Apparently baseball players throw too many fastballs. It will take smarter people than I am to figure out if this Means Something or it’s merely interesting. It’s been a long day, however, and at this point interesting is enough for me:
In the case of baseball, we observe every pitch thrown in the major
leagues over the period 2002-2006 – a total of more than 3 million
pitches. For football, we observe every play in the National Football League for the years 2001-2005 – over 125,000 plays . . . The results obtained from analyzing the football and baseball data are
quite similar. In both cases, we find clear deviations from minimax
play, as evidenced by a failure to equalize expected payoffs across
different actions played as part of mixed strategies, and with respect
to negative serial correlation in actions . . . In baseball, pitchers appear to throw too many fastballs,
i.e., batters systematically have better outcomes when thrown fastballs
versus any other type of pitch.
Game theory, schmame theory. Maybe ballplayers just want to give him the heat and announce their presence with authority. Didja ever think of that? And maybe those suckers simply teed off on ’em like they knew they were gonna throw a fastball.
Oh . . .
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.