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Matthew Trueblood 

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09-19

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1

Rubbing Mud: The Sinker Doesn't Play Well With Others
by
Matthew Trueblood

09-15

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1

Rubbing Mud: The Arrival of Kyle Gibson
by
Matthew Trueblood

09-12

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1

Rubbing Mud: Carl Edwards Jr.'s Filthy Fast Thing
by
Matthew Trueblood

09-08

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BP En Espanol: Tercera base y la gente que juega ahi (Parte 2)
by
Matthew Trueblood

09-08

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4

Rubbing Mud: Third Base and The People Who Play There (Part 2)
by
Matthew Trueblood

09-07

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4

Rubbing Mud: Third Base and The People Who Play There (Part 1)
by
Matthew Trueblood

09-06

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Rubbing Mud: Kris Bryant's Funhouse Mirror Encore
by
Matthew Trueblood

08-31

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Rubbing Mud: Drew Pomeranz In Three Phases
by
Matthew Trueblood

08-30

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Rubbing Mud: Which Stripes Do You Switch?
by
Matthew Trueblood

08-25

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Rubbing Mud: Are You Ready for the Fallout?
by
Matthew Trueblood

08-23

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Rubbing Mud: The Mental Side of Shifting
by
Matthew Trueblood

08-22

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2

Rubbing Mud: They Might Be Rebuilding
by
Matthew Trueblood

08-21

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3

Transaction Analysis: Grand Exit
by
Matthew Trueblood, Bryan Grosnick and Scott Orgera

08-17

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4

Rubbing Mud: Lineups Are Just a Social Construct
by
Matthew Trueblood

08-16

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Rubbing Mud: How the Pendulum Swings
by
Matthew Trueblood

08-02

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Transaction Analysis: Liriano Learning on the Fly
by
Matthew Trueblood, Wilson Karaman and Gideon Turk

07-31

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Transaction Analysis: More Melk, Please
by
Matthew Trueblood and Victor Filoromo

07-28

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4

Prospectus Roundtable: Tampa Bay Rays: Cheap Thrills?
by
Rob Mains, Meg Rowley, Matthew Trueblood, Bryan Grosnick and Craig Goldstein

07-21

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10

Prospectus Roundtable: Should the Royals Buy or Sell?
by
Rob Mains, Ben Diamond, Craig Goldstein, Wilson Karaman, Matthew Trueblood and Zach Crizer

07-14

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Rubbing Mud: This is Really All We Know: The Wests
by
Matthew Trueblood

07-13

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Rubbing Mud: This is Really All We Know: The Centrals
by
Matthew Trueblood

07-12

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Rubbing Mud: This is Really All We Know: The Easts
by
Matthew Trueblood

07-07

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6

Rubbing Mud: So You're Dead Set on Fixing the Cubs
by
Matthew Trueblood

07-05

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4

Rubbing Mud: Sprinting Schwarber
by
Matthew Trueblood

07-03

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Rubbing Mud: Tall Tales
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-21

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Rubbing Mud: Lower is Better for Berrios
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-19

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Rubbing Mud: Arbitrage Artists on Each Coast
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-16

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Rubbing Mud: Paxton's Patterns
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-14

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Rubbing Mud: No Free Strikes
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-13

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2

Rubbing Mud: Brad Peacock Spreads His Feathers
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-09

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Rubbing Mud: What We Talk About When We Talk About Launch Angle
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-06

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3

What You Need to Know: The Formula
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-05

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4

Rubbing Mud: The Rise of the Rover and the Fall of Dozier
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-02

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Rubbing Mud: One At-Bat, Turned Inside Out
by
Matthew Trueblood

06-01

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Rubbing Mud: The Year of the Long Single
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-30

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7

Rubbing Mud: Clayton Kershaw, and Greatness vs. Greatest
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-24

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Rubbing Mud: Jake Arrieta's Broken Breaking Balls
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-22

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Rubbing Mud: The Muscle Memory of Bunting
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-19

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Rubbing Mud: The Rockies' Many Starters, and What to Do With Them
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-17

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Rubbing Mud: Marcell Ozuna is Obliterating the Baseball
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-15

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Rubbing Mud: Further Frontiers: Size Matters
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-12

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Rubbing Mud: Can Amir Garrett Make This Work?
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-08

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4

Rubbing Mud: Ryan Schimpf and Ernesto Frieri Walk Into a Coal Mine
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-03

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4

Rubbing Mud: Catching Up
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-01

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Rubbing Mud: New-Stats Rookie Antonio Senzatela
by
Matthew Trueblood

04-28

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6

Rubbing Mud: Common Sense Beanball Control
by
Matthew Trueblood

04-19

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Rubbing Mud: What Ozzie Smith Thinks Can (and Can't) Make Baseball Better
by
Matthew Trueblood

04-11

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Rubbing Mud: Adam Wainwright Moving Side to Side
by
Matthew Trueblood

04-07

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Rubbing Mud: Walking Cain
by
Matthew Trueblood

04-04

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Rubbing Mud: The Cubs' Pitching and Its Skeptics
by
Matthew Trueblood

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Alternative ideas about the disappearance of the sinker.

