The DH and Roster Composition

AL teams have the DH, so their rosters will have fewer pitchers than the NL, right? NL teams have more temptation to pinch-hit for pitchers, so they need more relievers on the roster, right?

As of May 1st, the average NL roster has 12.3 pitchers, while the average AL roster has 11.9. So, the average NL roster has 0.4 of a pitcher more. Simple histograms appear below.

            NNNNN 13 AA
                  11 A
                  10 A

BTW, it’s the Angels who have only ten pitchers.

Small sample size. Maybe I’ll gather more data later in the season.

Errors at Different Levels of OB

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.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 9.36.42 PM

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.

World Series Day & Night Games

The first World Series night game was Game Four of the 1971 series at Three Rivers Stadium, a 4-3 victory for the Pirates over the Orioles. I checked Retrosheet to learn how quickly things transitioned to an all-night-game series. I went by the “day/night” flag in the info section.

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 7.59.57 PM


By 1974 more than half the games were being played at night. For the next decade, about a third of the games were still played during the day. The 1985 series between the Cardinals and Twins was the first series without a day game. A day game was played in 1987 at 4pm local time on a Saturday afternoon in Minnesota. Of course, since it was played under the dome, there was no direct sunlight.

The graph shows day games played in 2010. That happened because the Giants were hosting games in the Pacific Time Zone. In order to hit the magic 8pm Eastern Time spot, those games started at 4:57pm and 4:59pm local time, according to Baseball Reference. Retrosheet’s day/night discriminator is apparently 5pm, so those games count as day games. The local sunset was around 6:18pm, which means about an hour and 20 minutes in the daytime. Those start times still look a little strange to me. I thought the 8pm start times dictated first pitches at about seven minutes past the hour. That’s what happened in 2012 when the starts were 5:08 & 5:09 Pacific Time, again in San Francisco.

However you classify these “twilight” games, it’s safe to say that we won’t see a real World Series day game for a long time, if ever. Too bad.

The Worst Hitting Pitchers in MLB History

Baseball Reference has a free trial for their Play Index, so I’m giving it a whirl.

Who are the worst hitting pitchers of all time? I’ve got no magic criteria, but it’s easy find some guys who were epic fails at the plate.

Rob Herbel pitched in 332 games in the 60s and early 70s, mostly for the Giants. He managed only six hits in 227 plate appearances for an anemic .029 batting average. He struck out 125 times (55% of PAs) and walked only eight times. Actually, one third of his hits were doubles, which raised his OPS to .104. I bet a few of those doubles were hit to sleeping outfielders.

Dean Chance won the AL Cy Young in 1964 and accumulated 759 plate appearances in 406 games. He recorded 44 hits (.066 BA), all but two of which were singles. He struck out 420 times (55%) and walked only 30 times. With 128 wins and a 2.92 career ERA, he’s probably the best pitcher ever who was useless with a bat in his hands.

Of the active guys, Tommy Hanson & Ben Sheets are notable. Hanson is 11 for 187 (.059) with 92 strikeouts, 5 walks, and zero extra-base hits. Sheets is 34 for 449 (.076) with 212 Ks and 19 walks.

hanson           sheets

Although Randy Tate was in the bigs for only one year, he holds the distinction of having the most career plate appearances (47) without a hit. He did manage to draw one walk, though! In six minor league seasons he hit .113, so I guess ’75 was just a down year for him. Tate had an unusually symmetric career: three years in the minors, followed by one full season with the Mets (He pitched in every month of the ’75 season.), followed by three more years in the minors. He was never called up during his minor league seasons, and wasn’t sent down during his only major league season!

And, finally, of the pitchers with the dubious distinction of never having reached base safely ever, the guy with the most plate appearances (33) is none other than Justin Verlander. I think I’ve heard that he’s a decent pitcher, though. Verlander did not reach base during his three post-season PAs, and he never went to the plate during his 20-game minor league career. Let’s hope that the increase in interleague play will give Justin the chance to get off the schneid in 2013.

2013-09-30 UPDATE Verlander got only two plate appearances during the 2013 regular season, and they both came in the 162nd game. He went hitless, but so did the rest of the Tigers, as this was Henderson Alvarez’ no-hitter!

2014-06-18 UPDATE On April 12, 2014 in San Diego, California, in the top of the second with two outs, Justin Verlander reached base safely for the first time in his professional career when he grounded a single up the middle against Ian Kennedy. When he next came to the plate in the fourth… he hit another single!!! He would later score his first run. As of today Verlander has a .069 batting average. He is still looking for that first walk.

Cardinals Apparel

An unscientific survey of Cardinals player apparel observed at the Cardinals game on Thursday August 9th. Most were name & number on a shirt/jersey.

