Miguel Batista, on Nationals fans booing him last night when he was announced as the last-minute fill-in for an injured Stephen Strasburg:
Imagine if you go to see Miss Universe, then you end up having Miss Iowa, you might get those kind of boos. But it’s okay. … I just tried to give the people what they came to see. They came to see a 20-year-old and ended up having [someone] almost 40. They were expecting 10 strikeouts on the bump, but I’m too old for 10. I tried to give them the best I could, stay in the game, make the guys swing the bat because I knew I was limited on my pitches.
Miss Iowa ended up tossing five shutout innings to get his first win of the season.
Of course, as Earl Bloom of the Orange County Register points out, making a comparison to Miss Iowa into a negative loses a little something once you see what she actually looks like.
I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.
First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:
+10 Blue Jays
The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.
Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:
Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.
According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.
The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.
Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.
It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.