Ben and Sam banter about Steven Wright and knuckleball physics, then answer listener emails about the least interesting inning, the one-baserunner leash, an all-or-nothing Ichiro, Mike Trout’s hypothetical twin and more.
- Least interesting inning
- One-baserunner leash
- Mike Trout's hypothetical twin
- Home run rates compared to other extra-base hits
- Ichiro Suzuki as a power hitter
- Steven Wright's no-rotation knuckleball
- Alan Nathan's research on knuckleball trajectory and physics
- James (Long Beach, CA): "While at an Angels game a couple weeks ago my wife asked if I had a least favorite inning. I don't and had never thought about it but started speculating on the fly about which inning or innings might by the worst, and by worst I suppose I mean the least interesting. My first thought was the worst might be the inning with the least offense, perhaps early innings when a pitcher is fresh and going through the order the first time or two. Maybe the second or third? But of course that discounts the entertainment value of dominant pitching which I suppose should be more common in the early and late innings. Bottom line, two questions here: what metrics would you look at to determine which inning, on average, is the least interesting? I thought about looking at innings with the least overall change in WPA, perhaps something else, what would you look at? And second, based on the stat or stats of your choice, which inning is the least statistically interesting?"
- Jacob: "What is the point of having a one base runner leash on a pitcher going into an inning? To me it's saying, 'This pitcher is done, but I'll give him one more base runner.' Seems like you're waiting for crap to hit the fan instead of trying to prevent base runners."
- Eric: "Let's say we discover that Mike Trout has a long lost twin brother, Mitch Trout. Mitch is an identical twin, healthy and in world class shape but he was raised abroad and has never played a second of baseball. How much, if any, would a team post to bring Mitch in?"
- Ben (San Francisco, CA): "I was wondering the value of a hitter like Joc Pederson, who tends to hit for low average but is capable of posting a high OPS when he's drawing lots of walks. I was then reminded of Ichiro's assertion back in the day. "If I'm allowed to hit .220 I could probably hit 40 home runs but nobody wants that." My question is, if there were no stigma to batting .220 in Ichiro's prime, would he have been more or less productive if he had molded himself as a power hitter?"
- Sam uses the Play Index to find players who had home runs comprise the highest percentage of their extra base hits.
- He was inspired by someone who pointed out that Dae-Ho Lee had 10 home runs and no other extra-base hits until a single double on June 10, for a percentage of 91%.
- Highest (minimum 10 HR) is Eddie Robinson had a season with 16 home runs and 1 double (94%).
- Highest (minimum 20 HR) is Mark McGwire (2001): 29 home runs and 4 doubles (87%). This was McGwire's final season, when he couldn't run.
- The only other player with a percentage greater than 80% and 20HR is Harmon Killebrew (1964) with 49 home runs and 11 doubles, and 1 triple (80%).
- The leaders for career percentage are Mark McGuire (69.3%) and Harmon Killebrew (64.6%).
- Most seasons with over 70%: Killebrew (14), McGwire (13).
- Sam had lost his affection for knuckleballs, but Steven Wright turned him around. "I would watch a league of knuckleballs. I feel really weird about there being [only] one at any given time." Ben has the opposite opinion: "I wouldn't want to watch a league of knuckleballs, but I love that there's always one."
- Sam says that the first inning is the best. He says the fourth is the worst inning because the pitcher is most likely to bat then. Ben says if he could only watch one inning it would be the ninth.
- Ben and Sam agree that the ninth inning has the potential to be either the most exciting or the most boring inning of a game. Ben prefers to revel in the highs. Sam prefers to avoid the lows.
- Sam notes that Bruce Bochy will even let a pitcher bat when on a one-runner leash. Sam likes the one-runner leash but changes his mind when Ben notes that the pitcher probably shouldn't have been left in the game in the first plate.
- Sam observes that the "one baserunner leash" is often retroactive: You don't realize the pitcher was on a leash until you see the baserunner.
- Sam thinks if Mitch Trout were 18 years old he would be a first round pick. At the age of 24, he would be signed for $250,000. Ben thinks he would get a $3 million contract.
- Ben and Sam agree that Ichiro would have been a better hitter as .220 with 40 home runs. A power hitter naturally draws walks anyway.