Tag Archive | "Batting Averages"

Official Scoring Change

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Official Scoring Change

Posted on 20 August 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Eye chart for official scorer’s eye exam…

That ball that bounced 14 times before being booted by the guy playing 3rd base?  Base knock.  Oh, he booted the ball into the 2nd deck where it caromed off of 2 nuns before dropping on the head of a baby 25 feet below?  Base knock plus 1 base error.  The bunt that the pitcher fielded cleanly off his noggin after 3 hops?  Infield hit.  At this point, a defender must basically kick a ball at rest into the opposing dugout and hit a camera operator to earn an actual error.

Honestly, baseball’s official scorers probably deserve to be classified as “invertebrate” for the lack of backbone shown in the face of overwhelming pressure to improve batting averages while simultaneously inflating fielding percentages.  The double laced down the left field line may show up as a line drive in the box score the next day, but all the credit really goes to the third baseman/matador who practically turned 2-dimensional while watching the ball shoot over/under/through his glove.

The problem with a lax attitude about scoring only covers the distance between “correct” and “no integrity”.  Batting averages (and subsequently OBP, OPS, and OPS+) get inflated artificially by E10′s which represent errors on the official scorer.  Sure, fielding percentage represents an outdated means of gauging defensive performance, but the statistic becomes entirely meaningless when officials err on the side of stupid.  More importantly, any defensive metric that uses an algorithm or formula that includes fielding percentage or errors becomes basically useless as well.  Bring rational thinking and a consistent approach back to official scoring, and watch fielding percentage gain back a modicum of respect.

While MLB considers this recommendation, maybe Emperor Bud and JT (Joe Torre) can rethink the way fielding errors on pitchers get treated as well.  If a pitcher fields a ball and proceeds to launch it into the right field bleachers, he gets charged with a fielding error, but then he basically gets a pass on earned runs for the remainder of the inning.  Why not rule the error an error but leave the “earned run” potential intact?  Who really gets hurt by this?  The pitcher who committed the heinous error, of course.  In that case, maybe he will spend a bit more time focusing on his fielding practice instead of starting on that 3rd bag of sunflower seeds in the shady dugout.

While Bud and Joe do that, maybe they can have a word with the rules committee about assuming the double play.  Maybe some broadcasters can’t make the determination about whether a double play should be assumed, but the thought that a good, impartial official scorer cannot differentiate remains an asinine, arcane approach.  Keep it simple, though.  If the runner at first base tackles the guy who touches 2nd base or violates any treaties with his slide, then all bets are off.  If the runner on first base barely makes it halfway to 2nd and the batter trips over his bat or home plate, the defender who receives the throw and bounces it off the first baseman and into the popcorn vendor deserves an error.

Maybe it is time for an official scoring change, and by that I mean change the official scorer.

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Getaway Day Lineups for Dummies

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Getaway Day Lineups for Dummies

Posted on 16 April 2012 by Dennis Lawson

You can't stop Joey Bombs; you can only hope to contain him.

Consider this line that I tweeted earlier today from Busch Stadium where the Cardinals hosted the Cubs.

“#Cubs lineup avg by batter: .182, .000, .371, .111, .267, .167, .120, .071, .000. #GetawayDay

The last game in a series is often considered a “Getaway Day” for the visiting team, and there are times when the lineup reflects greater concern for the next series than the current one.  That Getaway Day often consists of an early afternoon game that follows a night game, so it makes perfect sense to rest a player or two.  Players who may need an extra day off:

  • Aging veterans who have trouble playing back-to-back days due to the whole “running and throwing” thing that baseball players are required to do (except in the AL where those people are called “Designated Hitters”)
  • Players with nagging injuries that would benefit greatly from 24-30 hours of legitimate rest and treatment
  • The starting catcher, because a man really should the amount of squatting performed in a short period of time
  • Any player who shows up for batting practice while wearing leather pants while holding a carry-on bag

Back to the tweet:  The batting averages for each player in the Cubs’ starting lineup appeared on the board, and the numbers were enough to inspire awe in even the most ardent Cubs supporter (like the guy wearing the SOTO jersey in front of me).  Just imagine this:

  1. Reed Johnson – .182
  2. Blake DeWitt – .000
  3. Starlin Castro – .371
  4. Jeff Baker – .111
  5. Ian Stewart – .267
  6. Joe Mather – .167
  7. Geovany Soto – .120
  8. Marlon Byrd – .071
  9. Paul Maholm – .000

So, the Cubs have an opening day payroll of around $110M, and you’re telling me that Alfonso Soriano ($18M in 2012) sits to give Joe Mather a few at-bats?  Do you see what is wrong with this picture?

  • The cleanup hitter, Jeff Baker, has hit 10+ HR in a season only once, and that was 4 years ago.
  • The guy hitting in the 2-hole has exactly the same batting average as the starting pitcher who has only had 1 plate appearance prior to today.
  • Soto has caught the bulk of the innings behind the plate, so if anybody needs a day off, it would seem like Soto would be a great candidate.

Think of the situation the Cubs find themselves in to this point.  Entering Sunday, the Cubs were 3-6 and trailing the division leading Cardinals by 3 games.  Sure, the season is still young, but why not take a shot at stealing a game and a series against the #5 starter for the Cardinals?  The Cubs likely won’t contend or event simulate contending this season, but it does not hurt a bit to try and snag a few wins here and there when the other team may be looking ahead just a bit or isn’t at full strength.  After all, the Cardinals fielded at team without Lance Berkman, David Freese, Allen Craig, and Skip Schumaker.  If the Cubs face the Cardinals at full strength, the task of winning a few against a division rival does not get any easier.  Sunday represented a great opportunity to take a shot, and the Cubs failed to go all-in on that opportunity.

Naturally, the fantasy baseball implications for using Getaway Day lineups should not be ignored.  While it makes sense that many players could benefit from an extra day off, the missed chances to fill the stat sheet impact fantasy leagues in a significant way.  The implication for fantasy owners is that adding a weighting factor for players who tend to take very few days off should be considered.  Maybe Starlin Castro deserves a bump up the rankings at SS, because he has played all 10 games the Cubs have played this season.  The lesson here could be that owners should consider carefully whether or not a team’s ultimate goal and respective fortunes strongly correlate to what a particular player does, that player deserves a longer look in your fantasy rankings.

On the other hand, the lesson really could just be that Getaway Day lineups are a bad idea for teams dwelling in their division cellars.

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