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The Mad Professor’s 25% solution…


With apologies to Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s week 8.   Teams have played about 40 games and we are 25% through the 2016.  Time does fly.  There is a lot going on in Major League Baseball:

  • Recalibrations of the strike zone
  • More discussions about replacing umpires with robots
  • Redefining the intentional walk
  • And Jose Bautista and Rougned Odor are moonlighting with the WWE.


bautistaI’m about to go on leave for a couple of weeks.  So, I will leave decorum and order behind and fire off some random thoughts about this and other stuff at the ¼ season mark.




First: Some Rants

Recalibrating the Strike Zone and the Intentional Walk.  OK.  Why do we need this?  Is it really driven by a desire to speed the game up and maybe get more offense out there? I can see getting rid of the four-pitch intentional walk.  Unless you really do develop a strategy to score on errant intentional walk pitches, there really is no reason not to get rid of what is, essentially, a 4 pitch ritual. Still, how many nanoseconds per game are we looking to save here?


Just as a reference:  in 2015 there were 951 IBB over the course of 4,860 games (that’s 30 teams @ 162 games).  That works out to 1 IBB every 5 games played. That’s 4 extra pitches every 5 games.  Dinner won’t be any colder or warmer when you get home.  Just saying…


With regard to making the strike zone smaller, hitters generally agree that more bad calls occur at the bottom of the strike zone than anywhere else.  So, if this gets balls called more accurately (at the expense of the number of strikes), fewer swings at bad  pitches, more hitters taking pitches and getting on base with walks, then we might see a few more baserunners and a few more runs.

BUT THAT WON’T MAKE THE GAMES SHORTER, NOW WILL IT?  So, what’s really going on?  Where’s the beef?

Using K-Zone. 

On the other hand, why not use the K-Zone and solve this problem?  It will ensure accuracy, diminish any possibility of an umpire fattening up the strike zone because you complained too much last time, and make the calls more consistent.


Sentimentalists may want to keep the opportunity there to see one of Earl Weaver or Billy Martin’s descendants come out and throw a fit.  Who’s the manager going to yell at if we are calling strikes by computer guided laser?  Not much point kicking dirt on home plate if you are arguing with a computer.  This would give a whole new meaning to “Pardon the Interruption.”

On the other hand, this could add a lot more flash—literally—to the games.  Imagine:  instead of an Marvin_the_Martian.svgump throwing a manager out, the K-Zone laser slooooowwwwllly trains its sites on the complaining manager…  You say too much and…”That’s it.  Fire up the Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator.”

Are we talking smoke?  Vaporization? Ant-Man?  Perhaps Mr. Freeze’s ray gun?  The mind boggles.  Folks might not mind longer games if they involved an occasional vaporization play or earth-shattering “kaboom”  at home plate.


Unnecessary Violence After the Ball has Been Blown Dead

If we are going to keep the umps, let them go to NHL school and develop an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the Bautistas, Odors and the pitchers who throw at them. #Seriously.


Now, back to our Regularly Scheduled Program: A Quick Review of Ailing Aces in the AL East

Wow.  Just when you thought it could not get worse…  Wassup with Archer, Harvey and Price?  Things are going more or less as expected, but not as hoped.  Whatever was going on with the mechanics of Archer’s delivery is still going on.  David Price is sticking to his pattern of heating up in May after a cold April (though, he is still dicey).  Matt Harvey is having trouble finding himself and his velocity.

Archer’s striking out too many people to be this bad.  Price is showing that he is worth most of his salary.  Are we SURE Harvey is not hiding an injury?

SEASON W IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP Pitches Strikes Balls LD% ERA WHIP
Chris Archer 3 49.1 11 4.56 1.64 0.331 881 531 350 23.50% 4.38 1.52
David Price 6 55.1 11 2.28 0.81 0.352 940 623 317 26.90% 5.53 1.27
Matt Harvey 3 48.1 8 2.79 0.93 0.385 831 564 267 29.20% 5.77 1.66
LAST 14 DAYS W IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP Pitches Strikes Balls LD% ERA WHIP
Chris Archer 1 11 9.8 6.55 1.64 0.259 196 115 81 10.70% 4.91 1.55
David Price 2 14 11 1.29 0.64 0.286 221 147 74 20.00% 1.93 0.93
Matt Harvey 1 14.1 11 2.51 1.26 0.467 264 186 78 38.60% 8.16 1.88

Archer’s K/9’s are down, BB are up.  But LD% is down and BABIP is too?  Something is amiss here and it can’t simply be the mechanics of the delivery.  But, at least he’s striking batters out.

