Jose Quintana's excellent Cubs debut, Jackie Bradley Jr.'s robbery of Aaron Judge, and a marathon game at Fenway Park.
The Weekend Takeaway
After the 12th frame or so of extra-inning baseball games, a fascinating shift occurs in the mindset of those watching. Many beat writers, missing their dinner reservations and bitterly thinking about the recap they’ll have to write before the game is over (deadlines can be a nightmare), often grow cranky and start the newest "extra-inning rules" debate on Twitter. Fans at the game either pack it in and head home because of work the next morning, or get ready for the long haul and the story to tell afterwards. Some fans at home, like me, begin watching the game completely differently from the first 11 innings, going from pulling for their favorite team to rooting for team chaos—it’s that weird little twinge of disappointment you get when your team walks it off in the 14th inning, because you really wanted to see that utility player get a chance to pitch the 15th.
Richard Urena, Thomas Hatch, Cal Quantrill and more.
Richard Urena, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
As I watched the Eastern League All-Star game, I couldn’t help but think that Urena has more talent than most of the players actually selected for the event. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at the game due to his inconsistent performance in the field (nine errors) and at the plate (slashing .246/.291/.372 through 370 plate appearances). He has been of the more frustrating players to evaluate this year. Three Eyewitness Reports have been published on him since July 22, 2016, and the hit tool grades range from 45 to 60. The reason for this high variance is likely his overly aggressive approach. He rarely walks and is prone to chasing bad pitches, which leads to excessive weak contact. Nonetheless, he will have stretches like the first two games of this past Portland series (5-10 combined) when he consistently drives the ball and looks like a plus hitter. The 21-year-old switch-hitter does have a loose, contact-oriented swing and above-average bat speed. He is capable of squaring up any pitch and uses the whole field. All things considered, I feel most comfortable giving his hit tool a 50. His power grades as below-average although it’s better from the left side and he should continue to bulk up. In addition, he is a good athlete and possesses the arm strength and range to develop into an above-average shortstop. The errors typically result from a lack of focus. These mistakes will hopefully dissipate as he continues to mature. Troy Tulowitzki is not getting any younger, so Urena should eventually have an opportunity to become the Jays’ starting shortstop. But he has a long way to go. —Erich Rothmann
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One of the concerns about contemporary baseball is that it’s becoming boring. The Three True Outcomes—walks, strikeouts, and home runs—have accounted for more than a third of all plate appearances so far this season, an all-time high.
That means less action on the field. We’re not just talking about, for example, fewer hit-and-runs; we’re talking less running altogether. Byron Buxton sprinting first-to-third, Jarrod Dyson chasing down a liner to the gap, Yasiel Puig throwing out a runner—that’s exciting. Players walking to and from the dugout, trotting around the bases, or taking first base on a walk—not so much. On a related note, 42 percent of runs so far this year have scored on homers, the highest percentage ever.
Since the start of June, Chacin has been a valuable commodity—but will it continue
Jhoulys Chacin did not have the best start to the 2017 season. In his first start of the year, he gave up nine earned runs against the Dodgers. Chacin gave up another seven runs four starts later at the hands of the Diamondbacks. By the time the baseball season reached the end of April, Chacin was 3-3 with a 5.82 ERA. The threat of him imploding on any given night made him a player to avoid for fantasy purposes.
The two best teams in baseball, plus a lot of uncertainty.
This is Part 2 of the series that began Wednesday, setting up the second half by talking about all 30 teams—but using just one word per game played for each. You can read Part 1 for a more extensive introduction to the concept. Let's jump right in.
Notes on Ronald Acuna, Chris Flexen, Touki Toussaint, Wander Javier, Ryan Mountcastle, and more.
Hitter of the Day:
Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): 3-5, BB, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, K
Fresh off the bus from Mississippi, 19-year-old Acuna went oppo tank in his first Triple-A at-bat en route to reaching base four times in his Triple-A debut. Numbers are in no ways all, of course, but Acuna, who by the way is 19, has now posted a composite .317/.366/.516 line across three levels this year. Incredibly, he is just 19 years old.
In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.
I was chatting with my colleague Meg Rowley recently when Harry Frankfurt’s essay “On Bullshit” came up. This was not actually about our midseason list making process, but it could have been. Frankfurt separates “bullshit” from “lying” by virtue of the speaker’s knowledge of the truth. You lie knowingly. You bullshit merely to convince. No one can claim objective, absolute truth of ordinal rankings or prospect outcomes. Some of us sure act like it of course. But especially within a midseason list I find myself on slipperier footing. The tiers get mushier. “I don’t know” feels like an appropriate answer more often than it should in this line of work. Here are five prospects we ranked last week. I really don’t knowing the numbers are right, but I must still venture to convince.