Category Archives: General Info

Goodbye, Good Dog

I was eleven days shy of my seventh birthday when my family brought home a dog for the first time. Boomer was smart and awkward and the best friend you could imagine. Along with Kelly, who we adopted a year later, he grew up with me in our suburban Toledo home. Boomer died very young. He was just eight and half when my mom called me while my dad and I were in Chicago to tell us Boomer was fading fast. We made it home for his final hour but, as anyone will tell you, losing your first dog rips a hole inside you that can never quite be repaired. Even with Kelly by our side, the days after Boomer died were empty. 

In typical Weinberg fashion, we made the fateful decision to “just go look” at a litter of golden retriever puppies four days later. Because you can’t do anything else when you meet a golden retriever puppy, we fell in love. We named him Duke. It was July 23, 2005. 

Dogs are theraputic, but there was something especially restorative about being the one who was responsible for most of his care during those early weeks. I was on summer vacation and both my parents worked full-time, so I potty-trained him and we bonded as he grew from a pup into a massive ball of golden energy. There is still a Boomer-shaped hole in me, but there is also Duke-shaped duct tape. 

To say he was spirited would be an understatement. He was smart and full of love and was a troublemaker of the highest order. He chewed cell phones. He tore up my Tigers hat. He grabbed mail off the counter. If it wasn’t load-bearing, he was probably going to mess with it. 

He stole food off the table. He even ate an entire plate of brownies, earning one of his famous trips to the vet. For years there were bungee cords everywhere because he could open cabinets and rummage through the treasures that lay within. If you’re trying to picture it, think Marley with long hair and less of an appetite for walks on the beach. 

But it was hard to stay mad when he pulled off one of his trademark heists. For all the trouble he caused, he was always there to greet you and show you what he had recently stolen. 

I left for college when he was about three and moved away for good four years later. He never held it against me and was thrilled to see me whenever I came home. He took to Becky just like you’d expect and their naps together became pretty frequent when were in town. In fact, last year when we visited over Christmas he climbed into bed with her before I was done brushing my teeth and I spent the night on the floor while my wife snuggled with my golden brother. When he was younger, I would have told him to move, but he played his age well and I couldn’t. I’m glad I didn’t. 

Over the last few years, he’s slowed down. He couldn’t jump on the counters the same way or bust out of the house and run free the way he could as a pup. Just a few weeks ago he got loose and I was able to catch him in just a few steps. His hips weakened. He lost his booming bark. Going to the park in the heat was out of the question. 

But he kept his happy-go-lucky outlook. He instigated wrestling matches with Violet, my folks’ newest doggo, and was more than happy to beg for scraps from the table. He knew how to have fun, a quality I’ve never been able to master. He didn’t have Boomer’s intelligence or Kelly’s fierce loyalty, but he could liven up a room in a way that will stay with me forever.

In many ways, Duke was the last remaining bridge to my youth. He came to us before I could drive a car and has been around for every major life event I’ve had over the last thirteen summers. He was there when I got into college. He got to meet Becky shortly after we started dating and I gave him a nice head scratch the afternoon I walked into the house after buying an engagement ring. He helped me craft my senior thesis and pack up everything I owned into a U-Haul. He was there when we mourned Kelly, and when I decided to move home, he was sitting under the table as I prepared for job interviews. He greeted us when we drove through Toledo on the way to Lansing.

He’s been present in my life, even if he was physically far away, for nearly every important moment. Sadly, even dogs who live long, happy lives aren’t with us for long enough. Duke, the dog with an iron stomach and hidden thumbs, left us tonight two months after his twelfth birthday. It happened suddenly, so I wasn’t able to be with him, but he was surrounded by family and didn’t suffer long.

I’m not a religious person and don’t really believe in an afterlife, but if heaven is real, it’s full of dogs. And now that Duke is among them, heaven is also full of people chasing a giant golden retriever who has stolen a bag of chips or a towel that was supposed to go in the washer. 

Rest easy, Dukus. 


