#38: Jonny Venters

See the 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves here.

I repent. He was originally not on this list, but Alex Remington has shown me my erroneous ways. Jonny Venters belongs on this list.

First off, Venters is going on his 5th season with Atlanta as of this writing. And being only 34, he could conceivably spend more seasons in Atlanta, though he will be a free agent at the end of the 2019 season. We shall see.

And in those 4 seasons, he’s thrown 250 innings for Atlanta, dominating to a 2.34 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, and striking out over a batter an inning (9.9 K/9). And with his devastating sinker and with his career 78% strand rate and 68.5% groundball rate, he’s the guy you want to bring in when you need a double play ball. He’s also death to lefties: they’ve only hit .176/.277/241. But he’s not just a LOOGY; he’s faced twice as many righties, and they’ve only mustered a .619 OPS against him.

He’s also a symbol of perseverance. He’s had, as he puts it, “3 1/2” Tommy John surgeries, and did not pitch between 2012 and 2018. For that reason, he’s an incredible guy to cheer for. Not knowing what exactly we were getting, there was still a sense of excitement when the Braves traded for him near the 2018 trade deadline.

If he’s healthy — of course, a big “if” with him — he’ll have another great season with Atlanta in 2019, but he’s one of the 44 Greatest Braves already.

125 thoughts on “#38: Jonny Venters”

  1. From last thread. There definitely has to be a reason why Harper dove only once this year, and it’s probably because he himself is worried he’s an injury risk. He’ll be a first baseman by the end of his deal.

  2. The best and most effective pitch I have ever seen from a pitcher is the vintage Venters’ sinker. 95 and dropping 12 inches and running 2 to 3 inches glove side, consistently. Impeccable command.

    One time the Dark Lord Utley swung over one and looked back at the catcher and umpire and said “what the hell was that!”

    Venters absolutely mastered Ryan Howard. Sinker, Sinker, Sinker on the inside of the plate, ending just on the plate and just above the knees. Then, the conventional 4 seamer at 96 would be thrown at the same starting point, but would ride up a couple of inches and in about 4 inches, ending up at Howard’s forearms.

  3. It was widely assumed that the biggest reason for his truly awful defensive statistics was him basically trying to avoid injury in his walk year.

    Considering that he used to run into walls all the time as a younger player, and got concussed as a result, it’s hard to fault him too much for that.

    But yeah, it’s a question.

  4. I see we’re into the proactively make up reasons why you really didn’t want to make out with the homecoming queen anyway portion of the off season.

  5. Well, it’s weird, it’s like you don’t want to make out with the homecoming queen today because for some reason, you’ll also have to marry her, and you don’t think she’s going to age well. So you’re just like, “Maybe I’ll go date that other girl because she’s not looking for anything real serious.”

  6. The homecoming queen’s going to age a hell of a lot better than…what is Nick Markakis in this analogy? The next door neighbor who looked surprisingly good when school started last year, but really let herself go in the second semester? Too homely even to be noticed, if you ask me, except that year she showed up wearing a neck brace.

  7. More like you decided to make out with your sister (ie. Nick Markakis) because she was always there for you in the past and it will remain a very “short term” thing with “low risk” and “good value” provided no one ever finds out about it…

  8. OK, OK. AA had the chance to make out with Bryce Harper, but beyond being the homecoming queen, she’s a good girl and requires faithfulness and long-term commitment first. Though it would’ve been the score of a lifetime, AA really doesn’t want to be tied down, so he instead settled for necking Markakis.

    This comparison is convincing me that we should just give Harper all the money. Unless you really screw things up, you only get one senior prom.

  9. Right. AA has the chance to date the hot, but sometimes high maintenance homecoming queen, but he has to commit to a relationship beyond literally the night after homecoming dance. So instead, he made out with his homeroom teacher who got too drunk to drive home from chaperoning the event.

    #betteranalogies #bestanalogies #noincestinmyanalogies

  10. AA’s distant cousin who everybody thinks is hot from a distance, but up close is only really attractive in the limited appearances when she’s not sitting on the bench.

  11. Beyond the commitment, dating the homecoming queen will require AA to spend money he thinks he doesn’t have. But he could actually afford it. Things would be a bit tight, but he just wasn’t projecting to shell out to keep a higher-end girlfriend happy until he got to college! He’d have to redo all his spreadsheets.

