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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:39 pm 
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From the Tribune-Review (5/25/08):

Although catchers Ronny Paulino and Ryan Doumit don't have a long track record in the majors, Pirates manager John Russell trusts them to call the games behind the plate.
"For the most part, they're pretty much on their own," Russell said. "Occasionally, they need ... I wouldn't say help, but they'll look over for ideas."

Before every game, the coaches huddle with that day's catcher and pitcher to come up with a strategy for how to approach batters in various situations.

"One of the things we try to teach them is, when in doubt, go with your strengths," Russell said. "We've pretty much left them to stay with the game plan, and they've done pretty well with it."

A good catcher must be in tune with the pitcher and know what pitches are working -- and, more importantly, which ones aren't. The catcher also must be clued in to the strengths, weaknesses and habits of different batters.
Combined, Paulino and Doumit have caught fewer than 400 games in the majors. But they already are building a vast mental inventory of batters, which is necessary for success.

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:40 pm 
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[
That the Bucco pitchers feel more "comfortable" with Chavez very much speaks to their trust in his instincts and what he is calling for in a particular situation. When a pitcher is not comfortable with a catcher, does not trust what his catcher is calling, or frequently second guesses the calls, the chances of a successful outing are lessened.[/quote]

This goes for any pitcher, any time, any place.

Also, no matter what the catcher calls, in most situations, the pitcher has a right to shake it off. After all, it his name that will have a W or an L next to it in the boxscore.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:27 am 
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I have tried to read this thread a couple of times and I still am confused about what is the actual argument here.

Is it that some of you don't believe that a catchers game calling ability means anything?

I would assume that before the game the pitcher and catcher would get together to discuss how they were going to attack each hitter and call the game accordingly, adjusting when the hitters adjust. This I would think defines game calling ability. If a catcher cannot adjust to the hitters during the game, then he probably has poor game calling ability.

On a side note: The online baseball simulation I play at http://www.whatifsports.com called Hardball Dynasty, one of the major attributes to a good catcher is something labeled PC(Pitch Calling), This attribute works with the Pitchers attributes to enhance the actual pitching success. So there are some other folks out there that believe that "game calling" is important.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:57 am 
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Piratefan13 wrote:
I have tried to read this thread a couple of times and I still am confused about what is the actual argument here.

Is it that some of you don't believe that a catchers game calling ability means anything?

In a word, yes. The long answer is that if there actually is a catcher's game-calling ability, it does not appear to affect the game in a measurable way. The evidence over the past 30 years has shown that there is no distinct difference between one catcher's game-calling ability and another catcher's game-calling ability. The results show that the perceived effects of a catcher's game-calling ability compared to the perceived effects of another's game-calling ability fluctuate randomly from year to year. That's not evidence of a skill -- that's evidence of randomness.

Some have said that a catcher's game-calling severely affects pitching, and often point to their own experiences in little league, high school, and college ball. That's all well and good, but that does not show that such a skill is important at the Major League level. The evidence shows that if such a skill exists in the lower leagues, it plateaus at the professional level, rendering it negligible from one catcher to another.

Some have also said that game-calling matters, but it just doesn't show up in a tangible way. If that's so, then why is it important? If the effects of game-calling do not show up consistently in the measurable results that determine who wins and loses, then it's not worth the time people spend talking about it.

PirateFan13 wrote:
I would assume that before the game the pitcher and catcher would get together to discuss how they were going to attack each hitter and call the game accordingly, adjusting when the hitters adjust. This I would think defines game calling ability. If a catcher cannot adjust to the hitters during the game, then he probably has poor game calling ability.

But is that really an ability? Is a catcher's ability to communicate with his pitcher so valuable as to be worthy of hundreds of thousands, let alone millions, of dollars in salary? If so, why don't we just hire Dr. Phil to catch?

If such a game-calling ability were an ability that was capable of being repeated, it would show up in the results consistently. However, the evidence available distinctly shows that if there is a game-calling ability, it is not a repeatable skill.

