Is swinging on 3-0 counts a stathead philosophy or an old-school staple?
On Sunday, in the first inning, Derek Norris homered on a 3-0 pitch from Gio Gonzalez. Then in the second inning, the same guy did the same thing on the same count against the same guy. “They've given me the green light a few times this year,” Norris said afterward, which is interesting. The A’s haven’t generally given their hitters many green lights on 3-0. Assistant GM David Forst once said that “we typically don’t allow guys to swing 3-0. When one of our guys does it, it’s a big deal. It happens only three or four times a year.”
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Reviewing the most egregious starts of the last decade and a half, with an assist from Old Hoss Radbourn.
On Tuesday, 23-year-old Zack Wheeler threw a career-high 118 pitches. That’s not all that many pitches, except that they were crowded into just 4 ⅓ innings; all but 33 of those 118 pitches were thrown with men on base, and all of the innings were extended:
Headfirst slides are under fire (perhaps for good reason), but they aren't without their virtues.
Someday, when you’re telling your grandkids about baseball in your day, you might have to explain what headfirst sliding was. Whether a player will continue to slide head-first now qualifies as a low-grade controversy (at least if the player is good enough). The Astros reportedly outlawed it for their minor leaguers for a time, pulling players from the game if they led with their fingers instead of their toes. The Braves teach their prospects not to slide headfirst, and the Indians lecture theirs. “I don't like headfirst slides,” said Houston manager Bo Porter last week, perhaps unintentionally putting a spotlight on headfirsting prospect George Springer. “I really don’t like headfirst slides.”
The gods had condemned Collettius to ceaselessly having his most famous trade reanalyzed on the internet, whence the analysis would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless reanalysis.
Good days at the plate are pretty easy to identify. If you’re looking for the best game any hitter had in April, you can look at total bases (as in Ryan Braun’s three-homer game) or at hits (as in Charlie Blackmon’s 6-for-6 game) or at win probability added (as when Kyle Seager hit two homers, including a walk-off, for a one-game .906 WPA); or, simply RE24, which would lead you back to Blackmon, who produced more than five runs all by himself. Similarly, for pitchers, pretty easy: Andrew Cashner’s 9/1/0/0/2/11 was the month’s best game score, though you might opt for Jose Fernandez’s 8/3/0/0/0/14 for dominance or Julio Teheran’s 1-0 shutout for value.
Gary Cohen: The Mets have a group of pitchers now who can help themselves (at the plate) a little bit more.
Ron Darling: I always say, on every ballclub there’s different fraternities—the everyday players, the bullpen guys, and the starting pitchers. If you have a close-knit bunch of starting pitchers that are talented as far as their pitching is concerned, they start to get uber competitive with the hitting, too, and you have a lot of fun with it. Who gets the most bunts down? Who’s got the most RBIs? Those are the things that make it the most fun.
Has the Rangers starter uncovered the secret of erasing his mistakes?
Back in the 2013 Annual, we wrote that Martin Perez’s “strikeout rate dropped off significantly last season, along with his ceiling. Once thought to be a potential front-end rotation arm, he’s now considered more of a third starter.” But he heads into his start tomorrow with the best ERA in the American League, while his strikeout rate hovers around the 15th percentile. There’s a contradiction there—those two statements aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but they are certainly opposed to each other. Perez has the career-low BABIP of an early-season fluke, and he has the pristine HR/FB rate of an early-season fluke. But what about the most magical part of his game thus far? Is it possible that Perez’s exceptional ability to induce double plays is a skill that he can carry forward?
To appreciate just how significant the 6-4-3 has been to Perez’s 1.42 ERA this year, consider: 31 times so far he has had a runner on first base (at least) and fewer than two outs. Those 31 at-bats have produced 12 double plays and three fielder’s choices, along with three caught stealings, six strikeouts, and just three singles. In those 31 chances he has turned about nine more double plays than an average pitcher should have, according to our NetDP stat, putting him more than four net double plays ahead of the next-best doubleplayer. A double play with a runner on first and nobody out is worth about three-quarters of a run, according to our 2014 run-expectancy matrix. In Perez’s 31 matchups with a runner on first (at least) and fewer than two outs, he has around 13 runs off his expected runs allowed. He has allowed six runs all year. The double plays alone have been roughly as valuable as Mike Trout's sixth-in-the-AL home run total.
In 2013, Mike Carp was limited to a strict platoon—88 percent of his plate appearances came against right-handers, up from 77 percent the year before—and, just months after Boston acquired him from offense-starved Seattle for mere cash considerations, he produced a better OPS than Adrian Beltre. I’m going to assume this happens to everybody who moves into a strict platoon. They just immediately become way better than we ever thought they would. Way, way better. Every single player.
Sam checks in on his predictions about which players you'd fall for this year.
Just after the World Series last year, I told you who your five favorite players were going to be this season, now that Koji Uehara’s on a major label . A prediction that isn’t revisited is just an opinion, so in the interest of accountability it’s important that we periodically make sure that one of these players has become your favorite player. So, nearly two weeks into the season, is one of these players your favorite player? Yes! One of them is. Here are your New Favorite Player power rankings: