitch twice, and, even though the results aren't very pretty, I like the guy and I see why the Jays wanted him.  
And he is only one half of the trade from our point of view.
Asked by: DavidTodd

Answered: 9/20/2019
 Thanks.   I'm old enough to remember Cardinal fans who were upset that the Cardinals traded 18-game winner Ernie Broglio for an outfielder who hit .260-something.  

 

Bill's Twitter: " . .  . I have 2 friends who are notorious yakkers, will talk your ear off, but they don't do that to me when we're one-on-one. Then I have another friend who ISN'T like that, but he is to me, one on one. Anybody else have that? Why does it happen?"  
 
Twitter responses describe people needing to control converstions to hide something such as their anxiety or deafness. Some describe being too anxious to speak up under one condition of the other.  
 
I don't have good examples, but I can speak for myself and my wife. She is full of stories in public, while I just listen and interject the odd observation. At home, we discuss things equally and don't mind long pauses. I don't think either of us have anxiety issues. It is just the way we are programmed. Her family immigrated from Italy, so she grew up speaking for her grandparents, her younger brother and socialized herself in English and French. I had an older sister who often spoke for me. It continued as our pattern.
Asked by: hotstatrat

Answered: 9/20/2019
 Whatever happens within a marriage or within a family is probably not relevant to the syndrome I was trying to understand there.   It probably just confuses the issue to mix them up, and thus leads us away from understanding rather than toward understanding.  
 
I have a sister to whom I was very close as a child, so much so that many people thought we were twins; she's actually 18 months older than I am.  It's family lore that when I was a little boy people often couldn't understand what I was saying, so they would ask Nell what I was saying because Nell could always understand me.  
 
I have another relative. . ..by the way, it is odd to remember people when they were 18 and see them now when they are 80.   But anyway, I have another relative who was a compulsive talker as a young woman, and married a man who was ALSO a compulsive talker; we used to joke that when they had a kid he would never be able to get a word in edgewise.  But over the course of the 60 years they have been married, she entirely took over, and he largely stopped talking.  By the time they were 70, which was 10 years ago, you had to get him alone and ask him direct questions to get him to say anything.   Again. . .none of this relevant to the question I was asking.  

 

Vaugn got 308 vote points in 1995, Belle got 300.  12 1st place votes to 11.    
 
The question should be, which voter gave Jose Mesa a 1st place vote instead of Albert Belle?
Asked by: shthar

Answered: 9/20/2019
 Going to arrange an inquisition, are you?  

 

In the 1980's, I recall that the Abstracts described a model where each pitcher might pitch three innings toward maximum effectiveness for the team.    
 
This seems to roughly be the approach for the playoffs for teams such as Oakland, Los Angeles and Minnesota given that each have high impact pitchers, middle relievers who might be top starters or closers in the future.  To list a few-- Luzardo, Puk, May, Urias, Graterol, Littell.  Of course, Tampa Bay is another potential playoff team and they often use "openers".  Yankees stockpile closers for middle relief.  
 
Houston with Verlander and Cole look more traditional. Some teams have aces.   But, Minnesota swept a doubleheader against Cleveland Saturday with "bullpen games" and that may be their most effective option.  Luzardo just had a three inning save. Urias has a couple three inning saves.  
 
For playoff baseball, are teams close to figuring out how to optimize the use of their pitchers with 4IP-3IP-2 IP and 2IP-4IP-1IP-1IP-1IP games?
Asked by: bertrecords

Answered: 9/20/2019
 Well. . .(a) I don't remember such an article.   Does anybody?   (b) I don't think we are close to understanding how to maximize pitcher effectiveness by usage patterns.   I think we're still sort of wandering around without a compass.   

 

No MLB mangagers have been fired this season.  And probably none in the next 2 weeks.  
 
Has this ever happened before?  
Asked by: shthar

Answered: 9/20/2019
 No idea. 

 

Enjoyed the Confidence essay.  
 
Could you apply your ideas to Daniel Bard's sudden fall from excellence?  How about the mother-of-all-confidence-lapses --- Steve Blass?
Asked by: jgf704

Answered: 9/20/2019
 That would be the way that some very different sportswriter would address the subject.  

 

Howdy, Bill!    
How's the search for a publisher of the Kansas book coming?  I know you're waist deep in baseball stuff right now, and that's top priority.  (Plus a few political polls over on Twitter.)  But I'm sure looking forward to reading your book on the Sunflower State.  (Howdy to Suzy!)  
Asked by: Davidg32

Answered: 9/20/2019
 Thanks for asking. . .reminds me that I need to send a follow-up e-mail to somebody.

 

I was listening to Buster Olney's podcast in which he argued that emphasis on the so-called three true outcomes, the increase in pitcher usage, and hitters fouling off ever more pitches, has made baseball unwatchable at times. I then learned that there's a variant of baseball played in Finland of all places (called Pesäpallo) which fixes all those problems. Have you seen Pesäpallo? Do you feel there are any aspects of Pesäpallo that we could incorporate into baseball to improve the game?
Asked by: Michael J. Skarpelos

Answered: 9/20/2019
 I have heard of Pesapallo, but I have not seen it.   I don't quite understand the logic by which people trace the foul pitch issue back to the three true outcomes mindset, but I do agree that there is an issue there that needs to be addressed.  

 

Bill – You’ve expressed your skepticism about WAR many times, but I’ll ask anyway: the Mike Minor mystery. For most of the season, Baseball Reference’s version of WAR has had Minor well ahead of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole; the gap has closed, but he still hangs on to a lead. Even accounting for park adjustments and the quality of your defense, this still doesn’t make sense to me. Verlander and Cole seem superior in virtually every category, old- and new-school. There must be some massive adjustments there.
Asked by: Phil

Answered: 9/20/2019
 Perhaps they need a Minor adjustment? 

 

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?  
 
Cheers,  
 
Harry  
 
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.  

 

 
© 2011 Be Jolly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.