Player Fans
David Freese 43
Yadier Molina 32
Matt Holliday 30
Albert Pujols 14
Stan Musial 8
Adam Wainwright 6
Chris Carpenter 6
Lance Berkman 6
Carlos Beltran 5
Lou Brock 3
Rafael Furcal 3
Mark McGwire 2
Jim Edmonds 2
Scott Rolen 2
Red Schoendienst 1
Orlando Cepeda 1
Whitey Herzog 1
Ozzie Smith 1
Colby Rasmus 1
Rick Ankiel 1
Tino Martinez 1

Passed Balls & Other Advances

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 “caught stealing.”

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.


I never realized before that Busch the stadium came before Busch the beer. Here’s the timeline:

  • 1953: The Cardinals are sold to Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser since 1876. Anheuser-Busch buys Sportsman’s Park from Bill Veeck, who moves the Browns to Baltimore.
  • 1953: NL President Ford Frick denies August Busch’s request to name the stadium after Budweiser. Instead, Busch names the stadium after himself.
  • 1955: Anheuser-Busch debuts “Busch Bavarian Beer.” Coincidence?
  • 1966: The Cardinals move into the new Busch Stadium II, formally titled “Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium.”
  • 1979: Busch Bavarian Beer is renamed simply “Busch.”
  • 1982: Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium is officially renamed simply “Busch Stadium.”
  • 2006: The Cardinals move into the new Busch Stadium III.
  • 2008: Anheuser-Busch is acquired by Belgian-Brazilian brewing company InBev.
  • 2026: The current naming-rights deal for the stadium is set to expire.

Head for the mountains!

The Best of Waite Hoyt in the Rain


01. Ernie Harwell’s Tribute
02. Bill Akers
03. Breaking In
04. Cantaloupes
05. 1921 Cleveland Series
06. 20-Win Season… NOT!
07. 1926 World Series Game 7
08. What Really Matters to a Pitcher
09. 300 Years From Now

On this 1963 LP, Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt spins yarns during rain delays over his long career as Reds broadcaster. The last track ends abruptly, but that’s the way it is on the wax. There was a volume two in the series, which was devoted to Babe Ruth.


The Cardinals’ championship made the papers in Gothenburg Sweden!


St. Louis Story Ends with Victory
“Left for dead in August. Setback after setback. Now the St. Louis Cardinals are American baseball’s most unlikely winners in living memory.”

(Thanks, Anders.)

How many drafted players make it to the Bigs?

Commish & I were speculating about the amateur draft. How many guys make it to the big leagues? How much more likely is a first-round pick to reach the majors compared to, say, a tenth-round pick?

I collected stats from the 2002-2005 June drafts, figuring that almost everyone from the 2005 draft that would ever reach the majors would have already had some time there by the end of the 2010 season. (Maybe that’s a bit optimistic.) BR has a nice draft section that goes all the way back to the beginning. (Rick Monday in 1965, remember?) The graph below (click to enlarge) shows the percentage of players with MLB appearances for each round of the draft. (Again, 2002-2005 drafts only.)


I see about three distinct sections in the graph.

  1. From rounds one to ten, there’s a pretty good correlation between the round and the number of guys who make it. That tells me that the scouts make pretty accurate predictions for the first 320 or so amateurs each year. A little over half the guys who make the big leagues from the draft are selected in the first ten rounds.
  2. Rounds 11 to 20 send about the same percentage of guys to the bigs: 12%, which is also the overall big-league rate for the entire class. These rounds account for about a quarter of the big leaguers from the draft.
  3. There’s a big drop-off for rounds 21-50, with only about 5% of the guys making the show. These rounds provide the other quarter of the drafted MLBers.

I also collected some WAR stats, but you can’t draw too many conclusions from these, as all of the players are still young and will rack up lots more over the coming years. Still, from the 2002-2005 drafts, counting WAR through the 2010 season, it appears that the first-rounders account for 45% of the total WAR accumulated by all draftees. (The supplemental picks, usually about ten a year, are classified as first-round picks, so this inflates the first-round WAR figure compared to other rounds.) The first ten rounds account for 81% of the total WAR. It’s actually probably more than that, because many of the guys picked in the later rounds (Lincecum 48th round 2003 & 42nd round 2005) get credit there, even though they didn’t sign. (Lincecum signed after getting picked in the first round in 2006.)

Historical Pitcher Usage

How long do starters go, how many relievers, etc.

Here’s the simplest measurement, one obtainable from Retrosheet game logs: the average number of pitchers used in one game by one team.


The DH is certainly a factor from 1973 on, but it looks like it was falling anyway in the two seasons prior.

I wonder if we’ve reached a limit at 4 per game. Might be the max for a 25-man roster.

More to come…