Friday, September 18, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 18, 2020 -- "The Playoff-Bound White Sox"

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 nearly 25 years.


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--
 
"Robert’s emergence has helped the White Sox become one of the best defensive teams in baseball, a key to their season so far. Only the Cardinals and Dodgers have a larger gap between their ERA and their FIP, indicating teams whose pitchers are getting, through some mix of luck and defense, better results than expected. During their rebuild, the Sox saw their Defensive Efficiency drop from third in MLB in 2017 to 21st last year. Now, no one is tracking DER in 2020, but we can use BABIP as a loose proxy; the Sox have jumped from 19th in BABIP allowed, .303, to fourth (.275)."
 
 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 15, 2020 -- "The Wrong Choice"

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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
"Craig Counsell doesn’t have to turn Josh Hader into 1986 Mark Eichhorn. On September 14, though, with the Brewers fighting for their season, with them holding a one-run lead in the last inning, with Hader having thrown 14 2/3 innings in 53 days, with the middle of the other team’s lineup up, he has to be able to call on the most dominant reliever we’ve ever seen to get three outs, even if he’d made the same request three hours prior."

Monday, September 14, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 14, 2020 -- "Around the League"

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 nearly 25 years.


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--
 
"It’s fair to not assign as much meaning to these last two weeks as we might to this type of finish in another year. However, if you put your blinders on and just enjoy it for what it is, the race for the NL playoffs should be entertaining, if not necessarily good. Nearly every day will feature multiple games between teams in this group, ones scrambling for 29 wins and the chance to assemble a two-game winning streak at the right time."

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 10, 2020 -- "Thinking Inside the Box, 29-9 Edition"

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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
"We can know that RBIs aren’t the best measure of a player while still staring in awe at a '9' in that column. There have been just 41 times in recorded baseball history that a player has driven in at least nine runs a game -- about once every three years or so. Duvall is the first since Mark Reynolds drove in ten for the Nationals a bit more than two seasons ago. He’s the second Brave to do so, tying Tony Cloninger’s team record set in the famous two-slam game in 1966."

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 9, 2020 -- "The Rays"

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 nearly 25 years.


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--
 
"The Rays have lost nearly an entire bullpen -- Jose Alvarado, Chaz Roe, Jalen Beeks, Oliver Drake, and Andrew Kittredge -- but have replenished the group on the fly with free talent pickups like John Curtiss (16/2 K/BB in 15 2/3 innings, free agent), Ryan Thompson (3.98 ERA in 18 appearances, Rule 5 pick), and Pete Fairbanks (2.41 ERA in 19 appearances, minor trade addition)."
 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 8, 2020 -- "September Worn"

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 nearly 25 years.


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--
 
"The Astros and Yankees have both seen injuries chip away at their short-season upside, and in recent days, have had some ugly bullpen collapses shake up the AL postseason standings. With the new postseason format, though, their true chances at a championship have barely moved at all. They’re both overwhelming favorites to make the playoffs, and once there will face the same daunting best-ofs math that all 16 teams will face. In their favor is that over the next few weeks, some of the best players in baseball -- and lesser, but still good ones -- will be returning to their regular roles in Houston and the Bronx."

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 5, 2002 -- "The White-Hot Dodgers"

 

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 nearly 25 years.


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--
 
"I’ve said a few times that the 2020 Dodgers might be the best team ever, and that the curtailed season will prevent us from seeing that idea come to fruition. All they can do is play the games they’re allowed to play, however, and their 30-10 start has put them in range of some of the best 60-game stretches in baseball history."
 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 3, 2020 -- "Tom Seaver, 1944-2020"

 

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 nearly 25 years.


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--
 
"There are some baseball greats on this list, but they played a different version of the sport than did Tom Terrific. Cy Young and Kid Nichols pitched the earliest parts of their careers from a distance of 50 feet to the plate. Only Lefty Grove pitched most of his career after the game changed to bring more power in after 1919. Seaver is clearly the best pitcher born in the 20th century -- taking that title from Warren Spahn along the way --  and given what we know about the evolution of baseball, that made him comfortably the best pitcher who had ever lived as of the 1980s."
 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, September 1, 2020 -- "The Trades"

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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
"The Indians, whether out of frugality or pique, traded a #2 starter with #1 upside for a grab bag of guys who might be three-win players if things go well. It’s not that there was no case for trading Clevinger; it’s that what they got in return simply isn’t good enough."

Monday, August 31, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 31, 2020 -- "Deadline Day"

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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
"There is some other stuff at work, though. Playoff rosters are going to be 28 men deep, and teams have just 40 men to play with. I’ve noted in some recent seasons that teams would sometimes have unreasonable pitcher/hitter splits in part because they couldn’t find 13 or 14 MLB-caliber hitters on their 40-man roster."

