December 12, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Commentary .
11/14/2013: Let’s discuss the THT Annualby Dave Studeman
12/12/2013: The Screwball: The voice of summerby Azure Texan
12/12/2013: The all-decade team: best of the bestby Richard Barbieri
12/11/2013: Alone on the pedestal, Part 2by Jason Linden
12/11/2013: The Applegate factorby Shane Tourtellotte
12/10/2013: All about the latest Bill James Handbookby Dave Studeman
12/10/2013: Though night may fall, play ball!by Frank Jackson
12/10/2013: Roy Halladay retiresby Jeff Moore
12/09/2013: Leverage Index by inningby Dave Studeman
12/09/2013: How far are the Mariners from relevancy?by Brad Johnson
12/09/2013: Prince Halby Chris Jaffe
12/09/2013: Three underrated acquisitionsby Pat Andriola
12/06/2013: Cooperstown Confidential: Ed Charles and 42by Bruce Markusen
12/06/2013: The Athletics get busyby Brad Johnson
12/06/2013: Getting to know Ryan Haniganby Chad Dotson
12/04/2013: Cataloging the non-tendered playersby Brad Johnson
12/04/2013: Alone on the pedestalby Jason Linden
12/03/2013: Mascot fight!by Greg Simons
12/03/2013: Why is a sinker “heavy?”by David Kagan
12/03/2013: The role of fall leaguesby Jeff Moore
12/02/2013: Nationals make great deal for Fisterby Matt Filippi
12/02/2013: The Twins go holiday shopping, but to what end?by Brad Johnson
12/02/2013: The end of the benchby Chris Jaffe
11/29/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Danny Waltonby Bruce Markusen
11/29/2013: The best rookies of the ‘30sby Chad Dotson
11/27/2013: Towards an award prediction systemby Shane Tourtellotte
11/26/2013: MLB’s coffers are overflowingby Greg Simons
11/26/2013: The role of prospects in tradesby Jeff Moore
11/25/2013: Stepping up to the plateby Frank Jackson
11/25/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about player birthdaysby Chris Jaffe
11/22/2013: The end of the road for Chris Carpenterby Chad Dotson
11/21/2013: All the news that’s fit to inventby Azure Texan
11/20/2013: Marcus Stroman, the mythbusting machineby Kyle Boddy
11/20/2013: Welcome to the birthplace of… someone elseby Jason Linden
11/19/2013: 2013 THT awards reviewby Greg Simons
11/18/2013: THT Fantasy has moved to Rotographsby Dave Studeman
11/18/2013: Atlanta gets burned againby Frank Jackson
11/18/2013: The 2014 Hall of Fame VC ballotby Chris Jaffe
11/18/2013: Must See MLB.TV 2013by Dave Studeman
11/15/2013: The best rookies of the ‘40sby Chad Dotson
11/15/2013: Card Corner: Wayne Granger: 1973 Toppsby Bruce Markusen
11/14/2013: 10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski tradeby Chris Jaffe
11/14/2013: The Screwball: The face of championship baseballby Azure Texan
11/14/2013: Player-A-Day: Casey Fienby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecumby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Pitcher performance after batting successby Shane Tourtellotte
11/13/2013: 25th anniversary: Rob Neyer writes a letterby Chris Jaffe
11/13/2013: Houston hoodoo ‘62by Frank Jackson
11/12/2013: It’s The Hardball Times Annual 2014by Dave Studeman
11/12/2013: Player-A-Day: Joe Mauerby Brad Johnson
11/11/2013: Fastball velocity by game stateby Jon Roegele
11/11/2013: The rise of the middle-aged managerby Chris Jaffe
11/08/2013: Player-A-Day: Josmil Pintoby Brad Johnson
11/08/2013: Hall monitor: The case for Andruw Jonesby Chad Dotson
11/07/2013: Big leaguers, bit partsby Azure Texan
11/07/2013: Player-A-Day: Nathan Eovaldiby Brad Johnson
11/06/2013: If he’d only gotten another shotby Jason Linden
11/06/2013: Player-A-Day: David DeJesusby Brad Johnson
11/05/2013: Player-A-Day: David Ortizby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Dariel Abreuby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: The Boston (Braves) Marathon of 1928by Frank Jackson
11/04/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about birthdays in 2013by Chris Jaffe
11/01/2013: Taking the close pitch with two strikesby James Gentile
11/01/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Don Baylorby Bruce Markusen
11/01/2013: The best rookies of the ‘50sby Chad Dotson
10/31/2013: The Screwball: Celebrate good times, come on!by Azure Texan
10/31/2013: Player-A-Day: Leonys Martinby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Player-A-Day: Jon Lesterby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Forecasting the major 2013 awardsby Shane Tourtellotte
