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A Possible Plan for a 100-Game Season Floats By

Major League Baseball is figuratively sheltering in place while the COVID-19 pandemic escalates throughout the U.S., having settled several major issues with regards to the work stoppage, such as salaries and service time, via an agreement reached last Friday. As the league and the union look ahead to when it might be possible to start the 2020 regular season, a report from a Chicago sports radio host, Matt Spiegel of 670 AM The Score, has sketched out one possible outline, in a series of tweets he sent on Tuesday afternoon (one, two, three).

Citing “a well informed source that does business with multiple MLB execs,” Spiegel reported that MLB is discussing the possibility of a 100-game season that would begin July 1; eliminate the All-Star Game, which is currently scheduled for July 14 at Dodger Stadium; eventually pick up the post All-Star Game schedule; and run through October 15. Instead of hosting the All-Star Game, Dodger Stadium would serve as a neutral site for a warm-weather World Series, with Anaheim or San Diego serving as a second site if the Dodgers — whom FanGraphs projected to be the best team in baseball, with 97 wins and a 97.6% chance of making the playoffs over a 162-game season — make the World Series. The scenario assumes that the ALCS and NLCS would still take place at the venues of the qualifying teams, a risk given the possibility that those series could stretch to November 3. Of course, “many questions remain, & talks are fluid,” according to Spiegel.

Leaving aside the possibility that this is some April Fool’s prank — which, under the circumstances, should result in nothing short of a (socially distanced) trial at The Hague — it’s worth noting that this scenario has yet to be confirmed by the league. Nor has it even received a second report via the familiar cast of MLB insiders, the Rosenthals and Starks and Passans and Shermans who make the world of baseball news go ’round. So perhaps this is just cloud talk, a fantasy floating by. Even so, while recognizing that there’s no plan that will satisfy everybody, this scenario — which should be regarded as a best-case one — doesn’t sound so bad. While acknowledging that the decision on whether to start on a given date may well be out of MLB’s hands, this is at least a plausible sequence of events.

We’ve already been conditioned to accept the possibility of a 100-game season based upon the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines calling for the cancellation or postponement of events consisting of 50 or more people through at least May 10, a recommendation to which MLB is adhering. That best-case scenario would allow for a three-week resumption of spring training and the start of the season in early June, but it may now be a pipe dream given the ominous trajectory of the coronavirus’ spread in the U.S. Because of that, it’s somewhat reassuring to think about that 100-game scenario — the rough equivalent of the strike-shortened 1981 season, albeit without the two “halves” — remaining intact even if its start is pushed back by a month relative to previous expectations, and if its postseason takes on an unprecedented form.

As for that postseason, Spiegel’s report doesn’t flesh out what it might look like before the two League Championship Series. Just spitballing here, but even if the format remained the same, it seems possible that MLB might choose to host games at neutral sites in order to minimize the number of travel-induced off days. Then again, even if the Wild Card games were doubled up to be played on a single day, the net gain through the Division Series is just three days. What’s more, it’s those travel days that minimize the number of four-games-per-day pileups during the Division Series; five days in a row of that might be too much for the networks, viewers, and the rest of the baseball industry to withstand, though right now that certainly sounds more appealing than no baseball at all.

As for Dodger Stadium, it has undergone a $100 million offseason renovation in anticipation of hosting the All-Star Game for the first time since 1980. No Dodger Stadium game has been rained out since the 2000 season, and none of the seven World Series games the venue hosted in 2017 and ’18 had a first-pitch temperature below 67 degrees. As warm-weather options go, it’s reasonable bet to be playable in early November. It also has the highest seating capacity (56,000) of any existing venue; among the retractable roof parks besides the Rogers Centre (49,282, but likely ruled out due to the additional logistical complexity international travel would bring), the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field (48,686) and Seattle’s T-Mobile Park (47,929) are the largest, and from there the dropoff is steep, with Miller Park (41,900) the next-largest, and Tropicana Field (25,000) the smallest.