  12. #incestanalogiesforallthewrongsignings #signingmarkakiswasthatgross #wealwaysseemtokeepitinthebravesfamily

  13. @13 – Kimbrel is the cheapest date available, who would still make your parents happy. Which is why he is the one we will end up with.

  14. Because I definitely don’t believe this dead horse is done getting beaten, who exactly is Craig Kimbrel in this analogy?

    In the grand scheme, there are lower-maintenance girls who don’t require a commitment and will get you more bang for your buck. But the guys she’s been with say she’s as good as they come at finishing the job, if you catch their drift. So some idiot will pay up for the ride.

    Your mom might not approve. But dad would be strangely proud.

  15. Alright then, who is Brian McCann??

    I’ll give y’all a chance before I weird this thing up any further. ;-)

  16. McCann is the nice, homely just-a-friend you let hang around in case you fail in your pursuit of the super hot chick from your rival school.

  17. Or decided not to make out with the homecoming queen because she has been around the block and has herpes.

  18. Pujols was a homecoming queen who definitely had the herp. No such rumors around Bryce.

    McCann is your girlfriend from back in middle school. You had great times, and in your young mind, you thought you might go all the way together. But it soon was time to go your separate ways, and she went on to bigger things. Though she’s had better and age has started to take its toll on her, for old time’s sake, sure, she’d be your date for a night.

  19. So…

    No one wanted to make out with the homecoming queen?…

    But Anthopolous, allegedly, might’ve kissed Harper?…

    Then Anthopolous spurned Harper for Markakis, who is his sister?!…

    McCann is the “safety” girl?…

    If y’all have any inside sources, it’s no wonder free agency has been relatively quiet. I’m not sure what just happened here?… Lol

  20. No one wanted to make out with the homecoming queen?

    Something is very wrong at school this year, that’s for sure.

  21. I heard the boys are all colluding against the homecoming queen to see if they can’t get her to wave her long term commitment expectations.

    But some are saying the boys are just focused on getting better value for their money.

  22. AA just needs to give up and marry Bryce Harper. He might regret it for the rest of his life but we’ll enjoy the show.

  23. So… uh… is playing in the All-Star game technically cheating in these relationships?…

    I know “just one night, and it meant nothing” wouldn’t fly with the girlfriend.

  24. The ultimate LOL is that we all waited five long years to get to this very point, only to be railroaded by one of the few things we don’t allow ourselves to discuss — or at least we try to discuss carefully or indirectly — which is politics.

    But it’s kind of unavoidable at this point. Whether it’s the dreaded cOLLuSiOn or the logical outcome of an incentive structure that MLB owners have had overwhelming power to shape is beside the point.

    You have interests as a fan. Perhaps at this point, what you have is disinterest. Deep, deep disinterest. Vote your disinterest, is what I have to say.

  25. What infuriates me most is how shortsighted the owners’ self-imposed miserliness really is. The NFL is shedding viewers and MLB has the oldest average fan age of all the major sports. Instead of marketing their players and trying to expand their audience, Major League Baseball owners and executives are badmouthing players and sitting on their thumbs, and giving fans very little reason to watch.

    How can any sane person possibly see this as rational?

  26. Take this specific situation one step farther.

    If any ownership group is going to buck the trend and step out and be the absolute legend that, you know, tries hard to force the issue and win a championship, that ownership group is in Philadelphia. And given the state of these Phillies, it’s unlikely that these efforts will result in said championship. But with baseball in the state it’s in, wouldn’t you almost rather see the Phillies get Harper and win, just to teach ownership a lesson?

    You know the dweeb in the movie who takes it upon himself to get off the wall and go ask the homecoming queen to dance…that’s the guy you pull for, right?

    The 2019 offseason: making me contemplate rooting for the Phillies.

  27. I absolutely 100% want an arms race for the best players. I would rather see 30 teams competing for Bryce Harper than 4 teams competing for him.

    This is like the Great Depression. I want a boom economy.

    I want the Phillies to spend like the Fox Sports-owned Dodgers and I want them to go 0-162. I don’t want them to spend like the Marlins and win like the Marlins.

  28. (One technical point: I’m not fixated on Harper per se. I’m not among those who have been grousing since the beginning of the rebuild about not signing the priciest free agent every offseason. I get that 67-win teams generally shouldn’t open their wallets for what will turn into albatross contracts sooner than everyone always thinks. But dear lord, we’re at 85 projected wins! I would of course be open to something different than the obvious, which was to just shell out for Harper, but for crying out loud, DO SOMETHING. Spend some money. Now’s the time.)