What I’ve Learned As A Baseball Writer

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

To the best of my recollection, the 20th anniversary of the first baseball game I ever watched is coming up next Friday. I know it was either 1995 or 1996 because I remembered watching it in at my parents’ house in Toledo and we didn’t move there until the summer of 1994 and I distinctly remember Alan Trammell being in the lineup, and he retired after the 1996 season. I remember it being during Spring Break and I remember it was against the Twins in Minnesota, so Opening Day 1996 seems like the winner.

This will also be, as my domain subscription notice just reminded me, my fourth Opening Day writing about baseball. Twenty years as a fan. Ten years since I first saw my team play for something. Three and a half years since I decided to start this site.

One thing I’ve learned in those years is that the human brain is really good at getting used to things. It’s not always good at making decisions, regulating emotions, or remembering the location of keys, but its ability to absorb a set of circumstances as normal is remarkable. I’m not really afraid of heights, but every time I ride in an airplane I’m constantly amazed that everyone on board isn’t running around screaming in terror because we’re 35,000 feet about the ground. Honestly, we’re all just cool with flying? 

Things that at one point seemed incredible quickly become routine and mundane. No matter how rewarding the stimulus, experiencing it enough dulls your sensitivity to it. This is true in serious matters like drug addiction, but also more casual vices such as watching your team win baseball games.

I spent the first ten years of my baseball life cheering for bad baseball teams. The idea of experiencing a winning season was exotic and exciting. When it arrived, it was like getting a milkshake IV or having a litter of puppies climb on me. The Ordonez home run to win the pennant was the highest possible high.

But slowly, success became the new normal. We began to expect it. The Tigers have had six more winning seasons since, including four division titles and four playoff series wins. Good players started to see Detroit as a destination and the owner became willing to spare no expense to win. Ten years ago, going to the World Series was the literally the most exciting thing I could imagine. Now I think it might be kinda fun to go back.

I think this applies pretty universally. The idea that people would read things I wrote about baseball on the internet sounded awfully silly when I started the site back in 2012. It was honestly just supposed to be a personal distraction. The idea that people would hire me to write for sites I admired and revered didn’t really cross my mind. To be honest, I used to get stupidly excited when someone moderately important retweeted something I wrote or mentioned they liked it. I’m not a hero worship kind of person, but any attention from anyone established at that point was genuinely really cool.

But all of a sudden I got offers to join Beyond The Box Score and Gammons Daily, then FanGraphs, The Hardball Times, and TigsTown and somehow I was being treated like a peer. I don’t say this to brag about my success, but to illustrate that somewhere along the line “Hey Becky wake up this famous person shared my article with their followers!” became “Um, honey I’ve actually been the managing editor at Beyond the Box Score for like eight months, did I not mention that?” It’s not just the abstract success of a baseball team that became commonplace, it’s things that are very personal as well.

I wish I could time travel to 2012 and tell my former self that 2016 Neil would be kind of annoyed about how long it was taking to finish his most recent article at FanGraphs. Or imagine telling 2005 Neil that 2015 Neil was at peace with the idea that the Tigers might spend a couple years rebuilding.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as so many of the people I’ve come to know in the online baseball writing community are getting what old show biz folks would call their “big breaks.” There are people I came up with working full time for MLB teams or getting tons of exposure at some of the biggest sites in the industry. Heck, there are people I hired while running BTBS who are breaking out as we speak.

And I’m watching them express their unbridled joy, a similar joy I watched Royals fans and Mets fans and Blue Jays fans experience over the last couple of years. And I’m seeing them feel those highs when Congrats Twitter lights up or their team finally has that deep October run. And I can spot the people who are going to have those moments themselves before long.

A few years ago, I’d have been jealous watching other people celebrate championships or get cool new jobs that I didn’t have, but once you’ve had some success, it’s a lot easier to view success as something that’s routine and normal. I probably would have been fuming watching the Royals celebrate if the Tigers hadn’t had plenty of success during this last decade and I’d be much more interested in self-promotion and click chasing if I hadn’t already felt the rush of being asked to write for a site you’ve always loved.