10/30/2013: The effect of seeing pitchesby Jon Roegele
10/29/2013: Putting the knock on pitching changesby Joe Distelheim
10/29/2013: Player-A-Day: Ryan Howardby Brad Johnson
10/29/2013: Losing momentum in the sixth gameby Dave Studeman
10/29/2013: Previewing the fall Stars gameby Jeff Moore
10/28/2013: Player-A-Day: Travis Woodby Brad Johnson
10/28/2013: Marquis Grissom: Mr. October Jr.by Frank Jackson
10/25/2013: The blackballing of Dick Dietzby Bruce Markusen
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Xander Bogaertsby Brad Johnson
10/24/2013: The Screwball: Put it in neutral?by Azure Texan
10/24/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘00sby Richard Barbieri
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Michael Wachaby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: Earn money watching baseballby Dave Studeman
10/23/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Iglesiasby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: 20th anniversary: The Joe Carter gameby Chris Jaffe
10/23/2013: Giants take a risk with Lincecum’s two-year dealby Matt Filippi
10/23/2013: BOB: Nolan Ryan retires…for nowby Brian Borawski
10/22/2013: Where does David Price fit?by Jeff Moore
10/22/2013: Survey says?!?!?by Greg Simons
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July 17, 2013
MLB’s difficulties in the Biogenesis caseMajor League Baseball’s intent to suspend the players linked with the Biogenesis investigation raises some interesting questions. I reviewed some of them in this piece. I also discussed the logistical difficulties with suspending 20 or more players at the same time in a second, concluding that these cases are best heard in the offseason. This article will describe the actual burdens of proof that the clubs must meet in order to have any grievances over suspensions for violating the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA) and other potential charges denied.
There are multiple types of violations of the JDA. Under Section 7(A) of the JDA there are violations that are based upon a positive test (frequently referred to as analytic violations—although not in the JDA) and violations for use or possession (non-analytic violations). There are violations for conviction or possession of a prohibited substance as well as violations for participation in sale or distribution of a prohibited substance. There are violations for refusing to take a test without good cause and for adulterating a specimen. There are also violations for failure to comply with evaluation and treatment plans, but those are for drugs of abuse.
Finally, there is the additional possibility for a just cause discipline for something not specifically referenced in the JDA.
Click for more...
Posted by: Eugene Freedman
May 29, 2013
On Jon Heyman and the Oakland ColiseumSince it now trickles throughout the length of the season, MLB has seemingly dropped its big marketing push for interleague play. Either way, baseball’s schedule is still taking a break this week, expanding interleague from one series per day to all 15, with a big focus on cross-town or nearby interleague rivalries. The Yankees are playing the Mets. The Cubs are playing the White Sox. The Giants are playing the A’s.
I don’t really have strong feelings toward the idea of interleague play one way or the other, but I do think that these cross-town rivalry games can certainly be fun. The fan bases usually get into it, and even though interleague is more common now than ever before, there’s still a certain amount of rarity in seeing Washington play Baltimore.
Now, naturally, since these teams don't often see each other, some of these rivalries are tepid at best. But as you might imagine, a handful of the cross-town series can get rather heated, especially if the two teams share a metropolitan area and actively compete with each other for fans.
San Francisco and Oakland are this way, and it’s only been exacerbated by the A’s and their centuries-long stadium search, compounded by the Giants claiming territorial rights to San Jose. Which makes it baffling to see what CBS Sports columnist Jon Heyman tweeted Tuesday night.
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Posted by: Dan Lependorf
April 19, 2013
Competing religions of baseballThere are two seemingly unrelated stories that I'd like to take a moment to compare in order to make a point.
