is a thinking man's game. It's the closest that you're going to get to athletic chess
, and I'm surprised that more of the E2
community isn't interested in it. The number of mathematical
formulas used for baseball statistics is staggering - they've even got a word for the study of baseball statistics
Baseball takes as long as it does for two reasons. One, there's no time limit. Both teams have the same opportunity to win the game. There is never a such thing as "running out of time". In baseball, you lose. Two, because both teams are focused on every pitch, every throw, and every swing, it requires tremendous concentration As opposed to other sports, like football or hockey, there is never a situation where you give away a play (like punting the ball, or dumping the puck into the other end).
You see one guy standing there with a bat, and because you're ignorant of the sport, that's all you see. What I see is this: one guy standing there with a bat... he's standing in the rear of the batter's box... Why?... Because the pitcher is throwing smoke today, and the batter wants those extra three-hundredths of a second - they make a difference... the catcher is setting up outside... Why is he doing that?... Does the batter have trouble hitting outside pitches?... Maybe they're working him outside, and then they'll go back inside to jam him... heh, now the shortstop has moved a couple feet to the right. He moved too early... I wonder if the batter picked that up... it probably means there's a breaking pitch coming... this batter kills breaking pitches, especially against lefties... who's up next... you know, if he gets on, maybe we should bunt him over... the next guy hasn't been batting very well... here's the pitch... oooo! I thought that was outside... he called it a strike.
That's what baseball fans see. There are so many little intricacies to the game, and people who watch a game here and there never pick up on them, so all they see are people standing around. The fans are focused on everything... not just the batter and the pitcher. If there are runners on, we're watching the runners. We're also looking at the score, and what inning it is, because there are different things you do at different points in the game. We're arguing about whether or not the third base coach should have sent that runner who got thrown out at the plate in the fourth. We're also debating who's the best shortstop in the league. We're looking ahead to tomorrow night's matchup, looking back at last night's game, and thinking about the rest of the season. Who's going to be on the All-Star Team. Why do the Orioles suck so bad this year?
And I think the reason why he your dad told you to cheer for Ozzie Smith is because the Wizard is one of the best defensive players of all time. For those who don't know, he used to start every game with a cartwheel-backflip combination.
Listen to this response to the question of whether or not Mark McGwire should be intentionally walked in every at bat...
"I spent some time thinking about and working on your question of whether it's better to walk McGwire all the time or pitch to him.
"Rather than try to simulate a great number of seasons, I decided to look at this question from a more theoretical perspective. There's a feature in Diamond Mind that generates batting orders for the computer manager to use. The logic behind that feature uses an "expected runs" approach to assess (a) each player's overall offensive ability and (b) which parts of the batting order he's most suited for.
"As you know, the standard expected runs tables are based on averages -- if an average series of hitters is coming up, those tables tell us how many runs are likely to be scored given the current base-out situation. Our batting order logic performs a player-specific expected runs calculation; that is, given the rates with which this hitter produces singles, doubles, and other outcomes, we figure the expected number of runs that will be produced in a given situation assuming this hitter is up next and the succeeding hitters are average. We do this for all situations, weight them based on how often they arise in the course of a season, and we wind up with an overall measure of the player's ability to produce more expected runs than the average hitter.
"I worked through this calculation for McGwire based on his park-adjusted 1999 performance against RHP. For each of the 24 base-out situations, I let the computer figure his personal expected runs number, and found that there wasn't a single base-out situation where walking him made more sense than pitching to him.
"In 22 of 24 base-out situations, McGwire's personal expected runs figure was better, usually much better, than that of an average hitter, but in no case did his extra production add up to the expected runs from walking him.
"Surprisingly, there were two situations (runner on third with zero outs, and runners on second and third with one out) where McGwire lags behind the league-average hitter. The reason: his walks aren't worth much in those situations, his strikeouts don't advance the runners, and the league-average hitter would more often cash in those runs with singles and doubles. Those factors more than compensate for his higher homer rate." - Tom Tippett
Tell me that's not amazing. There are guys who are so enthralled with baseball that they'll code statistical simulation packages just to figure out what certain hitters are likely to do.