As for the virus’ spread, the projections for the death count in the U.S. are now in the 100,000 to 240,000 range, and the country faces a dearth of the tests and treatments that could accelerate a return to something resembling normalcy. In the face of such unfathomable figures, the resumption of professional sports may seem trivial, and to the individuals directly affected by those deaths, it certainly is. Even so, the opportunity for the games to provide an audience of millions some combination of entertainment, distraction, relief, unity, and above all hope as we emerge from the worst of this crisis should not be underestimated. Major League Baseball can certainly be a part of that combination, and by most indications wants to be part of that. Via USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, here’s what MLB Players Association chief executive Tony Clark said last week upon the hammering out of the aforementioned agreement:

“Players want to play. That’s what we do. Being able to get back on the field and being able to play, even if that means their fans are watching at home. Being able to play for their fans is something they’ve all expressed a desire and an interest to do, and to do so as soon as possible.”

…“We would play as long as we possibly could. Obviously, the weather becomes a challenge the later you get in the calendar year, but we would do our best to play as many as possible regardless of when we start.

“How many games remains to be seen.”

In order for the season to start, certain conditions have to be met. Again via Nightengale:

-Medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to the health of players, staff and spectators.

-There are no travel restrictions.

-Removal of legal restrictions on mass gatherings that would prevent games in front of spectators.

Yet, if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to recommend no gathering of more than 50 people, MLB officials and the players would be willing to play in front of empty stadiums and at neutral sites.

There may not be unanimity on that last point. Per Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, quoting a league source, “MLB has little to no appetite for playing games in empty stadiums or for a postseason that extends into December.” The phrase “not a lot of appetite” similarly turned up in an article by Jayson Stark at The Athletic last week, from “one baseball person who is likely to be involved when these discussions arise,” though the words from Stark’s piece were in reference to playing a whole season without fans.

Such stances aren’t unreasonable. Playing in empty stadiums would at least allow for the fulfillment of television contracts and prevent cable subscription cancellations — which according to Craig Edwards provide more than 90% of revenues for regional sports networks — and might be used as an interim step if CDC guidelines are loosened but not fully lifted by the targeted Opening Day. That said, via Stark, the team-to-team inequities in TV deals may give some teams pause about going this route without an agreement to share additional revenue. Meanwhile, beyond any weather-related concerns for games and travel, a postseason extending into December would be problematic due to the additional competition baseball would face from other major sports, whose seasons will have presumably resumed or started by then.

The quotation from Verducci arrived in the context of his look at the obstacles Nippon Professional Baseball faces in its attempt to resume its season. In Japan, which has far fewer cases on a per-capita basis than the U.S., teams began playing practice games on March 20, and targeting April 24 for Opening Day. Players, staff, and media are been screened as they enter ballparks, but nonetheless, within that first week, three players on the Hanshin Tigers tested positive for COVID-19 infections; players and staff were ordered to self-quarantine, and practices were suspended. NPB may be forced to reconsider the date of its opener in light of a recent spike in infections that has put Prime Minister Shinzo Abe under pressure to declare a state of emergency.

How NPB, or MLB for that matter, would handle the situation if a player tests positive during the regular season is just one question that would have to be answered before play can be restarted — one of several that can’t be answered at this time. That may well be why nobody at the league is stepping forward to float this proposal through more familiar channels, let alone formally announce it yet. Perhaps that 100-game goal will have to be trimmed to 90 or 80 games as the weeks go by. But as we squint into the distance at what baseball might look like later this summer and fall, this plan is something to focus upon. And, given the alternative of no baseball, to root like hell for in hopes that it comes to pass.


Remembering Jimmy Wynn, the Toy Cannon (1942-2020)

Like his longtime Astros teammate Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn packed a lot of punch into a relatively diminutive frame, and did a great many things well on the diamond while thriving in a low-offense environment. Listed at 5-foot-9, the “Toy Cannon” made three All-Star teams during his 15 major league seasons (1963-77), but he likely would have drawn even greater appreciation had his career taken place a few decades later. His combination of tape-measure power, a keen batting eye, a strong throwing arm, speed, and solid work in center field has made him a stathead favorite, one whose career numbers (.250/.366/.436 for a 129 OPS+ with 291 homers, 225 steals, and 55.8 bWAR) tell quite a story. Bill James ranked him 10th among center fielders in The New Bill James Historical Abstract circa 2001, and similarly, it took Wynn until well after his playing career to be fully appreciated by Houston fans, that after he had worked his way back from a dark domestic altercation (in which he was stabbed by his wife in self-defense) to become a community icon whose name graced a baseball facility for urban youth, and whose number 24 hung in the rafters of Minute Maid Park.

