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.
I had a random thought about the differences between minor leagues in terms of being hitter-friendly or pitcher-friendly. I’ve often read qualifications of individual performances, for example, “he’s hitting well, especially since that’s a pitchers’ league,” or “his ERA is not bad, considering that he’s in a hitter-friendly league.” So I decided to go to the stats. I chose to compute the averages of the last five complete regular seasons, 2013-2017. But which stats to use? Runs per game? ERA? Batting average? I decided to compile OPS and ERA as the measurements for hitting and pitching, respectively. I knew that the two would be highly correlated, and that was indeed the case. I really didn’t see anything interesting by considering both stats together, so I simply sorted the leagues by OPS. The data appears in the table below.
I was surprised to see the huge difference between the top and the bottom: 126 points of OPS, 1.59 earned runs! The next surprise was that the leagues don’t cluster much by level. The Rookie leagues are all over the map.
I had a few ideas to explain the differences, then the Commish suggested a few others. Here’s a list of possible explanations.
Elevation. The Pioneer and Pacific Coast Leagues parks are generally at higher elevations, which helps the hitters.
Big Spring Training Parks. The Florida State League teams play in the Spring Training parks, which are big. The same probably goes for the Gulf Coast League, even though those are back fields.
Wood Bats. Hitters in the Short-Season A leagues may be at a disadvantage, because some of the hitters are using wood bats regularly for the first time.
Windy Florida. Maybe windy conditions are tough on the hitters in the Florida State League and GCL.
Recently a Binghamton Mets fan commented that AA is a high level of ball for a community the size of Binghamton. Is that true? Let’s take a look at the populations of the metro areas in the Eastern League. The whole metro-area thing is not an exact science, but I think most of the EL cities are reasonably represented. I used a list on Wikipedia that has 2012 population figures. New Hampshire is represented by Manchester, and New Britain is represented by Hartford. The only real choice for Bowie is Washington. Bowie is a bit of an anomaly in the Eastern League, as it’s the only location that very close to an MLB city. The metro-area populations are shown in the chart below. Bowie is not included, because Washington’s nine million population is off the charts.
I’m surprised that New Britain/Hartford is the largest (apart from Bowie/DC). Anyway, the fan was correct: only Altoona has a lower population than Binghamton. I’ve been to Altoona, and not only is it fairly small, but it’s also pretty isolated. I can’t imagine that many people make the trek from Pittsburgh or State College. It’s a fairly new site for organized baseball (1999), and their attendance is relatively strong. Well done, Altoona!
Speaking of attendance, the average EL 2014 home attendance is shown in the chart below.
Binghamton’s place in the cellar may play a large role in the possible demise of the franchise, but it’s been fun while it’s lasted!
Commish & I were discussing the standards for official scorers giving errors. Should the same standard be applied regardless of the level, or should the standards be higher at the higher levels?
Commish made the excellent point that throwing errors (especially to first) are going to be automatic and are not really subject to any subjective standard. Since these types of errors are obviously made more frequently at the lower levels, we expect the number of errors to go up as the level goes down.
So, I can’t answer my original question with stats, but I still thought it would be interesting to look at the fielding percentages at the different levels of OB. I used 2013 stats and excluded leagues south of the border.
The trend is clear. Actually, it’s clearer than I expected! When you get down to A ball, errors are twice as likely compared to the Bigs.
When a runner tries to advance after the ball gets away from the catcher, and it’s not ruled a Wild Pitch, two things can happen. If the runner advances safely, the catcher is charged with a Passed Ball. If the runner is thrown out it’s simply an out. You might think the second case is Caught Stealing, but it’s not. From Rule 10.07:
In those instances where a pitched ball eludes the catcher and the runner is put out trying to advance, the official scorer shall not charge any â€œcaught stealing.â€
Project Scoresheet codes this as “OA,” Other Advance.
OA is coded for a base runner advance that is not covered by one of the other codes. A comment may be given explaining the advance.
com,"Thompson out trying to advance after ball eluded catcher"
Commish & I saw this happen a couple of times at a B-Mets game this week. Commish was interested to know how many times these events occur. So was I.
Using Retrosheet Event File data from last five regular seasons (MLB 2007-2011), I count 1,522 Passed Balls and 337 Other Advances that involved the catcher. (I didn’t count 19 Other Advances that didn’t seem to involve the catcher.) So, there’s one Other Advance for every 4.5 Passed Balls. A Passed Ball occurs once every eight games on average, while an Other Advance occurs once every 36 games. For comparison, a Wild Pitch occurs once every 1.54 games.
Article and box score from the 1966 Official Baseball Guide about the then-record 27-inning game down the road at Dunn Field. Amazing how few pitchers & position players were used. This game was later surpassed by a 33-inning affair in 1981. Still, the Elmira game might be the longest pro game completed in one day. Belanger and Piniella were to be the big names from this Pioneers team. Earl Weaver piloted the squad.