PirateFan13 wrote:
On a side note: The online baseball simulation I play at http://www.whatifsports.com called Hardball Dynasty, one of the major attributes to a good catcher is something labeled PC(Pitch Calling), This attribute works with the Pitchers attributes to enhance the actual pitching success. So there are some other folks out there that believe that "game calling" is important.

I would hardly call a video game designer an authority on the existence of baseball skills. What a video game designer decides to incorporate into his video game is hardly conclusive or even credibly suggestive as to the existence of such a skill.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:30 pm 
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The statistical "evidence" which some cite to be authoritative or dispositive is fundamentally flawed and is grossly deficient in accounting for the variables involved with what is actually happening on the field of play.

A catcher may call a great game when he helps a struggling pitcher through a day where his "stuff" is not there against a great hitting team and the other team scores 5 runs.

A catcher may make some bad decisions and call a lousy game if his pitcher has electric stuff but gives up 3 runs to a mediocre hitting team.

Black and white numbers can't possibly tell the whole story or anything close to the full picture.

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:17 pm 
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Willton wrote:
Piratefan13 wrote:
I have tried to read this thread a couple of times and I still am confused about what is the actual argument here.

Is it that some of you don't believe that a catchers game calling ability means anything?

In a word, yes. The long answer is that if there actually is a catcher's game-calling ability, it does not appear to affect the game in a measurable way. The evidence over the past 30 years has shown that there is no distinct difference between one catcher's game-calling ability and another catcher's game-calling ability. The results show that the perceived effects of a catcher's game-calling ability compared to the perceived effects of another's game-calling ability fluctuate randomly from year to year. That's not evidence of a skill -- that's evidence of randomness.

Some have said that a catcher's game-calling severely affects pitching, and often point to their own experiences in little league, high school, and college ball. That's all well and good, but that does not show that such a skill is important at the Major League level. The evidence shows that if such a skill exists in the lower leagues, it plateaus at the professional level, rendering it negligible from one catcher to another.

Some have also said that game-calling matters, but it just doesn't show up in a tangible way. If that's so, then why is it important? If the effects of game-calling do not show up consistently in the measurable results that determine who wins and loses, then it's not worth the time people spend talking about it.

PirateFan13 wrote:
I would assume that before the game the pitcher and catcher would get together to discuss how they were going to attack each hitter and call the game accordingly, adjusting when the hitters adjust. This I would think defines game calling ability. If a catcher cannot adjust to the hitters during the game, then he probably has poor game calling ability.

But is that really an ability? Is a catcher's ability to communicate with his pitcher so valuable as to be worthy of hundreds of thousands, let alone millions, of dollars in salary? If so, why don't we just hire Dr. Phil to catch?

If such a game-calling ability were an ability that was capable of being repeated, it would show up in the results consistently. However, the evidence available distinctly shows that if there is a game-calling ability, it is not a repeatable skill.

PirateFan13 wrote:
On a side note: The online baseball simulation I play at http://www.whatifsports.com called Hardball Dynasty, one of the major attributes to a good catcher is something labeled PC(Pitch Calling), This attribute works with the Pitchers attributes to enhance the actual pitching success. So there are some other folks out there that believe that "game calling" is important.

I would hardly call a video game designer an authority on the existence of baseball skills. What a video game designer decides to incorporate into his video game is hardly conclusive or even credibly suggestive as to the existence of such a skill.


For one, its not a "video game", its a vast baseball simulation that uses "attributes" as a basis to simulate seasons. And I did not argue that the "video game" was the authority, I merely stated that the inclusion of "Pitch Calling" in catchers attributes is clear evidence that game calling or pitch calling for a catcher is an authoritative ability.

Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:58 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
The statistical "evidence" which some cite to be authoritative or dispositive is fundamentally flawed and is grossly deficient in accounting for the variables involved with what is actually happening on the field of play.

How is the evidence fundamentally flawed? Why and how is it grossly deficient in accounting for these "variables?" Furthermore, what are these variables?

No. 9 wrote:
A catcher may call a great game when he helps a struggling pitcher through a day where his "stuff" is not there against a great hitting team and the other team scores 5 runs.