In the world of economics, public policy, and how not to format a spreadsheet, word has come out that a seminal paper arguing that high debt-to-GDP rates are bad for economic growth was based on bad data after the two professors who ran the study made an error in Excel.
Meanwhile, in the world of amusing-but-not-important baseball news, MLB Network's Brian Kenny ripped into White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson for blaspheming sabermetrics.
The way in which we interpret data is important. For years prior to the Moneyball revolution (which has definitely been related to the success of Nate Silver and Big Data's popularity), people within the sports stats community were begging for somebody to pay attention to their numbers, and they had a darn good point. Good hypotheses based on solid evidence were ignored for traditional theory in a way that seemed fraternal and anti-scientific.
Since then, statistical analysis certainly has gained ground in front offices and with the greater fan base, but too often it's presented, much like a lot of modern economic theory, as science.
A lot of blame here is on the media, which like to create false dichotomies to masquerade conversation as conflict. No example of this is better than MLB Network's over-the-top commercial featuring Kenny and Harold Reynolds, with the former serving as the God of Logic and the latter as the God of Wisdom in an eternal battle to decide who should bat fifth for the Mariners.
The commercial begins with Kenny doing his best Will Hunting impression. (And if we're gonna get all super nerdy, the best he can mutter is something about OPS? C'mon.) He then looks squarely into the camera and states resolutely, "Stats tell the truth," which befuddles me. The truth ... about what? Reynolds plays opposite as the old-timey baseball coach who learned the game on the diamond, not from a textbook.
This all really started with Michael Lewis' over-dramatization of the front office divide between scouts and stats guys in Oakland, but it's been taken to a whole other, dare I say, religious level. On one side is Sabermetrics, represented as a branch of science grounded in Enlightenment values and unyielding objectivity. On the other side is Scouting/Feeling/Traditionalism, represented as dealing with strategy, keen observation, and insightful instinct as a result of experience.
I talked to a random guy about baseball before this season started, and when I attempted to rebut his argument that the Mets would have the worst outfield in the history of baseball, he shook his head, looked at me solemnly and said, "Sabermetrics says so." I guess I had two options: I could agree with him and trust the numbers or reject the numbers and trust faith. Sabermetrics said so, so I really had no other choice.
In the big data revolution, it's always important to remember that there are no panaceas. Statistical analysis is a social science, not a physical one. The best anyone can do with a spreadsheet is test some thoughts and get results that mean the thoughts may be true after all. Nerdy 20s-something-looking kids with glasses are not the modern oracles. They're just using a different tool.
*Note: for another good take that overlaps with this topic, check out Jack Moore's article
Posted by: Pat Andriola
April 15, 2013
It was the top of the fifth inning and the Giants were down by one run to the Cubs last Thursday. The bases were loaded and there was one man away. Hisanori Takahashi, a soft-tossing lefty, was in for Chicago, and the ninth spot in the order was up for San Francisco. This meant Ryan Vogelsong, who had already thrown 81 pitches in the game and had given up five runs, came up to the plate.
Vogelsong battled and worked a walk to erase the last of what was a five-run deficit and tie the game. The Giants scored two more in the inning, eventually holding on to a narrow 7-6 win.
I was confused when Vogelsong came up to hit. Results aside, the Giants were down by one run and had the bases loaded with one out, which should produce, on average, around 1.55 runs. According to win expectancy, the game was completely even, 50-50, when Vogelsong hit. So the question is, should Bruce Bochy have pinch-hit?
I think it’s unquestionably yes. Vogelsong wound up going two more innings, throwing 26 more pitches, after the top half of the fifth. Last year Vogelsong threw 3,056 pitches in 31 starts for an average of 98.6 pitches per game, so based on last year’s numbers, Bochy was looking at around 18 more pitches.
Ryan Vogelsong is a pretty bad hitter. He has six career extra base hits in 209 plate appearances, good overall for a .198 wOBA (17 wRC+). Meanwhile, Andres Torres and Marco Scutaro, switch-hitter and right-handed hitter respectively, toiled on the bench. Torres had a .342 wOBA against lefties last year and is at .324 (102 wRC+) for his career. Scutaro had a .315 wOBA against lefties last year and is at .325 (96 wRC+) for his career. Simply put, both players would have been immense upgrades over Vogelsong.
