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absintheofmalaise

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Just like ITP, we also welcome any and all questions. 
 
Is there something baseball related you'd like us to write about? 
 
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Let us know and we want to thank everyone for the great support that we've gotten!
 
 
 

BeantownIdaho

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Dec 5, 2005
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I have a question....what are your thoughts on converting Joe Kelly to a closer or an 8th inning guy similar to Andrew Miller? He seems to be pretty good in innings 1-3 before batters get a second look. He throws hard and seems to rack up a lot of strikeouts in the first couple innings. 
 

JesusQuintana

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BeantownIdaho said:
I have a question....what are your thoughts on converting Joe Kelly to a closer or an 8th inning guy similar to Andrew Miller? He seems to be pretty good in innings 1-3 before batters get a second look. He throws hard and seems to rack up a lot of strikeouts in the first couple innings. 
 
http://sonsofsamhorn.com/baseball/teams/al-east/boston-red-sox/send-joe-kelly-to-the-bullpen-not-so-fast/
 
Damian put this piece out last week with his opinion on the matter - has a very compelling argument that Kelly shouldn't be moved yet.
 

iayork

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BeantownIdaho said:
I have a question....what are your thoughts on converting Joe Kelly to a closer or an 8th inning guy similar to Andrew Miller? He seems to be pretty good in innings 1-3 before batters get a second look. He throws hard and seems to rack up a lot of strikeouts in the first couple innings. 
I agree with Damian's arguments.    If he doesn't improve his fastball location and secondary pitch quality, Kelly will be a mediocre reliever, which we already have a bunch of.  If he does improve his location and secondaries, he'd be such a good pitcher that he'd be wasted as a reliever.    
 
Basically, I think Kelly's potential ceiling as a starter is very high, and he hasn't had much chance to reach it yet. One of the tiny bright spots about this lost season is that there's no reason not to keep throwing Kelly out in the rotation, in the hope that something clicks.  Maybe there's only a 10-20% chance of that happening, but that's still a 10-20% chance of the Sox getting a genuine top-5-in-baseball ace; he really could be that good.
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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And Ian's piece from yesterday does a great job of breaking down what he needs to work on to be successful in any role: Locate his pitches better. He lights up the heart of the plate because he just doesn't seem to be able to command his pitches very well, especially when he's throwing really hard. The odds are certainly against him figuring it out, but that small chance is worth betting on since the chances his current offerings translate into a bullpen weapon probably aren't much higher.
 

benhogan

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Here is my query:
 
What do you think will be the going rate/length for Price, Cueto and Greinke this off-season?  Will we have enough payroll room for one of them (w/ Napoli, Vic, Masterson, Mujica coming off)? Should we chase them?
 
When you replace your worst starter with a top end starter, would that give you the greatest 'bang for your buck'?
 
Are there ancillary benefits of having an Ace, that aren't fully measured by the numbers?
 

Montana Fan

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Absinthe, I've long been interested in the catcher vs. the dugout calling pitches.  When Tek first came up Jimy and Kerrigan were calling the pitches from the dugout and eventually (after they left) Tek began calling the games himself.  I'd be interested in knowing how common it is for the pitches to be called from the dugout and which method, per the data, works better. 
 

Trautwein's Degree

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When will Xander start hitting for power? And when he does, how many home runs do you project for him?
 

OCD SS

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First, I would follow up to ask how the Sox's apparent aversion to large contracts for top end SP looks from standpoints of value and efficacy.

Secondly, would the changinging value of pitching vs offense (possibly because of the enlarged strike zone) in some way point to the Sox targeting FA position players with a more aggressive/ less disciplined approach (Crawford, Panda)? Does the shift in the game favoring pitching make offense that is more derived from batting average rather than patience more desirable?
 

Monbo Jumbo

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How should the Sox divide up the remaining 50 starts among the many starting pitching options, vets and kids, available?
 