A catcher may make some bad decisions and call a lousy game if his pitcher has electric stuff but gives up 3 runs to a mediocre hitting team.

Black and white numbers can't possibly tell the whole story or anything close to the full picture.

So a good catcher may help a pitcher through a bad day while a bad catcher may unduly harm a pitcher who's having an excellent day. Okay, that's understandable, but how does the evidence not capture that? A hitter like Jason Bay has good days and bad days, and yet no one complains that looking had his hitting averages is fundamentally flawed. What's wrong with treating those types of games as part of a greater whole?

Your claim is unconvincing. Yes, all baseball players have good days and bad days, but in terms of measuring a skill like power hitting, basestealing, and striking batters out, those outliers tend to even out in the long run. Once again, your focus on the short term misses the bigger picture.

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Last edited by Willton on Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:04 pm 
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Piratefan13 wrote:
Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."


PF13:

No one is denying that a catcher is physically involved in calling a game. So, from a purely semantic point of view, yes, catchers have the ability to call a game. What is in dispute is whether or not some catchers can do it inherently better than others, on a regular, repeatable basis, and how this skill should be valued. Would you sacrifice 25 homeruns from your catcher to get "good game calling"? How about 5 HR's? 30 points in batting average? 10 more passed balls?

I tend to think that by the time players reach MLB, they pretty much are all about equal in understanding how to call a game and how to work a batter. The biggest determinant is how well they work with pitchers, or how well the pitchers work with them. I believe that sort of chemistry can be developed in most instances, or at least developed enough to successfully play a game of baseball, and would not want to sacrifice any offense or defense in order to get a "good game-caller".

Also, I must be missing something from your point. What, exactly led you to the conclusion that some catchers are better than others at game calling?


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:09 pm 
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Piratefan13 wrote:
For one, its not a "video game", its a vast baseball simulation that uses "attributes" as a basis to simulate seasons. And I did not argue that the "video game" was the authority, I merely stated that the inclusion of "Pitch Calling" in catchers attributes is clear evidence that game calling or pitch calling for a catcher is an authoritative ability.

No, it's not - it's only clear evidence that the designer of this baseball simulation thinks that pitch calling is an "authoritative ability." The simulation designer could have included "Ability to Fly" as part of a fielder's attributes and it still would not be evidence of a fielder's actual ability to fly.

Piratefan13 wrote:
Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."

Fine, then how do we find this information out? How are we supposed figure out who the best game callers are if the actual game results don't reflect such an ability?

And, assuming you can find a way to determine who the best game callers are, then there's the bigger question: how are we supposed to value this ability? In other words, how much offensive ability and defensive ability can a team responsibly give up at the catcher's spot in order to attain this unmeasurable game-calling ability?

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:28 pm 
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BBF wrote:
Piratefan13 wrote:
Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."


PF13:

No one is denying that a catcher is physically involved in calling a game. So, from a purely semantic point of view, yes, catchers have the ability to call a game. What is in dispute is whether or not some catchers can do it inherently better than others, on a regular, repeatable basis, and how this skill should be valued. Would you sacrifice 25 homeruns from your catcher to get "good game calling"? How about 5 HR's? 30 points in batting average? 10 more passed balls?

I tend to think that by the time players reach MLB, they pretty much are all about equal in understanding how to call a game and how to work a batter. The biggest determinant is how well they work with pitchers, or how well the pitchers work with them. I believe that sort of chemistry can be developed in most instances, or at least developed enough to successfully play a game of baseball, and would not want to sacrifice any offense or defense in order to get a "good game-caller".

Also, I must be missing something from your point. What, exactly led you to the conclusion that some catchers are better than others at game calling?



The same conclusion that some catchers are better at hitting than others, better at fielding than others. Any athlete is better than another or is lesser than someone else. I would find "game calling" no different. Some catchers may prepare better than others and that makes them better. I would hope not to find a 1st yr catcher equal to a 10 yr vet at calling a game. The 10 yr vet simply knows more and has aquired knowledge or learned opposing batters tendencies. Additionally, batters adjust from year to year, succesful catchers do the same.

