The shift made Mike Moustakas 'a more complete hitter,' though the real effects are unexpected.
All indications out of Royals camp during the spring were that Mike Moustakas was a man on a mission to combat the defensive shift that had hampered him in 2014. Prior to last season, Moustakas was rarely shifted against but the book finally got out on his dead pull tendencies as Kansas City’s storybook season unfolded. He was the 10th most shifted batter in baseball in 2014, per the Bill James Handbook, and saw the right side of the infield loaded up with three infielders in approximately 70 percent of his trips to the plate. Moustakas’ BABIPwhen he pulled the ball in 2014 dropped to .211, which was over 100 points lower than his career mark.
Walking between the raindrops, Duda tries to seize an opportunity, and Samardzija gets a crowd
Any rainout will impact the slate, but when a game in Colorado gets suspended it can have a ripple effect that is felt across DFS rosters. There is similar risk today, as the rains in Denver could once again thwart the Diamondbacks' attempt to face Tyler Matzek in the thin air. The value of Paul Goldschmidt ($5700) hangs in the balance.
Craig Counsell topples Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner flirts with a no-hitter, the Cards go back to the 'pen, plus the best defensive play of the night.
The Monday Takeaway
It’s tough to imagine that Craig Counsell could have asked for a more unfavorable matchup in his managerial debut. Granted, the Brewers were coming off consecutive wins for the first time all season, but the club has been terrible in 2015 and had a date with Clayton Kershaw on Monday.
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We all know about the elite prospects, but what about the ones with some talent, but deep flaws? What will it take to see them in the bigs?
The annual Top 10 Prospects Series forms the backbone of our understanding about the current state of major-league farmhands. Running 300 players deep, any discussion about the future stars, starters, and busts in baseball begins with the names found in these compilations. Robust as they are though, the Top 10s cover just a fraction of the minor-league baseball player universe. Every organization has at least seven minor-league teams, and estimating conservatively, even the clubs with the fewest affiliates are employing over 150 players at any given time. Granting that many of those are non-prospects, it’s still remarkable how few players with major-league talent get ink on the Top 10s.
Keeping tabs on the ninth-inning situations around the league.
Blue Jays Change Closers Again
Shortly after we spoke last week, the Blue Jays yanked rookie Miguel Castro from the closer role and handed it back to Brett Cecil. Castro has been extremely inconsistent this year, flashing dominant stuff at times and looking like the 20-year-old he is at other times. Things got even worse for the youngster over the weekend as he was optioned back to Triple-A. Toronto sure is yanking around their young arm, moving him in and out of the closer role at random and now moving him off the roster entirely. Barring injury, he’ll certainly be back in the majors at some point and it wouldn’t surprise me if it came soon. As for Cecil, he’s clearly a must-own as the closer on a talented roster. He’s still striking out opponents at a nice rate, but the hard contact has been discouraging. Since he’s better than his competition, I would like to say his job should be safe for now, but the Blue Jays have been too quick with their decisions in this bullpen to be overly confident in them staying with the status quo for any period of time.
A look at how the wise guys spent their money in expert leagues this week.
Depending on how long you have been a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, welcome or welcome back to the Expert FAAB Review. Every week, I’m going to take a look at the players and the process behind the bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insights behind the reasoning on the bids. Budgets in all three leagues start at $100 at the beginning of the season.
The athletic Phillies prospect is trying to dispel any notion that he's not strong enough to hit in the bigs.
Carlos Tocci was in the driver’s seat on a 3-1 count the second time to the plate, and he got the pitch he was looking for.
Tocci turned on an inside, 91-mph fastball, lifting it foul down the left field line on a hard line drive that would have easily cleared the left-field fence at Augusta’s Lake Olmstead Stadium. A couple pitches later, he lined out hard to the left fielder.
Two bats and an arm who might be of service to your AL-only squad.
