Let’s start over on Grantland, with Rany Jazayerli:
Major League Baseball before the turn of the century was like a highway with a speed limit of 80 mph. Baseball today has a speed limit of 55 mph, seat belts are mandated, and air bags are standard. What the Nationals are doing is lowering the speed limit to 40 mph and arguing that it will reduce car accidents further.
I don’t know enough about any of this to feel strongly one way or the other, but just to advocate for Satan . . . Isn’t it possible the Nationals do indeed know what they’re doing with Stephen Strasburg? (Note: I don’t actually believe this to be true. But it’s possible, right?)
It’s difficult to make compelling arguments either way about protecting pitchers because disabled list and injury data and pitch counts haven’t been tracked as closely as the regular ol’ baseball statistics. So while we can say with confidence that a pitcher with a low strikeout rate and a good ERA is likely to see his ERA rise — because we’ve seen so many pitchers over the years follow that pattern and we’ve got the numbers to prove it — we just don’t have the same amount of info about pitcher injuries.
At least, we, people of the internet, do not that much info. My guess is that if you had the time to dig through newspaper archives for a couple of weeks, months, you could make a decent historical injury database and learn a lot about what really correlates with busted arms. If you had the time and resources. And while I don’t, who’s to say teams like the Nationals aren’t having a couple of interns and a statistician dig through the archives and tape, and they come up with something a bit more conclusive?
Or they have no idea what they’re doing. That’s probably just as good a theory.
How about some critique of MLB’s TV policies?
So this sets up a strange mismatch between what MLB customers want, and what their revenues tell them to do. MLB fans want to watch their favorite team on whatever device they prefer. But MLB’s revenue stream is depending more and more on their customers NOT being able to watch their team over the internet, forcing them to watch on TV.
This all sounds logical, but I don’t actually know enough about how . . . buziness? Am I getting that right? Biz-nas? How money-for-stuff-on-a-big-scale works to comment. But it’s an interesting read about the internet and how it changes business models.
And finally this:
Oh, uh and . . . Mets. How about those Mets? Yeah, I know. I don’t know either.
4 responses to “So many links!”
“…who’s to say teams like the Nationals aren’t having a couple of interns and a statistician dig through the archives and tape, and they come up with something a bit more conclusive?”
I suspect the Nats have something along these lines. There was a book written last year by Jonah Keri (of ESPN Grantland) called “The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First” where he talks about the Rays building their own software that predicts pitcher injuries based on velocity changes, changes in arm angles, etc. Apparently the Rays built it in-house so a vendor couldn’t sell the software to another team.
It explains why the Rays generally have fewer injuries with their pitchers than other teams.
Nice catch. I haven’t read The Extra 2% yet, but it’s on my list. I don’t know if the Nationals have something similar, but I assume that if they’re investing millions of dollars into these guys, they do some other research into this stuff.
It’s a great read, especially the part about how a Rays area scout was advocating for a slightly pudgy, older-looking junior college player from Missouri that seemed to have a great mind for the game. He was brought in to Tampa for a tryout but didn’t impress anyone else in the scouting department. The player: Albert Pujols! 🙂
In general, I’ve heard the theory that it’s not extra pitches, per se, but pitches with bad mechanics that lead to injuries – and that stands to reason. How often have you heard the old advice “Lift with your knees!” when hoisting something off the ground? Just bending over and lifting puts strain on your back.
Trying to push, pull, jimmy, or lift something when you’re in an awkward position often leads to small pulls, even if what you’re moving around isn’t all that heavy. And when that happens, we usually take it easy for a few days (if we’re careful or smart).
A major-league pitcher doesn’t do that. Throwing a baseball 90+, with ridiculous breaks and spins, is not a natural activity to begin with. It’s already an extreme stress on the body. Starters do that 100 or more times a game, not even including their warmups (that can be an extra 50 or more tosses); then they do it again five days later, with bullpen work between. Relievers go all-out maybe three or four times per week. Any small injury is quickly going to become a big problem under that kind of workload, even if the mechanics are sound after the injury occurs.