Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about infield-alignment terminology and walking Bryce Harper, then answer listener emails about proper pitch usage, winning minor league championships, the minimum acceptable velocity given perfect command, improving equipment, taking batting practice seriously, Eric Thames vs. Ivan Nova, making positions be dictated by batting order, the Royals’ awful offensive month, a message from the baseball god, a WWE-style MLB team, pace of play and the playoffs, voiding contracts, and more.
- Pitch values and distribution
- Value of batting practice
- Equipment research & development
- Eric Thames & Ivan Nova
- Worst offensive months
- Hypothetical about team championships
- Batting lineup hypothetical
- WWE-style MLB team
- Playoff pace of play
- Voiding contracts
- When will shift plays begin to outnumber non-shift plays?
- Listener follow-up about the Cubs walking Bryce Harper
- Andrew: "During a previous episode, Sam and Ben debated about an ideal success rate for Replay Challenges. The idea was that, if you're successful on every replay, you're not challenging enough, so there's probably an ideal rate. This same logic can be used on Stolen Bases. Does the same logic apply to pitch values? I heard on last night's Twins/A's game that Ervin Santana's Slider had a batting-average-against of .045 last year and an OPS against of .170. It strikes me that, if Ervin Santana's slider is that good, he should probably throw it more (though, admittedly, a 37% slider rate is pretty high for a pitcher, 3rd in the majors). Do you agree or disagree, and is there an ideal OPS-against for a pitch type where you're confident the pitcher is maximizing its value?"
- Cory: "If you can throw the ball exactly where you mean to every time, what's the minimum velocity needed to be an average pitcher? Elite Pitcher?"
- Marcus: "When the Cubs skipper was 20 years old and playing in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, he did double duty as a shortstop on a fastpitch softball team. He considers it a harder game than baseball. “I’d love to have a fastpitch pitcher throw batting practice to major league hitters,” said Maddon. “There’s less time, so it would definitely make them shorter and quicker, and stay through the ball longer. There are positives that could be derived from that.” My question: why don't teams do this? Why don't teams face live batting practice from people trying to get outs, with batters and defenders both going at game speed with pitchers throwing fringe major-league pitch velocity, as is done in Japan? There are plenty of non-prospects out there who could do it. Make a shadow five-man rotation."
- Thomas: "I'm interested in reclamation projects in baseball, my two favourite right now are Nova and Thames (obviously Thames). Who would you rather have right now on your hypothetical team. Let's say the team is looking to contend this season, and they equal need of a bat and an arm."
- Andrew: "Clever use of finances is something we prize in a front office. With more avenues of spending being restricted, there are fewer ways to differentiate teams. While lots of exciting changes are happening in nutrition, biomechanics, injury-prevention, mental skills, and analytics applications, I haven’t heard about any innovations into the equipment itself being done by individual teams. What gains do you believe could be made in an engineering lab for a team? If the Dodgers, for example, had a bat fabrication lab that could produce the perfect bat for each individual player that could hit the ball 1.5% further while still pass the scrutineering of the league, how long would they be allowed to use it before the league stepped in to level the playing field or other rich teams caught up? If a win really is worth eight million, is there a win to be found in equipment development for less?"
- Jason: "I don't know if this question or a version of it has been asked before but I was wondering if a major league team out of contention would consider optioning a player to AAA for instance if their AAA (or whatever minor league affiliate) was in contention for their level championship. For example would the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ever consider using one of Mike Trout's remaining options and send him to the Salt Lake Bees to help them win the AAA championship? If you were an owner would you consider doing this? Do owners care at all about events in the minor leagues?"
- Jonathan: "Imagine Baseball God comes down from the heavens and tells you that your favorite team will NEVER win another World Series in your lifetime. Your team may make the playoffs or even the World Series from time to time, but will never again, as long as you live, win it all. There is nothing you or anyone else can do about this. It is written in stone and cannot be changed. What would you do with this information? Would you continue rooting for your doomed team? Would you try to convince other fans of the futility of rooting for them? Or would you sacrifice yourself to the Baseball Gods to give the rest of the team's fandom a chance to be happy?"
- Adam: "Suppose the batting order was not up to the manager but was determined by the order of numbers assigned to defensive positions (P, C, 1B, etc.) and for some reason the DH doesn't exist. Would pitchers focus more on hitting and would guys who are currently borderline starters with some hitting ability be able to supplement their pitching value with hitting performance enough to be good? Do you just say screw it and bullpen every game never letting the pitcher bat? Is catcher still a defense first position or does Ryan Doumit-like framing become acceptable for good enough hitters? And since no hypothetical is complete without Mike Trout, does he move to the infield in order to bat higher in the order?"
- Jacob: "Back in the days of the Royals being an utterly hapless team, my friends and I used to daydream about a scenario that would make their attendance soar regardless of their on-field performance. The idea was to dub the team the KrAzY Royals and attempt to assemble as entertaining and insane a collection of personalities as possible. The owner would actively encourage his team to get in trouble on the field and off the field. Press conferences would resemble WWE style promos. There would be bench clearing brawls on a nightly basis. Basically, the hope would be to turn their season into must-see TV by creating drama and controversy. To give a sense of the types of players that might be rostered consider Carl Everett (who didn't believe in dinosaurs and had a propensity for violence), Dock Ellis (who through a no-hitter on acid), Julian Tavarez (who bowled balls to first base, broke his hand punching a phone, and just generally seemed bizarre)...We decided Ozzy Guillen would be a good manager. I think you get the idea here... My questions are as follows: 1.)If a team decided to create this sort of spectacle of personality would the league allow it? At what point would Rob Manfred draw the line and what repercussions could their be? 2.) Would this ploy work? Would people tune in on a nightly basis to see what shenanigans they'd pull or would people be put off by them making a mockery of the game?"
- Nathan: "Regarding pace of play, how much do you think late night playoff games drive the conversation regarding speeding up baseball games? A casual fan won’t mind leaving a regular season game early, or turning their TV off in the 7th inning because of the promise of baseball the following night to quench their casual thirst. It really becomes a problem if you are an east coast casual fan with an interest in late September/October baseball and you want to see a game’s conclusion. If there was a playoff specific solution to ensuring a game concluded at a reasonable hour do you think the conversation regarding game times for regular season games would dissipate?"
- Andrew: "It makes perfect sense that the Giants have no real incentive to make MadBum pay financially for violating his contract, but what would it take for a team to actually attempt to go through with a contract restructuring in a similar situation? I have to think that the Yankees would have jumped at the chance to use an ARod trampoline injury as leverage to void his contract or at least lower their obligation. Can you imagine another situation in which you could see it happening, or would it have to take a contract so large and a player so despised as ARod for a team to actually try it?
The Royals had likely the worst offensive month in franchise history, with a 65 wRC+ and 16 wRC+ with runners in scoring position. What was the worst offensive month in history?
In April of 2004 the Montreal Expos hit .210/.260/.292. Their wRC+ for the month was 37.
Brad Wilkerson led the Expos in WAR for April 2004 with a WAR of 0.1.
- Jered Weaver currently has a higher strikeout rate than Cole Hamels.
- Jeff thinks you could be an elite pitcher throwing high 70s if you could perfectly locate pitches.
- The Dodgers had an incubator for new technologies but it is unclear what, if anything, came out of that.
- Ben & Jeff think that people would lose interest quickly in a WWE-style team, and that MLB would step in relatively quickly.
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