  29. To send a message to ownership: whichever team that signs Harper should be the team that baseball fans everywhere drop everything and cheer for.

    Make this website Padres Journal if it comes down to it. Vote your interests.

  30. I’ll complete the triple-post by taking up arms alongside Donny and meme-ing my discontent.

    Hey, guys, I found AA’s favorite B-sides collection:

  31. @36 It certainly feels like the owners are only thinking a year or two ahead. I imagine they will attempt to avoid a work stoppage since, you know, that would put the brakes on most of the revenue–I have to believe a strike would equal a failure to meet contractual obligations with the TV stations, too.

    I think you make a really good point regarding the shedding of NFL viewers and the aging fan base of MLB. It’s something that makes me feel like a lowering of ticket and concession prices could easily remedy seeing as that’s one of the major road blocks to taking a family to a game. If the TV contracts are really THAT lucrative, why not toss a bone for those attending in person?

  32. Is she really going out with him?
    Is she really going to take him tonight?
    Is she really going out with him?
    Because if my eyes don’t deceive me there’s something going wrong around here.

    The one with shoes wrote that.

  33. The ironic part about the owner’s penny-pinching is those ticket prices never seem to go down, do they? If you’re a large market team, such as the Dodgers, trying to win the way of the Rays, I say cool, if you adjust the ticket prices accordingly. If you’re going to give me less, I expect to pay less.

    As for the NFL, I don’t watch. I dislike pretty much everything about the league. I much prefer the college game.

  34. Honestly would not have guessed that an outfield of JD Drew, Andruw Jones, Charles Thomas, and Eli Marrero was the highest WAR outfield the Braves had, I’m pretty sure, during that whole incredible run. If I had to choose, I would’ve expected Chipper, Andruw, and Sheffield hands down.

  35. Off the wall from Roto World, today. Rankings (for fantasy purposes) of starting pitchers.

    They went to 120. Folty is 30, Gausman 69, Soroka 78, Newcombe 90, and Teheran 91.

    I know fantasy stats aren’t perfectly translatable. However, that is like (1) a good 2, (2) a good 3, (3) a middling 3, and (4) and (5) o.k. 4’s.

  36. I find reports of the Phillies re-entering the Realmuto sweepstakes extremely amusing. It is a high sign of the Marlin propaganda machine in desperation mode. If any team is the joke of this offseason, it’s the Phillies who promised to spend stupidly and have spent less for 2019 than the Braves have. With all their blathering, you’d think they’d have signed either Harper or Machado by now.

  37. Going by this, the Padres have the #1 farm system, Braves #2 and Phillies #14.

    So whose offer are the Marlins attempting to bump up with the story about the Phillies? The Padres if they don’t want to trade Realmuto in-division, the Braves if they’re all right with doing that.

  38. Does anyone know why MLB and the MLBPA wait until February to begin discussing major rule changes for the upcoming season?

  39. Alice in Wonderland…

    the parallels are convincing…the players of a kind…

    and, just this morning, Joe Ricketts dives for cover behind his seedy son.

    parsimony…if that’s us at our our worst we will attack it with vigor, here, as we do every day, and stand tall.

  40. These are fun:

  41. The proposed rule changes are interesting.

    I hate the DH, but it’s going to happen so I’d just rather they get it over with. That said, I don’t see them implementing it in 2019 as it really changes roster construction for the NL.

    I love some of the other ideas. 3 batter minimum for pitchers is something I’ve wanted for a while. Upping the rosters to 26 but limiting to 12 pitchers, while reducing September rosters to 28 is a welcome idea, though I wonder how they would legislate the Ohtani’s and other two way players.

    The tank tax is a nice idea too. A 10 spot penalty for failing to win 70 games 2 years in a row, then 15 for 3 years and 20 for 4 years.

  42. A couple of thoughts regarding these proposed rule changes.

    The DH rule: I don’t see any benefit to the game implementing DH in the NL. I actually like watching pitchers hit and seeing how teams manage those at bats (ie. pinch hitters). Adding a DH in the NL will simply take a good bat off the bench and make him a full time hitter.

    3 batter minimum: This is terrific. I recall discussing this months ago or something very similar to it.

