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Final QO Free Agent signs, 2024 Draft Order finalized


Super agent Scott Boras seems to have over-played his hand with his stable of FAs this off-season, leaving them with shorter deals, less guaranteed money, and far too little spring training to get ready. Photo via LA Times.

If you had March 18th for a two-time Cy Young award-winning free agent to sign, then you won the Scott Boras 2024 off-season bingo game. Blake Snell, who had this stat line last year as a 30yr old: 14-9, 2.25 ERA, 1.189 whip, 234/99 K/BB in 180 innings/32 starts, finally signed just a couple weeks before the season starts, virtually guaranteeing that he misses time for his new club San Francisco. He gets a handsome pay day for 2024 on a short-term gig (2yrs/$62M) but fails to secure the long-term deal that he probably expected coming off a Cy Young winning age-30 season, and probably heads back into FA next off-season w/o the qualifying offer dragging him down.

This is a two-part post. One briefly about the draft, then one about the QO in general.

2024 Draft Order. With Snell’s signing, the 2024 draft order is (finally) finalized. The Giants give up a 3rd rounder to sign Snell, and with it barring any additional last minute penalties we know how things are going. Here’s a link to the 2024 Draft order worksheet (with sources and past years all in the same place), showing the original order and how the various teams picked up or lost picks. Quick summary of movement:

  • Arizona, Baltimore: got supp-1st picks for having top-performing rookies
  • Minnesota, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto, and Sandiego: picked up picks at various points for losing QO-attached FAs.
  • St Louis, San Francisco, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston: lost picks for signing the same QO-affiliated guys.

The Nats started with the #10 overall, then #48, #88, #118, #148 and so on. After all the movement, we now sit with #10, #44, #79, #108, #140, #169, #199 and so on. So we improved 4 spots in our 2nd rounder, 9 spots for our third rounder, 10 spots for the 4th rounder, and 9 spots for each round going forward.

Qualifying Offer recap for 2023 off-season

Ever since the Qualifying Offer system was introduced in 2012, i’ve hyper-tracked the players who have gotten tagged with them to gauge impact to their free agency. Here’s a Link to my Qualifying Offer Tracking xls. This past off season saw a massive drop in spending from teams, as typical big-money spenders sat out the off-season, were already maxed out and sitting at luxury tax penalties, or had serious revenue concerns with all the RSN issues we’ve been having. However, we also saw that Boras’ three QO-tagged agents sit and wait for months into the off-season before signing.

  • Cody Bellinger: didn’t sign until 2/24 for 3yrs/$80M
  • Matt Chapman: didn’t sign until 3/3 for 3yrs/$54M
  • Snell as discussed; didn’t sign until 3/18 for 2yrs/$62M

As others have pointed out, that’s less guaranteed money for those three guys than some guys got by themselves this off-season. None of them get the kind of 9-figure career-setting payday they probably wanted, but at least all three get opt-outs in case they blow up 2024 to try it again.

Snell therefore is the first QO-assigned player who I think was really hampered by the tag in years. When it first came out, several mid-level free agents took the QO confidently thinking they’d get t heir money like they always did, and got hurt by it. In fact, probably the worst example of the QO screwing a player involved one of our own, Ian Desmond, who declined a 1yr $15.8M deal but couldn’t find anything on the market and ended up taking a 1yr $8M deal three weeks into spring training that year. Now, Desmond eventually got paid by Colorado in a weird contract that turned out to be awful for the team, and of course all these guys are millionaires, so i’m not crying too much for them, but this analysis is more about players getting (or not getting) their worth.

The two sides had their chance to get rid of the QO, but bailed on it in the last CBA negotiations because the owners tied an International Draft to it, which is kind of ridiculous on both sides. QOs impact just a handful of the 1200 union members every year … and owners are just being stupidly short-sighted if they demand an international draft so that they can save a couple million dollars a year. But that’s a topic for another day.

At least these QO Boras clients can go into next off-season knowing they can’t get the offer again, which will free up their markets considerably.

Written by Todd Boss

March 19th, 2024 at 11:32 am

2023 HR Derby – Who is in and who should be

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So, the participants for the 2023 Home run Derby have been named. We get:

So, who SHOULD we have in the derby? Lets look at this a few different ways. Here’s your current top 10 MLB home run leaders:

  1. Shohei Ohtani (with 31 before the break, better than Judge’s 60+ pace last year)
  2. Matt Olsen
  3. Luis Robert Jr
  4. Pete Alonso
  5. Mookie Betts
  6. Ozzie Albies
  7. Jorge Soler
  8. Kyle Schwarber
  9. Adolis Garcia
  10. Ronald Acuna

So, based on the current leaders, our HR derby field has just 4 of the current top 10 HR leaders.

Here’s 2022’s HR leaders, since often the ASG is a small sample size of who’s been hot for a couple months:

  1. Judge
  2. Schwarber
  3. Mike Trout
  4. Alonso
  5. Austin Riley
  6. Yordan Alvarez
  7. Christian Walker
  8. Betts
  9. Rowdy Tellez
  10. Paul Goldschmidt

Just two of last year’s top 10 HR hitters are in the derby.

Now, since its an All Star game, meant to feature (you know) All Stars, here’s the current active list of HR leaders in the sport:

  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Nelson Cruz
  3. Giancarlo Stanton
  4. Mike Trout
  5. Joey Votto
  6. Evan Longoria
  7. Paul Goldschmidt
  8. Nolan Arenado
  9. Freddie Freeman
  10. JD Martinez

Not one of these top 10 active HR hitters is in the derby.

Here’s a list of active HR Derby winners:

  • 2022: Juan Soto
  • 2021: Alonso
  • 2019: Alonso
  • 2018: Bryce Harper
  • 2017: Aaron Judge
  • 2016: Stanton
  • 2015 and before: all now retired

Soto opted out, Judge is hurt, and neither Stanton or Harper is earning an all-star nod.

So, if you wanted to put together the absolute best possible HR derby roster, factoring all these lists in, here’s who you’d want. I’m including players we know are injured right now, but astericking them and then adding on players at the bottom until we get to 10.

  1. Pete Alonso: 2-time winner, top10 in HRs both this year and last year. Has to be here.
  2. Juan Soto: 2022 champ, really should be defending his title.
  3. Shohei Ohtani: 2023 active leader, defending MVP, well on his way to being 2023 AL MVP, leads majors in ISO. Its ridiculous he’s not in the derby this year.
  4. * Aaron Judge: 60+ homers last year, 2017 champ.
  5. Giancarlo Stanton. Top-10 active HR leader, 2016 champ.
  6. Kyle Schwarber: top10 in HRs both this year and last year, some of best pure power in game.
  7. Mookie Betts: top10 in HRs both this year and last year, perennial MVP candidate.
  8. * Mike Trout: future Hall of Famer who sits 4th in active HRs despite being only 31.
  9. Ronald Acuna: The guy is on pace for a 40 hr, 80 steal season and is the likely NL MVP.
  10. * Bryce Harper: the only remaining former HR derby champ not yet mentioned, on pace for 500 career homers.
  11. Paul Goldschmidt: top 10 both in 2022 and active.
  12. Luis Robert: #3 this season in both active HRs and ISO. Averaging 32 homers/162 games as a CF.
  13. Matt Olsen: #2 this season in active HRs, #2 in the league in ISO. Huge power guy.