It’s a weird bit of wisdom and it makes you want to assure people that their moment is coming and that after a while it won’t really be that novel. Few things really live up to the insane expectations you create for them. There’s a tendency for people to hear that and feel sad that joy is fleeting, but I’m comforted by it.

I’m totally okay with things just being okay. I’ve learned that I like stability and that I don’t need the Tigers to provide thrilling moment after thrilling moment. I’m perfectly happy with the rhythm of 162 nine inning contests every year, win or lose.

This mindset isn’t for everyone, but it’s one that works for me. After twenty years as a fan and four as a writer, I love the game just as much as ever. Maybe more. But I care far less about the outcomes. I want to watch interesting baseball, but interesting baseball no longer means games in which everything hangs in the balance.

I’m very happy for my friends and colleagues who are experiencing their personal and professional joys and have no intention of raining on any parades, I just felt compelled to acknowledge that these great moments are going to feel ordinary soon. They’ll blend into the rhythm of our lives.

I guess what I’m trying to say is try not to lose sight of the mundane pleasures of life while desperately searching for the promise land because the promise land is going to be a mundane pleasure before too long because your stupid brain is going to get used to it. Enjoy the moments when they come, but don’t let them be the only things that keep you going.

Moving 600 Miles Closer To Comerica Park

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

I won’t bury the lede because that’s bad journalism and it’s also probably the only way to convince you to read this entire, mostly slightly self-indulgent piece: I’m coming home.

Two and a half years ago, five days after we got married, my wife and I packed our entire lives into a 14-foot U-Haul and set out on what I assumed would be the grandest, newest, and biggest adventure of our lives. It wasn’t necessarily going to be the most important few years we’d ever have, but it was sure to be the biggest change we were ever going to make. We graduated from college, got married, and moved hundreds of miles from home all in the span of 12 days. We were both starting graduate school at UNC (a one year master’s for Becky, a five year PhD for me). It was meticulously planned. We’re planners. Our life had a path and this was the first step.

Neither of us particularly wanted to be in North Carolina instead of being in Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids or Toledo, but Chapel Hill was the stepping stone for the life we sought and we were both excited to be together and on our own after 22 years of being neither.

We spent the summer of 2012 adjusting to our new surroundings and confronting anxieties, new and old, built into our DNA. We enjoyed married life a great deal, but we both dreamed of a time in our lives when we would be more settled. Permanent. We often find ourselves looking forward because we’re goal driven but sometimes that allows us to miss the present. Picture the most cliche house in the most cliche suburb with 2.3 kids. We both want that quiet, boring life and we’d prefer it sooner rather than later.

So Becky had to get through one year of school, then she would get a job making real money, and our lives could begin to settle. We could buy some nicer stuff, take weekend getaways, etc. We were looking forward.

During that first year, the Tigers went to the World Series and I started this site to feel more connected to the team and friends I had left behind. It was therapeutic as I ran into frustrations in other aspects of life. (Freaking Pablo Sandoval though, right?)

In the summer of 2013, when the Tigers pitching staff was incredible, Becky graduated and found a job doing something very meaningful (she’s a social worker) and instead of living a Puritanical existence, we had extra funds to enjoy our very simple tastes. Step One completed. But, we wanted to get a dog, I was tiring of classes, and we hadn’t seen the Tigers live in more than  year. We were looking ahead to the next step.

That December, in the aftermath of the Fister trade, we decided we were prepared financially and free-time-wise to adopt a dog. We got Watson on the day before New Year’s Eve 2013.

As wonderful as he was (and still is), he required a great deal of attention at first. I was working on my master’s thesis, carrying a heavier load training him, and we were still looking forward. Things will be better when baseball starts again and after I defend my thesis, we said. And they were and they weren’t. There were new frustrations with my department and Becky’s job was starting to weigh on her emotionally (social workers are rockstars). Just as we were expecting to feel established, little things would bump us from the path. We needed to replace a car. Watson decided to change his walk schedule without consulting us. MLB.TV would have an off night.

