Jacob deGrom in Binghamton

As I write this, Jacob deGrom is having an historic pitching season for the Mets. He just got hurt again, and we’ll see to what extent he can bounce back. But it got me to thinking about seeing him in Binghamton with the B-Mets. I was surprised to see that he pitched only ten games for them in 2013. I thought he had been there longer. He didn’t do that great. He was 2-5 with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.483 WHIP. He was called up to AAA around mid-season and put up similar numbers. I thought I must have some pictures of him in Bingo, but I think that was just before I started bringing my camera to the park. I do have scoresheets, though, and they’re fun to look at after eight years. I saw three of his ten starts.

The first was an early outing against Brandon Workman. Ticket prices were reduced, because of a low temperature that morning, maybe below 40 degrees at 9 a.m. deGrom was a hard-luck loser. He allowed only three hits over eight innings, but gave up a run in the fourth, when Xander Bogaerts doubled and scored on a sac fly. The B-Mets offense provided absolutely zero run support. Getting the save for the Sea Dogs was Chris Martin, who is having a fine 2021 ABL season for the Titusville Perfectos. The scorebook notes that Skibby Bomysoad was at this game.

The second game I saw was against the Harrisburg Senators later in April. deGrom got touched up in this one, and gave up four earned runs in 5-2/3 IP. Anthony Rendon was 2-for-3 against him with a run and an RBI. This game stands out because the B-Mets were NO-HIT. (Possibly the first I’d ever witnessed live.) It was a combined no-hitter, with Paul Demny pitching the first eight innings. (Demny never made it to the bigs.) Also noted in the scorebook is that this was the 3,000th game played by the B-Mets, who started in 1992. Commish was at this game.

Game three was another matchup against Portland, the AA team of the Red Sox. deGrom had a good outing, pitching six innings and giving up only one earned run. He still couldn’t get Xander Bogaerts out! It was an exciting, back-and-forth game that ended with a walk-off wild pitch. The scorebook indicates that I was amused about the local super-fan whiffing on a foul ball, despite wearing a glove. He was a guy from work who came to all the games.

It was fun to look back at the old scorebook. I only wish I had a picture of deGrom as a B-Met.

Plate Appearance Outcomes Over the Years

We know that the three true outcomes have been increasing in recent years, but I’ve never seen a good graphical representation of it. I’ve been wanting to examine this data for a while—a conversation with a friend last night spurred me on to do it.

The goal was to track the outcomes of plate appearances over the years, categorized into plays that involve ball-bat contact and those that don’t. The greenish areas in the chart are the “contact” plays, and the reddish areas are the non-contact outcomes. The major takeaway for me is that, over the last 75 years or so, strikeouts have increased by about the same amount that in-play outs have decreased. (In-play outs are balls in play that are not hits, or, in other words, outs that are not strikeouts.)

I was surprised that the decrease in contact plays overall has not caused a proportionate decrease in the percentage of hits. The percentage of hits (singles, doubles, triples, and home runs) has stayed remarkably constant from 1940-2019, never going outside the range of 22-24%!

Likewise, the percentage of walks has been more consistent than I expected. It has been within the 7-10% range since 1936. Also, there’s no clear recent trend in walk percentage, unlike the case for strikeouts.

Although recent home-run percentages (2.7% for 2010-2019) are higher compared to the 1980s (1.9%), they aren’t that different from the “steroid era” (2.5% for 1990-2009) or the 1950s (2.4%).

One way to look at it is to say that the contact plays (green) are “exciting,” while the non-contact plays (red) are “boring.” By that measure, in 1973 (when I started following baseball) 76.7% of plate appearances were “exciting.” In 2019 that figure had dropped to 67.3%, so one could say that the game is only 88% as exciting now compared to when I starting following it.

By the way, this is just a presentation of the data. I’m not getting into the reasons for why the percentages have changed.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • The raw data is from the excellent Baseball Reference site.
  • I chose the National League because it’s the longest continuous league. Excluding the American League avoids effects of the Designated Hitter.
  • I excluded the 2020 season because of the relatively small number of games and because of the DH in the NL.
  • The “other” category collects outcomes like catcher’s interference.
  • Reaching base on an error is included in the “in-play outs” category, because such a play is officially scored as an out for the batter (but for the error).
  • The home-run statistics include inside-the-park home runs. They are very rare today, but they accounted for about 35% of home runs in 1901.
  • Statistics for sacrifice hits were not recorded prior to 1894, and sacrifice flies were not always in the scoring rules. No matter—they should all be counted in the “in-play outs” category.
  • Prior to 1889, more than four balls constituted a walk.

2021 Power Rankings

Pre-Draft value sums the positive values of all signed and presumptive players. 

