Ask the E-in-C.
Ben Lindbergh: Hi folks, sorry I'm a few minutes late--just wrapped up an article (up on the site now) about how we could see a relatively suspense-free September. On that positive note, let's get this thing started.
Jeffrey Loria (Miami with my stacks of cash ): Supposed the marlins really wanted to get the number 1 overall pick in next year draft and really tank it. Any suggestions on how I should do this?
Ben Lindbergh: Shutting down Jose Fernandez should help. Inventing an injury for Stanton? You're on pace to finish six wins ahead of the Astros, so you're running out of time to tank.
Joseph (SF): Do you find it weird listening to yourself on the podcast?
Ben Lindbergh: Yes, and I do it as little as possible.
Mitch (St. Paul): On Effectively Wild a bit ago you and Sam joked about the possibility of AROD getting MVP votes if he hit ridiculously well down the stretch and the Yankees made the playoffs.
So far he's hitting pretty well, but probably not well enough for that situation to materialize though. That said, do you think he outproduces NY's other 3B, Wright, when he comes back from the DL the rest of the way?
Ben Lindbergh: Yes, I'd say so. Obviously, Wright would be better given equal playing time, but it doesn't sound like he'll make it back for more than a few games. No reason to rush him.
Bill (LA): Is Chris Flexen kind of a big deal or not really yet?
Ben Lindbergh: Not so big that I could give you any insight on him myself, but I'd say the same for just about any 18-year-old in the Appy League. I just asked Mark Anderson, a member of our Prospect Staff, and here's what he said:
"I'm not sure I'd call him a big deal but he's a legitimate prospect. I've had reports of him reaching 94-95 a few times and sitting in the low-90s with some effort to the delivery. He's a big kid that doesn't have a ton of physical projection left, but he's also really young. I think it's a bullpen profile, but a profile that could be interesting in a couple of years."
My chats always get more interesting when I let other people pinch-hit.
Ben (Cincinnati ): It seems like we are small fodder to you now, how long until a ML team takes you away from us?
Ben Lindbergh: There's almost zero chance of this. Baseball Ops departments don't have a lot of openings for writer/editor/podcasters.
Eric (Anaheim): What's the official BP odds on who is getting fired between Mike Scoisia and Jerry DiPoto?
Ben Lindbergh: Speaking for myself, I'd say the odds are against Dipoto. Which wouldn't be the biggest tragedy for him, because he'd probably get to go be a GM for a team that doesn't have Hamilton and Pujols.
Sicnarf (Mahoning Valley): If I make the ML would I have the best name ever?
Ben Lindbergh: It's in the conversation. I was pulling for Deik Scram, but that's not happening. Rougned Odor would be up there.
Ernest Christine (Philadelphia): Do you like Bryce Brown as a late round sleeper? I think he is a good choice as Chip Kelly will have the Eagles running the ball frequently.
Ben Lindbergh: How did you get in here
Ccc (Michigan): Do knuckleballers out pitch their FIP?
Ben Lindbergh: Yes. The knuckleball tends to produce weak contact, leading to low BABIPs.
dianagram (VORGville): A-Rod's suspension will ultimately:
a) remain at 211 games, beginning in 2014
b) be reduced to 162 games, for all of 2014
c) be reduced to a number between 50 and 162 for 2014
Ben Lindbergh: I don't have any inside knowledge, but I'd lean toward b).
justarobert (Santa Clara): What will the next podcast draft cover?
Ben Lindbergh: We don't have any drafts on the docket, but we love doing them. Suggestions?
Andrew (Pittsburgh): I love me some tall pitchers, Kenn Kasparek is 6'10 and with AA Altoona, major leaguer?
Ben Lindbergh: Mark Anderson again: "I don't see the stuff to succeed in the big leagues. Even with the leverage he generates from his extreme height, he's mostly 88-91 and I've seen a couple 92s out of him in the past. The breaking ball doesn't offer much either. At nearly 28 years old and without a premium pitch, I don't see it working out at the MLB level."
Which makes me sad, because I enjoy giant pitchers. I should've called this chat Ben Lindbergh ft. Mark Anderson. Mark has a chat scheduled for September 27th, by the way, so you can come back then and cut out the middleman.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Not that I liked it, but Barry Bonds's wild unpopularity came from his surliness with writers and from his race.