While it’s still early in the season, owners need to be constantly evaluating their rosters. If your team is in need of reinforcements, there’s still obviously plenty of season remaining and time to make changes. If you’re dealing with injuries or players struggling in an AL-only league, here are three names that could help you out this season.
The Twins pull up a hot-and-cold prospect to replace Oswaldo Arcia.
The situation: Minnesota placed Oswaldo Arcia on the 15-day disabled list with a flexor strain in his hip, opening up a spot for Rosario.
Background: Rosario’s stock has fluctuated over the years. He started as a relatively unknown fourth-round pick out of Rafael Lopez Landron High in Puerto Rico. The left-handed-hitting outfielder performed well at the lower levels and showed impressive tools, and quietly established himself as an intriguing outfield prospect. Concerns over his position and a 50-game PED suspension saw his stock sink, but he seemed to reestablish himself after a strong 2013 campaign in which he posted a .810 OPS and 10 homers. Just as quickly, it sunk once more, as he was terrible in 2014, struggling to a .246/.283/.387 line between High- and Double-A. Those struggles, in a strong Minnesota system, saw him looking in at our Top 10 Twins prospects this offseason, though he was listed as one of the three factors on the farm.
The rules say umps should get it right, but not too right.
I’ve been kicking this can for months, looking for a place to dispose of it properly. I could have kept kicking it, too, but for Casey McGehee and Doug Eddings. It was the seventh inning of Friday night’s Angels-Giants tilt, and the Angels had a runner on first base with nobody out. San Francisco led 1-0. Kole Calhoun led off the top of the seventh with a clean single to left field, bringing up David Freese. On an 0-1 count, Freese hit a double-play ball to McGehee at third base. It was a terrifically easy play, leading McGehee just enough to his left to shorten the first leg of the around-the-horn twin killing.
McGehee, however, flubbed it. The ball bounced up past his glove, deflected of his left side and rolled toward shortstop. Brandon Crawford, a great defensive shortstop who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, grabbed the ball and threw to second base brilliantly. It was a great, reflexive, instinctual play, though ideally, he’d have thrown to first base, because there simply wasn’t a play on the lead runner, Calhoun. Calhoun beat the throw, though somewhat narrowly.
Updates on Raimel Tapia, Jake Thompson, Brandon Nimmo, and more.
Hitter of the Night: Elier Hernandez, OF, Royals (Lexington, A-): 2-5, R, HR, K, SB. Pitchers exploiting aggressiveness from young hitters is becoming a theme tonight, and we can add Hernandez to the list. The 20-year-old is repeating Low-A ball after hitting just .264/.296/.393 there last year, but his 25/4 K:BB ratio tells the story. Hernandez’s calling card is plus raw power, but it has yet to manifest itself in game action on a consistent basis because of his approach.
Pitcher of the Night:Robert Gsellman, RHP, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 8 IP, H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. I wrote up Gsellman last week and was pretty aggressive in my assessment of him. Frankly, after seeing him again on Monday night, I might have been low. Gsellman carved up Palm Beach hitters by commanding a hard-running two-seamer and his plus curveball, but in this outing, he also showed more comfort with the changeup, which he used more frequently and more effectively. His polish and plan was no match for Florida State League hitters, and despite being just 21, he could be pitching his way into a mid-season promotion.
While the boxers were holding their punches this weekend, the Cardinals and Pirates slugged each other into exhaustion.
Since the start of the 2011 season, the St. Louis Cardinals have won two NL Central titles, but reached the playoffs all four seasons (and they’re off to a blazing start that gives them a very good chance of extending that streak). It’s not quite fair to say that they’ve dominated the division—their two wins have been narrow, by five combined games, whereas they lagged well behind the Brewers and Reds in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Still, there’s no question the Cardinals are the dominant power of the group.
To wit, they have steamrolled three of their four (and for two seasons, four of their five) divisional foes in head-to-head matchups over the last four-plus seasons. Here are the records of those encounters: