Notes on eight players who had notable performances in Monday's AFL and DWL action.
I love this time of year. Hot Stove talk. NFL and College Football are in full swing. The NBA season is underway. And Baseball Prospectus has begun to release Top 10 Prospect Rankings, starting with the Astros. Oh yeah, and there's still plenty of baseball being played around the world.
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The easiest way for contending teams to get better is to start with where they've been worst. Here is where they've been worst.
As the trading deadline approaches, teams are open to any and all moves that might make them better. Some clubs have sought upgrades at positions where they’ve already received decent production, but the higher the bar that the trade target has to clear, the fewer the potential fixes, and the greater the price. The path of least resistance for a contender hoping to improve is often to patch a particularly weak position with an average player who can give them more than they’ve been getting, without costing too much in any other area.
The weakest performance by a collection of players at any position on a contending team this season has been at second base in Detroit, where seven players—notably Ramon Santiago, Ryan Raburn, and Danny Worth—have played at replacement level or below, combining for a total of -2.2 WARP. It’s no coincidence that the Tigers traded for a second baseman on Tuesday, filling what had been a gaping hole with Omar Infante, who should be at least average for them the rest of the way. We can see the same pattern on display in other acquisitions: the Dodgers traded for Hanley Ramirez because their shortstops—notably the injured Dee Gordon—had combined for -0.6 WARP.
Don Mattingly's affinity for the bunt could be keeping the Dodgers from scoring more runs.
Like many a Dodger fan, I found myself pulling out clumps of hair on Tuesday night. The Dodgers—a first-place team at 19-10 to that point, surprisingly—were facing the Giants (14-15) in L.A. Despite having Clayton Kershaw on the hill, they were on the short end of a 2-1 score, because with a man on base in the second inning, their ace left a high fastball to Brett Pill a bit too far out over the plate, and Pill drove it 384 feet into the left-field bleachers. The Dodgers had plated a run against Ryan Vogelsong in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of doubles, but they could get no more, and as the innings passed, the situation grew more desperate.
Three home runs were hit by three improbable players during last week's action.
Sometimes there is no obvious story. Sometimes there is just the beauty of the thing. Baseball's limitless capacity to surprise keeps those of us afflicted with fandom enthralled. This past week alone bore witness to three unexpected home runs, among other things. Such are the moments that define any given game, season, or lifetime of watching baseball.
Monday, April 30: Ransom vs. Buehrle
In the second inning of a scoreless game at Miami, the Diamondbacks' Cody Ransom stepped to the plate against Mark Buehrle. With Paul Goldschmidt on second and Gerardo Parra on deck, Ransom got ahead in the count, 3-0. Buehrle then grooved an 85 mph two-seam fastball down the middle, and Ransom drove it over the 386-foot sign in left-center for his second home run of the year.
Dee Gordon hits his first home run, two bench players push the limits of bad batting, Chris Davis keeps hitting, Clay Hensley exposes the unearned run, Derek Jeter hits cleanly in three of his five at-bats (or does he?), and more.
Five things I wanted to write about happened in last night’s games, but none of them was substantial enough on its own for an article. The solution: drop all five unrelated observations (plus a few more for good measure) into the same article draft and call it a column. Trick of the trade.
Derek Jeter goes 3-for-5 and gets accused of steroid use by this one guy I talked to
I live in a baseball discourse bubble.
A prospect public service announcement for folks whose faith in the Dodger shortstop are in full flower.
Hello, my name is Jason Parks, and I want to talk to you about Dodgers prospect Dee Gordon. Have you, or anyone you know been affected by the prospect love showered on Dee Gordon? If so, you aren’t alone.
Dee Gordon fans started making noise in 2008, after he made an impressive debut in the Pioneer League. The majority of prospect prognosticators were on board by 2009, and by the start of the 2010 season, the Dee Gordon situation had reached a ferocious intensity; respected prospect guru Kevin Goldstein suggested before the 2010 season that “Gordon's tools are the best in the [Dodgers] system by a mile, and among the best in the game, with one scout calling him, ‘A Jimmy Rollins starter kit’." ESPN’s Keith Law jumped into the Gordon argument as well, ranking him as the 39th-best prospect in baseball, with two talent evaluators suggesting to him (independently) that Gordon is Jimmy Rollins with less power.