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Prospectus Hit and Run 

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03-06

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6

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Curious Case of Freddie Lindstrom
by
Jay Jaffe

08-31

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3

Prospectus Hit and Run: Fat Elvis' Swan Song
by
Jay Jaffe

07-30

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2

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Midsummer Replacement-Level Killers, Part II
by
Jay Jaffe

07-23

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6

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Midsummer Replacement-Level Killers, Part I
by
Jay Jaffe

06-29

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20

Prospectus Hit and Run: JAWS Chews on Some Cooked Outfielders
by
Jay Jaffe

06-22

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20

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Hate List, Part III
by
Jay Jaffe

05-18

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16

Prospectus Hit and Run: Yeah, But is it Gonna Fly?
by
Jay Jaffe

05-16

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0

Prospectus Hit and Run: Beckett and Hyde
by
Jay Jaffe

05-14

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1

Prospectus Hit and Run: A Not-So-Dandy Return
by
Jay Jaffe

05-11

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15

Prospectus Hit and Run: Donnie Buntball
by
Jay Jaffe

05-09

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24

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Phallin' Phillies
by
Jay Jaffe

05-04

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14

Prospectus Hit and Run: Worse Than Pujols, NL Edition
by
Jay Jaffe

05-02

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18

Prospectus Hit and Run: Worse Than Pujols, AL Edition
by
Jay Jaffe

04-30

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11

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Hate List, Part II
by
Jay Jaffe

04-27

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9

Prospectus Hit and Run: Labrum But it Didn't Kill Him
by
Jay Jaffe

04-23

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1

Prospectus Hit and Run: Bartolo Colon and the Comeback Kids
by
Jay Jaffe

04-20

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13

Prospectus Hit and Run: Pudge Retires
by
Jay Jaffe

04-18

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8

Prospectus Hit and Run: Sizzling Starts
by
Jay Jaffe

04-16

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14

Prospectus Hit and Run: Land of 1,000 Runs
by
Jay Jaffe

04-13

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13

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Hate List, Part I
by
Jay Jaffe

04-12

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5

Prospectus Hit and Run: You've Never Been This Far Before
by
Jay Jaffe

04-09

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9

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Matter of Ninth-Inning Experience
by
Jay Jaffe

04-04

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6

Prospectus Hit and Run: Loose Threads: West Division
by
Jay Jaffe

04-02

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3

Prospectus Hit and Run: Loose Threads: Central Division
by
Jay Jaffe

03-30

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9

Prospectus Hit and Run: Loose Threads: East Edition
by
Jay Jaffe

03-26

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10

Prospectus Hit and Run: Rattling SABRs in the Desert, Part II
by
Jay Jaffe

03-23

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7

Prospectus Hit and Run: Rattling SABRs in the Desert, Part I
by
Jay Jaffe

03-19

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8

Prospectus Hit and Run: AL Rotation Rumble
by
Jay Jaffe

03-12

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12

Prospectus Hit and Run: NL Rotation Rumble
by
Jay Jaffe

03-07

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43

Prospectus Hit and Run: Inspecting the Spectrum, Part IV: The Designated Hitter Question
by
Jay Jaffe

02-29

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8

Prospectus Hit and Run: Inspecting the Spectrum, Part III: Out of Left Field, Again
by
Jay Jaffe

02-24

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6

Prospectus Hit and Run: Big Shoes to Fill
by
Jay Jaffe

02-20

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5

Prospectus Hit and Run: Inspecting the Spectrum, Part II: The Podz People
by
Jay Jaffe

02-17

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17

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Greatness of Gary Carter
by
Jay Jaffe

02-15

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21

Prospectus Hit and Run: Inspecting the Spectrum, Part I: The Cold Corner, Again
by
Jay Jaffe

02-13

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8

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Vortices of Suck, Part II
by
Jay Jaffe

02-10

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8

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Vortices of Suck, Part I
by
Jay Jaffe

