A few weeks ago I was in Miami, and then Atlanta, following the Brewers so I could watch Jeremy Jeffress throw. Miami was uneventful—he did not throw in the entire series—but Atlanta was a fun trip. JJ hit 98 once, had a couplegood outings and I was glad to have spent time with him. This has been such a rewarding season, and I still think the best is yet to come for JJ.
Manny Sanguillen had more intentional than unintentional walks in 1970, 1971 and 1972. In '71, he drew 13 IBBs against just six UIBBs. If I could retain all of the technological advantages of 2016, I would dearly like to experience one entire season of baseball from the mid-1970s. It was almost an entirely different game.
--Joe Sheehan Newsletter, June 15, 2016
If baseball were different, how different would it be? Would it be slightly different or very different?
The last New York Yankee to wear number 99 was outfielder Charlie Keller in 1952. Only 14 major leaguers—some more notable than others—have ever worn it. Yet, in a sport where numbers carry more historical significance than any other and player personnel decisions are made by Ivy League educated GM’s using statistical analysis in tandem with traditional scouting, it’s clear that Aaron Judge doesn’t pay much attention to numbers, especially when it comes to the one on the back of his jersey.
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The Rangers haven't been the team their record suggests. Here's why that's OK.
The Texas Rangers are currently sitting pretty atop the MLB standings, and through games played on Monday stood one win ahead of the ever-popular, ever-publicized Chicago Cubs. Both teams currently lead not just their divisions, but their leagues, and by wide margins at that.
But things aren’t all rosy in Arlington. The Rangers are currently running out an ailing rotation that can’t seem to catch a break, the numbers suggest that that they have one of the worst bullpens in baseball, and they’re middle-of-the-pack offensively.
Taken in isolation, that combination of facts leaves you scratching your head, wondering how the Rangers have gotten to this point and how they’ll manage to make it any further.
Has all the Dodgers spending and talk about solving the injury riddle led to any real progress?
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a $250 million payroll, at least six former or current general managers stashed away in their front office, and one of the deepest staffs of numbers crunchers in the game. When they decided to tackle one of baseball’s most perplexing mysteries—The Injury—under Andrew Friedman’s watch, it wasn’t particularly surprising. In fact, the Dodgers might possess the perfect combination of dollars and smarts to best pursue an injury elixir; their front office depth chart includes a whopping 12 different baseball operations analysts—behind only Friedman’s old team in Tampa Bay—and a 12-person medical staff. The A’s, by comparison, have just a handful of full-time analysts on staff, and when prodded about the injury issue—in a seven-year-old New York Times article, coincidentally about Stan Conte and the Dodgers—Billy Beane responded, “I just don’t have the money to let someone spend all year looking into this.”
Teams only have so many resources to devote to analytics, and every minute spent on injury research is one that could be spent on the draft or on aging curves or on figuring out what to do with terabytes of Statcast data. While some teams—like the A’s, perhaps—have struggled divvying up limited resources, the Dodgers have enough money to hire multiple people to study injuries while hiring more people to study the people studying injuries. That’s what they’ve done, apparently, beefing up their front office with the partial goal of getting a better handle on player health. The resulting strategy has featured the Dodgers acquiring extreme injury risks, guys like Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson, stacking bargain-bin depth pieces next to established stars like Clayton Kershaw and Adrian Gonzalez.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Triston McKenzie, Jose Berrios, Charlie Tilson, and Wilmer Difo.
Prospect of the Day:
Triston McKenzie, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Short-Season Mahoning Valley): 6 IP, ER, 2 H, 8 K, HRA.
Well, McKenzie finally gave up his first professional run, but as of this writing it’s the only one he’s given up in his first three starts and 16 2/3 innings. It’s going to take forever and a day for Cleveland to really get a bead on just what they’ve got with McKenzie, who won’t turn 19 until August and still boasts a frame that would make Ric Ocasek blush. As career origin stories go, however, his first couple pages have featured quality prose.
Meet the propsects who'll represent the United States in the contest at Petco Park next month.
The minors may be down, but they’re not empty. There are 11 days left until the biggest single prospect stage of the season and here’s a look at the roster the USA will trot out there in San Diego on All Star Futures Game Sunday.
Willy Adames, Eloy Jimenez, and Jorge Mateo are among the headliners on the international squad this year.
The minors may be down, but they’re not empty. There are 11 days left until the biggest single prospect stage of the season and here’s a look at the roster the World will trot out there in San Diego on All Star Futures Game Sunday.
Can and should the Diamondbacks push forward with their three-year plan, or look to blow it up early?
The Diamondbacks lost 8-0 on Monday night. The game was in Arizona. The opponents were the lowly Phillies. From the ninth spot in their batting order, Philadelphia got two extra-base hits (doubles by pitcher Vince Velasquez and substitute left fielder Cody Asche). The Diamondbacks didn’t manage any extra-base hits, from any place in the batting order. With the loss, they fell to 36-43. They’re 13.5 games back of the Giants, and after hard-fought wins over good teams for both the Dodgers and Rockies, Arizona trails those teams by 6.5 and 2.5 games, respectively. The Dodgers, seven losses clear of the Diamondbacks, hold the second Wild Card spot in the NL, and four teams (including three who are demonstrably better than Arizona, in St. Louis, New York, and Pittsburgh) stand between the two clubs. We credit Arizona with Playoff Odds of roughly 2.5 percent. Things are bleak, for a team that had high hopes (however unfounded those hopes might have been).
Lately, it seems like we talk an awful lot about the dangers of getting caught in between. We want to see teams follow the Cardinals’ model of excruciatingly patient investment in long-term success. We want to see teams follow the Rangers’ model, blending a strong preference for high ceilings in amateur talent acquisition with an open checkbook and a taste for mammal blood. We want them to follow the Cubs’ model, maybe most of all, forsaking slow slogs through seasons of 75 and 76 and 79 wins for ones much more miserable, with the end goal of building a truly special something, instead of just trying to get back into the mix.