“It’s never too late to make things right,” Wynn wrote in Toy Cannon, his 2010 autobiography, a frank account of his career and the mistakes he made along the way. “Even if it does mean that you may have to crawl out of a deeper hole at an older age to get your life turned around. You can still do it, one day at a time, if it’s important to you.”

Wynn died last Thursday in Houston at the age of 78. His cause of death was not announced.

Born in Cincinnati on March 12, 1942, Wynn was the oldest of seven children of Joseph and Maude Wynn, and grew up near the Reds’ ballpark Crosley Field. His father was a sanitation worker, though Wynn “still called him a garbage man because that’s what he was doing and there is no shame in that work at all,” as he wrote in his autobiography. Joseph, who played semipro ball in Cincinnati into his late 40s, coached his son in Little League, and worked with him tirelessly.

“My father made me the kind of hitter I am,” Wynn told Sports illustrated’s Ron Fimrite in 1974:

“I was a shortstop when I was a boy growing up in Cincinnati and my father saw me as an Ernie Banks type—a good fielder who could hit home runs. He threw baseball after baseball at me, and when he got tired he took me out to a place near the airport where they had pitching machines. I developed the timing and the strong hands and wrists you need to hit homers.”

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Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 3/30/20

12:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to today’s chat, where I plan to talk about baseball in at least some shape and form. I hope you’re doing all right; the Jaffe-Span household is trying to keep it together in downtown Brooklyn, where we’ve got a reasonable stockpile of supplies and are taking plenty of precautions when we do need to walk our dog (Sandy) and get our daughter some outdoor exercise.

12:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Some housekeeping: Please read this message from David Appelman. Like just about everyone else in the world of sports, we’re facing some lean times, and we hope that you’ll think of us.  https://blogs.fangraphs.com/a-fangraphs-update-were-asking-for-your-he…

12:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis has a piece about our situation and those of several other sports media outlets https://www.theringer.com/2020/3/30/21199460/coronavirus-sports-media-…

12:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m currently working on an obituary of Jimmy Wynn, the Toy Cannon — a highly-underrated ballplayer who was a stathead favorite. That will run tomorrow.

12:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: And now, on with the show…

12:06
Dave: How is Sandy doing?

Read the rest of this entry »


MLB and the Union Hammer Out a Deal and Hunker Down in the Face of the Unknown

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have spent the past few weeks working through a long list of issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic-driven delay to the 2020 regular season. On Thursday night — on what would have been Opening Day — the two sides announced a deal that settles several key questions that have hung in the balance since MLB postponed the start of the season. In general, the deal gives the league a great deal of flexibility in its attempt to salvage as much of the season as is feasible, and protects the players against the possibility that the season could be canceled entirely by addressing the thorny question of service time. However, it not only sells out amateur players with regards to this year’s draft and international signing period, it does so in ways that hint at more permanent and controversial changes sought by the league, such as a contraction of the minors and the institution of an international draft.

Despite the often-contentious relationship between the union and the league in drawing up the battle lines related to the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (the current one expires following the 2021 season), this deal represents an effort by both sides to avoid prolonged public bickering over billions of dollars in the face of an international crisis. Each side made key compromises that will leave some parties unhappy. The union voted to accept the deal on Thursday, and the owners ratified it via a conference call on Friday. With the ratification, a roster freeze is now in effect, barring teams from signing free agents and making trades, waiver moves, minor league assignments, et cetera, until both sides agree such transactions can resume. Towards that end, on Thursday dozens of players were optioned to the minors.

