Baseball Bits #6: How Sac Fly Rule Impacts Averages

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Did you know that if the current sacrifice fly rule were in effect in 1941, Ted Williams would’ve batted .417?  Instead, Williams batted .406 becoming the last player to bat over .400.  I have recalculated the top 5 batting averages in each league from the last 10 years if the current sacrifice fly rule wasn’t in effect.

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With the old rule, none of these guys would’ve even come close to what Ted Williams did.

The Research

Note: 

Average w/Sac Fly = Sac Fly Counts at At Bat

Average = Average as it is calculated today where the sac fly does not count as an at bat

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AL

The “Baseball Bits”

  • After the re-calculation, nobody has come closer to Ted Williams in the last 10 years than Joe Mauer, who batted .362.  He is .044 below Ted Williams.
  • Miguel Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown like Ted Williams, has been Top 5 in the AL 7 times.  After the re-calculation, his best batting average from the last 10 years was .341.  That’s .065 lower than Ted Williams
  • After the re-calculation, only 33 players had averages over .325.  That’s just 32% of the averages calculated and just 2.2% of players eligible for batting average.
    • Only 7 players had averages over .350, just 6.8% of the re-calculated players, and 0.4% of players eligible for batting averages
    • However, nobody had an average under .300.
  • The biggest decrease in average was a .006 decrease by Joe Mauer in 2008, Daniel Murphy in 2016, and Buster Posey in 2012.
  • These averages prove that nobody was even close to being as good as Ted Williams was since 1941.

The Verdict

You may have been amazed by some hitters with high batting averages that came close to .400 but what Ted Williams did was just amazing and it will be hard to beat, old rules or new rules.  No wonder he won two Triple Crowns in his career (nobody else has done that).  He is arguably the best hitter to ever play baseball.  Nothing matches up to the things he did.  Nobody has had an average over .400 since he did.  Nobody has ever won two Triple Crowns besides him.

Stay tuned for more baseball articles.  The trade deadline is coming up; will the Sox be shopping for a new third baseman?  Do they need another home run hitter?

Red Sox Rally Their Way to Victory over Detroit 

3-3 ballgame.  It was the bottom of the 8th, and ex-Red Sox pitcher Alex Wilson was on the mound.  It was high in the air.  I knew it was gone the minute I saw it.  JBJ had just nailed a go-ahead home run to give the Red Sox the 5-3 lead.  

The Red Sox went on to top the Tigers 5-3.  Each team got 11 hits in this big hitting game.  Mitch Moreland went 3-4 with 2 RBI, JBJ went 2-4 with another 3 RBI.  Lots of good plays by JBJ and Mookie Betts made the game interesting and I was at the game and witnessed the great comeback victory.  

It started out ugly for the Sox though.  Brian Johnson gave up a dinger with 1 out in the 1st inning to Nicholas Castellanos.  But the Tigers weren’t done.  Both Victor and J.D. Martinez got on base, and it was 1st and 2nd with 2 down.  Then Justin Upton knocked Victor Martinez in with his single up the middle.  It was 2-0 Tigers after 1 inning and Brian Johnson had thrown almost 30 pitches.  Johnson tried to settle down after that, but in the next two innings he reached 70 pitches.  He had given up 5 hits and a walk in 3 innings.  

Then to begin the 4th, Mikie Mahtook nailed a dinger into the bleachers.  3-0 Detroit.  

However, the Red Sox began to rally in the 4th inning.  Mitch Moreland answered with a leadoff home run to center.  Then after a Benintendi single and Ramirez walk, it was 1st and 2nd. Then Bradley Jr. hit a line drive single to knock in a 2nd run.  3-2 Tigers.  

However, Pablo Sandoval ended the rally on a double play.  Panda struggled all game, striking out twice and grounding into this double play.  He also made 2 plays that could’ve been called errors. 

The Tigers tried to strike back.  Victor Martinez got a base hit, and then J.D. Martinez doubled to center and Victor was on third, but it wasn’t enough.  After Brian Johnson and Heath Hembree were done, Joe Kelly was an absolute machine against Detroit in the 7th.  

Mookie Betts tried to start another rally when he doubled, but it failed.  However, the Red Sox came back in the 8th.  Alex Wilson, the former Red Sox player, was pitching.  Fans were booing and taunting him.  Bogaerts got on base, and then he reached second when Wilson wildly tried to pick him off at first.  Then Moreland drove in another run with an RBI single.  It was a tie ballgame, 3-3.  Benintendi lined out, and Ramirez was out on a lazy fly ball. 