Why is A-Rod so universally disliked? Vainity?
Ben Lindbergh: I think there's an overly polished, semi-artificial aspect to his persona that rubs people the wrong way. And he's done some silly things, from a PR perspective. Also, he's taken PEDs repeatedly. Generally not the best way to baseball fans' hearts.
Janet (KC ): Odds on any of these happening:
Female writer at BP
Ben Lindbergh: I answered a very similar question in my last chat. Odds of these happening ever? Female BP writer has already happened. Female umpire and female GM are easy 100s. I wouldn't put a high probability on female player happening anytime soon, but there could certainly be a freakish physical talent (or a knuckleballer) who could do it, given enough time. And since we're talking about all of time, I guess the odds of that are fairly high, too.
Matt (Springfield): Meant to send this in to the email show, so feel free to answer now, or on the show if you'd prefer (or if at all):
What do you think the reaction both of MLB and fans be to a pitcher with a prosthetic arm? Technology keeps on marching and it doesn't seem unthinking the day will come.
Ben Lindbergh: Send this to email@example.com, and I predict that it will be answered.
vin (milwaukee): Why do stats like DRS consider difficulty of play as factor? We don't consider difficulty of pitches for batting average.
Ben Lindbergh: Batting average is a pretty flawed--or at least limited--stat, so I don't think it's something you'd want to model an advanced defensive metric after. Why wouldn't you want to consider the difficulty of the opportunity? Fielding percentage already exists.
Jimmy (Toronto): How long until we see you doing scouting reports?
Ben Lindbergh: I'm hoping to be at Scout School a month from this moment, but even if that happens, I don't think you'll see me writing scouting reports. If you do, they will be bad ones.
Tage (Seattle): Trying to move Posey for pitching in my 12 team mixed dynasty. Have two offers:
a) Posey for Sale
b) Posey and Robert Stephenson for Latos and Archie Bradley
Which deal do you prefer?
Ben Lindbergh: I understand the concept of dealing from strength to shore up a weakness, but the thought of trading Posey straight up for a pitcher in a keeper league, even a young and talented one, makes my skin crawl. I guess I'd prefer the second scenario, if I had to make one, but questions like these remind me why I don't miss fantasy much.
Gamer (NYC): Do you play any baseball video games?
Ben Lindbergh: I'm a gamer (ugh, I hate that word), but have never been big into sports games. Have owned a bunch of baseball games, but most began to gather dust before long. I tend to enjoy FIFA/NHL gameplay more. But mostly I need a narrative to keep me invested, and career modes don't do it for me.
vin (milwaukee): My point is none of the hitting metrics, e.g. wOBA, consider difficulty of pitch or pitcher. Whereas defensive metrics give extra weight to difficult plays even though value of saving a single or double is the same.
Ben Lindbergh: I think hitting metrics should consider difficulty of opponent, frankly. Or at least that it would be nice if there were variants of them that did. Difficulty of pitch would be tougher to do. However, Vince Gennaro has done some research into whether certain hitters have an ability to hit good/bad pitching disproportionately well, and I believe he's found some year-to-year consistency there. That could be a potential complication.
Jake (Minnesota): Your coming to our ASG events right....
Ben Lindbergh: Haven't thought about it yet. Haven't been to Target, so I'd like to see it.
Sam (Baltimore): You look like a gin and tonic drinker, am I correct?
Ben Lindbergh: Technically, yes, in that I have had them. I'm not a frequent consumer of alcohol. I do drink more green tea than Joe Torre, mostly because my life is one long, losing struggle to stay awake.
dianagram (VORGville): Hi Ben .... thanks for the chat ....
Any thoughts of altering the layout of the front page of the BP site. Seems very busy (in a mostly good way) . . . perhaps organizing the content by
type, then date of article, rather than other way around?
Ben Lindbergh: We've certainly considered and done some work on redesigns and reorganizations. I wouldn't mind having a dedicated page for fantasy content.
Christopher (TN): Do you want a brownie? My wife makes them extra fudgy, with nuts.