02-08

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0

Prospectus Hit and Run: Rising Payrolls of the Post-Collusion Era
by
Jay Jaffe

02-06

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18

Prospectus Hit and Run: Beware of Falling Payrolls
by
Jay Jaffe

02-01

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14

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Replacement-Level Killers, Part II
by
Jay Jaffe

01-30

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9

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Replacement-Level Killers, Part I
by
Jay Jaffe

01-27

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25

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Heavyweight Infield
by
Jay Jaffe

01-24

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9

Prospectus Hit and Run: Winter of Discontent?
by
Jay Jaffe

01-20

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36

Prospectus Hit and Run: A Big Bopper for the Bombers
by
Jay Jaffe

01-16

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22

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Keltner All-Stars, Part II
by
Jay Jaffe

01-13

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14

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Keltner All Stars, Part I
by
Jay Jaffe

01-10

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28

Prospectus Hit and Run: Barry, Black Jack, and the Big Ballot Surges
by
Jay Jaffe

01-04

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11

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Class of 2012: The Catch-All
by
Jay Jaffe

01-02

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21

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Class of 2012: The Outfielders, Part I
by
Jay Jaffe

12-30

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41

Prospectus Hit and Run: Morris on the Ballot, Smith to Close
by
Jay Jaffe

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March 30, 2012 3:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: Loose Threads: East Edition

9

Jay Jaffe

Spring training is nearly over, but each team still has some nagging questions to answer.

In five weeks of bouncing around the country while watching spring training—or at least the news of it—I've compartmentalized the sore shoulder-driven roster dramas and other mundanities to the point that I'm left with one nagging question for each team, one loose thread that I can't resist tugging upon as the season nears. Showing my blatant East Coast bias, today I'll run down those loose threads from the near coast, working my way westward next week.

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March 26, 2012 3:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: Rattling SABRs in the Desert, Part II

10

Jay Jaffe

Detailing some of the major panels at the first SABR Analytics Conference and soaking in some spring training action.

Continued from Part I

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Detailing some of the major panels at the first SABR Analytics Conference and soaking in some spring training action.

I can't do full justice to my trip to Arizona to participate in the inaugural SABR Analytics Conference, which took place from March 15-17 in Mesa, Arizona. Five days in all, part work, part working vacation—and rarely just vacation—the trip was pure sensory overload, a full immersion in a corner of the baseball universe with which I am quite familiar, but one whose size and scope have grown larger than I ever imagined. I couldn't possibly absorb it all, but what follows here and in the second installment is my best attempt to capture some of what I experienced.

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March 19, 2012 3:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: AL Rotation Rumble

8

Jay Jaffe

How do the junior circuit's rotations shake out when offseason additions are tallied?

Two years ago, the Rangers made a bold gambit that helped end nearly a decade of rotation-driven futility, shifting reliever C.J. Wilson to the starting five and bringing former supplemental first-round draft pick Colby Lewis back from Japan. Both pitchers did what Ranger hurlers of recent vintage had not: miss bats. In 2010, the two pitchers combined for 366 K's in 405 innings, helping the Rangers jump from 12th in the league in strikeouts to fourth. Helped by other upgrades—shortstop Elvis Andrus keyed a defensive turnaround—they won the AL pennant, and last year they repeated the feat.

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March 12, 2012 3:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: NL Rotation Rumble

12

Jay Jaffe

Which teams have the strongest starting rotations in the senior circuit?

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the Baseball Prospectus annual stop at Washington DC's Politics and Prose bookstore. As I joined Steven Goldman, Derek Carty, and Adam Sobsey in the question-and-answer session with the 125 or so attendees—yet another packed house that lived up to our past history there, for which we profusely thank our DC-area readership and the store—the most apparent difference from years past was the bona fide sense of hope the audience had about the Nationals.

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Pitchers continue to get injured while batting, so should baseball continue to require NL pitchers to hit?

