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04-17

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8

Pebble Hunting: Every Manager's Face: The New Guys
by
Sam Miller

04-11

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5

Pebble Hunting: Your Five Favorite Players of 2014
by
Sam Miller

04-09

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15

Pebble Hunting: Max Scherzer and the Sabermetric Approach to Pitching to the Count
by
Sam Miller

04-07

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7

Pebble Hunting: It's Been One Week
by
Sam Miller

04-04

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13

Pebble Hunting: The Best Pitches Thrown This Week
by
Sam Miller

04-02

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11

Pebble Hunting: Bonds vs. Pedro, and More Fun with Batter-Pitcher Matchups
by
Sam Miller

03-31

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3

Pebble Hunting: Mike Trout vs. Felix Hernandez
by
Sam Miller

03-28

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30

Pebble Hunting: BOOM! HERE COMES THE BOOM! READY OR NOT! HERE COMES THE BOYS FROM THE TIGERS!
by
Sam Miller

03-26

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2

Pebble Hunting: What We Can Learn from the Expos
by
Sam Miller

03-21

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37

Pebble Hunting: The Simulated Seasons Where the Astros Make the Playoffs
by
Sam Miller

03-14

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24

Pebble Hunting: Sounding the Depths of Each Team's Rotation
by
Sam Miller

03-12

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13

Pebble Hunting: The Complicated Decline of Brandon Phillips
by
Sam Miller

03-07

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23

Pebble Hunting: Billy Hamilton, Usain Bolt, and Whether 90 Feet is Still Enough
by
Sam Miller

03-05

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30

Pebble Hunting: The Best GIFs of the 2014 Baseball Season
by
Sam Miller

03-03

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7

Pebble Hunting: Mike Trout and the Meaning of $140 Million
by
Sam Miller

02-28

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8

Pebble Hunting: The Pitchers Who Changed PECOTA's Mind
by
Sam Miller

02-26

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11

Pebble Hunting: Introducing the Attackability Score
by
Sam Miller

02-24

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18

Pebble Hunting: The Position Players Who Changed PECOTA's Mind
by
Sam Miller

02-14

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21

Pebble Hunting: The Search for Yuni's Successor
by
Sam Miller

02-12

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15

Pebble Hunting: The Importance of Top Prospect Trajectories
by
Sam Miller

02-10

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7

Pebble Hunting: Yasiel Puig and the Prototypical Young Hitter
by
Sam Miller

02-04

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20

Pebble Hunting: Watching the Worst Game of 2013
by
Sam Miller

01-31

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13

Pebble Hunting: The Opt-Out Hater's Case for Opt-Outs
by
Sam Miller

01-28

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8

Pebble Hunting: Who's Faster, Mike Trout or Peter Bourjos?
by
Sam Miller

01-22

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17

Pebble Hunting: Do the Astros Deserve to Be Shamed?
by
Sam Miller

01-17

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21

Pebble Hunting: What it Means to Have the Best Farm System in Baseball, Part Two
by
Sam Miller

01-09

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15

Pebble Hunting: The Year's 10 Best Slides: A Slide Show (Again)
by
Sam Miller

01-03

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16

Pebble Hunting: The Weirdness of Walking Barry Bonds
by
Sam Miller

11-26

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37

Pebble Hunting: Extrapolating the Breakdown of Traditional Defense
by
Sam Miller

11-19

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26

Pebble Hunting: The Hall of Fame 50 Percent Probability Test
by
Sam Miller

11-12

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2

Pebble Hunting: Rereading Nate Silver: 5. The Colorado Effect
by
Sam Miller

11-06

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7

Pebble Hunting: The Stupidest Part of Baseball
by
Sam Miller

11-04

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9

Pebble Hunting: Your New Favorite Player
by
Sam Miller

10-23

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8

Pebble Hunting: What To Talk About When the Red Sox Are Hitting
by
Sam Miller

10-10

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16

Pebble Hunting: The Season in Pain
by
Sam Miller

09-27

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3

Pebble Hunting: The Hypotheses That Require Revisiting
by
Sam Miller

09-23

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7

Pebble Hunting: Pedro Hernandez and the Rashomon Project
by
Sam Miller, R.J. Anderson, Dan Brooks and Dan Rozenson

