mystery bunt

At the Cardinals-Pirates game last Saturday, Nyjer Morgan led off in the top of the eighth. He bunted right in front of the plate, hesitated a moment, and was called out. I figured he must have run into the ball in fair territory. That doesn’t make sense, as he’s a left-handed batter.

Baseball Reference scored it: “Bunt Groundout: C unassisted.” So, maybe he thought it was going foul, and while he was thinking, the catcher picked the ball off the plate & tagged him. That would be simply 2/BG. (That’s how Retrosheet has it.)

Then I checked Gameday on “Nyjer Morgan bunt grounds out to cathcer Gary Bennett. Nyjer Morgan out on batter interference.” OK, that would be 2/BG/INT. (There were 11 plays scored like this in 2006.) Rule 6.06 says:

A batter is out for illegal action when —
(a) He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box.
(b) He steps from one batter’s box to the other while the pitcher is in position ready to pitch;
(c) He interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base.
(d) He uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire’s judgment, has been altered or tampered with…

I guess all these would be considered “interference,” but what happened in this instance? I’m guessing (a): he was starting for first and had his right foot completely outside the box when he made contact.

Now to the hypothetical case: right-handed batter bunts and accidentally kicks the ball in fair territory as he heads for first. How would you score it? I’m pretty sure the catcher gets the putout. Project Scoresheet defines /BR for “runner hit by batted ball.” Maybe 2/BR/BG? Well, I can’t find any play like this in the Retrosheet event files. All of the /BR plays are of the type “S/BR/G6.2X2(6).”

I just listened to the replay on the archive. Rooney & Shannon called it as the batter running into the ball in fair territory. The Pittsburgh announcers called it the same way, but questioned the call after watching the replay. So maybe my first answer was right! I guess it is possible for a left-handed batter to run into a batted ball. Must have had a “wide stance.” 😉 I still lean towards 2/BR/BG as the way to score it.

single with man on first (part 2)

Previously I looked at the frequency of runners advancing from first to third on a single during the 2006 & 1973 seasons. I extended the analysis by looking at all seasons available from Retrosheet (1957-1998, 2002-2006). A slight change: now I’m counting plays during which the batter went to second on the throw (error or not).

OK, so the chart below shows the percentage of times the runner on first reaches third successfully as a result of:

  • runner on first,
  • no other baserunners,
  • the batter singles, and
  • neither runner put out.


There’s a big spike during the late sixties, then it’s pretty constant from 1970-1995. Since 1995 there’s been a steady decline. Strange!

Next: When runners try for third on a single, how often are they thrown out?

154/162-game seasons

The Commish & I were complaining about the MLB schedule and we wondered about the significance of 154 & 162. Pretty simple, really.

Before 1961, 154 was 22 games against each of the seven league opponents (11 home, 11 away).

154 = (11+11) * 7

In 1961 the AL went to ten teams. To keep the symmetry, 18 games were scheduled against each of the nine league opponents, for a total of 162 games.

162 = (9+9) * 9

They could have gone to a 153-game schedule with 17 games against each opponent, but the number of home & away games would have been unequal.

The NL didn’t go to ten teams until 1962, so in 1961 the NL & AL played 154- & 162-game schedules, respecitively.

In 1969, with the addition of two teams to each league, the 162-game schedule was preserved by scheduling 18 games with each of the five division opponents and 12 games with each team in the other division. Again, the number of home & away games was equal.

162 = (9+9) * 5 + (6+6) * 6

When the AL expanded in 1977, the symmetry was broken, when the number of games within the division became an odd number (forcing unequal numbers of home & away games) and the number of games against the other division was ten for some teams and 11 for others. All symmetry was lost when the NL expanded again in 1993.

I didn’t bother to figure out what the situation is today. I’ll wait until Selig dies and the Brewers get sent back to AL where they belong.

Trivia questions: Which MLB team changed it’s home town three times without moving? Which MLB team’s name contained a decimal point?

Pittsburgh trip

With things slow at work, I took Friday off and drove down to Pittsburgh to see the Cardinals finish up the season.

I stayed in a nice hotel downtown and walked everywhere. The ball park was about a 10-15 minute walk from the hotel, just across the Allegheny River.

The scalpers had a good selection, and nothing was close to being sold out (of course), so I bought from them all three days. Only Saturday’s ticket was over face value, and that was only by $3. I stayed on the 1st base side. Friday night I was behind the screen in Section 114. Saturday night I was in the third row of Section 112, which was probably the ideal spot for me. Sunday afternoon I was in the 11th row of Section 8, right off the Cardinals dugout.

