Shining a spotlight on the minor mental mistakes and successes that often go overlooked.
There was an axiom tossed about when I was in college, one that I and my other bench-warming teammates were only too happy to co-opt, which held that the dumber you were, the better you played. In other words, the less intelligent a player was, and the less he had going on in his mind (colloquially, the less "in his own head" he was), the more focused he'd be on playing to the best of his abilities. Some rebutted that we spent too much free time during games coming up with theories about why we weren't playing, but you get the idea.
The big leaguers we see on TV have found a way to circumvent this problem, if it even exists. Nevertheless, there remains a mental aspect of the game that often goes ignored, both by sabermetricians (because it's nearly impossible to measure) and by the players themselves (because these mistakes are usually too small to affect their club's opinion of them). I don't mean visualization or Pedro Cerrano's Jobu doll or Turk Wendell's animal tooth necklace—I'm talking about the nuts-and-bolts logic of baseball that, when ignored, costs teams outs and runs, which eventually cost them games.
Not all glovemen are destined to stay hopelessly inept at the plate. Ben looks at defensive stars who have added offense to their games this year.
Plenty of weak-hitting players from baseball’s past and present have gotten by on good gloves alone. Most big-league benches boast a part-timer whose sole strength is an ability to play capable defense at premium positions. But despite Brendan Ryan’s best efforts, relatively few players become stars unless they can combine good gloves with big bats.
Fortunately, not every good-field, no-hit player is destined to stay that way. Legendary glove man Ozzie Smith was a good player who turned into a great one when he learned how to hit in his late 20s. Defensive players of Smith’s caliber are few and far between, but some of today’s finest fielders could follow a similar trajectory. This season, the following five defense-first players who entered 2012 with reputations as easy outs have become much tougher to retire, transforming themselves (at least temporarily) into all-around threats instead of one-dimensional talents.
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Speedsters are the theme of this week's outfield VP with Revere and Brantley joining the crew.
Despite booting Dayan Viciedo and his .381 week with two home runs, the Value Picks outfielders hit a composite .295/.390/.477 this past week with five home runs and five stolen bases. With the three leadoff hitters combining for two runs batted in (neither Jarrod Dyson nor Denard Span had any), the group still managed 18 RBI while scoring 28 runs. Obviously, results may vary from week to week, but this is the sort of “found money” that can be realized when Value Picks work out.
He's no Josh Hamilton, but Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry might be better than you think he is.
“I’ve got a chance to be a solid everyday player. In years past, I’ve had to scratch and fight just to try and make the team.”—Craig Gentry, February 14, 2012
“That’s what Gentry’s job is, to be a defensive replacement and to play against left-handers. I want to allow him to do his job. … I want him to know what his role is and when that situation [presents] itself, he’s ready to do that.”—Ron Washington, April 29, 2012
Sprains, soreness, and surgeries abound in the latest spring action.
Taylor Teagarden, Baltimore Orioles (Low Back Soreness)
A recent MRI of Teagarden’s sore lower back raised concerns, so he visited a specialist for another opinion. A CT scan was ordered to better assess the area, but the O’s haven’t released an official diagnosis yet. MRIs can give us good information, but they don’t always give us everything we need. The CT can give a much clearer picture of the bone structure, which leads one to believe his injury may be related to the vertebra.
The good news is that there has been no talk of surgery yet. The bad news is that there is still no definitive timeline for his recovery. Some are speculating he will be out a week or so while others are speculating it will be much longer. No one really knows until we get an accurate diagnosis.
After seeing poor starting pitching in both Championship Series, the World Series began with relatively strong starting performances.
After two League Championship Series full of slugfests, slopfests, and short starts—the four teams scored 5.5 runs per game while their starters averaged 4.8 innings per turn—the opener of the 2011 World Series between the Rangers and the Cardinals gave us a tight, low-scoring ballgame with solid-to-good starting pitching. True to LCS form, both managers emptied their bullpens with mostly-effective processions, but the Cardinals' bench and relief corps got the upper hand on two key plays, one of them a pinch-hit single by Allen Craig that Nelson Cruz almost caught, scoring the decisive run, the other an awful call that cost the Rangers a ninth-inning out. Behind those, and a few big hits from the middle of their lineup, the Redbirds took Game One in chilly, 49-degree St. Louis, 3-2.
The tater trots for September 23: maybe the single best night for baseball all season.
Forgive me if I can't be completely objective about Friday's happenings. I was at Miller Park last night as the Brewers - and Ryan Braun - beat the Marlins to (eventually) clinch the National League Central crown. It was quite the scene, something very cool to be a part of. Braun's home run, Gallardo's strikeouts, Axford's save, watching the Cardinals lose on the scoreboard with 45,000 other people, champagne celebrations... it all makes it a bit difficult to be objective. Sorry.