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08-14

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16

Skewed Left: Where Have All The Suspensions Gone?
by
Zachary Levine

07-31

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1

Skewed Left: The Nomar Garciaparra Trade Turns Ten
by
Zachary Levine

07-25

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4

Skewed Left: The Mismatched Incentives of Draftees and Their Agents
by
Zachary Levine

07-15

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4

Skewed Left: What Is An All-Star Pitcher?
by
Zachary Levine

07-09

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7

Skewed Left: What the CBA Says About the All-Star Game
by
Zachary Levine

07-03

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16

Skewed Left: The Ingrained, Misguided, 162-Game Schedule
by
Zachary Levine

06-26

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3

Skewed Left: Which Position Players Make the Best Pitchers?
by
Zachary Levine

06-19

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2

Skewed Left: The Missing Mound Charge
by
Zachary Levine

06-12

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1

Skewed Left: The Wisdom of Pinch-Hitting with Pitchers
by
Zachary Levine

06-05

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17

Skewed Left: The Economics of the Singleton Extension
by
Zachary Levine

05-29

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7

Skewed Left: What We've Learned About Replay
by
Zachary Levine

05-22

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1

Skewed Left: Dallas Keuchel Defies his Destiny
by
Zachary Levine

05-13

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21

Skewed Left: How Much Losing Jose Fernandez Hurts
by
Zachary Levine

05-08

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2

Skewed Left: The Five Teams That Don't Have to Play by (All of) the Rules
by
Zachary Levine

05-01

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0

Skewed Left: Staying Alive in the Independent Leagues, 2014 Edition
by
Zachary Levine

04-24

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9

Skewed Left: The Squandered Promise of the Diamondbacks Rotation
by
Zachary Levine

04-18

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4

Skewed Left: How Service Time Dictates Top Prospect Promotions
by
Zachary Levine

04-10

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7

Skewed Left: The Surprising Sameness of Justin Upton
by
Zachary Levine

04-03

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11

Skewed Left: The Revolving Door Rankings
by
Zachary Levine

03-27

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11

Skewed Left: PECOTA vs. Vegas
by
Zachary Levine

03-20

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7

Skewed Left: Where Are All the Australian Position Players?
by
Zachary Levine

03-13

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25

Skewed Left: The Good and the Bad News About Instant Replay's Spring Trial
by
Zachary Levine

03-06

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42

Skewed Left: The Art of Explaining Baseball
by
Zachary Levine

02-27

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13

Skewed Left: What it Means to Move Off Catcher
by
Zachary Levine

02-13

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9

Skewed Left: Fun with 2014 PECOTA Comparables
by
Zachary Levine

02-06

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7

Skewed Left: The Truth About One-Day Contracts
by
Zachary Levine

01-30

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18

Skewed Left: Saying Goodbye to Lance Berkman
by
Zachary Levine

01-23

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3

Skewed Left: Bobby Abreu, the Phillies, and Other Reunions That Might Make Sense
by
Zachary Levine

01-16

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5

Skewed Left: The Historical Precedent for an A-Rod Comeback
by
Zachary Levine

01-07

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21

Skewed Left: What the 1936 Hall of Fame Ballot Tells Us About Today's
by
Zachary Levine

01-02

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25

Skewed Left: Better Versions of Bad Hall of Fame Arguments
by
Zachary Levine

12-26

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9

Skewed Left: The Quiet Offseason in Odds
by
Zachary Levine

12-19

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2

Skewed Left: The Company They Tweet, The Sequel
by
Zachary Levine

12-12

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11

Skewed Left: A Cooperstown Party Like it's 1999
by
Zachary Levine

11-21

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12

Skewed Left: My Column: The Jokes the Internet Killed in 2013
by
Zachary Levine

11-14

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42

Skewed Left: Why Deserving MVPs Don't Win
by
Zachary Levine

10-25

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6

Skewed Left: Shane Victorino and the Hunt for the Elusive 9-3 Putout
by
Zachary Levine

09-26

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5

Skewed Left: The Canadian World Series Drought
by
Zachary Levine

09-19

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0

Skewed Left: Danny Valencia and the Orioles' DH Merry-Go-Round
by
Zachary Levine

09-12

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2

Skewed Left: Three Narratives About the NL Central's Crowded Playoff Picture
by
Zachary Levine

