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Baseball Therapy 

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09-30

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8

Baseball Therapy: The Wild Card Penalty
by
Russell A. Carleton

09-29

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7

Baseball Therapy: There Is No Derek Jeter Conspiracy
by
Russell A. Carleton

09-23

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21

Baseball Therapy: Will StatCast Cure Our Defensive Metric Blues?
by
Russell A. Carleton

09-16

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4

Baseball Therapy: Starving Young Royals, Battle-Tested Tigers, and an Unsquarable Circle
by
Russell A. Carleton

09-09

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24

Baseball Therapy: Poisoned by Losing?
by
Russell A. Carleton

09-04

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10

Baseball Therapy: I Guess You Just Throw The Next Pitch
by
Russell A. Carleton

08-26

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18

Baseball Therapy: How Billy Beane Built the Royals
by
Russell A. Carleton

08-19

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13

Baseball Therapy: Becoming An Adult f/x
by
Russell A. Carleton

08-12

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28

Baseball Therapy: I Believe In Clutch Hitting
by
Russell A. Carleton

08-05

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6

Baseball Therapy: Big Extension, Big Mistake?
by
Russell A. Carleton

07-29

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15

Baseball Therapy: Trading Ryan Howard For Nothing and Winning
by
Russell A. Carleton

07-15

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51

Baseball Therapy: Why Are We Playing Hunger Games with Minor Leaguers?
by
Russell A. Carleton

07-08

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7

Baseball Therapy: What is a Fast Runner Worth?
by
Russell A. Carleton

07-01

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4

Baseball Therapy: Do Some Pitches Do More Damage Than Others?
by
Russell A. Carleton

06-24

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17

Baseball Therapy: Is it Really Harder to Scout in New England?
by
Russell A. Carleton

06-19

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12

Baseball Therapy: Should You Trust the Projections?
by
Russell A. Carleton

06-17

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7

Baseball Therapy: What High School Has to Do with Tommy John
by
Russell A. Carleton

06-13

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3

Baseball Therapy: What You Can Do With Your Old Baseball Cards
by
Russell A. Carleton

06-10

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4

Baseball Therapy: Can Draft Lightning Be Bottled?
by
Russell A. Carleton

06-03

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19

Baseball Therapy: Introducing My Daughter to Baseball
by
Russell A. Carleton

05-30

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16

Baseball Therapy: The Hard Part About Preventing Tommy John Surgeries
by
Russell A. Carleton

05-27

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13

Baseball Therapy: The Annual Amateur Draft Guessing Game
by
Russell A. Carleton

05-20

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7

Baseball Therapy: Beware the Genius Tag for Coaches
by
Russell A. Carleton

05-13

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7

Baseball Therapy: Analytical Master or Leader of Men?
by
Russell A. Carleton

05-06

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5

Baseball Therapy: Is Oakland's Run Differential for Real?
by
Russell A. Carleton

04-29

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11

Baseball Therapy: Do Innings Limits Work?
by
Russell A. Carleton

04-22

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8

Baseball Therapy: The Houdini Hangover Effect
by
Russell A. Carleton

04-15

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16

Baseball Therapy: Why Sabermetrics Needs Translational Research
by
Russell A. Carleton

04-07

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9

Baseball Therapy: Beware of the Intentional Walk?
by
Russell A. Carleton

04-01

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14

Baseball Therapy: The Complete Value of a Complete Game
by
Russell A. Carleton

03-27

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15

Baseball Therapy: Advances in Chemistry?
by
Russell A. Carleton

03-24

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5

Baseball Therapy: The Complicated Recoveries of Aroldis Chapman and Salvador Perez
by
Russell A. Carleton

03-17

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22

Baseball Therapy: The Viability of Burying a Bad Bat
by
Russell A. Carleton

03-10

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13

Baseball Therapy: The Baseball Questions We're About to Be Asking
by
Russell A. Carleton

03-04

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9

Baseball Therapy: Why The Cardinal Way is the Most Important Book in Baseball
by
Russell A. Carleton

