Outfielder Errors

In Strat-O-Matic, outfielder errors result in the batter reaching second or third. What kind of errors do outfielders really make?

I looked at the 2,386 errors made in MLB 2005-2009. (From Retrosheet, natch.) That’s about one every five games. I divided them into the five categories shown in the chart below.


Only a quarter involve the batter reaching base on the error. The majority involve advancement of other baserunners, most after a hit.

A little more detail in the table below, which shows how many bases the batter advanced on the error.


An error that allows the batter to go to second on a single is, by far, the most common occurrence. The table hides a lot of detail, though, like the base situation and the advancement of those other runners.

Historical Time-of-Game Data

Joe West’s recent comments prompted me to look at some data I’ve always been curious about. We all know (or think we know) that games have gotten longer, but exactly how has game duration changed over the years?

The Retrosheet Game Logs contain time-of-game data, but the data is very incomplete prior to 1956. (There are also a few data errors, for example, a game that supposedly lasted 413 hours in 1947. I considered everything over 500 minutes to be a data error and ignored it.)

The graph below shows the average game time through the years. All games, extra-inning and less than nine, are included.


What surprised me here was the huge increase from 1944 to 1955, where average game time increased 32 minutes over just eleven years! What happened? More pitching changes was a factor, but I don’t think that can account for it all.

After 1955, things settled down, then in 1979 times started to zoom up again, reaching a new plateau in the late ’80s.

I wanted to look at normal, nine-inning games, but it’s not easy to filter those from the Retrosheet data prior to about 1955. The Game Logs contain the number of outs in the game, so my definition of a normal, nine-inning game is one with 51 to 54 outs. The graph below shows the data for nine-inning games, giving a little more insight into the more recent trends.


Actaully, the average game time has been relatively stable for the last twenty years. Still too long IMHO.


C*t* Field Panoramas

Pictures from the Sunday September 5, 2009 game against the Cubs.

The exterior around the rotunda is attractive. The rest of the exterior looks like a generic college administration building.


The seats in right field were not bad, considering they’re about the worst you can buy. The extra-baseball areas were nice, especially the food court behind center field.


The rotunda was underwhelming. The Great Hall at Yankee Stadium was much more impressive. Also, Jackie Robinson was a great player and an important pioneer, but am I the only one a bit weary of MLB’s 42-glorification program? Exactly when did Jackie play for the Mets?




The Decline of the Doubleheader

As we all know, doubleheaders are a rarity these days, confined to make-up games. I was curious about how their frequency has declined over the years. A quick munge of the Retrosheet game logs produced the graph below. Note that this is percentage of dates that were doubleheaders, not games that were doubleheaders.


Looks like the frequency went up in the 1930s–don’t know why. The spike during WWII must be due to the travel restrictions. After the war it’s a pretty linear decline to 1990, where it bottomed out. The reasons for the decline certainly include the following:

  • Air travel reduced the need for travel days.
  • More night baseball.
  • Owners figured they ended up losing money on twin bills.
  • Players don’t like ’em.


Saw a new column in the standings in the local paper today: WCGB. Figures were slightly different than GB. Win Column Games Behind? Nope, the math didn’t add up. Turns out it’s Wild Card Games Behind. Sounds like a great idea for September, but do we need this in early May???

ABL Reliever Usage Rules

Are the ABL reliever usage limits realistic? One way to try to answer this is to ask the question: “What percentage of 2008 MLB relief appearances would have violated the 2009 ABL rules?” If the answer is “0%,” then I’d say the ABL rules are too lenient in allowing relievers to pitch a lot. At the other extreme, if the answer is “50%,” then I’d say the ABL rules are too strict and don’t allow pitchers to pitch enough. What’s the right percentage that would make you feel that the ABL rules are just about right? 1%? 5%? 10%? More?

Here are the current ABL rules for reference:

IP          REST 
0-2         0** 
2.1-3       1 
3.1-4       2 
4.1-over    3   
IP          REST 
0-1         0*** 
1.1-2       1 
2.1-3       2   
3.1-over    3  
**  Cannot pitch more than 2 consecutive games 
***  Cannot pitch more than 3 consecutive games 
Note: Short cannot pitch more than 4 IP’s unless no other pitchers are available. 
Note: Closer cannot pitch more than 3 IP’s unless no other pitchers are available. 

Continue reading ABL Reliever Usage Rules