The Tax Man

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Unsurprisingly, there's some absolute top notch questions here. We certainly intend to address every one of them. However, if anyone reading here hasn't written for us but is inspired to do so by a question here - please do. There's a lot of great writers on this board that would add a lot to our site. And don't worry we have top notch editors and an AV team to support you.  
 

Just a bit outside

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Why are some failed starting pitchers able to successfully move to the bullpen while others fail? Do the successful pitchers have a defining trait? I ask because I thought Barnes was a great candidate to be successful.
Also, is the Red Sox philosophy of making everyone a starter until they fail the best philosophy? Should they be grooming players as relievers?
Thanks.
 

Hee Sox Choi

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My question is about Blake Swihart.  Obviously, he was supposed to spend the year in AAA but got rushed to fill in for injuries.  Do you guys think that Swihart has raised, lowered or stayed on course for his 60FV that Fangraphs gave him.  And looking at each of his skills, do you feel that any are better/worse than last year's scouting report by Kiley McDaniels?
 
Hit 30/55
GamePower 30/50
RawPower 50/50+
Speed 45/45+
Field 45/50+
Throws 60/60
Future Value = 60
 
Have you seen anything that makes you worry about his future?  Have his ABs looked good and does he have a plan at the plate?  He's only 23, but there are other 23-year olds who are raking.  Will Swihart be an average bat or above-average?  In short, has anything changed from his 60FV rating?  Look into the future!  Thx!
 

Green Monster

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I would be interested in an analysis of the Red Sox Baseball Operations group and how they stack up against other organizations front offices.  To their credit they have assembled a top ranking farm system but it does not seem to have translated to the major league level yet.  Guys like JBJ, Barnes and to a lesser degree X and Castillo come up and struggle while other organizations have guys like Bryant, Gridchuk, and Pederson who seem to enjoy instant success.  Obviously age is a factor and some (X) do eventually figure it out.  Others like Chavis and Cechhini stall out and likely will never be contributors.  Are we just too close to the Red Sox and focused on the wrong things or is there a fundamental difference in the success of the Sox at developing their players once they get them in the organization?
 

fineyoungarm

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Green Monster said:
I would be interested in an analysis of the Red Sox Baseball Operations group and how they stack up against other organizations front offices.  To their credit they have assembled a top ranking farm system but it does not seem to have translated to the major league level yet.  Guys like JBJ and to a lesser degree X and Castillo come up and struggle while other organizations have guys like Bryant, Gridchuk, and Pederson who seem to enjoy instant success.  Are we just too close to the Red Sox and focused on the wrong things or is there a fundamental difference in how the Sox are developing their players once they get them in the organization?
It is often said and written by various sources, but have the Red Sox truly assembled a top ranking farm system? (That is NOT a swipe at you Green Monster). Or has that been stated so often that it is accepted as true?
 
Is there or should there be an accepted definition or standard for a top ranking farm system?  For example, should a top drawer system be expected to produce a top drawer starter or closer every X number of years or so?
 
Is there any history of franchises having excellent farm systems, yet producing major league teams that consistently finish in last (or close to) last place, which arguably is the case with the Red Sox? If so, has history shown that these teams have mishandled their young talent at the major league level and/or made imprudent trades with that talent? Otherwise stated, what is thought about whether ther Red Sx FO has simultaneously built a strong farm system and then depleted it in ill guided attempts to field superior major league teams?
 
Of course, I am aware of the world championships. The question is driven by the performance of the flagship team from 2012 through 2015 (throw in 2011 if you wish). Except for the outlier of 2013, it has been dreadful. In 2012 the team was decimated by injuries. That has not been the case in 2014 and 2015.
 

jon abbey

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fineyoungarm said:
It is often said and written by various sources, but have the Red Sox truly assembled a top ranking farm system? (That is NOT a swipe at you Green Monster). Or has that been stated so often that it is accepted as true?
 
Is there or should there be an accepted definition or standard for a top ranking farm system?  For example, should a top drawer system be expected to produce a top drawer starter or closer every X number of years or so?
 
