Jay is back, and he still hates the teams you root for. Yes, even the Dodgers.
Six weeks ago, when I accepted an offer to start a new blog at Sports Illustrated's website, I was delighted to find that my new employers were willing to allow me to retain some involvement with Baseball Prospectus. Not only did I wish to continue working with this fine staff and its readers in some capacity, but I also really wanted to finish something I'd started—namely, my multi-installment Hate List.
Inspired by the top-heavy Tigers and Dodgers, Brad investigates how well NBA-style roster construction works in MLB.
Since the NBA playoffs are currently going full throttle, this seems as apt a time as any to explore a basic concept of roster construction from that league to big-league baseball. Of course, many of you will disagree with this necessity of this because you don't like the NBA. Some of you will deny the very existence of professional basketball. That's okay. Trust me, this is a baseball article.
The Inside the Park series is about stories, but sometimes there in no particular story angle to what otherwise seems like a fun idea for an article. That's the case here. During the offseason, and after the Prince Fielder signing, I read a number of analyses of the Detroit Tigers that described their roster as top-heavy. Insofar in that there is criticism in that observation, the issue is that such a team is going to be more vulnerable to an injury to a key player. When Victor Martinez was injured, Detroit was able to throw the GDP of a good-sized nation Fielder's way, but such an option doesn't exist once the season begins. If Fielder or Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander were to go down, the Tigers would be perhaps be sunk even give their tepid competition in the AL Central. They would likewise be more exposed in the event of less-than-elite performances by any of the aforementioned trio. In fact, that may be happening already.
Don Mattingly's affinity for the bunt could be keeping the Dodgers from scoring more runs.
Like many a Dodger fan, I found myself pulling out clumps of hair on Tuesday night. The Dodgers—a first-place team at 19-10 to that point, surprisingly—were facing the Giants (14-15) in L.A. Despite having Clayton Kershaw on the hill, they were on the short end of a 2-1 score, because with a man on base in the second inning, their ace left a high fastball to Brett Pill a bit too far out over the plate, and Pill drove it 384 feet into the left-field bleachers. The Dodgers had plated a run against Ryan Vogelsong in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of doubles, but they could get no more, and as the innings passed, the situation grew more desperate.
Three home runs were hit by three improbable players during last week's action.
Sometimes there is no obvious story. Sometimes there is just the beauty of the thing. Baseball's limitless capacity to surprise keeps those of us afflicted with fandom enthralled. This past week alone bore witness to three unexpected home runs, among other things. Such are the moments that define any given game, season, or lifetime of watching baseball.
Monday, April 30: Ransom vs. Buehrle
In the second inning of a scoreless game at Miami, the Diamondbacks' Cody Ransom stepped to the plate against Mark Buehrle. With Paul Goldschmidt on second and Gerardo Parra on deck, Ransom got ahead in the count, 3-0. Buehrle then grooved an 85 mph two-seam fastball down the middle, and Ransom drove it over the 386-foot sign in left-center for his second home run of the year.
Bryce Harper's presence and early contributions gives the Nationals a happy glimpse into the future.
The Weekend Takeaway
During a weekend series highlighted by Matt Kemp’s 10th-inning walk-off homer in Saturday’s 4-3 Dodgers victory, the Nationals got a glimpse into their future—a future that likely will not include many more sweeps at the hands of the Dodgers.
Top prospect Bryce Harper arrived with a bang on Saturday, and while Kemp ultimately stole the show, the 19-year-old phenom immediately displayed the tools that will soon make him a superstar. Harper rocketed a high Chad Billingsley fastball over Kemp’s head to straightaway center for a double, fired an 80-grade bullet home from left field, and drove in the go-ahead run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly that would have won the game if not for a Henry Rodriguez meltdown in the bottom half of the frame.
Michael Pineda's labrum tear doesn't bode well for his future, but it's not the death sentence it used to be.
On Wednesday, the Yankees revealed that Michael Pineda had suffered a torn labrum, a devastating turn of events both for the 23-year-old righty and for the team that acquired him from the Mariners for top prospect Jesus Montero back in January. Pineda will miss the entire season and part of 2013, thinning the Yankees' surplus of starting pitching—and underscoring the fact that you can never have too much—while raising the question of whether they will ever get much value out of him.
Umpires shouldn't settle for "close enough" when it comes to perfection.
The Weekend Takeaway
Did he go? That was the question percolating through every baseball fan’s mind after the White Sox’ Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in major-league history against the Mariners on Saturday afternoon.
Brendan Ryan, who pinch-hit for Munenori Kawasaki, worked the count full, fouled off Humber’s first payoff pitch, and then either swung or did not swing at a slider that broke well off the plate outside. But did he go?