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Ben Lindbergh, Jeff Sullivan, and Baseball Prospectus writer Russell Carleton discuss Russell’s new book, The Shift, banter about bad weather, Bartolo Colon, baseball’s unexpectedly competitive division races, Mike Trout topping one WAR leaderboard, Ronald Acuña’s (possibly) impending call-up, MLB’s low attendance so far, and a new Carter Capps imitator, then answer listener emails about Kris Bryant and the Cubs’ batting order, cold weather and the early season home-run rate, a pitcher with worse pickoff skills than Jon Lester, a 28-man roster, the Yankees’ power trio homering in the same games, a perfect pitcher with some strange demands, a hitter who knows pitch locations, and three Shohei Ohtani usage scenarios, plus a Stat Blast about the unlikely career of Odell Jones.


  • Russell Carleton joins guys to talk about book
  • What have teams changed that you wrote about before
  • Next evolution in baseball thinking
  • Favorite research done for book
  • Next strong option proved to be wrong?
  • Kris Bryant lead off man?
  • Do bells really die off in cold air
  • How likely can Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez homer multiple times in a game.
  • Value of a player who will pitch 81 3rd innings of perfect ball.
  • Bad pickoff hypothetical
  • Roster expansion
  • Who the knowledge of pitch location how good can someone be.
  • Shohei Ohtani all star usage
  • Shohei Ohtani pinch hitting
  • Shohei Ohtani world series usage


  • Postponed games
  • Bartolo Colon perfect game bid
  • Mike Trout is on top of WAR leaderboard
  • Disappointing division favorites
  • Which division favorite worries you most
  • Ronald Acuña
  • Matt Chapman extension
  • Michael Cederoth delivery

Email Questions[]

  • Patrick: As of 4/15 Kris Bryant is currently leading the Cubs in OBP, OPS, BB, and BA. Meanwhile the Cubs leadoff spot is a black hole. Why shouldn't Kris Bryant lead off? The usefulness of Bryant as their best hitter is partially neutralized if he's coming up to bat with one out every time. Putting Bryant in the lead off spot versus 2nd in the order would also get him a handful more plate appearances a year. Plus it's not like there aren't a number of power hitters behind Bryant that could be slotted as the 2nd batter. I would imagine a 1-4 order of Bryant, Rizzo (once he returns from the DL), Contrerras, and Zobrist would probably be the most effective. This gets your best four hitters in the lineup virtually every day (barring injuries and rest) and getting them the most plate appearances rather than platooning Happ/Almora Jr. in the lead off spot.
  • Aaron: On last monday’s cubs-reds radio broadcast, they repeatedly mentioned that the fly balls were “dying in the air because of the cold” and that “ooo that ball would have been a homerun in june”. Is that... real? The conventional wisdom sounds logical but I’d love to hear any statistical evidence that shows this bears out the way we expect it to. Just something I’ve been thinking about as home runs launch from guys in balaclavas!
  • Zachary: I saw this headline at ESPN which struck me as rather dumb: http://www.espn.com/blog/new-york/yankees/post/_/id/98200/for-the-first-time-of-many-yankees-judge-stanton-sanchez-power-trio-all-homer. But I was curious if I am actually the dumb one. How dumb is this headline? How likely are they to all homer in the same game "many" times?
  • Shaun from CA: Immaculate Jones is searching for his new team! He's never allowed a run, given up a hit, or done anything other than strike out every batter he faces on three pitches. Given this, who wouldn't want Immaculate Jones on their team? Well, here's the catch: Immaculate Jones is only willing to pitch the third inning, and he insists on doing this every other game the team plays, leading to 81 very predictable innings / appearances. Given the limitations of a 25-man roster, accommodating Immaculate Jones would be rather challenging. Would a team construct a roster with three starters, and 9-10 relievers and attempt a bullpen game every other day? Or, is the value of 81 perfect innings during a very inconvenient spot in the game prove to be not valuable enough?
  • Peter: A few episodes ago you talked about Jon Lester's bounce pass to pick off a runner and it got me thinking. Let's say a pitcher was so bad at pickoffs, that every baserunner could advance to the furthest unoccupied base (not including home) So if a runner walks with the bases empty, he is automatically at third. If the next batter also walks, he moves to second, etc. How good would a pitcher have to be at preventing baserunners in order to remain a viable major leaguer? And how much worse would an elite starter (kershaw, scherzer, etc) be if all of a sudden this ailment befell them?
  • Chris H: Was reading a discussion about how in the NPB, teams carry 28-man rosters, and then select three players as 'healthy scratches' before each game. This is also similar to how hockey rosters are managed. Do you think there'd be a benefit to this approach for MLB rosters, and would allow more creative lineups, or would it just mean that bullpens get larger and the commissioner has a meltdown over even more pitching changes during a game?
  • Shaemus: A first baseman in the low minors, lets call him Jeff Lindbergh-Miller, knows the aim of every pitch thrown to him. Of course, if the pitcher misses his spot, this foresight will be moot and Jeff is highly likely to miss if he swings. Can this knowledge take Jeff to the majors? How long until people figure this out?
  • Joe: Found your podcast this off-season and quickly becoming a big fan. My questions are (maybe) simple. I know it's too early to really think about, but if Ohtani makes the All-star team, is it as a pitcher, DH, or both? Regardless of how he makes the team, will he be used as a DH, pitcher, or both? And will he be invited to the HR Derby (and does your answer change based on what position he is named to the All-star team)? Interested to hear what you think. Thanks!
  • Joseph: Rules question: is Shohei Ohtani allowed to "pinch hit" in games he starts? Is a team allowed to insert the pitcher into the batting order (giving up the DH in future innings) if they're already in the game? Does it matter if he'd be batting for the DH versus a fielding player?
  • Steve: Assuming Ohtani stays as a top of the rotation arm and is easily a the Angel's best option at DH, in a perfect world, what would be the best way to deploy him in the playoffs, and more specifically during the world series? Should he be lined up to pitch at home the team would lose his bat. If he starts in an NL park he could DH all home games and his bat would also be in the lineup during an NL game. That seems like the best case scenario, but if there isn't an NL game until game 3 and he is your best arm you may not want to hold him back. My inclination is to just pitch him ASAP and deal with finding another DH option should the need be there. What do you think?


