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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Baseball historians analyze the great baseball feats established by very special players. In my book “Sandlot Stats” I devote two entire chapters to two of these feats both accomplished in 1941. That year Ted Williams (.406) was the last player to bat over .400 for a season and Joe DiMaggio accomplished his 56-game hitting streak. Since 1941, the closest to reaching these two marks were: Pete Rose’s 44 game hitting streak in 1978 and Tony Gwynn’s .394 in 1994.

This leads me to another special feat which was last accomplished in 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski. That feat, called winning the Triple Crown, is leading the league in batting average (AVG), home runs (HRs), and runs-batted-in (RBIs) in one season. Since 1900 only eleven different players have achieved the Triple Crown. Since 1967, the closest a player has come to achieving the Triple Crown was Henry Aaron who led the league in HRs and RBIs in 1963. However, his .319 AVG was second to Tommy Davis’s league leading .326 AVG.

Of the three batting titles comprising the Triple Crown, the hardest pair, called Double Crowns, to achieve is the pair consisting of HRs and AVG. In fact, since 1900, excluding the Triple Crown winners, there have only been four Double Crown (HRs and AVG) winners. These include Heinie Zimmerman (1912), Babe Ruth (1924), Johnny Mize (1939), and Ted Williams (1941). Since Ted Williams won the Triple Crown twice, he stands alone as the only player to win both the batting title and home run title three times. The last player to accomplish this special Double Crown was Carl Yastrzemski (1967). The most common Double Crown, accomplished over 90 times, is leading the league in HRs and RBIs.

 
A good candidate for the Triple Crown is a player who has achieved a Career Triple Crown. A Career Triple Crown winner is a player who in some year, not necessarily the same year, won a batting title, won a HR title and won a RBI title. Since 1913, there have been only 11 such winners who have not won the Triple Crown in one season. In the “Interesting Facts”, Chapter 3 on my website www.sandlotstats.com is a list of those players that achieved the Career Triple Crown before 2009. Since 2009, the two players to achieve the Career Triple Crown are Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. If Josh Hamilton wins the HR title in 2012 he will also achieve the Career Triple Crown.
 
This leads to my candidates for the next Triple Crown. First, I am looking at players who have already achieved the Career Triple Crown. Choice number one is Miguel Cabrera. As of this writing, Cabrera leads the league in batting and RBIs but is one home run behind Josh Hamilton. The fact that Cabrera is 29 years old and in his prime years makes him my number one candidate for the Triple Crown. If he fails this year my prediction is he will win the Triple Crown sometime in the next few years. Albert Pujols, who is 32 years old, is slipping past his prime years.Other candidates include Josh Hamilton who is injury prone. The 20 year old Mike Trout is hitting over .320 in 2012 and I believe his power numbers will come as he gets older. The 28 year old Ryan Braun is leading the league in HRs and RBIs in 2012 and finished second in AVG in 2011.

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

I have a problem with the expansion of the roster in baseball from 25 to a maximum of 40 after September 1. This process is called the September Call-ups. In watching the Yankees against Tampa Bay on September 15, Tampa Bay was batting in the seventh inning. During that inning the Yankees used three pitchers while Tampa Bay used four pinch hitters and a pinch runner. The pinch runner had just recovered from a broken hand and could only be used as a pinch runner or a replacement fielder. It seemed that the seventh inning would never end.

  • My objections to the 40-man roster are: An already too long game becomes even longer. The bullpen which usually may have five or six pitchers now can have in excess of ten pitchers. This allows a manager the option of matching up lefty to lefty or righty to righty several times in the late innings. Every time a new pitcher enters we are talking about extending the time of a game by an extra ten to fifteen minutes.
  • In the most crucial part of the season where the teams making the playoffs are decided, the strategies used in a baseball game change. You could say the game of baseball changes. In the other three major professional leagues the active roster size does not change at any time in the season. Why should baseball be different?
  • What is to stop a team from keeping one or two track stars on their 40 man roster and then use them in crucial base running situations? These track stars may not have ever played baseball except maybe in Little League.

Since baseball’s players are unionized and it is clear that the players’ union wants to keep the 40-man roster as is, I propose a compromise.

The compromise I suggest is to keep the 40-man roster in the dugout but for each game a team must declare a 25-man active roster. This is exactly what the NFL does. The 25-man roster can change for each game after September 1. The union may be willing to accept this compromise since every player on the 40-man roster will get credit for time spent in the Major Leagues. I don’t believe the union would ever accept the elimination of the 40-man roster. 
 
This rule change would remove some of the objections I stated above.
 
