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Sabersphere 1/15: We Talkin' 'Bout Practice, Pitchers vs. Throwers, and THE INTERNET

Today's Sabersphere looks at the value of practice, what makes a thrower into a pitcher, how to fix the Hall of Fame, the Sabermetric Tea Party, and whether veterans help younger players.

Ezra Shaw

Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs examines the effect of practice by comparing the offensive performance of AL and NL pitchers: Gauging the Effect of a Little Practice

People will tell you that practice makes perfect. This is untrue, at least as far as it has to do with humans. Humans will forever be imperfect, and a better and more accurate saying would be "practice makes better". If you’re trying to do something, and you practice it, you’ll probably do better than you would have had you not practiced it. This is the whole idea behind practice, so I’m glad we finally have this cleared up.

Jeff Zimmerman, the other Jeff of Fangraphs, uses Zone% and Edge% to argue that Tim Lincecum needs to hit the corners more in order to be effective: Tim Lincecum Needs to Learn How to Pitch, Not Throw

Tim Lincecum‘s resume contains the following items: 2 time Cy Young award winner, 4 time All-Star and twice World Series Champion. With all the achievements over the last 5 seasons, he was relegated to a long relief once the Giants made the playoffs because he was no longer effective as a starter. Lincecum’s problem is he can no longer just throw the ball across the plate and hope a batter just swings and misses. If he wants any hope of returning to be the starter he once was, he now needs to learn how to pitch.

Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times looks at some problems with, and solutions for, the Hall of Fame: Cleaning Up Cooperstown

Let’s think for a second, why do we have a Hall of Fame? In part, it’s to honor those who have excelled the most at, and done the most for, baseball. However, it’s not just for the players, but for the fans. The Baseball Hall of Fame wouldn’t exist unless people went there, after all. The Hall is a place for baseball fans to celebrate the game itself, and the people within it (mostly players) who meant the most to them. That justifies the Hall’s existence.

Rob Neyer of Baseball Nation responds to Jon Heyman's pro-Morris campaign and Ken Rosenthal's comparison of the sabermetric community to the Tea Party: Jack Morris, the Tea Party, and WOW INTERNET

Is THE INTERNET a part of the story? Sure. Everything counts. I suspect that THE INTERNET did help Blyleven, if only because the internet -- and by that I mean the medium, not basement-pajama guys like me -- makes it a lot easier to publish facts (and lies, too, but most of the stuff about Blyleven was actually true). How badly has THE INTERNET hurt Morris, though? He was 42 votes short this time. It's certainly possible that THE INTERNET cost him 42 votes. It's also possible that the internet got him a few votes. And I don't mean just because guys like Heyman and most of the crew were able to use the internet to pump his candidacy. There were probably a few reactionaries who actually voted for Morris simply because they knew it would piss off THE INTERNET.

Russell Carleton of Baseball Prospectus questions a commonly held train of thought: Does Having a Veteran Around Help Young Players?

Last week, I wrote a piece on the social development of young baseball players (and humans in general). In the piece, I suggested that one reason that teams might employ older players who are well past their prime, to the point where they are barely replacement level, is that there might be something to the "clubhouse guy" effect, particularly on young players. Players in their early 20s are going through a seldom recognized and only recently understood period of neurological development, and in addition to being baseball players are also trying to figure out how to be adults. There might be some value to having a guy around who is... well, already an adult. Someone who could take a young player under his wing.

If you would like to submit something for a future edition of Sabersphere, please email Spencer at

In today's BtB Retro, Bill Petti asks if power-hitting teams do worse on balls in play than other teams: Do Home Run Hitting Offenses Generally Sport Lower BABIPs?

But why do these run-scoring teams have such low BABIPs? One hypothesis is that teams that hit lots of home runs might generally have lower BABIPs. Since home runs are positive batted balls in terms of runs, but don't count towards BABIP it may be that high HR teams are bound to have low BABIPs. Looking at the data since 2001, this doesn't appear to be the case.