The three of us were happy as a unit, but our circumstances, while far from tragic, were less than ideal. We were looking forward. Three more years until the promise of something really and truly new. At least three more years until real life. That seemed like forever and we became very aware of the fact that we were always living in the future and rarely enjoying the present the way we should.

So we looked forward and decided to make a list of things we wanted to do in the next three years, before the big change. The list wasn’t very long and some of it was forced. Basically, we wanted to get on with the main event. The part of our lives where we put down roots. We’ve had our eyes on that prize forever and the part between now and then was just filler.

So there came a moment, after the Tigers had been manhandled by the O’s, when I was lying on the floor of our apartment with Watson while Becky was standing in the kitchen when I said, “I just don’t want to do this anymore.”

Her response, or at least the way I’ll remember it, was simple but life changing. “So let’s do something else.”

At first the prospect was scary because the Weinbergs do not divert from The Plan. You make a plan and then you execute it. But we talked for two straight days and made the decision that it was time to make a new plan. One that didn’t include three more years hundreds of miles from our friends, family, and favorite baseball team. At the time, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up on being a college professor, but I knew that I had never been less motivated to live the academic life.

There are things we both want in life and the road we were taking might have gotten us there eventually, but it wasn’t the most effective way to arrive. So I started looking for jobs in Michigan, at first just to see what might be out there and eventually because it started to make sense to take the leap. Last week, I accepted a position as a Research Analyst with the Michigan Legislature. It isn’t what I thought I’d be doing four years ago, but I’m starting to think we should only plan so far in advance.

So the Weinbergs are coming home and the 2015 season will be viewed in close proximity. I don’t know exactly how this is going to change my life or my writing, but for now, I plan to keep my online presence the same.

I don’t think I’d have started New English D or adopted Watson or done any of the great things I’ve done during the last couple of years without moving to North Carolina and I don’t regret it for a minute. Some really important things happened in my life because we made the journey, but it’s time for the journey to end and another one to begin.

Dave Clark is waving us home. Hopefully we’ll see you at the park this season.

Mildly Interesting Site News!

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

Starting next week, I will be joining TigsTown (or Scout Tigers, depending on how long you’ve been a reader) and will be writing a weekly feature over there. New English D isn’t changing and it certainly isn’t going anywhere. This is addition, not subtraction. TigsTown is undergoing a bit of a reinvention and will be adding a bit more big league analysis, which is where I will come in. Paul (@TigsTown) asked if I’d like to contribute and here we are. New English D has always had a good relationship with the other Tigers sites (like TigsTown, BYB, MCB, Walkoff Woodward, etc) and this particular arrangement made sense for both sides. Although, be warned that some of the content is behind a paywall, but the membership offers a good amount of access.

We’re still going to have the same type and level of analysis here, and I’m still writing at Beyond The Box Score and Gammons Daily. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop with links on Twitter and I will likely post links here as well. You probably won’t even notice a difference! Thanks for reading, as always. Go Tigers.


A Farewell To A Dear Friend


Note this isn’t a post about baseball. Allow me the indulgence, it won’t become a habit.

“Mom, we have to get her out of here.”

That’s what my sister said when they walked into Kelly’s previous owner’s house. The woman who had Kelly got new animals when she was depressed and then couldn’t take care of them. The woman’s daughter had Kelly too, but it didn’t work out. Another woman adopted Kelly, but that woman’s current dog didn’t like Kelly moving in on her territory [read: lap of her owner]. So Kelly was back in this rough situation. My sister saw it, Kelly was sweet to them, and they took her home.

We had Boomer at the time, a smart but socially awkward mix who was looking for a friend and Kelly was fourth dog we gave him a chance to meet. He liked two of the others, but they didn’t like him. He and the third dog fought. So it was Kelly, lucky number four. Her fourth home, his fourth shot at a friend. They hit it off, and although they’d grow to be siblings more than friends, they were pack.

