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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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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

06-20

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4

Skewed Left: Preparing for Baseball's Most Extreme Circumstances
by
Zachary Levine

06-13

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10

Skewed Left: Bayes and the Hit By Pitch
by
Zachary Levine

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January 30, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: Saying Goodbye to Lance Berkman

18

Zachary Levine

Zachary closes the book on the career of the most interesting player he ever covered.

My favorite baseball player informed the world of his retirement yesterday, if I’m allowed to say that sort of thing and keep my BBWAA card. Lance Berkman had all the qualities of a favorite player before I started covering the game, when I was allowed to have a real favorite. He was a personality. He played on really good and interesting teams. He was a saber-appreciated player given his skill set. He hit left-handed. (OK, he nominally switch-hit, but really, he hit left-handed.)

But I didn’t really have favorites when I was just a fan, and so my favorite players were the ones who were fun to talk with as a reporter, and Berkman was absolutely that. I didn’t have the pleasure of covering him for long—I started covering the Astros something resembling full-time in 2010, the year it all started going bad and he was traded to the Yankees. But he was without a doubt the most interesting and outspoken ballplayer—on topics from drugs to the state of his or any other franchise to Bud Selig—I’ve ever dealt with. He had the best grasp of the business of baseball and his role as a player in that business. And the fact that he was pleasant never hurt and won’t hurt when Hall of Fame ballots are due in five years.

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Bobby Abreu improbably returned to his longtime team. Why can't these guys do the same?

Since the 1998 realignment—and by the way, it's always nice when your arbitrary endpoint stat starts being interesting in 1947, 1961, 1969, 1973, 1995 or 1998 so you can disguise its arbitrariness—only one National League team has had three position players compile 40-plus wins above replacement (full list here). And now Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and yes, Bobby Abreu are together again in Philadelphia, making this one of the more notable reunions for nostalgia's sake, if not any 2014 on-field impact.

Abreu signed a minor league deal with the Phillies this week and managed to avoid most of the snark that usually accompanies such signings of old players. For one thing, even though we're sometimes bad at this (see Young, Delmon) it was just a minor league deal. Also, the Phillies' standard in the public eye for their old signings is low enough that this one looks okay by comparison, and their outfield had a hole to fill. Mostly, I think, it's that unlike Young and some of the other aged relics, Abreu is somebody we actually like.

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January 16, 2014 6:08 am

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

5

Zachary Levine

Could Alex Rodriguez return and produce in 2015?

The first A-Rod, well before the fat A-Rod that we know today, might have looked like this guy.

His name is Candy Nelson, and more than 120 years ago, he did what Alex Rodriguez is facing the prospect of having to accomplish when his 162-game suspension ends. Rodriguez will be four months short of his 40th birthday when he comes back to play, presuming both that no federal court intervention changes the decree and that he does desire to return.

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Player limits, backlogs, character clause controversies...none of it is new.

Hall of Fame voting is decidedly broken. Or maybe it’s only a mess depending on the alarmism factor of the columnist who says so. Or maybe the Hall itself is broken and beyond repair.

The problems are deep-rooted and comprehensive, covering everything from interpretation of the ballot to the moralizing of the voting base.

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January 2, 2014 6:00 am

Skewed Left: Better Versions of Bad Hall of Fame Arguments

25

Zachary Levine

How to go against the saberballot and without making the internet mad.

You probably don’t have to do much guesswork to figure out what my Hall of Fame ballot will look like when the staff puts out its hypotheticals. You’d probably think that as a Baseball Prospectus writer and general citizen of the baseball internet, my ballot would be predictable down to that last spot or two, and for the most part, you’d be right. I’m not far off from the consensus saberballot.

As such, I get a little annoyed when I see an outlandish outlier ballot. But I really don’t want to. I want to banter in a space where contrary opinions are well thought out and lead to good, respectful debate, not dismissal and name-calling. To be frank and overgeneralizing, I hold the opinions for the undeserving candidates and against the deserving candidates to be bad opinions. And that could be as much on me as it is on the opinions themselves.