I'm not known around the Internet as the world's biggest A.J. Burnett fan. During last Wednesday's BP roundtable, I even dusted off an old Simpson's riff: "I'm a well-wisher in that I wish him no specific harm." Now, to set the record straight, any voodoo dolls I may have referenced over the past decade or so for any player exist only in my breathlessly hyperbolic narratives, and I would never actually wish injury on a ballplayer, particularly not such an injury as befell Burnett later that day. The recent trade that sent the enigmatic righty from the Yankees to the Pirates mandates that he practice his hitting and bunting, and unfortunately, a less-than-stellar bit of work on the latter sent a ball into his own face, fracturing his right orbital and necessitating surgery. Fortunately, it does not sound as though he suffered a detached retina, which could have threatened his career.

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Does a new set of stats reflect much of a change in who could stand to upgrade in left field?

Last week, I explored the majors’ surprising downturn in offense from left fielders, a result counterintuitive to our understanding of Bill James’ defensive spectrum, which runs DH-1B-LF-RF-3B-CF-2B-SS-C. The positions to the left of the spectrum, which require far less defensive skill, are the ones where offensive production is supposed to be the highest, yet left field has been engaged in a decades-long battle for offensive supremacy with right field—which requires a stronger arm for throwing to third base—and this past year slipped behind center field for the first time since 1966. I placed the major reason for the downturn at the feet of teams attempting to copy the 2005 White Sox, who used Scott Podsednik—a center fielder to that point in his career—in left field, and attempted to show how the defensive gain supplied by the speedsters did not outweigh the loss of offense. I even got to talk about the phenomenon on television.

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February 24, 2012 3:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: Big Shoes to Fill

6

Jay Jaffe

What kind of production do teams receive from players tabbed to replace superstars?

Earlier this week, Mariano Rivera arrived at the Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, and caused a stir by strongly hinting that the 2012 season would be his final one. The 42-year-old, who has served as the Yankees’ closer since 1997, has shown no signs of slippage, with four straight seasons of ERAs under 2.00 backed by stellar peripherals—strikeout and walk rates better than his career numbers, even—and high save totals. Late last season, he surpassed Trevor Hoffman as the all-time saves leader, and with five World Series rings in hand, the only real challenge that remains is for him to convince manager Joe Girardi to allow him a cameo in center field.

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The corner outfield spots are known for production, but one field has been far more dominant in recent years.

My working theory was that it began with Scott Podsednik. In December 2004, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams sent slugging left fielder Carlos Lee to the Brewers for a three-player package that included Podsednik, who was coming off a so-so season as Milwaukee's center fielder. He had stolen 70 bases and bopped 12 homers—a nice return in the fantasy realm—but had hit just .244/.313/.364. His .237 True Average was hardly anything to write home about, and here at BP, both Christina Kahrl and Joe Sheehan tossed around phrases like "as a hitter plugged into left field, the nicest thing you can say is that he makes a great part-time center fielder." At the time, the Sox were set with an All-Star caliber center fielder in Aaron Rowand, 27 and coming off a breakout .310/.361/.544 campaign, which didn't exactly clarify matters.

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One of the catching greats lost his battle with brain cancer on Thursday.

"It's a man's game, but you have to have a lot of little boy in you to play it." —Roy Campanella

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While third base is often considered an offense-heavy position now, last year proved to be a major down season.

As so often happens, my recent Replacement-Level Killers and Vortices of Suck miniseries have focused my attention on the landscape of offensive production at each position. Back in July, while putting together the midseason Killers, I was struck by just how awful a year it had been for third basemen. Age, injuries, and mysterious slumps had sapped the production of so many hot cornermen that their collective True Average (.253) trailed that of second basemen (.256)—a seven-point swing from the year before, a change that couldn't simply be explained by Chone Figgins' switch in positions. As someone who internalized Bill James' defensive spectrum before I was old enough to drive, this anomaly fascinated me.

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February 13, 2012 3:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: The Vortices of Suck, Part II

8

Jay Jaffe

Which outfielders and DHs proved to be the biggest black holes in the majors?

Picking up where I left off on Friday, we continue hunting the fish at the bottom of the major-league barrel in search of the positions where teams got the worst production—worse than the Replacement-Level Killers, but without the burden of toiling for a contending team. As with their catching and infield brethren, the following players helped produce tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just soft breezes running through their teams’ bank accounts. These are the Vortices of Suck.

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