New Retrosheet Modifiers

Saw a note about new Retrosheet modifiers on the Chadwick mailing list.

New modifiers as of December, 2012
/FINT – fan interference
/BINT – batter interference
/RINT – runner interference
/UINT – umpire interference
/OBS  – obstruction
/NDP  – no double play
/AP   – appeal play
/REV  – play reviewed
/PASS - runner passed another runner
/BOOT - batting out of turn

Unfortunately, these are not documented on the Retrosheet site, and it makes me wonder what else is missing.


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.

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.

2012 ABL Pitching Stats

I took the regular season stats from last season, identified each pitcher with his role (starter/reliever) and his arm (righty/lefty), then tabulated the results. The basic findings:

  • Righties pitch 80% of innings.
  • Righties start 80% of games.
  • Starters pitch 73% of innings.
  • The average start lasts 6.35 innings.
  • The average relief appearance lasts 1.45 innings.

The surprise to me was that, apart from the fact that they’re used in different amounts, righties and lefties are used very similarly. Lefty starters stay in the game as long as righties. (A bit longer in fact!)

The biggest difference seems to be that the average relief outing is longer for righties, 1.48 innings vs. 1.33 for lefties. That’s the LOOGY factor, but I thought the difference would be even greater.

The totals are shown below, grouped into a few different comparison pairs.

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 10.18.42 AM

2013 ABL Draft: TV Picks

Much better draft than last year. Higher picks, better pool. The pool was much better this year, particularly in terms of starters. Batters were stronger too. Here’s a quasi-scientific measurement, based on the number of “good” players, as measured by my runs-based system:

               2012     2013

Good Batters     17       23     +35%

Good Starters     9       14     +56%

Good Relievers   21       21     + 0%

Here’s what Titusville got:


 1/  2 Bryce Harper OF
 2/ 12 Edwin Encarnacion 1B
 2/ 16 Yoenis Cespedes OF
 3/ 21 Scott Atchison RP
 3/ 22 AJ Griffin SP
 4/ 32 Yasmani Grandal C
 5/ 41 Jed Lowrie SS
 5/ 42 Wade Miley SP
 6/ 52 Pedro Alvarez 3B
 6/ 56 Willin Rosario C
 7/ 62 Chris Perez RP
 8/ 72 Emilio Bonifacio IF/OF
 9/ 82 Trevor Cahill SP
10/ 92 Mike Morse OF
11/102 Scott Diamond SP
12/112 Steve Delabar RP
13/122 Jacoby Ellsbury CF
14/132 Eric Hosmer 1B
15/142 Jerry Blevins RP

Wouldn’t it be nice if Ellsbury & Hosmer bounced back?

Here’s what last year’s draft-pick trades yielded:

  • McCutchen to Syracuse, got Cespedes & Rosario.
  • Alex Avila to Abilene, got Jed Lowrie.
  • Betancourt to Tally, got Scott Atchison.

2012 ABL Playoff Odds

I was curious about the chances playoff teams have of getting to the Bambino Cup Finals and their chances of being crowned ABL champions. The playoff structure itself has a big impact, for example, the division champions have shorter roads to the cup. Of course, the relative strength of each team is very important, but how can that be measured?

First, let’s consider the playoff structure in isolation. Assume that all playoff teams have equal strength. If that’s the case, then the chance of winning a game or a series is 50%, a coin flip. A division champ (C-Bay or Orlando) has to win two series, so they have to flip a coin twice and have it come up heads both times. That’s one chance in four, 25%. A team with a one-game showdown to get into the lower bracket (LBI or Manahawkin) has win four series. The chance of having heads come up four times in a row is only one in 16, 6.25%. The probabilities of the 2012 playoff teams winning the ABL Championship under these conditions are shown in the table below.

Now let’s look at team strength: how to measure it, and how to use it to determine the probability of winning a game and a series. Bill James applied some statistics to the question of how to measure the probability of one team beating another in one game. He called it log5, and it uses winning percentage to measure team strength. I’ll use the ABL regular-season winning percentages for this exercise.

The log5 method works for one game, but what about a best-of-five or best-of-seven series? Well, there are formulas for that too. So now we can use these formulas to calculate the probabilities of teams reaching the finals. Three pages of scratch paper later…

Quite a spread, isn’t it?

One more series of calculations (and three more sheets of paper) gives the ultimate probabilities of teams getting their name on the hardware in 2012.

A superior winning percentage sure indicates a big advantage in the playoffs. Of course, this is simply a cold calculation based on only the playoff structure and the teams’ winning percentages. Among the factors this calculation does not take into account are:

  • Home-field advantage
  • Changes in team strength due to trades & injuries
  • Runs scored & runs allowed
  • Picther/batter match-ups
  • Strength of three-man rotations
  • Sticks
  • BFHes
  • Loaded dice
  • PEDs

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

Dayton Dragons

Panorama from a stadium named for a bank. (Click to enlarge.)

On August 2 the Dayton Dragons fell to the Lansing Lugnuts 5-2. They’re working on consecutive sell-out #860 or something, but there were lots of empty seats.

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.

MLB All-Stars on ABL Rosters

  • 1. Chesapeake Bay (8): CJ Wilson, Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton, Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Papelbon, Dan Uggla, Ryan Braun, Jay Bruce
  • 2. Long Beach Island (7): David Price, Jose Bautista, Cole Hamels, Craig Kimbrel, Yadier Molina, David Wright, Matt Kemp
  • 3. Orlando (5): Justin Verlander, Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton
  • 3. Syracuse (5): Miguel Cabrera, Derek Jeter, Ian Kinsler, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen
  • 3. Tallahassee (5): Matt Harrison, Matt Wieters, Robinson Cano, Joel Hanrahan, Carlos Beltran
  • 6. Chicago (4): Jered Weaver, Joe Mauer, Mike Napoli, Elvis Andrus
  • 6. Manahawkin (4): Billy Butler, Huston Street, Carlos Ruiz, Joey Votto
  • 6. Titusville (4): Jim Johnson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Adam Jones, David Freese
  • 9. Abilene (3): CC Sabathia, Gio Gonzalez, Jose Altuve
  • 10. Las Vegas (1): Melky Cabrera

MLB All-Star roster as of July 5th. Includes those on DL.


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!

2012 ABL Draft: TV Picks


 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.

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.)