09-05

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3

Skewed Left: The Literal Rise of the Shortstops
by
Zachary Levine

08-29

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5

Skewed Left: Overlooked Atlanta?
by
Zachary Levine

08-22

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11

Skewed Left: Miking Up Umpires
by
Zachary Levine

08-15

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10

Skewed Left: The Nationals' New Future
by
Zachary Levine

08-08

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5

Skewed Left: Fisking a Preseason Pirates Article
by
Zachary Levine

08-01

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7

Skewed Left: The Last Time the Phillies Considered Selling
by
Zachary Levine

07-25

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0

Skewed Left: The Dodger Batter Who's Been Better Than Puig
by
Zachary Levine

07-18

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4

Skewed Left: Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, and the Pirates Approach to Building a Bullen
by
Zachary Levine

07-11

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14

Skewed Left: Planning the Best Baseball Road Trip
by
Zachary Levine

06-27

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3

Skewed Left: Searching for Baseball's Brandon Jennings
by
Zachary Levine

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August 14, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: Where Have All The Suspensions Gone?

16

Zachary Levine

Has MLB given up on stopping intentional beanballs?

One of my least favorite hot takes in all of sports comes when people say that the National Hockey League should ban fighting. Not because I find the sport’s method of supposed self-regulation to be at all attractive but simply because fighting in hockey is banned. Know how I know it’s banned? Because not only is it a penalty to fight, it’s a major penalty. The NHL banned shooting the puck over the glass from your own zone a few years back, and you only get two minutes for that; thus certainly fighting is banned if it's five.

So technically you are not allowed to throw at hitters in Major League Baseball. If you hit someone, he goes to first, which, if it’s leading off the inning, costs about a third of a run. And if you miss, the 1–0 count isn’t good either. And these days you’ll probably try again. Sometimes you’ll even get ejected like Randall Delgado did when he punctuated Andrew McCutchen last week.

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How does the shocking trade of Nomar Garciaparra look 10 years in the rear-view?

Ten years later, the trade that allegedly won the Red Sox the 2004 World Series has been drowned in so much narrative that it’s almost impossible to separate it from the breaking of the 86-year drought that happened three months later.

When 4 p.m. Eastern rolls around today and the fates of Jon Lester and the like are decided, it will mark exactly 10 years to the hour since Nomar Garciaparra was unceremoniously dumped on the Cubs. He was a year removed from a second straight 7-WARP season and a sixth 6-WARP season in seven years. He was already the best shortstop in Red Sox history and he didn't have to play a single game in his 30s to get there.

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It's in the agent's interest to get the most money for his players. That's true... mostly.

When the Astros last took us back to economics class, it was for what was generally regarded as a good thing on their end. They showed how a team can use not only their leverage, but the misaligned incentives of individual players and their collective to get what appeared to be a good deal for Jon Singleton. (Whether or not Singleton’s .179/.263/.340 start with a 37 percent strikeout rate changes your opinion of the deal now, the economics do not change.)

Now somehow, a month later, we’re back. It’s probably not a coincidence that it’s the Astros again. This is what they do. From the first pick of baseball’s new amateur economy, this is what they’ve done. They play with the rules, they use their leverage, and now they’re going to be one No. 1 overall draft pick short of a trio at Camp Kissimmee next year.

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Maybe all those All-Star relievers is actually the right idea

When it became evident that David Price would be pitching on Sunday and thus would be unable to pitch in the All-Star Game, John Farrell had a menu of options from which to choose a replacement. The fans voted in Chris Sale from a group of five Final Vote candidates, and the other four—all starting pitchers—were not pitching Sunday and very much available.

Garrett Richards would have made the most sense with a half-season that a traditionalist would love—a great record, ERA and team performance—and the underlying stats to go with it.

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July 9, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: What the CBA Says About the All-Star Game

7

Zachary Levine

Even the All-Star Game gets collectively bargained.

We’re six days from the All-Star Game, an event that despite Major League Baseball’s best marketing efforts, you might think is kind of meaningless. We’re five days away from the Home Run Derby, an event that even when put next to the All-Star Game takes on the air of a sideshow, and rarely in a good way.

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Why the schedule we're stuck with isn't necessarily the one we should want.

