Go out on your collective shield or give a boost to the inevitable rebuilding process?
Kansas City is 47-47 and within two games of both first place in the AL Central and a Wild Card spot. But with BP pegging their playoff odds around 17 percent and much of their championship core set to become free agents after the season, the Royals have a tough decision to make before the trade deadline. Our roundtable debates the pros and cons of each side.
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.
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The All-Star break gives us a few days off from the daily drumbeat of baseball, an opportunity to take stock of what’s happened so far and assess how the rest of the season is likely to play out. Can the surprising Brewers continue their improbable run, or will the disappointing Cubs finally come to life? Will the Astros and Dodgers give us the first pair of 100-win teams since 2004, and can they play deep into October? Will Mike Trout resume his MVP trajectory? Will Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger lead their leagues in home runs as rookies? Will MLB come clean about the ball being juiced?
Does using a reliever in high-leverage innings one year affect performance the next?
Last week, I introduced—OK, made up—the LIP Index as a way to measure wear and tear on relief pitchers. The LIP Index is simply the product of innings pitched and the average Leverage Index during a reliever’s appearances. It measures both the volume of a reliever’s work (innings) and the pressure he faces during his games (leverage). The LIP Index leaders last year were Sam Dyson, David Robertson, Steve Cishek, and Dellin Betances.
Every streak has an exception, and we've got the weird teams to prove it.
Saturday, in an 8-3 victory over the Rays, three Orioles pitchers (Dylan Bundy, Donnie Hart, and Mychal Givens) ended Baltimore’s streak of 20 straight games with five or more runs allowed.
I’d become aware of the streak a week earlier, at the BP Ballpark Event in Baltimore. (If you haven’t been to these before, they’re really fun, and you can still get tickets for the events in Pittsburgh and Minnesota.) Sitting in the stands, watching the Orioles beat the Cardinals 15-7, a couple of the knowledgeable fans who were with us pointed out that the O’s had given up five or more runs in what was then a near-record 13 consecutive games.
On June 13, Andrew Miller relieved Trevor Bauer with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning of the Indians' game against the Dodgers, tied at 2-2. He struck out Yasiel Puig to end the inning and retired all three batters he faced in the seventh. In the top of the eighth, though, he allowed a home run to Cody Bellinger and a single to Yasmani Grandal. He was pulled in favor of Bryan Shaw. Miller took the loss.
Teams are becoming less and less dependent on singles to generate runs.
Last year, I wrote about how singles have been in a steady decline, setting an all-time low (as a percentage of plate appearances) in 2016. Today, I’m going to look at singles and something to which singles are related: Runs. Runs aren’t headed in the same direction as singles, as this chart encompassing the 30-team era shows.
Does losing in the majors and winning in the minors eventually lead to long-term success?
I was going to show you two lists of major-league teams, ranked highest to lowest. There are 30 teams, so that kind of list can run pretty long. Maybe you don’t like reading tables with 30 lines. So I’ll do you a favor. I’ll shorten the first list for you. It’ll still make my point, but you won’t have to plow through as many rows.