Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about the Padres’ social-media accounts getting hacked, Scott Boras’ “volcano” comment, Hall of Fame voting results, and Jeff’s article about batting practice, then answer listener emails about team construction and the wild card, consistency and Carlos Santana, the baseball equivalents of football’s recent Super Bowl staples, the decline and comeback of four-man rotations, a knuckleball hitter, three Mike Trout hypotheticals, baseball owners opening their books, and a change to free-agent eligibility, plus a Stat Blast on teams that have been better or worse than their underlying stats.
- Building a team to be successful in the wild card
- Considering player volatility in contract offers
- Frequent World Series players
- Returning to a four man rotation
- Hitting a ball with no spin
- Over and underperforming BaseRuns
- How many triples could Mike Trout hit?
- Mike Trout playing while wearing headphones
- Mike Trout playing on a shrunken field
- Benefits of open team finances
- Lowering the eligibility requirement for free agency
- Episode 1166 follow-up: Explanation for 'The Old Woman in the Red Cap'
- Ben just returned from a ski trip in Colorado.
- The San Diego Padres' social media accounts were hacked and made to look like they had signed Eric Hosmer (they later actually would).
- Scott Boras described the Pittsburgh Pirates as "sitting on an economic volcano". Jeff is bewildered why he said this, which implies danger, instead of just calling it a goldmine.
- Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman were elected into the Hall of Fame.
- Jeff doesn't understand how a player's Hall of Fame stock can change so dramatically, such as rising from 30% to being elected.
- Johan Santana's Hall of Fame candidacy
- Jeff's article about the lack of value to batting practice and the experience of writing an article without statistical support
- Robert: "Do you think the Giants feel more strongly about the value of a wild card spot given that they have an ace who seems unbeatable? Should they feel this way? Are there certain constructions of teams that profile better for a one game playoff?"
- Colby: "How much of a players' volatility should factor into team signing decisions. Say you have two players hitting free agency, one who has consistently been worth 3 WAR and another who has been as high as 7 and as low as −1."
- Matthew: "Since 2002, there has been only Super Bowl that didn't include Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Ben Roethlisberger. ... If you had to choose 3 MLB players who would be represented in 95% of the next 15 World Series, who would you choose?"
- Scott: "Do you think it makes sense to go back to four man starting staffs, do you foresee any teams going to this now that starters are pitching less?"
- Brian: "What if a hitter could go the way of knuckeball pitchers and give up power in order to hit a ball with no spin? Would that be valuable?"
- Aaron: "How many triples do you think Mike Trout could hit if it were his only objective for the season?"
- Colin: "How much would it affect Mike Trout's value if he had to wear noise cancelling bluetooth headphones and the opposing team got to choose what he listened to?"
- Joseph: "Suppose the field of play (fair territory) for Mike Trout while batting was cut in half but the opposing team had the same number of fielders. How valuable would Mike Trout be, what minimum BABIP would he need?"
- Brandon: "Would it be worthwhile if the Players' Association gave on all demands in the next CBA negotiation in exchange for teams having to open their finances?"
- Jeff looks at a few team records related to out or underperforming their BaseRuns record.
- In the last four years the Royals have overperformed their BaseRuns record the most, and the Rays have underperformed the most.
- During this period in high leverage situations they Rays have hit 31 points worse (by wOBA) than their opponents.
- In a prologue, Ben notes that immediately after the episode was taped, the Brewers acquired Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, thereby invalidating their complaint that the off-season has been devoid of transactions. This explains the choice of intro song: "False Alarm".
- 80 of 83 players who received at least 30% of votes on their first Hall of Fame ballot have eventually gotten into the hall. The remaining three were elected via the Veterans's Committee.
- Omar Vizquel got 37% support on his first ballot, but Ben isn't confident that Vizquel will make the Hall of Fame, despite the perfect precedent. Jeff notes that candidates can have poor showings some years due to an overcrowded ballot, but he doesn't understand why, as a general rule, player support rises over time. Edgar Martinez got only 25% support in 2014, but rose to 70% in 2018 and is expected to reach 75% next year. "That's ridiculous. Who are these people who need ten years to evaluate a baseball player?"
- Jeff doesn't think teams take volatility into account. If they did, they would prefer the low volatility player because it's easier to plan around.
- Ben isn't confident that a history of consistency is a predictor of consistency.
- In Episode 1171, a listener shares research about the effect of player volatility on contract values.
- In Chipper Jones' worst season of his career he was worth 2.3 WAR.
- Jeff would pick Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Bryce Harper to play in almost all of the next 15 World Series. Ben would take Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager.
- Jeff notes that the knuckleball hitter's batting line would not improve because he would reach on errors, which do not count toward the slash line. He would still not be a power hitter. Jeff suspects the knuckle effect would be lost once the ball hits the ground, so the batter would not be very valuable. Ben agrees.
- In Episode 1171, listeners share information about knuckle-hits.
- Jeff considers an alternate hypothetical batter whose batted balls simply went "thud" and came to a complete stop when they hit the ground. Ben says, "That would be pretty valuable if he could aim them."
- After some consideration, Jeff realizes that Mike Trout could hit a home run, but head for the dugout after touching third. He would get credit for a triple and be called out for failing to touch home plate. As for inside-the-park triples, Jeff figures Trout could stretch 5 of his 30-ish doubles to triples. No chance of stretching singles to triples. That gives him around 40 triples a year. Jeff also notes that any failed attempt to stretch for a triple has no effect on his batting line since he still gets credit for the original hit.
- Jeff isn't convinced that forcing teams to have open finances would change the opinions of many fans. He thinks that those who are already angry at owners would be emboldened but that most fans would not dramatically shift their thinking.
- Jeff reads from Marvin Miller's autobiography, which notes that the owners originally wanted a ten-year minimum, negotiated down to seven, with the aim of allowing as few players as possible to reach free agency. Miller wanted to strike a balance so that there would be some, but not too many, free agents. Since there was no empirical data to work from, he guessed that five years would be appropriate. Subsequent negotiations with the owners settled upon the current six-year requirement.
- The nickname "The Old Woman in the Red Cap" arose because Charley Pabor's long-time catcher David Birdsall was nicknamed "The old man": "The 'old man and woman,' Birdsall and Pabor, understand each other still, and worked together as of old."