“She’s so cute!”

The first words I said when I saw her. My dad and brother took a while to come around, but my Mom, sister, and I held fast. We kept her. She was ours. Part of the family [Ben would eventually fall in love with her too]. I was eight. We had gotten Boomer a year earlier, and while I adored him, he had bonded much more with Ben than me. Kelly and I became fast friends and never looked back.

Her tennis ball chasing skills came out immediately and he devotion to her pack came soon after. As she adjusted to her new life and she became trustworthy at night, she started sleeping at the end of my bed. Ten years later, she slept there the night before I left for college.

“I learned everything from my dogs.”

I’m planning to write a book with that title someday. Each chapter will tell the story of a different one of my dogs and what that dog has taught me about life. Kelly’s chapter will be about loyalty, determination, and devotion. She was at my side through everything, and even watched over me as I slept. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and she’d be looking at me, making sure I was okay.

She vetted potential love interests, always making sure the girls I brought home were good enough for her boy and even as she started to slow down, she always kept up with me. I was a little kid when we got her and she and I grew up together. She was never really friendly to outsiders, but she was the biggest doll to her people. She learned English words and phrases, which isn’t really something dogs typically do.

We lost Boomer when they were both about eight and she looked lost without him. He was part of the pack. We got Duke shortly after and she taught him the ropes and let him take over the day to day operations of watching the house while she started to age. As I prepared to head off to college, I was ready for the next chapter, but I was sad to be leaving my dogs. Dogs get you. Dogs are always happy to see you and dogs never fake it. Dogs are better than people and Kelly wasn’t just any old dog. She was my dog, but her dog-ness transcended that. A lot of people had given up on her. We didn’t give up and she rewarded us with the kind of fierce devotion that puts Ron Weasley to shame.

When I was away at school, Kelly started to get sick and was diagnosed with a disease that usually ran its course over about two years. Her health was up and down and her ball chasing days were over, but somehow, some way, she kept at it. One year. Two years. Three Years. Four.

She beat those odds and hung in there. I was prepared that every time I saw her might be the last, but she kept holding on for one more trip home. She was always thrilled to see me even when jumping up and down turned into laying on her side and wagging her tail. Even when she had to labor to follow me up the stairs and could barely lift herself onto an air mattress on the floor of my childhood room, she did it. She was there.

Two years ago, I was getting ready to get married to a girl that earned Kelly’s approval and move away on a grand adventure. I wasn’t going to be 45 minutes away, I was going to be 700 miles from where I grew up. I wouldn’t be able to rush home to her side. So every time I saw her, I was prepared. But she kept hanging on. And on.

Even as her health got worse, she was still there. She slept at the foot of my bed when I visited over Christmas, just like she had for the first decade of her life. It was our thing.

I’m of the belief that animals have an unspoken wisdom. They just know things. They know what you need and when it’s their time to go. I know there’s no logical reason to believe this, but I’m convinced that she was waiting for me to get another dog. She didn’t want to leave without a canine looking out for me.

We got Watson two months ago. He passed obedience school last week. He’s had a rough first year, too, but he’s smart and he’s sweet and he thinks the world of me even though he’s only known me for eight weeks. He looks at me the way she did. Like I’m the greatest person in the world even though he doesn’t really know if I am or not.

Everybody thinks their dog is the best dog just like every dog thinks their human is the best human. I’m going to do my best to be the person Kelly thought I was, but Kelly really was the best dog. She watched over me, she taught me about loyalty, and she waited to make sure I’d be okay. Most of all, she was my friend and I was hers.

You were a good girl Kelly, and I know you’re waiting for me in doggie heaven. You can run and play to your heart’s content until we see each other again. I’ll bring the tennis ball and the end of a bed for you to sleep on.

