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Thread: The 3 toughest outs??
05-21-2012, 09:08 AM #1
The 3 toughest outs??
It makes me want to scream even more about our closers over the years.....
Interesting article from JoeP:
"The other day, I heard an announcer call the ninth inning, “The toughest three outs to get in baseball.” I will not name the announcer for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I could probably turn on the television tonight, scan the DirecTV baseball package and within a few minutes hear another announcer say the same thing, almost word for word. This “toughest three outs to get are the last three outs” is pretty well engrained into the grand baseball conversation."
Joe Blogs: The Three Toughest Outs2015AAT-Daniel Fields 2014AAT-Buck Farmer 2013AAT-Mr Ilitch 2013 2012AAT-Dixon Machado
2011AAT-Heather Nabozny 2010AAT-Phil Coke 2008&2007AAT-Sergio Collado 2007AT-AAT-Alan Trammell
05-21-2012, 11:12 AM #2
I'm not sure I'd say that they're the 3 toughest outs for a pitcher, if the pitcher executes, but I think it's the toughest inning (along with the 1st for a SP) to execute his pitches.
And as someone commented there, I'm not sure about the inning-by-inning run stats used; there are probably many instances where 2 or 3 guys are left on base with nobody out because the game has ended. And of course with the straight hitting stats, teams will use their best reliever and I'm sure there are more bunts and things that do not get executed.
But yeah, if you got a pitcher that can handle the pressure, it's not any more difficult.It stays on my head in here, this is the SHAKE SIGNAL, the MASTER SHAKE SIGNAL, you got that?
05-21-2012, 11:52 AM #3
I think there are some pitchers that are intimidated by the ninth inning, so the last three outs would be tough for them. However, I don't think there are that many of them in the majors and don't think teams usually allow those pitchers to pitch the ninth inning. For everyone else, the ninth inning shouldn't be more difficult than other innings.
05-21-2012, 11:58 AM #4
I don't think there are that many walk-off wins, which is what would be required for the runners to be left on base with less than 3 outs to be unaccounted for in ERA.
Probably less than 5% of wins are walk-off, and not all of those involve multiple runners left on base when the winning run scores. So we are talking about a fraction of a small fraction of innings that would be impacted.
As such, I think the impact of not accounting for the potential runs on base when the winning run scores on ERA is small enough that it would not alter the conclusions one arrives at.
Last edited by Mr. Bigglesworth; 05-21-2012 at 12:03 PM.
05-21-2012, 12:02 PM #5
Also, if the relatively poor batting line in the 9th is due to the effectiveness of closers as a group, then the implication is the benefit of using a closer is greater to much greater than the perceived added difficulty in getting the last 3 outs. Which goes to Joe's point, I think.
Last edited by Mr. Bigglesworth; 05-21-2012 at 12:04 PM.
05-21-2012, 12:09 PM #6
Last thought on this, I think.
I often wonder if sayings like this persist in part because there may be some truth to them at lower levels, like high school baseball. Far more have played high school ball than professional, let alone MLB. So I wonder if there aren't fans who heard this from their coach in HS, and their coach was accurate enough when referring to HS ball, yet transferring the thought to cover MLB becomes inaccurate. Plus, it is exactly the sort of thing a HS school coach would tell his/her players in an attempt to have them keep their focus in the last frame.
Random thought: I also wonder if more fielding errors / fewer DP might lead to more 9th inning rallies at the lower levels as well.
Last edited by Mr. Bigglesworth; 05-21-2012 at 12:12 PM.
05-21-2012, 12:36 PM #7It stays on my head in here, this is the SHAKE SIGNAL, the MASTER SHAKE SIGNAL, you got that?
05-21-2012, 12:46 PM #8
b) Even if it is 0.05 runs lost due to this effect, does it fundamentally change the conclusions in Joe's article? All Joe is arguing is there doesn't appear to be data to support the observation that the 9th inning are the 3 hardest outs to get. Increasing the ERA of the inning by 0.05 doesn't change that conclusion, does it?
05-21-2012, 12:49 PM #9
05-21-2012, 01:03 PM #10
You just described what I am trying to do with my son's little league team. Stuff like backing-up throws, having the right guy covering the base, hitting the cut-off man, taking the easy out, not throwing to a base if you can't nail the runner, running out all plays, etc. can win games fairly regularly at that level.