Earlier this month, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs wrote about a global trend in pitching throughout MLB. Pitchers are throwing fewer fastballs (as a percentage of total pitches) than ever before, at least for the decade during which we have reliable data. What Sullivan found is that, while it’s true when considering fastballs as an undifferentiated set, it really doesn’t capture the whole truth. He looked at Pitch Info, which (correctly) tags four-seam and two-seam fastballs (the latter often being called, and being called from here onward in this piece, sinkers) as separate pitches, and found that the loss of fastballs is almost all sinkers.

The league is increasingly selecting for pitchers who use four-seam heat to work up in the zone, frustrating batters’ efforts to attack the ball on an uphill plane and get it in the air—or at least, that’s the theory Sullivan puts forward for the shift. I mostly agree. There’s no doubt in my mind that the move toward four-seamers and away from sinkers is at least partially in response to batters making changes geared toward handling those sinkers, and punishing them. (Recall that, as recently as 2013-2014, Ray Searage’s Pirates were at the cutting edge of run prevention because they so consistently pounded hitters with sinkers that ran in on their hands or nipped the bottom of the strike zone; there has been ample incentive for batters to adjust in turn.)

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Better late than never, right?

While you weren’t watching, the Twins added a third dangerous arm to their prospective playoff rotation. While you were fawning over adorable, ancient, rotund, polygamous Bartolo Colon and mulling whether the team could cobble together a competent fifth starting slot, Kyle Gibson evolved into the solid, efficient, mid-rotation innings-eater he always ought to have been.

After Tuesday night’s gem (six Bartolo’s plate-level clean innings of shutout ball against the lowly Padres), Gibson owns a 1.38 ERA over his last five starts, with a 26-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 32 2/3 innings. In fact, since being exiled to Triple-A (for the first of two times this season) in early May, Gibson has made 23 starts (20 with the Twins, and three with the Rochester Red Wings), posted a 3.94 ERA, pitched 132 1/3 innings, faced 563 batters, struck out 108, walked 45, and induced ground balls on more than half of all batted balls against him.

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He calls it a fastball, it acts more like a cutter, and very few hitters can do anything with it regardless of the name.

Few pitchers in baseball have a fastball as compelling—or as complicated—as that of Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. For one thing, his four-seam fastball has the highest average spin rate of any in MLB, by a mile.

Average Four-Seam Fastball Spin, 2017 (Min. 500 Thrown)

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Clasificando cada tercera base titular defensivamente, de peor a mejor.

(More information on BP En Espanol.)

Traducido por Carlos Pérez

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Ranking every starting third baseman defensively, from worse to best.

I’ve spent most of this season watching third basemen. I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve just found my eye drawn to the position. When I’m at a game, I watch the way they set up, the way they move before and during their pitcher’s windup, the way they communicate with their fellow infielders, and the way they address batted balls of all kinds that come near them. It’s been an informative experience.

To share it in a way that’s not overwhelmingly wonky, I’m going to distill it into a subjective ranking of all 30 starting third basemen defensively (repeat: only defensively). Please don’t take this as a capitulation to convention; I just want to talk about the vastly variable styles and body types and skill sets that can make up a big-league hot cornerman, without losing us all in 2,000 words of unworthy Angell mimicry. This is a fun, perhaps conversation-starting access point to a subject I think can be really complex and fascinating.

Read the full article...

Ranking every starting third baseman defensively, from worse to best.

I’ve spent most of this season watching third basemen. I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve just found my eye drawn to the position. When I’m at a game, I watch the way they set up, the way they move before and during their pitcher’s windup, the way they communicate with their fellow infielders, and the way they address batted balls of all kinds that come near them. It’s been an informative experience.

To share it in a way that’s not overwhelmingly wonky, I’m going to distill it into a subjective ranking of all 30 starting third basemen defensively (repeat: only defensively). Please don’t take this as a capitulation to convention; I just want to talk about the vastly variable styles and body types and skill sets that can make up a big-league hot cornerman, without losing us all in 2,000 words of unworthy Angell mimicry. This is a fun, perhaps conversation-starting access point to a subject I think can be really complex and fascinating.

Read the full article...

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September 6, 2017 6:00 am

Rubbing Mud: Kris Bryant's Funhouse Mirror Encore

0

Matthew Trueblood

On the surface Kris Bryant's season looks a lot like his MVP-winning 2016, but there are some subtle differences.

Kris Bryant is having a very good season but the superlatives and decorations that piled up at his feet the last two seasons aren't coming. Of late, there's been a minor movement on Twitter to change this (or maybe just to remark on the fickle nature of our attention and affection as sports fans) by drawing comparisons between his 2017 stats (usually the raw, unadjusted offensive numbers) and the ones he put up on the way to the National League MVP award last year.

