Tag Archive | "Magic 8 Ball"

MLB Commissioner for a Day

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MLB Commissioner for a Day

Posted on 08 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Bud Selig - Dunce

Imagine that you have just been selected as the winner of a contest sponsored by Major League Baseball to be the MLB commissioner for just a single day.  You get to take over Bud Selig’s office, use the same Magic 8 Ball that Bud uses for making important decisions, and you can “tinker” with anything you like as long as you mention that whatever change you make is for the “best interests of the game”.  Here are your guidelines:

  1. For that single day, you are the all-powerful commish, so you can do just about anything short of getting a Tesla Roadster prototype as your company car.
  2. You cannot force teams to make trades.  Coerce?  Maybe, but you do still have veto power that is intended to be used at the most inopportune moments.
  3. You are required to dress up just like C. Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons, because we want people to really believe you are Uncle Bud from a distance.  You will be accompanied everywhere you go by Smithers.
  4. Rules prohibit you from using your power to extend your stay as commissioner.  That would be the equivalent of finding a genie in a lamp, releasing it, and using your first wish to ask for 1000 more wishes.

Just think of the possibilities.  The hard part might be determining where you would begin.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Enforce the rule regarding the time a pitcher has to deliver a pitch to the plate.  To make it even more interesting, introduce a basketball-style “shot clock” that will be placed near the end of each dugout.  There is nothing more boring than watching a pitcher spend time cleaning his shoes, playing hacky sack with the resin bag, and stepping off the rubber to threaten a runner at first base with his practically laughable pickoff move.  This is not about decreasing the total time required to play a game so much as it is about keeping people awake during at-bats.  Enforce the rule and eliminate the gamesmanship that adds nothing to the game.
  • Limit each team to 1 catcher visit to the mound for each pitcher.  It is safe to say that these guys have previously met.  If one of them has trouble remembering what signs to use with a runner on 2nd base, then maybe he needs to find another line of work.
  • Either change the official definition of the strike zone, or make umpires actually call something closer to the current definition.
  • Ban the wave in all stadiums.  Consider this a safety issue.  Randomly jumping up from your seat and throwing your arms in the air to signal touchdown at a baseball game really should not be an expression of anything we normally desire in our society.
  • Instead of silly things like “Kiss Cams” and other awkward uses of expensive equipment, try out a new “Bad Tipper” cam which focuses on individuals or groups that are lousy tippers.  I have never attended a game and seen a vendor walking around acting completely humorless and lethargic.  Well, maybe there was that time with the cotton candy guy, but the holes where his nose ring was supposed to go made me question his hygiene habits at the ballpark.  They do work.  Dropping a $.50 tip on a beer guy who just sold you his last 3 Bud Lights just does not sit well with me.
  • Strongly suggest to the Brewers that the team work with FedEx/Kinkos on a “If it doesn’t ship, you must acquit” day at Miller Park.  Throw in a Ryan Braun bobblehead with him dressed up as a FedEx driver.  If FedEx/Kinkos does not want the attention, then make a deal with UPS for a “What can Braun do for you?” day.
  • Drop the 2nd wild card idea.  If anybody complains, just send them a highlight video from the last weekend of the 2011 season.  Nothing about allowing another 2 teams into the playoffs would have made that epic weekend any better.  Undoubtedly, there are probably some Braves and Red Sox fans who would disagree, but both teams could find themselves right there as the 1st wild card team this season.  They would then be a 1 game losing streak from going home after a deep 1 game run into the playoffs.
  • Come up with a new banned substance testing system and guidelines, and then admit that the current system was indeed created by 500 monkeys locked in an auditorium trying to hammer out Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

Now that you have seen a few starter ideas, tell us about what you would do as the all-powerful MLB commissioner for a day.

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FIP’d Off – Philly Edition

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FIP’d Off – Philly Edition

Posted on 06 February 2012 by Dennis Lawson

4 Aces

The time has come to peer deeply into the Magic 8 Ball to try and project each team’s fortunes as a function of starting rotations. The Phillies earned the honor of going first by virtue of their 141-win season (or maybe it was 102).  In order to scientifically derive these projections, I have created an algorithm that uses FIP, xFIP, BABip, ERA+, and shoe size to generate non-weighted estimates.  (NOTE: This sounds much better than suggesting that the projections are just wild guesses.)

The Phillies represent a particularly interesting case, because there exists a great deal of curiosity regarding just how far the team’s pitching can carry them this year.  If you begin analyzing the team’s 2011 season by looking at FIP and xFIP for the pitchers who were responsible for the vast majority of the team’s starts in 2011, you will quickly understand how the team reach the 102 win mark.

In some years, the Cy Young award winner has had a FIP higher than the 3.05 posted by Hamels, and that was only good for 3rd best among the starters.


  • Roy Halladay - Bill James- 2.96 FIP, RotoChamp – 2.57 FIP, Fans – 2.77 FIP, Me – 3.00 FIP (18 wins) => Halladay kept his HR-to-flyball rate at a ridiculously low 5.1% in 2011.  That number represents about half of his career average of 9.8%, and it just seems unlikely that he’ll be able to maintain anything close to that 5.1% rate again in 2012.  Even if he does manage a low BABip (around .300), it would not take a lot of balls leaving play in the “fair” direction to push that FIP up to normal human levels.  Still, a 3.00 FIP is nothing to cry about.
  • Cliff Lee - Bill James – 2.99, RotoChamp – 2.72, Fans – 2.85, Me – 3.05  FIP (15 wins) =>  Maybe a 3.05 FIP is being to “bearish” on Lee, but he could be due for a slightly down year as more NL teams adjust to his pitching style.  That does not mean that he will turn into Dennys Reyes overnight, but it probably does mean a few more scoring opportunities for his opponents.
  • Cole Hamels - Bill James – 3.50 FIP, RotoChamp – 3.31 FIP, Fans – 3.43 FIP, Me – 3.40 FIP (15 wins) => Bullish on Hamels?  Yep.  The reason is not that Hamels has suddenly become an even better pitcher.  Actually, maybe that is the reason.  In 2011 Hamels was better than ever at keeping the ball in the park, and he was significantly better than normal at stranding runners.  Perhaps he just got away with playing with fire too often, but perhaps he just learned to execute in tight situations.  I’m going with the latter and the belief that Hamels can improve on an already solid game.
  • Vance Worley - Bill James – 3.86 FIP, RotoChamp – 3.34 FIP, Fans – 3.73 FIP, Me 3.91 FIP (13 wins) =>  If he is strong enough to pick up essentially where he left off in 2011, the Phillies have one of the best #4 pitchers in the game.  That is either high praise or an indictment of the talent level in the National League starting rotations.  Maybe it is a little of both.
  • Kyle Kendrick - Bill James – 4.60 FIP, RotoChamp – 4.81 FIP, Fans – 4.54 FIP, Me – 4.75 FIP (8 wins) => Just imagine being the 5th man in this rotation.  You almost have to throw a no-hitter to even have a shot at “Employee of the Week”.  That is plain rough.

It would be an obvious oversimplification to suggest that there is a relationship between FIP and win totals.  However, the questions surrounding Ryan Howard‘s health alone are enough to warrant some concerns about the margin of error the team has going into 2012.  There then exists a reasonable expectation that the team will not challenge the franchise win record it set in 2011.  That is bad news for a team that is starting to see its window of opportunity close as this version of “4 Aces” append more years to their baseball card statistics.

SOURCE:  FIP, xFIP, and shoe size information provided courtesy of Fangraphs.com.

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