Drew Smyly

Tigers broadcasters also have no use for WAR

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The Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association has been handing out a Tigers Rookie of the Year award since 1969, counting Mark Fidrych, Lou Whitaker, Curtis Granderson and Justin Verlander among the previous winners. On Monday, they announced the 2012 award, giving it to outfielder Quintin Berry over left-hander Drew Smyly.

Berry hit .258/.330/.354 with two homers, 29 RBI and 21 steals in 291 at-bats for the Tigers last season. He did have a nice run when he first came up, but he hit just .218/.270/.293 in 147 at-bats after the All-Star break.

Baseball-reference puts him at 0.2 WAR for his performance.

Smyly likewise started off better than he finished, but in his case, it was a couple of midseason DL stints that really held him back. He went 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA and a 94/33 K/BB ratio in 99 1/3 innings overall.

That was good for 1.5 WAR at Baseball-reference

Fangraphs WAR does have the two players closer, as it gives Berry a bit more credit for his baserunning and defense. Still, Smyly has a 1.7 to 1.0 lead there.

And I think that’s about right. Berry was a liability after his fast start and struggled in the postseason as well, if the DSBA is taking that into account. Smyly also made most of his impact early, but that impact was more valuable than Berry’s. Also, he pitched well in a couple of late spot starts while the Tigers were putting away the White Sox, allowing just an unearned run over 9 2/3 innings in the team’s 152nd and 157th games of the season. Not that it should matter to anyone outside of Detroit, but Smyly deserved this award.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: