Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – March 19th, 2012
Monday March 19th, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!
Let’s get to your top questions of the week:
Q: Question about the batting order:
Why is baseball so set with the way they order the batters? I know that the top of the order will get more at bats a year but it can’t be that many more than someone in the bottom of the order. Also you can only control the batting order for the first inning any other inning the leadoff batter could be anyone in the order depending on hits the team has in the game. What im wondering is why don’t they switch the top and bottom of the batting order? Most of the time nothing really happens in the first inning since the pitchers arm is still good, my though is by putting the bottom of the order up first it would wear the pitcher down a little and maybe give the power hitters a little bit better of a chance to get a hit coming into the second or possibly the third inning with the pitcher having thrown some pitches. Josh
ATR: Man…I like this question. Not because I think your plan will work. But I give full marks for creativity. Josh, you sound a lot like me when I start advocating the management of a pitching staff- Cuban style. A closer to start the game for 2 innings to blow away the hitters. Then a starter to come in for 5-6 innings, with a closer to end the game. But even though I think my plan is brilliant, the likelihood of it happening is low. Managers are slow to deviate from tradition. Tony La Russa used to bat the pitcher 8th on occasion. An interesting idea to say the least, but it never took off. Getting to your question though, I have thought of the scenario. Many times. It just won’t work…and I will tell you why. The law of probability says that for at least half of the games, you will not get your whole batting order an equal amount of at-bats every game. Sometimes your #3 hitter makes the last out. Or #6. Maybe #9…and so on. You get the idea. From my math, if the #1 and #9 hitters both play the full 162 games, the leadoff hitter will get at least 100 at-bats more than #9 by season’s end. The same will hold for numbers 1-3 in comparison to 7-9. Do you really want your top hitters to lose that many at-bats in a season? I can throw another scenario at you. Many starting pitchers come in cold to start a game and take an inning or two to loosen up and become effective. If you need to get to those pitchers early, wouldn’t you want your top hitters to leadoff the game? So as you can see, the lineup debate can go both ways. Bottom line: maximum at-bats for your top players is key. That is why you see a team’s best hitters normally batting 1-4. Thank you for the question!
Q: Why are the Houston Astros being asked to move to the American League instead of the Colorado Rockies or Arizona D-Backs? The Astros have a long history in the National League, as opposed to the Rockies or D-Backs who are relatively new. If one of the National League western teams needs to go into the American League to balance it with the National, it should be one of these two younger franchises without a long National League History! – Please reply back with your thoughts and knowledge on this decision.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
Ray S. in Elmwood Park, NJ
ATR: Hello Ray. Another one of my fave topics. MLB realignment. I wrote an article last May on complete realignment. This article is our most popular feature to-date and also the most debated. Here is the link for your reference: http://mlbreports.com/2011/05/19/mlb-realignment. My plan had the Astros, Rockies and Dbacks moving to the AL West, with the Angels and A’s moving the NL West. But Major League Baseball moves a little slower than some of us would like, with a realignment as I proposed being ambitious but likely too forward thinking. So then, if realignment is more gradual- why is Houston moving? True, the Rockies and Dbacks are both younger and should have to go first. But baseball doesn’t work that way. The teams have to agree to realignment, it won’t be forced on them. The Debacks and Rockies both got offered the chance to move to the AL West and both said no. When I interviewed Derrick Hall, President and CEO of the Dbacks last July, I asked him about realignment. He indicated that he had no interest in moving his team to the American League. Therein lies the issue. Teams are more than happy to move to the NL for the most part (see the Brewers move to the NL in the 90’s). But teams do not want to move to the AL. Fans and teams that are based in the NL seem to like the style of ball and have no interest in adopting a DH and playing within a different system. But Major League Baseball wanted realignment. Bud Selig, based on pressures from teams, decided that the system of 4 teams in the AL West and 6 in the NL Central was unfair. To give every team an equal chance at the playoffs, balanced divisions was necessary. So when the Astros were about to be sold, Selig and baseball had its chance. To approve the sale of the Astros, the team had to essentially agree to realignment. Talk about coercion. Now the Astros were compensated for the move (claims of additional costs due the DH rule was specified and agreed to). So yes, you are right. The Astros do not want to be in the AL West. But politics is the driving force. The previous owner of the Astros wanted to sell the team. The interested purchaser wanted to own the team. “Helping” the game out by agreeing to the realignment was the clincher. Welcome to baseball politics 101.
Q: I was told that any runner that scores is an unearned run, IF that runner reached via error. Is that right? Leo
ATR: Correct. Here is an excerpt from official rule 10.16. Hope this helps:
(b) No run shall be earned when scored by a runner who reaches first base
(1) on a hit or otherwise after his time at bat is prolonged by a muffed foul fly;
(2) because of interference or obstruction; or
(3) because of any fielding error.
(c) No run shall be earned when scored by a runner whose presence on the bases is prolonged by an error, if such runner would have been put out by errorless play.
