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Guard Dog

Talking Hardball. The 2020 Baseball Thread

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Spring Training is already underway. The Cactus & Grapefruit leagues are in full swing. Minor League camps open today. It is a beautiful thing! To quote Bullet Bob Feller "Baseball is life! Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."

After a turbulent and very active off season it's time to put the past behind us. Everyone is a contender now. It's time to talk hardball!

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Yay!

Wait, what's Spring Training?

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The MLB season is 162 games. It starts in the last week of March/first week of April and runs through September. They play 2-4 game series against every other team in their league with a handful of series against the other league. Those are called interleague  games. There are two leagues in MLB, the National League and the American League.  Each has 15 teams.

Each league has three divisions. The idea is to win enough games to win your division and make the playoffs. In addition to the three division winners the next two teams with the best record make the playoffs as wildcards.

Spring training starts for pitchers and catchers in The last week of February. The whole team reports 10 days later. The teams all report to team facilities in Florida and Arizona to get into shape and practice for the season. The play a 28 game exhibition season with other teams that have camps nearby. For the Florida based teams it's called The Grapefruit League. In Arizona it's the Cactus League. The games don't count and most players don't play every day. Spring training is also where players try to win jobs on major league rosters. If they fail they are sent down to the minor leagues or are just released. So even though it's exhibition it's still competitive. That is where we are right now

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The rules are the game are simple Skazz, the details are where it gets complex.

Image result for baseball diamond

The pitcher throws the ball to the catcher. In front of the catcher the batter for the opposing team tries to strike the ball into play (between 1st & 3rd base). The defenders pictured in the field here will try to catch the ball in the air (in which case the batter is out) or, if they can't throw it to the base the batter is running towards before he gets there. The batter's objective is to get to Home but he's got to cross all three bases to do it. So when he hits the ball into play he's going to try and get to as many bases as he can. If he can't then he's relying on the next batter to hit the ball and move him along. If the next batters are unable to do so the runner on base is said to be stranded.

The game is divided into innings. Nine innings is a regulation game. Each inning is dived into two called the top and bottom. The top of the first inning is the beginning of the game. The home team is in the field (on defense) the visiting team is batting (on offense). Once three batters are out the inning ends for the offensive team and they reverse, the home team goes to bat and the visiting team takes the field. \

Batters can be put out by hitting the ball in the air and the defense catches it (fly out) they can be thrown out before reaching whatever base they are running to (put out), the can be caught off base in between plays or while trying to steal a base (picked off. More on stealing in a bit). Or they can fail to hit the ball in three attempts (strike out)

The pitcher and catcher are working together to throw the ball in such a way that it's hard for the batter to hit the ball (called make contact). Pitchers will vary their throwing styles, speed, etc and catchers will shift position and instruct the defense how to set up for each batter,

 

More in a bit

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I'll let the best Starfleet CO explain the next part. He also agrees that baseball is life!

 

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Posted (edited)

This is a basic baseball score line:

Image result for baseball score line

As you can see it has a box for each of the nine innings for each team (top half & bottom half). The numbers in those boxes are runs scored (points) A run is scored when a batter reaches home plate after crossing all three bases. So in this game Detroit scored one run in the 2nd inning, two in the 3rd, and one in the 8th for a total of 4. That is the number in the R box at the end. The last three boxes are

R-=Runs

H=Hits: How many times a batter for that team hit the ball into play and it was not a fly out or put out before reaching base

E=Errors: how many times a player for that team made a mistake that allowed a batter to reach base when they probably would not have. I'll go more into why this stat is kept in a little bit. It's actually important for the pitcher. 

They  keep track of hits even though it does not affect who won or lost to give you an idea how active the offenses were in each game. How much action their was and how effective the pitching and defense was. It tells you a little about what that game was played even if you didn't see it.

The two names on the bottom are the winning and losing pitcher for this game. Adam Wainright was the winner because he was pitching when St. Louis scored the go-ahead run in the 7th inning. 

 

More in a bit

Edited by Guard Dog
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Thank you! This is all very comprehensive and the same time very accessible.

Thanks a lot for the taking the time to write it all out and explain stuff to a noobie like me, I appreciate it! 😀

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I'll bet Captain Picard can't throw a curveball!

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OK, next lesson. Reading the standings

text

These were the AL standings from sometime in June 2012. 

