Could PITCHf/x have held the key to preventing season-ending surgeries for two of this season's Tommy John victims?
We’ve gotten much better at designing buildings that refuse to fall down, but science still hasn’t made much headway in the field of earthquake prediction. Although we can estimate how many quakes of a certain magnitude we’ll experience over a span of time, we can’t pinpoint exactly when, where, or why they’ll occur. A big quake is often preceded by a smaller foreshock, but not always. And the only way to know whether any given disturbance is the main event or merely a precursor is to wait and see if something worse happens, which doesn’t lend itself to life-saving.
Athletic trainers can commiserate with seismologists. As the recent rash of season-ending injuries indicates, we’re a long way from figuring out when a pitcher is about to break. Not every injury is preceded by a warning sign, and not every red flag reveals a real problem. Many pitcher injuries are the result of cumulative wear and tear, but the process often culminates in one pitch, followed by a pop or a sharp pain and an arm clutched tightly on the trip back to the dugout. From there, it’s just a matter of time until the Twitpic from the operating table.
As the offseason winds down, Bret shares some of his late-draft sleepers for various league sizes and formats.
With spring training reaching peak twilight and the biggest drafting weekend of the year approaching, it’s time for my final marker post column of the preseason.
We’ve been doing rankings and analysis here for the last three months and hopefully they’ve been helpful to you as you sort through all of the information that lead to your most important draft decisions. And to top it off, as we get to the endgame of draft season, it seems only natural to focus on the endgame of drafts. It’s the most interesting, and often most important segment of your draft. Sure, if you miss on your first round pick or get $5 in value from your $25 player, you’re in a hole that can be very difficult to climb out of. As I’ve said many times, closing out your draft strong is a must if you want to win your league.
Robinson Cano is gone, but the Yankees have added intriguing fantasy options in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann.
This preview’s first incarnation was dramatically different from its second, which in turn has been torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. The original draft came after the signing of Brian McCann, but before those of Jacoby Ellsbury and Kelly Johnson. Thanks to a change in schedule though, we’re coming back to you after the departure of Robinson Cano and with the additions of Carlos Beltran and Hiroki Kuroda. In this third iteration, there is plenty of fantasy goodness to be had.
While a greatly diminished Yankee lineup managed to produce a valiant playoff run, these recent reinforcements should make them more formidable going forward. There are still flaws with the Yankees, notably in the rotation, at second base and at third base, but these new signings will make plenty of noise (and fantasy value) all the same. While there will be a Cano-sized hole in this lineup, this will still be an explosive offense thanks to the additions of Beltran, Ellsbury, and McCann. Health is going to be the key ingredient to the Yankees season, as they continue to approach talent like a connoisseur approaches cheese or wine, where older is better.
Does your fantasy team need rotation help? These hurlers might provide a nice upgrade down the stretch.
Can you believe the season is four months old? As excited as I am to see how the races play out both in the MLB standings and in my fantasy leagues, I’m definitely a little bummed that we only have two months of regular seasons games left. Enough bellyaching, though, we have pennants to chase down.
We just finished another great month that saw all sorts of interesting performances, and I want to highlight seven pitchers who were particularly sharp during the month-plus*, as you may have missed their recent surges, especially if you are only looking at their season-long numbers. They need to be on your radar whether you’re entering the trade market or scanning the free-agent pool in a shallower league. They are ranked in order of how much I like them the rest of the way.
For one night, the White Sox look like the team to beat in the AL Central.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The White Sox entered last night’s matchup with Justin Verlander with a .237 team TAv, the second-worst mark in baseball. Only the Marlins, at .231, had been less potent at the plate as a group, and Mike Redmond’s bunch did not have the benefit of a designated hitter. Among junior-circuit clubs, the Yankees, 11 points ahead of the White Sox at .248, were the next-worst squad.
The American League’s least productive lineup, one with only two starters toting on-base percentages higher than .310, is not supposed to collect 23 hits in a game against Verlander. But on Tuesday, the White Sox did.
A look at some of the promising new offerings that pitchers have unveiled this month.
Every year, a few pitchers add a new pitch to their in-game arsenal after working on it over the winter or in spring training. Sometimes, the new pitch goes nowhere: it doesn’t produce results and is quickly abandoned, or it lingers but fails to make an appreciable impact. Other times, it helps a pitcher achieve some specific goal, like limiting opposite-handed hitters, but it doesn’t propel him to much greater heights. And every now and then, a new pitch transforms a pitcher into something far superior to what he was before, like Mike Scott’s splitter, Esteban Loaiza’s cutter, or, more recently, Jason Hammel’s sinker, which he added to great effect in 2012.
According to the custom, PITCHf/x-based pitch-type classifications provided by Harry Pavlidis of Baseball Prospectus and Brooks Baseball, five pitchers have already unveiled new offerings in 2013. It’s too soon to say for sure whether they’ll all be successes, but a small sample can often reveal more about a single pitch than it can about a player’s overall performance. Here’s an early assessment of each one.
Ivan Nova allowed a home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis on Saturday, but the pitch was exactly where he wanted it.
Ivan Nova leads the major leagues with 46 extra-base hits allowed. Many of them were mistakes. This one, a solo homer by Kirk Niewenhuis in the third inning of the Yankees-Mets game on Saturday, was not.
A look at 10 new managerial candidates, and a conversation with Mets manager Terry Collins.
The All-Star break is coming into view, yet no managers have been fired this season. In fact, there have been only a few reports of any of the 30 major-league skippers even possibly being in trouble. But it will eventually happen. Some owner will finally get fed up, drop the axe, and his club will begin a managerial search.
Ivan Nova's new approach may not work for every pitcher, but Nova's not the type to just hang around.
Jay-Z once said, “Loiterers should be arrested.” Does Ivan Nova feel the same way? The transitive property—Nova and Jay-Z both attend plenty of Yankees games—suggests that he might; so too does Nova’s unwavering commitment to self-improvement. ESPN’s Jorge Arangure Jr. detailed Nova’s upbringing earlier this season and concluded that the pitcher’s success is miraculous. Not often does a gangly strike-thrower’s evolution merit talk about divine intervention, but then, not often does a story play out as the one Nova is writing. Consider Nova’s unlikely ascent: from a failed Rule 5 pick to major-league starter that went 20 regular season starts between losses within three years.
How do you explain Nova’s rise without backfitting a narrative to results? The handy explanation is that Nova worked harder than the other players did. Convenient, but difficult to buy into because countless players work hard and never find success. One attribute that does help explain Nova’s success is an uncanny ability to adapt. Arangure included a story about Nova’s first time with the cutter. Here is the notable anecdote:
The BBWAA's selections for the NL Cy Young award and AL Rookie of the Year award show that traditional stats are still the bane of voting.
We’re not out of the woods yet, fellow awards-voting onlookers. Last week, the Baseball Writers Association of America made several errors in handing out year-end hardware—some arguable, some egregious. While many thought 2010 to be a turning point when voters gave Felix Hernandez—he of 13 wins—the American League Cy Young award over CC Sabathia (21 wins) and David Price (19 wins), 2011 shows that we’re only looking at a tiny step forward, if that.
The target of my ire this season falls upon the National League Cy Young voting and the American League Rookie of the Year voting. While I don’t have a big problem with Clayton Kershaw winning the NL Cy Young award, my beef is with the fact that he ran away with 27 of 32 first-place votes, while Roy Halladay received just four and Cliff Lee failed to secure a single one. Check out their ERA estimators for this season without names attached and tell me who was better.