Now, if you want some wild-cards, i’d also accept these players just because:

  • Julio Rodriguez: runner-up in 2022’s derby, last year’s ROY, one of the best young players in the game.
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr: runner-up in 2019, huge power, big personality.
  • Randy Arozarena: exploded onto the scene, a showman.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr: another high-profile young player we need to be showcasing.
  • Austin Riley: power-first guy who finished top 10 last year.
  • Corbin Carroll: 18 homers and 24 SBs at all star break, could press for 40/40.
  • Elly De La Cruz: Talk about a debut.

Written by Todd Boss

July 6th, 2023 at 10:02 am

Are we sure this is the right Direction for 2023?


Corey Dickerson, new Nats signing, from 2019, the last time he was good. Photo via wikipedia

Upon hearing the latest “1 year veteran FA lottery ticket” signing (Corey Dickerson), I paused to update the Big Board and slot in Dickerson into the starting lineup.

If the season opened today, here’s what we’re presumably putting out on the field:

CARuiz, Keibert#
1BSmith, Dominic*
2BGarcia, Luis*
SSAbrams, C.J.
3BCandelario, Jeimer#
CFDickerson, Corey*
CFRobles, Victor
RFThomas, Lane
DHMeneses, Joey

This lineup includes now three off-season signings in Dominic Smith, Jeimer Candelario, and now Dickerson. All of them are getting non-trivial money to come here, and all of them are going to start.

Here’s the thing. The team lost 107 games last year. We (arguably) had internal players to cover the three positions these guys are now projected to play.

Why exactly did we sign them, instead of playing our prospects??

So, instead of allowing Joey Meneses , who lest we forget hit 13 homers in 65 games last year en route to a 165 OPS+ figure, to play 1B primarily, we’ve bought Smith and guaranteed him the spot (2022 slash line for Smith: .194/.276/.284.

Instead of seeing if Carter Kieboom can actually hold onto the job at 3B, or (gasp) maybe give a shot to (arguably) the best minor league hitter we had last year in Jake Alu, we now get to watch some random guy named Candelario (2022 slash line: .217 .272 .361).

Instead of rolling the dice in LF with a guy like Alex Call (or even positionally-flexible Meneses or Alu) or newly signed Stone Garrett, or maybe even to continue to give ABs to Yadiel Hernandez (who had a 108 OPS+ last year at the position) … we get Dickerson, who is now on his 7th team at the age of 34, has zero history here, and is literally the definition of journeyman.

Is this what we really want as a fan-base? To have these positions filled by guys we couldn’t pick out of a lineup, instead of seeing if we have internal options that can grow into the positions?

What’s the goal in 2023? To only lose 106 games? Do we really care if we go 55-107 again? All our top prospects are babies, aged 19-20 and playing in the lower minors. It’s going to take several years for these guys to matriculate. We KNOW 2023 is a lost season already. The ownership is in flux, the damn MASN thing still remains unresolved, and we have $65M tied up in two starters who may never pitch again.

I mean, what’s next? Do we re-sign Nelson Cruz to paper over Meneses yet again and relegate him to the bench? What’s more valuable to the team: 4 months of a 1yr FA on the off-chance he has a decent summer and can be flipped for some low-A reliever at the trade deadline, or to see if guys like Kieboom, Alu, Garrett, heck maybe even Jeter Downs can compete?

Written by Todd Boss

January 11th, 2023 at 8:11 am

Qualifying Offers out … this isn’t how the system is supposed to work


Soon to be named MVP Judge headlines the 14 QO recipients . Photo via SI Kids online

The GM Meetings are underway, now that the little matter of the 2022 World Series is settled (sorry Bryce, still no title for you). And thus the 2022-2023 off-season is underway. We’ll have our regular content (things like Rule-5 protection analysis/predictions, non-tender deadline predictions, and of course prospects), but first up is the Qualifying Offer!

The player’s union really wants to get rid of it; the owner’s don’t really care since it operates as yet another safeguard on their payrolls. This past summer the owners offered to get rid of the QO in return for an international draft … which in my mind would likely kill foreign baseball in a number of countries. The union thankfully said no thanks, so here we are.

Here’s the 14 players who got a QO:

2022Aaron JudgeRFPSI Sports ManagementNew York Yankees1yr/$19M1919
2022Jacob deGromSPVC SportsNew York Mets5yr/$137.5M27.533.5
2022Xander BogaertsSSScott Boras/Boras CorporationBoston Red Sox6yr/$120M2020
2022Dansby SwansonSSExcel Sports ManagementAtlanta Braves1yr/$10M1010
2022Trea TurnerSSCAALos Angeles Dodgers1yr/$21M2121
2022Willson ContrerasC?? UnknownChicago Cubs1yr/$9.6259.6259.625
2022Carlos RodonSPScott Boras/Boras CorporationSan Francisco Giants2yr/$44M2222.5
2022Chris BassittSPPro Star ManagementNew York Mets1yr/$8.8M8.88.8
2022Brandon NimmoOFCAANew York Mets1yr/$7M77
2022Nathan EovaldiSPACESBoston Red Sox4yr/$681717
2022Anthony Rizzo1BSports OneNew York Yankees2yr/$32M1616
2022Joc PedersonOFExcel Sports ManagementSan Francisco Giants1yr/$6M66
2022Martin PerezSPOctagonTexas Rangers1yr/$4M44
2022Tyler AndersonSPGSELos Angeles Dodgers1yr/$8M88

Notice something about this list? They’re all Big market teams! Breakdown by team:

  • Yankees: 2
  • Mets: 3
  • Red Sox: 2
  • Dodgers: 2
  • Giants: 2
  • Cubs: 1
  • Rangers: 1
  • Braves: 1

I mean … there’s not one “mid-sized” or smaller market team here. its basically a list comprised of players from the largest markets in the land. By CMSA:

  • New York: 1
  • Los Angeles: 2
  • Chicago: 4
  • San Francisco: 5
  • Boston: 6
  • Dallas: 7
  • Atlanta 10.

That missing #3 spot? Yeah that’d be us. Washington-Baltimore CMSA is now the 3rd largest in the area, having recently overtaken Chicago.

the larger point is this: these are the sport’s biggest and wealthiest teams basically set to gain a bunch of extra picks because they happen to have a bunch of highly paid players on their rosters.

