The free-agent first baseman discusses his journey to the majors, seizing opportunities, and his approach to the game.
Lyle Overbay isn’t one of the sexier names on this year’s free-agent list, but the 33-year-old former Blue Jay should attract the interest of teams desiring a solid left-handed bat and above-average defense at first base. A career .274/.358/.447 hitter, Overbay has averaged 38 doubles and 17 home runs over the past seven seasons. Originally an 18th-round pick by the Diamondbacks, Overbay went on to play two years in Milwaukee before spending the last five in Toronto. He talked about his career progression and free-agency expectations prior to a game in mid-September.
The Yankees look to get back to yet another World Series while the Rangers are in uncharted territory.
From 1996 through 1999, the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Johnny Oates-piloted Rangers faced off in three American League Division Series, the first three times the latter franchise had ever reached the postseason. The Yankees won nine of those 10 games, holding the Rangers to a lone run apiece in their 1998 and 1999 sweeps. Times have changed, however, and while the Yankee machine has simply kept rolling, racking up four pennants and two world championships while missing the playoffs just once since their last meeting, the Rangers endured a dark decade before reemerging as AL West champions thanks to the shrewd deal making of general manager Jon Daniels and the fruits of their well-stocked farm system.
Various people throughout baseball talk about the importance of the Tigers' long-running double play duo.
“Tram” and “Sweet Lou." The longest-running double-play combination in baseball history, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker played 1,918 games together from 1977-95, the most ever for American League teammates. During that time they combined for 11 All-Star berths, seven Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger awards, 4,734 hits, and 429 home runs. They were, quite simply, the heart and soul of the Detroit Tigers for nearly two full decades.
The Rangers' starter discusses incorporating statistics, mechanics, and video into his pitching preparations.
C.J. Wilson has a unique approach to pitching. The Rangers’ southpaw is both “a math guy” and a student of biomechanics, and the melding of the two helps create a thought process that is as esoteric as it is analytical. There is certainly a method behind the madness, as the 29-year-old Loyola Marymount product has held opponents to a .206 BAA and a .306 SLG in his first season as a member of the Texas rotation. No American League starter has been better against left-handed hitters, who have gone just 9 for 97 against his slants. One negative is walks allowed, as his 60 free passes are the most in the league. Overall, Wilson is 8-5, with a 3.23 ERA in 19 starts.
Our resident veteran scribe has covered six no-nos in his career and all have had interesting back stories.
Sometimes, the wheel of fortune just seems to keep stopping on your number. Or not. For example, think of Marty Noble, the fine veteran baseball writer who covers the New York Mets these days for MLB.com and who spent years as that team’s beat writer at Newsday. The man has been covering baseball games since he weighed 180 pounds, and one look will tell you that was a long, long time ago. He's covered it all—except a no-hitter. It’s probably safe to say there are lot of veteran baseball writers who have not covered a no-hitter. That’s their loss, for there really is nothing quite like a no-hitter to cover. That was a lesson learned early in a baseball writing career. Real early.
In 1969, I took over the baseball beat at the Cincinnati Enquirer, not knowing what lay ahead, which was, of course, the birth of the Big Red Machine. But that was a year away and there was no way to know that I would cover six no-hitters or that they would come at me before I was ready for them.
A conversation about analysis and the game with the former skipper and present-day talking head.
Buck Showalter is in many ways an old-school baseball man, but that doesn’t mean the former Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Rangers skipper doesn‘t value data -- or that he hasn’t for more than three decades. He unmistakably understands the mechanics of the game. Currently an analyst for ESPN, Showalter offered his thoughts on a variety of subjects, including how the game has (and hasn’t) changed, why Paul O’Neill could hit southpaws, why switch-sliders make good switch-hitters, and what makes the Twins the Twins.
Those who switch-hit in name only make up a rare cadre all their own.
A few weeks ago I found myself engrossed in a Tommy Bennettarticle on the Braves and stumbled upon his usage of the term SHINO when describing Melky Cabrera. The acronym stands for Switch-Hitter-In-Name-Only, and refers to some hitters with 'S' or 'Both' under the Bats column on their player pages, and specifically the ones who might want to think about changing that status. They certainly switch, but they don’t offer much in the way of hitting. The term tickled my fancy, in part due to the fact that I’ve had an article on switch-hitters in my to-do queue for over a year now that was set to focus on those who consistently struggled from one side of the plate. Though the title of that shelved article involved Bobby Kielty and not this term; as we’ll see, maybe Kielty should have been included in the title.
BABIP isn't as luck-driven as many suggest, not after you drill down into the numbers.
If you don’t put your bat on the ball, you’re not going to get a hit, and if you don’t hit the ball over the wall, someone might catch it. This series begins with what happens the rest of the time as I develop a model to predict a hitter’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). In Part 2, I will explain some of the current BABIP superstars then some of the players where my system differs from PECOTA will be the topic of Part 3.