Ian Kennedy, Zack Greinke, and the probabilistic approach to determining intention.
When home plate umpire Clint Fagan made the decision not to eject Zack Greinke for hitting Miguel Montero with a pitch, and a subsequent decision to eject Ian Kennedy for hitting Greinke with a pitch, he was answering a couple of probability questions that umpires and eventually Major League Baseball will have to face.
It’s not a question of whether the hit by pitch was intentional or not. You’re never able to answer that question. The probability that the act was intentional from the point of view of the umpire/disciplinarian is never 0, even on the most innocuous-looking play, and it’s pretty much never unless Cole Hamels is just begging for a suspension.
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In some cases, baseball's on-field etiquette seems clear, but there is often more to the story than either we or the players know.
On August 11 in Toledo, the Durham Bulls’ Will Rhymes hit a second-inning, two-run home run off of Toledo Mud Hens starter Drew Smyly. (If you watch the video above, you’ll see a replay of Rhymes’ homer partway through.)
Bryce Harper has already impressed with his play, but on Sunday, he made a similarly strong statement about his much-maligned makeup.
We thought we knew Bryce Harper pretty well even before he arrived in the big leagues. We saw him on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 16. We watched him dominate against older amateur competition, get drafted first overall, and hold his own against professional players several years his senior. Presented with Harper’s on-field exploits and the testimony of talent evaluators, we never questioned his skills, except to wonder whether he was merely great or the most promising prospect ever.
Our only serious questions concerned his makeup, and Baseball Prospectus was the source of some of the most concerning quotes. Two years ago, Kevin Goldsteinwrote, “It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid.” Kevin repeated a scout’s assessment that Harper had “top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents.” He quoted one front-office official who said, “He’s just a bad, bad guy. He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.”
The former Red Sox outfielder explains his side of the brawl he was in against Tampa Bay in 2008.
Benches-clearing brawls are fairly uncommon in baseball, but they do happen from time to time, and a doozy took place in Fenway Park on June 4, 2008. Coco Crisp was the focal point, as he charged the mound after getting drilled by a pitch from Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields. Crisp, who has a background in the sweet science, told his side of the story prior to reporting for spring training with his current team, the Oakland A’s.