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 27, 2020 -- "AL 1, Chaos 0"

 

 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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
"The expanded playoffs did not do the league any favors, not that the Covid Round was invented with the regular season in mind. Without the expansion, you would have a fantastic three team race in the AL Central, with good AL East and West races, and the very real possibility that those injury-plagued powers in Houston and the Bronx would miss the playoffs entirely."
 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 25, 2020 -- "The Angels"

 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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
"My question is, where is this all going? The 2021 Angels look a lot like the 2020 Angels. Simmons can leave as a free agent, and Fletcher looks like a reasonable replacement for him. La Stella and Castro are also eligible to walk. The Angels will still owe Pujols and Upton $54 million between them, and are committed to $120 million to four guys before anyone else gets paid. Jo Adell will clearly be better than this, maybe Luis Rengifo takes the second-base job. I have no idea what Shohei Ohtani will be, but I would blindly bet 'injured' at this point and feel pretty good about my money. Their projected 2020 payroll was $184 million, and after a shortened season with no fans in the stands, that number isn’t going to rise."

Monday, August 24, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 24, 2020 -- "Fun With Numbers: Calvinball!"

 

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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
"Back-of-the-envelope math tells me that eventually around 20% of the 2020 baseball season will be played under Calvinball rules, maybe more. The Blue Jays have played 26 games, and nearly 40% of them have been non-standard. For the Phillies, it’s seven of 24; the Marlins, six of 22. The A’s are 5-0 in extra innings; the Jays are 3-5 -- eight ghost-runner-on-second games out of 26 total!  Just five National League teams are over .500 in games played under normal rules."

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 20, 2020 -- "More Pitch, Less Payoff"

 

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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
'Machado’s heroics notwithstanding, MLB hitters are hitting worse on 3-2 than in any season for which we have data, and the three worst seasons on record are the last three. Contrast that to the first years of the data set, when hitter performance in 3-2 counts was as good as it would ever be again. 1988, 1989, and 1990 rank 3-4-5 in tOPS+ by hitters in 3-2 counts for the 33 seasons under discussion."

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 18, 2020 -- "Tarik Skubal Day!"

 

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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
"As I keep saying, this isn’t the season to call the sample-size police. The Tigers are a game out of a playoff berth with 40 games left, and that’s the time to make the team as good as you possibly can and hope to get a little lucky. Maybe Isaac Paredes -- called up with Skubal and Mize -- can provide a desperately needed OBP boost. Maybe the much-improved defense is for real, with Jones in center every day, Jonathan Schoop at second, and Nicholas Castellanos in Cincinnati. There are reasons to believe, and in 2020, isn’t that enough for a fan base?"
 
 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 14, 2020 -- "The Brewers' Lost Moment"

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 nearly 25 years.


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--
 
"Ten months past that moment, the Brewers are 7-10, and they look every bit of it. The MVP is still around, if starting slowly. The star center fielder, the defensive anchor, has opted not to play through the pandemic any more. Hader is still doing what he does, but he’s pitched just four innings in 17 games, a testament to the Brewers’ lack of important moments thus far."

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 12, 2020 -- "Extra Innings"

 

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 nearly 25 years.

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--
 
"Entertainment value cannot be the only measure of an idea, even in a spectator sport. The integrity of the competition has to matter, and placing a runner on second to start innings in extras is deleterious to the integrity of the competition. We know this in part because MLB has said so itself: MLB will not use the rule in the postseason, because the league recognizes that it’s a gimmick unfit for deciding a championship."
 
 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 10, 2020 -- "Thinking Inside the Box"

 

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 nearly 25 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.

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--
 
 "If there’s a player in this era who might go on to be a Hall of Famer and still be underrated, it’s Acuña. He arrived during Peak Trout, and he may already be getting passed from behind by Fernando Tatis, Jr. He does just about everything on the field, although he’s more a right fielder than a center fielder defensively, and he may need to cut down his swing-and-miss at some point. He’ll play this whole season at 22 -- he’s about five months younger than Luis Robert -- and will start populating the lower reaches of those 'most WAR by age X' lists we spent the last decade making for Trout. In a baseball moment loaded with fun players, Acuña shouldn’t be overlooked."


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 6, 2020 -- "8.1 Seconds"

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 nearly 25 years.

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--

"From the moment Kenley Jansen started his motion, to the moment Will Smith swept a tag onto the back of Trent Grisham, the clock ticked 8.1 seconds. That’s a few sneezes. It’s the time it takes to remember where you left your water bottle. It’s the time it takes to have a fleeting thought about that one ex who never quite left your mind.

