Rounding out the week with a healthy dose of baseball stuff …
- The Pirates are guaranteed their first non-losing season in 21 years (Dale Sveum tips his cap). It’s been a brutal half decade for Cubs fans, but, man, just imagine 21 straight seasons of sub-.500, completely non-competitive baseball.
- Rob Neyer explores folks’ beef with expanded rosters in September. I follow this stuff pretty closely, and this is the first time I’ve heard such loud gripes about the inelegance – as Neyer puts it – of roster expansion, and how it can impact playoff races. The suggested rule change would have teams still able to call up anyone on the 40-man roster, but able to designate only 30 available players on any given game day. The other popular suggestion is to have roster expansion at the start of the season, rather than the end (what happens to the minor league season, then? shifted later?). I don’t really care either way on this one, so if one of those is the rule change, that’s fine with me. I do think it’s always been a bit bizarre to have youngsters determining races … and then not available the next week in the playoffs.
- Ken Rosenthal writes about “killing the win,” a movement to stop – just stop, please God stop – leaning on a pitcher’s win-loss record as a meaningful stat. He generally agrees, but cites an anonymous big league exec who still believes there may be a little something to a pitcher’s ability to pitch to the game situation (i.e., pitching to the scoreboard), which is reflected in W/L record. The executive, to his credit, grants that the “something” might be “vanishingly small.” To my mind, the problem remains that not only does W/L record tell us “vanishingly” little about how a pitcher has performed, it is often affirmatively misleading about how well or poorly a pitcher has pitched. It’s a broken statistic that measures something I have absolutely no interest in knowing. Was a pitcher pitching when his team happened to score more runs than the other team (and the bullpen pitched well enough to keep his team in the lead for the remainder of the game)? I don’t care about that information. It tells me nothing about how the pitcher pitched. Better, more informative, more predictive stats are so widely and readily available that it drives me crazy to see anyone grant even a scintilla of weight to W/L record. Look no further than Clayton Kershaw, who is in the midst of an historically good year – 1.89 ERA, 0.919 WHIP, 4.28 K/BB – and has a 14-8 record. And he pitches for a team with a great offense, for crying out loud!
- Jeff Passan on the long-standing problem of declining participation by African Americans in baseball.
- Chris Heisey has gotten a lot of heat for a very public bunting gaffe in an extra inning game against the Cardinals, but it actually looks like the numbers and the defensive position were with him. His mistake probably seems magnified because the Reds – *cough* Dusty Baker *cough* – bunted or tried to bunt far too often in that game. Not for hits, mind you. For sacrifices (including by Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco, a guy who’s never bunted before in the bigs).
- Bryce Harper doesn’t care what people think, and really, really wants you to know it. Generally speaking, if you have to tell the world five times in a 15 second quote that you don’t care what anyone else thinks … you probably care a little. Also, Bryce: it’s couldn’t care less. Clown sentence construction, bro.
- Juan Lagares might be the best outfield thrower in history. Note that I’m not saying he has the best arm, because it’s a little more complicated than that.