Then, JBJ hit a huge dinger to right.  Everyone was cheering.  They had come back!  The Red Sox were up 5-3 going into the top of the 9th, and Craig Kimbrel came right into the game.  After a strikeout, a foul pop up and another strikeout, the Red Sox won 5-3.  Kimbrel got the 3 out, 10 pitch save.  


Here’s the final strike.  My good luck may have factored in again.  I even got a picture of the win dance, where JBJ was honored.  They did their ski jump and I got it on camera.  


Can they get into a good stretch after a big win tonight?  Chris Sale starts tomorrow and it should be a rude awakening for Detroit tomorrow night.  

MLB May Power Rankings: Astros Dominating the MLB

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Welcome to my Power Rankings for May.  The Astros have taken the league by storm this month.  They came out on top this time around.  See below for the rest.

Records as of May 31, 2017 at 7:00 AM

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Biggest Jump

Blue Jays: Up by 8

 

Biggest Drop

White Sox: Down by 12

 

That’s all for this month’s ranks.  Stay tuned for a new Baseball Bits coming soon.

Red Sox Shutout Mariners, Streak Extends to 6 Games

3-0 Red Sox.  The Mariners’ best hitter, Robinson Cano, was up.  He hits a high fly ball to deep center.  It nearly hits the wall for a huge double, but Jackie Bradley Jr. jumps up to save it!  The next inning, Bradley crushed a dinger to center.  Good defense led to good offense.

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Brian Johnson also pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 8 and giving up no walks and just 5 hits.

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The Red Sox started to score in the bottom of the 1st.  Betts walked, and Pedroia was hit on the arm.  Mariners pitcher Rob Whalen was out of control in his first start of 2017.  Xander Bogaerts knocked Betts in on a RBI single, but Pedroia was out at third.  Whalen continued to struggle as Benintendi hit a single to knock in Bogaerts.  Hanley Ramirez was also hit, and Whalen looked exhausted after walking one, hitting two and giving up two hits.  Ramirez stole second as Whalen walked JBJ.  It was 2-0 Red Sox, and they weren’t done.  Sandy Leon hit a single to drive in Benintendi.  However, Ramirez tried to score and was ruled out.  3-0 after 1 inning.

Meanwhile, Brian Johnson was on fire, and he was being backed up by good defense.  Mookie Betts saved a home run ball in the 4th, and JBJ made a leaping catch in the 6th.   In the bottom of that inning, Mitch Moreland singled to right, and JBJ hit a two-run shot to left.  5-0 Red Sox.  Brian Johnson continued to do well.  He finished his 4th 1-2-3 inning of the game in the 8th and the Red Sox scored one more run in the bottom of the inning.  Hanley Ramirez drove the ball to left for a base hit, and after a wild pitch got Hanley to second, Mitch Moreland hit the RBI single to drive him in.  The Red Sox led 6-0 through 8.

In the top of the 9th, Johnson was still in the game.  He struck out one, and then defense backed him up to end the inning.  JBJ caught Nelson Cruz’s line drive on a diving catch, and he made the catch of the game to wrap it up.  Seager hit another line drive, and JBJ leaped up for another big catch.  The Red Sox won 6-0.  Johnson tossed a complete game, and JBJ and Betts combined for 4 great catches.

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The Red Sox now have a 6 game winning streak and Porcello starts today.  Can the streak live on in the series finale against the Mariners?

Errors, Lack of Hitting Cause Sox to Lose

The Red Sox lost their streak and their momentum with a 3-0 loss last night.  Rick Porcello actually pitched really well, with 0 earned runs.  It was errors that allowed the Blue Jays to score.


Pablo Sandoval had an error again.  Even Gold Glove winner Mitch Moreland had an error in addition to going 0-4 after hitting really well during the winning streak.  The 2nd inning was when the Jays scored all their runs.  The two errors happened back to back at the start of the 2nd inning and all of the sudden it was 2nd and 3rd.  After Justin Smoak struck out, Darwin Barney got a base hit that knocked both of them in.  2-0 Jays.  Kevin Pillar singled to make it first and second.  Then Ezequiel Carrera hit a single down the line for a third run.  It was 3-0 Jays, but Porcello didn’t have a single earned run.  


It was pretty quiet after that, and pitching was pretty good.  But the Red Sox also blew several scoring opportunities.  In the 5th, Sandy Leon grounded into a double play with 1st and 2nd.  Hanley Ramirez did the same thing in the 6th!  Instead of 2 innings in a row where they successfully scored, there were 2 innings in a row of blown opportunities.  