"It’s the time it takes to remind you that this is the greatest sport ever invented."

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 5, 2020 -- "Shohei Ohtani"

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 nearly 25 years.

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--

"Shohei Ohtani isn’t a two-way player. He hasn’t been since 2016, no matter how much he wants to be or how much fans want him to be. The effort to become a two-way player is ruining a career that could be so much more than it has been so far. There’s a MLB superstar within Ohtani, whose incredible athleticism is wasted in a bat-only role, but he’ll only ever realize it if he picks one side of the ball and sticks with it."


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 4, 2020 -- "A 2020 Perspective"

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 nearly 25 years.

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--

"We have to detach from our usual thinking. There is no small-sample-size police in 2020. Ten games? That’s 17% of the season, and more importantly, it leaves just 50 games to go. So much of the framing coming into the 60-game schedule looked at it as the first 60 games of a season. (Did you know the Nationals started 19-31 last year?) We’re in it now, though, and once you’re in it, it looks a lot more like the last 60 games of the season. Everyone started 51-51, go play ball."

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, August 2, 2020 -- "How Long?"

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 nearly 25 years.

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--

"Here’s the thing, though: MLB doesn’t care about the legitimacy of the 2020 season. The 2020 regular season can be anything so long as it runs long enough for MLB to put on a postseason tournament. That’s where the money is. Given what we’ve seen over the last week, it’s clear that the strategy is to hang on with both hands to whatever games can be played, set teams aside when they need to be set aside, and get to September 27 with 16 teams that can be broadcast on ESPN and Fox and TBS for the next month. The things that might tick off hardcore fans, traditionalist fans, baseball fans are rarely front of mind for MLB, and they don’t exist at all right now. Extra-inning fake doubles, big rosters, seven-inning games, letting stars walk away, making the schedule up in pencil every morning...MLB will do anything to just get through the next eight weeks."

Friday, July 31, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 31, 2020 -- "The Shape of the Game"

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 nearly 25 years.

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--

"Prior to 2015, we’d never had fewer than 70% of plate appearances end in a ball in play. We are rapidly heading for a game in which fewer than 60% of plate appearances do. Tell me all you want about exit velocity and spin rates and pitcher GIFs; that’s not a game that’s going to entertain people."

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 29, 2020 -- "Nate Pearson Arrives!"

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 nearly 25 years.

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--

"Pearson projects to be among the most watchable pitchers in the game. We’ve lost some of that in recent years of course, between the use of openers and the diminished workloads of even the game’s best starters. Pearson, though, can be in that latter category, can be Chris Sale or Max Scherzer, who even in their developmental years could make you stop what you were doing and just stare in awe. Pearson has that kind of stuff, so whatever the stat lines are between now and October, he’ll be at the top of any 'What I’m Watching' list every five or six days."

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 28, 2020 -- "It's Time"

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 nearly 25 years.

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--

"We have threats to health and safety, both to players and support staff. We have threats to the competitive integrity of the season. It is inevitable that there will be more of both as a thousand people fly around the country in a pandemic.

"It’s time for the league to cut its losses and call off the season."

Newsletter Excerpt, July 26, 2020 -- "Seasonish Preview 2020: AL Central"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"Dolan has had the absolute privilege of paying Francisco Lindor, a superstar and by all accounts a wonderful person, a tiny fraction of his market value for years. The entire point of operating a baseball team is to come up with players like Lindor and have them play for you for a long, long time. Dolan, with plenty of time to make that happen, and more money than Croesus, has not done so, and seems unlikely to ever do so. It will be a blow to the team, to the franchise, to the city when Lindor leaves or is traded, one cushioned only by the knowledge that this front office has, time and again, produced more young talent and more winning baseball teams, in spite of the owner."

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 25, 2020 -- "Seasonish Preview 2020: NL Central"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"I’ve been thinking a lot about that Josh Hader/Juan Soto confrontation last October. The Brewers were the darlings in that moment, pushing to Game Seven of the 2018 NLCS, making a spirited run to reach the playoffs without Yelich, going to D.C. and taking an early lead on Max Scherzer. It wasn’t likely that Soto would get to Hader, who is so hard for lefties to hit. Soto did, though, and the Nationals won that game, won 11 more, and now are champions. The Brewers’ moment seemed maybe to have passed them by. That changes a bit with playoff expansion, but I wonder if those two elimination games in ’18 and ’19 were where this story peaked."

