L/R averages

Another vital parameter: How often does a batter face a righty/lefty pitcher? From the 2007 ABL stats: 78.3% of innings pitched were by right-handers, 21.7% of the IPs were from lefties. I had guessed it would have been about a third lefties.

Another way to figure this is to figure the total splits for 2007 PAs at Baseball Reference. (NL, AL) Can figure the batting sides while we’re at it.

       TOTAL     NL       AL
       -----    -----    -----
RHP    72.6%    71.8%    73.4%
LHP    27.4%    28.2%    26.6%

RHB    58.9%    60.6%    56.9%
LHB    41.1%    39.4%    43.1%

single with man on first (part 3)

This time I looked at how often runners on first were thrown out at third on a single. Again, no other baserunners. Not counted:

  • Error on the play at third. (Errors allowing the batter to advance past first are OK.)
  • Runner on first out at second or home.
  • Runner safe at home.
  • Baserunner hit by batted ball.

The percentage I’m interested in is the number of times the runner is out at third divided by the number of times the runner is out or safe at third. Again, I counted all the years available in the Retrosheet event files. Graph below. The line is the least-mean-squares linear fit.


I’m surprised how seldom the runner is out at third. There’s a clear downward trend, which indicates that runners and/or third base coaches have become more conservative. Perhaps stronger arms in the outfield are also a factor.

The whole exercise makes me question the role of TPB’s “sending runners” in these situations. (TPB out of the box, not ABL rules.) Why is this a manager’s decision? Runners will try for the extra base on their own, or take guidance from the third base coach. Would it be more realistic to roll for an advancement that is explicitly specified on a chart? Such a chart should be roughly:

  • 26%: runner safe at third
  •  2%: runner out at third
  • 72%: runner holds at second

Then you could sprinkle in some potential errors & such. Of course, there would be a dependency on where the single was hit (as there is now).

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 mlb.com: “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 MLB.com 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. 😉