BILL JAMES: “THE FRANK ROBINSON SOLUTION”. In the 1985 Baseball Abstract Bill James proposed several solutions to the problem of batters being injured from being hit by pitches. The first was what James called “The Frank Robinson solution”, which he described as follows:

“Before he was a manager and known for having the league’s most antagonistic pitching staff, Frank Robinson [a Hall of Fame player] had a solution that he liked to recommend: Forget all about the intent of the pitcher. If a pitcher comes inside two or three times, tell him to take the rest of the day off. The umpire doesn’t need to make any judgment about what the pitcher has in mind; he just needs to say, ‘It looks like you’re a little wild today, son, we’d better get another pitcher in here before somebody gets hurt.’”

Bill James is quoted in this article in Baseball Prospectus by Sam Miller in Baseball Prospectus. Frank Robinson realized that baseball’s fundamental error in dealing with these situations is focus on intent or lack of intent. The issue is one of negligence. The person most able to reduce the risk of injury is the pitcher, but he has little incentive to be careful. Sam Miller draws the analogy with traffic accidents: “… throwing anywhere near a batter’s upper body is reckless. Reckless drivers aren’t trying to crash into things; they’re just driving recklessly, and the law holds responsible those whose reckless behavior leads to damage and/or injury.”

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