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08-21

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5

Pebble Hunting: You Lie!
by
Sam Miller

08-15

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5

Pebble Hunting: Arizona's Pitching Problems
by
Sam Miller

08-12

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7

Pebble Hunting: The Unlikeliest Part of the Rangers' Collapse
by
Sam Miller

08-06

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8

Pebble Hunting: The Non-Scout's Guide To Javier Baez
by
Sam Miller

07-16

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18

Pebble Hunting: This Time, We Count
by
Sam Miller

07-14

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16

Pebble Hunting: How to Gamble on the Home Run Derby
by
Sam Miller

07-11

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1

Pebble Hunting: The Best Defensive Game of June
by
Sam Miller

07-07

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9

Pebble Hunting: Why Do Teams Pitch to Trout?
by
Sam Miller

06-30

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3

Pebble Hunting: Sean Doolittle Gets Scarier
by
Sam Miller

06-26

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14

Pebble Hunting: The [Your Team Name Here] Way Power Rankings
by
Sam Miller

06-20

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14

Pebble Hunting: Clayton Kershaw and the Fan In Black
by
Sam Miller

06-16

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12

Pebble Hunting: The 16 Hottest Teams in Baseball
by
Sam Miller

06-13

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11

Pebble Hunting: Alex Anthopoulos' Amazing Offseason
by
Sam Miller

06-11

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10

Pebble Hunting: Throwing Bats, Throwing Balls, and the Appropriate Punishment for Each
by
Sam Miller

06-06

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7

Pebble Hunting: Bartolo Colon Approaches First Base
by
Sam Miller

06-04

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15

Pebble Hunting: The Baseball Bloodlines Project
by
Sam Miller

06-02

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11

Pebble Hunting: The Best Defensive Game of May
by
Sam Miller

05-29

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11

Pebble Hunting: Pitchers at the Plate: Even Worse Than We Thought?
by
Sam Miller

05-28

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9

Pebble Hunting: How to Celebrate a Game-Ending Error
by
Sam Miller

05-23

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8

Pebble Hunting: A Billy Hamilton/David Ortiz Race
by
Sam Miller

05-21

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3

Pebble Hunting: The Marlins and the AT&T Shift
by
Sam Miller

05-19

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6

Pebble Hunting: How to Still Get Ejected
by
Sam Miller

05-16

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4

Pebble Hunting: The Meaning of 3-0 Green Lights
by
Sam Miller

05-15

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13

Pebble Hunting: Recent History's Most Cringe-Worthy Pitch Counts
by
Sam Miller

05-12

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0

Pebble Hunting: The Best Game of the 2014 Season So Far
by
Sam Miller

05-09

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9

Pebble Hunting: Starling Marte and the Upside of Headfirst Slides
by
Sam Miller

05-08

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33

Pebble Hunting: The Baseball Sandbox Experiment
by
Sam Miller

05-05

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10

Pebble Hunting: Who's Winning the Dodgers/Red Sox Trade This Second?
by
Sam Miller

05-02

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11

Pebble Hunting: The Best Defensive Game of April
by
Sam Miller

04-30

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13

Pebble Hunting: The Mets' Pitchers Can't Get a Hit
by
Sam Miller

04-28

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2

Pebble Hunting: Martin Perez Turns Two, 12 Times
by
Sam Miller

04-24

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2

Pebble Hunting: Platoonies Never Say Die
by
Sam Miller

04-17

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9

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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16

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

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February 26, 2014 7:41 am

Pebble Hunting: Introducing the Attackability Score

11

Sam Miller

A better way to assess which hitters are vulnerable to which pitch types.

Sometimes you just want to see a table.

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February 24, 2014 6:00 am

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

18

Sam Miller

The biggest gaps between 2013 and 2014 hitter projections.

At the back of the BP Annual, on page 562, among the PECOTA leaderboards, there’s one table for WARP Declines and another for WARP Improvements. The guys on these lists are a hodgepodge of stories, but mostly these players are on the list because PECOTA hasn’t changed its mind on them. Colby Rasmus had a good year last year? PECOTA acknowledges it, but it hasn’t changed its mind about Rasmus. Decline. Dan Uggla was terrible last year? PECOTA adjusts downward some but basically hasn’t changed its mind about Uggla. Improve. The WARP decline/improvements tables are essentially regression leaderboards. These are guys who did something unexpected but, in PECOTA’s estimation, didn’t really change.

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February 14, 2014 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: The Search for Yuni's Successor

21

Sam Miller

Which player is most likely to experience a run of sustained sub-replacement seasons?

The year was 2007, and America’s outlook had never been brighter. A young Arkansas governor named Bill J. Clinton had just been elected president with promises of universal hearth care for everybody’s hearths. An inventor named Steve Jobs was tinkering in his garage on a machine that would one day be called the Splash-Proof Thermapen Thermometer. And a shortstop in Seattle named Yuniesky Betancourt was doing amazing things that we would never see again: Topping replacement level.

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February 12, 2014 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: The Importance of Top Prospect Trajectories

15

Sam Miller

Does a big drop in a top prospect's ranking presage a disappointing career to come?

If you’re the sort of fan with only enough mental storage space to keep track of the top 101 or so prospects, you may officially quit paying attention to Mike Olt, Trevor Story, Rymer Liriano, Kaleb Cowart, Taylor Guerrieri, Bubba Starling, Danny Hultzen, Mason Williams, Luis Heredia, Arodys Vizcaino, J.R. Graham, Alen Hanson, Allen Webster, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Hak-Ju Lee, Casey Kelly, Tyrell Jenkins, Clayton Blackburn, Dorssys Paulino, Sean Nolin, Michael Fulmer, Lewis Brinson, Delino DeShields. All were top 101 prospects last year, but things happen to prospects (they break your heart) and none is this year. You can just rewrite over those brain cells.

