Can mechanics help explain why Shelby Miller and Hisashi Iwakuma haven't maintained their early-season performance?
A couple of pitchers enjoyed breakout performances during the first two months of the season, only to wake up from the dream once the calendar flipped to June. Our inner statistician can easily wave these trends aside as the inevitable magnetism of regression to the mean, but I’ve found that reality often follows a more intricate path, with much to be learned through the analysis of outlier performances and small sample size.
Let's examine a couple of players who have fallen off from their early-season dominance in search of explanations that go beyond luck. In these cases, the “before” and “after” stats are split based on the arbitrary calendar date of June 1st.
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For one night, the White Sox look like the team to beat in the AL Central.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The White Sox entered last night’s matchup with Justin Verlander with a .237 team TAv, the second-worst mark in baseball. Only the Marlins, at .231, had been less potent at the plate as a group, and Mike Redmond’s bunch did not have the benefit of a designated hitter. Among junior-circuit clubs, the Yankees, 11 points ahead of the White Sox at .248, were the next-worst squad.
The American League’s least productive lineup, one with only two starters toting on-base percentages higher than .310, is not supposed to collect 23 hits in a game against Verlander. But on Tuesday, the White Sox did.
How did the Cardinals' young starter approach the Giants' young catcher?
On Saturday, one of the most electric young arms in baseball faced one of the best in-his-prime hitters in baseball. Shelby Miller's Cardinals came out of it with a win over Buster Posey's Giants, but the matchups between Posey and Miller were more interesting than just an outcome.
Posey, the 2012 MVP, received his award before the game Saturday. Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Jeff Kent, and Kevin Mitchell were in attendance to take part in the ceremony. Posey’s 172 OPS+ led the NL in 2012, and is the second-highest ever for a catcher.
When we talk about "impact" rookies, it's important to note that several rookies will be getting the call to the majors and failing to help their team in any way, shape, or form. Coming up with a few big hits or making a couple of quality starts, however, could make a big difference at the end of a 162-game season. Here are some NL Central rookies who I think can make an impact on their team's success in 2013. Click HERE for my NL East picks and HERE for the AL East..
Ten NL Prospects Who Could Start the Season in the major leagues.
Yesterday,I listed ten American League prospects that will be competing for a big league job in Spring Training and have a legitimate chance to start the season in the majors. Here's a look at ten National League prospects.
If the Cardinals' high-risk rotation needs help in 2013, can they rely on a pair of pitching prospects to plug the holes?
The St. Louis Cardinals have enjoyed a sustained run of success, making the playoffs for the third time in four years in 2012 despite a clubhouse that was missing a couple of Busch Stadium staples. The most glaring omission from the roster was the greatest Cardinal legend since Stan Musial, as Albert Pujols chose to pursue the bigger payday offered by the Angels, leaving the team whose offense he had carried on his shoulders for a decade. Manager Tony La Russa opted to end his career on a high note, retiring from the game following the Cardinals' World Series victory in 2011, and TLR took wingman Dave Duncan along with him to further deplete the coaching staff.
Replacing La Russa was former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, who shepherded the team past plenty of obstacles throughout the season. Chris Carpenter missed nearly the entire season due to injury, fellow ace Adam Wainwright was inconsistent in his first year pitching after his Tommy John surgery, and southpaw Jaime Garcia dealt with shoulder woes that earned him a summer vacation on the disabled list. Lance Lynn emerged from relative obscurity to spearhead the staff in the first half, but when the dust settled, the best pitcher on the club was Kyle Lohse, the 12-year veteran who entered the season with 4.64 career ERA and is now a free agent.
Gary Sanchez improves both at and behind the plate, Martin Perez continues to be a mystery, and Shelby Miller goes backwards.
Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds (at Double-A Pensacola)
Corcino draws too many easy comps to Johnny Cueto, as he's short, thick, Dominican, a Red, and has a big arm. But let's talk about him on his own merits, which include eight no-hit innings on Saturday to lower his ERA to 3.34 in 13 Double-A starts. Corcino's best pitch is a fastball that ranges from 92-95 mph, and both his slider and changeup are at least average pitches. There's considerable effort to his delivery, which leads to some control issues, and when he has problems with his location, he tends to miss up. He's a potential No. 3 starter with some refinements, and the 21-year-old has already made plenty of improvements this year.
St. Louis might not have Pujols, but they do have some prospects whose worst case scenarios are still pretty good.
Prospect #1: OF Oscar Taveras Background with Player: Industry sources Who: Signed for a low six-figure bonus in 2008, Oscar Taveras has blossomed into one of the minors' purest hitters, with offensive projections that could make him a perennial All-Star at the major-league level. With a violent, torque-heavy swing and an aggressive approach, the early word on Taveras was that the same characteristics that allowed him to hit .386 in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League would ultimately be his downfall against superior pitching, the kind that can use sequence and location to disrupt a hitter’s bat speed.
As it turns out, Taveras’s brand of violence is calculated, as he wields his weapon with a controlled fury; to the eye, his swing looks haphazard and aggressive to a fault, but his elite hand quickness and strength allow him to command his swing with more touch than is realized. He can barrel balls to all fields from all hands and has improved his pitch recognition skills, leaving him with an offensive skill set that has few weaknesses. The hit tool receives sevens and eights in reports, and some scouts have even put sevens on his future power, a tool that will continue to mature. His defensive game isn’t nearly as remarkable, but his routes and angles continue to improve, and he has logged time at all three outfield spots, which gives him some positional versatility. Taveras’s offensive potential is the truth, and if he hits his projections he will be a superstar. He isn’t a finished product, but his time in the minors is nearing its conclusion, as the 19-year-old Dominican is more than holding his own in Double-A and should compete for a job in the majors at some point in 2013.
Mitchell is not the best prospect on the Yankees Triple-A staff, but don't be surprised if he's the first to the majors. Scouts think he could be effective as either a back-end starter or middle reliever, as while he's on the small side, he's ultra-athletic and features a fastball that has slightly above-average velocity and plenty of movement. He's not going to be a star, but he should have big league value, even on a championship-level roster.