May 14, 2014
Ben and Sam answer listener emails about Tommy John surgery, velocity limits, rooting for minor-league teams, and more.
- Baseball without Tommy John surgery
- Pitch velocity limits
- Value of increasing pitch count
- Minor league fandom
- Swinging on 3-0 counts
- 2010 Tampa Bay Rays
- Accomplishments to boost team revenue
The Replacements, "Answering Machine"
- Webb/Albers update: Listener Pete writes in that the longest ever streak for games finished without a save (at any point in a player's career) is 87. Albers is currently at 83. Sam had originally found Albers' streak as games finished without a save to start a career.
- Matt Albers had a cortisone shot and will not throw for 10 days.
- Jose Cisnero needs Tommy John surgery.
Email Questions Edit
- Aaron: "Here's something the recent slew of Tommy John surgeries has left me wondering. If Tommy John surgery had never been invented, how would pitcher usage, development, and management be different? I have to think that the cost and benefits of a torn UCL are priced into the system right now and that if the cost of a torn UCL were significantly greater with no repair possible teams would do something they're not currently doing in order to avoid that outcome. Agree, disagree, thoughts?"
- Nick: "With so many hard throwing pitchers needing arm surgery Major League Baseball may want to make rule changes to protect pitchers. An effective way to do this would be to place limits on how fast pitchers can throw. What if baseball put a 92 MPH maximum on any pitches thrown? They could make things interesting by only enforcing the maximum if the pitch was taken by the batter. So if a pitcher threw a 93 MPH fastball and the batter didn't swing the pitch would automatically be a ball, but if the batter swung then the resulting ball in play or whiff would stand. Would pitchers who could normally throw harder develop better command? Would batters be able to discern 91 from 93? How close to the maximum would pitchers be able to throw without risking an automatic ball? Would breaking balls become more common? Could that lead to more arm injuries and make this whole rule change backfire? And how dramatic would it be to watch a batter take a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and see the scoreboard read 91.9 MPH?"
- Bryce: "While watching Boston foul off numerous pitches against my Rays I finally figured I would send in a question I've been pondering for a while now. An at-bat ending in an out of how many pitches by your leadoff hitter would surpass the value of a first pitch solo homer? I think ending the at-bat with a hit of any sort would deflate the number pretty significantly so I am most curious about your take on what I am calling the productive unproductive at-bat where an out is made. My thoughts vary. Maybe we can agree that 1,000 pitches should get through the entire staff and should easily surpass the value of 1 run. So working back from there, sometimes I feel it would have to be 200+ as the opposing manager may just bring in another starter and you may need to get through both of them or several. Other times like recently with how taxed the Rays pen has been I feel it could be as few as 25."
- Matt: "[On the MiLB game of the week]...Is this a neat bone for prospect porn addicts to gnaw on or is it a first step toward minor league baseball becoming an analog of NCAA football or basketball, or one of the lower european soccer leagues?"
- Paul: "I got into an office tussle with a colleague who argues that slugging percentage is more valuable than on base percentage. In researching my stance that OBP is approximately twice as important at SLG, I uncovered something odd. In 2010 the Tampa Bay Rays scored 802 runs which ranked 3rd in MLB. They did this despite ranking 27th in batting average, 10th in OBP, and 14th in SLG. How can this be? What was that particular team able to do that overcame their shortcomings and still score so many runs? My gut tells me that this most likely is a statistical anomaly of sorts."
- James (Fayetteville, AR): "If flags fly forever is true, then winning the World Series is the best thing your team can do in a single season to boost profits. But if you were the owner of a team looking for a good boost what accomplishments besides a World Series win would best affect your income as an owner for the foreseeable future? Do you want the perfect game montage to being every home game on the jumbotron for years to come? Do you want to hang a banner near the hot dog stand for your MVP slugger?"
Play Index Edit
- Derek Norris hit two home runs on 3-0 in a game, which made Sam wonder if teams are swinging at more or fewer 3-0 pitches than in the past.
- In the late 80s and early 90s the swing rate on 3-0 pitches was between 4-5%.
- In 1996 and 1997 the swing rate climbed to over 6%. It has declined again was 4% in 2013.
- BABIP this year on 3-0 pitches is .203.
- Ben & Sam disagree with Aaron's email and think that teams are already doing everything they can to prevent UCL injuries.
- Sam thinks that around 35 pitches is where the value of tiring out the pitcher would equal a first at-bat home run.
- Sam, on 3-0 counts, "If you swing on 3-0 and foul it off, you're an idiot."
- The 2010 Rays hit much better with runners on base (they had the best overall OBP when runners were on base). They hit into fewer double plays than any other team that year.
- Sam thinks a 57 game hitting streak would be the greatest non-win focused accomplishment that could boost revenue.