Post-Draft values are for the eight best position players at all positions, plus the next two best position players, plus five starters, plus four relievers, including one closer. Negative values are used as well as positive values. Replacement levels are recalculated after the draft.

Baseball in Stockholm

The worst thing about going abroad during baseball season is missing baseball. So when I had to go to Sweden on business, I had resigned myself to a break from baseball. The weather in Stockholm was crap anyway. But I did a little search for the hell of it and found that there’s an active Baseball and Softball Association, and that there was a “match” scheduled for Saturday in the top division, the Elitserien. Well, the rain was coming down pretty good Saturday morning, so I figured it would be rained out for sure. Then I checked the web site, and the game was on, as evidenced by live scoring. So I ran to the subway and took the number 17 to Skarpnäck, a suburb south of town. There’s a big public sport park (idrottsplats) with football fields, tennis courts, a baseball field, and a softball field.

I got there during the fourth inning with Stockholm leading 1-0. They were playing Sölvesborg from Blekinge in the south of Sweden. The rain had recently stopped, and the field was in quite good shape. It was a nicely manicured field with an outfield fence (didn’t notice any distances) and a chain-link backstop. They even had lights, but the guy said they weren’t very powerful. The dugouts were rather improvised, but there was a nice set of bleachers behind home plate, as well as a little press box where the guys were scoing the game on the internet. I asked them for a roster, but they didn’t have any spare copies. They had a speaker set up in the bleachers, which they used to announce the batters and even play walk-up music for the home team. (Unlike in Binghamton, the volume was tolerable.) Of course, they played TMOTTBG during the seventh-inning stretch. Not surprisingly, no one was singing. It is Sweden, after all.

There were about a dozen folks in the stands for the whole game, and a few others wandered by to watch from time to time. I talked to one guy who was wearing a Stockholm team jacket and cap. He told me about the Stockholm club, which has quite a few teams: seniors, juniors, cadets, and a few more kids’ teams. Saturday was a double header for the senior team, and they had some of the kids’ games scheduled for Sunday. All the Stockholm players are native Swedes, but the manager is an American guy named Trevor Rooper. (Nope, he’s not in baseball-reference!) Most of the guys looked like they were in their teens and 20s, but there were a few older guys too. There was a girls softball game going on next to the baseball field, but their game was over by the time I wandered over for a closer look.

I talked to a group of folks watching their first game. They live in the area and walk by the sports fields all the time, but this was their first time checking it out up close. I had to explain a sac fly and an intentional walk. They asked me to let them know when they should root on their team!

The level of play was probably a bit below high-school level. There was not much solid contact. Saw lots of weak ground balls and strikeouts. The pitching was much better, however, at least in terms of control. I think I saw only two walks. It looked like mostly BP-type fastballs, but I did see Stockholm’s pitcher throw a couple of off-speed pitches. Fielding was hit-and-miss. I really noticed it during the throws. Not much zip at all. I think even I could have stolen second off the catchers!

The equipment looked top-notch. No names on the back, but a few of the Stockholm guys had a URL (www.frozenrope.se), which was a baseball supply store that looks to have gone under since. I was surprised that they used wooden bats. Not many balls were fouled out of play (lack of contact), and they did not spark frenzied scrambles as in the States. One of the kids would just retrieve it and give it back. Two umps worked the game. Everything I heard them call was in English.

The final was 2-0 Stockholm, which was an unusually low-scoring game. [BOX SCORE] I had to leave after the first game, but Stockholm took the second game 20-5. Mercy rule. Stockholm is the best team in the country. They’ve won something like four of the last five national club championships.

So, who knows, maybe baseball in Sweden is where golf was 30 years ago. They’ve got a long way to go before they can think about the World Baseball Classic, but you never know.

Spam

This spam comment made me LOL.

of course like your website however you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth however I will surely come back again.

2012 ABL Draft: TV Picks

Round/Overall

 1/  7  Andrew McCutchen CF
 2/ 17  David Freese 3B
 3/ 27  Alex Avila C
 4/ 33  Vance Worley SP/RP
 4/ 37  David Hernandez RP
 5/ 47  Joe Smith RP
 6/ 57  Jim Johnson RP
 7/ 67  Nelson Cruz RF/LF
 8/ 77  Daniel Descalso 3B/SS/2B
 9/ 87  Adam Jones CF
10/ 97  Carlos Villanueva SP/RP
11/107  Marc Rzepczynski RP
12/117  Wilson Betemit 3B/1B
13/127  Alexi Casilla 2B/SS
14/137  Will Venable LF/CF/RF
15/147  Yoshinori Tateyama RP

Just missed out getting Ellsbury in the first round. Didn’t really need a catcher, but Avila too good to pass up in third round. Stocked up on relievers early, because that’s where the value was this draft. Late bargains: Adam Jones & Betemit.