Friday, July 24, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 24, 2020 -- "Seasonish Preview 2020: AL West"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"The Mariners, famously, have the longest streak in major pro sports without a playoff appearance, last making it in 2001. The playoff expansion is an invitation for them to change that by being more aggressive, but it’s not clear they will be. They could get needed reps for their best prospect, outfielder Jarred Kelenic, and possibly make the MLB team better, but they don’t appear set to do that."

Newsletter Excerpt, July 24, 2020 -- "Seasonish Preview 2020: NL West"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"The Delayed Season...helps them. The Diamondbacks are maybe the biggest winner of the new format, no longer having to catch the dynastic Dodgers to escape a one-game playoff upside. They go from one of many teams chasing a place in the Wild Card Game to standing in excellent position to win a best-of-three, what with Madison Bumgarner and Robbie Ray in their first two rotation slots."

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 23, 2020 -- "Seasonish Preview 2020: NL East"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"We’re going to learn how important Rendon was to this offense, as he’s taken his talents to Anaheim for the next seven years. This was a top-heavy offense a year ago, and it takes the field tonight without Rendon and now, without Juan Soto, who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and will be away from the team for a bit. Again, in context, this makes the Nationals very dependent on their top hitters -- Howie Kendrick, Trea Turner, and Victor Robles -- none of whom is a sure thing to be a well above average hitter. Not having Rendon only works if Soto is healthy, present, and raking."

Newsletter Excerpt, July 23, 2020 -- "Seasonish Preview 2020: AL East"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"The Rays will shine when balls are put in play against them. The projected starting outfield of Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, and Hunter Renfroe is easily the best defensive group in baseball. That’s two of the best center fielders in the game and a strong right fielder with a terrific arm. The Rays have toyed with five-man infield concepts in part because of the range Kiermaier and Margot have."

Monday, July 20, 2020

Joe Sheehan Newsletter, July 20, 2020 -- "2020 Seasonish Preview: Turn Your Brain Off"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

Saturday night I was sitting at home working on Sunday’s piece, when my Twitter feed starting making references to baseball games. There were real live baseball games between different teams that night, part of the exhibitions teams are allowed to play in the run-up to this week’s openers.

For most of the pandemic-caused delay to the start of the season, I have been fine. There were some moments where the absence of baseball tugged at me, most notably around Memorial Day and into those first unofficial days of summer, but I didn’t miss the game as much as I thought I would. I read, I did household projects, I learned about epidemiology, I wrote a bit. It wasn’t an offseason, and it wasn’t a sabbatical, but it also wasn’t the end of the world.

So my reaction to those innings I watched Saturday and then Sunday surprised me. It hit me. Rick Porcello and Michael King and Clint Frazier and O’Neil Cruz and Kyle Crick and all the other players I caught glimpses of in the background, they made me feel good. It felt like a normal summer Saturday night for a little while. Sure, you noticed the absence of fans, and the piped-in crowd noise, noticed just enough detail to remind you of the context in which these games are being played. But when I looked up from Excel, it was 2-2 with a runner on second, or a new pitcher was warming up, or Clint Frazier was circling the bases. I got a little lost in it, for just a few hours, got lost in exactly the way you’re supposed to get lost in baseball, before Rt and IFR replaced OBP and SLG in our daily life.

None of this felt real to me until this weekend. I didn’t think they’d get a season off the ground until just last week, and even then my opinion of them doing so was mixed, at best. Players are still opting out of the 2020 season, and others are testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, and others like Freddie Freeman and Eduardo Rodriguez are telling their stories of fighting off Covid-19.

Those scenes, though, those scenes of Citi Field and PNC Park, of Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field, of Aaron Judge and Francisco Lindor, they made it real. They don’t make the pandemic go away, even for a few hours, and they don’t answer the questions about whether these games should be played at all. They remind me, though, of what we gain when they are played.

I am grateful there will be real, meaningful baseball this week. I am a little scared that there will be real, meaningful baseball this week. Being a fan in 2020 is an exercise in cognitive dissonance, enjoying the sport while trying not to think of the risks being taken in a pandemic; not the games themselves, but everything that happens in the 21 hours between last pitch and first pitch, and the people, all the vectors, all the transmission risk. I’m still not sure the risks of those 21 hours outweigh the benefits of the other three, and the argument about that will go on. Fans, even die-hard ones who subscribe to baseball newsletters, are split on the issue. I’m split with myself on the issue.

For as long as this lasts, we all need to give each other a break, wherever we fall on the matter. Everyone is doing their best and dealing with the dissonance in their own way.

