Texas Rangers v San Francisco Giants, Game 2

The tyranny of the DH continues unabated


No, I don’t want to rehash arguments for and against the DH. People are more likely to come to an agreement over religion than that. Let us just all agree that I’m right, the DH is an awful tool of communism/evil and that it should be abolished with righteous fury.

But that’s another conversation we can have at another time in which those who disagree with me will be wrong. For now, even if we cannot agree on the DH/no-DH question, can we at least respect the views of those who differ from us on this?  Bud Shaw of the Cleveland Plain Dealer can’t:

As the home team, the Rockies didn’t allow the Indians to use a DH Sunday. That makes no sense. But it’s the home team’s call … Why wouldn’t a NL manager let a visiting AL team use a DH in a meaningless spring training game? Good question.

Maybe because the NL manager has to play an entire schedule with pitchers batting and he’d like to, you know, prepare his team for that in the preseason?  Both in terms of having his pitchers bat and in terms of preparing hsi defense for the sacrifice bunts, such as the one an Indians pitcher did in the very game which Shaw is describing?

Crazy, I know …

Wild Card, Division series umpires announced

Angel Hernandez
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Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.

Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.

Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:

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Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

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:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

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, seven made the playoffs. Only the Twins and Diamondbacks improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

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.