Now that being said … there are some obvious QO candidates and some guys who just got tagged in one who… are kind of a surprise. Lets categorize:

Players who will reject the QO and will get FAR more in AAV:

  • Judge, DeGrom, Turner, Bogarts,
  • These are all going to be major FAs this off-season, getting 30M or more a year.

Players who will reject the QO and who will get a bit more in AAV but longer term deals:

  • Swanson, Rodon: probably getting 5-6 years at $22-$25M per.
  • Contreras is the #1 catcher available and likely gets a 4-5 year deal at a tick above the QO.

Players who may struggle to get an AAV contract matching the $19.65M QO

  • Nimmo: interestingly he’s always had solid production but is “only” on a 1yr/$7M deal at the end of his arb years. Odd. He stepped up his power this year though and MLB trade rumors is projecting a 5yr $110M deal. We’ll see. Seems farfetched.
  • Eovaldi: he was decent this year, but not earth shattering while making $17M AAV. I could see him getting like a 3-4 year deal at $20M AAV.
  • Rizzo: 34yrs old, had a great 2022 in a lefty-hitter’s paradise in NY, but is 1B only. I can’t imagine him doing much better than his $16M AAV contract, and needs to be careful where he goes.
  • Bassitt is a serviceable mid-rotation starter with solid stuff. He’s the kind of guy you get in the 15th round of your fantasy draft and you look like a genius. He only made $8.8M this year, but seems set to get a decently sized contract right above the QO.

Players who may want to take that QO

  • Pederson: he blew it up in 2022, putting in a 144 OPS+ season after not really being effective at all the last few seasons. Is this enough for a team to sign him to a multi-year deal at $20M per? Doubt it: he clearly likes SF and he should take that QO to see if he can replicate 2022, then go back out on the market unencumbered in 2023.
  • Perez: he went from years of ERAs in the 4s and 5s to a 2.73 ERA season in 2022. He played for just $4M this year; he’s almost a lock to accept the QO since no other team is going to give up a pick for a guy who might regress to the mean.
  • Anderson: Like Perez, he went from a 4.81 ERA to a 2.57 ERA with the Dodgers, and after making just $8M this year seems a lock to take the QO and give it another go with Los Angeles.

Written by Todd Boss

November 11th, 2022 at 1:43 pm

Best Baseball movie of all time?


I have not done a Baseball Movie themed post in years. I’ve thought about it … since we’ve had a couple of random baseball movies released since the origins of this blog 10+ years ago and i’ve seen some baseball-movie themed blog posts here and there, but never pulled the trigger.

But today, lo and behold, in my inbox from MLB was a link to vote in a crowd-sourced baseball movie bracket, and I just had to post it, and turn it into a blog post since i’m on a deathly conference call that I only have to pay attention to for a few minutes…

I’m going to play through the entire bracket, talk about movie snubs, and arrive at the best baseball movie.

First off, here’s the baseball movies of note that I’m aware of from the pantheon that did not make the top 16 below. I’ve listed them in rough order of their own quality … and in the rough order that you may argue to replace ones from below.

  • Pride of the Yankees, with Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig. Probably more famous for its depiction of his retirement than of his playing ability, since reportedly Cooper was so unathletic they couldn’t even show him playing the sport.
  • Bang the Drum Slowly: Great movie, not exactly rewatchable as a story about a catcher slowly dying, but full of significant, Oscar-pedigree actors.
  • Damn Yankees: well, if you wanted to see a musical about Baseball, with balding middle aged actors singing in the locker room instead of playing the sport, this is your movie.
  • 61*: Billy Crystal‘s tribute to the 1961 season and Roger Maris‘ pursuit of Babe Ruth‘s record. Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane as Maris and Mickey Mantle are great, and the movie is well done.
  • Sugar, an inspirational story about a Dominican kid who washes out of the minors and struggles to find himself in America. Well regarded.
  • The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings: little known Baseball comedies that do not rate and that i’ve never seen.
  • Soul of the Game: Despite its topic, i’ve never seen it. But it does not fare well with the critics, which is too bad b/c a great movie about the Negro Leagues would be awesome to re-watch.
  • Million Dollar Arm; Jon Hamm travels to India to recruit cricket players to play baseball. The only problem with this plot? Top Cricket players in India are paid millions of dollars a year.
  • Cobb: Tommy Lee Jones plays a great turn-of-the-century racist bastard of a player in a movie that wasn’t really that re-watchable.
  • Mr. Baseball: a movie that wouldn’t be made today, Tom Selleck faces culture shock playing in Japan. has not aged well, nor did Selleck’s baseball playing ability.
  • Mr. 3000: Bernie Mac as a showman attempting a comeback with an unbelievable plot of a showy retired slugger having exactly one career hit over turned, leaving him with just 2,999 for his career.
  • The Babe: Do you remember John Goodman‘s depiction of Babe Ruth fondly? I don’t.
  • The Scout: Brendan Frasier was not terribly believable as a baseball player in a forgettable movie.
  • Hustle: did you even know they made a movie about Pete Rose? I’ve never seen it.
  • Fever Pitch, Summer Catch: just no.
  • Little Big League, Air Bud: 7th Inning Fetch: formulaic Disney kids movies, barely behind the other formulaic Disney kids movies that did make the cut below.
  • Major League II, Major League III, Bad News Bears sequels?: sequels never work, but Major League III was an abomination.
  • The Benchwarmers, Hardball: awful, awful and more awful.

I’m sure i’m missing some; feel free to comment and tell me what baseball movies i’ve missed.

Of the above, I’d have probably replaced several of the below with the top movies from above … but nobody alive today is really rewatching Pride of the Yankees or any of the others listed, so maybe the snubs aren’t really snubs.

Ok lets get to it.

Methodology: I have none. What makes for a “great baseball movie?” Is it great baseball action? Is it the movie itself, whether or not the baseball scenes work? Is it a believable plotline? Is it the Acting? Is it rewatchability? For me, its some nebulous combination of all of the above, which is why I knock out the movie with the most Oscar nominations in the first round. Everything below is IMHO, your opinions may vary.

Here’s the MLB Movie knockout round of 16 with my comments.

