Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Innovation in baseball

Back in 2013, IPBiz had a post Innovation in football which concluded

An invention does not become an innovation until it changes the way things are done. Xerox invented the mouse, but the non-inventor innovator Steve Jobs changed our lives.

The underlying story was about Reggie Collier (a mostly forgotten quarterback) and Colin Kaepernick, who may soon be mostly forgotten.

When the Royals won the World Series in 2015 in five games, they repeated a sequence performed by the 1960-1961 New York Yankees.
In 1960, the Yankees lost to one National League team (the Pirates) in 7 games and came back in 1961 to beat a different National League team (the Reds) in five games. In 2014, the Royals lost to the Giants in 7 games and came back to beat the Mets in five.

In 1961, each team relied on a starting rotation of only three pitchers. The starting pitcher won three games (two for the Yankees; one for the Reds).

By the time of the 2009 World Series, the use of a three man rotation was questioned. From Wikipedia:

Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN criticized Girardi's strategy, arguing that Chad Gaudin should have pitched in Game 5 or 6, instead of A. J. Burnett or Andy Pettitte on reduced, three days rest.[47] Wojciechowski argued that while Sabathia had proven his ability to pitch on shorter rest, Burnett and Pettitte should have been given their regular time between starts.[47] Burnett had drawn some criticism, as he performed poorly in his last appearance before the World Series,[42] a start in Game 5 of the ALCS in which he allowed six runs over six innings.[48] Some believed Girardi settled on a three-man rotation because he had limited options for a fourth starting pitcher, either Gaudin or Joba Chamberlain, who had been "erratic" as a starter in the regular season and had been shifted into the bullpen for the postseason.[47][49][50]

By 2015, each World Series team used four starting pitchers, arguably an innovation over the practice in 1961, The starting pitcher won only two games, one for the Royals and one for the Mets.

As to Game Five, Yankees manager Houk yanked starter Ralph Terry when Terry faltered in the third, and replaced him with Bud Daley, who finished (and won) the game. The Yankees won Game Five, 13-5. In 2015, the Mets did not replace the starter, and ultimately lost.

Bud Daley was the only pitcher in the 1961 series to bat in a run (curiously in an inning with no hits). Roger Maris had only two hits in the 1961 series, but each batted in what proved to be the game winning run (games 3 and 5). Elston Howard did so for the other games, driving in Maris in his second winner.

In the 1961 series, the Yankees lost the second game at home, in distinction to 2015, in which the Royals lost the third game in New York. In 1961, the game two loss produced speculation that the Yankees were vulnerable to losing the series. Bill Stafford pitched a good game three, but the Yankees did not win until the ninth, with Maris's homer and Arroyo's stop.

The wins of the Yankees were all by left handers.


As to the number of starters used in World Series play, one also thinks of the 1956 series. With the Yankees down two games to none,
the Yankees started five different pitchers in the remaining five games, each Yankee pitcher throwing a complete game [Ford, Sturdivant, Larsen, Turley, Kucks].

In the 1961 World Series, the winning runs were batted in by Yankee "veterans": Maris and Howard. The case of Maris
is of interest because Maris only had two base hits in the series, but each one was significant. In the 1962 World Series, the game winning runs were batted in by Clete Boyer (two games), and Tom Tresh (one). Curiously, in the pivotal game 7, won by the Yankees 1-0, there was no RBI because of a rule that if the batter hit into a double play while the run scored, there would be no RBI. If only one out recorded, there can be an RBI. Tony Kubek hit the ball that scored the one run, but is not credited with an RBI.

***Entirely separately, from Blawgsearch as of January 5, 2016:


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