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Painting the Black 

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04-18

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2

Painting the Black: Super Twoing
by
R.J. Anderson

04-14

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6

Painting the Black: Portents for the Imports of Importance
by
R.J. Anderson

04-10

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9

Painting the Black: (B.J.) Upton No Good
by
R.J. Anderson

04-04

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6

Painting the Black: Nathan Eovaldi and the Jarrod Saltalamacchia Effect
by
R.J. Anderson

03-31

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0

Painting the Black: The Mystery Men of Opening Day
by
R.J. Anderson

03-24

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7

Painting the Black: Men at Work
by
R.J. Anderson

03-21

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1

Painting the Black: The Predictive Power of the Hit By Pitch
by
R.J. Anderson

03-19

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3

Painting the Black: Up and Adams
by
R.J. Anderson

03-07

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9

Painting the Black: Spring Flings
by
R.J. Anderson

03-03

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2

Painting the Black: The Prospect Proximity Rankings
by
R.J. Anderson

02-27

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2

Painting the Black: Lessons from the Top 50 Free Agents List
by
R.J. Anderson

02-19

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8

Painting the Black: Cash/Rizz Everything Around Me
by
R.J. Anderson

02-07

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4

Painting the Black: Slow Jams
by
R.J. Anderson

01-29

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4

Painting the Black: Blistery Science Theater
by
R.J. Anderson

01-14

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7

Painting the Black: Smyly Anticipated
by
R.J. Anderson

11-15

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10

Painting the Black: Suicide is Painless
by
R.J. Anderson

11-05

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38

Painting the Black: The 50 Best Free Agents of 2013-2014
by
R.J. Anderson

09-26

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5

Painting the Black: The Angels' Demons
by
R.J. Anderson

09-23

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3

Painting the Black: The Indians' Kluber Man
by
R.J. Anderson

09-19

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6

Painting the Black: The Things You See
by
R.J. Anderson

09-16

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4

Painting the Black: The Transactions We Didn't Analyze
by
R.J. Anderson

09-10

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7

Painting the Black: Flipping the Birds
by
R.J. Anderson

09-09

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3

Painting the Black: The Pirates' Untold Tales
by
R.J. Anderson

09-03

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2

Painting the Black: For Detroit, Who'll Stop the Run?
by
R.J. Anderson

08-22

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1

Painting the Black: Fish with Arms
by
R.J. Anderson

08-12

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7

Painting the Black: Wil the Thril
by
R.J. Anderson

08-08

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3

Painting the Black: Rating Rizzo
by
R.J. Anderson

08-05

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3

Painting the Black: The Holding Company
by
R.J. Anderson

07-29

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0

Painting the Black: The Mid-Season Unknowns
by
R.J. Anderson

07-22

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2

Painting the Black: The Brewers Who Might Be Moving
by
R.J. Anderson

07-19

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2

Painting the Black: White Sox Who Could Be Moving
by
R.J. Anderson

07-16

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1

Painting the Black: The Mariners Who May Be Moving
by
R.J. Anderson

07-11

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4

Painting the Black: Time for Phillies to Rebuild, or Refill?
by
R.J. Anderson

07-10

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5

Painting the Black: Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Intervention
by
R.J. Anderson

07-08

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1

Painting the Black: The Outside Man
by
R.J. Anderson

07-03

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6

Painting the Black: The Astros Who May Be Moving
by
R.J. Anderson

07-01

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7

Painting the Black: The Marlins Who May Be Moving
by
R.J. Anderson

06-26

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3

Painting the Black: Trade Deadline Closeup: Chicago Cubs
by
R.J. Anderson

06-24

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4

Painting the Black: Birds Song
by
R.J. Anderson

06-19

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1

Painting the Black: The Improbability of the Closer
by
R.J. Anderson

06-13

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0

Painting the Black: An A's Minus
by
R.J. Anderson

06-11

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4

Painting the Black: Swinging With Starlin
by
R.J. Anderson

06-06

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1

Painting the Black: Julio Teheran's Arrival
by
R.J. Anderson

06-05

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3

Painting the Black: On the Man Who's Blocking Oscar Taveras
by
R.J. Anderson

05-29

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2

Painting the Black: The All-Hit, No-Pitch Rays
by
R.J. Anderson

05-20

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4

Painting the Black: Surgery Comes for the Ace Reliever
by
R.J. Anderson

05-15

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3

Painting the Black: The Cleveland Show
by
R.J. Anderson

05-13

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5

Painting the Black: The Helpless Hitter Who Finally Put His Foot Down
by
R.J. Anderson

05-08

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2

Painting the Black: Hanson Devil
by
R.J. Anderson

05-02

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2

Painting the Black: Six Who Clicked, Pitchers Edition
by
R.J. Anderson

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April 18, 2014 7:34 am

Painting the Black: Super Twoing

2

R.J. Anderson

What can be done to stop the roster monkeying?