  • #1 Field of Dreams vs #16 Angels in the Outfield: #1 v #16 seed is never going to be an upset, though Angels in the Outfield (despite some of Danny Glover‘s best work outside of the Lethal Weapon franchise) was never going to press it. Field of Dreams is solid, but has its flaws; we’ll be getting to them soon, but it moves on here. Winner: Field of Dreams.
  • #9 The Natural vs #8 For the Love of the Game: See, right away we get a heavy weight matchup, and what more would you expect form the #8 vs #9 seed. For me, despite Kevin Costner‘s really amazing athletic performance as an aging MLB pitcher in For the Love of the Game, the movie is absolutely crippled by the crap “love story” that keeps interrupting the baseball story. Every scene with Kelly Preston is fast-forward material. Oh, and John C. Reilly as the catcher is so completely unbelievable that it distracts even from Costner’s performance. Meanwhile, there’s nothing more iconic than Roy Hobbs, and the Natural was never going to lose here. Winner: The Natural.
  • #5 The Sandlot vs #12 The Perfect Game: legendary baseball film versus a feel-good story starring the same guy who was made famous for smoking Ganga on film; how do you choose here? The Sandlot transcends culture, with its famous lines like “You’re killing me Smalls” and its legendary scenes. Perhaps a movie starting Cheech will age better, but the Sandlot has to move on. Winner: The Sandlot.
  • #4 The Bad News Bears vs #13 Rookie of the Year: I see what they’re doing here: all the little leaguers are in one quadrant, to ensure that a movie about kids is in the semis. Ok, fair enough. So, despite the Bad News Bears (which I HAVE to believe refers to the Walter Matthau version and not the 1995 remake with Billy Bob Thornton) not really aging that well (some of it is absolutely cringe worthy today), Rookie of the Year is awful. I mean … ok, suspend disbelief about the plot involving a kid who can suddenly throw 110mph for a bit; the ending is ridiculous. Bears move on. Winner: Bad News Bears
  • #3 League of their Own vs #14 The Rookie: tough matchup here; Lets just say from the get-go that League is going to be tough to beat. I’ll give props to Dennis Quaid for his believable performance as Jim Morris (here’s his baseball-reference page, btw, MLB debut at 35), but the movie itself was typical Disney fluff (it was rated G). We’ll cover League in a moment; it clearly moves on here. Winner: League of their Own.
  • #6 Eight Men Out vs #11 42: tough one here; I can see some people arguing with me. Eight Men Out was not only a fantastic baseball movie with well done baseball action scenes, it was a fabulous period piece about the 1919 Black Sox and the culture that led to their scandal. Technically “42” was also a period piece … a throwback to a transitional time in baseball’s history, and the actors involved reportedly struggled greatly to curse at Chadwick Boseman (who was amazing as a young Jackie Robinson before he became the superstar actor he eventually became). I’ll never forget the one scene in Cincinnati, where Pee Wee Reese comes up to Robinson and puts his arm around him… but Harrison Ford‘s awful acting performance and the lack of real rewatch ability (it is really difficult to watch a movie where they so freely use the n-word over and over) crushes “42” for me in the end. Winner: Eight Men Out
  • #7 Major League vs #10 Trouble with the Curve: this is a blowout for me: Trouble with the Curve was an awful movie full of bad cliches and unbelievable scenes related to the way scouting and drafting occurs. It depended on hit-you-over-the-head racist tropes related to the discounting of the Latino hurler at the end. Amy Adams‘ performance was annoying throughout. Winner: Major League.
  • #2 Moneyball vs #15 Bull Durham: I’m sorry, but this seeding is whack. This is a semi-final caliber matchup between two movies that are attempting to accomplish two drastically different things. You just cannot compare a legendary comedy versus a well-executed drama. That being said … despite Moneyball getting six Oscar nominations … it’s story (as written by author Michael Lewis) was a flawed retelling of the famous 2002 Oakland Athletics (baseball reference link here:, spending almost zero time on the fact that the Athletics had three ace starters that year in Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito (who won the Cy Young), nor that the team’s lineup was anchored by Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada (who won the MVP). Not to mention, the entire Jonah Hill character was made up, thanks to Paul DePodesta not wanting to appear in the film. Oh, and making Art Howe look like a stiff (both in the book and in the movie) was ridiculous. Moneyball may be the better “movie,” but baseball fans know it focuses on the wrong things that made the 2002 Oakland team winners. Winner: Bull Durham.

Quarter finals

  • #1 Field of Dreams vs #9 The Natural. I’m already going for the upset here. Field of Dreams was a solid movie, which makes me cry at the end every time when Kevin Costner gets a catch with his dad. But the movie has huge plot issues, not the least of which is the fact that the amount of corn he plows over to make the field absolutely will not send his farm under. A baseball field takes somewhere between 3-5 acres to make, and one acre of corn fields produces less than 200 bushels of corn a year, and corn sells for about $5 a bushel. Do the math. Corn farmers in Iowa have thousands of acres, have million-dollar harvesters … and losing a couple of acres of land directly next to the house isn’t making that big of a difference. The story is fine, the period piece baseball is great, but the whole hidden voice as the plot driver makes no sense based on where the Costner character goes and ends up. Oh, and by the way, the James Earl Jones character is absolutely reacting if he’s sitting in Fenway Park and hears a damn voice. Winner: The Natural
  • #5 The Sandlot vs #4 The Bad News Bears. Even though Bears has not aged well, I recently re-watched The Sandlot, and, well, it just isn’t that good. Its a fun piece about a bunch of neighborhood friends that’s less about baseball and more about just growing up and getting into hijinks. They barely play any actual baseball, and the step-dad’s actions are completely unbelievable (if you’re a baseball fan, and your non-athletic kid asks to play catch … that’s every dad’s DREAM; you drop what you’re doing and help, you don’t hem-and-haw about how you have a bunch of work). Oh, and some random neighbor just happens to have a baseball signed by the entire 1927 Yankees team sitting around and is willing to give it up to some punk kid who broke into his property?? Even in 1962, that would have been a priceless piece of memorabilia, let alone what its value would be now. Yeah right. Winner: Bad news Bears
  • #3 League of their Own vs #6 Eight Men Out: two period pieces, one of which is pretty unique in sports history, that being the AAGPBL. Bill Simmons just did a rewatchable deep dive into this movie on his podcast called, fittingly, The Rewatchables, and its hard to find too much fault here. Eight Men Out, despite its excellent baseball scenes and reenactment of the 1919 scandal, does not match up and drags at times. Its an important movie of course, and D.B. Sweeney‘s baseball prowess is pretty impressive (he learned how to hit left-handed and look believable in order to play Shoeless Joe Jackson). Winner: League of their Own
  • #7 Major League vs #15 Bull Durham: You see, again, this is a semi-finals matchup of quality. And, I see again what they’re doing here; putting all the major baseball comedies into one quadrant so that the final four basically has just one comedy. Fair enough. As much as I love both of these movies, there’s parts of Bull Durham that detract from the re-watchability. Its hard to watch some of the dramatic scenes that they put in between the baseball scenes. Tim Robbins is pretty darn good, as is Costner of course. But, Major League all-in-all is funnier. It’s a raunchier watch, more laugh out loud moments, and the first 30 minutes are just absolute gold, one liner after one liner. Winner: Major League


