The new Nate Freiman, the improved Clayton Kershaw, the red-hot Jose Altuve, and more from the weekend, plus what to watch today.
The Weekend Takeaway
When the A’s boarded their flight to New York last Sunday, they’d lost back-to-back games just once since the end of May. But after the Mets served them their second losing streak of the month with a 10-1 beating in the first contest of a nine-game road trip, it seemed that Bob Melvin’s squad might take a small stumble as it reached the halfway mark of the regular season on the Atlantic seaboard.
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Sam checks in on several of his articles from earlier this season to see whether what he wrote made sense.
July 18 is as good a time as any to go back and read old pieces to see whether they make a lick of sense in hindsight. It is as good a time as any because there is, from the writer’s perspective, no good time to do this without wondering why that thing was written in the first place. Baseball is really just a lifelong project to break down any sense of certainty you might have about cause and effect.
Nonetheless, let’s review a few of the conclusions I made in March, April, and May to see what new information tells us.
Does the Pirates' Josh Harrison have a historically troubled relationship to the strike zone?
Start with the best part, from Josh Harrison’s perspective. On Friday, Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Pirates. It felt, at that moment, like one of the most inevitable no-hitters ever, because it had felt, in the first inning, like one of the most inevitable no-hitters ever. But, with one out, Josh Harrison got a base hit. That at-bat:
Which players are the most likely to go the longest before their first walk of 2012?
No one personifies this better than Angels’ shortstop Gary DiSarcina. DiSarcina went deep into April of the 1998 season before drawing his first walk, and proudly stated that it was a goal of his to not walk all season. He believed he was a better hitter when hacking away and being "aggressive". DiSarcina’s career OBP of .291 and five full seasons of .294 or lower haven’t deterred him, or moved the Angel coaching staff to dissuade him of the notion. So in honor of our misguided friend, I’ve elected to establish the DiSar Awards.
—Joe Sheehan, 2000
On Friday, with one out in the eighth inning of the Braves' 9-8 victory over the Rockies, Kris Medlen threw a 3-1 fastball up and in to Ramon Hernandez, and the Rockies catcher took it for a ball. It was Hernandez’ first walk of the season, in his 67th plate appearance. That is the longest stretch without a walk by any player to start this season, which means Ramon Hernandez is the DiSars leader in the clubhouse.