Ben Lindbergh: This sounds like a euphemism for something else. I think I'm going to decline.
Miguel (San Diego): Would you ever take C.Trent job as beat writer?
Ben Lindbergh: I'd rather try to do Trent's job than try to do most other jobs in the world, but I'm much happier doing what I do now and wouldn't be tempted to switch unless someone made me.
hotstatrat (Toronto): Tough question: speaking of Pujols and Hamilton - what should we expect from them next year?
Ben Lindbergh: The general trajectory over the life of their contracts will be downward, but if Pujols is healthy, I could see both of them being better in 2014 than they have been this year.
Dylan (AZ): Are you making it down to the Arizona Fall League this season?
Ben Lindbergh: If the Scout School trip comes together, I'll be in Arizona from 9/29-10/12, so I would catch the beginning of AFL action. I probably won't want to spend more time there than that.
Carl (Washington, D.C. ): How is the dog doing? You need to post more photos on twitter of her.
Ben Lindbergh: The internet will probably survive without me posting pictures of yet another cute animal on it. She's 15 1/2 and if she's not eating, she's sleeping, but on the whole she's doing very well. Thanks for asking.
Eric Hartman (Brooklyn): Do you want to come to the SI Yankees game with me tonight? I'm not sure if I'm serious.
Ben Lindbergh: I can't tonight, but in the future (which I guess would have to be next season, sadly), I totally would. Ask me again.
Grasul (Minneapolis): Pick a closer in the majors now that will still be a dominant pitcher in 2015 not named Kimbrel.
Ben Lindbergh: Mariano Rivera! But if you want one who'll still be active, Aroldis Chapman.
Evan (Chicago): I appreciate everything you and BP do to make this site awesome, thanks!
Ben Lindbergh: Thanks! I appreciate your appreciation.
justarobert (Santa Clara): Draft ideas...hmm. I like the ones whose winners are quantifiably verifiable after not too long of a time span. Maybe something with managers and instant replay challenges?
Ben Lindbergh: Maybe for next season, except it seems like the results would be random. Or at least we would be able to identify any skill in advance.
Seth (Toledo): Pawn Stars or Hardcore Pawn?
Ben Lindbergh: Operation Repo. Will never get over the sense of betrayal I felt when I found out it was scripted.
goiter6 (MN): Any reason why the Team Tracker feature is now not updating from yesterday's games until the next afternoon? It used to be fairly early in the morning so the change is kind of annoying.
Ben Lindbergh: We're receiving our stats feeds later than in the past, and we have larger groups of data (including PITCHf/x to process this year, so it's taking longer. We plan to look at the processes after the season to see what we can do to speed things up. Getting stats updated earlier will be a top priority.
bkobs (Massachusetts): What's the upside of Enny Romero? Does he have frontline potential? Thanks for the great chat!
Ben Lindbergh: Now pinch-hitting (again), Mark Anderson: "The raw stuff -- big fastball, hard curveball, some feel for a changeup -- is there for Romero to have frontline potential. He struggles so much with his delivery and the strike zone that it's hard to actually make that projection. I think he's more of a frustrating starter with great stuff and inconsistent results, or he could excel in the late innings as a reliever."
Normally I would just skip these questions or defer to our prospect people, since this isn't my specialty. All of our prospect writers are available to take questions via email and Twitter, by the way. You can find Mark @ProspectMark, and you can bulk follow everyone at BP by subscribing to our staff list at twitter.com/baseballpro/lists/baseballprostaff.
Colin (Miami): Would you rather learn about philosophy in Spanish or economics in German
Ben Lindbergh: I speak some Spanish, so probably the former, even though I might be more interested in economics. Always sort of wanted to speak German, but not enough to learn it. Maybe an immersion course in econ would be the best way.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Sure with the PEDs, but some players who used were never all that disdained: be it Marlon Byrd or Andy Pettitte or Mark McGwire and all talent levels in between. A-Rod just seems so universally hated in a way that only Bonds and maybe Clemens reached.
Ben Lindbergh: Yes, the perception certainly has to do with other factors. A-Rod has a long history of saying/doing the wrong/unpopular thing at the wrong time.