W = Wins

L = Losses

PCT = winning percentage

GB = Games back. This is a big one. This is how many games a team not in first place has to win to catch the first place team. So look at the AL Central. The White Sox have a two game lead on the Indians. So for the Indians to catch up they need to win two more games than the white sox do over the coming schedule. Now if the Indians are playing the White Sox it's easy. But the schedule is what it is. So if the White Sox lose the next game and the Indians win the Indians will only be one game back. If you notice in the AL East the Orioles are 1.5 games back of the Yankees. The .5 means the Yankees have played more games at this point in the schedule than the Orioles have. It's just the way the schedule worked out. So that .5 represents what they call "a game in hand" for the Orioles. So if Baltimore plays the next day and the Yankees have a day off they will be caught up. If the Orioles win they will be 1 game back. If they lose they will be 2 games back.

Home = Teams won loss record at home so far

Road = record for games on the road. These are also called home/road splits. They also track that for players which we'll get into an a little bit

RS = Runs Scored. The total number of runs scored by that team so far that season

RA = Runs allowed. The total number of runs they have given up. This is just a way to gauge the offensive and defensive effectiveness of each team. 

DIFF = The differential between RS & RA

Streak = How has the team been performing lately. In this example the New York Yankees have won 9 in a row

L10 = The teams record over the last 10 games.

 

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3 hours ago, Guard Dog said:

I'll bet Captain Picard can't throw a curveball!

Boooo

 

55 minutes ago, Guard Dog said:

(other stuff)

Once again, thank you for doing this, this is a true gold mine! 😍

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Guard Dog said:

I'll bet Captain Picard can't throw a curveball!

No doubt as a British Frenchman in a world when baseball stopped being played on Earth 350 years earlier

Sidenote - My mother-in-law always plays this Russian song to my son where it sounds like they are saying Buck Bokai, the greatest baseball player in Trek history.

Edited by ShadySands

Free games updated 3/6/19

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@Skazz next lesson, scoring. 

Image result for 2019 baseball box score
 
This is a box score. At the top is the score line that we went over before. Below that is the line up of each team in the order they batted. To the right of their names is the outcome of their day.
 
AB = At Bat, how many times that player batted.
R = Runs. If they scored a run themselves
Hits = How many hits they made in the game
RBI = Runs Batted In. If there is a runner on base and you get a hit that enables that runner to score you are credited with a RBI.
BB = Base on Balls. A batter has to hit the ball into play to get a hit. But the pitcher has to throw a fair ball to the batter. Meaning the pitch has to be hittable. If the pitch is too high, low, inside, outside, etc and the batter chooses not to swing it's called a ball. If the hitter gets four balls in an AB they are awarded a BB or a "Walk" and advance to 1st Base. If there is already a runner on 1st that runner advances to 2nd. 
K = Strike outs. In any at bat there are seven possible outcomes:
  1. Batter gets a hit
  2. Batter flies out which means the defense catches the ball before it hits the ground
  3. Batter grounds out in which case the ball in on the ground but the defense throws him out at the base.
  4. The batter reaches on an error. More on this in a bit.
  5. The batter is hit by a pitch (scored as HBP) which is the same as a BB
  6. The batter is walked, gets a Base on Balls after four balls.
  7. The batter strikes out. If they swing and miss, or fail to swing at a fairly pitched ball, or tip a ball "foul" meaning outside the 1st & 3rd  baselines, it's called a "strike". Get three strikes in an AB and you are out. 

AVG = The player's batting average for that game. The batting average is Hits divided by AB. So the lead off hitter on the left, Saylor, had 3 AB in this game. He got two hits and struck out once. So 2/3 = .667. He also got a BB but a walk does not count towards a players AVG. It does count on something else called OBP or On Base Percentage. More on that later.

 

Now below the line up is the hit breakdown of the game.

2B = Double. It means the batter got a hit and reached 2nd Base on it.

3B = Triple. That means the batter scored a hit and reached 3rd base

HR = Home Run. The batter hit the ball over the fence so it left the field altogether. The batter and any runners on base automatically advance to home and score.  

RBI = Runs Batted In. We covered that already.

The last lines are the pitchers scores. I'll get to those in a minute. I've got to leave for work now.

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OK, picking up where I left off with Pitching.

H = Hits again. Only this time it's the number of hits the pitcher allowed to the opposing team's batters.

Runs = Runs given up to the opposing team

ER = Earned runs. This is where errors become important. If the batter gets a hit despite the best efforts of the pitcher and the defense and that batter scores it counts as an "earned run" on the pitcher. However, if the batter reaches base because of a defensive error and eventually scores then it's an unearned run and does not count against the pitcher. 

BB = Base on balls again. How many batters did the pitcher walk in that game.