    Upping the roster to 26: Again, I don’t see how it improves the value of the game. Let’s remove the one-batter specialist relievers but then add an extra roster spot that will just be filled by a reliever. I’d rather find ways to increase value around starting pitchers who can go 8 innings while giving up 3-4 runs.

    Lastly, the tank tax: The heart of the issue isn’t teams that are tanking for draft position. If it was, MLB would be doling out punishments in the form of draft position penalties instead of lost draft picks and international signing money. The heart of the issue is teams who are tanking payroll under the guise of rebuilding through the draft and young (CHEAP) talent. I don’t think teams actually care about losing draft position when compared to the TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS they are shedding and saving on team payroll.

    It makes a lot more sense to me to penalize teams for not spending regardless of their won-loss record and that sacking teams with $10 million or $15 million in penalties (directed at ownership and not the team payroll) is the way to go that would solve the miserable off-seasons.

  43. The MLBPA has generally opposed proposals that make any current player obsolete, downplaying the fact that for every player made less valuable, some other player is made more valuable. That makes sense as long as the MLBPA represents current players, and not future ones. The minimum batter rule might represent an exception, though, since the LOOGY and ROOGY roles are not, I think, very highly paid (relatively.) Am I wrong about this? The OOGYs will be optimally replaced by another bench bat, right? And those replacements either make more now, or, through an acceleration of their major league entry, be on a better salary trajectory than the typical OOGY.

  44. @70 I don’t think you’re wrong about this. I feel the MLBPA has to be monitoring the situation with the expanded reliever roles (one-batter specialists, openers) since relievers are becoming more popular with teams but their pay doesn’t necessarily reflect it. The decline of starting pitching can also mean a decline in pitching salaries.

  45. Not surprisingly, I don’t like any of these proposals.

    I’m overwhelmingly against the 3 batter minimum. While I understand but don’t agree with pace of play arguments, I just hate this. I’m also against outlawing the shift, which I think would be terrible.

    As for the DH, I hate the DH but I do think that one league having it and the other not has long outlived its cute factor. Either both need to have it or not have it. Since one does, you could see how this was going to eventually pan out.

  46. Outlawing the shift is by far the worst idea. No benefit to pace of play, punishes teams for using basic strategy, and serves no purpose except to reward one-dimensional hitters. If you don’t like it, do something different. It’s like outlawing zone defense in basketball.

  47. @73 What about the pace of play argument do you disagree with? Are you saying the 3 batter minimum won’t actually help with the pace of play?

  48. I actually think one of the worst qualities of watching live MLB games today is the combination of pitchers nibbling at strike zones trying to strike hitters out compounded with all the glorious pitching changes that are also done to get better match ups and K rates.

  49. @70 Or relievers who can pitch a few innings at a time will become relatively more valuable. And you’ll still have one-out guys; they just won’t be deployed until there are already two outs in the inning.

  50. Is a LOOGY significantly more valuable than a mediocre one-inning middle reliever? If you have a LOOGY that makes 60 appearances, throws a total of 50 IP, is he any more valuable than a mediocre middle reliever that throws 60 innings in 60 appearances but is less effective?

  51. I read the proposed rule changes, and I hate them all.

    First, I loathe the DH. Pitchers should hit, point blank. It’s why Roger Clemens threw at guys for years, because it wasn’t going to be him picking up the receipt. Plus, if you’re part of the team, be a part of the team entirely.

    Second, forcing pitchers to face three batters is a load of garbage. Let players play the game in a way that best utilizes their abilities, so we see a higher quality game.

    Third, a clock in baseball? No!!!!! Pace of play is fine, and Manfred is a moron. He’s the worst Commissioner in pro sports, period. Baseball is a game of strategy, and thought. It’s not basketball, where it’s meant to be played at a quick pace. If it’s not for some, that’s fine, it’s just not. Not everyone likes burgers and fries, but McDonalds doesn’t start serving Chicken Alfredo in an effort to be an Italian eatery.

    And a “tank penalty”? Seriously!? You want to force teams to spend, don’t hit them with penalties that will only hurt the fans and on field product. That’s ridiculous. I’d say take away their revenue sharing money if they don’t meet a salary floor, but I’d go even more extreme and make them pay into revenue sharing! Hey, Miami, looking at you!