  • #9 The Natural versus #4 The Bad News Bears: This is no contest; the acting, the storyline, and the baseball performances in the Natural, especially out of Robert Redford as an aging slugger, are second to none. There’s some weird plot holes, and I struggle with the ending just a little bit (they couldn’t find a kid to play his son who couldn’t throw the ball like an actual baseball player??), but the run of aging-poorly scenes and themes from the 1976 Bad News Bears causes its demise. Coach freely cursing in front of his team? Sharing his beer with a minor? Kids Smoking cigarettes? A father slapping his son across the face in broad daylight? Yeah; just one of a few of the things that make this “kids movie” unshowable to your, you know, actual kids. Winner: The Natural
  • #3 League of their Own vs #7 Major League. wow. Tough on here. I like both movies. I have yet to comment on Tom Hanks‘ amazing rendition of Jimmy Foxx in this movie, nor the great one-liners he gets in that transcend culture (There’s no crying in baseball.”). Nor have we talked about the pretty solid performances of Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna and Lori Petty and especially Geena Davis as players. From a comedy perspective though, it can’t hold a candle to the raw in-your-face antics of Major League. League is a better ‘story’ and has as good of baseball action as they could muster, given that actresses don’t actually play baseball at any point in their lives. But Major League wins. Winner: Major League


#9 The Natural v #7 Major League. In some ways, this is impossible to gauge, because we’re talking about the best ever baseball Drama versus the best ever baseball comedy. But we’ll try:

  • The Natural pros: great baseball action, great story, easily weaves in a number of solid dramatic actors with a completely believable set of baseball players. Amazing, transcendent ending, with the filmmaking to go with it.
  • The Natural cons: Hobbs would have healed from his wound in a couple years tops; where the heck has he been for a decade and a half? And the girlfriend never went looking for him, ever? Even when she had his kid all those years? Really? He struck out Babe Ruth in front of a leading sportswriter for a national paper … and then nothing ever came of it? The Hollywood ending differs from the book; does that matter?
  • Major League pros: Charlie Sheen could actually throw in the mid 80s. The baseball players were mostly believable. Pedro Ceranno‘s lines are amazing, as are the quotes from this movie (“that ball wouldn’t have been out of a lot of ball parks…”). As I’ve said before, the premise of the movie is hilarious and the first part of the movie, from the recruitment of players to spring training, is just gold.
  • Major League cons: Tom Berenger is the lead, and he’s not a good actor, and he’s not a believable baseball player. Explain to me again why his ex-gf dumps her fiancee and her new life to return to him? What exactly did he do to win her back?

The Natural, at the end of the day, is the best combination of Movie and Baseball; it’s the winner.

Winner: The Natural

By the way, If I was re-seeding this draw …. i’d seed it as follows:

  1. The Natural (#9 here)
  2. Major League (#7)
  3. Bull Durham (#15)
  4. Moneyball (#2)
  5. League of Their Own (#3)
  6. Field of Dreams (#1)
  7. Eight Men Out (#6)
  8. 42 (#11)
  9. Bad news Bears (#4)
  10. The Sandlot (#5)
  11. For the Love of the Game (#8)
  12. the Perfect Game (#12)
  13. The Rookie (#14)
  14. Trouble with the Curve (#10)
  15. Rookie of the Year (#13)
  16. Angels in the Outfield (#16)

So, I’ve got some serious problems with their rankings. If the seedings had gone this way, We’d have Moneyball in the semis.

Written by Todd Boss

May 5th, 2022 at 9:22 am

New CBA Details and Analysis


After “losing” the last two CBA negotiations, the player’s union was in a tough spot. They’ve already let the proverbial camel’s nose into the tent (with respect to the salary cap), and they knew they couldn’t completely get rid of it, so they leveraged what they could to get what they could.

Here’s some of the key parameters and thresholds the two sides agreed upon on 3/10/22. Using the excellent reporting by Evan Drellich from the Athletic as a starting point and then attempting to get information out of a dozen other sources who are dripping out CBA details … here’s some parameters of the new deal that i’ve found. there’s a lot to digest.