Bubba (St. Louis): Will you have an article later in the year on why the cardinals are doing so well with RISP?
Ben Lindbergh: I could look into it to see whether there's anything there, but my guess is that there isn't. There's little year-to-year consistency in performance w/RISP, so it's probably not a skill, at least on the team level. As we discussed on the podcast recently, an offense that's hitting especially well w/RISP is like a pitcher with an especially low BABIP.
justarobert (Santa Clara): Given the uproar over the Yahoo Sports redesign, has BP ever considered providing a no-frills real-time scoreboard? I'd really rather not run my own if I don't have to. (There's some code out there to poll GameDay and serve out a scoreboard, but I don't know whether it still works.)
Ben Lindbergh: Not sure if it's ever been considered. There are so many scoreboard options out there that I don't think it would be a big differentiator for us, and there are always a hundred higher-priority things we want to work on. But I'd never say never.
Christopher (TN): It seems to me the current generation of BP writers is on the whole more, um, friendlier than say 10 or 15 years ago. Is that an editorial decision or just random chance? Do you have a "no asshole" policy?
Ben Lindbergh: I guess you could call hiring personable people an editorial decision, though it's not as if I've had to reject a lot of asshole applicants. I wouldn't rule out hiring an unpleasant person who was a great writer and attracted a ton of traffic and subscribers, but on the whole, I'd rather not have to. Makeup and chemistry matter, even in a company without an office.
Grasul (Minneapolis): Any chance we'll see current MLB team as a sortable statistic at some point?
Ben Lindbergh: I'll pass it along to the tech team.
Bill (Denver): Are you bringing back the live chats anytime soon?
Ben Lindbergh: Might do some playoff roundtables, but we're probably sticking with the current chat interface for the time being.
David (Toledo): I thoroughly enjoyed your recent piece with Eric Kratz. Are we gonna have QUIET F/X soon now?
Ben Lindbergh: Thanks, David. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Erik Kratz. FIELDf/x could conceivably double as QUIETf/x.
Steve (NYC): How many articles are you working on at a time? How long does it typically take you to write one?
Ben Lindbergh: Not usually actively working on any more than two. Maybe three if I'm doing interviews for a longer feature. Really hard to give you a number of hours per piece, since they vary widely in length and difficulty and since I'm not sure when to start the clock--often the research takes almost as long as the writing.
justarobert (Santa Clara): I would love to see a hitting metric with opponent quality baked in. How to account for differing batter responses to that, like park factors, would seem to depend on whether you're trying to measure performance value or true talent.
I do think we don't have enough information yet to say with much clarity what's a difficult defensive play, though. The problems the shift caused last year highlight the lack of fielder positioning data, and we have no visibility into things like bad hops and distractions from the runner or the sun. What's the way forward here?
Ben Lindbergh: FIELDf/x, for teams. For us, I don't know. Continuing to refine the current approaches, I suppose, although I agree that they have issues.
Ralph (Springfield): Simpsons or family guy or another show?
Ben Lindbergh: Simpsons is wonderful, but I didn't watch it when I was growing up, for whatever reason (I blame my parents), so I've been catching up ever since and still don't feel like I've seen as much as it as I should have. Freaks and Geeks is probably my favorite show on a per-episode basis. Seinfeld for career value, though I feel like comedies and dramas are in a completely different bracket. I'm looking at a long list of the best TV shows ever and I'm about to start listing all the ones I love, so I'm just going to hit "Submit Answer" before that happens.
Flip (St. Pete): You and Sam pondered why the emphasis on traditional stats remains despite the increasingly evident importance of more advanced statistics --- do you think the reliance of (most) fantasy leagues on the traditional measures is a part of why they are still around?
Ben Lindbergh: It could be a factor--I think we might answer a question about this on next week's email show. Fantasy has also been a gateway to advanced stats for a lot of people, so I don't think it deserves a lot of the blame.
Shawnykid23 (CT): World Series Prediction?
Ben Lindbergh: Tigers over Dodgers.
Chad (Iowa City): I'm guessing Sam is more likely to be a Community guy (S1-3) than yourself?
Ben Lindbergh: I've seen all the S1-3 episodes, but I'm not dedicated fan. Enjoyed the show, but wouldn't have particularly cared if it had been canceled. Not sure whether Sam watches.
