MLB: Innovative Analytics Conclude Traditional Plays Win

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 24: Manager Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox talks with the umpire crew about a defensive switch in the eighth inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 24, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 24: Manager Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox talks with the umpire crew about a defensive switch in the eighth inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 24, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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In 1919 the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
(Photo by MPI/Getty Images) /

Innovative Analytics Conclude Traditional Plays to Win MLB Games

In the NJ Semi-pro championship game, also illustrates one of the few mistakes the Babe and his agent Christy Walsh made. The Babe agreed to play for South Orange at 100 dollars per home run while they did not request any compensation for pitching. (one of the greater ironies of that time is the South Orange NJ team was outfitted with old MLB Uniforms from then South Orange residents and owners of the rival NY Giants, the Stoneham family.)

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With the game and thus the state title on the line the Babe came in in front of an estimated crowd of 12,000 and pitched South Orange out of a jam with a strikeout in the fifth inning,[iii] He returned to his fielding position to finish the game the next inning. The Town of South Orange NJ actually paid the Babe 100 dollars for hitting a third-inning home run, noted for traveling some 600 feet, while his pitching services were free of charge.

The tree that the Babe’s ball flew over is still there for those who wish to measure that long-ago colossal swat. For the record, South Orange won the game 7-6, although other sources note the final score was 14-6.[iv] which was welcome revenge from an earlier season 1-11 beatdown by the New Brunswick team.

And not to forget Larrupin’ Lou, one of his home runs was a violation of the infamous 1791 Pittsfield, Ma baseball playing rule.[v] The Iron Horse’s mighty home run flew out of the field, over three tracked elevated railroad bounced off the pavement and into the front parlor breaking the window.

Thus, we can thank the Rays for returning to the baseball strategy the pitcher fielding double switch, a play not seen for a few baseball generations. It’s a great play when the team has a very good understanding of the fundamental analytics of the batter’s tendencies what who in their bullpen can take advantage of this weakness.

It’s a great way to play hardball by employing all the underused strategies. MLB is more than home runs and strikeouts, it’s a team game and that it takes a team to win the game.

And in today’s game with certain players such as the Angles, Shohei Ohtani who both pitch and hit can be best utilized to pitch in the pinch while keeping his bat in the lineup.

The Rays have pointed the way to reviving this old strategy to help the team win. More teams should attempt to use the double switch move.

Indeed, other multi-talented players who practice such scenarios, especially in spring training, would be key players in successfully pulling off the double position switch when the game is on the line.

And other teams armed with advanced analytics and scenarios should be more willing to do the double switch with the pitcher staying in the game at a position for one or two at-bats. With current baseball being played with a home run and strikeout as common outcomes, this strategy is underused.

It appears that a good approach to challenge the pitcher as an infielder, would be to bunt, but the bunt has been all but eliminated in the modern game. Thus, the defensive position switch of a pitcher to first base is a safe move especially if it’s a lefty.

In doing the pitcher infielder double switch, we will get to see baseball as it was once played in the days of wool flannel, high socks, and baggy pants. Who knew that advanced and innovative baseball analytics would bolster the return of one the most traditional of managerial maneuvers?

[i] Babe vs the A’s https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA192110012.shtml

[ii] https://tht.fangraphs.com/babe-ruth-the-new-york-pitcher/

[iii] http://www.baseball-almanac.com/yearly/yr1929a.shtml

[iv] See the Central New Jersey Home News of October 28, 1929. A longer version of this game is also available in the 2010 New York Yankees Magazine. Mike Gazella who played on the Yankees from 1923 to 1928 as a part-time player was a regular for South Orange Semi-pro team. He helped convince the Babe and Lou to give the South Orange team a hand. A quick review of the boxscore numerous players on both teams had either minor league or Major League experience.

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[v] https://sabr.org/latest/pittsfield-baseball-bylaw-1791-what-it-means The law was enacted to keep baseballers from breaking the expensive new windows of the towns newest meeting house by prohibiting baseball from being played on the village green near this edifice.