December 12, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Personal .
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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April 29, 2012
Holland and an imperfect gameI got my first chance to watch my nine-year-old nephew Holland play baseball on Friday. His game was, unsurprisingly, a very different experience from watching the big leaguers. I won't give all the gory details, but a short example from the third inning will show what made an impression on me.
Holland reached base on a 5-4 force-out. On the next pitch, the opposing catcher let strike one roll a couple feet away, and Holland swiped second. The next pitch, ball one, went in the dirt too, and Holland took third. Then, after a walk, the pitcher turned his back for a moment, and not only did Holland steal home, but in the confusion the runner on first got all the way to third.
From my rough scoring of the game (yes, I was scoring it), four and a half innings produced 18 instances of what in professional baseball would be judged wild pitches or passed balls. Nothing more need be said to illustrate the chasm between these kids and "real" ballplayers, right? The professional game, the true game, is on a plane of effective perfection, right?
Jump-cut to the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium that night. Game knotted at six, with Derek Jeter on first and Brayan Villarreal pitching to Curtis Granderson. The payoff pitch goes wild, and Jeter makes it all the way to third. Three pitches later, a slider goes off the end of catcher Alex Avila's glove, and Jeter beats the throw back to the plate to score the winning run.
This was a highly dramatic example, but not an isolated one. On that busy Friday night in major league baseball, there were four passed balls and 12 wild pitches (including two "dropped" third strikes) that led to 20 runners gaining extra bases. Ten of the 15 games on the schedule had at least one wild pitch or passed ball—and all five that didn't had at least one hit-by-pitch.
Maybe most interesting, one of those wild pitches led to that bizarre rarity: a four-strikeout inning. In the top of the eighth at Camden Yards, Oakland's Ryan Cook got the first two Orioles hacking, but strike nine to Adam Jones was a wild one that let Jones reach. Cook regrouped and threw strike 12 past Matt Wieters' bat to end the inning.
It was, according to MLB.com, the 59th four-K inning in history. (And the second one in four days. Who knew?)
So on a pretty ordinary day in baseball, arguably the two most interesting and memorable moments are defined by their imperfection, by someone goofing up. Kinda brings those multi-millionaire celebrities down to the level of nine-year-old boys playing for fun, right?
Well, no. Let's not get carried away. The pros are light-years in quality beyond those kids. But they aren't machines; they aren't infallible.
And thank God for that.
A flawless game is a sterile game. Tic-tac-toe holds no interest for anyone but kids, because adults can figure out the perfect strategy pretty easily and make a perpetual tie of it. Several years ago, computers solved the game of checkers, figuring out its optimum strategies, and the world of human tournament checkers has been reeling ever since. Once there's an equation for a game, the game is over. It's a solved puzzle, thrown out like a completed crossword in yesterday's paper.
It is the possibility, indeed the inevitability, of imperfection that makes the game what it is. The pitcher missing the outside corner; the batter getting under a fastball; the infielder's dive deflecting the hot-shot grounder. You can be perfect for a moment, or for a few at-bats. You might, like Philip Humber, be perfect for a whole game—but then there's the next game.
This should give us a bit of perspective. The players are going to keep striving for perfection, and we're going to keep rooting for our teams to exhibit it, and that's exactly as it should be. But the pursuit of that flawlessness is only interesting because it's so hard to achieve, even briefly, even for the best in the game. In baseball as in so many other endeavors, nobody's perfect.
Except for Holland's team, that is. They're 4-0 on the season so far—but there's still a lot of baseball left to be played.
Posted by: Shane Tourtellotte
January 23, 2012
Carmona points out an MLB inequityGoodbye Fausto! Hello Roberto!
As reported last week, 28-year-old Fausto Carmona is Roberto Hernandez Heredia and perhaps 31 years old.
There are implications here for Carmona-Heredia, for the Indians and, most importantly, for professional baseball and the uneven way it deals with international players.