And, well, it is the right way to play. I know none of these kids are going to MLB, and some of them are pretty unathletic, but I feel just about anyone can learn to do these sorts of things to help a team win and be involved instead of always being stuck in right field picking at blades of grass.
Last edited by Mr. Bigglesworth; 05-21-2012 at 02:18 PM.
05-21-2012, 02:03 PM #11
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Ballgames can be won or lost in any inning, but clearly the 9th inning can place more "mental pressure"
on the pitcher and the fielders - but the hitters would feel that pressure also. So perhaps it would then
Mental aspects aside, it seems to me that closers have a huge advantage over SP's - they generally throw
under 30 pitches (except for the big boy) so tiring is not an issue and they can get away with throwing more
"arm stress" pitches like the slider, split, or screwball.
So maybe it's really the toughest inning for the batter, moreso than the pitcher.2015 Adopt A Tiger: DEAN GREEN - DH, Erie Seawolves
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05-21-2012, 02:18 PM #12
b) When someone is using statistics to make an argument, it better be done correctly, especially if they are criticizing those that use conventional wisdom in it's place. Based solely on this article, I would call his conclusion inconclusive. If you adjust for tight games and quality of pitcher, I would not be completely surprised if the outs are slightly tougher to come by. I don't *think* they are, but it's possible.It stays on my head in here, this is the SHAKE SIGNAL, the MASTER SHAKE SIGNAL, you got that?
05-21-2012, 02:27 PM #13
Joe's piece was a blog entry, not an academic piece. I believe the data provided was more to illustrate the point that batters as a group do not appear to be harder to get out as opposed to demonstrating it conclusively. I also think he qualified the data as having its' flaws upfront, as opposed to presenting the idea that it was undeniably conclusive.
I suspect if he were writing a piece for SABR or something, it probably would have been more thorough and better supported, but then it probably wouldn't have appealed to the casual reader as much, nor would it have been as concise. I think for the format and what I presume to be the readership targetted, the data provided, as well as how it was preented, was sufficient.
05-21-2012, 02:39 PM #14
But I guess I was not his target audience.It stays on my head in here, this is the SHAKE SIGNAL, the MASTER SHAKE SIGNAL, you got that?
05-21-2012, 02:40 PM #15
05-21-2012, 02:45 PM #16
I think he did a reasonably good job illustrating that it does not appear the last 3 outs are the hardest to get, and I'd say his analysis, as simple as it was, was a step further than most baseball commentary on TV or radio, yet it could easily be worked into those broadcasts.
Had he considered runners left on base in a walk-off wins, would it impact his conclusion?
05-21-2012, 02:50 PM #17b) When someone is using statistics to make an argument, it better be done correctly, especially if they are criticizing those that use conventional wisdom in it's place. Based solely on this article, I would call his conclusion inconclusive. If you adjust for tight games and quality of pitcher, I would not be completely surprised if the outs are slightly
05-21-2012, 02:58 PM #18
I always thought James was a writer first and a statistician second. I view Joe the same way.
I look at it this way - Joe is trying to communicate an idea as concisely as possible. The stats provided demonstrate reasonably well that there isn't much, if any, difference between the 9th inning and other innings offensively. Certainly not enough to support the idea that the 9th inning is the toughest inning to get outs at first glance.
Is it perfect? No. He'd probably be the first person to admit that.
Is it likely that if he included the extra analysis that the conclusion would change? I think no. So to me, the oversight is pretty insignificant.
05-21-2012, 03:17 PM #19
As I said in my initial post, I don't think there is any difference from inning 3-9 except for the pressure that comes from closing out a game, and typically the guys that would wilt under that are not pitching the 9th. And in fact there is also conventional wisdom that says certain guys pitch better in the 9th because of that pressure. I think if TV Guy X felt the need to go deeper for his audience, he would probably say it is the pressure that makes it tougher, and he would probably also say that a typical closer would pitch better under pressure and feed on his adrenaline. So in a sense, conventional wisdom would also say that for certain guys it's easier to pitch in the 9th. (Note that this is also a problem I have with trying to over-analyze CW, the very nature of analysis tends to focus only on one piece of data, and it tends to interpret it literally, where CW by definition is not often subject exclusive and not often taken as literal.)It stays on my head in here, this is the SHAKE SIGNAL, the MASTER SHAKE SIGNAL, you got that?