  52. @72: Right back at ya, fella…

    @79: I’m with you on the DH; I’m definitely with you on the tank rule and a clock. I do have some sympathy for the minimum batter rule, although I understand your position. But anyone who thinks Manfred is a worse Commissioner than Roger Goodell needs to step back and rethink. (Godwin’s Law. Godwin’s Law…)

  53. 79-Serious question on the pitch clock. Have you been to a minor league game with a pitch clock? If so, did you even notice it when watching the game?

    It has actually made watching minor league games infinitely better for my two cents, as the game moves along much better (other than the fact that AA pitchers can’t throw strikes or AA umps won’t call strikes).

  54. And again on the DH, I am with you that I don’t really want it and wish it would go away for the AL, but that’s not happening and it will inevitably come to the NL. I do believe it gives the AL an advantage over the NL. Not only are you able to give players more rest in the AL and keep them fresher, you also better equipped to handle a long contract for a bopper as you’d have somewhere to put them when the defense starts to go.

  55. @75 I meant that I don’t care about pace of play. I’m not even convinced that any of the pace of play initiatives are not small sample size stuff that won’t really affect it any way.

    No dumb clocks, no making pitchers pitch to 3 batters, just so a bunch of Fyre Festival millenials can get home to watch Rick and Morty.

  56. @81 I have, and I personally didn’t enjoy it. Part of that might be that I’m accustomed to the game without it, but it’s distracting to me to know it’s there. I enjoy those moments in the game where the pitcher is staring in at the batter, and you can tell they’re maybe trying to calm their nerves, or going over strategy in their head. It adds drama to the game.

  57. @80 Goodell is very, very bad. A clear 1B, I’d say. The difference to me is he’s more of an ownership puppet, I think; whereas Manfred seems to have all these crazy ideas on his own.

  58. I don’t buy that Manfred has crazy ideas on his own, as that would imply that he’s capable of independent thought, which to me is begging the question.

    But Roger Goodell is a first-ballot Hall of Famer for terrible commissioners — he’s at least Reggie Jackson, and by the time he gets done he could be Frank Robinson or Randy Johnson. He’s got all the tools and he’s been amazingly durable.

    Rob Manfred is just Harold Baines.

  59. I have been opposed to the DH in the past, but I find the “pitchers should hit” arguments pretty weak these days.

    We already have a whole class of NL pitchers who basically never hit. They’re called relievers.

    As a group, NL pitchers already hit far less than other positions. Last year, pitchers in the NL accounted for only about 5% of plate appearances — about half that of the other defensive positions.

    When they did go to bat, they were atrocious, with a -17 tOPS+. (The next lowest is short stops who hit for a 94 tOPS+.)

    It’s just harder and harder for me to believe hitting is an essential part of being a pitcher. Still not pro-DH, but I guess I’ve stopped being anti-DH.

  60. (While we’re at it, here are some further inductees for the Hall of Fame of Bad Commissioners:

    Bud Selig: Don Mattingly. He’s on the fence — people hated him but he was actually pretty good at the job, so while plenty of people loudly clamor for inducting him in the Bad Commissioners Hall, I think on balance he probably deserves to remain outside it.

    Gary Bettman: Bert Blyleven. Really the only knock on him is that he labored in semi-obscurity. If he was commish of any of the three more popular leagues, his amazing track record — getting the NHL kicked off of national television! — would push him a lot higher on this list.

    Paul Tagliabue: High Pockets Kelly. He’d be the worst bad commissioners Hall of Famer, because he was actually a good commissioner.)

  61. 87-I think that’s honestly where I am at as well. Yes there are a couple of pitchers that are fun to watch hit, but the offense from the position keeps deteriorating to point where it’s unwatchable and all we are really doing is padding NL pitchers’ K rate.

    Counterpoint, Newcomb’s walk ahead of Acuna’s slam was epic, tho.

  62. @87: Sure, but the argument is about relative talent, not absolute talent. What you’re saying is that if one pitcher is a dramatically better hitter than another one, that shouldn’t figure in at all in the evaluation of his talents. If you’re talking about baseball players, that just seems wrong. A pitcher with a 500 OPS is just as much better than a pitcher with a 200 OPS (at batting) as a 900 OPS guy is better than a 600 OPS guy… though granted he will get far fewer opportunities to demonstrate it.

    When I did my recap of the 1966 season this year, I was struck by the number of times pitchers were called to do non-pitcher things… Tony Cloninger pinch hit 7 times.

