How early in the season can we start to trust run differential?
As of the moment that I write this, the best run differential in baseball is owned by…the Oakland A’s. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. Also, please raise your hand if—since I mentioned the A’s, you can work the word “moneyball” into this paragraph. I’ve run out of ways to do it.
Let’s go back to 2012, when the Washington Nationals made one of the most controversial decisions in recent memory by shutting down pitcher Stephen Strasburg late in the season, even though it meant that Strasburg, though not injured at the time, would not pitch for the Nationals in their Division Series. The Nationals lost that series to the St. Louis Cardinals three games to two, and Lana del Rey wrote “Summertime Sadness” as a result (no, not really). The Nationals justified that decision by saying that they wanted to keep Strasburg below 160 innings pitched for the season to prevent him from further injury. In 2011, Strasburg only pitched in five games, spending most of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was healthy through most of 2013 and has been so far through 2014.
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If a reliever gets out of a big jam, is it safe to bring him back out?
Rainbow sprinkles alert: Ben Lindbergh saw this one on Twitter, from currently shelved reliever Peter Moylan, who was traded to the Dodgers in the middle of last year after spending several years with the Braves. Mr. Moylan is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, like everyone else in baseball.
My father is fond of saying that a thousand “attaboys” is worth one “aw crap.” You can do a thousand things right, but if you get one wrong, all of the goodwill you built up over those thousand successes is now gone. It’s completely irrational, but no one ever said that human beings made any sense.
Looking for evidence of an intentional walk hangover effect.
I missed baseball. It’s like being in a relationship with someone and then having to spend an extended period of time apart from them. Oh sure, you call and Skype and send each other e-mails, but when you are finally back in the same room, you get the joy of re-discovering each other. (And yeah, that’s a Journey reference.) Then there’s the next day after you’ve… ahem… gotten re-acquainted, when you realize that in addition to all of the wonderful things you missed about each other, all of the things that drive you crazy are still, there too.
Important things that happened when Daniel Murphy went away.
Congratulations go out to Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy and his wife on the birth of their first child, Noah on Monday night. Murphy left the Mets and went to Florida to be there for... well, let's see here... ONE OF THE BIGGEST EVENTS THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN IN HIS LIFE. In doing so, Murphy invoked his right, under the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement, to a few days of paternity leave. The Mets were able to bring up Wilmer Flores to take Murphy's spot on the roster until Murphy returned to actionon Thursday.
Does a starter who goes deep into games really have an effect on days before and after his outings?
The complete game has become an increasingly rare beast. In 2013, there were 124 complete games registered by the 4,862 pitchers who started out on the hill, and Adam Wainwright led all of baseball with five. If a pitcher makes it through nine innings, he’s likely having a very good day, and nine innings of well-pitched baseball is nothing to sneeze at. But a complete game is more than that. It’s a sign of manliness. It’s like shouting, “I don’t need no stinkin’ bullpen!” It’s a cultural touchstone. It’s the guy yelling at his TV, “Finish what you started, you silly overpaid, coddled millionaire. I finish my day of work without calling in a reliever.” A pitcher who completes a game is just getting in touch with the common man.
Prospectus Entertainment Ventures (PEV), which owns the highly successful website and annual book franchise Baseball Prospectus, has announced that it will be expanding its next-level coverage of sports into a new area. PEV CEO Joe Hamrahi announced on Tuesday that a new website, Mongolian Yak Racing Prospectus, would be launching soon and that several Baseball Prospectus regulars would be contributing content. Said Hamrahi, “We’re always looking to strengthen our brand, and this seems like a natural fit. We borrowed a supercomputer from a MLB mystery team, it told us to expand into Mongolian yak racing, and we all know that supercomputers are NEVER wrong. Which reminds me, I need to return this supercomputer.”
BP editor-in-chief Ben Lindbergh will do double-duty as MYRP editor-in-chief and its companion site Yakworthy, which will consist mostly of GIFs of yaks falling over. Lindbergh was excited by his new responsibilities, saying, “We’re going to offer a lot of great coverage, including the latest in yak racing rumors. We’re bringing on an as-yet-unnamed fetus who has been tweeting about yak transactions from his mother’s womb.”
A look at the ESPN: The Magazine team chemistry rankings.
Let’s talk about the ESPN: The Magazine team chemistry rankings. For those who haven’t seen them yet, I suggest going here, but if you’d like to skip to the good part, the centerpiece of ESPN’s predictions about the 2014 season is that they adjusted them for team chemistry. The article actually (seriously, no really) says that the Tampa Bay Rays are projected to win 1.7 extra games this year because of chemistry. This will be enough to win them the AL East.
Why the recovery from a traumatic event isn't always just a matter of surgery and stitches.
Last Wednesday night, something truly awful occurred in a spring training game between the Royals and Reds. In the sixth inning, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was getting in some work and faced off against Royals catcher Salvador Perez. In the regular season, that matchup would be compelling stuff, but this was just a fake game, so no one thought much of it. You’ve probably seen the replay of what happened next: Perez squared one up and hit a line drive that caught Chapman in the face. Chapman was taken off the field by stretcher and the game was called off.