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Summary[]

Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about the third-place Nationals and Wade LeBlanc’s extension, then answer listener emails about trading Bryce Harper, signing Bryce Harper, throwing super-slow pitches, a DH as the best player ever, hitting flares on purpose, losing games to set up a specific playoff matchup, John Olerud and the Hall of Fame, when to tell fans to “make some noise,” the players with the most RBI against one team, forcing opponents to play out of position, an MLB re-entry rule, drafting based on publicly available info, the worst playoff teams and best non-playoff teams, a mysterious masked player, and more, plus a real-time reaction to the Nats’ incredible comeback and Stat Blasts about the best hitters after 0-2, the Rockies being better on the road, and the low league wide home-field advantage.

Topics[]

  • Trading Bryce Harper
  • Would you rather have Andrew Miller or Bryce Harper for the playoffs
  • Bryce Harper on a one year deal
  • Should Astros try for wild card
  • John Olerud Hall of Fame case
  • Most DH WAR
  • Slow pitches
  • Can hitting flares be a skill
  • Most RBI vs 1 team
  • When to “Make Noise”
  • Drafting only using online tools
  • Drafting player positions strategy
  • MLB re entry rule
  • Winning percentage in and out of playoffs
  • Player wearing a mask to conceal identity
  • Nationals comeback

Banter[]

  • The Nationals
  • Wade LeBlanc extension

Email Questions[]

