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October 13, 2011 11:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: Leyland's Cooperstown Case

17

Jay Jaffe

Detroit's manager has toured the country as a major-league manager, but is his work worthy of enshrinement?

When Lou Piniella stepped down as manager of the Cubs last summer, he was greeted with a spate of articles from smart people suggesting that he was bound for the Hall of Fame, not to mention tributes to his famous temper. Jim Leyland may lack Piniella’s signature flair for the dramatic base toss or hat-kick, but he can light up a post-game press conference as Piniella did, and the occasional clip of him getting his money’s worth from the umpires have been known to circulate. More to the point, with the spotlight shining on him thanks to the Tigers' post-season run, the 66-year-old skipper's own candidacy looks even stronger than Piniella’s, not to mention many of his peers.

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July 25, 2011 5:11 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: Stuck in the Middle with You

12

Jay Jaffe

Who tops the charts as the best Hall-enshrined double-play duo in history?

Buoyed by the occasion of Bert Blyleven's election, I had hoped to make the trip to Cooperstown to attend this year's Hall of Fame inductions for the first time. The dream died when my ride backed out, and so I settled for watching Pat Gillick, Roberto Alomar, and Blyleven reap their reward on television, in front of an estimated crowd of 17,500 on a clear, warm day. It was still a joy to behold, not only the three inductees' speeches but also the introductory videos, with Sandy Alomar Jr. narrating his brother's clips—which included as good a defensive highlight reel as you'll see this side of Ozzie Smith—and Jim Kaat narrating Blyleven's. To these ears, the Dutchman's speech was the funniest and therefore the most memorable, but all three had their poignant moments, with the first two more visibly overwhelmed by the emotion of the occasion.

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Taking a look at the Hall of Fame candidacies of the Yankees' odd couple, Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner.

The pairing is straight out of the classic Miller Light TV commercial, the most famous Odd Couple of their era in baseball, a poor street tough from a broken home and a child of privilege and wealth, united by their volatility and their indomitable will to win but unable to coexist in each other's company long enough to share the fruits of victory more than once. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner share space on the new Expansion Era Hall of Fame ballot to be voted upon at the upcoming Winter Meetings, and it's no stretch to suggest that both men, now deceased, could join the ranks of the Cooperstown immortals together.

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July 28, 2010 8:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: Don't Call it the Veterans' Committee

7

Jay Jaffe

Noting yet more changes in the Veterans' Committee and considering Lou Piniella's Hall of Fame case.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame's Board of Directors threw another changeup. One day after the Class of 2010 enjoyed its day in the sun, the board announced a restructuring of its procedures to consider managers, umpires, executives, and "long-retired players" for election to the Hall of Fame. In doing so, it buried the lead: the institution has put a pillow over the face of the Veterans Committee it radically expanded in 2001. In fact, the press release outlining the re-re-revamped procedures doesn't use the phrase "Veterans Committee" at all.

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April 29, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Dan Levitt

0

David Laurila

David interviews the Deadball Era expert on soggy baseballs, triples, the Baker Bowl, and much more.

The "Deadball Era" stretched from 1901-1919, and it was a time when batters stretched double into triples, and triples into inside-the-park home runs more often than they hit balls over the fence. Teams bunted. They utilized the hit-and-run. They stole a lot of bases. It was a style far different than what many of today's statistically-savvy fans consider "smart baseball." However, given the many factors that generated that style of play, was it smart baseball in its time?

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May 5, 2004 12:00 am

You Could Look It Up: Managers Reconsidered, Part II

0

Steven Goldman

Americans have many rights, but as many recessions and depressions have revealed, the right to work is not one of them. Conversely, there is no compulsion to stay at a job a moment longer than you want to. If you're not happy, if you can't put the same spirit into the job that you used to, or the job is taking more than it gives back, just move on. Easier said than done, of course. Every day, many of us trade a little misery for the security of a paycheck. Even when more rewarding fruits are obviously ready to be plucked from the tree, the cubicle we know sometimes feels safer than the office that we don't. Sparky Anderson chose security for the last half-dozen years of his career. Long after it was clear that Detroit ownership had quit on the team, even past the point that the strain of losing sent him home with nervous exhaustion, he stayed on as captain of a sinking ship.

Consider this page from a very different kind of baseball encyclopedia:

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Carlos Lee has cut down on his strikeouts and boosted his walks, fueling a second-half surge for the White Sox. Rickie Weeks zooms from top draft choice to the big leagues with the Brewers. Edgar Renteria and the Cardinals infield appear out of gas. These and other news and notes out of Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis in today's Central-riffic edition of Prospectus Triple Play.

  • Improved Performance: Predictions of a Carlos Lee breakout were as ubiquitous as Beniffer gossip this spring. Peter Gammons liked him; PECOTA liked him; a lot of analysts, looking at his improved walk rate in the second half of 2001, also liked him. But Lee's first-half performance left much to be desired. His walk rate regressed to its career levels, and he managed a line of just .262/.315/.441, barely adequate for a corner outfielder.
  • Read the full article...

    I recently wrote an article on teams that have improved by 20 or more Equivalent Wins (EQW) in a single year, EQW being wins adjusted to a 162-game season. In modern non-strike seasons, EQW and wins are generally equivalent, but this simple measure allows us to compare shorter seasons more equitably. If you want to better understand the concept, just read the first few paragraphs of the

    This article will look at the reverse: clubs that have regressed by 20 EQW in a season. To illustrate, let's look at the team that suffered the biggest one-season drop-off ever, with BASE representing listed-year record, and PRIOR for prior-year record:

    BASE PRIOR Team Lg Year W-L EQW W-L EQW Loss St. Louis NL 1885 36-72 54 94-19 135 -81

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    April 2, 2003 12:00 am

    The Great Leap Forward

    0

    Mark Armour

    In a recent article about the 1967 Boston Red Sox, I wrote that the team's 20-win improvement was not particularly unusual. I had spent a few minutes convincing myself that there were a few other teams in neighboring seasons that accomplished the feat, but made no attempt to determine how common it was, or whether the 1960s were particularly unique in this regard. This article delves into the topic quite a bit further, presenting an historical survey of the phenomenon, while contemplating patterns that might help us figure out who is most likely to leap forward this year.

    First, we need to explain the methodology. To account for different season lengths, I adjusted all team seasons to 162 games. For illustration, lets look at the largest improvement by a team in baseball history:

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    September 5, 2002 12:00 am

    Swinging for the Hall

    0

    Michael Wolverton

    Among the many responses I got to the Bert Blyleven Hall of Fame article on ESPN.com, one of the most interesting was from Dan Kelley of the Boston Metro and yankees-suck.com (a completely objective, non-partisan web site, I'm sure). While my article argued that Blyleven is by far the best pitcher not in the Hall, Dan raised the complementary issue of the best hitter not in the Hall.

    Among the many responses I got to the Bert Blyleven Hall of Fame article on ESPN.com, one of the most interesting was from Dan Kelley of the Boston Metro and yankees-suck.com (a completely objective, non-partisan web site, I'm sure). While my article argued that Blyleven is by far the best pitcher not in the Hall, Dan raised the complementary issue of the best hitter not in the Hall.

    Dan's letter argued that Jim Rice deserved strong consideration for that honor. (You can read his case for Rice here.) Rice sounded like a decent candidate to me, but then again I had never really looked into the issue.

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