K = Number of batters the pitcher struck out in that game

ERA = Earned Run Average. This used to be the #1 stat for a pitcher but it's fallen out of favor these days. It is the (#earned runs/ # innings pitched) x 9. The lower that number is the better. Anything below 3.0 is really good.

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Giants are going to be pretty bad this year, which is really year one of the rebuild. But I think it will be an interesting year with all the young guys, huge coaching staff, and moving pieces. It will also probably be easy and cheap to get tickets, so I should get to some games. I really want to see Bumgarner pitch against his old team, so that will be a target game for me.

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@Skazz I was going to dive into sabermetrics a little bit but decided not to. You have everything to just watch the games and know what's going on. There is a lot of strategy involved. But it is less tactical than other sports such as football (soccer), football (American) or hockey or basketball. Baseball strategy is more about probabilities and positioning. Pitchers fare better in even handed match ups with batters. If both the pitcher and batter are right handed the pitcher has a better angle on the strike zone. Barry Bonds, one of the greatest baseball hitters to have ever lived is a lefty. In his prime opposing managers would often replace their pitcher with a left hander to face him. Against Bonds that had limited effectiveness because he was just that good. But it's a sound strategy to do that.

Just watch the games. There are pro leagues all over the world. The NPB in Japan is starting their season next week. The skill level there is also extremely high. A lot of players from there come here and vice versa. Ichiro Suzuki is one of the greatest players of all time. He started his career in the NPB, finished in MLB and very soon will be in each league's Hall of Fame. The ABL in Australia just wrapped up their season with the Melbourne Aces winning the championship. They have the coolest championship trophy after the Stanley Cup. It's called the Claxton Shield. Very cool.

There are pro leagues in Mexico, Italy, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Taiwan, Columbia, Venezuela, and  the Dominican Republic. And every four years, next year included is the World Baseball Classic which is the sports equivalent of the World Cup. 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/3/2020 at 12:43 PM, Guard Dog said:

Just watch the games. There are pro leagues all over the world. The NPB in Japan is starting their season next week. The skill level there is also extremely high. A lot of players from there come here and vice versa. Ichiro Suzuki is one of the greatest players of all time. He started his career in the NPB, finished in MLB and very soon will be in each league's Hall of Fame. The ABL in Australia just wrapped up their season with the Melbourne Aces winning the championship. They have the coolest championship trophy after the Stanley Cup. It's called the Claxton Shield. Very cool.

Any decent way to watch MLB games from outside the States?

Also, I admittedly don't know what sabermetrics are, but what I gathered from your (very helpful!) tutorials so far is that baseball is an extremely data-heavy sport for some reason. 🙀

Edited by Skazz

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MLB.com has a free game stream 2-3 times a week. They simulcast on Facebook sometimes. Hulu has all the games but you have to pay for the service and I don't know if it's accessible outside the US. The San Diego Padres and a few other teams have a subscription service on YouTube TV. Once again, not free. However MiLB (affiliated minor leagues) have games on YouTube all the time that are free.

But your best bet is https://www.mlb.com/

Just look to the left and when you see "free game of the day" you can stream it from anywhere.

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Three Yankees players walked into a bar...

They all got injured! 

Judge has a broken rib and is down for two months. Stanton is also hurt (again), Severino is out for the season, Paxton is out until July. 

https://www.mlb.com/news/aaron-judge-fractured-rib-yankees


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This just sucks.


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91615268_1606629709503479_50863891557184


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The first regular season baseball game of 2020 has taken place. The CPBL in Taiwan started it's season in front cardboard cut out fans and robots. (hey it's Taiwan after all!).

https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2020/04/14/taiwan-robot-fans-cheer-worlds-first-baseball-game-since-pandemic/


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Did you know that Greg Maddux faced 20421 batters over his career? Only 133 of them ever got him to a 3-0 count. Only one batter ever hit more than career 2 HR off of him. Anyone want to guess who that was? I'll give you a hint... he played in both the NL Central and NL West. 

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Barry Bonds?

 

I'm missing baseball something fierce. Watched Bull Durham last night and proceeded to call my kids a bunch of lollygaggers.

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20 minutes ago, Hurlshot said:

Barry Bonds?

 

I'm missing baseball something fierce. Watched Bull Durham last night and proceeded to call my kids a bunch of lollygaggers.

Believe it or not no. I thought the same thing when I read the question. It was Luis Gonzalez of all people. The guy wasn’t even a power hitter. He played for the Chicago Cubs, the Houston Astros, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Barry bonds like a lot of other big names only had two.


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