Harvey’s K/9 are up.  But so are HR/9, BABIP, LD% and ERA.  This is a potential meltdown.  He needs to get out of the starting rotation for a bit and either get his head straight or maybe even do some meaningless long relief  Don’t be surprised to see him get a DL stint.

Price: Everything is going in the right direction.  He is officially a slow starter.


Awesome Baseball

Cubs logoWhen the Cubs were 25-5, commentators point out that all they had to do was play .500 ball the rest of the way and they’d finish 20 games over .500.  Yeah, well that can still happen. They are going to be awesome.

But, don’t look now.  The Cubbies are 4-6 in their last 10 games.  Their 29-12 record is still pretty impressive.  But take a look around the league:  The Cubs have company.

W L Pct
Cubs 29 12 0.707
Orioles 26 15 0.634
Nationals 27 17 0.614
Red Sox 27 17 0.614
Mariners 26 17 0.605

Five teams are tearing it up.  What I think is particularly scary (besides the fact that Baltimore is there), is that Boston is doing this with mediocre pitching. Price has been unstable.   Porcello has been solid.  Wright is a blessing.  Buchholz is Buchholz. But, Eduardo Rodriguez has not returned yet.  He’s a legitimate #2.  The bullpen has been lights out despite Carson Smith’s absence.  With Smith, this bullpen compares to the Yankee’s 1-2-3 punch.


Speaking of the Yankees…  They are not going to win the division and are old.  But… through 43 games, they have 12 saves.  Aroldis Chapman has 5 of them in the last 14 games.  If this bullpen gels, Yankee starters may not need to pitch more than 5 innings.  Granted, their starters aren’t regularly threatening to pitch more than six.  Nonetheless, if you know that on any given evening, Betances or Miller might show up to pitch the 6 and 7 (and possibly go 2 innings), you better get to the starters early.  This will only improve the value of NYY SP going forward.  Don’t bet the farm.  But, still…

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!


(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday May 22nd, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Every week we will do a quick recap of Fr-Sat games, and a forecast of Monday through Thursday’s games.

Our guests this week are Lenny Melnick and Zak Sauer.  Lenny Melnick is a fantasy baseball legend and a pioneer in the business. He is credited with starting the very first fantasy baseball show in 1993 along with Irwin Zwilling and Sandy Stolle. He also has a website which you can find at lennymelnickfantasysports.com where you can find all his work, and it is a great overall free community. Zak is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com, a co-host of our Saturday football shows starting June 4th, and the co-host of Sports Buffet’s radio show “Sports Talk” every Monday with Lou Landers.

“You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”


(Click the Red link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday May 19th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #14 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Our Thursday night show will do some weekly recaps, player updates, and preview the coming week-end games.

Our guests this week are Hernan Batista and Bryan Luhrs. Bryan is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, a writer with MLFS, and a key member of our organization. Hernan is a frequent guest on our radio shows and an owner in MLFB1 and MLFB2.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

Unrepentant Red Sox fan and all things Boston. Deflategate was a joke. Boston Latin School is awesome. Harvard and Johns Hopkins alma maters... Besides that... Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law at Washington and Lee University. Wrote for Ron Shandler's Shandler Park for two summers and have been on board with MLFS since 2011. Been at Washington and Lee since 1990 with a brief hiatus (2010-2013) in the Middle East. Currently developing that last word in Fantasy Baseball analysis. Married to Flor, Dad to William and Alex, and adopted daughter Reem. Soon to be father and law to Meaghann. Alpha male to the world's super-pup, Humphrey. Life is not bad.

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  1. Pingback: Moonlighting: Reflections on 2016 Baseball Analysis « Mark Rush

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