Right Field

Reveille 12/23/13

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make the Monday before Christmas a bit more bearable:

Because there are at least 20 viable candidates, if every voter votes for 10 players, a “perfect” split of the vote would have each player get 50% of the votes (and no one gets in). The reality is that Greg Maddux will not be sharing any votes. And there’s enough distinction among players that the massive vote-splitting will still only get 4 players voted in, if every ballot was filled.

  • David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot observes that last season, “players batted with the platoon advantage 56 percent of the time — the highest figure since 1995,” and thinks it’s the start of a trend.
  • Seth Smith may be the most valuable pinch-hitter in the history of the game, but Doug from High Heat Stats bemoans the overall ineffectiveness of the role in today’s game:

So, how did pinch-hitting decline to the point where the likes of Lenny Harris would be the majors’ all-time leader in pinch-hit appearances? The answer probably isn’t a surprise. The ever-increasing use of relief pitchers has led to bloated pitching staffs and shorter benches. Benches so short, in fact, that there’s not room anymore for a pinch-hitting specialist (much less a left-hand hitting and right-hand hitting pinch-hit specialist, as was common 30 or 40 years ago). Certainly not after the roles of reserve catcher, reserve infielder and reserve outfielder have been filled (what a marvelous luxury today to have a player fill one of those roles and also be an effective pinch-hitter).

That’s it. To all who celebrate: Have a walk-off Christmas!

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.