Note: This article, and the one that preceded it this week, is based on a presentation I made at the Society for American Baseball Research Analytics Conference in Phoenix this month. You can hear the audio here, and follow along with the slides here, should you desire. Fortunately, there is no video.
Part Two: The Legacy of the Modern Bullpen
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Bullpens are better than ever, but comebacks aren't totally dead.
Note: This article (and the one that will follow it later this week) is based on a presentation I made at the Society for American Baseball Research Analytics Conference in Phoenix. You can hear the audio here, and follow along with the slides here, should you desire. Fortunately, there is no video.
An amazing music video featuring a World Series game between the Cubs and the A's was unearthed recently.
It was 1992. The Oakland A's, behind Tony La Russa, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, and the Bash Brothers, were only a year removed from a three-year run in the World Series. The Cubs, meanwhile, had been to the playoffs once in eight years, and Greg Maddux was only just beginning his stretch as the greatest pitcher alive. Away from sports, Garth Brooks had friends in low places, Pearl Jam was destroying the charts, and Uncle Jesse was breaking little girls' hearts all over the world. Not to be forgotten, Chicago Cubs fan Richard Marx was dreaming of a World Series win for the North Siders.
From this early-'90s potpurri, a music video was born. No, it wasn't "Jeremy" or even that silly Beach Boys video that had Uncle Jesse up on stage drumming. Not even close.
Decades before Billy Beane and Ricardo Rincon, there was Steve Boros and "computer baseball."
I spend a lot of time going through archives, and any time spent in archives inevitably leads to more time in archives, because an awful lot of things found in archives seem ironic or significant in retrospect. Like this:
Will Colby Rasmus continue to be dogged by off-field issues?
In two-plus years as the general manager of the Blue Jays, Alex Anthopoulos has shown a penchant for buying low on other teams’ undervalued players. He did it with Yunel Escobar, who delivered a 3.7 WARP season last year. He did it with Brett Lawrie, who emerged as one of baseball’s top prospects, and then batted a remarkable .293/.373/.580 in 171 plate appearances in 2011. Most recently, he did it with Colby Rasmus and Kelly Johnson last summer, though the returns on those two investments are thus far unclear.
Once viewed as a potential star center fielder, the 25-year-old Rasmus has a much greater role to play in the Jays’ future than Johnson. Rasmus was a 2.3 WARP player—mostly thanks to a .276/.361/.498 triple-slash, because his fielding was 18.8 runs below average—in 2010, and he was expected to blossom into one of the National League’s best players.
With Tony La Russa retired and Albert Pujols weighing other offers, we look back at a historic manager-player partnership.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
In a piece that originally ran as an "Inside the Park" column on December 8, 2010 and which will also be appearing in the soon-to-be-released Best of Baseball Prospectus, Bradford Doolittle wrote about the special La Russa-Pujols era in St. Louis.
A look at how Tony La Russa was viewed throughout his career on the night of his retirement.
The newly-crowned and paraded World Champion St. Louis Cardinals called a press conference Monday morning. Initial speculation wondered if the Cards had somehow wrangled a long-term contract out of Albert Pujols. Other, more cautious spectators imagined that it was about a contract extension for catcher Yadier Molina. At least one person thought the Cards were making an announcement about the latest Wezen-Ball post.
Instead, the Cardinals shocked the baseball world by announcing the retirement of 34-year-veteran manager Tony La Russa. It would make La Russa the first manager in history to retire following a World Series victory. Considering that the announcement came less than 72 hours after the final out of the Series, it must not have been that difficult of a decision for La Russa.
A series of questionable moves, bloopers, and blown calls to the bullpen were pertinent in the outcome of Game Five.
Given not only his history but the clinic in bullpen management that Tony La Russa put on in the NLCS, it’s difficult to believe that he could wind up botching a situation as badly as he did in the eighth inning of Monday's Game Five of the World Series. But thanks to a miscommunication between the Cardinals' dugout and their bullpen, a manager who has spent his career chasing the platoon advantage ad nauseam was left with lefty Marc Rzepczynski facing righty Mike Napoli with the bases loaded and one out. Meanwhile, the pitcher he wanted to face the Rangers' best hitter at the game’s pivotal moment wasn't even warmed up. Napoli, whose three-run homer had broken the game open the night before, pounded a double off the right-center field wall, breaking a 2-2 tie and helping the Rangers take a 3-2 lead in the Series.