The 2020 26th Man
As most of you know, MLB is planning to implement a few rules changes in 2020, one of which is the addition of a 26th man (who cannot be a pitcher) to the active list rosters Opening Day through August 31st.
Because all MLB clubs carry 13 pitchers (usually five starters and eight relievers) during the regular season, clubs have been limited to a four-man bench (National League) or a three-man bench (American League where there is a DH), and there just isn't room on the roster to carry a speclialist or a player with a limited role or function until rosters expand in September.
But back in the day it was typical for clubs to carry only ten or eleven pitchers, so a six or seven-man bench was common, and some of the players on the bench could have a very specific role or specialty that we don't see as much today (at least not until rosters expand in September).
In deciding who might make a good 2020 26th man, it's possible that we could see a throwback to the old days of roster construction.
Here are the three types of bench guys we might now see for a full season with the implementation of the 26th man rule:
1. TYPE 1: Ace pinch hitter.
This type has to be able to hit "cold" off the bench and be able to handle high velocity FB and high-spin breaking balls from the best relievers in the game (both lefty & righty). Ideally this player can play defense, too (at least passably), but it isn't necessary. Mainly he just needs to get a big hit in a game situation when his club most needs one.
This type generally would have more value on a National League club (where there is no DH), but he could be a fit on an American League team that features a defense-first player (most-likely a SS or a catcher) with limited offensive skills in the lineup.
EXAMPLES: Tommy LaStella circa 2018, but also guys like Lenny Harris, Manny Mota, Smoky Burgess, Jerry Lynch, and Moose McCormick from bygone eras.
2. TYPE 2: Pinch-runner who can steal bases pretty much at will.
Like the type 1 player, it is helpful if this player can also play defense (usually OF), but his main job is to pinch-run and steal a base (maybe two) in a game situatiion where a run is needed to tie or win a game.
This is the type of player clubs will often add in September (when rosters expand) or in the Wild Card game (when only one starting pitcher is needed), but now it can be for the entire season.
EXAMPLES: Terrance Gore (acquired by the Cubs in 2018) and Quintin Berry (acquired by the Cubs in 2015).
3. TYPE 3: #3 catcher.
Like the pinch-running specialist, a third catcher is the type of player who is added when rosters expand in September, but now a third catcher can be available for the entire season. This type of player can be a plus if a club's top two catchers are both good hitters (as is the case with the Cubs right now) and the manager wants to be able to use the #2 catcher as a pinch-hitter without a second thought whenever necessary.
It is a bonus if the #3 catcher can play other positions as well, but it isn'r absolutely necessary. Ideally the third catcher would also be the "emergency" pitcher in a blow-out or in extra innings after all of the available relievers have been used.
First.Pitch.120 4 hours 57 min ago (view)
Cotton McKnight: In 23 years of broadcasting I thought I'd seen it all, folks. But it looks like Peter La Fleur has actually blindfolded himself.
Pepper Brooks: He will not be able to see very well, Cotton.
First.Pitch.120 4 hours 58 min ago (view)
Yes! Exactly... I'd love to be able to watch coverages in football or just key-in on a great WR to watch them work.
First.Pitch.120 5 hours 1 min ago (view)
Wow... this is the most engagement I have ever received on any topic on social media platform. Please stay tuned for my opinions on the Oxford Comma, the APA Style Manual for Academic Writing, and the auto-correct on my iPhone.
I am an awesome guy at parties....
bradsbeard 15 hours 25 min ago (view)
I watched some of the Puerto Rican Winter League games that Miguel Amaya played in this winter. At least one broadcast had a super wide shot for balls in play that let you see the OF and the baserunners at the same time. It was awesome.
Wrigley Rat 18 hours 31 min ago (view)
3 dots on this evening's Cubs-Dodgers game - makes sense & they do color in the 3rd dot as they're going to commericals (Spectrum Sportsnet).
crunch 20 hours 44 min ago (view)
3 dot crew represent. i didn't have an opinion, but now i'm 100% on board.
Charlie 20 hours 52 min ago (view)
I agree on most of this, but I especially support three fillable dots for the outs--and fill in the third before cutting to a commercial!
Not doing homework on the players in a Spring Training broadcast is pretty forgiveable, but ESPN is really bad about it pretty much all year. It would be nice if they made a habit of picking up a local color commentator and sort of interviewing them throughout games.
George Altman 1 day 55 min ago (view)
The single thing I want in a sports broadcast is to become smarter about the sport, to learn something from the broadcast crew.
Stone does that, Romo does that, Eddie O on hockey, and that's about it. I watch sporting events with the sound down very low or off. I forgot more about baseball than most broadcasters will ever know, and I'm always shocked when I see something in a football game that the crew doesn't, and I know about NOTHING about football.
First.Pitch.120 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
Also... what is with only having 2 dots as the outs counter? I know that you don't really need the 3rd dot, but I find it counter-intuitive. If the dots fill in, then only having 2 throws me off b/c it's natural to subitize "3" associated with outs. You quickly see 0/3, 1/3, 2/3. If the graphic does not have fill-in dots, then just put the #. eg - OUTS: 1 It's minimalism for the sake of minimalism, not graphic design for effective communication.
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
tight shots + insane amount of screen real estate being taken up with graphics is a bit of a plague...especially the ones with a non-stop bottom news ticker.
First.Pitch.120 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
General comment on baseball broadcasting... I think that the color comentator (CC) needs to talk about 30% more & the PBP about 30% less. I would love a more stream of consciousness from the CC outlining what they would be looking for in a given situation. To that end, why not have 2 CC for national broadcasts - one a pitcher & one a position player. Would love for them to banter back & forth on micro strategy from their perspectives. I think this would turn the game's pauses between action into more of an asset.
crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
brews sign j.bradley 2/24m...decent deal for a quality CF'r. he can opt out of the 2nd year.
crunch 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
the national broadcasts on ESPN suffer badly from a lack of "homework" on the teams they're covering.
yesterday i heard more riffing between the announcers about each other more than the players. the only thing that saved them from more of that and dead air was in-progress action and player interviews (too many player interviews, but it's spring so whatever).
Hagsag 1 day 8 hours ago (view)
Not impressed with ESPN's broadcast. I like Mendoza's work, but how many kids did we have to see rolling around the grass. Good day to see some young players ,but half the time you had no idea who was batting or pitching.
crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)
cubs game totally not a delay broadcast for ESPN...thanks for that gem heyward.
dunno if they'll be printing up any "You better have your shit in line" t-shirts, but it's as least as good as "Try not to suck"
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 19 hours ago (view)
Jason Adam is another who throws short arm. I don't think he was a position player, but maybe falls into the arm injury category?