Pat (Oakland): Are you scared that possibly one day everything will be predicted by stats and the game will be meaningless?
Ben Lindbergh: Not really--there's an element of randomness that will never be predictable. I do worry that we'll reach the limits of analysis with the data/technology available to us, but we're not there yet. And we might not get there in the foreseeable future, since the data/technology (even the publicly available) kind is always improving.
Glen (Midtown ): What do you do when you get writers block? Or are you just so good that you don't get it?
Ben Lindbergh: I don't really get writer's block, but I definitely get topic block (which might be a form of the same thing). When I don't have a topic, I'll go read all my RSS feeds and hope something inspires me, or just outright beg people on my Gchat list (or in extreme cases, Twitter) to tell me what to write about.
vin (Milwaukee): Overall we need to do a better job of differentiating between stats that show value provided by player (i.e. in the past) and stats that predict future value based on past performance. "Runs created" shows value. "ERA" shows value. "xFIP" is a better predictor than a value provided stat.
Ben Lindbergh: It's important to make some sort of distinction, yes.
Eddie (Fort Worth): What still intrigues you most about the game of baseball? Also, are you not doing longest PA of the week anymore?? :(
Ben Lindbergh: Gosh, so many things. Everything I write about and at least half of the topics I bring to the podcast. I haven't done Longest PA lately. To be perfectly transparent, it wasn't well read, and although I enjoyed it, it took too much time to do regularly if it wasn't going to be much of a draw. Might bring it back at the end of the season.
Alex (Cleveland): Are the Indians going to break my heart again this year?
Ben Lindbergh: Depends how high your hopes were. I don't think they're a playoff team, though it wouldn't be very high on the scale of baseball strangeness if they were to make it.
justarobert (Santa Clara): If I read nearly every article on the site, how should I signal that I like some more than others?
Ben Lindbergh: When you really, really like one, break into every house in your neighborhood and click on it from all the computers there. Actually, do that for all of them, but send me a message to tell me which ones were best.
Keith (CT): What was BP's bid to bring back Nate Silver from NY Times?
Ben Lindbergh: We told him we'd let him build a baseball projection system and host it on the site, but that didn't get a deal done.
izzy2112 (New York): 2 part question: 1) Are Miggy, Wright, Longoria and Beltre the best four 3B in the game and 2)Rank those 4 when healthy.
Ben Lindbergh: I'll assume we're talking 2013 true talent only. I think you picked the right four--Machado's glove is so good that he's close, but not quite there. Cabrera, Longoria, Wright, Beltre.
Karl (St. Louis): On a scale of BJ Upton--Allen Craig how clutch is the average ML?
Ben Lindbergh: The answer would be the name of someone who hits roughly as well w/RISP as with the bases empty. Don't have time to look up splits, but most major leaguers would work.
Zach (CT): If you had to build a rotation of pitchers who don't average 90 mph with their fastball, who are you taking?
Ben Lindbergh: This is such a fun question that I think it might make a good podcast draft episode. Hopefully you listen to the podcast, or will once.
Sean (Tampa): If an MLB team were to re locate where would they go?
Ben Lindbergh: Maury Brown ranked the top 10 candidates for us in an article earlier this year. I could tell you what he concluded, but I'd rather keep you in suspense and force you to click. Mmm. Sweet, sweet unique visitors.
Jake (Milwaukee): In 5 years do you see the game skewing more towards pitching or hitting
Ben Lindbergh: It tends to yo-yo in response to recent trends. So by that point, probably hitting.
Lost college student (California ): What is the best way in your opinion to get into a baseball ops department
Ben Lindbergh: Well, "do original research" is probably the best way, but that's something you need to have a knack for. The thing that anyone can do is learn SQL, which will at least enable you to answer interesting questions if you can come up with them. Write about your research somewhere, so you'll have something to send as a sample. Read a lot, so that you don't duplicate work that's already done, and because it's a good way to get ideas and be better at things. And if you're playing baseball in school, keep doing that.
Darryl (Austin): Re-create the cast of Rent with current MLB players. Go!