Per the deal, whose details were first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan and additionally fleshed out by the Associated Press, The Athletic, and the New York Post, MLB will advance the players $170 million in salary for April and May. At this point, it’s a virtual certainty that no games will be played during those months so long as the league adheres to the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines, which called for the cancellation or postponement of events consisting of 50 or more people through at least May 10. That best-case scenario, which may be a pipe dream given that the U.S. has now overtaken China in terms of the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections and is on an ominous trajectory as far as its further spread, would allow for a three-week resumption of spring training and the start of the season in June. Read the rest of this entry »


JAWS and the 2020 bWAR Update, Part 3

No pitcher took it in the JAWS quite as hard as position players Ernie Lombardi and Josh Donaldson did via Baseball-Reference’s latest update to its version of WAR, which I’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks unpacking — at least when I wasn’t stocking my freezer and my pantry while reading the grim COVID-19 news. B-Ref’s latest influx of data resulted in alterations to five different areas of the metric that affected players as far back as 1904 and as recently as last season. Lombardi, a Hall of Fame catcher, lost a whopping 7.3 WAR due to the introduction of detailed play-by-play baserunning and caught stealing data from the 1930s and ’40s, while Donaldson lost 3.8 WAR due to a change in the way Defensive Runs Saved is calculated. By comparison, the largest swing for a pitcher, either positive or negative, was the 2.2 WAR gained by Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson.

B-Ref’s version of WAR is different from that of FanGraphs, particularly when it comes to pitching; it’s based on actual runs allowed, with adjustments for the qualify of the offenses faced and the defenses behind it, where the FanGraphs version is driven by the Fielding Independent Pitching categories as well as infield flies. As bWAR is the currency for JAWS, it’s of particular interest to me, even at a time when the Hall itself is closed due to the pandemic. I’ve grazed by the pitchers in my two recent updates, mentioning a few tidbits here and there while trying to avoid a typical Jaffe-length 3,000 word epic, but in this installment I’ll take a closer look at the those most affected. To review, here are the five areas where B-Ref’s WAR update has incorporated new (or recently unearthed) data, ordered for chronological effect:

  • New Retrosheet Game Logs (1904-07)
  • Caught Stealing Totals from Game Logs (1926-40)
  • Baserunning and Double Plays from play-by-play data (1931-47)
  • Defensive Runs Saved changes (2013-19)
  • Park factor changes (2018)

So the big thing for history buffs, as the site itself noted last month, is the addition of four years worth of box scores that account for every game of the careers of Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson. The latter’s major league debut, on August 2, 1907, happened to be against Cobb’s Tigers. B-Ref’s play-by-play data doesn’t go back quite so far (the earliest boundary is now 1918, though it’s incomplete), so it’s not apparent via the aforementioned link, but it turns out that the first hit Johnson surrendered was to Cobb, who was batting cleanup that day. It was one of six hits Detroit rapped out in the Big Train’s eight innings. Cobb, just 20 years old but en route to his first of 11 batting titles, came away quite impressed. In the aftermath of the game, he said, “We couldn’t touch him … every one of us knew we’d met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ball park.” Read the rest of this entry »


COVID-19 Roundup: Flickers of Hope and Even Baseball

This is the latest installment of a daily series in which the FanGraphs staff rounds up the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 virus’ effect on baseball.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, with the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. alone above 46,000, and the worldwide total approaching 400,000. For the first time, the single-day death toll in the U.S. topped 100 on Monday, pushing the country’s tally past 500, and already as of Tuesday morning, it’s closing in on 600. Even so, President Trump and his administration spent its time on Monday downplaying the pandemic’s deadliness, expressing impatience with the advice of health experts, including those of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and musing about lifting the guidelines for Americans to stay at home and reopening the country in order to stimulate the economy — advice that could further overwhelm hospitals, expand the outbreak, and have deadly consequences for millions.

The news around the country is grim at just about every turn. For glints of optimism, one must look to Italy, where the count of new cases and the daily death toll have both decreased for three straight days — thanks to lockdowns that are much more strict than the patchwork of orders in place across the U.S. That said, the grim tallies in Italy, a country of over 60 million that has reported nearly 64,000 confirmed cases (but perhaps 10 times as many cases overall, with the balance going uncounted due to asymptomatic cases and a shortage of tests) and over 6,000 deaths, are still sobering.