  • No Lost games: 162 game season planned, starting a few days later than normal with a compressed spring training.
  • Expanded Playoffs: this was the biggest bargaining chip the Players had, and they used it to get all the salary benefits below. 12-teams, a 3-game play-in, byes for the two best records. This is a huge win for the owners, who will net an estimated $85M per year with expanded playoffs. Phew. As a side effect, no more game 163s (a bummer), as the league will go to NFL-style tiebreakers to determine seeding. #1 Seed plays winner of #4/#5 Wildcard, #2 seed plays winner of #3 division winner/#6 wild card. No re-seeding. The play-ins are 3-game series entirely at the home site. I’m on board here, with the knowledge that a couple more teams can be a disincentive for FA spending (but can be a huge boom during the trade deadline).
  • Pre-Arbitration pool of $50M. This is brand new, and addresses the player complaints about players not getting paid enough early. The idea here is to dole out this pool to the highest performers on pre-arb salaries to get them compensation for production before they can earn it through arb and free agency processes. The pool supports the best 100 players, meaning an average of $500k per player, which seems like peanuts honestly given the cases where you have a Mike Trout generating a 10-win season at age 20, but its a start. Jayston Stark reports that last year as an example, Vladimir Guerrero would have netted an additional $1.75M salary. Again; a start, but still not paying the guy anywhere near his value.
  • Minimum Salary rises from $570,500 in 2021 to 700k, rising to $780k by 2026. That’s not bad.
  • Minor league Minimum salaries are rising too. Veterans with prior big league experience who are in the minors earned a minimum of $93k in 2021: that figure rises to $114,100 this year, with small rises each year to max out at $127,100 in 2016.
  • CBT Salary Cap rises from $210M in 2021 to $230MM/$232MM/$236MM/$244MM over the next four years. That’s something, probably not really enough in the grand scheme of things since there’s no corresponding floor AND only a few teams will even approach it. But its a start.
  • New CBT breaking penalities: The thresholds for 2022 are $230M/$250M/$270M/$290M. The agreement does put in additional penalties for going way, WAY over it (like what the Mets are going to do this year), but still allows teams to duck underneath and “reset” their penalties.
  • Dropping of $500M grievance from 2020 shortened season: I’m sure this was not something the owners wanted to see in a courtroom, given that the evidence clearly showed that they basically negotiated exactly to the number of games they wanted and the players knew it.
  • Players Union does NOT drop existing grievance against Rays, A’s, Pirates and Marlins (all of whom took in tens of millions of dollars in revenue sharing and are accused of not using it for payroll). This still needs to be litigated, and in my opinion is still a huge issue in the sport. Really, if you get money from other teams and you don’t use it to enhance the on-the-field product, you really should just be forced to sell.
  • New rules with 45 day notice as opposed to a year’s notice for any “on the field change.” I’m surprised they allowed for this, since new rules can be pretty jarring for veterans.
  • Three specific rules coming for 2023: banning the shift, larger bases, and a Pitch clock. I’ve talked about these issues in this space and i’m good with all three. The pitch clock by itself shaved more than 20 minutes off of games in the league it was tested in, shifts can be show to be directly related with precipitous drops in BABIP and wOBA over the past few years, and larger bases is a nothing-burger rule change that nobody should really care about.
  • 2021 Rule 5 Draft officially cancelled: apparently the teams got together and were just like, ah forget it, its useless anyway.
  • Draft Lottery at the top: the two sides have agreed to a lottery at the top of the draft; the top 6 picks/worst 6 teams will now use a lottery to determine who drafts first as opposed to directly by their record. Baseball is not Basketball (the other major US sport that does this); you don’t get immediate-impact/generational talents at the top of each draft, and top draft picks very frequently flame out early, so the lottery in some respects is a superficial fix. However, the MONEY associated with the lottery slots is huge: the difference in 2021 between picking 1st and 6th was $3M. $3M in “bonus dollar currency” basically is a mid-first rounder, or two mid-second round players. That’s huge.
  • Limits on teams in the Lottery over and over: this is pretty big. Large market teams are prevented from being in the lottery more than one season in a row, and smaller market teams cannot be in it two years in a row. So teams like ahem Houston and Chicago (who purposely bottomed out to get high draft picks for years in a row) can never do that again, and inept smaller market teams who year after year are in the lottery (Pittsburgh, Baltimore) are prevented from doing so as well. These teams will get kicked down to 10th in the order. This isn’t a panacea for tanking, but its a big win. The difference between the top 2-3 and #10 is massive.
  • Removal of 2021 “man on 2nd in extra innings” rule. to the collective sigh of purists.
  • Return to normal 9-inning double headers: again, a purist move to remove a one-off rule change for 2021.
  • Service time changes: call this the “Kris Bryant” rule; if a player is kept in the minors for service time manipulation purposes but finishes in the top 2 of RoY voting, they get a full year of service time awarded. It only affects 4 players a year … but its a start.
  • Permanent roster limit on # of pitchers at 13: this is probably good for the sport, and probably something teams saw coming anyway.
  • Advertising on Jerseys: its coming. For me, as a long-time soccer fan, its a non-issue and inevitable. Purists will, of course, lose their minds the moment they see a patch on the Yankees’s century-old pinstripes. I think its just “patches” and not logos across the chest.
  • Universal DH: this seemed like a no-brainer for both sides … and it is FINALLY here. I’ve been advocating for this move for nearly a decade; here’s a 2013 post I wrote about it, and basically everything I wrote then is still true. Ironic that our own Ryan Zimmerman, who probably could have hung on for another season had he known we had a DH, already retired.
  • Limits on Options: this is a pro-player move that probably doesn’t come into play for a ton of guys, but some teams are notorious for basically using options as a way to have an expanded roster, sending players back and forth to AAA over and over (Ahem, Tampa). Eno Sarris dives into it more here. There were players who were optioned more than a DOZEN times last year, a ridiculous logistical nightmare for these guys.
  • Amateur Draft now permanently at 20 rounds. This is not really that surprising; the league axed the entirety of Short-A ball, and rounds 20-30 basically existed to pick college players to play for half a season in these leagues. We don’t need that many players anymore … and for years the rounds 30-40 were essentially useless anyway.
  • Draft Pick Inducements for teams who carry top-performing rookies from opening-day. Interesting. Still seems like a crap shoot, and something that only affects the absolute very best rookies.
  • Easing the Unbalanced Schedule: starting in 2023, teams will play fewer divisional games. Interesting. Details still coming in, but it sounds like each team will play all 30 teams each year. That’d be really different. Instead of playing each divisional rival 19 times each year, that will fall to 14 times (56 of the 162 games), with the difference made up with a ton more interleague play.
  • Arbitration players to get cut in Spring training get full salary: thsi is a nice little pro-player change: if a player settles with his team on a figure, he’s guaranteed that number; no more cutting a player in spring training and getting away with just a percentage of the salary.
  • Small waiver wire changes: last year a player named Jacob Nottingham got jerked around multiple times in a weird waiver-wire claim issue between two teams, changing franchises multiple times. The players union clearly noticed and now teams cannot make a second claim on a player unless all other teams pass.
  • PED Testing changes: players will be tested more, and HGH testing will go from a blood draw to a blood spot.

Delayed negotiations: the two sides kicked the can down the road on two issues now tied to each other:

  • Qualifying Offers: players want to get rid of them and the Draft picks associated with them (because the draft picks serve as a regressive action on the Free Agency market and depress value for players).
  • International Draft: owners want it because, why else? It saves them money.

I personally think the players would be FOOLS to capitulate on the international draft for the sake of a handful of the (on average) 10-15 players a year who go through the QO process. I’ve done QO analysis for years and you can count on one hand the number of times a player was truly screwed by the QO process. And even those players who had to sit out part of the season, or take significantly less money than they were worth generally still made out later on. Players would be idiots to trade that benefit, which affects a fraction of 1% of their union to trade away the rights of every international player outside of the US. And while doing it, likely neuter or outright destroy baseball pipelines in certain latin american countries (akin to what the draft did to Puerto Rico). MLB owners are bottom-line, short sighted, wanting to save a penny instead of investing it to make a dollar later, and this is yet another example of them drastically harming the future of their sport … but the Union doesn’t represent 16yr old kids from the DR. So, expect it to happen.

What did we NOT get that was talked about/demanded?

  • Salary floor: yes the salary cap went up by 10% … but the Salary floor was not correspondingly implemented. This seems like a loss to the players, who have seen their average salary drop by 6.4% since 2017 at the same time that MLB revenues have increased more that 30%.
  • Age-based Service time: this was abandoned as a non-starter
  • Earlier to Arbitration: abandoned as a non-starter.
  • WAR-based salary determination; abandoned … though I like where they were going.
  • Expanded Active Rosters: still on the table perhaps, but not codified. we may get temporary expanded rosters to 28 players thanks to the compressed spring training.

What do I think? Well, the players got some wins, but i dont’ feel like the owners really had to make sacrifices. No salary floor, no elimination of the cap. The owners probably could care less about incremental salaries for the windfall they’re going to get from expanded playoffs. Notably, the player’s union vote included every “executive committee” player (basically the most respected veterans in the league) rejecting this deal.

but at least we’re playing ball again.

Note: a TON more detail has come out since this initial posting. The Athletic has a very comprehensive article on the new CBA with a ton more details here:

Written by Todd Boss

March 11th, 2022 at 9:55 am

Its Over! New CBA agreed upon

one comment

Well, this is a shocker to me. Out of nowhere, and with the two parties tens of millions of dollars apart on several key issues as of the last update … word just came out that they’ve suddenly agreed to a deal.

