Noah Syndergaard loses to an ace; Giancarlo Stanton has a jack; Strasburg flops; and the best defensive play of the day.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The debut of Noah Syndergaard was highly anticipated largely because the 6-foot-6 right-hander has the type of pedigree that gives him the potential to be one of the better pitchers in baseball down the road. However, Syndergaard is also 22 years old and is far from a finished product, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the hard-throwing Texan ran into some issues against a talented Cubs lineup on Tuesday. It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that the guy opposite Syndergaard, Jake Arrieta, one-upped the rookie and pitched like a polished front-of-the-rotation starter, given that it’s pretty much what he’s been for the past year.
Bryce goes yard, and yard, and yard again; Scherzer and Stanton have an epic showdown; Aroldis throws his changeup; and the TWO best defensive plays of the day.
The Wednesday Takeaway
It’s not as if Bryce Harper needed to prove himself to anybody. The 22-year-old entered Wednesday’s game against the Marlins the owner of a .294 True Average over 1,610 plate appearances, all while being younger than many of the game’s top prospects—Kris Bryant, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, and so on. And yes, the fun fact that he has yet to face a pitcher younger than him at any professional level still holds true.
The first week of the season is overrated, overanalyzed, overdiscussed--and, also, enough to move the odds significantly.
Prospectus co-founder Joe Sheehan often says that fans would be better served by baseball writers if they all put down their pens and pushed away from their keyboards from Opening Day until Memorial Day. Rany Jazayerli—another co-founder—ran a three-part study back in 2003 that provides some objective support to that subjective statement: it takes about 48 games for a team’s seasonal performance to become more predictive of their final record than a simple blend of their three previous seasons’ records, and a regression factor. After 10 games, that rough preseason projection is still more than six times as predictive of final record as actual performance is.
Joe isn’t wrong, and Rany’s math wasn’t, either. We have some tools that change the way we perceive the early segment of the season, though. For one, we have PECOTA, which was just making its maiden voyage through April when Rany wrote up his study. For another, we have the Playoff Odds Report, which uses PECOTA and a Monte Carlo simulation that repeats the season thousands of times to give us an estimate of the chances that each team will make it to the postseason.
How the Marlins aggressively promote prospects who have minimal minor-league experience.
Every day until Opening Day, Baseball Prospectus authors will preview two teams—one from the AL, one from the NL—identifying strategies those teams employ to gain an advantage. Today: how production comes from unexpected places for the Orioles and Marlins.
But the move that would truly signal a new era in Philadelphia—at least symbolically—would be the departure of Chase Utley. Before DL stints became a yearly ritual for Utley, he perennially performed at an MVP-caliber level and helped lead the Phillies to five straight NL East crowns and a World Series title in 2008. On Saturday, Alden Gonzalez, who covers the Angels for MLB.com, tweeted that he’s been hearing that Utley is “easily attainable” if a team is willing to take on his contract.
A look at ever-increasing player salaries and the player best-positioned to eclipse the $300 million mark
Giancarlo Stanton got his first at-bat of the spring Thursday, making him the first $300 million ballplayer to step onto a major-league field. (Whether he opts out midway through that contract is an open question, but no matter.) Three years ago, when we were still stuck at $275 million, Maury Brown wondered who would be the first player to break that threshold.
"Professional baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest of the public must be increased in some way. If one or the other does not happen, bankruptcy stares every team in the face." – Albert Spalding, 1881
Can you figure out how Jordan Zimmermann undid Christian Yelich's extreme approach?
The last time Jordan Zimmermann faced Christian Yelich, Steven Souza became famous. The 17 other times they met in 2014 proved less prosperous for backup outfielders (and search-engine optimizers), but were kind to Zimmermann in another way. While Zimmermann didn't shut Yelich down (though he held him to an OPS 40 points below his seasonal norm), he accomplished a feat nearly as noteworthy: He caused Yelich to pull the ball seven times. That's more than anyone else managed last season.
The Reds apparently will pass on the former White Sox slugger, while the Marlins are sniffing Frankie Rodriguez.
Reds considered, likely to pass on Dayan Viciedo
Power hitters can be hard to come by these days, so players who crank 21 homers and collect 46 total extra-base hits don’t often get released the following winter. Dayan Viciedo, who on January 12th agreed to terms with the White Sox on a $4.4 million salary for 2015, became a rare exception to that rule just 26 days later. Chicago ultimately decided to cut him loose and pocket most of the money, save for the $721,311 in termination pay that Viciedo is still owed.