Since being released on bail, The Sinkerballer Formally Known as Fausto has been apologetic but tight-lipped. He reportedly paid for a false identity that may have incorrectly represented his age. He may have been making periodic payments to maintain the false identity. He eventually balked at paying and somebody talked, leading to his arrest.
He is not the first Latin-American player to take this route. (Last year's most publicized example was Leo Nunez.)
So Heredia lied. But did he do anything wrong to the game of baseball? Does lying about your age and name affect anything about playing the game?
It does not.
While the lies are certainly deplorable, they do not affect the player's ability on the field. People will say that, because his age is uncertain, it could be advantageous for him to have people think he is younger. It could lead to larger bonuses and salaries. He’ll appear more successful since his ability will be compared to that of players younger than him.
But these are issue of deceit based on the current economic model and do not affect the play on the field.
If the same player was actually three years YOUNGER, would we be willing to rectify the situation financially? What happened, as before, is a player found a way to take advantage of the economic system in baseball. For him to be successful, he still had to demonstrate ability and skill.
In doing so, he allegedly broke laws in at least two countries* but he never de-skilled the game. While the misreported younger age would have been helpful during his development, the lying did not give him specific extra ability, or his ability to ignore Lake Erie Midges that Joba Chamberlain could not. Carmona’s lies do not hurt the on-field play of baseball.
* I have no idea if Canada would say anything about a player such as Carmona entering the country with false paperwork. I’m not even sure Canada would prosecute, but I am fairly certain that it is against Canadian law.
When looking at a situation like Carmona’s, I look directly at those running Major League Baseball and the teams. Lying about one’s identity is so advantageous for a specific set of players that it outweighs the risk of punishment. Instead of demonizing players like Carmona and Nunez, it is time to look at the system.
In Japan, younger players are able to develop in a system that gives them the ability to play in their homeland with the possibility of moving to the major leagues in America. In Latin America, players feel the need to break the law to be part of the system. So in one week, Yu Darvish, who has never pitched in even the minor leagues in America, got a $60 million contract after a team paid $51.7 million for the right to give him that contract. During that same week, we learned that, once again a player lied about his identity in an effort to get a portion of that amount of money.
In the end, both players will succeed or fail based on what they do on the field. How they got the opportunity doesn’t affect their ability on the field.
Major League Baseball needs to address the differences. If baseball officials are going to continue to encourage teams to deal individually with international players, they need to address the extreme differences in the system. It is not an easy task. How can baseball expect players not to take the route of Carmona and Nunez when the Darvish situation points out the inequity?
As for the Indians:
While Carmona has not lived up to the promise he flashed in 2007, he has shown, when healthy, to be able to provide a decent set of 30-plus starts and 200-plus innings each year.
In conjunction with this news, it appears the Indians finally pulled the trigger on obtaining Kevin Slowey. The Indians have been interested in him anyway, so this was not in direct relation to Carmona’s issues, but the trade was probably hastened. Carmona will likely end up on the restricted list, leaving the Indians with a hole in the rotation but with an extra $7 million. The Indians gave up Zach Putman, a young pitcher who may have competed for a bullpen position this year.
The Indians have other options for the rotation. David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez will be among those who compete with Slowey for spots behind Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin and Derek Lowe. In the end, the Indians' depth should be able to cover for Carmona's absence with limited hardship.
Posted by: Mat Kovach
August 12, 2010
Scouts, statisticians and wizardsI was about to leave a comment at The Book Blog in a thread titled When to go from the eyes to the numbers when I realized it was probably worth delving into here as well. It opened a philosophical door in my mind that occasionally opens and closes. It seemed a good time to take advantage of the open door and get my jumbled, innermost thoughts peer reviewed (or at least committed to paper for future reference)!
In post No. 8 of the thread I linked above, Nathan asked:
I guess the real question is, can anybody, just by watching 20 games, tell the difference between a .275 and a .300 hitter? I’m referring to batting average here which I know is lame, but the point is that the difference over 80 at-bats (roughly 20 games) is 2 hits! Can an observer notice 1 hit every 10 games?