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On Puig's performance against fastballs, and young hitters' performance in general.

When you think of a young hitter, you probably imagine a kid who can catch up to a fastball but struggles to lay off breaking balls and off-speed stuff outside the zone. There’s no “used to be a thrower but now he’s a pitcher” equivalent for hitters, but if there was it would likely be used to describe a batter who learned how to lay off tough sliders. When Yasiel Puig came up last year and couldn’t lay off sliders, and teams responded by throwing him sliders, it surprised nobody.

There’s some confirmation bias at work here. Try as we might not to, there’s a tendency to create cultural profiles for players, and also to create age profiles for players, and probably also to create behavioral profiles for players. So Puig—young, by appearances a bit out of control, Latin—seems to the prejudiced mind to be a guy who would be a free-swinger, and perhaps a guy who would swing and miss at sliders out of the zone. And he is, and he does! Just don’t throw that guy a fastball and you’ll be fine.


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January 31, 2014 6:00 am

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

13

Sam Miller

Do opt-out clauses favor the player or the team?

There are certain things that seem so obvious that I can’t even conceive of a counterargument. Then somebody presents a counterargument! This is why places like BP exist, to provide the counterargument to the obvious, and expose the nuance, and remind us of how often we only see one part of something. Nothing is ever so obvious as you think.

I’ve been horrified by player opt-out clauses for five years. They have always seemed to be terrible for the club, unless they come with some significant discount that the player takes to have that clause in his contract. (We’ll never know whether this discount is there, because each player’s maximum price is difference; eyeballing such deals—like Masahiro Tanaka’s, for instance—I’d argue that there’s no clear evidence of such a discount.)

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January 28, 2014 6:00 am

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

8

Sam Miller

An attempt to solve the age-old mystery.

Mike Trout is fast, and Peter Bourjos is fast, but that was never enough for us.

The hottest debate among the Angels' minor-league staff: Who is faster, Trout or new Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos?” “My guess is Trout is more explosive in the first 20 to 30 yards, but Bourjos would catch him and nip him at the wire at 100 yards. Everyone would like to see them race.” “We’ll probably never get to see the Bourjos vs Mike Trout race even though I think people would pay to see it.” “Alas, the Angels said Sunday that such a race will almost certainly never happen. ‘We talked about it in the spring,’ said manager Mike Scioscia. ‘But we don't want four blown hamstrings.’” “The Angels will not hold a match race to determine who is faster, but if home-to-first base times are the measure, Trout gets the nod.” “(Trout’s) response: ‘Oh I don’t know. We don’t race. You’ll never know. … No one will ever know.’”


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January 22, 2014 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Do the Astros Deserve to Be Shamed?

17

Sam Miller

Or should rebuilding be applauded at any cost?

On Aug. 8, 1950, the Boston Braves’ star hitter Bob Elliott motioned toward base umpire Al Barlick and asked him to move. Barlick, standing behind the pitcher, was in Elliott’s line of vision and distracting. Barlick obliged.

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What did the 2005 Angels' best-in-baseball farm system turn out to be worth?

In the late 2000s, when the Angels’ farm system (weakened mostly by promotions and a lack of early first-round draft picks) started to place low in organizational rankings, some local writers would respond with a pithy counterpoint: In 2000, the Angels were ranked 29th by Baseball America, and two years later they won the World Series. This supposeduly irrefutable refutation was trotted out so reliably it seemed likely that reporters were parroting the club's own words. You never got the sense that the Angels, as an organization, thought much of organizational rankings.

The organizational rankings, in time, thought much more of the Angels. They improved from 29th to 25th to 17th to fifth to third and, finally, before the 2005 season, they were baseball’s no. 1 farm system, according to both BA and John Sickels. Baseball Prospectus didn’t do org rankings yet, but that year's top prospects list had two Angels in the top five. The Angels had made this great leap forward while also dramatically upgrading their big-league results; as Matt Welch writes in the Angels team essay in this year’s BP Annual, “it almost felt like the Angels had beaten baseball's business cycle.”

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January 9, 2014 6:00 am

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

15

Sam Miller

Looking at what happens when ballplayers leave their feet.

Last year, obsessed with the possibilities of a pretty simple pun, I wrote about my 10 favorite slides. There were those who said we'd never try it again. Well guess what.

10. Punto Slides
There are days where you really get the sense we’re missing the point. This, for instance, is a base hit that Nick Punto recorded:


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January 3, 2014 6:17 am

Pebble Hunting: The Weirdness of Walking Barry Bonds

16

Sam Miller

Why intentionally walking Barry Bonds was unlike most of baseball's statistical trends.

Ten years ago, we all watched something incredible happen: Barry Bonds was walked intentionally 120 times. He had very nearly tripled the previous non-Bonds record. It was the closest our generation got to seeing Babe Ruth’s home run records, to living in those years when Ruth was doubling previous records, doubling entire teams’ totals.

But Ruth’s records become slightly less amazing with the perspective of time. Imagine seeing Ruth hit 54 home runs in 1920: Nobody had hit half as many in the 1900s to that point; the Pirates as a team hit 16 home runs that year; the NL home run king that season hit 15. You can imagine being literally frightened by what Ruth was doing, like hearing the Rite of Spring in 1913. Fifty-four home runs would have certainly seemed like a record that would never be broken. But 10 years later Hack Wilson did it, then Jimmie Foxx, then Hank Greenberg, then Luis Gonzalez. By just 1922, Ruth didn’t even lead the league in home runs; guys in the NL were hitting 40. What Ruth did wasn’t impossible, it was just a few years early.

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