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.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.