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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

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

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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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So that you don't have to.

Hello nobody! Hello nothingness! Hello void! Hello, chaos of the old cosmogonies! And welcome, to Astros baseball.

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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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November 26, 2013 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Extrapolating the Breakdown of Traditional Defense

37

Sam Miller

Infield shifts are just the beginning.

One of the most interesting things about extreme infield shifts is how unextreme they are. They are like some lame grownup’s idea of extreme, a little bit of flash and inconvenience but ultimately very safe. The shift was invented by sane people. Real extreme comes from insanity, and it makes us deeply uncomfortable.

Everybody’s talking about the football coach who never punts​—4th and 15 at his own five-yard line, he’s going for it. That’s fearless. It’s hard to think of a baseball equivalent, one that would work or even one that might work. Russell Carleton this week explored the listener-suggested idea of having the left and right fielders swap, depending on batter handedness, to make sure the better defender gets more attempts to field the ball. The gory math supports the use of the relatively conservative proposal, but Carleton concludes what we can't help but conclude:

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November 19, 2013 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: The Hall of Fame 50 Percent Probability Test

26

Sam Miller

At what win threshold are players at each age level a 50-50 shot to make the Hall of Fame?

I was wondering whether Andrew McCutchen, after winning his first MVP award, was on a Hall of Fame track. So I went to look at what the typical Hall of Famer had at the same age, then realized with shame that the thing I’ve been doing all these years—looking at what the typical Hall of Famer had at the same age—doesn’t make any logical sense. Yes, the average Hall of Famer might have had (X) WARP through age 26, but

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November 12, 2013 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Rereading Nate Silver: 5. The Colorado Effect

2

Sam Miller

Are the Rockies passig up a substantial advantage?

Note: This winter, I'm rereading and reviewing Nate Silver's entire archive here at BP. Today will be a longer one.

5. PECOTA at Altitude: A Review of Major League Hitters in Colorado
February 21, 2003


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Why it's time to do away with draft pick compensation.

The most common (and my favorite) type of question that we get for our Effectively Wild email shows goes something like this:

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