Four Pujols homers, a Marlin massacre, and more of the same from Morton give the Cardinals, Brewers, and Pirates reason for optimism.
“The season is a marathon, not a sprint."—A thousand writers looking for an easy lead-in to their articles.
The marathon nature of the baseball season lends itself to a number of quirks, one of which is a tendency to stretch small problems into colossal issues that are set to sink the entire season. When Josh Hamilton started off the 2010 campaign hitting .205 in his first 13 games (and .242 as late as April 26), baseball fans everywhere—and, in particular, in the Dallas area—were wondering if he could "break out of his slump" or if he would ever regain his form from 2008. Of course, Hamilton would go on to win the American League Most Valuable Player award and lead his team to the World Series, but no one could know that at the time. All anyone could see was that a star player was slumping, which was regarded as a cause for concern.
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Which players off to a powerful start at the plate can expect to retain that production going forward?
In a season where offense is tough to come by, fantasy owners are looking in every nook and cranny and under every rock looking for power. Power hitters can effect three of the scoring categories in one swing of the bat, hence the premium price for it on draft day. The quick and dirty way to find power sleepers has traditionally been to look at players’ Isolated Power score, and find those batters who had a score of .200 or better. However, that is just one way to find your surprise power, because an attractive ISO this time of year may not be sustainable based on other peripherals. Here are a few players that are going to pop up on your ISO radar as you go searching for help.
Do the Yankees plate too many of their runners via the long ball?
In baseball, as George Carlin once said, the object of the game is to be safe at home. It’s a comforting feeling to reach home with another run on the board, and there is no surer means of accomplishing that feat than via the home run, which ensures that with one pitch, at least one run can cross the plate. For fans of the team who just launched the ball over the fence, the homer is the truest of the three true outcomes.
And yet, home runs have a way of bringing out the hand-wringing. Can a team hit too many home runs? It might be the most efficient way of scoring runs, but it’s over and done with very quickly. Those who fear the home run worry that it kills rallies; just recently in fact, the Daily News' Anthony McCarron worried that the AL East-leading New York Yankees were too reliant on home runs.
Our latest guest contributor returns from the lab with exciting findings about home runs.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Alan Nathan is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His principal area of research is the physics of baseball. He maintains a web site devoted to this topic at go.illinois.edu/physicsofbaseball. His younger colleagues at Complete Game Consulting have bestowed upon him the exalted title of Chief Scientist.
Early handicapping of the AL East with PECOTA's projected standings.
For the past three seasons, the ultra-competitive AL East has been contested among the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. That won’t change in 2011, although the plucky, small-market Rays will have a harder task than ever before due to an offseason in which their roster suffered great losses to free agency. The Orioles will be less of a pushover opponent than they have in years and the Blue Jays will continue to be solid if unspectacular, but given the capabilities of the teams at the top of the standings, their progress will be difficult to see with the naked eye.
A look at the first basemen on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Having kicked off this year's JAWS series with the starting pitchers, today we turn our attention to the first basemen, a slate which includes the ballot's best newcomer as well as its most controversial first-timer, and a few holdovers who aren't going anywhere for entirely different reasons.
The Toy Cannon discusses baseball in the 1960s, hitting home runs in a big ballpark and some Hall of Fame teammates.
Jimmy Wynn is a humble man, and he is also one of the most underrated players in baseball history. Known throughout his big-league career (1963-77) as “The Toy Cannon,” the 5-foot-9, 170 pound outfielder was not only a prodigious power hitter in one of baseball’s worst hitting environments, he was an on-base machine who could run. Originally drafted by Cincinnati, he spent most of his career playing in the Houston Astrodome and finished with 291 home runs, 225 stolen bases, a .366 OBP, and a 128 OPS+.
A look at the surprise home run hitters of 2010, relative to their pre-season PECOTA forecasts.
On Tuesday night in Kansas City, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista launched his major league-leading 26th home run, continuing one of the most unexpected power surges in recent memory. Long known as a journeyman with decent patience and a modicum of power, few expected Bautista at this stage of his career to suddenly turn into a long-ball machine. It’s always fun to see players suddenly show a propensity for the long ball—perhaps we identify with players who manage the baseball equivalent of the young Marty McFly balling up his fist and decking Biff with an unexpected haymaker.
David Ortiz, whose career seemed in an unstoppable downward spiral at this time a year ago, punctuates his return to prominence.
Some stat geeks and sabermetric fanatics usually pass-up the All-Star Home Run Derby, calling the event purely commercialized for the younger or more casual fans, not for the true fans that study the game! Well, now at 18, I’d like to think of myself as a “scholar of the game.” I’m increasing my knowledge each and every day with Baseball Prospectus, as numerous research and analytical assignments ensures the expansion of my baseball mind.
However, I can happily admit that there was nothing wrong with enjoying Monday night's showcase of baseball’s best power hitters (well, beside A-Rod, Pujols, and Ryan Howard….). Maybe, aside from bragging rights, it didn’t count for anything, but what it did do was bring to light the competitive nature of a baseball player. Yes, it was just a derby, but it still meant something to each and every one of those participants. Especially for Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, who was pronounced as good as dead at the same time last year. Now, once again an All-Star, Big Papi put on a show at Angels Stadium in Anaheim.
The hitting coach with the Twins' High-A Fort Myers farm club talks about teaching young players.
Jim Dwyer understands the art of hitting. Currently the hitting coach for the Fort Myers Miracle, Minnesota’s High-A affiliate, Dwyer has spent the past two decades coaching and managing in the Twins' system, including a nine-year stint as the roving hitting coordinator. An outfielder for seven teams over 18 big-league seasons as a player, he retired in 1990 with a career average of .260 and 77 home runs. Dwyer sat down with Baseball Prospectus to talk about his approach to hitting, including the work he’s done with star pupil Ben Revere, at the Twins' spring training complex.