02-24

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22

Baseball Therapy: But…He Finished Strong Last Season!
by
Russell A. Carleton

02-17

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10

Baseball Therapy: Looking for Meaning Amid the Small-Sample Flukes
by
Russell A. Carleton

02-11

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15

Baseball Therapy: When Sabermetrics Gets Personal
by
Russell A. Carleton

02-03

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11

Baseball Therapy: How Would We Know That a Team Has Good Chemistry?
by
Russell A. Carleton

01-27

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38

Baseball Therapy: Why Are Smart Teams Spending Money on Relievers?
by
Russell A. Carleton

01-13

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15

Baseball Therapy: Building a Better Starting Rotation
by
Russell A. Carleton

01-09

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23

Baseball Therapy: The Hall of Fame Ballots By the Numbers
by
Russell A. Carleton

01-06

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11

Baseball Therapy: The Five-Man Rotation: The Appendix of Baseball
by
Russell A. Carleton

12-26

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7

Baseball Therapy: Rest an Extra Day to Keep the Doctor Away?
by
Russell A. Carleton

12-16

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28

Baseball Therapy: What Happened to the Four-Man Rotation?
by
Russell A. Carleton

12-09

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12

Baseball Therapy: What Happened to the Complete Game?
by
Russell A. Carleton

12-02

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5

Baseball Therapy: Dating the Impulse to Protect Pitchers
by
Russell A. Carleton

11-25

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38

Baseball Therapy: The Corner-Outfield Inefficiency
by
Russell A. Carleton

11-18

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20

Baseball Therapy: Why Do Teams Overpay for Free Agents?
by
Russell A. Carleton

11-11

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14

Baseball Therapy: The Cost of a Cost-Controlled Win
by
Russell A. Carleton

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Rarely is the question asked: Is our hitters learning?

Last week, we discussed a new method for looking at how players change within a season. Baseball stats are normally denominated in years, but the problem with yearly stats is that they obscure any growth and development—or regression—that might have taken place. Six months is a long time. Players can change. This week, I want to look at how we might use that method to teach us something about the growth of individual players.

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February 11, 2014 6:00 am

Baseball Therapy: When Sabermetrics Gets Personal

15

Russell A. Carleton

The importance of tailoring sabermetric studies to the individual.

Let’s try something.

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Why good team chemistry isn't necessarily what we think it is.

It’s one of the great unanswered questions in sabermetrics: Does team chemistry affect what you see on the field? I have a better question. What the heck is chemistry? I tend to be wary of words that have no explicit meaning, because they can mean anything, and undefined variables make for bad research. Ben Lindbergh recently found quotes uttered before the 2013 season from representatives of 25 of the 30 teams in MLB, who believed that their team had fantastic chemistry. Twenty-four of those teams did not win the World Series. In fact, some of them had really awful losing records. Ben found “great chemistry” quotes from the Astros, Marlins, Cubs, Twins, Mariners and White Sox, all of whom lost 90 games in 2013. If great chemistry is so important to a team, how is that possible?

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Et tu, Tampa Bay?

Last week, the Tampa Bay Rays signed Grant Balfour to be their closer for 2014 (and presumably 2015), committing to pay him $12 million over the next two seasons. It’s not an expensive closer contract, as these things go. But for the cost-conscious Rays, it seemed a little strange. The team also re-signed Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) and traded for Heath Bell over the winter. Another sabermetric darling team, the Oakland A’s, signed Eric O’Flaherty last week and, earlier in the winter, traded for Josh Lindblom and Jim Johnson.

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January 13, 2014 6:00 am

Baseball Therapy: Building a Better Starting Rotation

15

Russell A. Carleton

Is the five-man rotation the best teams can do?

In 2013, the average starting pitcher lasted a bit under six innings (5.89, to be exact), and starters as a whole had an ERA of 4.01 (and an earned-or-not run average of 4.17). Collectively, the guys who began the game posted an xFIP of 3.91. They did so by using what has become a standard rotation setup. Five starters take their turns in sequence and throw roughly 100 pitches in an attempt to make it through six or seven innings (the 5-6-7 model.)