PNC Park seating chart

Great weather all three games—maybe a little chilly Saturday night.

The park was nice. I can’t believe it’s been there for seven years. Seems like just the other day they were playing in Three Rivers.

Friday night, game 1: Cardinals 6 Pirates 1

The Pirates were sporting hideous red vests. Wellemeyer had a great start—one run and three hits in six innings. Pittsburgh’s starter, Duke, pitched well also, and it was tied 1-1 after seven. It fell apart for the Pirates in the eighth, when the Cards scored four, three of which were knocked in by Edmond’s pinch-hit single.

win probability

Fireworks after the game.

Saturday night, game 2: Cardinals 7 Pirates 3

Wainwright had a shaky first—three runs on three doubles and a single. After that, though, he was rock-solid for six innings, and the bullpen held them at three. Ankiel hit the first homer of the series, a solo shot, one of his three RBIs.

I was surprised at the large number of Cardinal fans all three games. I was surrounded by them on Saturday. The team clothing was almost split into thirds: Pirates, Cardinals & Steelers!

I ate at Manny’s BBQ (Sanguillen). Supposedly, Manny sometimes hangs out there, but I didn’t see him. Good, spicy pork BBQ, but the bun was kinda stale.

win probability

There was a concert after the game by The Clarks, a Pittsburgh band. I’d never heard of them before, but the crowd sure knew them.

Sunday afternoon, game 3: Cardinals 6 Pirates 5

The Cards’ starter wasn’t announced beforehand, and it turned out to be… Troy Percival! Read later that it was his first start in the bigs after 638 relief appearances—a record. Might be his last appearance in the bigs too. Anyway, it was some kind of a stunt, because he was lifted after one inning. Schumaker had a big day, going five-for-five and knocking in three. The Cards tied a record for most pitchers in a nine-inning game: ten.

win probability

Brought the camera Sunday and took a few photos. The player pics were taken with maximum digital zoom, so they’re not very sharp, but I think they turned out OK.

Sunday photo gallery

The only sour note was that someone swiped my program at the end of the game when I went down a couple of rows to take some picutres. Probably one of the autograph/ball whores. Damn kids. 😉

single with man on first

The ABL simplifies runner advancement on singles. I think the only way to go from first to third on a single is on a hit-and-run. This made me wonder about how often runners advance past second on a single. Here’s what I got from the Retrosheet event files for 2006. ( These are singles with a man on first and no other base runners. Advancement on fielding errors counts, but getting thrown out doesn’t.

first to second    4101   (73.5%)
first to third     1473   (26.4%)
first to home         8   ( 0.1%)

About a one-in-four chance to move the man to third. That sounds about right.

Here are the numbers from 1973:

first to second    3270   (68.9%)
first to third     1468   (30.9%)
first to home        10   ( 0.2%)

Why did more guys go from first to third back then?

Chadwick redux

Had another bash at Chadwick, now that the Retrosheet event files are back on-line.

Rebuilt the 0.4.0 version & it works again. Edited /usr/local/bin/chadwick to run pythonw instead of python.

Chadwick loads & displays the 1973 NL & AL event files just fine, even though I zipped them up myself.

Wiped the *.EV[NA] files and entered a TPB game. (Remembered to save this time!) It loads back up, even if I unzip & re-zip.

Tried entering a TPB game directly. Finished in under 45 minutes. Hardest thing is tracking the number of batters faced. Good game. Pirates threatened in the bottom of the ninth, but Hrabosky struck out Stargell to end the game. Stargell also committed a crucial error in the seventh that let the two deciding runs score. Not a good night for Pops.

Had to go in and edit a couple of unearned runs, and things zipped back up just fine.

box score & narrative

Also tried cwbox, the box-score generator that’s available only in the development version. Turns out it produces a smaller box score similar to those found in the newspaper.

Chadwick update

Thought I’d take a look at the latest development version of Chadwick.

Chadwick in is an SVN repository, so downloaded an SVN 1.44 installer.

Had to build configure from the *.in files.

% svn co
% chadwick_20070921
% aclocal
% automake
% autoconf
% sh ./configure
% make
% sudo make install
% pythonw src/chadwick

That builds OK, but the python stuff doesn’t build–there’s no libchadwick_python.c file. Rats.

Now I can’t get the working version re-installed. Feh.