    And the argument is also about game management, knowing that when your pitcher’s spot comes up you have a decision to make, weighing a likely out against an unknown reliever… that’s a *more* important decision the *worse* pitchers bat. So as pitchers keep falling relative to everyday players, that aspect of strategy is growing…

  63. It’s no fun watching pitchers hit. Plus having a DH will result in Snitker having fewer decisions he can screw up. Bring it on I say.

  64. How much of any pitcher being bad at hitting is because they stop working on it at the ML level, and in the higher minors? That, to me, would be like taking a player like Cristian Pache and saying, “look, you’re so good at defense, let’s just focus on that and not worry about batting practice anymore.” When players are trained to be incomplete, they’ll be incomplete. Clubs have the power to change that, however, without adding an NL DH.

  65. Pitchers in general could never hit. Its absurd to make them hit at the highest level of the sport when they don’t at the lower levels. Plus basic rules of the game should be the same across MLB, and it ain’t going away in the AL.

  66. As a Braves fan, I’ve got to remain against the DH. We’re having trouble fielding 4 competent major league hitters in the lineup as it is, and y’all want to add a DH to this mess so other teams can wield an even greater advantage over us? Please no.

  67. Plenty of pitchers used to could hit — basically everyone in MLB was the best player in their high school, and quite a few of them played shortstop or center field when they weren’t on the bump. But they specialized, and spent a lot less time hitting in the minor leagues, and their hitting suffered and stagnated.

    (Same with catchers, who also pretty uniformly suck at hitting, though obviously nowhere near as much as pitchers suck at hitting.)

    And I will hate the DH till the day I die, when my cyber-consciousness is finally terminated for nonpayment in the great holonet.

  68. @83 Games are lasting a lot longer than they used to. Games are now averaging over 3 hours. I think it’s a lot better for them to average ~2 hrs 45 min. It doesn’t seem like a lot when talking about averages, but many games are lasting longer than 3 hrs and 30 min. This isn’t a weekly football game. This is every night baseball, and nowadays games never ever wrap up in as little as 2 hours anymore.

    I’m in favor of anything that will keep the relief pitchers on the pine and keep the games moving along without so many interruptions. We don’t need to see 11 or 12 different pitchers in a ballgame.

  69. Count me as one who likes to see pitchers hit. Niekro’s home run in ’82 was one of the great moments of that season.

  70. I have a modest proposal to speed up games: barring injury, a team is only allowed to use 3 pitchers for the 1st 9 innings of a game. Any number can be used in extra innings while a pitcher removed due to “injury” must spend 30+ days on the DL.

    This would make the union happy as workhorse starters would become way more valuable, while also pleasing traditionalists as it all but bans the odious “Opener” model now being experimented with. As a side benefit, forcing relievers to go in longer stints will favor guys who don’t walk the park or try to throw everything at 100mph. Getting more innings out of individual relievers and starters should allow pitching staffs to drop back to 10 or 11 members and allow for real benches the likes of which are only seen on (some, non-ATL) postseason rosters now.

    Who is with me?

  71. Yeah, the “unsigned” team would have looked a lot better 3 weeks ago, which was still plenty late in the offseason.

  72. I’m sorry, Alex, but the used car salesman from Milwaukee is a first ballot inner circle hall of famer. Selig cancelled the World Series. He’s at least Chipper Jones.

    The only reason he’s not Henry Aaron is that the Hammer himself actually likes him. That ought to count for something.

  73. Of course I mean hall of famer in the bad commissioners hall.

    (In case anyone hadn’t read the earlier part of this thread and assumes I mean that Selig belongs in Cooperstown)

  74. @100

    It might if anybody ever decided to spend money. As it is, I don’t think it would make a difference at all in that regard.

  75. @105, I hear you, but have you looked at baseball’s other commissioners? They were either short-tenured and ineffectual (like Eckert, Chandler [who had almost nothing to do with Robinson’s debut, that was all Rickey], Giamatti, and Vincent), feckless like Frick, or genuinely terrible, like Landis, Kuhn, and Ueberroth.

    Compared with them all, no baseball commissioner actually accomplished more good things for the sport.

    The 1994 strike is the single worst part of his legacy; the Steroid Era is a stain, as was the constant threatening to move teams from their cities as wealthy owners held fans hostage in search of exorbitant tax giveaways for fancy new stadiums.

