Friday, December 04, 2009

Offseason Rant

Usually we stick to Phillies and Pirates baseball on this site but the offseason can be a bit slow, so to spice things up a bit I’ll be occasionally writing about baseball items not necessarily Pennsylvania based. There are some things I’ve been chewing on and I’ll be presenting them randomly as “Offseason Rants.” Enjoy. Or Don’t, I don’t really care, as long as you click on some of our sponsors so I can afford diapers…

Up first, the stupidest rule in baseball, next to the DH of course, the sacrifice fly.

I love the sacrifice bunt, both strategically and in spirit. You need to advance that baserunner so instead of swinging away, you drop one down, conceding the out and your chance of a base hit, literally sacrificing your glory and your stats for the good of the team. But wait, you didn’t sacrifice your stats because baseball rules celebrate your unselfishness by not only pretending you never came to the plate, but by giving you positive check in the “sacrifice bunt” category. It makes perfect sense. It’s a rule that is good for the player, good for the game and good for young children who can learn the value of team over individual.
The sacrifice fly, on the other hand, is a freaking joke. There is a runner on third that needs to get home so you swing as hard as you can and jack one to deep center, but not quite far enough and the outfielder tracks it down at the wall. The runner trots home and you, like the noble bunter, is rewarded with forgotten at-bat and a place in the box score next to “Sac Fly.” Problem is, rarely is there ever any sacrificing involved in a “sacrifice fly.” It’s a bullshit stat that has been plaguing the game for years. Consider this:

  • The “sacrifice fly” is only given when a runner advances from third to home. Apparently, you can’t “give yourself up” through the air to get a runner to third. No, that would be silly.
  • If a bunter is determined to have been attempting to get a base hit with his bunt and the advancement of the runner was merely coincidental, or a side effect of the bunt, the batter is not given a “sacrifice bunt.” Have you ever seen a “sac fly” not given because the official scorer deems that the batter was actually trying for a hit? That would be preposterous because the fact is, almost every “sac fly” is the result of a batter trying for a hit. Sure, batters will attempt to “get the ball in the air” or “hit one hard somewhere” but hardly ever does a batter say, “I’m just going to lift one to center about 375 feet, not too far so that it goes over the fence, but far enough that the runner can score.”
And what about the good old fashioned ground ball? It gets no respect, despite the fact that many times a player will actually sacrifice an at-bat by slapping a pitch to the second baseman to get a man to third or home. And I know I’m not alone in thinking that the “sacrifice grounder” is a necessary stat. Coaches, teammates, and announcers go out of their way to comment on a player who advances runners in this matter, even saying things like, “That won’t show up in the box score.” Well, why the hell not? Hell, the Phillies gave David Bell millions of dollars for this skill alone.

So, in summary, the” sacrifice fly” is crap. It is merely a convenient result of an otherwise typical approach and should be A)banished from the record book or 2)expanded to include advancement to other bases along with the addition of the “sacrifice grounder” to make it consistent with established “sacrifice” rules. At least, that is what I think.


GM-Carson said...

If they changed the sacrifice rule to either disclude fly outs or to include groundouts, that would take a lot of work to go back over the box scores of seasons past and redetermine batting averages. I bet it would have quite an impact on some of the batting championships and career averages.

Corey said...

if they changed the rule now, that wouldn't affect past statistics. when they created the save they didn't go back and give people saves before the stat existed. the batting champions, etc. were determined under rules at the time and shouldn't be changed by rules changes going forward.

it would make comparing stats across time periods difficult but we already have that due to DH/small parks/better equipment/etc.

Bob D said...

You have a point here, but there are a number of times that the batter intentionally lifts the ball up into the outfield for the sole purpose to hit a Hr or double if they can or to move the runner if they are unsuccessful for the big hit. There are other times the sac fly happens by chance such as Eric Bruntlett actually getting under the ball and hitting it beyond the infield in the air. I know it doesnt happen very often but it does occur at times.

Preserve Jon said...

I don't necessarily agree with you about the flyout, but I do agree about the groundout. There is no reason why this shouldn't show up in the box school. If the "hold" stat is recorded, there is no reason not to include sacrifice groundouts.
As an interesting note, we could see some averages rise by inclusing groundouts as sacrifices. GMCa, my opinion is that it would not take much work to readjust the statistics. I'm sure programs like SAS that categorize and analyze baseball stats would require a simple recalibration to reclassify certain situational at-bats.

That being said, you could be correct in that all of baseball's past game logs may not have been installed in statistical databases. Wouldn't it be fascinating to see how the stats of past players would be adjusted? What if someone gained a .400 avg by virtue of such a reexamination?