We’ll do a more in-depth analysis of the terms later on … i wanted to get something out there today though to remind you that

a) yes i’m still here

b) yes I still write on this blog … though not as frequently as I used to


c) more is coming.

We’re still waiting for a slew of major prospect ranking shops to release their Nats lists, and we’ll continue to react to them. But now that we have a CBA, we’re going to see an amazingly frantic transaction period coming up … i’ll do my best to keep the Big Board up to date.

Written by Todd Boss

March 10th, 2022 at 3:41 pm

Final proposals pre Lockout show some interesting CBA negotiation details


The Athletic’s Evan Drellich is in Irving, Texas, reporting from the final meetings between the owners and the players before the 12/1/21 CBA expiration deadline and subsequent lockout, and he’s come up with some really interesting nuggets.

I know the Athletic is behind a paywall; i’ll try to summarize some of the back and forth details, some of which I find pretty interesting as a fan.

Here’s some of the things the owners are offering:

  • MLB has proposed an increase to the minimum salary (which is probably a given in every CBA).
  • MLB has proposed an increase in the luxury tax cap (currently at $210M) to $214M growing to $220M. This is a start, since they proposed earlier DROPPING it to $180M along with a salary floor, but is kind of ridiculous to offer basically a 5% cap growth at a time when inflation is nearly that this year alone.
  • MLB has proposed a draft lottery at the top to stop tanking … but only in the top 3 picks (which is basically useless).

The Players have made some proposals too:

  • Basing draft order on a formula, not straight on W/L record. 60% record, 40% market size. I’m guessing they don’t want the large market teams to ever draft in the top 10 again.
  • Teams receiving revenue sharing (14 of the 30 teams mind you, and which includes teams like Colorado, St. Louis and San Diego, each of whom really have no business getting revenue sharing) would only receive draft pick compensation if they finish above .500 (which I love).
  • Proposing a scaled hard line of players getting to FA based on age and service time. Its not a hard “when you get to X years you’re free” but a sliding scale meant to prevent players from languishing in the minors for years and then not getting to FA until they’re in their mid 30s.
  • Some recognition that service time issues aren’t going away, but putting in place “bonuses” that give service time for performance (if you make an All-star team after getting held down like Kris Bryant, then you get a full year of service time). I like this.
  • Arbitration after 2 years, not 3. Owners are dead set against this.
  • Changes to revenue sharing between owners, which they believe (rightly) leads to non-competitive behavior. Hard to argue against this when you watch teams like Miami and Pittsburgh get $50M a year to normally not compete.
  • Offer the owners expanded post-season
  • Offer the owners “patches” on the uniform … aka sponsorship on the uniforms.

These last two items are worth, collectively, hundreds of millions of dollars to the owners. So … if you propose something to owners that will give them that much money, they’re going to expect something back that gives the players that much money too. As in, salary floors, or huge incrases in minimum salaries.

Some interesting factoids here, for those who possibly think the owners are negotiating in good faith:

  • The Average MLB salary has fallen 6.4% since 2017 while revenues for the league rose from $10B in 2017 to $10.7B in 2019.
  • Even more striking … the median salary in the league is down THIRTY PERCENT since 2015. 30%.

This pattern shows what we already know really; that front offices are trending towards younger players at the expense of older veterans, choosing for a pre-arb $575k player instead of a $2M veteran player in his mid-30s for that last bench spot. This has generally gutted the FA market for mid-30s hitters and has run dozens into early retirement. Furthermore, we’ve even seen declines in the top of the salary market; the qualifying offer (which is the mean salary of the games’ top paid 125 players) DROPPED this year for the first time ever, from $18.9 to $18.4M. The players see these numbers, fume at them, and know that they’re being perpetually manipulated by multi-millionaire owners who are gaslighting the public in to believing they’re actually LOSING money but who refuse to open their books.

Get ready for a long winter.

Written by Todd Boss

December 2nd, 2021 at 9:05 am

MLBPA CBA bargaining playbook strategy leaked


The Athletic got its hands on a huge memo the MLBPA issued to its members, providing guidance and answering questions for the (expected) lockout to occur on 12/1/21.

What’s more interesting to me was the rhetoric that the MLBPA communicated as to its “primary concerns” with the state of baseball right now, and to me it reads like a list of the major demands/strategic positions the union has. We’ve talked at length about all the issues that we think are contention points, but this list prioritizes what the union is after.

Here’s a summary of the 4 main issues the union will be arguing:

  1. Incentivizing Competition. As in, the blatant and open tanking that has been going on. MLBPA wants to change things so that winning is incentivized. Possible solutions here include financial penalties for sustained and purposeful losing (like, loss of revenue sharing dollars), draft pick compensation changes, and salary floors. None of these are going to go over well, especially to the “poorer” owners in the game such as in Kansas City, Pittsburgh etc. that being said, the owners know something is coming, and has already proposed a Salary Floor of $100M. Of course … they also included a salary ceiling thats at least $40M lower than current, which is ridiculous.
  2. Ensuring the most talented players are on the field. This is a direct attack on service time manipulation, and clearly the Union has had it. I don’t blame them: when Kris Bryant was blatantly kept in the minors for two weeks simply to gain an additional year of service, and the grievance went nowhere, the Union knew it had to demand changes. Our own Nats have done something similar in the past with Super-2 considerations, though not as blatantly as some teams (ahem, Tampa Bay, who kept Wander Franco in the minors well into the summer this year). The solution here is pretty simple, and has already been proposed by the owners in one form: a standardized age for reaching free agency, which removes any and all incentives for teams to keep their best players in the minors. The challenge will be figuring out what that age is; to me age 29.5 is too old. My suggestion would be a flat number of years of control based on the age of the player at signing, which basically turns into age 28 for all players. If the player is 16 at age of signing, 12 years before FA. If player is a HS player who has not turned 19, then 10 years. If the player is 19 or a juco signing, then 9 years, and if the player has turned 21 or is from a 4-yr program then 8 years.
  3. Reducing artificial restraints on competition. This is a direct attack on the luxury tax threshold, which has basically turned into a salary cap, even for teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox, which is patently ridiculous. But it also talks about the concept of draft pick compensation, saying that it gives teams a “convenient excuse” to not compete. I can’t help but agree; Scott Boras said it well and accurately when he claimed that the value of draft picks has led to half the league tanking. The challenge here is this: the players never should have allowed the cap, and now they’ll never be able to get rid of it. Clubs are disingenuous with their finances (except for the publicly traded teams like Atlanta, who display for the world how much money they’re not spending on payroll as compared to what they’re making), so we’ll never be able to get to a revenue split like what NHL/NBA has. The Solution won’t be easy: I think the players should get a flat rate of revenues, which is accomplished through both a floor and a ceiling. I like the idea of having what the NBA has in the Larry Bird exemption, allowing teams to go over the cap to re-sign their own players; that would really do much for this issue. I think teams should be inventivized to keep their home grown players; if we had Larry Bird exemption we might still have Rendon and Harper.
  4. Getting players their value earlier in their career. This one is easy; when you have pre-arb players winning MVPs and getting paid 1/50th of their value, something is fundamentally wrong with the system. MLB has already proposed going to a WAR-driven system, which is a start. I’m not sure what the solution here is; if Mike Trout has a 9-war season at age 23, do you pay him $50M the next year? What happens if he gets hurt and misses the entire season? do you pay him $0 the next year? The other challenge with using f-WAR is that it is drastically different in evaluating pitchers than bWAR or WARP; is that fair to non-strikeout guys?