On the baseball front, the quiet from the weekend that Tony Wolfe covered in Monday’s installment has continued, at least as far as MLB is concerned. But roughly 7,000 miles away from New York City, it was another story on Monday night…

Live Baseball in Korea

As was the case with the U.S. and MLB, the novel coronavirus pandemic in South Korea forced the Korea Baseball Organization to postpone its Opening Day, which was scheduled for March 28, that after canceling all of its preseason games. Thanks to the country’s success in flattening the curve through quick intervention, widespread testing, contact tracing, isolation, and surveillance — the last at a level that certainly would not be deemed acceptable in the U.S., to say nothing of the feasibility of the other measures — just 64 new cases were reported on Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »


Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 3/23/20

12:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to the rescheduled, on-the-fly version of my weekly chat. It’s been a rough eight days since we last connected here, for you as surely as it’s been for me, but last night I saw a flicker of hope via a YouTube broadcast from Busan, South Korea, where the Lotte Giants (who employ FanGraphs alum Sung Min Kim) played an intrasquad scrimmage, with former MLB hurlers Dan Straily and Adrian Sampson starting for their respective squads.

12:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wrote more about that in today’s COVID-19 roundup, as well as some other developments involving a minor league advocacy group and the use of Marlins Park as a spot for drive-through testing https://blogs.fangraphs.com/covid-19-roundup-flickers-of-hope-and-even…

12:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The hope for the KBO is that they can start their season in mid-April, in which case I plan to become as well-versed as possible in the league, because baseball.

12:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Last year I did a bit of poking around KBO stat sites when the Blue Jays brought up Ryan Feierabend, a lefty who remade himself as a knuckleballer while pitching for the Nexen Heroes and KT Wiz https://blogs.fangraphs.com/ryan-feierabend-and-the-disappearing-knuck…

12:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Anyway, I’m chatting here with my 3 1/2-year daughter and her partner in crime, our mutt Sandy, underfoot. The queue is filling slowly. I’ll start tackling questions but if there’s a delay in my responses, it’s because I’m keeping the apartment from burning down or at least sticking two LEGOs together.

12:41
STRAY: Will we see 125+ games this season?

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JAWS and the 2020 bWAR Update, Part 2

Josh Donaldson is one of the game’s elite two-way players, but like the late Ernie Lombardi, he received rude treatment when it came to Baseball-Reference’s latest update to its version of WAR. Last week I began a breakdown of B-Ref’s influx of new data, which resulted in alterations to five different areas of its version of WAR, some aspects of which affect players as far back as 1904 and others as recent as last season. The introduction of detailed play-by-play baserunning and caught stealing data from the 1930s and ’40s, for example, cost Lombardi — a heavy-hitting Hall of Fame catcher who played from 1934-47 — a whopping 7.3 WAR. Donaldson took the largest hit among contemporary players, losing 3.8 WAR via changes in the way Defensive Run Saved is calculated. For the 34-year-old third baseman, the loss adds a bit of insult to the injury of this delayed season, which won’t make it any easier for him to build what is admittedly a long-shot case for the Hall of Fame.

B-Ref’s version of WAR is different from that of FanGraphs, but as bWAR is the currency for JAWS, it’s of particular interest to me. While the Hall of Fame itself is as closed right now as any museum due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall arguments are never out of season, nor is taking stock of greatness, particularly when it provides a diversion from considering stockpiles of toilet paper and shortages of N95 masks. B-Ref’s adjustments are hardly unprecedented for the site, which adds new data annually. The earliest boundaries for game logs and play-by-play data have moved backwards by decades over the years, for example, and last year’s big-ticket addition was a major update to catchers’ defensive statistics for the 1890-1952 period.

Reordered for their chronological effect, this year’s update has incorporated the following:

  • New Retrosheet Game Logs (1904-07)
  • Caught Stealing Totals from Game Logs (1926-40)
  • Baserunning and Double Plays from play-by-play data (1931-47)
  • Defensive Runs Saved changes (2013-19)
  • Park factor changes (2018)

As I noted last week, the career WAR totals of 11 Hall of Fame position players swung by at least 2.5 WAR, some positive and others negative. Where Lombardi was the biggest loser in that update, shortstop Arky Vaughan was the biggest gainer from among the enshrined; his 5.1-WAR gain was the second-largest swing overall, 0.1 less than that of three-time All-Star Lonny Frey (a teammate of Lombardi’s with the Reds from 1938-41). Because nobody needed 3,000 words from me in the first installment of a series as we await the green light on the 2020 season, I didn’t publish the table of the position-by-position changes or delve into the effects on other groups of players, such as Donaldson and his contemporaries. This time around, we’ll do just that. Read the rest of this entry »