To this, of course, there's been a bunch of pushback, from people noting the change in the offensive environment over the last two years, as well as some noting lower defensive ratings (depending on the source) for Bryant and the lower place he's taken on Wins Above Replacement Player leaderboards.

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August 31, 2017 10:15 am

Rubbing Mud: Drew Pomeranz In Three Phases

0

Matthew Trueblood

Mechanics, adjustments, and tidy graphs.

Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz has had a three-phase season. He was very bad, then better (but still not good, and certainly not efficient), and for the last two-and-a-half months he’s been very, very good. There are really no mysteries about when the phase changes occurred, so let me start by showing you the raw, results-oriented numbers Pomeranz has put up in each phase.

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Will the Tigers' struggles lead to another regime change? And if so, which type will it be?

It’s a lost season for the Tigers—something they could scarcely afford, but an easy thing to have seen coming, really. When they jettisoned longtime general manager Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers also seem to have thrown out whatever larger sense of direction they might have previously had. The roster Dombrowski left behind was, of course, an expensive, aged, and rigid one, but nothing Al Avila (Dombrowski’s lieutenant-turned-successor) has done over the last two-plus years has amended that, and to whatever extent that roster also held the promise of one or two more honest shots at a postseason berth, Avila has squandered those.

Last offseason, Avila took the half measure of trading Cameron Maybin in order to limit the team’s budgetary strain, but then (perhaps hamstrung by ownership, or perhaps out of a simple inability to find the right deals) went no further down the path of rebuilding. Crucially, he also didn’t load the team up with any significant reinforcements. It was a tough winter of needle-threading, with the health of then-owner Mike Illitch so obviously in decline and the countdown clock on Illitch’s Tigers dynasty dreams ticking down, so perhaps it’s understandable that Avila mostly missed his chances to guide the team out of mediocrity (in either direction), but fail he did.

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August 25, 2017 10:01 am

Rubbing Mud: Are You Ready for the Fallout?

2

Matthew Trueblood

Suspensions are coming and the Yankees may be very short-handed in their playoff push.

Many people can name two songs by the band Fastball. I can name somewhere nearer a dozen. Too slow on the uptake to just start loading up on electronic music downloads in high school, I bought a whole bunch of CDs just to get my hands on a couple of songs. I wanted “The Way,” so I bought Fastball’s whole greatest hits album.

Buried somewhere in there is a song called “Are You Ready for the Fallout?”, which I think ended up on the soundtrack to Varsity Blues. It's not a good song, but at this moment, it could be dancing through the heads of Yankees fans (of some very specific age). It's sung to an unnamed friend whom the singer believes is destroying themselves by going through life with way too much bile on their tongue and too many scrapes on their knuckles.

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August 23, 2017 9:25 am

Rubbing Mud: The Mental Side of Shifting

0

Matthew Trueblood

From Ted Williams and Lou Boudreau to Anthony Rizzo and Brandon Moss, there's more to the shift than meets the eye.

Last week, Anthony Rizzo was the National League Player of the Week, batting .429 and driving in 13 runs. He hit two homers and had a fistful of clutch singles, many of them shot hard through the left side, even as teams persisted—and they will persist a while longer, until Rizzo really proves this is his permanent approach—in shifting or shading him toward the right side on the infield. It’s not why he won, but it’s dazzling to consider that he had that hot streak while handling the defensive responsibility of playing his 10th game at second base.

Obviously, that’s misleading. If you’ve paid much attention to the Cubs this year (or if you did so late last year, or if you just happen to play fantasy baseball), you know that the reason Rizzo has racked up brief appearances at second base is that he and the real second baseman switch spots in certain obvious sacrifice bunt situations. It involves Rizzo trading in his first baseman’s mitt (because the rules require as much), but it’s not a true position change. It’s just a defensive shift, with a little bit of extra pizzazz (or positional anarchy, if you will).

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August 22, 2017 6:00 am

Rubbing Mud: They Might Be Rebuilding

2

Matthew Trueblood

The Statue Got Me High, but Don't Let's Start the Spiraling Shape.

On Thursday afternoon, I hosted a chat on this site, and one of the questions asked was about the immediate future of the Giants. Obviously, this season has been a catastrophe, but they still have a number of guys to whom they’re committed not only financially and emotionally, but on a baseball level. The core of the next good Giants team was supposed to be this core, when the season began, and it’s not clear that the team has significantly altered that general mindset, even as they hurtle toward 100 losses.

When I was asked about them, I found I had relatively little to say. They’re as uninspiring, in that way, as they are bad right now. I mentioned, I think, that it will be very interesting to see if Johnny Cueto can even pitch well enough down the stretch to make what seemed to be an almost automatic opt-out clause in his contract come to fruition. I also said that, if I were to start taking on the task of rebuilding this franchise, I might begin with a front office shakeup. A few days later, I find myself certain that the Giants need to rebuild—urgently, and drastically.

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