Notably not mentioned here are other issues we know are floating around, such as:

  • International Draft
  • Qualifying Offers
  • Revenue Sharing
  • Arbitration system mods (other than wanting more money of course)
  • Draft signing bonuses
  • International signing bonuses
  • anything having to do with minor leaguers (of course; they’re not union members)

So, look for the players to “give” on these issues to get progress above. This is what really scares me; if the players give up an international draft (which the owners desperately want), what happens to the pipeline of international players?

We’re in for a long winter.

Written by Todd Boss

November 24th, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Experimental Rule change Reaction


TAMPA, FL – APRIL 4: Pitcher Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees attempts a pickoff against the New York Mets in a spring training game April 4, 2012 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. Pettitte last pitched in 2010. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

I’m a bit late to the game on this: Luke Erickson already posted his 2 cents on this at Nationals Prospects.

MLB has taken advantage of the fact that they now rule the Minor Leagues like a Lannister and will be implementing several rule changes this season. Jayson Stark had an interesting reaction here at the Athletic, and perhaps the simplest list of the rule changes by league is at (as always; they cut right to the chase).

So, what do I think? Well before reading further I guarantee one of my “takes” isn’t going to match yours for one or more of these proposed rule changes. Baseball fan opinions all exist on a sliding scale, where one extreme is the Pure Traditionalists (who are still pissed that the league went to divisional play in 1969, to say nothing of the Wild Card, 5-man rotations, the introduction of WAR, or anything we’re about to talk about), while on the other side are the Ultra-Modern Baseball fans, who embrace and seek out analytical advantages and are always looking for disruptive ways to improve the game. You can be on the “traditionalist side” of neutral and be ok with Wild Cards, but be against the DH in the NL, and you’ll still be called an idiot by your grandpa. So, take the below with a grain of salt if you’re on the conservative side.

Here’s the new rule changes, by league, being implemented in the Minors:

AAA will Increase the Size of the Bases.

I can’t see why anyone would argue with this; we’re all used to seeing the “side base” in amateur leagues created specifically to avoid collissions and broken ankles from clumsy base runners. They claim that a 3″ square increase will somehow lead to noticeable stolen base increases … but somehow I doubt that. As we already know, stolen bases are out of favor with analytical types because simple Run-Expectancy analysis shows that the break even point for SB success rate is somewhere in the 75% range, and only elite runners can break that rate. Ricky Henderson‘s career SB success rate was 80%, to give you an idea of how hard it is to keep your rate above 75%. My Verdict: go for it.

AA will Set Limits on Shifts

The initial rule will state that all four defined infielders must have their feet on the dirt. They can still shift, and put the 3rd baseman on the other side of 2nd … but he has to be in the defined “infield.” If this doesn’t have an impact, they also opened up the possibility of even more radical shift-banning, basically legislating that two infielders must be on either side of 2B, which basically would eliminate the shifting overloading we’ve been seeing.

In the past I have defended the shift, noting that it generally gets out hard-headed lefty pull hitters who refuse to adjust and take advantage of a wide open left side of the field by simply going the other way or bunting (as Robinson Cano did quite ably in this video)… listen to the announcers in this video; they basically say “its about time! How many years have we watched this with the shift…”). EXACTLY.


I’m starting to come back around a bit. Why? Because offense is so down. Anyone who has played slow-pitch softball knows how much offensive oppression a 4th outfielder strategically deployed can do to even a skilled hitter. I think i’m now ok with some slight modifications to the shift rule, and the initial rule is a great start. you want to play 3 infielders on the right side against a Ted Williams-like pull hitter? That’s fine; but they’ve all gotta be on the dirt and you can’t stick the 3B in short RF. My Verdict: go for it.

High-A will see the Step Off rule implemented for pitchers. Simply put, they have to disenage with the rubber to attempt a pick off. This rule was done in the Atlantic League in 2019 and apparently succeeded in its intent to increase the running game in the sport (it led to 70% more stolen base attempts).

I think I like this rule, but for a different reason…. no more will we see lefties basically balking and picking guys off first and not getting called on it. Over and Over we see illegal lefty moves to first (see Andy Pettitte’s entire career and this slo-mo video)and rarely do we see them getting called on it; it basically has eliminated the running game for lefties just under the threat of a fake move to first. One caveat; appaerntly the step-off-quick-snap-throw for lefties is also out … which I don’t get. Isn’t that a step-off? Maybe they put this part back, because otherwise lefties seem to have almost zero way to stop the running game. My Verdict: go for it.

Low-A will see, in addition to the step-off rule, the 2 Pickoff attempt rule. You can only attempt 3 pickoffs per plate appearance; if the 3rd attempt is unsuccessful, a balk is called and the runners advance. This is the most radical rule change for me, but I understand the reasoning. Go to any game and if a pitcher throws over more than a couple times the crowd boos and gets restless. It goes towards the general goal of speeding up the game, and goes towards eliminating a rather cynical method of suppressing the running game (that by tiring out the speedy potential base stealer by making him dive in over and over). I think i’ve talked myself into it. My Verdict: go for it.

Low-A West will Adopt on-field timers … which will just codify rules already in place, so My Verdict is just enforce the rules already.

Low-A South East will adopt Robot Umpires, technically known as the Automated Ball-Strike System or ABS, to standardize the strike zone. Yes. Finally. Basically the ABS system makes a call and the home plate umpire relays it, filling in if the machine breaks down.

The challenge with an automated strike zone is defining the zone. I think all baseball fans are really, really tired of seeing obvious balls called strikes and vice versa (see Hernandez, Angel), especially when the call seems to be punitive for some other action (see this call in the 2019 World Series when umpire Lance Barkesdale clearly “took away” a strike-three call). But, what we’ve learned from automated strike zones is that the rule-book defined zone makes for some really, really hard pitches to hit (98mph heater at your chest on the corner? yeah right). But, at some point I think it has to happen. My verdict; continue the experimenting.

Wow. So i’m in favor of all the rules. Hmm. I wonder what that makes me? Oh yeah; a baseball fan who’s tired of seeing 3.5 hr games of three true outcomes.

Written by Todd Boss

March 12th, 2021 at 10:31 am