"OF COURSE, ONE GREAT IDEA GUARANTEES NOTHING": Few people in recent years have contributed as much to our understanding of baseball as Vörös McCracken, who figured out around the turn of the century that while pitchers could control strikeouts, walks and home runs, "There is little if any difference among major-league pitchers in their ability to prevent hits on balls hit in the field of play."
It's counterintuitive, but a decade's worth of research have proven it's largely true. There is no consistent year-to-year skill in "getting them to hit balls at the fielders" -- it is random. (Knuckleballers and extreme fly-ball pitchers are the outliers.)
All of which is to tee up this remarkable piece of journalism from Jeff Passan, on McCracken's journey from obscurity to the Red Sox, to where he is now.