Chris Sale Will Have Tommy John Surgery After All

A day after the Boston Globe reported that Chris Sale had resumed throwing following a shutdown, and two weeks after he was diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain but no new damage to his ulnar collateral ligament, the Red Sox have announced that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery. The going-on-31-year-old lefty joins the Yankees’ Luis Severino on the short list of star pitchers who will miss all of the 2020 season — however long it may be — following UCL reconstruction, and the Astros’ Justin Verlander among players whose decisions to undergo surgery make more sense in light of the delayed opening to the season.

As I detailed three weeks ago, Sale made just 25 starts amid an uneven season last year; he was fantastic in May and June (2.78 ERA, 1.98 FIP in 71.1 innings) but bad or worse on either side of that stretch before being shut down on August 13 due to elbow inflammation. Though he set career worsts in ERA (4.40) and home run rate (1.47 per nine) — both more than double his 2018 rates — his strikeout rate still ranked second in the majors among pitchers with at least 140 innings, his 29.6% K-BB% fourth, and his 75 FIP- 14th. His 3.6 WAR, despite being his lowest mark since 2011, was more than respectable. That said, Statcast data showed that he had the largest year-to-year dropoff in four-seam fastball velocity of any pitcher from 2018 to ’19, 1.8 mph (from 95.2 mph to 93.4), and the second-largest increase in exit velocity, 3.4 mph (from 84.7 to 87.0).

While Sale paid a visit to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion last August, he avoided surgery, though he did receive a platelet-rich plasma injection. Although many within the industry have been predicting that the wiry lefty would someday blow out his elbow given his violent delivery — you can find armchair pitching coaches calling him “a ticking time bomb” as far back as 2012, if not earlier — there was no public indication at the time that his injection or his injury were related to his ulnar collateral ligament. This spring, the Red Sox continued to give reassurances that his elbow was fine, even as Sale began spring training behind schedule due to a bout of pneumonia. Read the rest of this entry »


JAWS and the 2020 bWAR Update, Part 1

Poor Ernie Lombardi. The heavyset and heavy-hitting Hall of Fame catcher, who owns two of the position’s eight batting titles, was the player hardest-hit by Baseball-Reference’s latest update to their version of Wins Above Replacement. B-Ref rolled out a whole series of adjustments, both to current players and long-retired ones, into one big release earlier this week, which it explained via a Twitter thread on Tuesday morning and expounded upon at the site. Thanks to additional play-by-play baserunning and caught stealing data, Lombardi, whose career spanned from 1931-47, saw his career WAR total drop from 46.8 to 39.5. Well, he didn’t actually see it, as he’s been dead since 1977, but you know what I mean.

B-Ref’s version of WAR is different from that of FanGraphs, of course, though you may have noticed that our site also updated its Defensive Runs Saved totals after Sports Info Solutions made major changes to its flagship stat, in part to account for defensive shifting. I’ll get to that aspect in a separate follow-up post, but for the moment my concern is how the B-Ref changes affect my JAWS system for Hall of Fame evaluations. The overall answer is “not a whole lot,” though individual player WAR and JAWS, and thus the standards at each position, have shifted a bit, creating a ripple effect throughout my system. With no new baseball for the foreseeable future, it’s worth taking an inventory of these changes, in part because they give us a chance to dig into some baseball history and provide a bit of an escape from our current realities.

Incidentally, the Hall of Fame itself closed indefinitely as of Sunday, March 15, and has already canceled its 2020 Hall of Fame Classic Weekend, which was scheduled for May 22-24. Among other things, that weekend was to feature a seven-inning legends game featuring Hall of Famers and former major leaguers and a “Night at the Museum” program. Induction Weekend, scheduled for July 24-27, is still on the calendar and will hopefully take place as planned, but right now, there are no guarantees. Given that the advanced ages of many Hall of Famers put them at the highest risk for COVID-19 infections, attendance among the game’s legends could be more sparse than usual. Read the rest of this entry »