The Nine Worst Sacrifice Bunts of 2013

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

So now that we have sufficiently killed the win, bunting seems to be the topic of the day. Last week there were many examples of managers employing the sacrifice bunt at silly times and it seemed to set off a fervor among those wishing to debate new ideas and old tradition. I got into some debates with followers – and you all know Brian Kenny did the same.

The basic argument against the sacrifice bunt is that giving up and out to gain a base is a bad percentage play. The facts are pretty clear on the matter. You have to consider who is batting and the exact situation of the game, but it’s usually always a bad idea to bunt with a reasonably competent position player. Below I’ve presented The Nine Worst Sacrifice Bunt Attempts of 2013. This requires some definition, but first I want to lay out the basic argument for when bunting might be a good idea because some often taking anti-bunting comments as absolute:

When To Bunt

  1. When a pitcher is batting OR
  2. When a very low quality hitter is up AND
  3. There are zero outs AND
  4. There are men on first and second AND
  5. The batter has a high probability of striking out based on his skills or the opposing pitcher AND
  6. One run is sufficient (i.e., you’re down one run late or tied)

The Odds Against Bunting

Here’s my post from earlier this year that outlines Run Expectancy. If you don’t like the way I explain it, just Google it. Lots of smart people have explained it.

The Rules

So the following are The Nine Worst Bunt Attempts of the year as defined like this. First, these are all bunts that have been put in play. I can’t examine the times a batter failed to get a bunt down and then the bunt sign was taken off. Second, this does not include bunts that went for hits. Bunting for a hit is great, this is about bunts in which an out was made – which is the goal of a bunt. Get on base and we don’t have a problem. Third, this is judged by Win Probability Added (WPA), which considers the game situation and the result of the play. So, if you call a bunt in a 10-0 game, who cares. If you call for a bunt in a 5-3 game with your two hitter, that’s probably silly. Finally, no pitchers. Pitchers can’t hit, so it’s fine to use them to bunt. Let’s see what happens!

There have been 1,192 sacrifice bunt attempts this season by non-pitchers. 174 have gone for hits and 39 have been turned into errors, so that’s 979 bunt attempts that resulted in at least one out. In sum, they have been worth -2.7 WPA. Here are the worst.

Let’s start with some data that sets the stage.

Rank Date Batter Tm
9 9/16/2013 Juan Uribe LAD
8 8/14/2013 Alberto Callaspo OAK
7 8/14/2013 Martin Prado ARI
6 8/10/2013 Stephen Vogt OAK
5 9/9/2013 Jonathan Herrera COL
4 9/18/2013 Munenori Kawasaki TOR
3 4/25/2013 Juan Pierre MIA
2 4/11/2013 Brendan Ryan SEA
1 4/9/2013 Rob Brantly MIA

There we have the date and hitters. Now the opponent and situation:

Rank Opp Pitcher Score Inn RoB Out
9 @ARI Brad Ziegler down 2-1 t9 -12 0
8 HOU Josh Fields down 2-1 b11 -2- 0
7 BAL Jim Johnson down 4-3 b9 -2- 0
6 @TOR Casey Janssen down 5-4 t9 -12 0
5 @SFG Javier Lopez tied 2-2 t10 1– 0
4 NYY Mariano Rivera down 4-3 b9 -12 0
3 CHC Carlos Marmol down 4-3 b9 -12 0
2 TEX Robbie Ross down 4-3 b8 3 1
1 ATL Craig Kimbrel down 3-2 b9 1– 0

All but one feature no outs and the hitting team has been trailing late or tied in each.