George Springer made his big-league debut on Wednesday night, and in the process opened the season on service time–related debates. Such arguments have become commonplace in early-season baseball, particularly in recent years, as teams have grown more cognizant of the Super Two service time deadline, which determines which players will be eligible for arbitration four times instead of three. But as much as we talk about the status quo, there's seldom talk about how things should change. So how could the Super Two rules be altered (by collective bargaining) for the better? Here are three proposals.

Eliminate Super Two

The extreme solution doubles as the most obvious way to end service-time manipulation. Teams would continue to hold their best prospects down for about two weeks, just long enough to gain the seventh year of control, but would thereafter have no reason to keep the youngsters down for artificial reasons. The downside to eliminating the Super Two designation is that it would further limit the earning power of the class of players who already have the least leverage in the league. This arrangement would be a win for the teams and the fans, but a loss for the players.

Incorporate performance into the Super Two equation

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Looking at the fast starts of Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka to see what we can expect moving forward.

With due respect to the rest of a talented rookie class, no two newcomers face more pressure to succeed in 2014 than Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka. The expectations exist for obvious reasons: both are older, better paid, and more experienced (albeit in international competition) than the typical rookie. Now two weeks into the season, the winter's most prominent imports have compiled fantastic statistics. But, before the league adjusts and vice versa, do they pass the eye test—or are these two more cases of April numbers ran amok?

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April 10, 2014 6:00 am

Painting the Black: (B.J.) Upton No Good

9

R.J. Anderson

What ails B.J.?

The Braves and Nationals played a three-game series over the weekend, and obscured by the obvious storyline—the two best teams in the National League East meeting for the first time this season—was a subplot for sadists: Just how many strikeouts would B.J. Upton, who entered the series with a 44 percent whiff rate, tally against a Nationals staff that fanned 39 batters in its first 28 innings? The answer, it turned out, was five times in 13 tries; an improvement over Upton's first series, when he struck out in half his 12 plate appearances. He then started the next series with this sequence:



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The Marlins' new catcher might have an affect that goes beyond credible slash lines.

For as much as we focus on catcher defense these days, the battery dynamic remains beyond our grasp. We know pitchers and catchers work together to form a gameplan and negotiate pitch type and location, but the heavy lifting is often left in the dark. What illumination we do receive often shines from second-hand knowledge, or analysis that is prone to fundamental attribution errors. As a result, analyzing gamecalling and the like is a tough, if not impossible, pursuit from outside a team's walls.

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March 31, 2014 6:00 am

Painting the Black: The Mystery Men of Opening Day

0

R.J. Anderson

Not one of Tyler Collins' or Roenis Ellis' PECOTA comparables was a major leaguer. But Collins, Ellis, and the rest of these unknowns are on MLB rosters today.

Opening Day is here, and that means it's time to introduce the unknowns who made rosters. This year's edition includes some new quirks. In addition to an expanded roster, each capsule now includes the player's major league service time (MLS) and the percentage of their PECOTA comparables who played in the bigs during the comparable season (MLB%), as a crude way to determine the unexpectedness of their Opening Day assignment.

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March 24, 2014 6:00 am

Painting the Black: Men at Work

7

R.J. Anderson

In case you weren't awake for baseball's opening series (or even if you were), R.J. has you covered: Kershaw, Trumbo, Goldschmidt, and all the action that mattered.

While the east coast slept early Saturday morning and late Saturday evening, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened the season with a two-game series in Sydney, Australia. The time-zone difference is 15 hours, meaning normal start times in Australia (1 and 7 p.m.) became abnormal stateside (4 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST). Because not everyone disrupted their sleep patterns to watch two baseball games, here are some insights on what happened during those two games down under.

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Getting hit by a pitch is a skill, but how repeatable is it, and what should we look for?

