Instead of limping into the 500-homer club, Albert Pujols went in leading the league.
Not long ago, it looked like Albert Pujols’ 500th home run, whenever it came, would at best be an opportunity for us to revisit the better days behind him. And that wouldn’t have been the worst thing, since Pujols’ past—thanks to his four-season streak of declines and his injury-shortened 2013—has already become chronically underappreciated.
Compare Pujols and the consensus top right-handed hitter du jour, Miguel Cabrera. The two were similarly productive at the plate in their best offensive seasons: Pujols posted a .373 True Average over 700 plate appearances in 2009, while Cabrera achieved a .372 mark in 652 PA last season. Scan the single-season TAv leaderboard, though, and you pass five more Pujols seasons before you get to Cabrera’s second strongest. Add in Pujols’ superior defense and better baserunning, and the gap between them grows: Pujols has had eight seasons that WARP says were worth more than Cabrera’s best.*
Milwaukee is the surprise of the spring. A look at what has made them interesting.
Among the surprise teams in the early going, the Brewers have a case for most shocking. Milwaukee entered the season pegged for fourth place in the division by the Baseball Prospectus staff, but has raced to a major-league best 15-5 start. Of course it is early and any team can look brilliant over a 20-game sample—even last season's Astros managed a 12-8 run in late May and early June—yet the Brewers deserve some attention for their hot start, which gave them higher playoff odds through Tuesday than all but five teams in the majors. Rather than harp about their inability to play this well all summer long, let's focus on some of the intriguing developments surrounding the team.
In part one in a three-part series on negotiation, Jeff advises getting a headstart on discussions with your league-mates.
What follows below is the first of a three part series about negotiation. Like my previous strategy and decision making pieces, this series will not provide a panacea and it will not have broad, sweeping answers. The purpose of these articles is to get us to understand how we (humans) negotiate and, thus, allow us to improve our ability to negotiate.
Why am I qualified to give advice on the topic of negotiation? I am not quite sure. After being on the wrong end of several trades in a league consisting of lawyers and owners experienced at negotiating with those lawyers, I realized that I could know everything there is to know about baseball and still be unable to optimally improve my team through trade if I did not get better at negotiation. After learning the hard way and taking a couple negotiation classes, I have gotten a little bit better and have learned a lot. The hope is that these lessons can help you in your future negotiations.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco and Reds righty Ben Lively.
Hitter of the Night: Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2 K.
Polanco is perhaps the best candidate currently in the minors for a contract extension without ever having played a major-league game, due to his talent level but also his proximity to the majors and the Pirates’ blatant need for him right now. Instead, we’ll just have to sit through Travis Snider and Jose Tabata while the Pirates second-best outfielder (yes, he may already be better than Starling Marte) tears up Triple-A.
Pitcher of the Night: Ben Lively, RHP, Reds (Bakersfield, A+): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K.
Lively has done nothing but miss bats since being selected in the fourth round last season, and Tuesday night’s outing was his second straight 10-strikeout performance. His delivery has some effort to it, but if he can maintain that throughout his outings, he’ll be able to remain a starter.
Albert Pujols hits a big homer, Jose Fernandez and Alex Wood duel, plus more Tuesday action and Wednesday's What to Watch.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Of the 25 players in the 500-home-run club entering play on Tuesday, none had joined by hitting nos. 499 and 500 on the same night. Albert Pujols, who became its 26th member in the Angels’ 7-2 victory, is the first to do it in two-tater fashion.
Javier Baez retains the top spot, but there's a new hot prospect ranked second.
Yes, there was no Stash List for the past two weeks, but that was all part of the plan. Any changes would be extremely minimal, as no one wants more overreaction to small sample sizes and there was never going to be much roster movement. Of course, then the Astros go and call up George Springer, and now everyone is eyeing the prospects on their benches and asking “why not me?”
Well, realistically, not for a while. The most impactful area of this column for the first two months of the season deals with prospects, and if you haven’t read Zachary Levine’s analysis on service time, it’s extremely important for stashers like you and me. We all know about Super Two, approximately when the deadline is and why teams do it. But it’s often forgotten that there are some big prospects who come up in the second half of April, once their teams have ensured that they don’t lose a full year of control.
If a reliever gets out of a big jam, is it safe to bring him back out?
Rainbow sprinkles alert: Ben Lindbergh saw this one on Twitter, from currently shelved reliever Peter Moylan, who was traded to the Dodgers in the middle of last year after spending several years with the Braves. Mr. Moylan is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, like everyone else in baseball.