-


Watching some baseball while doing other things this weekend was a comforting, familiar feeling, but also an instructive one. Even though the games were the first competitive baseball since March, they were still exhibition games, and try as I might I wasn’t invested in the outcomes or the performances. The lineups and usage patterns were somewhat informative, as these games serve as some of the last remaining prep for the regular season. So Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both playing is information we can use. Eloy Jimenez batting second is interesting. Max Muncy back at first base for the Dodgers is good to see after he took a ball off his left ring finger. There will be eight games tonight we can glean more information from as well.

The thing is, there’s only so much we can learn. There’s never been a season like this. There have been short seasons, and seasons when players were asked to play after a layoff, and seasons when players were asked to play with very little prep time. We’ve never had all of those things in play at once, and surely never while asking players to learn entire new routines on the fly to stem the risk of catching a dangerous virus.

None of our models for looking ahead at a baseball season are attuned to the vagaries of what we’re going to see over 60 games in 2020. That can be a source of frustration, if you really want to win your fantasy league or just get things right in looking ahead. Me, though, I think it’s an opportunity to experience a baseball season in a new way.

Turn your brain off.

Forget everything you know about what a baseball season should look like, what wins and what doesn’t, who’s good and who isn’t. Forget strategies and tactics, forget probabilities and statistics, forget all of it.

We’ve had an awful, terrible, no-good year, with so many things taken away by the novel coronavirus. Kids didn’t get to have graduation ceremonies. Weddings were called off. Vacations, ballgames, even mundane things like happy hours and poker nights, gone. A hundred thousand people died alone, scared, in hospital beds, struggling for a next breath that would never come, hands unheld by a loved one. For Americans, you have to go back to World War II, or perhaps the Great Depression before that, to find a year filled with this much pain.

Let’s just enjoy some baseball. Enjoy the talent. Enjoy the competition. On Thursday night, the most highly-paid pitcher in baseball history will take on the reigning World Series winners. A few hours after that, one of the best teams ever assembled will try to salvage its 2020, maybe the only year it will all be together as planned. Come Friday, we’ll be able to watch Tim Anderson and Nolan Arenado; Ronald Acuña Jr. and Vladmir Guerrero Jr.; Jose Berrios will face Lucas Giolito, and the Rangers will christen their new ballpark.

Then we’ll do it all again Saturday.

A 60-game season defies analysis, so don’t do analysis. You can’t be the small-sample-size police when the whole season is a small sample size. The Mariners started 13-2 last year and I dismissed them; if a team starts 13-2 this year, they’ll be the favorite to win their division, no matter who they are. The Mets started 10-1 a few years ago. The Pirates were 12-7 three weeks into last season. Some team we think is bad, some team that may even be bad, is going to play well for a few weeks and look up on August 24 to find itself in first place a week away from the trade deadline. That’s a feature, not a bug.

Root for chaos. A .400 hitter? Pshaw, maybe someone hits .500. If the Mets put their shoulders into it, they could produce a 0-4 Cy Young Award winner in Jacob deGrom. Maybe three NL Central teams will finish 32-28 and require a playoff to get into the playoff to get into the playoffs.

There is simply no player or team performance that can be truly shocking over two months of baseball. We have to go into this not just accepting that, but embracing it. We have to pull this season out from the line of baseball history stretching back to the 1870s, and know that it will forever be the pandemic season, the exception, “that one year when....”

We have to turn our brains off, turn the games on, and just enjoy this for as long as it lasts. The three-batter rule, the universal DH, the migratory Blue Jays, the unbalanced schedule, the huge rosters, even the godforsaken extra-innings rule...just let it all go. It’s baseball.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 19, 2020 -- "2020 Seasonish Preview: 2019 Report Card"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"Pretty, Pretty Good

           Predicted     Actual

Giants       77-85       77-85
Cardinals    91-71       91-71
Orioles     53-109      54-108
Mets         85-77       86-76
Astros      108-54      107-55
Phillies     82-80       81-81


"That’s two teams exactly right, and four others within a single game, spread across the distribution. Throw in another eight teams I got right to within three wins, and I picked almost half the league to within that three-win margin. It wasn’t as if I was just getting lucky, either. Remember, I start by projecting runs scored and allowed, and then move to wins and losses from that, making adjustments -- mostly bullpen and manager -- along the way. I had those Cardinals outscoring their opponents by 102 runs; they outscored them by 107. I was within ten runs of accuracy for six teams, including the Rays and White Sox, where I was off by just three."

Friday, July 17, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 17, 2020 -- "What We've Lost, and the Dodgers"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

 "We’ll never know how good the Dodgers could have been, of course. Their depth won’t be tested over 60 games the way it would have been over 162, their edge over the field dulled by a shortened season. Even if they go 42-18 or something, it will never feel the way a 110-win season would feel."