  • Russell subs in for StatBlast
  • Odell Jones disappearing act throughout his career
  • On 1988 Odell Jones got a spot call to start and took a perfect game into the 8th inning.


  • Russell has been writing for BP since 2006.
  • Russell thinks the personal side is the next part of baseball evolution.
  • Russell's favorite research was the manager affect portion.
  • Russell's thoughts on shifts may be the next to be proven wrong.
  • Jeff thinks we may find out that all this velocity is actually bad.
  • Shohei Ohtani games postponed, now will seem to pitch every Tuesday.
  • The preseason division favorites had a combined 71% chance to win division, it has dropped to 55% now, with 3 of the teams not even favored to win division now.
  • Jeff thinks the Diamondbacks are the scariest team.
  • Russell thinks the Dodgers are most disappointing.
  • Russell says Ronald Acuña is struggling and the Braves are not competing so there is no pressure to bring him up.
  • Avg crowd of 27,532 is down 2,700 fans per game, which could lead to a 6.5 million fan drop in the season.
  • Michael Cederoth has a jump delivery.
  • Russell says there is a case for Kris Bryant batting leadoff.
  • For every 10 degree different in temp there is a 2 and a half foot decrease in ball distance.
  • Average exit velocity and launch angles are unchanged from last year to this year.
  • Odds of all 3 homering in the same game are 1/64 so about 2 and a half to 3 times a season.
  • Russell thinks Immaculate Jones would be cool but wouldn't work.
  • Jon Gray has a career .737 ops against and a 4.52 ERA but in 3rd inning .471 ops against and ERA of 1.65, lowest career tOPS+ in 3rd inning.
  • Chris Young in 2007, was 7 runs below average in stolen base prevention, runners went 44 for 44 in stolen base attempts against.
  • Russell says Jon Lester is the answer to the hypothetical about a guy like Jon Lester.
  • Russell wrote an article about having a 28 man roster but only 22 are eligible to play.
  • They all think someone with knowledge of pitch zone would be one of best in big leagues
  • Russell thinks the most interesting question would be use of Shohei Ohtani in wild card game.
  • Shohei Ohtani may cause a slight break in rules of all star games. Editor's Note: This came to pass in the 2021 All-Star Game (Episode 1719), and then eventually as an official rule (Episode 1827).
  • You cannot use Shohei Ohtani as a pinch hitter when he pitches.