On the 18th episode of the DFA podcast, it's time to talk about all those medium-sized deals that are part and parcel of deadline season. The Padres and Royals swap intriguing pitchers, Jaime Garcia (finally) heads to Minnesota, and the Red Sox add two third basemen: one from within and one from without.
It's Baseball Prospectus's newest podcast: DFA! Host Bryan Grosnick (Baseball Prospectus), co-host R.J. Anderson (CBS Sports), and producer Shawn Brody (Beyond the Box Score, BP Mets) are talking about all the transactions and roster moves that make MLB go. From trades and signings to callups and disabled list stints, DFA is here to provide analysis and commentary on all things baseball.
One of the concerns about contemporary baseball is that it’s becoming boring. The Three True Outcomes—walks, strikeouts, and home runs—have accounted for more than a third of all plate appearances so far this season, an all-time high.
That means less action on the field. We’re not just talking about, for example, fewer hit-and-runs; we’re talking less running altogether. Byron Buxton sprinting first-to-third, Jarrod Dyson chasing down a liner to the gap, Yasiel Puig throwing out a runner—that’s exciting. Players walking to and from the dugout, trotting around the bases, or taking first base on a walk—not so much. On a related note, 42 percent of runs so far this year have scored on homers, the highest percentage ever.
Trea Turner's first 162 games have featured some greatness, some goodness, and a few remaining questions.
No matter what happens during Trea Turner’s career on the field, he forever left his mark off the field by motivating Major League Baseball to change the way it handles trades of recent draft picks—the Trea Turner Rule, unofficially. Turner was drafted 13th overall by the Padres in 2014 out of North Carolina State, where he hit .342 with 113 steals in 173 games. After signing quickly for $2.9 million, he debuted by hitting .323 with 23 steals in 69 games between rookie-ball and low Single-A, establishing himself as a consensus top-100 prospect right away. And then that winter the Padres traded him. Sort of.
New general manager A.J. Preller was hell-bent on turning a 77-85 team into an immediate winner, giving up prospects, young major leaguers, and piles of cash to bring in Craig Kimbrel, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, James Shields, Melvin Upton, and Derek Norris, among others. Myers was acquired from the Rays in a three-team blockbuster that involved Turner being dealt to the Nationals. However, because he was just six months removed from signing and MLB rules prohibited draft picks from being traded for a full year, Turner’s inclusion in the swap had to be masked as a “player to be named later.”
There are plenty of theories out there as to the nature of the home run spike lately, and I've got another one to pull on your coat about. Juiced ball notwithstanding, there’s also a legitimate evolution in batter approach and swing plane at play today that’s at least helping do some of the heavy lifting.
The dance between pitchers and hitters, we know, is a complex, ever-evolving relationship of adjustments and counter-adjustments. As the dawn of Big Data increasingly began to confirm that ground balls are the bee’s knees for limiting damage, pitchers quite naturally began to adjust by trying to coax as many of those suckers as possible. They’ve done so by increasingly attacking the lower portions of the zone (and beyond) over the past decade, attempting to sneak under barrels with plane and by manipulating the ball to put north-south action on it.
The Situation: Manuel Margot hit the shelf with a strained calf, and the Padres will continue making good use of their catastrophic start to work another rookie into big-league experience by unleashing Franchy on the expansive Petco center field landscape. After starting to put it together with a strong performance across two levels last year, Cordero has continued to hit well at Triple-A El Paso, posting a .289/.349/.520 line across 42 games to start the season. That sound you hear in the distance is a giddy Jason Parks (#RIP) merrily frolicking along a hillside under a cool, come-hither sky.
The Background: The Padres inked Cordero to a $175,000 deal in November of the 2011 international signing period when he was 17, and he tantalized with explosive quick-twitch athleticism and projectability in the DSL the following summer before heading stateside in 2013, where he showcased more of the same. Parks said he had Role 6 potential in Spring Training of 2014, though he noted at the time that Franchy’s home would probably need to migrate from the six spot he’d occupied up until that point. He remained there through a successful short-season debut, but moved to the outfield grass in time for full-season ball in 2015. The gap between his raw present and intriguing potential future skill was on display in the Midwest League in 2015, but despite struggling with the bat he impressed the brass enough to warrant promotion to the Cal League in 2016, where he started to pick things up production-wise. He hasn’t really stopped hitting over the past calendar year, traversing three levels in the process to arrive at the doorstep of the majors.
Ryan Schimpf has 28 homers in 366 at-bats and barely anyone has noticed, maybe because the ball is juiced everywhere.
Ryan Schimpf hit a home run against Clayton Kershaw this weekend. A 28-year-old rookie last year, the Padres infielder has now cracked 28 bombs (and 51 total extra-base hits) in under 450 career plate appearances. He’s drawn 62 walks and struck out 141 times in that short period. He’s an adequate fielder, so although all he really has at the plate is a powerful uppercut swing and the willingness to reserve it for pitches he can hit, he’s been worth an impressive 3.9 WARP.
In the coffee shops that blanket the cinematic and television landscape (and presumably at least dot the real-life landscape), there are baristas and also less pretentiously named workers who learn the preferences of frequent customers and, after some repetition, whip up the regular orders without a word needing to be said. The clearer their wishes, the more likely they are to be fulfilled.
The relationship between pitchers and their regular customers is basically the polar opposite.