The tater trots for July 23 (and the weekend): Mike Napoli hits a bomb, Carlos Gonzalez takes a stroll, and Chase Utley edges out Josh Rutledge.
It's been a few days since the last Tater Trot Tracker post. And though I was able to time each trot over the weekend, I missed highlighting a few special home runs. The biggest homers of note came on Saturday, when Cole Hamels served up a home run to Matt Cain in the top of the third inning and then, in the bottom of the inning, Cain returned the favor to Hamels. It was the first time two starters had hit home runs in the same inning since 1990. Hamels, who had never hit a home run before, won the race between the two pitchers, besting Cain's 21.51 second trot with a 21.13 second trot of his own.
With 81 games in the books, Ben looks at which players are most likely to outperform, or underperform, their first-half results.
According to most sources, the start of the season’s second half is still more than a week away, but technically, it’s already upon us. All but two teams have played at least half of the games on their schedules. That means that most players have already accrued about half of the counting stats they’ll have at the end of the year, enough to give us some sense of whether their seasons are shaping up to be disappointments or successes.
Of course, some players have already left the bulk of their hitting behind them, while others are about to break out. Last season, Dan Uggla went into the All-Star break batting .185. After action resumed, he upped his average considerably, hitting .296 in the second half. Dexter Fowler played so poorly in the first half of 2011 that he was forced to spend a remedial month at Colorado Springs. After returning in mid-July, he hit .288/.381/.498, swatting all five of his homers and swiping 10 of his 12 stolen bases. On the other end of the spectrum, Jose Bautista hit 31 of his AL-leading 43 home runs before the break, and his teammate Adam Lind completely collapsed after June, following up a .300/.349/.515 first half with a .197/.233/.356 second-half showing.
Being weak on one side of the field hasn't doomed teams like the Nationals and Braves.
The 2012 Texas Rangers are the archetype of a winning team. They’ve scored the most runs in the American League, even away from their hitter-friendly home park. They’ve allowed the fewest runs in the American League, even in their hitter-friendly home park. No one can score against them, and no one can keep them from scoring. Whether they’re in the field or at the plate, they look like a first-place team.
Even among the league’s leading clubs, though, the well-rounded Rangers—and the Cardinals, who boast an even better run differential—are the exception. Most first-place teams are flawed.
A look at ever-increasing player salaries and the player best-positioned to eclipse the $300 million mark
"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
How long have we been hearing that baseball players are paid too much? By my count, it’s been since it was decided that they should be paid. Babe Ruth was the first to hit the $50,000 mark in 1922, and Hank Greenburg hit the $100,000 mark 25 years later.
Don't play with sharp objects, don't lie down in traffic, and never assume that any player is blocked.
When, early on Sunday morning, it was revealed that Ryan Zimmerman had signed a contract extension that had the potential of keeping him in Washington until 2020, I predicted that Kevin Goldstein would spend his day answering questions about the future of Anthony Rendon, a fine third-base prospect to be sure, but not one who would seem likely to be dogging Zimmerman’s heels anytime soon given that he has yet to play a professional game.
Kevin’s predictable response to those easily-predictable questions was that a lot can change between now and 2020, or between now and next year, including our entire view of both Zimmerman and Rendon. In fact, the potentialities of either could be radically altered as soon as… now. Or now. And also now. Entering 1971, the syndicated columnist Jimmy Cannon asked Casey Stengel for his opinion on Johnny Bench, then entering his age-23 season and coming off an MVP-winning campaign in which he hit .293/.345/.587 with a National League-leading 45 home runs and 148 runs batted in.
“I’ve had Al Lopez and Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra, which goes to show you,” the old man said. “But at his age, which is young, Johnny Bench is the greatest catcher I ever seen. But he could fall out of an airplane or his eyes could go bad, which could happen to a young catcher.”
Given their overturned offense, will the 2012 Giants be able to improve their won-loss record from 2011?
Not long ago, while discussing the anemic offense of last year's Mariners, we noted that 10 MLB teams scored fewer than four runs per game in 2011. Only two of those teams finished with a winning record. The San Francisco Giants represented the most extreme case; they won 86 games despite having the National League's worst offense.
That got me to thinking: How often has the team with the NL's worst offense finished with a winning record? The answer may come as a surprise.
In what might be Stephen Strasburg's first and last negotiation, it's best to let the man strike the best deal for himself.
We're about 12 hours from the industry-imposed deadline for players selected in the 2009 Rule 4 draft to sign with the clubs who picked them. Those players who do not reach agreements go back into the 2010 draft pool, with the clubs that failed to sign picks in the first three rounds getting a compensation pick in that draft.