 
This is along the lines of the question I've been trying to form...

Obviously the two teams I follow most closely are the Yankees and then the Sox, but it feels to me like maybe the way farm systems are ranked needs to be re-evaluated at least a bit as the game continues to change. NY came into this year with maybe 10-15 guys in AA and AAA combined who had a good chance to help in the MLB bullpen at some point, most of whom seem to throw 95+. A good number of these have actually come up and helped at times, but despite this immediate impact, I feel like farm system rankings completely ignore (or almost complete ignore) players like this, when especially in bulk they can be a major asset to an organization. 

Still not totally happy with how that's phrased, but maybe it can be shoehorned in with fya's question if you get to that one. 
 

iayork

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Green Monster said:
I would be interested in an analysis of the Red Sox Baseball Operations group and how they stack up against other organizations front offices.  To their credit they have assembled a top ranking farm system but it does not seem to have translated to the major league level yet.  Guys like JBJ, Barnes and to a lesser degree X and Castillo come up and struggle while other organizations have guys like Bryant, Gridchuk, and Pederson who seem to enjoy instant success.  Obviously age is a factor and some (X) do eventually figure it out.  Others like Chavis and Cechhini stall out and likely will never be contributors.  Are we just too close to the Red Sox and focused on the wrong things or is there a fundamental difference in the success of the Sox at developing their players once they get them in the organization?
 
This is a great question.  One article that touches on this is Are Rookies Having a Harder Time? Farrell and a couple others in the organization had suggested that it's harder than ever for rookies to break in to the majors, but we didn't see signs of that in the majors overall; there are fluctuations year to year, but we concluded that "It is true that the top prospects who broke into baseball in 2014 (Oscar Taveras, Javier Baez, Xander Bogaerts, and Gregory Polanco) were relatively disappointing in their debut. But the bulk of rookies that year, and top prospects over the previous years, performed pretty much to historical expectations."
 
So yeah, the question of whether this is a Sox-specific point of failure is a great one.  It's not an easy one to answer; the lazy way would be just to list the various rookie debuts, but the interesting question would be to identify objective factors that are or are not different from other teams that could be contributing factors.  We should definitely work on it, though.
 

fineyoungarm

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jon abbey said:
 
This is along the lines of the question I've been trying to form...

Obviously the two teams I follow most closely are the Yankees and then the Sox, but it feels to me like maybe the way farm systems are ranked needs to be re-evaluated at least a bit as the game continues to change. NY came into this year with maybe 10-15 guys in AA and AAA combined who had a good chance to help in the MLB bullpen at some point, most of whom seem to throw 95+. A good number of these have actually come up and helped at times, but despite this immediate impact, I feel like farm system rankings completely ignore (or almost complete ignore) players like this, when especially in bulk they can be a major asset to an organization. 

Still not totally happy with how that's phrased, but maybe it can be shoehorned in with fya's question if you get to that one. 
If? 
 
I read my post and thought "bleh", but couldn't come up with anything better. 
 
Have any of the status gurus applied their massive brains to quantifying minor league system quality and success? If not, I wonder why.
Too  much subjectivity? OTOH it would seem that draft place rankings could certainly be factored in to some sort of an approach.
 
BTW, through high school I routinely pulled "gentleman's C's" in math and dropped all such courses like a hot potato at the college level. So, the idea that I might happen on an idea helpful to such a system is nonsense.
 

Schnerres

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How hard is baseball?
 
^1) Meaning, what do you do in spring training, what are the contents in training (time, tactics, drills examples for several positions, coordinations), what do you do in training after the season started (or is this just the pitching sessions for pitchers and getting physical regeneration for position players), etc.?
 
^2) How would a game compare to other sports (say basketball, a football/soccer match, a 10.000m race, or smth else that takes about the same time)? The psychological factor seems to be much bigger for several players/positions than for other positions (say LF compared to pitcher) and compared to other sports, where you are much more involved, no matter where you play (i say this as a football/soccer player+coach, where you obviously have to be aware in many situations, but you also have to run around the entire match to adapt to the situation - an OF may have 2-5 actions in a game? I really don´t know.)
 
