Apparently baseball players throw too many fastballs. It will take smarter people than I am to figure out if this Means Something or it’s merely interesting. It’s been a long day, however, and at this point interesting is enough for me:
In the case of baseball, we observe every pitch thrown in the major
leagues over the period 2002-2006 – a total of more than 3 million
pitches. For football, we observe every play in the National Football League for the years 2001-2005 – over 125,000 plays . . . The results obtained from analyzing the football and baseball data are
quite similar. In both cases, we find clear deviations from minimax
play, as evidenced by a failure to equalize expected payoffs across
different actions played as part of mixed strategies, and with respect
to negative serial correlation in actions . . . In baseball, pitchers appear to throw too many fastballs,
i.e., batters systematically have better outcomes when thrown fastballs
versus any other type of pitch.
Game theory, schmame theory. Maybe ballplayers just want to give him the heat and announce their presence with authority. Didja ever think of that? And maybe those suckers simply teed off on ’em like they knew they were gonna throw a fastball.
Oh . . .
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
Welp, that didn’t last long. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going back on the injured list with more knee issues. If it matters the Sox say it’s not a big deal and they expect him back sooner rather than later, but they also said that his post-2017 knee surgery was just a “cleanup” at first and that basically cost him a year. So.
Pedroia has played in six games and is 2-for-20 with a walk.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Pedroia’s career may be nearing an end. Sure, he’s under contract for two more years after this season, but he’s also in a unfortunate spiral that so many players experience in their mid-to-late 30s.
Running a website like this makes it all the clearer, actually. When you search a player’s name in our CMS, you get every post in which he appears in reverse chronological order. Just about every long-tenured player ends with about six posts in which he is alternately placed on and activated from the disabled/injured list. Then an offseason link to a big feature in which he’s written about as being “at a crossroads” followed by something vague about “resuming baseball activities” and then, inevitably, the retirement announcement. I can’t count the number of guys whose careers I can tick off in that way by browsing the guts of this site.
I hope that’s not the case for Pedroia. I hope that there’s a “Pedroia wins Comeback Player of the Year” post in the future. Or at the very least a silly “Miller’s Crossing” reference in an “And that Happened” in which I say “the old man’s still an artist with the Thompson” after he peppers the ball around in some 3-for-4, two-double game. I want that stuff to happen.
It’s just that, if you watch this game long enough, you realize how unlikely that is once a player starts to break down.