39 is the magic number

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Fascinating stuff from Joe Lemire of Sports Illustrated. Actually, it’s fascinating stuff from Orioles’ pitching coordinator Rick Peterson, which Lemire passes along: if you face more than 39 opposing hitters, you’re screwed. If you face fewer than 39, you’re probably going to win.

There is an easily intuitive element to this of course: duh, the more hitters a team faces, the more likely your team is to be giving up a lot of runs.  But that’s not the takeaway. The takeaway is how critical that 39th hitter is. How the odds of winning or losing shift so dramatically when that 39th batter comes to the plate.

Go read Lemire’s piece. It’s fascinating stuff. Baseball, because of it’s isolated data sets and stops in the action allow for all kinds of fascinating things like this to be studied. And every time I read about a new one, I love the sport even more.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.