BTW, that 1973.chw file is poisoned somehow. Can’t figure out what it is.

home-field advantage

One thing caught my eye in the Curve Ball book: batters playing at home hit 12 points better than on the road. Makes sense, but it’s almost as big as the lefty/righty match-up difference, which they say is 15 points. And yet, AFAIK, there are no adjustments in TPB to take home-field advantage into account.

A quick run of the Retrosheet game logs proves the home-field advantage for wins & losses:

              HOME WINS       ROAD WINS
            --------------  --------------
1960-1969    8603 (54.03%)   7319 (45.97%)
1970-1979   10644 (53.78%)   9149 (46.22%)
1980-1989   10995 (54.12%)   9320 (45.88%)
1990-1999   11554 (53.52%)  10033 (46.48%)
2000-2006    9166 (53.93%)   7831 (46.07%)

1960-2006   50962 (53.86%)  43652 (46.14%)

It’s almost 8 points. Not as large as 12, but, of course, there’s more to winning than hitting!

2007-10-07: The Commish’s comment re capturing home-field advantage in Park Effects is very interesting. I might even replace the LHB/RHB categories with home/visitor.

Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game

Didn’t expect it, but this book starts out with a simple analysis of All-Star Baseball, APBA, SOM & Sports Illustrated Baseball! Interesting point about the SOM method of splitting the rolls: the batter’s ability is purely additive, that is, there’s no direct interaction with the pitcher. You can get some of that with pitcher symbols in TPB, of course.

More to come…

Situational Scorekeeping

I really like this Situational Scorekeeping method devised by Alex Reisner. It combines the best of the traditional & Project Scoresheet methods. The PDFs provided are very professionally formatted, and there’s great documentation.


  • Plenty of room to write.
  • Shows the men on base when the batter’s hitting.
  • Easy to keep track of batters faced.
  • Easy to see whether batter scored, made out, or was left on.


  • Have to switch between sides of the page.
  • Separation of innings is not as clear.

Lots of other great stuff on Reisner’s site.

Fewer range & error plays

The last few games I’ve been rolling on the $@%*@! ranges & errors like crazy. How about cutting them down without altering the results too much? I just get tired of looking the damn things up. The Deeps are suspenseful, but the ranges & errors are just a chore lately.

Range plays are pretty much 50/50 between hit & out, so how about foul balls on even rolls to infield & outfield range?

Could do the same thing with possible errors: even rolls are fouls. But that cuts the errors in half. How about on the odd rolls that go to possible error, the roll for the error is halved when even. This will pump up the number of errors from 50% to, I dunno, 75%?

Chadwick installation & tweaks

Finally downloaded Chadwick, an open-source scorebook of a sort. Had little hope that it would build, but got it running, including the GUI. (The only hitch was an error message that meant I had to upgrade the Developer Tools from gcc3 to gcc4.) 

The first problems involved colors. Had to change the valid entry background from  SYS_COLOUR_WINDOW (black) to something else. Also had to change the dark green background from (0, 150, 0) to white. 

The next problem is the line-up windows, which have scrollbars that cover up the info and don’t scroll. Tried to change the type from ScrolledWindow to Window. The size was perfect, but the windows didn’t refresh properly. 


The event entry works well, and I haven’t seen any problems as long as I stick to the correct syntax. (The best documentation of that is on Retrosheet.) The highlighting that shows valid/invalid input is invaluable. Unlimited undos, which is also great.  

The box scores & narratives are very cool.

XBL: St. Cloud 9 Memphis 5

St. Cloud (Cain) at Memphis (Redman)

The St. Cloud Cyclones blew into Memphis and handed the Dawgs their third straight loss. The Cyclones broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth on a lead-off home run by Pedro Feliz and four more hits to put them ahead by three. Mark Teahen homered in the sixth to get the Dawgs to within two. St. Cloud exploded for four runs in the top of the ninth, half of them after a crucial error by Dawgs third baseman Teahen. Memphis threatened in the bottom of the ninth, scoring two, but went down with the tying run in the on-deck circle.

Final: St. Cloud 9 Memphis 5

Redman (7) L
Nelson (2)

St. Cloud
Cain (8.2) W
Ryan (0.1) S


PS. After the XBL game the Dawgs manager got one back on the Commish, when his 1973 Cardinals defeated the 1973 Yankees 7-0, behind a complete-game shutout by Bob Gibson.

Continue reading XBL: St. Cloud 9 Memphis 5