Ben Lindbergh: Not familiar enough with Rent. Or maybe not familiar enough with MLB players, in that I'm not sure which ones resemble characters from Rent.
Henry (Oakland): Ian Thomas? Prospect or suspect?
Ben Lindbergh: One more from Mark Anderson, who had the misfortune to be online and available during my chatting time:
"I feel like I'm bursting bubbles today when I pinch hit for Ben. Thomas is more of a suspect for me. He's got fringy velo, decent command and a solid-average changeup. I don't think the breaking ball is enough for him to have success as a left-on-left guy, which leaves him as more of a good org arm for me."
Matt (Chicago): Early guesses on landing spots for Price and Stanton , this offseason? They both get moved, no?
Ben Lindbergh: I think the odds are certainly against both of them being traded.
Michael (San Antonio): I admire you and Sam Miller's commitment to the BP podcast, it truly is #ThingslongerthanKardashianmarriage.
Aren't your gf jealous you seem to spend more time talking to each other then them?
Ben Lindbergh: Sam's girlfriend became his wife before the podcast started, so while she's probably regretting her choice, she's sort of stuck with him. My girlfriend could get out at any time but so far has not been immune to my charms. She may be slightly jealous about the podcast conversations, because I'm not a natural talker, so it's rare to hear me say as many sentences in the wild. But she listens to the show fairly regularly, so evidently she's okay with it. Either that, or she's trying to simulate the experience of talking to me. If it's any consolation, as much as I like Sam, I only talk to him so much because thousands of people are eavesdropping and we want to entertain them.
justarobert (Santa Clara): Does baseball face any existential-level crises to rival football's concussion or college sports' amateurism issues? Pitcher fragilty, PEDs, TV revenue bubble, perhaps?
Ben Lindbergh: I was talking to someone inside the game yesterday who said that he's very optimistic about baseball's future precisely because it's not facing any potentially popularity killing issues like the concussions or future PED scandals in sports that haven't experienced them yet. Pitcher fragility has always been an issue, and PED problems haven't stopped baseball from being more profitable and a bigger draw than ever. The revenue bubble bursting would be bad for owners' bottom lines, but I don't think it would destroy the sport.
Jason (Queens): How many parking tickets have you had while in NYC
Ben Lindbergh: Zero. It helps that I don't have a car, or a driver's license. That's how much of a Manhattan resident I am.
BobcatBaseball (Athens, oh ): I know most of us are baseball fans only but do you think it would be possible to see some of the articles on hockey prospectus or basketball prospectus?
Ben Lindbergh: No--Basketball Prospectus is no more, and Hockey Prospectus was sold.
izzy2112 (New York): Who are the top 5 position players in the national league?
Ben Lindbergh: Off the top of my head and quite possibly forgetting someone: Molina, McCutchen, Votto, Posey, Wright?
Ryan (murica): How do you type with boxing gloves on?
Ben Lindbergh: DELETED!!
rogero (philly): Darin Ruf doing anything for you yet?
Ben Lindbergh: I talked to him for 15 minutes or so earlier this week, so he did that for me. Might be writing something about him for next week, but for now I'll say that he seems like a nice guy.
Bob (Detroit): Do you see any changes to the roster rules, teams are using loopholes by sending players to teams that don't play anymore to get out of the 10-day rule.
Ben Lindbergh: Yeah. Pretty clever, huh? Something could happen in the next CBA. Could envision the waiver process being altered a bit, too.
Daric Barton (IM BACK Y'ALL ): I'm back in the bigs! Can't keep me down forever! Or should they?
Ben Lindbergh: After almost 2000 plate appearances in the majors, your career slugging percentage is .370. Some of that is the ballpark, but because you're a corner guy, not enough of it. But you do get on base, which makes you a pretty decent replacement player.
Paul (DC): Boston leads the league in number of doubles by over 50. And Saltalamacchia leads the team with 35 of them. What the hell's with that?
Ben Lindbergh: Well, Fenway is a great place to hit doubles, and to some extent, the Red Sox have probably constructed their club to capitalize on that. As for Salty specifically, I don't know. I just asked BP alum Marc Normandin, who blogs about the Red Sox, and he said, "I haven't looked at him too closely yet. Afraid if I do his BABIP will drop 80 points."