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 15, 2020 -- "Escaping Into Fantasy"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"There has been a lot of fantasy analysis predicated on the idea that wins would be distributed strangely in this new season. I wonder if we’ve all underestimated how ready the top 50 or so starters might be for this campaign. I’ve moved up regular starters and moved down the middle relievers with vulture chances relative to two weeks ago. In general, though, I’m valuing hitters over pitchers because I’m projecting a lower run environment. I think there will be a lot of pitching value out there relative to hitting."

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 12, 2020 -- "A Big Moment"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"The thing about MLB’s plan is that it isn’t designed to keep players from catching SARS-CoV-2; it’s designed to keep them from spreading it. Individual players catching the virus and contracting Covid-19 aren’t enough to being the season down. The threat to the season is in breakouts, in events that wipe out a staff, a lineup, a roster."

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 9, 2020 -- "The Schedule"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"MLB seemed to prioritize creating a baseball schedule that looks normal above all else. If I showed you this schedule in February, you wouldn’t blink an eye, at least until you noticed the limited number of opponents. Teams play weekday series and then a weekend series, almost always ending in a Sunday day game. It’s not at all clear to me why this should have been emphasized, especially when it creates extra road trips. I mean, teams are playing ten road series where they could have played seven."

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 7, 2020 -- "The Speed of Change"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"At the time baseball was negotiating its return, we seemed to have the virus under control. Now that baseball is beginning to return, it’s clear we do not. At the time baseball was negotiating its return, its hogging of tests -- through its own lab, to be sure -- didn’t seem like a moral dilemma. Now that tests, test supplies, and lab capacities are being strained, it’s harder to defend MLB’s 7,000 or so tests a week, ad infinitum. At the time baseball was negotiating its return, we seemed like a nation in recovery, on the upswing. Now that 50,000 people a day are testing positive, we seem like one where the virus is still in control.

"The world in which baseball wrote its plan is far different than the world in which baseball is trying to execute its plan, so much so that it may render the plan moot."

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, July 2, 2020 -- "Coming Back From the Break"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"Setting aside all of the non-baseball issues in play, I think the game we get, at least in those first few weeks, could be hard to watch. Pitchers are likely to be ahead of the hitters, and that’s the last thing a sport already burdened with a lack of action needs. If the baseballs aren’t as lively as they’ve been in recent seasons, we could be talking about a run environment that looks like 1981 -- four runs per team per game -- without all the balls in play and base stealing and starting pitching that made ’81 fun."

Newsletter Excerpt, June 30, 2020 -- "For Entertainment Purposes Only"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"The Royals are 250-1 to win the World Series, and there’s just enough high-variance talent there -- Adalberto Mondesi, Salvador Perez off the knee injury, Jakob Junis -- for me to want a small piece of that. They could accidentally assemble a bullpen; righty Josh Staumont was turning heads before everything shut down. They just have to hang on for 60 games, and no one in that division overwhelms me."

Royals 100-1 to win AL Central
Royals 250-1 to win World Series

Monday, June 29, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, June 29, 2020 -- "Tigers, King?"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"There are competitive reasons to play your best young players this year. There are developmental reasons to play your best young players this year. There are business reasons to play your best young players this year. All three of those come together in Detroit, where  the Tigers are the team best positioned in all of baseball to turn an awful projected 2020 into something they and their fans will remember for a long time to come."

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, June 24, 2020 -- "Anti-Tank Weaponry"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"Losing that many games is a choice, to some extent. Teams can know in December that they don't have the talent to compete for a division title or a playoff berth over six months, and it affects their decisions. Slow this prospect down. Trade away this good-but-not-great veteran. Be careful with the use of young pitchers, valuing their future innings over their present ones. In a 60-game season, though, every team can compete. Every single one. Every front office can take a 'why not us?' attitude. A 60-game season is tanking-proof."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, June 23, 2020 -- "We're Back?"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

 "Talking to Louie Belina on KZNE earlier today, he was disappointed that I wasn’t more excited about yesterday’s developments. I’m a baseball guy and there’s now baseball on the horizon, so I should be happy. I’m ambivalent, however, largely because I don’t think the league will be able to play through a schedule and keep its players and staff healthy. There was a moment last week when every hour brought more news of athletes testing positive. The Phillies. The Orlando Pride. LSU, Clemson, Texas, and Boise State football. SARS-CoV-2 is present in our communities, and the only way to keep it from spreading is to keep people away from one another. The virus is in charge. It doesn’t care about your health and safety memos, or for that matter your television contracts."

