As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.
With our dear Editor-in-Chief leaving Baseball Prospectus for his next chapter, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite chapters of his career here. There's an incredible number of timeless Sam Miller articles to choose from, but we whittled it down enough to not break the internet. This article originally ran on May 16, 2016.
All the same greats, the same mistakes. It doesn't have to be like this.
Jose Bautista’s overnight transformation from fifth outfielder to superstar stemmed from a small timing change, a modest tweak that jumpstarted his career and put a face on the potential of making an adjustment. For better or worse, his wild and unexpected success has inspired fans around the league to hope that their flawed but talented slugger is just one mechanical tweak from pulling a Bautista. Quick-fixes are rare, however. Even when a slumping hitter has unusual mechanics — a hitch, an awkward stance, etc. — the irregularity isn’t necessarily related to the player’s struggles, and might actually function as a vital part of what made him so successful in the past.
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How the Manny Machado incident(s) occurred, Jose Bautista's big night, the Tigers' bullpen problems, and more, plus what to watch today.
The Weekend Takeaway
By the bottom of the eighth inning of Sunday’s series finale, the Athletics and Orioles had seen just about enough of each other. With the A’s up 10-0 in the rubber match at Camden Yards, Fernando Abad threw at Manny Machado twice, and the second straight tight one led Machado to chuck his bat toward third baseman Alberto Callaspo:
Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion supply big-time power, but what else is there for fantasy owners to see north of the border?
The Blue Jays were crowned by many as the 2012-2013 offseason champions after emptying their farm system and adding four All-Star-caliber players to their roster last winter. As so often happens, the team that “won the offseason” underwhelmed during the regular season, and Toronto finished in last place in the AL East, winning just 74 games.
Injures—especially to the pitching staff—were partially to blame for Toronto’s collapse, with disappointing performances by some stars and young players contributing as well. But despite the bad taste that the 2013 Jays may have left in the collective mouths of fantasy players, there’s still plenty of talent in this organization, and that’s particularly true when it comes to hitting.
In the wake of the Dodgers' recent record spending, we might ask why Luis Cruz is still around.
Over the past year the Dodgers have become baseball's most eager spender, absorbing and offering rich contracts. While the Yankees are tightening their belt buckle to get around the luxury tax, the Dodgers are making pithy comments, such as "What budget?" Yet one anachronism remains in LA during these lavish times. Luis Cruz, earner of the big-league minimum, sticks out like a sore thumb in a lineup featuring three players earning $20 million, two more earning $10 million, and two others making more than $2 million. Cruz is the lone non-millionaire, and, it just so happens, the team's weakest link.
Prior to last season Cruz's big-league experience entailed 169 plate appearances with a sub-.190 True Average. With his reputation as an all-glove, no-hit infielder intact he bounced around the minors. Cruz even spent part of his 2011 season playing in Mexico, alongside the likes of Jose Castillo, Geronimo Gil, and Luis Terrero. Last July, minutes before the Dodgers promoted him to the majors, he decided to embark on a career in Japan. Even circumstances surrounding the promotion were less Disney and more pragmatic: the Dodgers needed an extra body to survive a rough patch of injuries, and Cruz embodies the idea of an extra body. But the now-29-year-old provided spark and finished the season with a .272 TAv—a mark that placed him 18th among third basemen with at least 250 plate appearances.
The Blue Jays have turned over much of their team this winter, but they're still depending on a bounceback season by Jose Bautista. Will they get it?
Over the past few weeks, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has orchestrated an organizational overhaul of Pygmalion proportions. Essentially, he’s turned a perennial non-threat in the American League East into the division’s foremost...uh, well the baseball equivalent of Audrey Hepburn. You know, she played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.
Blue Jays blue-chip prospect Anthony Gose has been bad in the big leagues, but has he been so bad that we should start to doubt his skills?
Last month, I wrote an article about 2012 Red Sox draftee Shaq Green-Thompson, who had begun his professional career by going 0-for-16 with 16 strikeouts. I wasn’t sure whether to write it. Baseball players go through slumps, and baseball writers write about them. That’s the way this works. But Thompson was just a couple months out of college, and his struggles were so acute that to draw any extra attention to them seemed cruel. The Red Sox source I quoted was concerned that I was out to “crush the kid.” I wasn’t, but I was worried about what would happen when other sites picked up the story. Ultimately, I decided to write about Thompson, but I tried to do it in a way that dwelt on his strengths, explained his struggles, and focused on what his streak said about baseball. It was still the first and only time I’ve felt bad about writing about a baseball player.
Eleven days later, Deadspin picked up on the story (via some other site, which made me feel a bit better). By then, Thompson’s stat line looked even worse. A flurry of Thompson tweets and articles followed. Not all of them were nice. Thompson went on to finish the short season 0-for-39 with 37 strikeouts. He’ll be better at football, which he’ll play this fall. Maybe he’ll return to baseball next summer. Or maybe he’ll decide not to come back and risk causing any more crises of conscience.