I must be completely missing the whole point here because I find it interesting that guys of your baseball knowledge would dismiss "game calling" as impractible.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:33 pm 
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Willton wrote:
Piratefan13 wrote:
For one, its not a "video game", its a vast baseball simulation that uses "attributes" as a basis to simulate seasons. And I did not argue that the "video game" was the authority, I merely stated that the inclusion of "Pitch Calling" in catchers attributes is clear evidence that game calling or pitch calling for a catcher is an authoritative ability.

No, it's not - it's only clear evidence that the designer of this baseball simulation thinks that pitch calling is an "authoritative ability." The simulation designer could have included "Ability to Fly" as part of a fielder's attributes and it still would not be evidence of a fielder's actual ability to fly.

Piratefan13 wrote:
Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."

Fine, then how do we find this information out? How are we supposed figure out who the best game callers are if the actual game results don't reflect such an ability?

And, assuming you can find a way to determine who the best game callers are, then there's the bigger question: how are we supposed to value this ability? In other words, how much offensive ability and defensive ability can a team responsibly give up at the catcher's spot in order to attain this unmeasurable game-calling ability?



Why does it have to measured? The measurement lies with the pitching rotation and its comfort level. They are professionals, there may not be statistical proof of the catchers game calling skill, but in their mind, they prefer catcher (a) to catcher (b). If was just an anomaly, then why do pitchers have their own catchers?

Not everything must be measured, or have statistical proof. Somethings are... and somethings aren't... and thats just the end of it. Your going to drive yourself insane by trying to prove things that just happen.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:37 pm 
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Piratefan13 wrote:
Why does it have to measured? The measurement lies with the pitching rotation and its comfort level. They are professionals, there may not be statistical proof of the catchers game calling skill, but in their mind, they prefer catcher (a) to catcher (b). If was just an anomaly, then why do pitchers have their own catchers?

Because if we can't measure it, we can't place any objective value upon it, and then we can't actually know who is better than others at it.

Why would a pitcher prefer catcher (a) to catcher (b)? For the same reasons BBF alluded to earlier: personal preference. You may prefer working with coworker (a) versus coworker (b) because you get along with coworker (a) more than coworker (b). But getting along with your coworkers is not a skill. Your preference to co-exist with (a) more than (b) says nothing about whether (a) is a more or less skilled worker than (b).

Piratefan13 wrote:
Not everything must be measured, or have statistical proof. Somethings are... and somethings aren't... and thats just the end of it. Your going to drive yourself insane by trying to prove things that just happen.

If we are to place some actual value in something, then yes, there must be some measurable proof that it exists and affects the game. In order to value game-calling as a skill, then we must determine how and by what degree it affects the outcome of the game over the long haul. If game-calling does not have a measurable effect on the outcome of a game, then it's not worth valuing as a skill.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:39 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
The ultimate shake-off

There is no sign that the lunatics are running the asylum, but it should not be dismissed that the Pirates' pitchers -- unwittingly, in most cases -- played a role in management's decision to keep Raul Chavez and demote Ronny Paulino.

There had been a sense most of the season that pitchers felt uneasy throwing breaking pitches in certain situations, particularly with a runner on third. There also had been a sense that they struggled to find a rhythm in terms of wanting the same pitch at the same time. This was not unique to Paulino. Depending on the day or outcome, it could be the case with Doumit, too, although his defensive work has improved markedly this summer.

Thus, when management saw all this and then, most important, saw how positively the pitchers reacted to Chavez, it was decided that a change was in order. Paulino's continuing struggles at the plate and behind it made the call fairly easy.