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, June 16, 2020 -- "The Calendar"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

--

"Picture three sides here. The owners have regular season games and want playoff games to sell to their TV partners. The TV partners are willing to buy additional playoff games, but those games don’t all have equal value and they themselves have concerns about the length of the playoff calendar. The players have approval over additional playoff games and want as many regular-season games as possible.

"There’s no way to make all those parties happy any more."

Friday, June 5, 2020

Joe Sheehan Newsletter, June 5, 2020 -- "MLB vs. NBA, et al"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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The Joe Sheehan Newsletter
Vol. 12, No. 28
June 5, 2020

Sports stopped, depending on how strict you want to be, on March 11 or March 12. On March 11, Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, causing the NBA to first call off the team’s game in Oklahoma City that night, and shortly thereafter to suspend the season. The next day, there were MLB exhibition games played, but by the end of the day on the 12th, major U.S. team sports were done. Stopping on that day had disproportionate effects on the major U.S. leagues.

MLB is risking relegating itself to stepchild status compared to NFL, NBA

On that day, MLB had 2,430 games left in its season, plus the remainder of its preseason, plus the postseason, games that were scheduled over the next 7 1/2 months. The NBA had 259 games left, plus playoffs, games that were scheduled over approximately ten weeks, pending the length of the best-of-seven Finals. The NHL had 184 games remaining, plus playoffs, over approximately nine weeks. The NFL had no games scheduled until August 6, and no regular-season games scheduled until September 10 -- just shy of six months from the date the sports world shut down.

“The NHL is going to play. The NBA is on the road to figuring out a way to play.”

When sports shut down, most baseball players hadn’t received a paycheck since October. Some got playoff shares, many have endorsement income, but players are paid only a per diem in the spring. Their regular paychecks were a few weeks from kicking in. NBA players are paid on the first and 15th of the month during the season; players received their regular paychecks through April 15. A subsequent negotiation, triggered by force majeure clauses in the standard player contract, leaves open the possibility that NBA players could lose a quarter of their 2019-20 salaries with considerable notice beforehand. By any calculation, NBA players have received most of the compensation to which they were entitled for the current season. NHL players received their final three paychecks as scheduled. There is already an aggressive escrow structure in place to ensure a 50-50 revenue split.

Because teams in the two winter leagues had played most of their schedules, they'd banked arena revenue, national-TV money, local-TV money, and corporate sponsorship money for five months. There are contract clauses that put some of that local-TV money at risk, but by any account, the hit to the teams’ pocketbooks by the loss of late-season home dates is small. MLB teams, on the other hand, will lose almost all of their ballpark revenue and a significant part of their television revenue.

”Compare that with the NBA, where reports leaked Wednesday of a proposal for a resumption of play that would include eight regular-season games and a 22-team playoff.”

The NBA’s return plan leaves eight teams, well, not returning. It takes the remaining 22 and ensconces them in the Walt Disney Resort in Florida, where they will practice, play eight “regular season” games each -- a nod to the need to ramp up and a sop to teams with mathematical playoff chances -- and then launch into an expanded playoff format. From touchdown to return, the remaining season would take about three months; most players would be out of the “bubble” in six weeks. With 22 teams carrying 15 players each, that’s 330 players needed to finish the season, and just 60 of those in Orlando for more than two months.

The NHL’s return-to-play plan leaves seven teams on the outside looking in and does away with the regular season entirely in favor of expanded playoffs. Like the NBA, the NHL is using a bubble plan that will bring a maximum of 28 players per team to an as-yet-undetermined number of “bubble” cities, believed to be two to four. That’s 672 players, two-thirds of whom will be done maybe four weeks into this plan. Just more than 100 players will be around for longer than two months.

MLB looked into a “bubble” plan, playing out a modified schedule in Florida and Arizona, but the plan never got off the ground. It would have required at least 40 players per team, 1200 total, and probably more. (A 50-man eligible roster is currently under consideration.) Half a season plus expanded playoffs would have required three to four weeks of ramp-up, three months of regular-season play, and five weeks of playoffs. At minimum, those 1200 players would have been in the “bubble” for nearly four months, and some for up to five months. Needing more space for its games than basketball and hockey require, MLB’s bubble plans would have involved playing outdoors in Arizona and Florida nearly every day in July and August, an absurd notion on its face.

I appreciate the desire many people have to see baseball be played. The facile comparisons to the winter-sports leagues, however, are deceptive. They actively make people less informed about the challenges involved. It’s getting mad at your 11th-grader for taking a long time on his trigonometry homework by comparing him to your third-grader who has completed her multiplication tables already. It’s not apples and oranges; it’s apples and Volkswagens.