“The people who control the destinies of base ball, and the enthusiasts who have kept the game alive and made it the greatest pastime in the world, demand as much of base ball as they can get. Our duty is to provide it and simply adhere to their wishes in the matter.” – American League Vice President Charles W. Somers to the Sporting Life, May 2, 1905

This week we reached the halfway point of the season in baseball, a sport whose name’s halfway point is no longer denoted with a space, and boy is there much of it. We’re ~50 percent of the way to 162, a number that’s been part of the American League fan’s rapid recall since 1961 and the National League’s since 1962, without any deviations save for a couple of strike years. And it’s a number that – given baseball’s dynamic scheduling history – makes no sense.

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When non-pitchers take the mound, do players from particular positions perform better?

It’s the beginning of the 17th inning and the bullpen is empty except for the bullpen catcher, who’s long since stopped bullpen catching and started to see how many paper cups he can balance on his head. Or, more likely in today’s baseball, it’s the middle of the seventh inning and you’re down by seven runs.

In either scenario, the manager and the pitching coach start looking around for an arm. Not a lot of requirements here. It has to be attached to somebody on the 25-man roster who hasn’t played, and it can’t belong to a pitcher. Today is just not worth using a starter. There’s always tomorrow.

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June 19, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: The Missing Mound Charge

2

Zachary Levine

When will we see another hitter attempt to take a pitcher down?

You know that scenario that you dreamt up in your backyard for when you someday play in the big leagues? The one that you had to dream up because baseball announcers in every high-leverage situation were telling you that you dreamt it up?

It’s not the one I dreamt up. I couldn’t hit the ball far enough even to picture that trot around the bases after hitting the bottom-of-the-ninth, down-by-three, bases-loaded, two-out, full-count home run. So when I played baseball in the street with my brother and whomever we could find in the neighborhood, there was only one situation that I lived for.

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June 12, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: The Wisdom of Pinch-Hitting with Pitchers

1

Zachary Levine

An underused tactic that requires some courage.

You could say that the most Sergio Romo save of Sergio Romo’s 2014 season was his 17th, a wobbly six-batter adventure against the Cardinals in which he entered with a two-run lead and held on for a one-run victory in this sequence.

RHB Jhonny Peralta: Strikeout swinging (slider, slider, sinker, slider)
LHB Jon Jay: Infield single
RHB Peter Bourjos: Infield popup (slider, slider)
LHB Daniel Descalso: Walk
LHB Matt Carpenter: RBI single

RHB Shane Robinson Infield popup (slider, slider, slider, slider, slider)






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June 5, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: The Economics of the Singleton Extension

17

Zachary Levine

Why all the incentives are aligned in favor of contracts like the Astros' new first baseman's, and how that could change.

Leave it to the Astros, a team that's spent the last few years sending fans running to the record books, to the legal dictionary, and occasionally to the therapist, to be the team that in 2014 is sending us back to economics class.

Their general manager, Jeff Luhnow, has both an undergraduate business degree and a Kellogg MBA. Their assistant GM, David Stearns, came from the salary arbitration and collective bargaining team at MLB headquarters. Down the depth chart, their baseball operations analyst, Brandon Taubman, came from the derivatives trading world. Hell, their analogue of a traveling secretary (on this team a more comprehensive “manager of team operations”), Dan O’Neill, per his bio:

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May 29, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: What We've Learned About Replay

7

Zachary Levine

A look at challenge rates, success rates, and delays so far.

When a totally new system like Major League Baseball’s expanded instant replay—complete with brand-new job descriptions and job openings and technology—is assembled on the eve of the season, you’d imagine its implementation would look more like an evolution than the arrival of a fully formed process.

And by most accounts it has been. Whether it’s the change in the transfer rule that tangentially went along with it, or managers getting used to the silly choreography of how to argue with an umpire while simultaneously looking back at the dugout for a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, everybody involved in the process seems to be getting better at it.

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May 22, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: Dallas Keuchel Defies his Destiny

1

Zachary Levine

The Astros southpaw's transition from a walk machine with no strikeouts into a strike machine with no walks.

As much as it might look like we have, we’ve never seen anything like this in the short career of the Astros’ best pitcher to date, Dallas Keuchel.

His career began in June 2012 with terrific results—one run allowed in five innings in the Ballpark at Arlington, a complete game six days later with one run allowed. At the All-Star break he had a 2.45 ERA on his way into a start against Arizona. Something wasn’t right, though.

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