The Baseball Writers Association of America just had their annual meeting. At that meeting they consider new applications for membership and reconsider old ones. They just did it with Fangraphs and SB Nation: accreditation granted to the former, denied to the latter.
Great news for FanGraphs. They do amazing work, of course, and I guarantee you that every single thinking BBWAA member relies on their analysis heavily as they do their jobs. Well-deserved.
I’m not at all pleased with SB Nation not making it. If for no other reason than this means that Rob Neyer and Amy K. Nelson, who have been BBWAA members for several years by virtue of their ESPN affiliation, are now officially on a one-year at-large membership. If SB Nation is not reconsidered next year, they presumably lose their ticket.
Rob’s tweet about this a few minutes ago suggested that the reasoning given for it not being accredited was that SB Nation is “too new” and that someone said that they’d only been around since July. This makes very little sense because while, yes, SB Nation has amped-up its national coverage in the past year or so with notable new hires like Nelson and Neyer, it has existed as an entity for several years. And it’s not like Fangraphs has been around since the Carter administration itself.
That aside, if “too new” was the real reason, I think it marks the third different rationale for keeping people out of the BBWAA I’ve heard in the past five years. Earlier it was about how many games people cover. Last year people said it was about whether the writer in question gets, like, health benefits from their employer. It seems like a moving target to me. But whatever. It’s their organization. They can do what they want with it.
I just think they’ve made a pretty big mistake here. SB Nation is doing fantastic work and has a tremendous reach. As are many other online outlets. Any organization needs to evolve to survive. I’ve never been particularly impressed at the speed with which the BBWAA has evolved.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.