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Statistical takeaways from Wednesday's vote.

There’s now officially nothing left to talk about in baseball for another six weeks. But at least we get some good news. Three new plaques will be going up in Cooperstown this summer, a welcome change from the unfortunate shutout that happened during last year’s Hall of Fame voting. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas will all take their places in rural New York. After weeks of the usual arguments over PEDs, the merits of Jack Morris, and the 10-person ballot limit, it’s nice to take a step back and reflect on how good the Class of 2014 really was. Also, we should take a moment to realize that the ballot is starting to read like a BuzzFeed list of “Players that only baseball fans from the ’90s would understand.”

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Another look at whether the five-man rotation makes sense.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to answer a question. Fifty years ago, it was routine for teams to carry only four starters, and for those four starters to complete a good chunk of their games. Pitching on three days’ rest was common, and pitchers regularly posted pitch counts that would get a manager fired today if he let it happen once. What happened?

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Does the five-man rotation decrease the risk of pitcher injury?

Last time we met, we contemplated the curious case of the fifth starter. He is, somewhat by definition, worse than the other four guys who might otherwise be starting tonight’s game. Yet there he is, standing out there for the next 3 1/3 innings until he inevitably gets chased after giving up his sixth run. Why not just skip this exercise in futility and let the other (better) guys pitch the game? Last week, we saw that pitchers didn’t suffer much from going on three days’ rest. It was a high pitch count in his last outing that was a problem. If pitchers have, historically, performed just as well on three days’ rest as four, why is baseball so afraid to go back to the four-man rotation?

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December 16, 2013 6:00 am

Baseball Therapy: What Happened to the Four-Man Rotation?

28

Russell A. Carleton

Is using a fifth starter a mistake?

Lately, I’ve been wondering about the development of the modern pitching staff. I’ve looked at how we got to the point where no one completes a game anymore and why pitch counts have fallen over the years. Here’s another. What happened to the four-man starting rotation? It used to be that a team had four starters, each of whom pitched on three days’ rest…or so the story goes. There were always days off and travel days, and then there were doubleheaders, so there were swingmen who picked up the occasional start. While we can’t yet be sure what happened, we at least have an idea of when it happened. Here’s a chart showing the percentage of starts featuring a pitcher who was on three days of rest (or fewer) from 1950 to 2012.

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December 9, 2013 6:00 am

Baseball Therapy: What Happened to the Complete Game?

12

Russell A. Carleton

Should starting pitchers be asked to finish what they started more often?

In 2013, Adam Wainwright led Major League Baseball by pitching five complete games. In 2012, Justin Verlander was much more of an ironman and pitched six. A mere 30 years ago, in 1983, six complete games would have landed Verlander in a tie for 42nd place with such notables as Storm Davis, Bob Forsch, Jim Gott, Ken Schrom, and Bruce Hurst. Even 20 years ago, six complete games would have been good for a tie with David Cone for 15th place in MLB. What happened to finishing what you started?

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Reconstructing historical pitch counts for a look at how starter usage has changed.

How many pitches did pitchers really throw “back then?” You know, during the days when men were men, a mustache was a mustache, and pitchers weren’t coddled. No one did any drugs ever, especially in baseball, and pitchers finished what they started. Just ask any lawn care professional who specializes in youth removal and was a fan of the game back then. Yes, the 1960s and 1970s were the halcyon days of high pitch counts, when all that you needed was a 10-man pitching staff. It was glorious.

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Are teams passing up an advantage by not telling their corner outfielders to trade places based on the batter?

On Friday’s episode of Effectively Wild, listener Matt Trueblood emailed the show to ask Ben and Sam a fascinating question. Why is it that teams do not have their left and right fielders switch places more often, particularly if one of them is a better fielder than the other? We know that some players like to pull the ball, while others like to hit to the opposite field. Why not put the better fielder in the place where it’s more likely that the ball will be hit? It’s a fascinating question because there is no rule that prohibits it from happening. In the era of the infield shift, why hasn’t anyone tried this?

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