09-20

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10

Pebble Hunting: Attacking Andrew McCutchen
by
Sam Miller

09-18

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5

Pebble Hunting: Why Koji Uehara?
by
Sam Miller

09-16

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11

Pebble Hunting: The 45-Strikeouts, One-Walk Pitcher
by
Sam Miller

09-13

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14

Pebble Hunting: Casting the Most Unconventional MVP Vote
by
Sam Miller

09-11

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12

Pebble Hunting: The A's and Building a Bullpen By Attrition
by
Sam Miller

09-09

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4

Pebble Hunting: The Jeff Mathis Effect on Jose Fernandez
by
Sam Miller

09-06

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2

Pebble Hunting: Mike Trout vs. David Price
by
Sam Miller

09-04

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12

Pebble Hunting: The Most Depressing Age-27 Seasons of 2013
by
Sam Miller

08-30

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8

Pebble Hunting: What We Rap About When We Rap About Baseball
by
Sam Miller

08-26

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32

Pebble Hunting: Five Myths About the Angels' Impending Shakeup
by
Sam Miller

08-23

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5

Pebble Hunting: Free Agent Alternate History
by
Sam Miller

08-21

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14

Pebble Hunting: Appreciating Andrelton Simmons
by
Sam Miller

08-19

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8

Pebble Hunting: My Book Report on a Video of the Longest Home Runs Hit
by
Sam Miller

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A close watching of five of the Braves shortstop's most impressive plays.

I basically believe in defensive metrics. I know there are a lot of people who don't, and that's fine; I don't necessarily have a good reason for believing in them, and maybe I'm just outsourcing the job of inadequately assessing defense to another person's brain, but I basically believe in them. So I know that Andrelton Simmons is spectacular defensively, somewhere between an all-time great shortstop (we have him at +19, and UZR has him at +21; he's got a reasonable chance of topping Ozzie Smith's best season by FRAA) and The All-Time Great Shortstop (Defensive runs saved has him there already, at +37). I believe in defensive metrics but I regress them heavily in my mind, so I doubt he's The All-Time Greatest, but I understand he's having a fantastic season. I understand it even though I can't really recall a single play he's made, and even though I've never really sat down and watched him exclusively for any length of time.

So today I'm going to watch him (and his highlights) exclusively, for a few hours, and make sure I can recall some plays he has made. These are not necessarily his best plays. Jeff Sullivan wrote about Simmons' defense the other day and showed "some of 2013 Simmons’ most impactful defensive plays, with regard to Defensive Runs Saved." In other words, the plays he made that the fewest number of other shortstops make. I'm not interested in such precision. For precision, I have the metrics. I'm interested in just watching.

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In which Sam is struck by the fact that these hitters hit these home runs far.

For my book report, I have chosen to do my book report on a video entitled (No Music) Longest Home Runs In MLB History. This video was created by Ryan Schwark and I found out about it from Jonah Keri. It was published in August 2013 and it is 18 minutes and five seconds long.

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Watching 50 balks to get a read on an imprecise rule, arbitrarily applied.

“I never called a balk in my life. I didn't understand the rule.” Ron Luciano, former major-league umpire

For all the talk about how complicated the infield fly rule is, it’s got nothing on the balk. The balk is, as I’ve always heard it said, more of a philosophy—“Don’t deceive the runner”— than a strict set of rules. Which is nuts, because deception is part of the game and always part of the pitcher’s attempt to hold a runner on. Varying how many looks a pitcher takes at the runner is deceptive, for instance, but certainly no balk. So “don’t deceive the runner in particularly defined ways” is more appropriate, but if these ways are particularly defined … well, now we’re out of philosophy and into a strict set of rules, after all. Do the rules make sense? Are they understandable, identifiable? Can we understand them and identify them? Let’s GIF* it a shot.

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August 7, 2013 7:18 am

Pebble Hunting: Sean Doolittle and Doing What Works

4

Sam Miller

An update on Sean Doolittle's extreme sophomore season.

This is part three of the Sean Doolittle trilogy. Part 1, in ESPN the Magazine, focused on Sean Doolittle—who, at the time, had thrown about 35 innings as a pro—to consider whether we need to change the way we think about pitching’s complexities. Part 2, here, looked at whether Brand New Pitcher Sean Doolittle had developed any more nuance in his next 50 innings, and concluded that he hadn’t. Other than picking up a little extra fire in his demeanor.

Part 3 might not seem necessary. Here’s Doolittle this year, compared to Doolittle last year:

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August 2, 2013 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Are Early Extensions Still Club Friendly?

12

Sam Miller

How many recent contract extensions would the team that bestowed them still sign?

It’s not always easy finding something to say about a fresh new contract extension. Most of them appear to be basically club-friendly, and follow a template set by previous players. Furthermore, they generally cover so much time that it’s even more impossible than usual to predict just what the player is likely to do that far out, and just what the team is likely to need that far out. Shoot, a lot of times they don’t even kick in until a time far enough into the future that our predictive powers go poof.

But we’re a few years into the extension era, and a lot of these moves are starting to have actual histories to judge. At the very least, we can look at the extensions signed two years ago and decide anew whether the teams should be happy or disappointed with the extensions they’ve signed. We can see whether these turn out as universally club-friendly as I tend to expect.