The hit by pitch—or at minimum the threat of one—is supposed to be a tool for pitchers to use against hitters. Not just in the Bob Gibson sense, but in a nuanced understanding that goes something like this: humans can only be so accurate when throwing a projectile over long distances. Accidents happen, regardless of intent, and both sides know it—but only one side faces the projectile on each pitch. As Roger Angell writes in Five Seasons, "Most pitchers seem hesitant to say so, but if you press them a little they will admit that the prime ingredient in their intense personal struggle with the batter is probably fear."

If fear buys the pitcher another inch on his fastball, or causes the batter to bail on his breaking ball, then he becomes more likely to realize success than he would otherwise. Instilling fear is an unhealthy aspiration, but nonetheless passes as legitimate strategy. Most hitters react like normal beings; after all, getting drilled by a firmly thrown ball hurts no matter the location. Yet there are some batters who have turned the hit by pitch into their own weapon against pitchers. These batters fear not getting hit; instead, they embrace it—some even hunt for pitches to throw their limbs toward. These batters are the stupidest smart guys in the game.

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March 19, 2014 6:00 am

Painting the Black: Up and Adams

3

R.J. Anderson

Will Matt Adams be the next Cardinals part-timer to turn into a star?

You know how Earl Weaver used to break his starters in as relievers? Lately the Cardinals have employed a similar approach with their position players. St. Louis has initiated its youth in bench roles, then pushed them into everyday duty after they're acclimated to the majors. This practice has played to perfection in each of the past three seasons.

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March 7, 2014 6:00 am

Painting the Black: Spring Flings

9

R.J. Anderson

Some teams are spending the spring trying out potential positional mates. Who should win these battles?

With the first week of the exhibition season in the books, teams now have less than a month before their Opening Day rosters are due. Most clubs have an open spot or two up for grabs, typically in the bullpen or off the bench, but a few are staging auditions of greater importance this spring. Here are 10 intriguing positional battles along with a prediction of who we believe ought to win the jobs.

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March 3, 2014 12:00 pm

Painting the Black: The Prospect Proximity Rankings

2

R.J. Anderson

Which teams are in the best position to tap into their prospect wealth this season?

Last Wednesday, Jason Parks released his 2014 organizational rankings, the culmination of a winter spent grading prospects based on their abilities and upside. Using Parks' rankings, we know which teams have the most talent on their farms; today, let's find out which teams have the most talent closest to the majors.

Proximity to the majors is always a talking point with prospects. Yet it surfaces less frequently during conversations about the strength of an organization's minor-league system. Although each team has young players they could call upon tomorrow if needed, there are teams whose best prospects are further along the developmental path than others. Those teams should be better positioned for the short term. A team with a ready-to-go no. 4 starter can use that pitcher if it needs a stand-in due to injury or poor performance. If he's considered surplus, the team can trade him for immediate help. A team with a potential no. 4 starter two or three years away would still find a taker if they looked, but might have to take a lesser return.

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February 27, 2014 6:00 am

Painting the Black: Lessons from the Top 50 Free Agents List

2

R.J. Anderson

Which free agents got more (or less) than we expected, and what do they tell us about next year's free agents?

Last March, I compared my free-agent rankings to the market. Since failure is a better teacher than success, and because the rankings were formed with each player's average annual value in mind, the exercise provided an idea of how to improve by identifying which players were incorrectly evaluated.

There were three takeaways from last year's recap. The most trivial concerned the list format and its tendency to understate the gap between the top free agents and the rest of the class. The other lessons dealt with the information asymmetry between teams and outsiders—namely when it comes to medicals, mechanical adjustments, or other tweaks that could lead to improved performance. Of course those additional insights don't grant teams infallibility: Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton, two pitchers used to make the point, went on to have poor seasons despite altering their mechanics and arsenals with their new teams.

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February 19, 2014 6:00 am

Painting the Black: Cash/Rizz Everything Around Me

8

R.J. Anderson

Forget Pineda/Montero. A more interesting swap of young talent that offseason has provided both clubs with something to hope for this year.

As easy as it is to forget, the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda deal was not the only trade made during that month in which a young pitcher was moved for a young hitter. A week earlier, the Cubs and Padres exchanged Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo as part of a four-player swap. Though not a challenge trade by the strictest definition—the two players did not man the same position—it nonetheless felt like one, in large part because of the executives who were involved.

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