Bradley (Boston): Who is going to be rated the worst farm system come next offseason?
Ben Lindbergh: If you mean this coming offseason, I assume the Angels and White Sox (as always) would be strong contenders. I haven't talked to Jason Parks about it, and he'd know better than I.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): After the disappointment that was 2013 in Toronto, what's the correct course of action for next year: reload or rebuild?
Ben Lindbergh: Reload, probably.
Long (Island ): How did you work your way up from the publications department of the Yankees to baseball ops?
Ben Lindbergh: It wasn't so much working my way up as working my way sideways. They're two different departments, so it's not like you get promoted from one to the other. I was assigned to Publications because I was the only English major in the intern pool during my first summer for the team. It would've been my no. 2 choice, but of course my ambition was to be in Baseball Ops. So I went to see the Ops people at the end of that summer and offer to work for them for free from school if there was any tedious intern-style stuff they were looking to assign. I did some of that, and then when I graduated the next May and went back to the team, both departments requested me as an intern. I hoped to split time between them, but that didn't really work out, so I agreed to spend most of the remainder of the season with Publications and then switch to Baseball Ops after that. Basically, I had to tell the people at Publications that I preferred to work in another department without seeming ungrateful for my experience there. It was sort of a messy situation, but it worked out fine. The Yankees have great people in Publications, and I still enjoy seeing them and occasionally contributing to the team magazine.
Rob (Alaska): You and Sam have had interesting HOF conversations about Trout and Kershaw on the podcast recently based on likely career WAR and the (approximate) current threshold for admission. Do you think HOF voters really think that way? What if Trout amasses 70 WAR but is out of the game before 30? Are we sure he gets in or does the shape of a career matter? Also, bonus Q - is the HOF kind of like the Gold Glove in that we still refer to a player as a Gold Glove or HOF caliber player even if the actual voters sometimes blow it terribly.
Ben Lindbergh: I don't think most voters frame it that way in their minds, but even if they're looking at different stats, they're thinking essentially the same thing--a guy has to have been good enough to get in.
The shape of a career does matter--it helps to have a high peak. If Trout gets 70 WAR before the age of 30 and then disappears from baseball, he'll get in, assuming he played 10 seasons. That would mean that he'd had an incredible decade-long peak, without a decline phase. And as for the Gold Glove comparison, yes, I think it's exactly like that.
Christopher (TN): Picking my parameters here, but Adam Jones is #2 in wOBA for AL CF, including Trout. Do you ever feel guilty praising hitters like that, who succeed despite hacking at everything? Or do you think he's still just an unreformed hacker?
Ben Lindbergh: I think I do have a bias against players like that, but I try to fight it. Guys can be good without walking.
Harold (Chicago): I want to do research on pitch sequencing and getting outs. Do you know any databases that have this info? I don't see it on retrosheet. Preferably in SQL format but it doesn't matter.
Ben Lindbergh: There are a lot of tutorials online for building PITCHf/x databases--the data is free if you know how to compile it. You can also download one for free here: http://www.baseballheatmaps.com/pitch-fx-download/.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Are you really still here and online? This would be a record long time for a BP chat, but your per hour Q's A'd would be rather low.
Ben Lindbergh: I am really still here. And I don't think it's even close to a record. Pretty sure Sporer did this for a whole day once.
Barbour (New York): What position gets hit by the ball the least: umpire, catcher, or the batter?
Ben Lindbergh: If we're counting any kind of ball contact--foul tip, ball in the dirt, etc.--I'd guess it goes catcher, batter, umpire in descending order of frequency.
John Carter (working from home): Pujols and Hamilton will be better than this year? You're really going out on a limb there, Ben. What are they chances they can get their OPS over .900?
Ben Lindbergh: I mean, it's not my boldest prediction, but it's also far from certain that any 32/33-year-old will be better at 33/34 unless he missed the whole season. I'd put the odds that either of them plays a full season with an OPS over .900 at about 15 percent.
Ben Lindbergh: Thanks for three fun hours, and thank you for continuing to read and support Baseball Prospectus. In the words of Brandon Phillips, "It's a wrap."