Now it’s your turn to comment by giving your opinion on what to do with the 40-man roster.
Also, please vote on my homepage www.sandlotstats.com on my three options concerning this rule.
 
Please, if baseball keeps the 40-man roster, expand the size of the dugouts.

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The embarrassment of the 2002 All-Star game which ended in a tie because both managers ran out of players led to controversial rule change making the All-Star game the deciding factor for awarding home advantage in the World Series.

 Before 2003 home-field advantage in the World Series was rotated between the two leagues. Starting in 2003, the league that won the All-Star game was automatically awarded home-field advantage in the World Series.  The other three professional leagues (basketball, hockey, and football) use either a best record or a seeding process to determine home-field advantage for their championship series.

 Since 1985 the team with home-field advantage has won 21 of 26 World Series. This suggests how important the home-field advantage is and why serious consideration should be given to how the home-field advantage is awarded in the World Series.

 I would like to objectively set forth some of the arguments pro and con which I have either heard or read and then let you cast your own vote in my poll on my homepage of www.sandlotstats.com what you think.

 

Some of the cons for the new rule:
  1. It is just a ploy to give meaning to a meaningless game for the purpose of increasing television viewership.
  2. There may be just a few players playing in the All-Star game that actually take part in the World Series.
  3. The All-Star game should not be meaningful but should just be a game where the best players are all on the field at the same time.
  4. It is wrong to have a fan vote, player vote, selections by manager and one additional by fans and then say, 'The Game Counts.’
  5. By allowing all players on both sides to play, limiting playing time for your best players and having a retired manager (Tony La Russa) manage makes this just an exhibition game. An exhibition game should not determine anything.
  6. There are better options for the determination of home-field advantage.
  7. In the baseball playoffs all the other series give home field advantage to the team with the best record, so why should the World Series be different.

 

Now for some pros:
 
  1. The old method of rotating home-field advantage each year has absolutely no validity. The All-Star game winner method is clearly an improvement.
  2. The players will recognize the importance of the game and choose not to opt out.
  3. The All-Star game becomes more competitive and thus more enjoyable for the fans.
  4. The players will take the game more seriously which will make the game a real baseball game.
  5. Since the new rule was adopted, of the first nine All-Star games played seven were decided by either one run or two runs. Close games are really enjoyed by fans.
  6. Unlike the All-Star games of the three other major professional leagues, the baseball All-Star game is a real competitive game.

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
The idea of the designated hitter was first suggested as far back as 1906 by Connie Mack. The real impetus came about from the pitching dominance in the late 1960s. In fact, Carl Yastrzemski led the American League in batting with a .301 batting average in 1968 and Denny McLain won 31 games in 1968.
 
In 1973, through the urging of Charlie O. Finley, the American League voted to adopt the DH rule on a three year trial basis. Three years later the DH rule became permanent.Since the National League does not use the DH, a controversy immediately arises. The rest of my post will now look at the advantages and disadvantages of the DH to Major League Baseball.
 
What are the DH advantages? Some baseball people have said the DH introduces a welfare state for the American League. Older star players can continue to play even though their fielding and running skills have diminished. Players like George Brett, Wade Boggs, and Eddie Murray have been able to extend their careers. Even National League players who no longer can play the field can sign with an American League team. The DH saves pitchers from being hurt by either batting or running the bases. It stops pitchers from pitching around hitters to reach the pitcher’s spot in the batting order. For those fans liking more home runs and runs scored, the DH is for them. Finally, the DH allows the American League to be consistent with most other amateur and professional baseball leagues.
 
What are the DH disadvantages? The clearest involves both interleague play and the World Series. The selection of a team’s 25 man roster is definitely influenced by which league the team is in. Since an American League team can carry fewer pitchers and also a player signed specifically to be a DH, this gives the American League team a big advantage in games played in their home park where the DH is used. The National League team will have a slight advantage in games played in their home park where the DH is not used. However, I believe the ultimate advantage is with the American League team. An older player, who can no longer play in the field, can continue playing as a DH compiling the necessary statistics to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Already baseball people are arguing that 3000 hits and 500 home runs do not automatically translate into admittance into the Hall of Fame. Because of the DH a good pitcher is more reluctant to sign with an American League team. The DH affects baseball strategy. The sacrifice bunt, intentional walk, and the double switch are more common in the National League. Of course, baseball traditionalists are against any change to the original rules.
 
This leads to the final two questions. Should both leagues be the same with respect to the DH? If the answer to the first question is yes, should the DH be continued? Please express your opinion by casting your vote in the poll on my homepage of SandlotStats.com and also by commenting below.

 

 

 
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