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.
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Albert Pujols may be struggling, but there are major-league regulars doing even worse.
Albert Pujols you know about. The $240 million man has yet to get untracked for the Angels and ended the month of April hitting a paltry .217/.265/.304 without a homer. He's hardly the only hitter who has begun 2012 in a funk, though. In fact, 41 other hitters came into Tuesday with True Averages lower than or equal to that of Pujols' .225 in at least 65 plate appearances, i.e., enough to qualify for the batting title. Sure, those are small samples sizes, but we're 14 percent of the way through the season, with one page of the calendar wadded up into a ball, so it's not like we can't at least gawk at the outliers. What follows is a look at a half-dozen AL hitters—none of them as good as Pujols to begin with, admittedly—who are struggling to an even greater degree than the Angels slugger, and where they and their teams might go from here.
Which men of misery prevented their teams from escaping the murky waters of suckitude?
My semiannual Replacement-Level Killers series spotlights the worst holes in contenders' lineups, as well as the possible remedies they might take to avoid letting such subpar production destroy their post-season chances the next time around. I make no claims for this companion series being so noble in purpose. Because bad baseball so often makes for good copy, it's more fun to hunt the fish at the bottom of the major-league barrel to find the positions where players' contributions could be considered the worst in the majors. What follows is an "all-star" team of players who have produced tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just a soft breeze running through their team's bank account. Once again, I present the Vortices of Suck.
Echoes of past Rookie of the Year selections combined with metrics both new and old to inform a particular ballot.
A vote. A vote? A vote.
Being invited to help select this year's American League Rookie of the Year as a new member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America was an unexpected honor, and one I took seriously. By way of process, I started off with a day spent digging up data to inform my sense of who to rank, and where, and why. Then, I spent a day or two caucusing with a quartet of colleagues, inside Baseball Prospectus and out, and putting various arguments through the ringer, and using a variety of tacks, from devil's advocate to fully faithful, and everywhere in between.
Will Gordon be a flash in the pan, or will his demotion to Omaha get him rocketing back to The Show?
It wasn't that long ago, but Royals third baseman Alex Gordon used to be the next big thing. In 2005, he won nearly every individual award handed out in college baseball, batting .372/.518/.715 during his junior year at Nebraska while also showing enough athleticism to add 23 stolen bases in 26 attempts. "I thought he would be a superstar coming out of college," said one front-office official. He was not alone, as the Royals made him the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, after the Diamondbacks selected Justin Upton.
Looking into the crystal ball to see who drops where.
With 24 hours to go before the selections begin, the draft remains a muddled mess, making the process of doing a mock a series of hedged wagers. "This is easily one of the most unpredictable first rounds I've ever seen," said one team official. Basically, the draft pool has two clumps of players, one made up of the top ten, followed by a larger group of up to 40 players. With even the first overall pick still up in the air, any one last-minute flip could change the board dramatically.
Two weeks to go until draft day, but many teams atop the draft have yet to sort out what they want to do.
Even with just two weeks to go before the draft, and with plenty of college prospects seeing their season come to a close in the next few days, doing a mock draft is a bit of a silly exercise. Still doing a mock draft on the day before the selections are made can be a fruitless endeavor. Last year, the Royals did not decide to take Mike Moustakas over Josh Vitters with the second overall pick until the morning of the draft, while in 2003, the Devil Rays (and I can call them that, as that's what they were called then) decided on Delmon Young over Rickie Weeks somewhere around an hour before making the pick. So instead of attaching just one name to each team in the first dozen picks, let's be a little more loose and open and talk about philosophies are were teams are heading, as while selections are hardly etched in stone, some specific directions are starting to become much clearer.
This weekend features about as evenly-matched a showdown as you can get.
We're not trained to think that April is a month for marquee matchups, but colleges across the country give us a brand of baseball that challenges that assumption. While Major League Baseball tries to turn Dusty's return to Wrigley as a pivotal baseball story, college baseball has a much more genuinely pivotal regular-season series beginning on Friday: Miami at Florida State.
Kentucky has some of the most impressive statistics in the nation, but are the Wildcats really as good as their record indicates?
I could tell you a lot of things that would make you believe the Kentucky Wildcats should be the favorite in every series they play. They are hitting .351/.452/.579 as a team. Their team ERA is 3.16, K/BB 3.12, and K/9 8.54. They have three regulars hitting above .400, five regulars slugging above .450 and two players getting on base above a 50 percent clip. Overall, the 26-5 Wildcats have scored 298 runs and allowed 116. Yet they enter this weekend in Athens, Georgia as the underdogs.