Fall 2018 Baseball Research Journal

  • Becoming a Contract Jumper: Deacon Jim McGuire’s 1902 Decision By James K. Flack

    In the first years of the American League, its eight clubs added to their ranks by drawing away players from the older National League. One of them was Deacon Jim McGuire, a veteran catcher who left the Brooklyn Superbas for greener pastures with the Detroit Tigers. A resulting lawsuit, Brooklyn Base Ball Club v. James T. McGuire, had national scope in its application.

  • WAR and the World Series: Is WAR an Indicator of October Success? By Ryan Borgemenke

    Does a higher team WAR, a value based on regular-season statistics, correlate with a higher winning percentage in the World Series? Can WAR be used to describe teams that play in the World Series? Using a historical approach, were there eras in which teams with lower WAR values than their opponent won more frequently?

  • Why do games take so long? By David W. Smith

    In 2014, then-commissioner Bud Selig announced the formation of a committee to investigate the issue of game length. Since taking office, current commissioner Rob Manfred has taken steps to reduce game time including rules changes that limit mound visits, a countdown clock between innings, and has spoken openly about the possibility of introducing a “shot clock” for every pitch. But what factor contributes to the biggest difference in the length of major-league baseball games?

  • 1948: When Baseball’s Minor League Winter Meetings Came to Minneapolis By Sarah Johnson

    Thirteen years before Minneapolis would become home to the major-league Twins, it was briefly the epicenter of the minor-league world when it hosted baseball's Winter Meetings in 1948.

  • “Shorty,” “Brother Lou,” and the Dodgers' Sym-phony By Rob Edelman

    Rachel Robinson observed that the Brooklyn Dodgers Sym-phony "was one of the things people loved about Ebbets Field. They provided a kind a special character and loving warmth that few other ballparks had." They were a five, six, or seven-man unit of comically wacky amateur instrumentalists who gave support to their beloved Bums for decades.

  • Voices for the Voiceless: Ross Horning, Cy Block, and the Unwelcome Truth By Warren Corbett

    In 1951, two unknown minor-leaguers stepped forward to challenge Organized Baseball's view of owner-player relations in the US House Judiciary Committee's hearings on baseball's antitrust exemption and the reserve clause.

  • 1908’s Forgotten Team: The Pittsburgh Pirates By Steve Steinberg

    The 1908 National League race is best remembered for the “Merkle game” between the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs, who were in a dead heat for first place at the end of the season. The clubs met to replay that tie game. The Cubs won and went on to beat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series for the second year in a row. But there was a third team in that season-long struggle, a team that, like the Giants after the replayed game, finished just a game out of first place, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  • The Rise and Fall of the Deadball Era By David J. Gordon

    If a modern fan could be transported back to a baseball game in 1908, to the strains of the new tune “Take Me out to the Ball Game,” he or she would feel right at home in the Deadball Era. The popular narrative attributes the dearth of offensive production during this period largely to the properties of the ball. While ball-centered theories help explain the end of the Deadball Era, they cannot explain why it began in the first place, since the ball was no “livelier” only seven years earlier (when scoring was at an all-time high) than it was in 1901.

  • Revisiting the Origin of the Infield Fly Rule By Richard Hershberger

    The baserunner’s dilemma and the fielder’s perverse incentive provide a satisfying explanation for why the infield fly rule exists. This logic is coherent and plausible. Only recently has closer examination of the antecedents to the rule shown that the actual reason for it is the problem of distinguishing what is and is not a catch. This is an extraordinary claim. Here is a historical account of how and why the infield fly rule was developed.

  • Ties in Baseball (and Beyond) By Erik M. Jensen

    It’s often said that there are no ties in baseball. If a game is deadlocked after nine innings, you keep playing until someone wins. That’s the general rule, to be sure, but tie games have occurred in the past, for all sorts of special reasons. And the neck tie, the real subject of this essay, has played a role in the lives of some prominent baseball guys (and others as well).

  • The Specialized Bullpen: History, Analysis, and Strategic Models for Success By John Daniels, Sara Andrasik, David Hooley

    A great deal of attention has been given to the baseball closer, particularly since the save was officially recognized in 1969. But the modern bullpen is now multidimensional, complete with analytics and new algorithms, and this should give a manager more weapons with a late-game lead. This paper discusses the evolution of the specialized bullpen, how it has affected baseball, and how much the specialized bullpen contributes to a significant playoff run. This research should reinforce some accepted baseball adages and provide some examples that less is sometimes more.

  • Offensive Explosion: Trends in Hitting Production in Major League Baseball By Laura Schreck and Eric Sickles

    2014 was a record year for pitchers, but it was followed by an abrupt reversal in trends, with offensive numbers increasing steadily in 2015 and 2016, culminating in a record-setting year for hitters in 2017. This article explores similar offensive explosions throughout the history of major-league baseball in order to draw parallels to the current extraordinary increase in offense.

  • The Bats ... They Keep Changing! By Steven Bratkovich

    Over the centuries, baseball bat shapes have undergone all kinds of contortions: Bat diameters have expanded and contracted and lengths have varied. Even bat wood species have transitioned from hickory and the traditional ash to maple, which dominates today in Major League Baseball.

  • Racial Parity in the Hall of Fame By David J. Gordon

    Now that MLB has been integrated for more than seven decades, about half of its history, it is appropriate to ask how black players have fared — not so much in their achievements on the field, which are obviously impressive — but in receiving equal recognition for their accomplishments in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • Ron Hunt, Coco Crisp, and the Normalization of Hit-by-Pitch Statistics By Gary Belleville

    Certain batters, such as the indomitable Ron Hunt, intentionally used the hit-by-pitch on a regular basis to boost their on-base percentage. Many other batters throughout baseball history have routinely used the hit-by-pitch as an offensive weapon. This brings up a question: Who was the best of all time at reaching base on an HBP?

  • Home Runs and Strikeouts: Another Look By Douglas Jordan

    The 2017 MLB season set records for both home runs (6,105) and strikeouts (40,104). Conventional wisdom would suggest that this is not a coincidence. The argument is that players don’t mind striking out more often if they also hit more home runs. Additional insight into the relationship between home runs and strikeouts can be gained by relating both home runs and strikeouts to at-bats.

  • Why Has No True DH Been Elected to the Hall of Fame — Yet? By John Cronin

    The Designated Hitter has been the way of life in the American League since 1973. With this extensive history, it prompts the question “Why has no true DH been elected to the Hall of Fame — yet?” Naturally, the next is “Will there be a DH in the Hall, and when and who will that be?”