Author Archives: Bryan O'Connor


Yesterday, an HHS reader asked Andy this question:

“Is it possible to determine the greatest triples hitter in history, factoring in era/park, etc.? Wild guess is Willie Wilson.”

Andy passed it on to me, and because the reader is Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods, perhaps my favorite baseball book of the last decade, I thought I’d take a stab at answering the question.  With an assist from @Braves_Paul, I attempted to create Triples+, a metric comparing a player’s seasonal triples total to the league average and adjusting for park factors.

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A Wild Weekend of Bunts

A few weeks ago, I introduced seven questions I expected to explore over the course of this season with regard to the use and efficacy of bunts.  I’ve been tracking bunts by National League teams in an attempt to gain a better understanding of their effect on win probability and whether they’re being used wisely.  As is the case with anything one might study for three weeks in April, the results bounced around a little bit early on, before three crazy days of bunts this weekend.

More on the weekend, and the season, in bunts after the jump.

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Three Days of Bunts

We’ve seen three baseball games so far this year, and if that’s a meaningful sample, I think Hyun-Jin Ryu has all the major awards locked up.

We’ve also seen eight plate appearances this season that ended with bunts.  After the jump, a few facts about those bunts, which will accomplish nothing except establishing a baseline for a feature I hope to bring back to these pages with some regularity throughout the summer.

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On Underrated and Overrated Players

There’s been some recent discussion in comments on these pages, particularly those involving the Circle of Greats, about underrated and overrated players.  I don’t consider myself any more qualified to determine how individual players are “rated” than anyone else, but a few years ago on my personal blog, I tried to take an objective approach to this question.  I concluded that, from 2009 through early 2011, Michael Bourn was the game’s most underrated player and Carlos Lee was its most overrated.

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Playing for the Tie

Last night in St. Pete, the Red Sox trailed the Rays, 4-3 in the top of the ninth.  Fernando Rodney opened the frame with six balls in seven pitches, walking Will Middlebrooks (who gave way to pinch runner Xander Bogaerts), and falling behind Jacoby Ellsbury, who then blooped a single into shallow left.

Read on for more and to weigh in on John Farrell’s strategy.

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Who Would Hit the Most Home Runs in 2013?

Dalton joined me for lunch a few weeks ago in the land of lobster and oversized novelty boots.  We got to talking about Barry Bonds, offensive environments, and asterisks.  Both of us are irked by fans willing to completely ignore individual accomplishments based on single factors like PEDs or Coors Field.

Rather than removing these numbers from history with asterisks, official or personal, the thinking fan, we agreed, has an obligation to adjust certain individual accomplishments for context.  Roger Maris had eight more games in which to hit his 61 homers than Babe Ruth got to hit his 60.  Mark McGwire took 3,500 CCs more androstenedione than Maris in hitting his 70.  Barry Bonds got to play six more games in Coors Field than McGwire when he hit his 70 (but also played 78 more in San Francisco).  While some of these factors are more difficult to control for, we should be able to determine who hit the most home runs relative to his peers.

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My Take on ARod and Steroids

…just kidding.

Instead, how about a quick look at the effects of yesterday’s suspensions on the 2013 baseball season?  Seven players who were on major league rosters as of Sunday were suspended for 50 games each.  After the jump, we’ll look at those players, their year-to-date WAR (per baseball-reference), and their teams’ positions in the standings as of this morning.  In ascending order of potential playoff race impact:

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Balancing the Schedule

It seems like it took 56 to 60 percent of our energy to get there, but we’re finally halfway through the 2013 baseball season.  Perhaps the most fascinating development of the first “half” is the dominance of the AL East, with four teams playing at least .537 baseball, which equates to 87 wins over a full season.  Only eight teams outside the division, and none in the NL West, have won as many games as the fourth-place Yankees.  To top it all off, the team in fifth place is the team many of us expected to win the division.

While this would be a remarkable development taken at face value, it’s even more astonishing when one considers the imbalance in MLB’s schedule.  Those five AL East teams have played 44 percent of their games against each other, obviously breaking even in those games, while compiling a 158-112 record against all other teams.  Essentially, the AL East is a 95-win team when playing outside the conference.

After the jump, we’ll take a look at what balancing the schedule might look like based on early returns from 2013. Continue reading

What Can Nerds Learn From Wedgies?

Yesterday, Mariners Manager Eric Wedge blamed sabermetrics, “for lack of a better term”, for Dustin Ackley’s failure to perform at the major league level.  From the linked piece (skip to the bottom to read it yourself):

“It’s the new generation. It’s all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean?” Wedge said. “People who haven’t played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids’ heads.” Continue reading

Glavine vs. Smoltz

Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were born a year apart and made their Major League debuts for the Braves a year apart.  They were teammates in Atlanta from 1988 through 2002, went their separate ways, and then retired a year apart.  They’ll hit the Hall of Fame ballot a year apart, and should both sail into the Hall, possibly in the same year, though it seems both more likely and more fitting that they’ll be inducted a year apart.

With the exception of the rotations Bobby Cox set every April and most Octobers for the fifteen years they spent together, Glavine and Smoltz have rarely been pitted against each other.  It looks like Glavine’s about to be inducted into the Circle of Greats this week.  Could Smoltz be right behind?  Should Smoltz make the Circle before Glavine does?  Let’s take a look at their respective accomplishments after the jump.

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