    So I acknowledge he did a lot of bad. But he also did a lot of good, and on balance, I think that his good and bad are pretty well-matched, particularly compared with all his terrible predecessors.

    I’ve written a lot about it, relying pretty heavily on Andrew Zimbalist’s work: https://tht.fangraphs.com/can-baseball-get-by-without-a-commissioner/

  76. I think a universal DH would allow managers to use their bench like an actual bench. With these 4-man benches, basically all they’re of use for is pinch-hitting for the pitcher. Take that out of the equation, and mangers can deploy the bench strategically.

  77. Second, forcing pitchers to face three batters is a load of garbage. Let players play the game in a way that best utilizes their abilities, so we see a higher quality game.

    If the last 10 years of MLB have taught us anything, it’s that “best utilized” baseball is not a “higher quality game.”

  78. @107 I really enjoyed that read. Thanks for writing/sharing that.

    Has anyone actually gotten to read all of the rule changes that are being discussed? I’m finally seeing some of the lesser talked about topics such as lowering or moving the mound back to reduce pitch velocity.

  79. @109 Upvoted.

    I think I’ve said this a few times: the smarter and more strategic game of baseball is less interesting to watch.

  80. @107–great article, as is always the case with your work. …Still, saying that Selig did good things except for the 1994 strike and the steroid era is a little like “Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?”

    Seriously though, I do agree that Selig was probably more successful than all of his predecessors. Given the history you recite, it does seem clear that there is no need for a commissioner.

  81. @111 – The most exciting play in baseball is the triple. It is by far the most entertaining thing that can happen on the field in any given game. Efficiency theory makes it an almost ridiculous gamble to try to stretch a double into a triple if there’s even the threat of a throw from the defender. There’s just no margin in that extra 90.

    Quality baseball, as entertainment, needs hits and balls in plays and runners tearing ass to third on questionable chances of making it.

  82. The commissioner (Selig) who turned his head and let the players union dictate that nothing would be done about steroids for many years is the worst – end of story.

  83. Don’t mean to only indict the players union. As stated in the Mitchell report, MLBPA, owners and the commissioner share in this travesty.

  84. #113

    Taking away all the foul territory and bringing in the fences didn’t help. Oakland, SF, and Colorado are the triples parks that come to mind.

  85. Believe me, I understand why people hate Selig — and no one has more grounds to hate him than Montreal Expos fans.

    However, in my opinion, the commissioner who presided over the enforcement of the color line, and the commissioner who presided over the owners’ collusion, were both clearly worse than the commissioner who presided over the steroid era. Before Selig, there were labor stoppages pretty consistently for 20 years following free agency; on his watch, it ended, baseball got incredibly fun, and everyone made tons of money.

    That’s kind of the opposite of Goodell: on his watch, football has had labor stoppages (the refs), individual holdouts like Le’Veon Bell which are terribly damaging to the game, horrifying scandals relating to the league’s actions suppressing the findings of concussion research and domestic violence investigations, and the game itself has gotten less fun to watch. That Super Bowl was more boring than watching someone else play the Lions in Madden 2007.

    It’s bizarre to even type this, but Selig is probably the second-best (by which I mean: second-least-worst) major American sports league commissioner of his generation, after David Stern.

  86. You’ve convinced me that as bad as Selig was at his worst, commissioners are always bad. All commissioners of all major sports all time (except maybe Stern) belong in the bad commisioners hall of fame.

    BTW, Selig was perhaps the most influential owner in the 1980’s during that episode of collusion. I don’t know, however, what his own role was in that episode.

  87. Most pitchers now are so inept with the bat that I believe it gives AL teams an advantage in the World Series since their pitchers are also inept, but they will already have a good DH.

  88. Selig…

    The only commish immortalized in VR, way ahead of the pack. I believe at the time he was still alive. Is he dead yet?

    Alex…your postings these last few months after fully emerging from your editor’s responsibilities here and having some time on your hands are indicative to me of fresh horizons ahead for you – a book maybe?

    Are you tempted? Tyler Kepner was on a MLB panel the other day, reminded me of you. Huge enthusiasm for the game, prodigious recall of names and everything associated with them. He was able to promo his new book, K, which i’m guessing is his first. Boyish, almost goofy, good looks made for TV. You? I’m a fan.

    Rob, be patient, it will come.

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