Thursday, April 18, 2019

Joe Sheehan Newsletter, April 18, 2019 -- "Let the Kids Play"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $39.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--


The Joe Sheehan Newsletter
Vol. 11, No. 22
April 18, 2019

You’ve probably seen yesterday’s dustup in Chicago between the Royals and White Sox. Tim Anderson launched a home run off Brad Keller in the fourth inning, took a good look at it, threw his bat towards his dugout and gave the eye to catcher Martin Maldonado. In Anderson’s next at-bat, Keller intentionally hit him with a fastball in the hip. Let’s not get bogged down in an argument over the adverb; watch Maldonado, who immediately gets up and puts himself in front of Anderson. He knew what was happening. Anderson was rightly angered, and we ended up with the benches clearing and some light scuffling, with Keller and Anderson eventually being ejected.

This is the second one of these we’ve had in the season's early days. Chris Archer intentionally threw behind Derek Dietrich after Dietrich hit a long homer off him back on April 7. You’ve surely seen the memes generated by the ruckus that followed. MLB eventually suspended Archer, who committed the assault, for five games -- an immaterial suspension for a starting pitcher in 2019 -- and Yasiel Puig, who came to the defense of his teammate in the brawl, for two games.

These events are happening against a backdrop of MLB’s marketing arm clearly taking sides in the game’s culture war. “Let The Kids Play” started last fall, and continues into this season. It has a site, and a Twitter feed, dedicated to the youngerfreer, expressive way of playing the game, one heavily influenced by the way it’s played in countries other than the U.S. Even MLB’s official account comes down on the side of fun.

Now, you can, if you want, draw a very thin line here, say that what the marketing side does has to be different than what the league office does. Today is a day, of course, for drawing very thin lines around very sketchy behavior in an effort to separate truth and consequences. So maybe you don’t think MLB, the office, should be beholden to the positions taken by MLB, the salespeople.

That’s a nonsense position, though. MLB can’t, out of one side of its mouth, embrace and encourage a style of play in an effort to bring young people to the game, while out of the other side tacitly endorse violent retaliation against that very style.

MLB, Rob Manfred, Joe Torre, the entire power structure, has a chance today to take the stand it failed to take after the Archer incident. It can finally take a stand against the ugliest part of the modern game, when one player stands 60 feet away from another and throws a hard object at him, intentionally, at upwards of 90 mph, for no reason other than spite. If your kid did this at school, he’d be suspended for a week. If you did this in your office, you’d be fired. If you did it on 86th St., you’d be arrested. The act -- throwing something as hard as you can at someone else out of anger in an effort to exact revenge -- is something we teach four-year-olds not to do. It’s just as wrong, just as dangerous, just as ripe for punishment, when grown men in pajamas do it.

Take a stand, MLB. Take the position of Cut4, and your own Twitter account, and hundreds of your players, and millions of your fans. Take the position that intentional violence has no place in baseball, that expressions of joy are to be celebrated, that the game’s culture is changing, and that you want to lead that change. Suspend Brad Keller, not for five games or six games, but for 20. Suspend Ned Yost for ten. Take a stand today that you’re going to lead the game’s charge out of the past and into the future. Take a stand that throwing at batters intentionally is wrong, full stop, and you’re going to harshly punish any pitchers who do so.

The only way this is ever going to stop is if MLB makes it stop. Take a stand, MLB. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Newsletter Excerpt, April 16, 2018 -- "Dingers!"

This is an excerpt from the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with Joe and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $39.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"For all of the complaints about the way batters approach their job now, what’s clear is that it works. Trading contact for power is producing the best on-contact results ever, despite what the old guy in the booth, who never in his life saw a 94-mph cutter, says. Five years ago, the league hit .251 and slugged .386 while scoring 4.2 runs a game. The pitchers are even better today, and it’s even harder to get a hit, but slugging is up 34 points and isolated power is up 40. Runs scored are up to 4.7 a game. We can have a debate about the aesthetics of it all, but you can’t argue the value of these approaches."

Friday, April 12, 2019

Newsletter Excerpt, April 12, 2010 -- "Ozzie Albies"

This is an excerpt from the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with Joe and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $39.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"What this contract does is underline the challenge facing the MLBPA in the next CBA negotiation. For all the attention paid to free agents who have gone unsigned, or who signed contracts for far less than their comps in 2012 or 2002 might have, the real war is now over the likes of Ozzie Albies: excellent young players jammed up by a system that values service time rather than performance. Albies isn’t alone; there are dozens like him who have to be both good and healthy for nearly four seasons to gain any leverage at all in salary negotiations. Francisco Lindor was a top-ten player in MLB from 2015 through 2017, and he made $623,000 last year, about 10% over the league minimum. Corey Seager was one of the best players in baseball in 2016 and 2017, and was paid $605,000 in 2018. Aaron Judge has a section named after him at Yankee Stadium, one of the best-selling jerseys in the game, and a 2019 salary of $684,000."

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Newsletter Excerpt, April 10: "Thinking Inside the Box"

This is an excerpt from the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with Joe and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $39.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"We’re in an era in which managers have access to information that outside analysts do not. I’m reluctant, particularly this early in the season, to indict Kapler, because he may be picking his pitchers based on pitch type or arm action or the swing plane of the opposing hitters. What does seem to be certain is that he’s not picking them based on the save rule, or the inning-and-score model than has dominated reliever usage for a decade. How Kapler runs his bullpen -- a source of considerable controversy a year ago -- will be a fascinating topic this season."

Monday, April 8, 2019

Newsletter Excerpt, April 8, 2019 -- "The Third Start"

This is an excerpt from the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with Joe and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $39.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"Who else is under a spotlight this week? Well, Corey Kluber hasn’t lost his fastball quite as rapidly as Sale has, but over two seasons his four-seamer has gone from 93.1 to 92.4 to 92.0, and his bread-and-butter pitch, the two-seam fastball, from 93 to 92.4 to 91.8. He hasn’t been getting the same amount of sink he did on the two-seamer as he did at his peak, either. I was wary of Kluber in the offseason, and will be watching his start in Detroit tomorrow carefully. Kluber’s five-year peak measures up to any of his peers, but at 33, we may be seeing the start of the decline phase."

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Newsletter Excerpt, April 4, 2019 -- "The Disappearing Single"

This is an excerpt from the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for more than 20 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with Joe and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $39.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"[Insert “Singles” Pun Here] (1B/PA)

2019  12.9%
2018  14.2%
2017  14.5%
2016  14.9%
2015  15.3%


"Singles are disappearing, and I mean quickly. From the end of World War II up until 2015, singles occurred in 15-17% of plate appearances and about 21% of events on contact. The only four seasons in baseball history in which singles haven’t been above 15% of PAs are the last four. The last time singles accounted for fewer than 21% of events on contact was 1888 (20.8%). The number was 21% last year, and is 19.7% in 2019."