^3) There are so many games, how do players see this?
If I had a match, my body (not the entire body, but either the ankle, calves, thighs, groin or just some part of the legs) hurt quite a few times for 1-2 days after matches until i trained again 2-3 days later. Of course, it is said that some players (for example Dustin Pedroia, Hanley, Buchholz,..) are made bound for the DL, but what are they saying about playing each day (or 162 times in 180 days)? I don´t think there are that many sports where such schedules are planned.
 
 
Edit: I´m no baseball player, I´ve never played baseball in a team, so please forgive the weird question.
 

Trautwein's Degree

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Why aren't the Red Sox as consistently as good as the Cardinals? What do the Cardinals do differently/better than the Red Sox?
 

WenZink

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Why don't the Red Sox have any coherent plan for building and reloading a bullpen from year to year?
 
I agree with the principle that's it's a bad use of resources to sign a FA reliever on a big money, long-term deal.   But bringing in a grab-bag of candidates, every year is a crap shoot.  For every Koji Uehara, you're going to get a Bobby Jenks and an Andrew Bailey.  And if you sign an Edward Mujica, it takes you 3 months just to realize he was available for a good reason.  So the obvious solution is that you develop relief pitchers in your system.  From 2005 to 2010, the Sox had Papelbon, Delcarmen, Bard and Masterson and then Tazawa.  Sure, outside of Papelbon and Taz, some two year wonders in that group, but what relief pitchers from the Sox system have contributed since then?  Workman, maybe, pending his recovery.  Barnes is a "maybe," as well, and Pat Light, perhaps, if he can get his walks down.
 
Is it that hard to identify kids in the low minors that are unlikely to ever develop into MLB starters, and just simplify their arsenal, avoid most of their mechanics' issues by having them just pitch from the stretch, and then fast-track them to the majors as relievers?  Is it really that hard to do?  Reportedly, the Sox spend more than most on Minor League instruction and coaching.  Very little of it, apparently, is spent on looking for quality relief pitching candidates, (as opposed to manning the relief roles with organizational filler.)
 
(props to Buzzkill Pauley for raising the issue in the Adopt-a-Prospect/Trey Ball thread [-- although he wasn't yet writing off Ball, specifically.])
 

kieckeredinthehead

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rembrat said:
Am I crazy for wanting to give Travis Shaw at least 300PA just to see what he can do at this level? He's gotten 40 so far and the returns have been incredible. I know SSS and all but his ABs have looked solid and he is hitting ropes.
 
iayork's done some good stuff looking at aging curves; I'm wondering if the same can be done with learning curves. We've seen time and time again with rookies coming up to the big leagues that there seems to be a burning in period where the league is adjusting, figuring out their holes. After some time (a month? two months? a season?), pitchers find the holes and hitter performance begins to drop off. I assume that the response time to finding the holes is variable (Mookie's was relatively short; Xander's was extended, we'll see what happens with JBJ). Nevertheless, is the pitcher adjustment period detectable? How long does it take for MLB pitchers to figure out how to work rookie hitters?
 
edit: thinking about it more, there's probably two ways to go about it. First, just look at a time series of hitter performance after first entering the majors; second, though, you could classify different pitch combinations (type and location) with a PCA or something and see if there's a temporal component there, too. 
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Trautwein's Degree said:
Why aren't the Red Sox as consistently as good as the Cardinals? What do the Cardinals do differently/better than the Red Sox?
 
Along these lines, I have been thinking lately that measuring players against their competition is far better than just measuring events.  For example, the oft-cited statistic that JBJ's first 20 AB came against elite pitchers.
 
Also, the fact that the Cardinals play against (I would presume) crappier competition than the Red Sox over the past 10 years.