Both starting pitchers, Rick Porcello and Francisco Liriano had amazing games.  Neither gave up any earned runs, Liriano gave up just 4 hits in 5.1 innings, and Porcello gave up just 6 hits in 7 innings.  

I was expecting the defense to back up Porcello but Porcello did fine.  The defense was the problem.  Hopefully, Porcello’s good pitching will combine with good defense for a win the next time he starts.  


The Blue Jays ended up winning, 3-0.  Unfortunately, Liriano got the win, and Porcello got the loss despite a great pitcher’s duel that was ruined by errors.  


Chris Sale starts in today’s game at 12:30.  Will the Red Sox win their 5th out of the last 6 and take this series, or will the Blue Jays surprise them again and win?  

Betts, Moreland Lead Sox to Victory in High Scoring Showdown

The Red Sox came through again.  They topped the Blue Jays 8-7 in a high scoring showdown.

Brian Johnson really got rattled early.  In the first inning, Kevin Pillar led off with a double, followed by an RBI single by Kendrys Morales.  1-0 Jays already.  But Toronto wasn’t done.  Tulowitzki got a base hit to make it first and second and a Justin Smoak double scored a second run.  The Jays were up 2-0 in one inning.  Johnson was able to get out of the inning after that.  But in the 2nd, after a walk, Pillar doubled again, and after intentionally walking Jose Bautista, Johnson was stuck with the bases loaded.  Thankfully, the Red Sox defense helped him get out of the inning without a run.  Hopefully, they’ll do the same for Rick Porcello tonight.


The Red Sox struck back in the third though.  Bogaerts and Benintendi started he rally with back to back singles.  Then Betts made that three singles in a row and a run scored.  2-1 Toronto.  After a strikeout, Mitch Moreland hit another RBI single to score two more runs!

The Red Sox had a 3-2 lead, but not for long.  Justin Smoak smoked a leadoff solo shot to left to begin the bottom of the 3rd.  It was a tie game, 3-3.

The Red Sox took the lead back in the 5th though.  Betts got another base hit, and Hanley Ramirez knocked him in with a long double over Jose Bautista’s head.  It was 4-3 Sox.  But the next at bat, Moreland hit his 10th double of the year to knock in Hanley Ramirez.  That was Moreland’s 3rd RBI, and it was 5-3 Red Sox.  After that, Stroman was done.  Aaron Loup came in, but Sandoval just got another RBI hit to knock in Moreland!  6-3 Sox.  The Blue Jays went to their bullpen again, and Dominic Leone finished the inning.


The Blue Jays just struck right back though. Russell Martin crushed a solo homer, and the Jays narrowed the lead to 2 runs.  It was 6-4 Jays to end the 5th.

But in the top of the 7th Mookie Betts answered.  He nailed a solo shot to left, and made it 7-4 Red Sox.  The 3 run lead was back.  Betts also had his first homer.  The one week I don’t start him in my Home Run Derby pool, he hits a homer!  But it’s good for the Sox.


After Brian Johnson was done, the Red Sox bullpen actually did a somewhat good job quieting down the Jays.  They got in a couple of jams, but managed to hold the Blue Jays without a run for a few innings.    Kevin Pillar actually hit a third double, but Fernando Abad and Matt Barnes (after Abad was done) got them out of the inning. The Blue Jays also had 1st and 2nd in two other innings, but the Sox managed to shut them down.

In the top of the 8th the Sox scored again.  Pablo Sandoval started it with another base hit!  He was 3 for 4 on the day, with one RBI.  The Jays almost got him out on a pickoff but after a review, he was ruled safe.  After Marco Hernandez walked, Benintendi drove in the run with a ground rule double. It was 8-4 Red Sox going into the bottom of the 8th.

After a quiet 9th inning for the Sox, Barnes stayed in the game for the bottom of the 9th.  But he almost blew the game.  After 2 outs, Russell Martin walked, and Steve Pearce hit an RBI single to knock him in.  Then Ezequiel Carrera pinch hit, and he nailed a two-run homer to make it 8-7.  It was a close game now.  The Blue Jays almost came back.  But Matt Barnes put them away before any more scoring occurred.  This was all with two outs, so all that was needed to end the inning was one line drive.  That was it.

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The Red Sox just barely saved the game, a game they would’ve lost without an explosive lineup.  Brian Johnson actually got his first major league win.  The Sox cannot do this every game, but they’ve somehow won 4 in a row since Porcello’s horrid start on Friday.


Porcello starts again tonight.  Will the winning streak live on or will the Red Sox and Porcello blow it?  Check out my latest Baseball Bits for more on Porcello’s case.