OK, I'll admit it. Been chomping at the bit on this one ever since I read it. But, given what I perceived to be a particularly nasty tone to the Board lately, I decided to stay quiet. But, alas, I cannot continue to bite my tongue and it has nothing to do with any recent posts here.
So . . . I go to Charlie's blog to read the latest rantings over there . . . and sure enough, he has locked into this little piece by DK. And, to my surprise, he cites this article as further evidence that "calling" a good game is nothing more than a fantasy. While he doesn't come right out and say it, the insinuation (IMO) is that anyone who suggests that game calling skills are possessed by a catcher is a damn idiot and far less intelligent than him because "all of the evidence" points otherwise. Mind you . . . from what I can tell, "all" of the evidence consists of a BP article from 1999 or 2000.
In reading this, two sentences jumped out at me. The first was "there had also been a sense that they struggled to find a rhythm in terms of wanting the same pitch at the same time." The second was management "saw how positive the pitchers reacted to Chavez." Maybe I'm crazy . . . maybe I'm nuts . . . but when I read DK's note I was left with the impression that the Bucco pitching staff liked how Chavez called a game. That they trusted him. That they felt like they could comfortably throw anything in their repetoire without holding back or wondering whether the catcher was going to catch the ball or block the ball, etc. etc.
What I find to be incredibly ironic are the conclusions reached that sending down Paulino is an indictment of the notion that catchers call good games. The logic apparently goes as follows: (1) Jim Tracy said that Paulino called a good game; (2) Paulino just got sent down; (3) pitchers this year felt uncomfortable throwing certain pitches in certain situations when Paulino was behind the plate . . . ergo, game calling is not a skill.
Is it just me or are there some jumps in logic that are missing? Pitchers struggling to find a rhythm because they were not on the same page as the catcher? At risk of being accused of patting myself on the back, where has that been written before? I remember vividly being mocked here by several posters when I made comments about the positive effects of a catcher being on the same page as the pitcher and a pitcher being able to trust who is behind the plate. Management seeing the positive reaction when Chavez was behind the plate? That seems to be a far cry from concluding that catchers have no impact upon a pitcher's performance.
Now . . . if you want to reach the conclusion that Tracy et al misevaluated Paulino's effect on the pitching staff . . . then I might buy into the argument. But, to reach the conclusion that "game calling" skills don't exist simply because Paulino was demoted is ludicrous. Particularly when the stated reason for keeping Chavez was because of his influence on the pitching staff.

I agree. Paulino was demoted because he didn't hit, he defended poorly, and he was out of shape. I don't think that game calling had anything to do with it at all, and I can't see any connection between his demotion and the game calling skills debate.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:44 pm 
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Substitute2 wrote:
Several comments come to my mind on this subject. As you all know,I claim no expertise in the technical aspects of the game but...

1)Was Tracy so bad that he couldn't even tell that Paulino was very poor behind the plate? Maybe he called a good game but his defense was so bad that even I could see he was awlful. Could catch pitches in the dirt, or throws to the plate, or even pop ups. Yet he was consistently praised by management for his skill.


2) I didn't realize that pitchers would actually shake off a catcher because they were afraid to throw a certain pitch especially with a man on third, because they were afraid the catcher couldn't catch the ball.

3) The degree to which the catcher, the pitcher, the pitching coach, or the manager calls the game should not even be an issue in my mind. Surely, it should be a team decision as to how to pitch to all hitters based on their skill in certain situations and the skill of the individual pitcher, i.e. can he hit a sinker down and away? Can the pitcher throw a quality sinker down and away? Those decisions should have been made pre-game by all of those involved in the decision not at the spur of the moment by anyone of them.

4) Paulino was on the receiving end of the accountability issue with the Pirates. All I can say is once again, great job by JB and his staff. Looks to me like we have a keeper in Russell and even though he is a soft spoken guy, he is doing an excellent job for us based on the situation he is in. Hopefully, he will get to see how to manage a great team in Pittsburgh.[/quote]
1) I am convinced that Tracy was delusional, and his love of Paulino was only part of the evidence.

2) Durn tootin' they are.

3) It isn't possible to plan pitch selection before the game in anything more than general terms. Men on base, outs, and the count make for too many variables, not to mention how the pitcher's stuff is in the game and any adjustments the batter might make.

4) Amen. Judging from Paulino's performance so far, I have high hopes that we'll be seeing a much improved Paulino back in a Bucco uniform by the end of the year.

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