Maybe The Wizard has some magical ways to make baseball more appealing.
Everything in baseball divides itself into threes. There are three strikes in an out, three outs in an inning, three fundamental dimensions of the game (offense, pitching, and fielding), and three broad constituencies who constantly fight for control of the game, both on and off the field: owners, players, and fans.
Of late, though, each of those triads have become a bit problematic. The rate at which those three strikes get racked up has skyrocketed, and that trend is only increasing. The three outs per inning are taking a bit too long to accrue, not because outs have actually become harder to get, but because the action that begets those outs is unfolding more slowly. The game is spinning on an increasingly bipolar axis, as hitters and pitchers take center stage and defense becomes a smaller piece of the puzzle.
Reds prospect Zach Vincej explains how he changed his hitting approach through tinkering and ignoring cliches.
Late last May, Zach Vincej’s career was on life support. He’d turned 25 years old a few weeks earlier and was playing for the Reds’ Double-A affiliate in Pensacola—or, worse and more accurately, not playing for them.
Jason talks to one of 2013's breakout pitching prospects.
One of the minors’ top breakout arms in 2013, Rockies farmhand Eddie Butler jumped three levels while putting himself squarely on the national prospect radar. Although Butler ranked no. 48 on Baseball Prospectus’ mid-season top 50 prospects list in June, he didn’t enter this season as one of BP’s top 10 Rockies prospects. The 22-year-old was instead listed as a name on the rise, with Jason Parkswriting that Butler “should see his prospect status elevate after a good full-season debut in 2013.”
To say that Butler saw his prospect status rise in 2013 would be an understatement. In fact, he’s likely to rank even higher than no. 48 entering next season, and he’s probably the Rockies’ top prospect at present. The former supplemental first-round pick opened this season by posting a 2.07 ERA in 22 starts between Low-A Asheville and High-A Modesto. He finished with a brilliant six-start stint at Double-A Tulsa, yielding just two runs on 13 hits in 27 2/3 innings while walking six and striking out 25.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Running through the notable quotes from the week that was.
NITKOWSKI EYEING BIG-LEAGUE RETURN “The goal for me when I came [to Binghamton] was to test the sidearm out and see what kind of reaction I would get from the hitters, and the things that I needed to see were swings and misses from lefties and ground balls from righties, and so far that's happening.”
—PitcherC.J. Nitkowski, who was recently promoted to Triple-A Buffalo, is attempting a big-league comeback with the Mets at age 39. (Andrew Simon, MLB.com)
Wherever he goes, Ozzie Guillen attempts to be the center of attention. And we give him exactly what he wants.
Pure as th' expanse of Heav'n; I thither went With unexperienc't thought, and laid me downe On the green bank, to look into the cleer Smooth Lake, that to me seemd another Skie. As I bent down to look, just opposite, A Shape within the watry gleam appeard Bending to look on me, I started back, It started back, but pleas'd I soon returnd, Pleas'd it returnd as soon with answering looks Of sympathie and love; there I had fixt Mine eyes till now, and pin'd with vain desire. - Milton, "Paradise Lost"
No one knew it at the time, but the feeling had been circulating among us for weeks: The Ozzie Show was drawing to a close, and this September night, an innocuous Monday pregame before a meaningless late-season clash between the White Sox and Blue Jays, was to be the final performance.
Running through the notable quotes of the week that was.
OZZIE SPARS WITH HARPER, NATIONALS OVER PINE TAR “First time, it’s going to stay between us/ I could have said a lot of [stuff] about this kid. I’ve been praising this kid like everyday. The last three times they asked me about him, the only thing I said was he’s a great player. What he did [today] was unprofessional. I’m not going to tell you guys what he did because I’m not going to be talking about it on ESPN, “Baseball Tonight,” what happened again. I’ll just leave it like that. I’ll talk to his manager in a little while.”
—Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen accused Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper of using too much pine tar on his bat, calling the rookie’s actions “unprofessional.” Guillen yelled profanities in Harper’s direction during his at-bat in the fourth inning. (Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post)
Running through the notable quotes of the week that was.
DISPATCHES FROM WASHINGTON: ALL-STAR EDITION “I’m just excited to get there and just have a good time. I think it’s exciting to go, and I’m excited to get there and be around all the top guys in baseball, of course. I’m just going to take it all in, try to enjoy it with the family, and try to just be as mellow and calm as I can. I’m excited. I really am. I’m really excited to get out there and be around those kind of guys and just try to actually enjoy myself as much as I can and really take it all in.”
—Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper on being the youngest position player to ever make the All-Star team. (Amanda Comak,The Washington Times)
Tradition has journalists putting themselves in strange situations and writing accounts of their exploits. Hunter S. Thompson did a lot of drugs and went to a motorcycle race in the desert. David Foster Wallace went on a cruise. George Plympton played sports against actual athletes. Me, though, I'm no journalist, so here's what I did: I went to Oakland A's FanFest at Oracle Arena posing as a journalist.
With Tony La Russa retired and Albert Pujols weighing other offers, we look back at a historic manager-player partnership.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
In a piece that originally ran as an "Inside the Park" column on December 8, 2010 and which will also be appearing in the soon-to-be-released Best of Baseball Prospectus, Bradford Doolittle wrote about the special La Russa-Pujols era in St. Louis.
Reminiscing about the all-time saves leader, plus other notes from around the major leagues.
Trevor Hoffman saved 601 games in his 16-year career, more than any relief pitcher in history. Even if many in the sabermetric community believe the save is a relatively useless statistic for evaluating player performance, it is still impressive that Hoffman could stay on top of his game for that many years as a top-flight closer.
A look back at some of the top quotes from the 2010 season.
It was a busy year for the Prospectus Q&A series in 2010. Over 100 full-length interviews graced these pages from January through December, and I hope that most were entertaining and/or informative. As always, it was a pleasure to bring them to the BP community. Here is a selection of the best quotes from the interviews:
Consumed with coaxing Baseball Prospectus 2011 to life as I am, I haven't had much time to write for the site lately, but I don't want to let Bob Feller's passing go unremarked upon here at BP. So many others have already written wonderful things, especially, as always, Joe Posnanski (who has been good enough to provide us with the forward to this year's book). To his portrait of an unabashedly outspoken pitcher, World War II veteran, and elder statesman, I want to add this recollection of my one encounter with the man.
Back in 1999, Feller appeared at the Yankees' annual Old Timers Day. I'm not sure why he was there--they invited him, I guess, and he accepted. As Posnanski discusses in his piece, Feller apparently didn't turn down many invitations. Dressed in his Indians uniform, he held court in the center of the Yankees clubhouse. Despite being just six feet tall, far shorter than the young athletes around him--and by "around" and "held court" I don't mean that the players crowded around him like they did Ted Williams at the All-Star game. We in media paid attention to him. The players didn't seem to notice he was there--he was an arresting presence. He was going on 81 at the time, but there was nothing decrepit about him, he hadn't shrunken with age, but stood proudly erect.