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December 26, 2013 6:00 am

Skewed Left: The Quiet Offseason in Odds

9

Zachary Levine

The more rosters change, the less their odds of winning the World Series seem to.

All that money spent on free agents this offseason—$1.543 billion with a “b,” according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan—and to what end?

MLB teams’ aggregated spending spree has been roughly the GDP of Belize, or the net worth of Belize, or nearly the total net worth of Passan’s former boss, if you want to go straight to the sportswriter’s handbook entry for coping with such hard-to-understand numbers.

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What we can learn about people in baseball by studying their Twitter follows.

When we last undertook this exercise, it brought us to some pretty unfortunate depths. Using the list of Twitter follows to probe baseball’s greats and sideshows taught us more than we’d ever like to know about Wade Boggs’ taste in porn stars, Magic Johnson’s apathy toward baseball, and Major League Baseball’s thirst for the 140-word dispatches of a company called Credit Donkey.

One year later, we’re back with a bunch more—some active players, a power-on-power couple of retired players, and one of your favorite writers and mine. What can we learn from only the list of people they follow?

Read the full article...

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December 12, 2013 6:00 am

Skewed Left: A Cooperstown Party Like it's 1999

11

Zachary Levine

Despite the big backlog of qualified candidates, 2014 could bring the best crop of Cooperstown inductees in well over a decade.

It was probably my favorite story idea that I’ve come up with in the 13 months I’ve been working at Baseball Prospectus, in part because it was so original. In the wake of the election of zero living Hall-of-Famers for the 2013 induction class, when everyone was writing about what a travesty this was for the Hall, I told Ben Lindbergh I was going to write about the tragedy for the village of Cooperstown.

It was an original idea until it was already written even before the vote. Until the story of one of my favorite places in the world, just 70 miles from my own hometown, was so well told months later that there was nothing left to say. Until business honchos in the village were apparently changing their answering machine messages to preempt the questions about the death of a yearly tradition of late July.

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November 21, 2013 6:00 am

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

12

Zachary Levine

The year in baseball memes that were funny, before we destroyed them.

I made a dumb Shelby Miller joke in the comments to my last article about MVP voting biases. It wasn't my first. It was probably my last, but either way, I feel worse about it because it piggybacked off another dumb tired joke.

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An analysis of several factors that have historically led to snubs.

When Mike Trout—okay, fine, if Mike Trout—gets robbed of the American League MVP award tonight for the second straight year, the explanation won’t be so easy. Last year, the excuse for excusing one of the best seasons of all time, not just by a 20-year-old but by anybody, was readymade. He was going up against the Triple Crown—an achievement that, while not all that indicative of overall value, is still so steeped in historical value that it can be blinding.

This year it’s not so simple. The voters won’t have one obvious reason for dismissing the best super-young position player in the history of the game again.

Read the full article...

What has to happen for a right fielder to throw out a runner at first?

According to his SABR bio, “Wild Bill” Johnson, the Tigers’ ace at the dawn of the last century, was described by sportswriters at the time as both a “slant ball pitcher” and “a giant (who) pitches, hits and fields equally well.” In his six postseason starts in 1907, 1908, and 1909, he had a 2.88 ERA but never did live up to that second portion.

The career .193 hitter went 0-for-16 in the postseason. He almost had a hit in Game 4 of the 1907 World Series, going up against Orval Overall—who was also in the news when Anibal Sanchez tied his previously unmatched record of four strikeouts in a postseason inning.

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September 26, 2013 6:00 am

Skewed Left: The Canadian World Series Drought

5

Zachary Levine

Canadian players have had a hard time finding their way to the Fall classic.

Look down the resume of what Canadians have accomplished in Major League Baseball, and you’ll quickly find that America’s pastime would be a lesser place without the influence of its northern neighbor.

Canada has brought us a Hall of Famer in Ferguson Jenkins of Chatham, Ontario and maybe another eventual Hall of Famer in British Columbian Larry Walker. Don’t just look at history, though. Its present-day exports include the National League’s best hitter, Toronto native Joey Votto, an accomplished pair of Pirates pickups in Justin Morneau and Russell Martin, and a promising piece of the game’s future in Mariners rookie James Paxton.

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