Sometimes, a hitter adjusts so quickly that it’s hard to tell exactly what he’s doing, as he’s doing it. Perhaps it’s a new front-foot tap that’s helped him get his timing down on that tough fastball, and he debuts it on a Sunday and sees success with it right away. Perhaps it’s a sudden recognition of a particular pitch, out of a particular arm slot, that allows him to start crushing before anybody really notices how it’s happening. Perhaps. It doesn’t often happen that fast.
Within Mookie Betts' otherworldliness, baseball happened.
An improbable event is amazing not because it happened but because of all the times before when it didn’t. When a penny falls from your wallet and lands in such a way that it’s balanced precisely on its rim, you’re amazed not only at the fact that you had a penny in your wallet in the first place (which is a pretty rare thing, these days) but also because your brain has been jarred from its stupor: Every other time you dropped a penny, from an infinite past eternity on forward to that auspicious present, it fell flat onto one of its sides or another, or, more drearily, bounced away into some grimy crack or crevasse. In any event, it falling onto its rim was entirely unexpected.
Bethancourt livens up a lousy day, the Cubs lose behind Arrieta, and Mookie gets... three homers.
The Tuesday Takeaway James Shields added another chapter to a sadly long story of soul-crushing outings Tuesday—his fifth career game with 10 or more runs allowed, tying him for the most of any pitcher since 1940, as BP author Aaron Gleeman pointed out on Twitter. The first and second innings began by following the same pattern, with Shields getting two quick outs to start each one before falling apart as he let walks and singles pile up. At the end of the second, though, the pattern broke, as Kyle Seager introduced the first piece of power to the game with a three-run homer, and things only went downhill from there.
The Astros strike out a slew to set one record, Fernandez whiffs a bunch to tie a franchise mark, and Jackie Bradley is back to being a regular guy.
The Thursday Takeaway
With the power-packed but whiff-happy Astros and Orioles squaring off this week, strikeouts were sure to be a-plenty at Minute Maid. Suffice it to say that the Astros’ arms held up their end of the bargain.
After Houston struck out 19 Baltimore batters in the opener and 18 more in the middle match, Lance McCullers took it upon himself to bring his team into record territory. The right-hander was effectively wild Thursday,
Within an unusual and thought-provoking trend, there is an extremely unusual and extremely thought-provoking subtrend.
We, as an internet, have thoroughly discussed the player opt-out, but oversaturation and (a lack of) timeliness have never stopped us before here at Tools of Ignorance and they will not stop us now. In December, at the beginning of the height of player opt-out-mania, I wrote about why this contract structure might have increased in popularity. I hypothesized, among other things, that players might be valuing the opt-out and flexibility it brings more than teams valued it, or that players were just flat out overvaluing the opt-out, or both. It felt right; it felt like it made sense.
Then word came out that David Price did not want a player option, but rather that Dave Dombrowski insisted on including one. The future, it turns out, can be a real know-it-all.
Somewhere, a recreational Sunday softball league is about to get really, really good.
Seemingly every year or two for the past decade when David Ortiz has gone through a rough stretch—a bad April, a slow start coming back from the disabled list, or even just a hitless key series—it has become a story in Boston, with attention-grabbing headlines asking if he’s washed up. The answer has always been a resounding no. In fact, few players in baseball history have as thoroughly and convincingly avoided being washed up for as long as Ortiz.
At age 26 he was released by the Twins—as a Minnesotan, the state ban prevents me from discussing this matter any further—and from the moment Ortiz started putting up big numbers in Boston many people have been waiting for him to come crashing back down to earth. He never has, topping an .850 OPS in 13 of the past 14 seasons, with a low-water mark of .794 in 2009 that really pressed the “he’s washed up!” alarm.
Just last season Ortiz was hitting .219 in early June when a local television reporter asked him about being washed up, which led to this memorable rant a few days later:
On the most interesting success story in baseball.
Rich Hill's latest major-league opportunity relied upon a batting practice flyball striking Steven Wright in the head along the warning track at Marlins Park last August. Two days later, the Red Sox signed Hill off the roster of the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks, and a day after that, he made his first (non-rehab) start in affiliated ball in six years.