Using the return plans of the NBA and NHL -- and for that matter, dragging the NFL into the argument -- turns an accident of timing into a fault of character. SARS-CoV-2 jumped from animals to humans some time in late 2019 and reached American shores early in 2020. By March, it was spreading so widely that sports shut down. There was nothing MLB, the NBA, the NHL or the NFL could do about the timing; if the novel coronavirus reaches U.S. shores six months earlier or six months later, it’s the NFL and its indoor brethren facing the hard questions, while MLB would be free to leave a few hundred players behind and move to its playoffs.

Comparing the leagues in this moment is like blaming someone for not winning the lottery. The NBA, NHL, and NFL caught a break with the virus’s timing, and MLB didn’t.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, June 1, 2020 -- "The Counter-offer"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"Let’s say it’s true. Let’s say the game’s future popularity does depend on there being games played this summer. If so, who should carry the burden of making that happen: The group of wealthy men and companies who could be in the game for the next 20, 30, 40 years, or the group of young men who will largely be out of it in the next five?"

Friday, May 29, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, May 29, 2020 -- "Missing a Friend"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"It’s a hard moment, and in that moment I want to retreat to the comfort of a sixth inning, a highlight show, a page of box scores, a walk in the park with a game in my ears, an afternoon in the sun explaining tag plays to TWCFG, an argument about whether the guy hitting .337 is for real, or whether the superstar with four homers in two months is done."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, May 27, 2020 -- "The Proposal"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"More insidious, though, is the principle behind the plan. It’s asking Mike Trout to give money to Arte Moreno. Trout is rich; Moreno is wealthy. When Moreno had leverage, he paid Trout as little as he could. Now he’s asking Trout to give him back basically all the money Trout made in the first four years of his career."

Friday, May 22, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, May 22, 2020 -- "Bob Watson"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"In the history books, Bob Watson is a lion, a great player who went on to be a championship executive and a pioneer in the league office. To me, he was the guy who replaced my childhood favorite, took the job of the GM who’d saved my team, and orchestrated a trade that ended the career of my all-time favorite player."

Monday, May 18, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, May 18, 2020 -- "Sharing"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"Now, set aside for the moment the baseball reasons it did, covered here and elsewhere. If you believe in 'sharing' as a concept and not as a convenient hammer to wield in a downturn, would you not have found a way to shower some of that cash on the players? MLB treated the BAMtech money as wholly its own, pocketing the profits unshared. That example, from just the last few years, puts the lie to any claims that today’s pain should be shared."

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, May 12, 2020 -- "The Short Draft"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"Baseball, though, isn’t going to suffer for drafting five rounds in one season. The medium- and long-term effects on the talent base will be negligible. The players you care about the most emerge from the international market and the first round, and then the four rounds that follow. The players the game won’t draft this year will find their way into the system over the next few years. We’ll never know the difference."

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, May 6, 2020 -- "The Scheduling Conundrum"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"The problem MLB faces is that the longer it plays, the more it exposes itself to the virus and Covid-19. That risk, however it may be mitigated by the sunlight and heat of a summer, is expected to rise again in the fall and winter. The deeper into the calendar MLB pushes its playoffs, the more it risks having those playoffs never happen. The worst-case scenario for MLB isn’t not having a season; the worst-case scenario is playing a regular season and not getting to have the playoffs. The playoffs are where the money is, perhaps even more so if the shortened season leads to an expanded playoff format. The entire reason MLB and team owners want to have a season is to ensure the postseason TV revenues. ESPN and Fox and TBS air regular-season baseball as much out of obligation as anything else; what they pay for is playoff games."

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, April 23, 2020 -- "The $15 Challenge"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"The last 15 years, in which the question of whether Clemens did sports drugs during that limited period of time in which we decided to care about such things has kept him out of the Hall of Fame, have served to cloud the memory of how incredible he was for two decades. Clemens, like Barry Bonds, wasn’t particularly cuddly, and like Bonds he has some serious off-field markers against his character. On the field, though, he was the best pitcher who anyone alive has ever seen."

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Newsletter Excerpt, April 21, 2020 -- "The Inside Game"

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 nearly 25 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 $49.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"I enjoyed Keith’s first book, Smart Baseball, but my main problem with it was that there wasn’t enough Keith Law in the book. I’ve known Keith for two decades, and he’s a very funny writer with a sharp wit, wit that he largely set aside to present the ideas in Smart Baseball. In The Inside Game, Law throws more fastballs, and he throws more curves, making his points with generous dollops of the humor and even snark that have been big parts of his repertoire for decades."