My response is No. 9 and you can view it for yourself if you like. In fact, I highly recommend taking a look at the whole thread. I'll hit the highlights a little later. Really, it's unfathomable to me how any person can divine the difference between a .275 and .300 major league hitter when he's in high school, rookie ball, or even Double-A. The rate of attrition among minor leaguers could mean that perhaps they can't, at least not with any real degree of accuracy . The problem I see with figuring it out is that there are so many different inputs that make up a good hitter. Coordination, reflexes, strength, eyesight, reaction time, mental toughness, intuition, temperament, focus, etc. all have some bearing on whether one player is one hit per 10 games better than another.
Numbers, with sufficient sample size, of course, allow us to proxy the net product of all the myriad inputs that make a player a player. But the sample size is the limiting factor. Beyond that, Cliff Lees abound in the baseball world, players whose skill sets undergo such massive changes that the previous data becomes nearly worthless. And anyone who watches the game knows that other difficult to explain phenomena occur. Raul Ibanez and Adam LaRoche come to mind.
It seems to me that scouts and statisticians are asking similar but ultimately different questions. The scout's job is to learn the player, to become familiar with his mechanics, his strengths, his flaws, how he handles himself under pressure, how he spends his time off the field, how he relates to his family and loved ones. By doing this, the scout tries to paint as detailed a picture of the player as humanly possible so he can convey to his employers how much that player is worth. He judges the quality of the player's skills. Knowing the quality of those skills and knowing which ones can be improved, he can estimate where a player is at now and where his ceiling is.
Statisticians do something else entirely. We ignore the majority of the inputs and focus on the measurable output. When we look at numbers (or at least when I look at numbers—maybe I'm being presumptuous in using "we"), we're trying to quantify a player's skill in a succinct and tidy manner. We don't care if Chris Coste has a godawful swing, that it's of poor quality and so very unlikely to stick at the major league level. We care that he produced a .316 and .326 wOBA in '07 and '08 respectively. And we care that he was a catcher, making him above average for his position. We don't care that Milton Bradley's temperament is at best questionable. We just care that he can mash the crap out of a baseball when healthy. (Yes, I'm simplifying.)
I must admit, that philosophical door in my mind that I mentioned earlier rarely stays open long and now it is closing quickly. I hope I got my views across clearly enough for some good dialogue. Oftentimes I've heard the work of saberists referred to as statiswizardry (which can be intended to compliment or disparage). Ultimately, I think it's the scouts who do the magic by divining the quality of a player's individual skills.
And I think that partially explains why some casual fans are resistant to openly accepting saberist ideas. All we have is charts and graphs and output from R and Stata. It's all very convincing and useful stuff to statistically oriented minds, but the scouts have something more popular with the masses: Magic.
Posted by: Brad Johnson
July 04, 2010
David Berner and the game-ending triple playThe bases were loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning. There were no outs.
David Berner, the Jethawks closer, leaned in for the sign from his catcher. He got it, and gave the tiny nod of acknowledgment. Then the tall, broad-shouldered southpaw went to his set stretch position. He checked the runners, he kicked into his motion, and he delivered the 1-0 pitch.
It was a fastball.
The Giants batter, big, strong right-handed-hitting James Simmons, wasn’t fooled. He didn’t try to pull the low-and-away location, but instead calmly stepped into the pitch and hit it squarely to the opposite field.
Had Simmons hit the ball any more squarely, the result would certainly have been a home run, a grand slam which would tie the score at 4-4. However, though Simmons hit the pitch very well, he got just slightly underneath it. He loudly smacked a towering fly ball, arcing high, tremendously high into the black midsummer night sky, and slicing toward the right field corner.
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Posted by: Steve Treder
May 02, 2009
Strasburg live!I had the splendid opportunity to watch San Diego State pitching pheenom Stephen Strasburg pitch last night. He was in my hometown of Santa Clara, starting against the Broncos. The weather was threatening; it had rained for much of the day, and the early innings were played under a slight drizzle, but the game was played in its entirety.
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Posted by: Steve Treder
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