Rank Batter WPA RE24 LI Play Description
9 Juan Uribe -0.16 -0.56 5.6 Bunt Groundout: P-3B/Forceout at 3B (Front of Home); Schumaker to 2B
8 Alberto Callaspo -0.16 -0.42 4.38 Bunt Popfly: P (Front of Home)
7 Martin Prado -0.16 -0.42 4.38 Bunt Groundout: P-1B (Front of Home)
6 Stephen Vogt -0.16 -0.58 5.48 Bunt Groundout: P-3B/Forceout at 3B (Front of Home); Crisp to 2B
5 Jonathan Herrera -0.17 -0.68 3.51 Bunt Ground Ball Double Play: Bunt C-SS-2B (Front of Home)
4 Munenori Kawasaki -0.18 -0.58 6.13 Bunt Groundout: 1B-3B/Forceout at 3B (Front of Home); Rasmus to 2B
3 Juan Pierre -0.18 -0.56 6.21 Bunt Groundout: C-3B/Forceout at 3B (Front of Home); Kearns to 2B
2 Brendan Ryan -0.22 -0.69 4.33 Fielder’s Choice P; Chavez out at Hm/P-C; Ryan to 1B
1 Rob Brantly -0.28 -0.74 5.4 Bunt Pop Fly Double Play: Bunt 3B (Short 3B Line); Solano out at 1B/3B-1B

Alright, so a few notes. The very worst bunts are almost always the ones that include double plays or a runner getting thrown out at home somehow. Which makes sense, any time a bunt goes horribly wrong, it’s going to be more costly than a normal bunt. Martin Prado’s at #7 is the worst true sac bunt of the lot because the runner didn’t advance and Prado made an out.

So it’s perfectly reasonable to say these are poorly executed bunts. That’s true. But it’s not interesting to show you 9 very similar bunts that are all in the -4% range in the same situations. There are just so many of them. But, let me provide some summary stats to give you a better idea about the whole dataset. Of the 979 bunts that didn’t result in a hit or error, 722 resulted in a decrease in WPA, 160 resulted in no change, and 97 increased the team’s odds of winning. In other words, only 26% of sac bunts in the sample are good for the team.

So 18% of the time a batter attempts to sac bunt, he gets a hit or induces and error. That’s good. And 26% of the remaining 82% helps anyway.  All told, about one quarter of position player bunts turn out to be a good idea based on WPA. Let’s go further.


Even including all of the bunts that ended in hits and errors, 276 resulted in more than one run, 339 resulted in one run exactly, and 577 resulted in zero runs. There are good bunts, but bunting is usually a bad idea. There are bunts that mess up the defense and open the door, but they are rare. Usually when you bunt, you don’t score.


You’re welcome to keep bunting, but the odds are not in your favor.

New English D Joins A Tribute To The ’48 Indians

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

Thanks, on occasion, to the Tigers, the Cleveland Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. Sixty five long seasons. I grew up a few hours from Cleveland and some of my best childhood friends still root for the Tribe. I remember playing one on one baseball when I was ten years old against a lineup stacked with Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome, and Sandy Alomar. This is all by way of saying that I understand how Indians fans feel about their team and their near-Cubsian history.

I recall the 1997 World Series and the 2007 ALCS. Indians fans need a winner, but my rooting allegiance is directly at odds with such a thing. Which makes Did The Tribe Win Last Night‘s new project absolutely perfect. The team at DTTWLN have given up on the future and are turning to the past to cover the last Indians championship as if it were happening live. Starting in three weeks, they will begin covering the 1948 season one day at a time as if it were happening in the modern day. They’ll have game stories, features, Twitter coverage, and a whole host of other material to bring the 1948 season to life.

A few weeks ago, DTTWLN reached out to us at New English D and asked us to be a part of their coverage. Their goal was to bring other teams’ sites into the project to reach a broader audience and offer different angles on the last winner in the Rock and Roll capital of the world. Because we like baseball and history and want to do everything we can to make Cleveland fans happy without actually letting them win the Central, we accepted.

Now we won’t be writing game recaps alongside DTTWLN or anything so ambitious. But we will be chipping in. During each series between the Tigers and the Indians, New English D will be publishing posts about aspects of the 1948 Tigers to run as companion content for the 1948 project. This will start later in the month and will carry into March, but it won’t detract from any of our pennant chase coverage.

The 1948 Tigers finished 5th in the AL at 78-76, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them 65 years later. Come back and learn about the Tigers of the past and see what DTTWLN have to offer. You can find their page devoted to the project here and you can follow the Twitter account here.