Has there been any work done along these lines or am I just barking up the wrong tree?
 

absintheofmalaise

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Montana Fan said:
Absinthe, I've long been interested in the catcher vs. the dugout calling pitches.  When Tek first came up Jimy and Kerrigan were calling the pitches from the dugout and eventually (after they left) Tek began calling the games himself.  I'd be interested in knowing how common it is for the pitches to be called from the dugout and which method, per the data, works better. 
I already sent Montana Fan a PM regarding this question, but I wanted to let everyone else know as well. 
 
I did some research to see which managers/coaches called pitches from the dug out and except for Scioscia, I couldn't find the data necessary to do research to see which approach does work better. if anyone has a source, please share it with me and I'[ll see what we can come up with.
 
And please keep the questions coming. We might not be able to get around to all of them before the end of the season, but we'll answer them in the off-season.
 

iayork

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kieckeredinthehead said:
Is FIP/xFIP less predictive of ERA as it gets higher?
Looks like they line up pretty well, at least this year.  What's the rationale for wondering? Maybe I'm looking at the wrong subset or something.
 

kieckeredinthehead

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If you strike every batter out, your FIP and ERA are going to be very similar. If you don't strike anybody out, you're completely at the whims of BABIP which, while stable over large samples, could lead to higher variance for individual pitchers. Just a thought about building a rotation around a bunch of guys whose peripherals predict ~4.5 ERA but whose performance has been much worse. Another thing to note is that the slope on both of those lines appears to be less than one, which might suggest that the relationship is non linear or that the FIP constant needs to be adjusted?
 

Danny_Darwin

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Has there ever been any research done about the different methods of breaking a pitcher into the majors? Specifically, I am wondering about breaking them in as relievers at the MLB level vs keeping them in a minor league rotation until a spot opens up. Not to keep harping on the Cardinals thing, but I recall Martinez, Lynn, and Wainwright all relieved for the Cardinals before switching back to starting, and other star pitchers like Price and Santana spent some time in the MLB pen as well in their early years. Are these outliers, or is this the better way for teams to go?
 

Rasputin

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It might be interesting to have a few different posters with different perspectives write up a little something on their blueprint for getting back to the world series.
 

Redkluzu

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I really can't see pitches when I watch on TV--I mean I can SEE them but I can't tell what they are. I would love for someone to give really simple, clear, and non technical clues to how to spot and decide what pitch was pitched. Am I asking for the impossible?
 

absintheofmalaise

too many flowers
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Redkluzu said:
I really can't see pitches when I watch on TV--I mean I can SEE them but I can't tell what they are. I would love for someone to give really simple, clear, and non technical clues to how to spot and decide what pitch was pitched. Am I asking for the impossible?
No you aren't. Remy is actually pretty good about telling us what was thrown judging by the speed, spin and movement. NESN is also good about showing the grips in the replays. I'll see what we can do, but in the mean time, these pitching primers might help.
 

alwyn96

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What does a day in the life of a hitting or pitching coach look like? How do they spend their time?
 

Idabomb333

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I've seen it stated as obvious fact several times that Hanley's problem in LF is reading and/or reacting to fly balls. I'm sure that's true, but how do we know that is his problem? Is it just that the people saying that know much more than I do about the eye test for defense? (Again, I'm sure that is at least part of it.) Is there UZR or statcast data, etc., to support that? What else is there to LF defense that we think Hanley is OK or good at? What would it look like if an LF were average at reading and reacting to fly balls, but terrible at defense over all? Or the other way around.

Part of what I'm getting at is it seems to me as a relatively casual fan that Hanley's problem is about 90% of LF defense, so maybe it isn't particularly meaningful to say that it's his problem. Maybe it suffices to say he is terrible at LF defense?
 

richgedman'sghost

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This is not really a deep question but I have not seen this addressed anywhere. While John Farrell is away and Torey is running the team who gets credit for the wins/losses? Is it up to the individual team to decide? The Elias
Sports Bureau?
 
