It is cold out; I can’t stand winter, and a good way to feel warmer is to think about baseball. The Bill James Baseball Handbook was delivered yesterday. Here is some stuff I learned from that book, which is filled with numbers and knowledge.
Disclaimer: There are still several really good free agents on the market, so when the labor stuff is resolved, teams are going to add key players before the season starts. At least the teams who care about winning will add players.
13) Does the shift help or hurt and by how much?
Last year, teams shifted on 59,062 at-bats: shifts took away 4,802 hits, but there were 3,946 hits that happened BECAUSE of the shift, so the shift took away 856 hits for the season.
I’m hoping they ban shifts this year; hitters, especially guys with little less power, will go back to being gap hitters/line drive hitters, which makes for more action.
Padres were putting 3B Machado in right field when they shifted vs lefties last year; it is smart under the current rules, but the game is more fun to watch with more balls in play, more guys running the bases.
12) Seattle Mariners went 90-72 last year, had a really good season, but they were 33-19 in one-run games. Seattle actually allowed 51 more runs than they scored, but still won 90 games- that is very unusual.
May help explain why the Mariners added Robbie Ray, Adam Frazier to fortify their roster; they will have to be a better team than they were last year, just to win 90 games again.
11) Seattle’s AL West rival Angels went 25-14 in one-run games last year, and still finished only 77-85; loss of Mike Trout/Anthony Rendon to injury was obviously a problem, but their pitching isn’t good, even when healthy.
Noah Syndergaard pitched two innings the last two years; Halos added him and Michael Lorenzen to improve their pitching. It also gives the Angels another two-way player (Lorenzen) and Jared Walsh used to be a pitcher, too.
Here’s the thing: teams that excel in one-run games one seasons tend to regress the next year- LY’s 25-14 record will be hard to match. Can a healthy Trout/Rendon make up the difference?
10) San Francisco beat the Dodgers by a game last year; Giants were 31-17 in one-run games, Dodgers 24-24. Giants had oldest roster in MLB last year; can they do it again this year?
9) There were 63 home runs taken away by outfielders last year. Thats one of the most exciting plays in baseball; should more stadiums have outfield fences that are 8 or 9 feet high?
8) A’s bullpen fell apart late last year; for the season, they blew 28 of 67 save opportunities, and that was despite fact that Oakland relievers threw only 539 innings, less than any other team.
7) Toronto Blue Jays missed playoffs by one game LY; they went 3-9 in extra inning games.
6) Joey Gallo either walked (111) or struck out (213) in 324 of his 616 plate appearances LY.
5) If the universal DH happens and pitchers never hit again, the last hit by a pitcher (other than Shohei Ohtani) was Julio Urias in last year’s playoffs.
4) Eyebrows were raised when Marcus Semien signed with Texas for $25M a year, but one of the best abilities is availability, and Semien is always available.
He’s played 155+ games in five of last six full seasons, played 162-162 the last two. He hit 33-45 homers the last two full seasons; he is plus-hitter as a middle infielder.
Semien also sees lot of pitches; he saw 2,923 pitches LY, 106 more than any other player, and that helps every other hitter on his team.
3) Minnesota Twins were 53-53 vs right-handed starters last year, 20-36 vs lefties; they gave Buxton a boatload of money this winter, they’ll need a hell of a lot more than 61 games out of him this year. Miguel Sano has to hit better than .223. Josh Donaldson is 36; how much does he have left int he tank?
2) Arizona Diamondbacks converted only 44% of their save chances last year, lowest %age in last 20 years (other than the shortened 2020 season). Arizona added Mark Melancon and JD Wendelken to shore up the bullpen.
1) Colorado Rockies were 48-33 at home last year, 26-54 on road; how does that happen?
Over the last ten years, this was the 2nd-biggest difference between home/road records; the biggest difference?
2014 Rockies were 45-36 at home, 21-60 on the road. Go figure.