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Sam plays GM and auctions off Chicago's most valuable trade bait to the highest bidder.

Around this time of year, we hear plenty of trade offers that are offered, and demands that are demanded. It’s wise to take all of these with loads of salt. Sometimes rumors get leaked because they are self-serving; sometimes they get leaked once they’ve been passed around and distorted; sometimes by the time they get leaked they’re outdated. And, of course, there are many, many more offers/discussions/demands that don’t get reported. Without the full range of context, it’s hard to really evaluate what we do hear.

What we wanted to do here is conduct an experiment to see what sort of range of offers really would develop when a dozen or so teams are kicking the tires on a hot trade deadline piece. We declared Jake Peavy available to the highest bidder. And we assigned 11 contending teams to 11 writers; each writer, playing the role of GM, fashioned a bid for Peavy. Unlike mock trades that purport to balance both sides’ interest (but rarely do), these are purely calculated: they reflect only the self-interested desires of GMs who really want a player but really don’t want to give up any more talent, or take on any more money, than they have to.

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Can pitch-tipping truly explain Zack Wheeler's struggles?

The beguiling thing is that, to you or I and probably even to people smarter than you and I, there was really nothing to differentiate Matt Harvey from Zack Wheeler.

Both pitched in Single-A St. Lucie; Harvey was 22, Wheeler 21:

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Throwing paper airplanes is big at ballparks. Where did the planes come from, and what do they signify?

Game story template: Clever juxtaposition, personal detail, pun, or fun fact; summary of what happened in the game (winner, key performance); nut graf putting larger significance of win/loss into context; quote from manager; transition into chronological description, over course of a few paragraphs, of game’s action, perhaps interspersed with quotes from relevant players; quote from pitcher/offensive hero/Torii Hunter; description of the paper airplanes in the stadium; conclusion.

“As the game ground to a crawl in the late innings,” the LAist wrote last week, “each pitch taking on more importance on both sides, the scene throughout the stadium began to resemble the opening scene of M.I.A.'s ‘Paper Planes’ video. As the crowd of 50,796 got more and more restless, they decided to make their own entertainment, to give themselves something to cheer for as plane after plane get [sic] tantalyzingly close to touch [sic] the field.”

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July 18, 2013 12:00 am

Pebble Hunting: The Best Pitches Thrown This Week

4

Sam Miller

All-Star edition.

Welcome to another episode of GIFs and Words and Jokes and Nonsense. It's a special All-Star edition of GIFs and Words and Jokes and Nonsense, so enjoy the All-Star related GIFs, words, jokes, and nonsense.

3. Jose Fernandez's fastball

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What's the maximum attention span of a baseball fan?

I feel like we've been dancing around this for a while. The Tweeters at AT&T Park. The probably dead A's fan. All of these people. It's pretty clear that loads of people attend baseball games but nobody actually watches baseball games.

This was something I never noticed until I did, and now I notice constantly, just like how I can no longer not notice that pitchers have absolutely no idea where they're throwing the ball. The other day I suggested that nobody in a park (except the scouts and, in some cases, the manager) actually watches 10 pitches in a row. Well, then.

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July 12, 2013 6:03 am

Pebble Hunting: The Season's Best LOOGY

6

Sam Miller

A primer on the Twins' Caleb Thielbar, who started his career with 20 scoreless innings.

After 20 scoreless innings to start his career, Caleb Thielbar this week allowed his first run, on a front-row home run by Ben Zobrist. While he no longer has the 0.00 ERA, he has still allowed the lowest OPS in baseball against lefties, and his lead over no. 2 Alex Torres is as big as Torres’ lead over no. 18 Rex Brothers. Lefties are 1-for-30 against Thielbar, with a single, a walk, and 13 strikeouts: .033/.063/.033.

He’s also a contender for this year’s Kratz Award for Kratzing. Thielbar was released from the Brewers’ minor league system in 2011, because he was throwing 84 mph without any sort of changeup as a starter. He went to play for the independent league St. Paul Saints, who happen to be his hometown independent league team. Also, the Twins’ hometown independent league team. They signed him, sent him to High-A as a 24-year-old, watched him clean up his mechanics and pitch pretty well over parts of three minor league seasons (particularly against lefties), and brought him up for low-leverage scrub work. He’s in high leverage now. Twins fans call him … hang on, let me make sure I have this right... yup. Meat Raffle. Twins fans call him Meat Raffle.

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Important updates on pitchers hitting and pitchers pitching to pitchers.

1. Ross Detwiler’s latest hits.
Two months ago, I wrote about Ross Detwiler, the most extremely low BABIP hitter in baseball, and the artist behind this spray chart:


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