(d) No run shall be earned when the scoring runner’s advance has been aided by an error, a passed ball or defensive interference or obstruction, if in the official scorers judgment the run would not have scored without the aid of such misplay.
(e) An error by a pitcher is treated exactly the same as an error by any other fielder in computing earned runs.
Q: When is Freddy Sanchez expected to be up and ready for everyday starts? Christy
ATR: There are certain things I don’t believe in. The Tooth Fairy. Bigfoot. And Freddy Sanchez playing healthy. Recovering from shoulder surgery, Sanchez has yet to play an inning in spring training. He has been out since last June. At this point, I am betting closer to the All Star break. Welcome to the world of Freddy Sanchez. Frustrating, ain’t it?
Q: I want to know if Chipper Jones will be an asset or liability for the Braves this year? Also, who starts the season with the big club? Simmons or Pastornicky? Stephanie
ATR: I think at this point that Mark Lemke has a better chance of cracking the Braves lineup over both of those guys. Ok…I am exaggerating of course, but neither Pastornicky or Simmons has looked very good this spring. Both still have a couple of weeks to get their act together, but at this point it is looking bleak. Perhaps the Braves will look outside the organization…or even in-house with Jack Wilson. At least Andrelton Simmons has been somewhat passable, with a .231 AVG in the spring and .593 OPS. Tyler Pastornicky, the favorite to take the job entering the spring, has fallen completely on his face. A .125 AVG and .268 OPS will do that. My money is on Wilson (or Wilson-type player) taking the job, with perhaps Simmons being the backup and Pastornicky starting the year in AAA. Despite the Braves confidence in the youngster, he needs to show more in the spring to make it to opening day with the big club.
As far as Chipper Jones this year, I am fairly neutral. He has also started off slow, with Simmons-like numbers. The soon to be 40-year-old is done in my mind. He will spend much of the year on the DL and finish off a brilliant career. Whether Chipper disappoints or not depends on your expectations. If you are expecting a superstar or reliable player, then yes- he will disappoint. But if you are looking for a mentor to the young kids and occasional starter/pinch-hitter, then Chipper should be good. Based on his experience and leadership, I still see him as an asset.
Q: What is your take on the Yanks signing Pettitte while seeming to be offering Garcia? Why not keep Garcia and let Andy stay retired? NNP
ATR: A great question. One that many Yankees fans (and baseball fans in general) have been asking themselves for the last few days. In my book, I don’t see the Yankees moving Freddy Garcia. He is too valuable to the squad as reliable pitcher. Options are good to have. All it takes is one injury and the Yankees will be more than happy to have Freddy available. We also have to consider that nothing is yet in stone. Perhaps Phil Hughes will pitch out of the pen for example. You never know. While the Yankees would like to have their top young pitchers grab rotation spots, their performances may say otherwise. Andy Pettitte is a rock. He is a leader. He is a gamer. If he comes back and is even an average Andy Pettitte, I will take that over most pitchers in the league. To win a World Series, you generally need a good mix of talent, youth and experience. When Andy Pettitte agrees to pitch on your team, you grab him and take that chance. I don’t know if he has enough in the tank to make a full comeback, or even if he does return, how long he will last. But if the worst problem the Yankees have is too many good pitchers on their team, they will gladly take that. Consider Freddy Garcia a good insurance policy at the very least.
Q: A question for ATR… With Wakefield retired, have we seen the end of the knuckleball? Larry
ATR: Larry…our #1 fan. Great to hear from you! Knuckleball pitchers is always an interesting topic. Funny enough, we covered this topic in February- here is the link (halfway down). As far as knucklers, I don’t see them ever going away. We still have R.A. Dickey and Charlie Haeger going, with more young guys I’m sure in the lower minors. Dickey right now is the last great knuckling hope, until Haeger blossoms. Usually most knucklers really get going in their 30’s, so Charlie should have time. Tim Wakefield was very unique and definitely one of the greatest knuckleball pitchers of all time. Heck, he even closed for a period! A brilliant career for one of the greats in the game. Tim Wakefield will definitely be missed.
Last Q: I’ve realized nearly every picture of Jonathan on the site consist of him playing on his phone. Joe
ATR: Oh Joe…Joe Joe Joe. You do make me laugh! Fans expect immediate information. There is no other way to get things out than being connected 24/7! We live today in a wonderful age of technology. Social media is available at an instant through our smartphones, tablets and laptops. You have to remember: those tweets don’t write themselves. Thank you for writing in!
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Posted on March 19, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged andrelton simmons, andy pettitte, arizona diamondbacks, ask the reports, Atlanta Braves, atr, baseball, baseball questions, batting order, bud selig, charlie haeger, chipper jones, colorado rockies, derrick hall, freddy garcia, freddy sanchez, houston astros, jack wilson, knuckleball, mlb, mlb realignment, new york yankees, r.a. dickey, tim wakefield, tyler pastornicky. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.