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It might not be first time an international player's age was disputed, but that doesn't mean the case of Jairo Beras is typical.

The news broke this morning, and the firestorm didn't take very long to follow. When it was first reported that the Rangers had signed Dominican outfielder Jairo Beras to a $4.5 million contract, the first reaction was confusion; he was generally seen as one of the top prospects, if not the top prospect for the upcoming international signing period that begins on July 2. Teams were not shocked as much as confused about how the deal could be consummated in February.

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May 18, 2010 11:24 am

Changing Speeds: The Bounceback Team

9

Ken Funck

Ty Wigginton and Alex Rios are among many hitters who are far exceeding their 2009 production.

It’s mid-May, and now that the clanging stampede at the starting gate has faded, baseball is starting to settle into its normal, quiet rhythms. Division races are beginning to take some shape. Metrics are starting to develop some sample-size heft. The cream is rising to the top, with names like Ethier, Morneau, Cabrera, Cano, and Pujols holding most of the top spots on the VORP leaderboard. And there, wedged between Ryan Braun and Chase Utley, you’ll find Ty Wigginton and his 20.6 VORP.

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April 10, 2007 12:00 am

Impact Talent in Japan

0

Mike Plugh

A review of who might come to the States as free agents, through the posting system, and names you just want to know.

Why the sudden interest in who's next? It wasn't all that many years ago that people scoffed at the idea of a Japanese player making an impact in the major leagues. There were a lot of reasons given for the lack of interest, but I believe the lack of high-profile Asian athletes on the American sports scene perpetuated some old ideas about the size, strength, and durability of East Asian players. Misconceptions remain until someone gives us a reason to change our minds.

In the year 2000 I was living and working in New York. That was when the name "Ichiro" began to make the rounds, as the Orix Blue Wave was getting ready to send the outfielder to the Mariners. Many people I spoke with at the time rolled their eyes at the move. The big money the M's were spending on a little slap hitter from Japan was widely questioned. I vividly recall my shock at the rationale behind these journalists' opinions. "Japanese players are too small, lack power, and won't stand up to the grueling Major League routine. Major Leaguers are much bigger, stronger, and likely to dominate the average Japanese position player. They don't throw as hard as we do. The parks are smaller. How can we expect to believe in the quality of Japanese baseball when minor league wash outs go over there and succeed?"

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May 27, 2004 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Southpaw Stories, Part I

0

Nate Silver

Two months ago, the Oakland Athletics signed Eric Chavez to a six-year, $66 million contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2010. Despite some head-scratching from the public, there are good reasons behind why Billy Beane campaigned to do for Chavez what he hadn't done for former MVP shortstop Miguel Tejada. Unlike Tejada, Chavez is a player whose skills, like his fine defense and his ever-improving plate discipline, are likely to be undervalued by the market. On top of which, Chavez has continued to demonstrate growth season after season, and PECOTA thinks that he's a very safe bet going forward. It is no secret, however, that Chavez has a tragic flaw: he can't hit left-handed pitching. From 2001-2003, Chavez managed a stellar line of .306/.375/.579 against right-handers, but a Mathenian .229/.278/.395 against southpaws. The A's, recognizing his defensive value and perhaps hoping that repetition would breed improvement, continued to start him anyway, in spite of a rotating array of viable platoon alternatives. This year, indeed, has brought about a turnaround--Chavez is crushing lefties so far on the season (.288/.373/.561), while performing well below his career averages against righties (.214/.358/.398). Whether there's any rationale for the change other than sample size, I'm not certain (I don't get to see the West Coast teams play as often as I'd like to). What is clear, however, is that if such a change becomes permanent--if Chavez learns how to hit left-handed pitching at the age of 26--it would be a relatively unprecedented development. In most cases, a platoon split for a left-handed hitter is something like a finger print or a dental record: it remains a readily identifiable and more or less unchanging part of his profile throughout the different stages of his playing life. A left-handed hitter with a big platoon split early in his career is, in all likelihood, going to have a big platoon split later in his career.

It is no secret, however, that Chavez has a tragic flaw: he can't hit left-handed pitching. From 2001-2003, Chavez managed a stellar line of .306/.375/.579 against right-handers, but a Mathenian .229/.278/.395 against southpaws. The A's, recognizing his defensive value and perhaps hoping that repetition would breed improvement, continued to start him anyway, in spite of a rotating array of viable platoon alternatives.

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