Should Pitchers Bat Eighth?

Baseball-Reference‘s Play Index shows games since 1930 with starting pitchers batting in most batting order positions but most commonly, of course, in the number 9 hole. Next most common, by far, is batting the pitcher eighth, a tactic which has become more popular in recent years, exceeding 10% of team games this season and last. That is a huge departure from past practice as, other than in the mid-1950s and in 1998, there were virtually no such games before 2007. The question then is why has batting your pitcher eighth now come somewhat into vogue?

You can weigh in on this question after the jump.

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Namesake Pitchers (newly updated)

HHS regular contributor Kahuna Tuna remarked that in the May 30th game between the Cubs and Dodgers, it was the first time that two pitchers of record both had the surname Wood*. Then it happened again Thursday when Miguel Gonzalez got the win for the White Sox over Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals.

Just for fun, I did a little sleuthing to see how many such games I could find. To simplify things a bit, I was looking only for games with starters having the same surname (and spelling) and who both had the decision. And, I looked only at pitchers who were primarily starters over their careers. Those games are after the jump.

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Pinch Slugging Teams

This year’s Cardinals have already hit 10 pinch home runs, putting them on pace to smash the team record of 14 for a full season. In anticipation of this result, this post takes a look at the teams that St. Louis may pass on that team pinch-home run list.

More on pinch home runs after the jump. Continue reading

Quiz – Starting Fast (stumped)

Royals speedster Paulo Orlando has most recently joined this group of mainly obscure players. But, only these live ball era players started their careers in an unusual way. What distinguishes the starts of these players’ careers among those of all other live ball era players? (Click on MORE to see the full list of quiz players)

1. Hal Rice 7. Jack Merson
2. Paulo Orlando 8. Spike Owen
3. Dave Silvestri 9. Keith Miller
4. Aaron Hill 10. Ivy Griffin
5. Bobby Clark 11. Keith Moreland
6. Danny Gardella 12. Bobby Del Greco

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Extra innings a whole new game

On behalf of High Heat Stats, I contributed a piece to the May 11-17 issue of USA Today Sports Weekly. This one is all about extra innings: why they have become more common in recent years and how managerial decisions play such a major role in determining extra-inning winners.

Here is the link to the column. And remember that HHS appears in the magazine every week this season! Stay tuned for future links or consider picking up a print copy.

Game Notes: Cubs Sweep Nats

These Cubs and Nats squared off over the weekend, starting this series as division leaders who had both won five of their past six games. At 20-6 (Cubs) and 19-8 (Nats) both teams were off to franchise-best starts in the live ball era. After four games, the Cub juggernaut rolls on, leaving the Nationals to lick their wounds.

More on this series after the jump.

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Game Notes: Orioles and White Sox

Two division leaders in the early going squared off over the weekend, and halved a four game set in Baltimore. Chicago has undergone a wholesale makeover from the squad that placed fourth in the AL Central in 2015 with a 76-86 record. Baltimore has made fewer changes, hoping another year of experience for its younger players will result in an improvement on last year’s 81-81 record, good for third place in the AL East.

After the jump, a look at these teams and the series that was.

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