September 4, 2015


Ben and Sam banter about the Mets, Matt Harvey, and Scott Boras, then answer listener emails about pitcher stuff, park effects, permanent shifts, a magic Jonny Gomes, playoff seeding, and much more.

Topics Edit

  • Innings limits
  • Park effects for individual hitters
  • Starter selection
  • Converting infielders to pitchers
  • Permanent shifts
  • Gonny Jomes
  • Large classes of high performing rookies
  • Playoff seeding
  • Celebrations on the field


The Beatles, "Long, Long, Long"


  • The [Sonoma Stompers] season has ended, and Ben & Sam have begun work on their book, The Only Rule Is It Has To Work.
  • Ben & Sam discuss the Black Bear Diner in Sonoma. Ben looks forward to returning to the 24-hour [Market Diner] in New York City.
  • Scott Boras is mad that the Mets are going over Matt Harvey's supposed innings limit, and implies that it will impact the Mets' ability to sign Harvey when he becomes a free agent.

Email QuestionsEdit

  • Aaron: "I was wondering recently whether park effects are considered on a per-hitter basis. Park effect is usually presented as a single number with one-hundred as average but it seems to me that particular parks would be advantageous to different types of hitters in a way that would prevent that number from being one size fits all. Take Fenway Park, for example: a pull heavy, fly ball hitting right-hander like Kris Bryant would probably hit a ton of home runs over the Green Monster, on the other hand a low power guy who depends on soft liners falling into the outfield would be disproportionately harmed by the small left field. I'm sure agents and GMs consider that kind of thing when they're thinking about signings but can algorithms like wRC+ take it into account? Are some players systematically under or overvalued because their home park plays to or against their strengths?"
  • Tyler: "Do you see any possibility of game day starter selection happening by using Statcast metrics during warm-up? This would eliminate the conventional five pitcher rotation as the decision is made on game day. You could try comparing each pitcher's ball spin rate, etc. during warm-up to see what makes them effective during successful outings. This would identify which pitcher has good stuff on a particular day, the thought of five or six pitchers competing for the starting job each day would be entertaining."
  • Rob (Pasadena, CA): "Considering Jacob DeGrom is a converted college shortstop who has blossomed into a Cy Young candidate, does that make him a Cardinals' draft pick in the Mets' system? His story sounds not unlike that of Trevor Rosenthal or other Cardinals' surprises, should other teams pursue college infielders with strong arms?"
  • Steve: "At SABR Seminar two guys from Baseball Info Solutions gave a presentation comparing the full shift with a partial shift. They concluded that the partial shift was essentially the same as no shift, and that the full shift did indeed improve outcomes. I spoke with them afterwards and we talked about how every player has some pull tendency on line drives and grounders, so yes, they believe it would be mathematically advantageous to shift every hitter, depending on the base/out status. First basemen would still be first basemen but the rest of the infield would essentially be playing two half positions, two versions of the same position. Even if all players, coaches, managers, et. al. bought into the concept of shifting, would we see resistance for this reason [that no infielder would play traditional position], or any other reason?"
  • Scott: "How long do you think that it would take for an MLB team to realize that a particular replacement level player, let's call him Gonny Jomes, has a supernatural power that causes the team that carries him to a) win the world series b) reach the playoffs c) play at a 100-win regular season pace d) never lose a game? To be clear, Gonny Jomes doesn't need to be in the starting lineup to make use of this power, but he has to be on the active 25 man MLB roster and whenever he plays he puts up exactly replacement level stats."
  • Michael: "Every year some sport has a playoff controversy about what teams do or do not deserve their place in the playoffs and whether or not the playoff seeding is fair. The NL Central is creating this conversation which will be argued until the playoffs begin. I thought of a simple solution that probably has some issues that I have yet to see suggested in any sport and I don't know why. Why do we not let the best team pick their opponents? Is their some obvious issue with this that I cannot see? Two teams with the best record that do not win a division (currently Pirates/Cubs), they play the wild card game and the winner joins the division winners in the divisional series. The Cardinals are then able to select if they would like to play the Mets, Dodgers, or the wild card winner without an ace. It would even give us a motivation narrative as the selected team can take offense to being selected as the weakest team. I would love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of this approach and why it never comes up in conversation."
  • Joshua: "The Royals greatest strength is their late inning bullpen and for the Blue Jays it is their offense. If those teams were in a playoff series would it be conceivable to think that the Royals may never get to use their bullpen since the Jays would probably crush their inferior starting pitching?"
  • Mark (St. Louis): "I was listening to Episode 718 and I was reminded of a thought that has occurred to me recently. The ever growing celebrations on the field seemingly have divided the sensibilities of the older fans and the younger fans, white fans and non-white fans maybe, and it seems the sabermetric fans and the Chadwick-era stats fan. Maybe I'm totally wrong here but it seems that most of the writers and podcasts of the sabermetrician class support or are at least neutral on the ever growing celebrations on the field. The two names that readily pop into mind are Jonah Keri and Will Leitch. This is curious because sabermetricians are not especially young and one would think their dispassionate VORP-heavy take on baseball would lead to poo-pooing Jose Nobody's walk off single celebration in the ninth inning of game 45. Furthermore, many of baseball's old guard still clings to the belief that sabermetricians don't really watch baseball and have no idea about the sport's grim realities. This leads me to think that sabermetricians are, dare I say, over correcting, and trying to show the world that they are fun guys too and actually like to see Keith Whats-His-Name toss his bat on a long fly ball to the warning track. What say you?"

Play IndexEdit

There is a large number of good rookies this season. A large number of top prospects have been immediately very good, and there are also a number of good rookies who were not as hyped.

What is the largest number of players in a give year, with rookie status, with at least 1 oWAR? There have been 25 in 2015, which is 3rd all time. What about if you set it at 1.6 oWAR? 2 oWAR?


  • David Justice only missed the playoffs once (1996) in his career.
  • Sam: "I'm not sure that a 100-win regular season pace would ever seem notable enough for us to conclude that the physics of the Earth had for the first time been breached."
  • Ben: "I'd love to see the press conference at that signing, because you'd have to acknowledge, yes we think he is a witch. We signed him to play witch."
  • Sam: "God is real, we're signing Gonny Jomes."
  • Sam: "That's pretty much my whole philosophy on life: go for it, but be funnier."