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More Thoughts on MLB Pitching Statistics posted on 08/20/2009

In the National League, the elongated double switch shows again why pitching statistics are quite poorly attributed.  A traditional double switch involves the manager inserting a position player into the game  for the current pitcher and a new pitcher for a position player--typically one who just made an out, so that the new pitcher won't be batting for nearly a full trip through the lineup.

However, this same basic maneuver can also occur by simply pinch-hitting for the pitcher while on offense and then placing the pitcher in for whichever player makes the last out of the inning.  If the team takes the lead (and subsequently does not lose it), the just-substituted-for pitcher gets credited with the win.

The problem is this: if this scenario occurs before the 5th inning, the starting pitcher cannot get the win, so it'll almost certainly be the next guy who pitches that will get the win.  But given that a position player is the opne who was inserted for the pitcher, why wouldn't

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Another Reason Why MLB Needs Team Pitching Statistics posted on 07/10/2009

Here'e another quirky entry into the "Win" category:  If we used Team pitching statistics, that win would simply go to the Nationals pitching staff, which clearly it should have.

Also, I wonder what the rules are concerning rosters resuming suspended games.  What if the whole team was replaced in the interim?  That team would have a distinct advantage in bench players and pitchers available over the other team.  And what if Hanrahan had been traded to the Astros?  Could he have come into the game in the bottom half, given up the winning run, and earned both the win and the loss?  This one deserves some thought. 

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The Merits of the Pitcher Hitting 8th posted on 07/09/2009

As the Brewers wrap up a series against the Cardinals and Tony LaRussa's peculiar lineup strategy, I thought it might be worth thinking about what would make certain lineups advantageous.  LaRussa has been hitting the pitcher in the 8th spot, with a position player hitting behind him in the 9th slot, for several years now.  Why?

Well, the aim is to have more men on base for the likes of Pujols as the game progresses.  This seems like a worthy goal, but I think what I'd like to see is a small study done on the benefits of simply getting Pujols (or any elite hitter) more plate appearances rather than trying to put runners on in front of him.  For instance, let's assume that over the course of a season, each slot in the lineup has 20 more plate appearances than the slot below it.  (That is, slot 1 has 20 more PA than slot 2, and slot 2 has 20 more PA than slot 3, etc.)   Then one way to gain more offense is simply to hit Pujols leadoff: he'll have 40 more PA than he does from the 3-hole.  He currently has about 360 PA and 31 HR, so he homers about every 12 PA.  If we round down, we're talking about adding 3 HR to his season simply by giving him more plate appearances.

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More Baseball Rules Discussion posted on 07/06/2009

I got into a discussion with Sean yesterday about the post I made a couple of weeks ago concerning when a runner has officially taken possession of a base.  We consulted the rule book (online at, a great site) and found no specific details about the situation.  (Though, admittedly, I did not carefully pore over every bit of it research-style, since we were simply having an entertaining discussion.)  While shifting through various alternative scenarios to try to tease out the answer, this fun one came up:

What happens when a pitch never reaches home plate?  What if it stops halfway there?  Presumably, we decided, it must be called a ball, but how far does it have to travel?  If a pitcher drops the ball while set, that's a balk.  So where is the demarcation between balk and ball?

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Brewers - Cubs and Walk-off Walks posted on 07/03/2009

This game typifies why the open base need not always be filled.  Particularly with the winning run on third base, you are asking quite a lot of your pitcher to confine him to the box created by bases loaded.  The Brewers should have gone after Soto--a player coming in cold off the bench--with runners on second and third and 2 outs.  Instead, they blatantly pitched around him for 3 pitches, then intentionally put him on with the fourth pitch to set the stage for the walk-off walk.

By pitching Soto tough, you may still walk him--but you also may get him out.  In fact, Soto makes an out approximately 75% of the time this season, so it seems to me that the odds were in favor of the Brewers if they simply pitched to him.  And the kicker is that this is true of

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