A Doubleheader Of Baseball Dork
October 17, 2019 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Sports statistical dorks Jon Bois and Alex Rubenstein have a video and print pairing of baseball statistical oddities. On the video side, we have a discussion of Brandon Guyer, the Hit By Pitch God, who turned the beanball into a weapon. Then in print, they discuss how 2019 was the Year Of The Dinger, with an additional loving roasting of the Baltimore Orioles for being the recipient of so many.
posted by NoxAeternum (18 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Brandon Guyer? Ron Hunt would like a word. He specifically claims to have turned to the HBP to save his career from an otherwise marginal bat.

Or for that matter, Hughie Jennings, who delighted in finding rule loopholes in baseball's Precambrian, including abuse of the hit-by-pitch.
posted by Quindar Beep at 12:57 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


Both get addressed in the video. Guyer was better at being a human baseball bat than either.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:28 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


José Ureña appears to be an asshole.
posted by pracowity at 1:37 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


> Then in print, they discuss how 2019 was the Year Of The Dinger

The 2019 postseason, on the other hand, has far fewer dingers, apparently due to a change in the baseballs that has increased the drag coefficient.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:43 PM on October 17


And has MLB ever acknowledged they're messing with the ball? When someone playing in Kansas City half the season hits 48 home runs there is definitely something fishy going on.
posted by something something at 1:50 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


The company line is that all of the balls have been "within specifications", but beyond that, it's all speculation and third party reporting and analysis. MLB owns Rawlings now, so conspiracy theorists have no shortage of material, but Hanlon's razor seems to apply here -- they probably just have crappy quality control.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:53 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


When someone playing in Kansas City half the season hits 48 home runs there is definitely something fishy going on

As a Royals fan I need to defend Jorge Soler's honor, since (despite playing in KC's large park) he led the American League in homers while hitting the same type of ball as players from every other team. It was the first year where Soler played all 162 games; he'd been injured for parts of earlier seasons. He's just a strong dude.

But yeah, the MLB certainly hasn't acknowledged any ball-juicing, despite all the suspicion. This year they were like, "Must be the drag coefficient or something."
posted by lisa g at 2:04 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't everyone aim to get hit by the ball?

The pitcher will either hit you, or they'll pitch balls until a walk. You'll slowly load bases with every batter and after the bases load you'll get one RBI after another.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:08 PM on October 17


The tags have three answers to that.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:11 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


also, to get a hit by pitch, the ball has to be out of the strike zone, and you have to try to avoid it. So you can still strike out if you don't swing, and, if plunked, the umpires can simply judge you're not trying to avoid them and let you get hit as many times as you like. Good luck getting your players in on the scheme!
posted by Earthtopus at 2:14 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


And has MLB ever acknowledged they're messing with the ball?

Seems to me you could test this empirically with an automatic batter. Have the thing hit a thousand balls and compare the results to previous years. If they kept a supply of balls from earlier seasons, they could even run them to make sure any changes weren't the result of a change in the test setup. (I'm sure there are simpler ways to test the bounciness of a ball, but people probably wouldn't believe anything that didn't involve an actual bat hitting the ball.)
posted by pracowity at 3:23 PM on October 17


they probably just have crappy quality control.

It's the likely the opposite problem. The current theory (there is no actual definitive proof or anything, actually) is that the newer balls are made too close to the "ideal" baseball. These more-perfect balls don't have as much potential movement, so pitchers are having a harder time not throwing meatballs.

It's also worth mentioning that striking out 5 times a game, but occasionally hitting a dinger, is now something players aspire to. 15 years ago, you'd be stuck in the minors.
posted by sideshow at 3:41 PM on October 17


lisa g, I'm a Royals fan too and there's no denying Soler's accomplishment! He had a fantastic season and legitimately hit more home runs than anyone else. But still, it's a pretty strange coincidence that the single season record at Kauffman stood for decades and has now been shattered twice in two years.
posted by something something at 6:40 AM on October 18


As a Rays fan (yes, we exist), Brandon Guyer was a pride and joy. We'd wait for the HBP every time he came up... but the guy actually can hit a little, and after we sent him to Cleveland, it was great to see him deliver in the World Series.

Bois, awesome as ever, also nails just what's so frustrating about baseball now. Homers are way up, and so are strikeouts, meaning the exciting part of baseball -- guys actually putting the ball in play, fielders having to go after the ball and make throws, batters having to run -- is happening less and less.

It was kind of a joke back in the early 1990s when baseball stat nerds like me would talk about "TTO" players, meaning the "three true outcomes" of homers, strikeouts and walks, the baseball events not influenced by the vagaries of fielding. Rob Deer was the ideal, the One True God of TTO, with 49% of career appearances a TTO. At least until Adam Dunn came along... 50% of appearances were a TTO (rounded up ever so slightly from 49.9%)

And now... Deer and Dunn are actual role models, as it's no big deal to strike out 200 times a year as long as you hit those 30-plus dingers. All hail Joey Gallo, just 25 years old and already TTO'ing in 59% of his appearances!
posted by martin q blank at 8:10 AM on October 18


Bois and Rubenstein went over Dunn in the second episode of Dorktown.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:04 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]


Bois and Rubenstein went over Dunn in the second episode of Dorktown.

I'd totally forgotten that, but... I'm in that thread! With my favorite little-known Adam Dunn stat, no less.
posted by martin q blank at 10:36 AM on October 18


Bois and Rubenstein went over Dunn in the second episode of Dorktown.

But what about Oveur and Unger? Is Oveur under Dunn or is Unger over Dunn? Or is Dunn over Oveur but under Unger?
posted by ensign_ricky at 12:52 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]


And Bois goes into extra innings by listing his top 10 coolest baseball players of all time.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:48 AM on October 21 [1 favorite]


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