So, in essence, Bochy had this calculus:
(Value of ~18 pitches of Ryan Vogelsong – Value of ~18 pitches of substitute pitcher) > (Value of ~.325 wOBA – Value of ~.198 wOBA in situation with leverage index of 3.80)
I’m sure there are ways to rationalize the decision. There was only one out and the top of the order was coming up, the Giants wanted to save their bullpen, Vogelsong was settling down and it was good for his confidence, Bochy saw an arrangement of sunflower seeds on the ground that spelled out “RYAN” and thought it was a sign from God. But whatever, managers make mistakes like this all the time; it’s not the biggest deal in the world.
But it did get me thinking about the role of the starting pitcher and the ninth spot in the batting order. As long as the National League shuns the designated hitter, this is going to be an issue. It’s long been theorized that the way in which starting pitching has traditionally worked is suboptimal, and that’s probably right.
Interestingly, the game may be reacting to the realization of this fact. Starting pitchers averaged 6.66 innings per game in 1972, 5.98 in 2010, 6.03 in 2011, 5.89 in 2012, and 5.71 thus far this season (sample size warning, of course). Maybe managers are starting to realize that the word “starting” in starting pitcher is the most important part of the title: They start the game, but that doesn’t mean they need to be around forever. Dave Cameron talked last year about some of the play-in teams starting the game with a closer, which definitely would’ve been neat.
Interestingly, the shorter the average starting pitcher goes, the more important the ninth spot in the lineup becomes. The data behind pitchers hitting eighth have already demonstrated some possible underlying importance out of the ninth spot (probably because it immediately precedes players who typically have high OBPs). So maybe one benefit of being flexible with who's on the mound is that you can take advantage of high leverage index situations early in games. You also will probably have fewer pitchers reach the plate on average, which will unquestionably help the offense.
Bochy’s error is easy to pick out because of how crazy the situation was: a huge leverage index spot pretty early in the game, a starting pitcher who already had a high pitch count, and pretty good pinch-hitting candidates. But what if we tweak the formula above? Instead of 18 pitches of Vogelsong, make it 30, and instead of a 5-5 game with the bases loaded and one out, have the Giants up 5-4 with a man on third and one out. It gets trickier, and the sooner managers start experimenting with shorter stints from their starters, the sooner we’ll see some interesting managerial maneuvers.
Posted by: Pat Andriola
February 12, 2013
Bourn finds a home, Lohse still waitsNews broke Monday night that, after months of deliberation, outfielder Michael Bourn had signed a four-year deal with the Cleveland Indians. The market had seemed to be thinning for Bourn, 30, in the recent months, and this move came almost out of nowhere. That leaves Kyle Lohse as the only player left on the free agent market who received a qualifying offer.
This is our first offseason working with the new free agency rules set forth by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and there already seems to be a clear bias. The "good-not-great" players seem to be hurting.
Players like Bourn and Lohse, who had very good years in 2012, both received qualifying offers following the season, which sets up their former teams to receive draft pick compensation when they sign elsewhere and takes a pick away from the team that signs them. For example, the Braves received the 31st overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft when Bourn signed, while the Indians lost their second-rounder (the top 10 overall picks in the draft are protected, and Cleveland had the fifth).
Bourn finally found a home as teams are starting to report to spring training, but what about Lohse?
Lohse, 34, is your classic sinker-slider pitcher who is a very serviceable mid-rotation starter. He had a career year in 2012, posting a 3.51 FIP (2.86 ERA) across 211 innings (all career bests). He's had trouble staying healthy in the past, however, and he's starting the climb up his 30s, which would make any team cautious.
If it weren't for the new draft compensation rules, you could make the argument that Lohse would have signed a deal by now, but since he is not considered a top-flight pitcher, teams are hesitant to give up a first-round draft pick for his services. A team like the Red Sox may be a good fit because they need starting pitching depth and are looking to contend this year, making the draft pick a little more expendable.
Lohse might have to settle for a one-year pillow contract (a la Edwin Jackson) and test the waters again next offseason, where he'll be up against a very weak free agent class. However, it's hard to predict what will happen because there are no comparables. Everyone is still very new to the way this new system works, and it's going to take a while to work out the kinks, as we've seen through the New York Mets' pursuit of Bourn.
Posted by: Matt Filippi
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