  • Colin: if we believe that post season odds are not meaningfully altered by one hitter, should the nationals not trade bryce harper for prospects at the deadline ? unless they are in a surprising division race, the value to them down the stretch from harper will be minimal. assuming robles can hack it at the mlb level, the choices are 1) let harper walk in the offseason and pick up some picks; 2) trade harper to someone who needs outfield/ dh help and spare him a QO discount on his way out. cleveland, boston, new york if they have injuries, seattle, oakland all need outfield help. nationals are going to lose in the NLDS again anyway. obvious clubhouse and fan revolt aside, does this make sense from a pure nerd/value angle?
  • T: Sam once asked how much could a player get if he only took one year deals. I think he estimated that if (one of) the very best players only took one year deals they could ask for $45 million or so per year. Bryce Harper's relative down year leaves open the idea that he could take a one year deal (or short term, with year-to-year up outs). How much could Bryce Harper get next year on a one year deal? If say we were from the future and could look back and see Harper only took one year deals AND his war totals fluctuated from average to super star (with some age decline), and IF he retired at 38, how much would have Bryce Harper made in his career?
  • Joseph (Patreon): Considering the AL playoff bracket should the Astros consider purposefully being a little worse in terms of record than the Yankees and Red Sox, but still good enough to win their division? Assuming the best record in the AL comes out of the AL East then both of those powerhouses would have to face off in the Division series. The Astros first round matchup would be easier, and they would only have to win 4 games against the Yankees/Red Sox to get to the World Series. They would lose out on Home Field Advantage in the ALCS, but that seems like the only downside.
  • Colin (Virginia): I've been thinking about John Olerud and the Hall of Fame recently. Olerud was a quietly productive players during his 16 full seasons (1990-2005: 58.2 baseball reference WAR or 57.3 FanGraphs WAR, which is an average WAR per season of about 3.6) even though he didn't receive a lot of MVP or All-Star consideration. He was on the HOF ballet once in 2011. That year he received 0.7% of votes, which seems laughably low for someone with his credentials. Former teammate Joe Carter, for example, received 3.8% of votes in 2004, and he has fewer than 20 career wins above replacement. So here are my questions: First, has anyone with as many career wins above replacement as Olerud received so few HOF votes? Second, why was Olerud so underrepresented by HOF voters? Finally, should Olerud receive Veterans Committee HOF consideration? If a case exists for Olerud, what is it?
  • Mark: Hey Ben & Jeff - Ben lamented Trout's time as a DH a few weeks back because of its impact on his WAR. Made me think: How good would Trout have to be this year to maintain his historic WAR pace if he was permanently a DH? Is there a path for a DH to achieve 14 or 15 WAR?
  • Tony: Every once and a while a GIF will circulate of an eephus pitch rolling in around 62 MPH for a called strike. This got me wondering how slow a pitch could be and still get a called strike. At some point, the deception of a huge change in speed is lost because the hitter, who misidentified the pitch initially is able to reevaluate it and swing accordingly. For example, a 30 MPH pitch is probably slow enough that a MLB quality player could get multiple reads on it as it comes to home plate. So excluding knuckleballs, what is the slowest called strike of all time? Also why don’t more “below average velocity” pitchers add a very slow pitch to make their 91 MPH fastball look faster?
  • Cameron: A ton of guys gather base hits from balls that aren’t really hit hard. These balls are flares, where exit velocity is something around 70-90 mph and some launch angle right above the infield but not too high where it’s a pop up. Do you consider this a skill? Usually we classify high exit velocities as a skill because not a ton of guys can do it. But there are players who consistently hit these flares and accumulate a batting average from that. Can you work on those skills?
  • Michael (Patreon): Hey guys, could this be play indexed? Would love to know the answer. Via reddit. Who is the player with the most RBIs in a career against one team?https://www.reddit.com/r/baseballstats/comments/8vip87/who_is_the_player_with_the_most_rbis_in_a_career/
  • Jared: I went to the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim?) vs. Blue Jays game on June 21st at Angel Stadium. This just happened to be Mike Trout's 1,000th game and he went 0-2 with three walks (one intentional). I too would be scared of pitching to him. Anyways, sporadically throughout the game the jumbotron would flash the big "Make Noise" image and the crowd would muster up a meager cheer (Angel Stadium was only about 2/3 full on a warm Thursday night). Typically these pleas to show enthusiasm happen at logical times (men on base, 9th inning close game, etc). However, the Angel Stadium scoreboard operator decided to plaster "Make Noise" across the stadium with 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th and a 2-1 count to Andrelton Simmons. The bases were empty and the Angels were leading 6-3. This did not seem like appropriate timing. My question is: When is it appropriate for the jumbotron operator to artificially pump up the crowd during a game? My first thought is that this should be tied to something like leverage index. This at-bat had a LI of 0.18 according to FanGraphs, the lowest LI for an Angels at-bat up to that point of the game. Surely the bar must be set higher? Perhaps a LI > 1? Even then you'd be including a lot of near-average moments. This Simmons at-bat followed a HR by Luis Valbuena, does this context influence the use of the jumbotron message? Or perhaps win expectancy should be considered, the Angels had a win expectancy of 87.4% following the Valbuena HR.
  • Keifer: One questions I've always wondered is; say a cheap team like the Marlins wanted to save money. How detrimental would it be to fire all area scouts and cross-checkers and conduct the draft purely based on Online prospect lists and Keith Law draft boards? Would the savings perhaps allow for more spending in the international market (assuming they don't go to their limit) which would compensate for maybe having slightly less fruitful drafts? I've always thought with how good independent companies like BP and Fangraphs have become at evaluation teams could just use those lists. This would have the added benefit of guaranteeing positive ink following the draft and A+ draft ratings by Keith Law in major publications, buying an otherwise maligned ownership group good press.
  • Arjune: I have a pretty silly hypothetical that came to me with while watching the first round of the draft. Suppose we live in some alternate universe where in the AL, each team submits its batting orders, but not the positions of their batters. Before the game starts, the team managers do a snake draft where they assign a fielding position to each player. They can lock in the position of either their own guys or force an opponent to play a certain position. For example, say the Angels are playing the Astros. With the first pick, the Angels force Evan Gattis to play SS. With the second pick, the Astros lock in Brian McCann to catch, and then use the third pick to force Andrelton Simmons to DH. The Angels get the next two picks continuing in that fashion, until all players have been accounted for. I guess for this exercise, we would assume that teams can't employ shifts to move players from their drafted position to a better position. I've also left pitchers off the draft, because that would be a bit too unrealistic. What would the best strategy be for the teams? And how would this affect player values?
  • Matthew (Patreon): Suppose MLB decided to implement a re-entry rule of some kind, such as every player getting to return to the game once (ala softball) or a designated player is allowed to return to the game (ala All-Star Game), or whatever other rule along these lines. What do you think would be the effect on roster composition? What do you think would be the effect on game play? I could logically see both more specialization (more pinch runners and defensive specialists) and less specialization (less need to carry multiple lefties in the bullpen). Under the softball rule, we could plausibly end up in a situation where a savvy manager could avoid allowing his starting pitcher to ever bat, or his lumbering catcher to ever run the bases. We would also no longer see situations where relief pitchers need to play the outfield (unfortunately). What do you guys think?
  • Mike: What has been the lowest number of wins a team has had and still made it to the postseason? What has been the biggest number of wins that a team has had without making it to the postseason? Did those both occur the same year?
  • Christopher: How effective would it be if, to drum up some interest in the general public, Rob Manfred brought in a hitherto unknown phenom young player who is essentially a 5 tool star (where this phenom exists right now is worth debating, but bear with me). The only qualification though is this player is always wearing a mask, similar to the masks worn in lucha libre wrestling in Mexico. He wears it in the field, at the plate, and in any context where he is participating in baseball or team activities. Also, to keep the air of mystery, this baseball luchador is not available pre- or postgame for interviews. He's just...gone. "Who is this mysterious player?" the public will wonder. Would this be seen as merely a gimmick (if it only lasts a season or two at most), or could this genuinely make people interested just simply for the mystery of who this man in the mask is?

Statblast[]

  • The highest walk rate after falling behind 0 - 2 is Chipper Jones at 17% in 2009, Mike Trout is at 14% this year.
  • The Rockies have a higher winning percentage 24 out of 25 years, they have been more successful on the road this year.
  • Historically home teams win 54% of the time, this year home teams have only won 51.8% of the time.

Notes[]

  • The Nationals still have the best odds to win the division and a 58% chance of making the playoffs.
  • Jeff thinks the returns for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will be lower than most people think.
  • An answer for the slowest possible strike will be provided in Episode 1251.
  • The league leader in wRC+ for soft contact in the last 3 years is Jose Altuve.
  • Babe Ruth has 4 of top 5 RBI total against any one franchise, Mel Ott is number 1.
  • The 1981 Royals made the postseason with a .485 winning percentage, the non strike season is the 2005 Padres with a .506 winning percentage.
  • The best team to miss the playoffs is the 1904 Giants with a .693 winning percentage.
  • The Podcast started with the Nationals down 7-0, they ended up winning 14-12.

Links[]

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