Doug trains his lens on deliveries weird, unwieldy, and wackadoodle.
The typical focus here at Raising Aces is mechanical efficiency, analyzing how a pitcher makes the most of his athleticism to promote pitch command, velocity, and movement. Every once in a while, though, I like to delve into the realm of the weird. Today is one of those times.
Even at the highest level, there are a number of pitchers who exhibit bizarre quirks to their mechanics. Some of these oddities are merely an entertaining sidebar to an otherwise efficient delivery, serving as an amusing anecdote without deterring from the pitcher's task at hand, while other quirks throw a monkey wrench into the delivery and interfere with the basic task of throwing a baseball to a glove-sized target. That said, some of the best pitchers in the game have idiosyncrasies that appear to fly in the face of mechanical efficiency, yet they have overcome the physical obstacles to get the most out of their stuff.
The trade deadline has passed so we can all focus on the field again.
The Thursday Takeaway
There’s nothing like a replay controversy to stir up a day that needed no further stirring.
Setting the stage: The Marlins were up by one—on a first-inning bomb by Giancarlo Stanton—when the Reds loaded the bases with one away in the top of the eighth. Todd Frazier hit a fly ball to right. Stanton caught it and threw home. He appeared to have the runner, Zack Cozart, dead to rights at the plate for an inning-ending double play.
How much did each move yesterday affect the playoff picture? We let PECOTA and our playoff odds answer that.
We can write about the prospects who can’t locate glove-side, we can write about the fantasy implications of a fourth-outfielder logjam, we can write about the strengths and weaknesses of each player traded and we can give our best assessment of each team’s competitive windows. But what you really want to know is this:
Are the Brewers (or the A’s, or the Orioles, or name a team) any more likely to make the playoffs today than they were before they made the TA-worthy trade? Any by how much?
This year's All-American Classic will draw athletes who are as diverse as the country. It might be a precursor to demographic changes in the majors.
When one thinks of the elite African-American baseball players of the past, present and future, you quickly realize that these are many of the great faces of the game no matter their ethnicity. Jackie Robinson, Andrew McCutchen, Dazmon Cameron, Hank Aaron, Jason Heyward and Jahmai Jones are all front of mind when compiling that list. While you might not be aware of Cameron or Jones, chances are that you will be in the next few years. Both are top prospects as we draw closer to the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft, both are African-American and both are headliners in the 13th edition of the Perfect Game All-American Classic to be played at Petco Park on Sunday, August 10. The annual contest features a collection of elite players beginning their final year of high school. It will be televised on the MLB Network. Cameron and Jones also share the roster with 12 additional African-American players. That number can do nothing but encourage those that have been discouraged by the decreasing population of African-Americans on Major League Baseball rosters. It’s a stat that caught the suddenly optimistic eye of 04’ PG All-American and current Atlanta outfielder Justin Upton.
“I think it’s awesome,” Upton said Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. “The numbers have been down lately and the Perfect Game All American is a big event. To have African-American players playing at an elite level again is awesome. It’s very good to see.”
The boys see a futbol game on a baseball field, and a baseball game on a baseball field, and a baseball game on a futb--no, just the first two.
Return to Yankee Stadium by Jordan Shusterman
This ridiculous week in New York began at Yankee Stadium. It was a Yankees/Blue Jays game in which Shane Greene was the starting pitcher for the Yankees and Dan Johnson was the designated hitter for the Blue Jays. On Wednesday night, we returned to Yankee Stadium to see a non-baseball game in which neither Shane Greene nor Dan Johnson was participating (as far as we know). Two English Premier League powerhouses, Manchester City and Liverpool, played a friendly in front of nearly 50,000 people. After 90 minutes of stomping around Jeter’s hallowed ground, the two footballing squads were in a 2-2 tie, at which point the majority of us were ready to not be there anymore. Soccer friendlies are meant to be just that—friendly! A tie means everybody wins! Everybody can be friends! Apparently, these two teams had no intention of being friendly. Thus, they went straight to penalty kicks. No extra innings or anything. Penalty kicks are amazing because they don’t score every time. The first two attempts from both teams sailed over the goal and into the left field seats, just beyond Brett Gardner’s reach. Liverpool eventually scored enough goals to be declared the winner, although they did not seem to celebrate accordingly. It was eerily reminiscent the celebration after a spring training walk-off hit, where the winning team casually jogs over to the hero and pats him on the back. Meanwhile, the predominantly-Liverpool crowd was going absolutely crazy. It was strange. If there’s one thing I learned from the frantic futbol frenzy at Yankee Stadium, it’s that Derek Jeter was the greatest baseball player who ever lived. #RE2PECT
While all eyes were on the trade deadline madness, Javier Baez and Lucas Giolito put on a show in the minors.
Hitter of the Night: Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 3-5, R, HR, K.
Baez his flaws, as does just about every hitter not named Mike Trout, but he’s officially out of whatever slump was slowing him down in April. We’re going to have to put up with some low OBPs, but we do it for Adam Jones, and no one seems to mind. No one seems too mad at Yoenis Cespedes, either. And neither of them is playing second base, where power is scarce.
Pitcher of the Night: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K.
There’s a reason why we ranked Giolito as the best pitching prospect in baseball despite him being in Low-A. No pitcher in the minors can match his fastball/curveball combination, and as he gains experience, he’s learning how to set hitters up and unleash his weapons properly. His changeup has also made good progress this season.