It should be a lot of fun. Just as long as it doesn’t give the 2013 Indians any ideas….

More Exciting News From New English D

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

So I know we just went through this three days ago, but I’m excited to announce that I’ve joined Gammons Daily as a regular contributor, which is a site surrounding Peter Gammons’ baseball writing and devoted to unfiltered analysis from some of the country’s best. It’s only a couple weeks old and is a partnership between Gammons and TruMedia that should eventually feature some of their analytic tools. I’ll be writing there once or twice a week in addition to my weekly work at Beyond The Box Score. Like I said on Thursday, none of New English D’s Tigers coverage will be affected and you’ll only notice a slight reduction in MLB coverage here to accommodate the transition.

I hope you’ll check out Gammons Daily, follow my work around the web, and continue to engage with me on Twitter. Check out my first piece for the site, on the Tigers own Max Scherzer.

Exciting Announcement About Baseball Writing

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

I am excited to announce that I will be joining SB Nation’s saber-slanted baseball community Beyond The Box Score as a staff writer starting this week. If you’re not familiar with Beyond The Box Score, you like what I do here, and have a baseball interest outside of just the Detroit Tigers, check it out. You can find us on Twitter @BtBScore and all other places the internet is available.

If you a regular reader of New English D, fear not! There will be absolutely no change to our Tigers coverage and no change to our writing about the use of advanced statistics in baseball. If you read us for Tigers coverage, The Nine, Stat of the Week, and all sorts of other stuff, you’ll hardly notice a change. The only difference is a slight reduction in our MLB coverage at large. If I have something to say about another team or player, I’ll now be writing about it at Beyond The Box Score. To facilitate this shift, I will be axing our daily MLB recap series, The Morning Edition. Generally, this has been one of the less popular features on the site and I was planning to wrap it up after this season regardless of my other projects. If you’re broken up about it, I’m sure some sort of begging would get me to bring it back. As far as I can tell, you come to New English D for Tigers analysis and posts about why certain stats are bad and certain stats are good. That’s mostly what we do here.

So that’s it. No more Morning Edition, and no other changes. I’m looking forward to joining BtBS and am just as happy to interact with readers here, there, and on Twitter (@NeilWeinberg44). If you have questions and ideas you want to see researched and discussed, I welcome requests regarding the Tigers and any other MLB team or player.

Finally, thanks for reading. New English D started as something personal for me. I missed writing and it was therapeutic in my first year far away from the Comerica Park (and I guess my family and friends?). I started this site during the 2012 ALCS and for about eight months, it was pretty small and more or less just something I did for myself. And then I wrote about Rick Porcello’s big breakout and a few well-timed plugs from people much more established than me helped us take off. So New English D grew. Tigers fans and baseball fans started coming back and coming in higher numbers.  More people visited New English D in July than had visited in total up to that point and it continues to trend up. I didn’t start New English D for fame or page views and that still remains a very, very peripheral goal. I write about baseball because I enjoy it and it’s rewarding. I’m happy you like it and I’m happy it makes you think. Life isn’t always easy, and baseball and baseball writing makes me feel better. I hope it does the same for you.

It’s been fun and I’m certain it will continue to be. If you like New English D, keep coming back and tell your friends. I’ll keep churning out high quality content. If you’re interested in baseball outside of Detroit, check me and my new colleagues out at Beyond The Box Score. As always, Go Tigers.

We Have a New Name!

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

Hello Loyal Reader (or New One!)

Due to a recently discovered trademark issue relating to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), SABR Toothed Tigers was asked to change our name. Being the law abiding citizens that we are, we’ve decided to comply.

From here on out, you can find us here at New English D. We think it communicates the same message and nothing else about the site will change other than the web address and title. If you forget about the change, fear not, you’ll still be direct to our pages from

Please poke around the site and check back daily for updates about the Detroit Tigers and MLB.





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