This week's mailbag takes a look at Hall of Famers who were picked in later rounds of the draft, home team winning percentage in extra innings, and Matt Cain's one-hitter.
Welcome to the latest installment of the Baseball Prospectus Research Mailbag. This week, we’ll tackle Hall of Famers being selected in later rounds of the draft, the home team’s winning percentage in extra-inning contests, and the quirks of Matt Cain’s one-hitter against the Pirates last Friday. As always, if there’s a question you would like to see answered in a future mailbag, please feel free to send it in via email or through the “Contact Author” form (please remember to include your full name and hometown with your question).
George Brett and Mike Schmidt went back-to-back with the 29th and 30th picks of the 1971 draft. Have there been any other cases of two Hall of Famers being picked back-to-back in the draft? Also, what’s the latest a Hall of Fame player has gone in the draft?
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Atlanta may be in third place in the N.L. East, but they're first in the heart of Pythagorus.
Since the calendar turned to May, the Braves have been the hottest team in baseball, winning 12 out of 16 games after going just 13-15 through the end of April. The combination of that streak and the Phillies' recent stumbles—including a series loss to Atlanta this past weekend—was enough to bump the Braves to the top of this week's NL Hit List, Baseball Prospectus' weekly power rankings. That's fairly unusual for a team that sits in third place in its division, a game and a half out of first. Just what in the name of Larry Wayne Jones is going on?
Years ago, BP's Rany Jazayerli showed that once teams pass the 30-game mark, hot starts (or cold ones) start becoming meaningful. What does this portend for this year's surprise teams?
This past weekend in Chicago, I bent elbows with several fellow baseball writers at Miller's Pub, a venue lined with old baseball and celebrity photos, chosen because it was a favorite haunt of the late Bill Veeck. Among those I had the opportunity to talk to was Baseball Prospectus co-founder Rany Jazayerli. Quite rightly, BP's resident dermatologist/Royals fan was buzzing about his team's decision to recall elite hitting prospectEric Hosmer. "Hosmer is now a Royal, the future is now the present, and The Process is now being judged by results at the major-league level," wrote Rany at his blog earlier that day.
Explaining one of Baseball Prospectus' favorite features in such detail that even Mom can understand it.
As the calendar changes over to September, baseball fans focus on the eight playoff spots and the race to secure them. For a certain type of shoot-from-the-hip, never-tell-me-the-odds kind of fan, this is a freewheeling season of derring-do and thrills. For a different type of fan—a type of fan I daresay is more likely to visit this website—the uncertainty of September practically cries out for odds making and handicapping.
An exercise in quantifying the superiority of the junior circuit over the senior.
The National League may lay claim to two of the last three World Champions, but little doubt exists in most observers' minds that the American League has become the superior league in recent years. Not only do they have 13-year undefeated streak in the All-Star Game (including the infamous 2002 tie), but they've gotten the upper hand on the senior circuit in interleague play, winning at a .522 clip since it was instituted in 1997. They've held an even bigger advantage in each of the past five years, posting a .566 winning percentage over that time span.
A look at the recipe for what goes into the sausage of BP's weekly power ranking.
It happens every week: a reader sees his favorite team trailing one of its division rivals in the Hit List rankings despite leading in the actual division race, and fires off a snarky e-mail or comment questioning the validity of the list, occasionally while making anatomical references, and usually citing last year's division race or post-season results. Yes, Phillies fans, I can assure you that we've counted the rings. Well into my fifth season of writing the Hit List, I'm far more amused by such occurrences than I am offended, but the weekly give-and-take serves as a reminder for the occasional need to explain the list's workings in greater detail. As such, I annually set aside a column called the Hit List Remix to walk readers through the process.
Are any particular teams deriving an outsized home-field advantage?
Last week, we began our look into home-field advantage by looking at what home teams actually do better than road teams. It has been well documented throughout baseball history that the home team wins about 54 percent of ballgames, and last week we determined that the home team was better at pretty much everything. They struck out less, walked more, hit more home runs, got more hits on balls in play, made fewer errors, converted more double-play opportunities, stretched more extra-base hits into triples, hit more line drives, and they recorded more complete-game shutouts. The home team was able to take an advantage in nearly every aspect of the game. This week, we will carry that discussion of what home-field advantage helps into who it actually helps the most.
We're deep into the stretch drive, with some races still being run, and some seemingly done. How do we model our in-season prediction of how things will wind up?
September is the month where the great pennant races happen. In the current three divisions plus a Wild Card set-up, baseball's focus gets placed on the playoff games in October, but it's easy to forget that once upon a time, and for a very long time, the year-long drama of the regular season was often more compelling than what happened during a week or two of World Series action.
David takes a stroll through some data to see if there are any umpires who might favor the underdog a little too much.
The last column in this series wondered about the possibility of an NBA-like referee scandal happening with Major League umpires. The structure of the game makes that difficult, but I'd like to back that up with research. Now, with data in hand, I'd like to explore if there are umpires who are kind to either favorites or underdogs. With help from Retrosheet, home-plate umpires from 2000 through 2006 will be scored on the probability of the winning percentage of game favorites fitting the expectation. This covers the time period since the mass resignation of umpires in 1999.
Baseball must be toasting this week's sports pages over glasses of vodka and schadenfreude. Last Friday, NBA referee Tim Donaghy was implicated in a betting scandal. On Wednesday, Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen, under heavy suspicion of doping, was kicked out of the race by his own team. And on Thursday, Michael Vick was scrambling away from reporters in a federal courthouse, rather than opposing linebackers on the field.