Tyson Ross baffles the Giants, the benches clear at PNC Park, plus other recaps from the weekend and previews of today's action.
In the past, Tyson Ross has been viewed as a player with the raw talent to be a successful big-league pitcher, but one unable to put his skills toward sustainable success at the big-league level.
However, after an excellent outing on Friday against the Giants, Ross looks like a very good big-league pitcher. He completed eight innings with nine strikeouts, four hits, one walk, and no runs. This comes directly after another strong showing against the Tigers, in which he threw seven innings with seven strikeouts, six hits, one walk, and one run. Obviously, a two-game sample does not define the greatness of a big-league pitcher, but it is certainly a promising start. On the season, he owns a 2.13 ERA, a 2.95 FIP, and 25 strikeouts. Considering that he had a very solid second half of last season as well (2.93 ERA, 85 K in 80 IP), he may be hitting his stride.
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This above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst hit many dingers.
Most hitting changes are subtle and small. Even to the trained eye it can take time to notice a change a hitter may have made months ago. The emergence of Carlos Gomez, All-Star, goes hand-in-hand with a swing change he made at some point between July 6 and 23, 2012.
Before looking at those dates, let’s get familiar with Gomez as a player. He came into the league in 2007 with the Mets before being traded to the Twins in the Johan Santana deal. As a prospect, Gomez was a fascinating case study. I found reports going back to 2006 praising his raw natural power, but it simply never showed up in games. (E.g. “Power is not there now, but potential is there once he adds bulk to his long, lanky frame.”—Kevin Goldstein.) Where his power would take time his speed was immediate and his ticket into a big-league lineup. He never broke double digits in home runs in the minors but he stole over 100 bases combined his first two years on the farm. This was a guy seemingly built to lead off.
The fantasy crew tries to peg the top 15 picks and predict breakouts from later picks.
We know from Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster that since 2004, there is a 36 percent success rate in the ADP projecting the top 15. The most in any one year is seven of 15; the least is four. With that in mind, I challenged the fantasy team to try to guess the top 15. In addition to their stab at the top 15, I had them give their answers on the following:
The Brew Crew might be a flawed club, but it also has plenty of excellent fantasy assets.
There is a lot of fantasy talent on the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers roster. Their tumultuous 2013 season and consensus ranking of “fringe contender” for next season have made the Brewers somewhat anonymous nationally, but that shouldn’t be the case. They have batters who can hit for power and run. They have pitchers who are better than you think. And even their bullpen has a few high-strikeout options of note. It’s a flawed team, to be sure, but one that could produce some fantasy steals this year.
Paul updates his mid-season forecast of the top 15 picks in fantasy drafts next spring, with the two usual suspects at the top.
During the summer I did a two-part series (Part I, Part II) taking my first look at the 2014 first round. It’s time to once again take a look at the top 15 and see where we stand with the regular season in the rearview mirror. We also have a pair of industry mock drafts to look at to see how some of the best fantasy baseballers around are mapping out their top picks.
NO CHANGE AT THE TOP Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout remain the top two pick in some form, though my first iteration, both mock drafts, and now this assessment of the top 15 has it with Cabrera first and Trout second. The gap might be larger if Cabrera hadn’t essentially missed September. He played 21 games and only missed 14 the entire season, but he was clearly playing at something well below 100 percent throughout the month. He has just one homer, seven RBI, eight runs scored, and a .278 batting average. That said, he still took the top spot on ESPN’s Player Rater and remains my top choice.
Carlos Gomez is a prolific home run thief, but he might not be the only fielder having a special defensive season.
Carlos Gomez hates homers. Allowing them, that is. Gomez took a homer away from Jay Bruce on Sunday, which gave him five home run robberies on the season, according to Baseball Info Solutions. That's the most they've recorded for any fielder in a single season in the 10 years that they've been keeping track. I've collected all five here:
Two epic plate appearances with a dramatic disparity in styles.
Normally this series is on the blog side of the site, but since this is an extra-long edition, I’ve made it an article. If you’re new to “Longest Plate Appearance of the Week” because you don’t read the blog section regularly, A) read the blog section regularly! and B) catch up on the first edition here and the second edition here. I’ve added a few new elements this week: the length of the plate appearance, the number of mound visits involved, and a GIF of an exhausted player who’s wishing the plate appearance would end.
Bonus long plate appearance trivia: I don’t know why I didn’t think to look it up before, but if we’re going to talk about long plate appearances every week, we should know what the gold standard in long plate appearances is. The pitch-by-pitch data in our database goes back to 1988, and in that time, the longest plate appearance was a 20-pitch battle between Bartolo Colon and Ricky Gutierrez on June 26, 1998. Gutierrez struck out swinging. So, 20 pitches: that’s the goal. The average plate appearance in 1998 was 0.15 pitches shorter than today’s, so we have a head start.
Ten players who took the long route from top prospect to major-league contributor this year.
With over a month remaining in the regular season, Mike Trout’s campaign already looks like it might be remembered as the best ever recorded by a rookie. But Trout’s 2012 may have another lasting legacy: spoiling future rookie seasons for the rest of us. While watching Trout run roughshod over opposing AL pitchers, it’s easy to forget how rare it is for first-year players to be stars, let alone leading MVP candidates. However, it takes time for most young players (including Trout himself last season) to find their footing: only one other rookie, 26-year-old Yoenis Cespedes, has amassed even a third of the value of the Angels’ outfielder this year.
Even highly rated rookies usually struggle in their initial exposure to big-league pitching, and those who find success at first often suffer in their second trips around the league or in their sophomore seasons, as opponents start to exploit their weaknesses. Some of them recover quickly from these setbacks. Others take years to adjust, and many never put together the production that was expected of them.