Baseball Bits #5: Porcello Struggling, Is This Typical of First Time Cy Young Winners?

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Rick Porcello did not look good in his start on Friday.  He did not even make it out the 5th inning, pitching only 4.1 innings and giving up 8 earned runs.  This is disappointing because Porcello just won the Cy Young and we were expecting a good year.  Is it the pressure on him that’s causing him to struggle?  There was a lot of pressure on him in 2015 as a new member of the Red Sox and he struggled.  That might be the problem with all the first-year Red Sox pitchers.  On the Sox, the expectations are high and the pressure is on because the team spent has spent a lot of money on this roster.  I thought the pressure was all on Sale this year but Porcello is under pressure as well.


Porcello looked spotless last year though when the pressure was not on him as much.  He won the Cy Young.  But is it typical of a first time Cy Young winner to thrive the next year?  That gave me an idea for more research.  The question is, how many of the first-time Cy Young winners improved their ERA the next year?  I also researched how many had an ERA under 3.25 the next year: here are the results dating back to 1956, when the award was founded.
The Research



Prior to 1967, there was only one Cy Young winner for the entire MLB.


The “Baseball Bits”

  •  Only 18 players (13 AL, 3 NL, 2 when only one MLB pitcher won) of the 75 first time winners had an ERA over 4.00 the next year (just 24%!).
    • Only 2 (Mark Davis and Bartolo Colon) had an ERA over 5.00 the following year
  • Only 6 players (1 AL, 2 NL, 3 when only one MLB pitcher won) of 75 first time winners have ever improved their ERA after winning their first Cy Young (just 8%!). They were:
    • Tim Lincecum (2008, improved from 2.62 to 2.48)
    • C.C. Sabathia (2007, improved from 3.21 to 2.70)
    • Brandon Webb (2006, improved from 3.10 to 3.01)
    • Sandy Koufax (1963, improved from 1.88 to 1.74)
    • Don Drysdale (1962, improved from 2.83 to 2.63)
    • Whitey Ford (1961, improved from 3.21 to 2.90)
  • 38 players (12 AL, 21 NL, 5 when only one MLB pitcher won) have held their ERA under 3.25 the next year. That’s 54.3% of the 70 players who were first-time winners that won with an ERA under 3.25
  • The last pitcher to have an ERA under 3.25 after their first Cy Young was Jake Arrieta in 2015
  • Not including Porcello, 2 of the first time Cy Young winners were on the Red Sox (Jim Lonborg and Roger Clemens). Lonborg was one of the 18 over 4.00, with an ERA of 4.29. But Clemens had an ERA of 2.97 the next year, which was not an improvement but was under 3.25.
  • No player has improved their ERA after their first time Cy Young year since 2008 when Tim Lincecum did it. The last time it happened in the AL was in 2007 when C.C. Sabathia did it.
  • The Cy Young was won 30 times by a multiple time winner. However, only 13 people have ever won the Cy Young multiple times.  That means that some of the 13 have won more than twice
  • No pitcher with an ERA over 3.25 when they won improved their ERA after their first Cy Young
  • If Rick Porcello turns it around and improves his ERA from last year, he would be the first first-time Cy Young winner on the Red Sox to do it. Right now that seems unlikely based on how he pitched on Friday.

The Verdict

Based on this research I would not expect Porcello to improve his ERA from last year, especially after his horrid Friday night performance.  But it is possible that his ERA will stay under 3.25.  That will be hard to do.  He put up an ERA of 3.15 last year when he won the Cy Young.  But it is possible.  Is Porcello at the level of those 38 pitchers who did keep their ERA under 3.25?  Maybe not when he’s under pressure because he has stunk under pressure.

Trading for Chris Sale helped strengthen the Red Sox rotation and you would think that would get the pressure off Porcello.  Maybe by winning the Cy Young Porcello has put more pressure on himself, especially now that David Price is injured.  With Chris Sale and David Price (who will be back in June) also in the rotation and Pomeranz doing well, the Red Sox should be able to allow Porcello time to adjust.  I think there’s a chance that we can see the kind of numbers we saw from him in 2016.  I don’t think his 22 wins will be repeated but I think his numbers can be at least respectable if he makes the adjustments necessary.

The research shows that most Cy Young first-time winners keep an ERA under 4.00 (76%).  I believe that Porcello can be part of this 76% because the Sox are one of the best defensive teams in the league and they should help steal a few hits and runs.

Stay tuned for my next Baseball Bits, where I will look at how top home run hitters impact their teams.  Thanks for reading.