05-21-2012, 03:26 PM #20
05-21-2012, 04:11 PM #21
Ugh, he used "your" incorrectly in the second-to-last paragraph. I think I just lost all respect for Joe.
Edit: I'm kidding, sort of. It was a good article until then.
05-21-2012, 04:23 PM #22
Actually, the logic of Joe's critique in his very 1st example that he uses to set up the piece is seriously flawed. It is immaterial if Cano is the 1st or 50th hardest guy in the ML to strike out looking, the fact is that at a <2% rate, you could easily watch dozens of Yankee games and never see it happen, which is exactly what McCarver said, and about which he was absolutely correct (strange as that may seem for McCarver!). That there are many other guys who you might never see take a called third has nothing to do with whether you are likely to see Cano do it. So Joe starts right out confusing the concept of 'rare event' in absolute terms with that of "rarest event" in comparative terms.2015 AAT: Javier Betancourt
05-21-2012, 04:29 PM #23
05-21-2012, 04:38 PM #24
05-21-2012, 04:45 PM #252015 AAT: Javier Betancourt
05-21-2012, 04:51 PM #26
05-21-2012, 04:54 PM #27
I mean, yeah, those runners could influence ERA, but it seems like a fairly small effect to seemingly be hung up on.
Last edited by Mr. Bigglesworth; 05-21-2012 at 05:10 PM. Reason: Improper use of the word ironic, and I should definitely know better.
05-21-2012, 04:55 PM #28
05-21-2012, 05:04 PM #29
I didn't hear the commentary to offer an opinion on which was emphasized.
05-21-2012, 05:05 PM #30
Couldn't you just look at OBP for all 54 (51) outs?Cymbalta: For When You Have that Special Bullpen
05-21-2012, 05:06 PM #31
Last edited by tiger337; 05-21-2012 at 05:30 PM.
05-21-2012, 05:10 PM #32
05-21-2012, 05:10 PM #33
the statistical argument is confounded by the fact that once the better relievers as a class have been chosen as closers, it's no longer valid to compare 9th inning offensive stats to those earlier in the game - the two population universes are no longer randomly distributed wrt pitchers and hitters. He would have done better to go far enough back into history to a point before closing was a specialty, but then there would be other changed circumstances I'm sure, mainly the higher incidence of good pitchers throwing complete games......2015 AAT: Javier Betancourt
05-21-2012, 05:13 PM #342015 AAT: Javier Betancourt
05-21-2012, 05:13 PM #35
Again, if batters are hitting worse as a group because closers are being used, then the implication is that the effect of using closers is greater than perceived increase in difficulty in getting the last 3 outs.
05-21-2012, 05:17 PM #36
In any event, I think the larger critique being made is that Joe doesn't believe Tim had actual data to back his claim, and was making it solely based on intuition / gut feel.
05-21-2012, 05:19 PM #37
05-21-2012, 05:21 PM #38
Or is that what you already meant and I'm misreading your sytnax?2015 AAT: Javier Betancourt
05-21-2012, 05:37 PM #39
If batters, as a group, are batting worse because of closers, and closers are used predominantly in the major leagues, then there really isn't a need to state the last outs are the toughest to get, because as a practical matter the effect doesn't have a significant impact in close games.
Also, closers aren't always used in the 9th.
05-21-2012, 05:38 PM #40
That's not at all what he said literally, but taken with what I know of Cano that's how I took it. Of course Miguel Tejada and Vlad Guerrero are not going to take a called 3rd strike, cw tells me that they swing at everything.
Now if you show me that Cano doesn't actually take a lot of pitches or has a higher called 3rd strike K rate compared with guys that do take a lot of pitches I would call McCarver wrong. But it's a TV telecast, he's going to lose viewers if he goes too deep or qualifies every observation just like Joe would lose readers if he goes too SABR in his blog.It stays on my head in here, this is the SHAKE SIGNAL, the MASTER SHAKE SIGNAL, you got that?
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