Corey said...

if the sacrifice grounder had existed previously david bell would have won a silver slugger...and abraham nunez would still have sucked.

Joseph said...

The sacrafice grounder should only count if the player who advanced on the grounder scores that inning on a hit, bunt, fly out or error that he wouldn't have scored on from his initial base position. A walk however would be a force in, which would not credit the batter who advanced the runner from the grounder because the runner would have scored regardless of the grounder.

Make sense?

Joseph said...

btw i'm harbesjb

GM-Carson said...

As teams have been checking in on the availability of infielders, they have found that the asking price for Beltre is no less than $10 million a year, and for DeRosa, it's a three-year deal for something in the range of $9 million a year.

*That makes Polanco's deal look good in my opinion.

Bob D said...

can we do a rant on the intentional walk? I have a few things to say about that one.

Andrew said...

interesting. never thought about the sac fly in that way. next rant, DH rule? or maybe how some teams don't put names on their jerseys? (I hate that!)

phillygameday said...

What's this about the DH rule now? You mean how dumb it is that we don't have it in both leagues? If so, I'm 100% with you....if not, you're looney tunes and there's no hope for you.

GM-Carson said...

I like and dislike the DH. It's given immobile/poor fielding players longevity in the game (Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas in later years, etc.), but it's sorta stupid at the same time thinking that a guy is used solely for batting and doesn't have to perform the other facet of the game.

Preserve Jon said...

The Players Union will never let the DH die. The DH takes up a roster spot, and supplies an aging big leaguer with a pay check as GMCa said. Of course in the AL, roster spots are not as critical b/c you rarely use pinch hitters due to the presence of said DH. Thus, rosters and lineups are constructed differently and produce tangibly greater offenses.

The Phils seem to have one of the only NL squads who match up favorably with strong offensive production. Nonetheless, put us in an AL park and we have a hard time replicating our production with a DH. We're a much better 1 through 8 team than 1 through 9 team. Personally, I say get rid of the DH and level the playing field between the two leagues.

Oh, and lastly, with salary demands as high as the Tetons, Beltre and DeRosa will find themselves unemployed well into February.

Corey said...

the DH is so great, why stop at just one? that the entire lineup should be 9 designated hitters. the whole game should be split into offense and defense. i mean, why should your slick fielding shortstop have to hit. he's there to field, not hit. the game would be sooooooo much better if each job was specialized to optimize talent and make every pitch and every play as great as it could be.

Corey said...

and why doesn't the pitcher have a designated fielder? maybe a guy that stands beside him and fields ball hit back to the box or any bunts. he could also back up bases for throws and participate in rundowns. the pitcher is there to pitch, not field, so it makes sense.

Aaron said...

The rule I can't F'ing stand is the balk.
The whole point of the rule is to keep pitchers from intentionally deceiving the runner.

If a pitcher comes set and just doesn't pause long enough they call a balk.

But a left handed pitcher raises his bent leg as if he is starting a wind up while looking toward home plate as if he's going to throw a pitch and then throws to first that's not a balk.
Now someone please tell me exactly how the fuck that is not intentionally deceiving the runner??????

phillygameday said...

So let me get this straight....watching a pitcher hit is entertainment to you? Watching a guy that looks like you or me up there taking hacks against 90 mph heat is a great part of this game....rather than seeing a professional hitter face a professional pitcher?

The reality is that pitchers will never spend as much time honing their hitting as they do pitching, so we're left with guys that essentially hit at a D3 college level hitting against major league pitching. Stop me when this becomes entertaining by the way.

I guess I'm a nut job for thinking I'd rather just have a professional hitter (aged veteran who can't move in the field anymore or's still more entertaining than watching the pitcher hit) up there. Is Edgar Martinez more entertaining to watch against Greg Maddux, or would you rather have Jeff Fassero out there against him?

It comes down to pure entertainment for me and I'm tired of having rallies broken up because of the automatic out of the pitcher. It's like co-ed slow pitch softball when you don't have enough girls or something and you have to take an automatic out. Come on. Seriously, jump in here when this becomes entertaining.

The only reason we don't have the DH in the NL yet is the same reason we don't have "purists/dinosaurs" refuse to come into the 21st century and realize what it's going to take for their sport to survive. People love offense...not watching a pitcher hit. I'm not saying let's juice the balls or the players, but having a pitcher hit would be like watching Brett Favre run routes as a's just unnatural and it's certainly more entertaining when someone that gets paid to do it is doing it.