Will Carroll and Mike Carminati wonder if swinging and missing is that big of a deal, and their findings may surprise you.
Just as an out-of-the-blue bolt of plate discipline presaged Sosa's assent, his decline might have been predicted by his tendency to swing and miss that haunted him even in his stellar 1999 season. Sosa swung at and missed 475 pitches in his record-setting 1999 campaign. This is the highest total for any major-league batter over the last five seasons and isn't the "swing and a miss!" call of the announcer the cruelest fate in baseball? But what does it mean in the greater scheme?
Does having a tendency to swing and miss more than most impair a batter's productivity as we have been told since Little League? Do batters with better batting eyes tend to be more productive than the average batter? Is it better to be patient at the plate or go for the first pitch you can hit? Does this data tell us anything new and could that be used to help build a better team or find successful players?
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A change last year from long-time trainer Kent Biggerstaff to a new staff makes it difficult to assess with statistical certainty, but many of the more bizarre medical stories last season came from Pittsburgh. Whether it was the 'sudden discovery' of an injury to Jason Bay or the saga of Brandon Lyon's shoulder, the Pirates' medical staff raised questions around the league. Coming into the 2004 season, the Pirates will be facing the same challenges. Most of their offense last year was expected to come from the bats of Brian Giles and Jason Kendall. While Kendall remains, his name continues to come up in trade talks. Giles was dealt for, among others, Jason Bay and Oliver Perez, two players with significant injury concerns. While contention in the NL Central probably isn't possible in '04, health could be the difference between being bad and being the Tigers.
Following up on yesterday's article, here is the definitive list of every transaction made at last weekend's Mock Winter Meetings in Chicago. The list of moves includes a blockbuster trade for Mark Teixeira, cheap contracts for Trot Nixon and Juan Gonzalez, and a surprise new home for Vladimir Guerrero.
A lost season for the Angels has folks in Anaheim scratching their heads. John Smoltz's injury buries Bobby Thigpen's name for another year. The Royals' run evokes memories of George Brett and company. Sandy Alomar...you can probably guess what Chris will write about Sandy Alomar. Witticisms, Kahrlisms and roster schmisms in this edition of Transaction Analysis.
The Marlins decide to pay Jeff Conine (.284/.332/.446) more than they would Kevin Millar (.283/.358/.489). The Yankees get overdue strong performances from David Wells and Bernie Williams. Jason Kendall's still a Pirate, though probably not for much longer. These and other news and notes out of Florida, New York, and Pittsburgh in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
Mr. Marlin: On Aug. 31 the Marlins acquired old friend Jeff Conine from the Orioles for two of the better pitchers in their system: Denny Bautista and Don Levinski. Conine was brought aboard to help compensate for the loss of Mike Lowell, who, the day before, had broken his left hand.
The Snakes bury John Patterson, the Red Sox sort through a batch of soft tossers, the Marlins vie for a 25-catcher roster, and the Devil Rays solve all their problems by grabbing Al Martin and Damion Easley.