Dec 13, 2013
390
Rasputin said:
It might be interesting to have a few different posters with different perspectives write up a little something on their blueprint for getting back to the world series.
 
This would be awesome. Like a magazine article with columns and a different perspective in each one. Have knowledgeable representative posters from different schools of thought put together a little "mock offseason" with explanations, then present them side-by-side.
 

benhogan

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Projecting before the Projection Services...I'd like to see someone project what our end of the season roster will project out in 2016 before Fangraphs, Steamer, Zips, etc. release their numbers.  Then when the Services come out with their projections do a comparison.
 
thanks
 

leftfieldlegacy

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When watching games where a pitcher gets through the first 2 or 3 innings before allowing any base runners, the announcers often say something to the effect of "let's see how he does now that he has to pitch from the stretch".
 
Are there statistics that are kept for starting pitchers that separate their performance while pitching from a wind up vs. pitching from the stretch?
 
 

iayork

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leftfieldlegacy said:
When watching games where a pitcher gets through the first 2 or 3 innings before allowing any base runners, the announcers often say something to the effect of "let's see how he does now that he has to pitch from the stretch".
 
Are there statistics that are kept for starting pitchers that separate their performance while pitching from a wind up vs. pitching from the stretch?
 
It's certainly possible to separate pitching with bases empty, runners on first, second, first and second, etc., so for starters it's possible to be pretty accurate about stretches and windups.  
 
It's harder to pull apart the stretch from other issues.  For example, pitchers are more likely to give up hits to the best batters, duh, and lineups tend to cluster their best hitters together, also duh, so giving up one hit may mean you're just facing the run of good hitters and are already more likely to give up more.  You'd also need to control for pitch count (a pitcher who gives up a hit on his tenth pitch of the game isn't necessarily identical to the one who gives up a hit on his 80th).  
 
That said, it should be possible to separate out groups of pitchers in similar situations and still get reasonable sample sizes.  
 

steeplechase3k

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Does the amount of foul ground at a ballpark have any effect on the game?  That is, does a park with very little foul ground (like Fenway) benefit Pitchers over hitters?  What about the stadiums with tons of foul ground like Oakland?
 
This was something I contemplated trying to research about a decade ago when I was active in SABR but at the time it would have been much harder to come up with detailed maps of the stadiums showing the amount of foul ground.
 
I assume the effect is negligible and lost in statistical uncertainty, but it is something I've contemplated.
 

absintheofmalaise

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The more foul ground there is the more the park favors the pitchers generally. Especially in the infield and behind home. I'm not sure how many more outs that averages to per game.
 

iayork

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Rasputin said:
Are there plans for a podcast like Inside the Pylon?
 
Yeah, I'm going to hold up charts against the microphone.  It'll be compelling.
 

geoduck no quahog

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Are left-handed hitters a declining return on investment because of shifts?

A right-handed batter faces an infield with the 1st baseman anchored around the bag. If there's someone on, the defense is almost literally anchored to the bag. This leaves the traditional holes around the infield that can't be plugged by an extreme shift.

A left-handed pull hitter now faces an over-loaded right side of the infield. The right-handed pull hitter will never face an over-loaded left side because of the hole between 1st and 2nd.

I'm curious if there's any method of determining a possible trend.
 

derekson

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Are left-handed hitters a declining return on investment because of shifts?

A right-handed batter faces an infield with the 1st baseman anchored around the bag. If there's someone on, the defense is almost literally anchored to the bag. This leaves the traditional holes around the infield that can't be plugged by an extreme shift.

A left-handed pull hitter now faces an over-loaded right side of the infield. The right-handed pull hitter will never face an over-loaded left side because of the hole between 1st and 2nd.

I'm curious if there's any method of determining a possible trend.
Teams can and do use over shifts with 3 guys on the left side against pull-heavy right-handed batters. It isn't as common as it is against lefties, but it isn't nonexistent either.

Here's an image I found quickly of the Astros shifting against Franklin Gutierrez in April 2013: