Adam Wainwright is a exit-velo monster at the dish, Dallas Keuchel loses a streak, and Lorenzo Cain has a tough night.
The Monday Takeaway
For those who sought to go out on a limb with their World Series picks this spring, the Rangers represented an alluring dark horse. They were so alluring, in fact, that, at least in this neck of the woods, the horse in question wasn’t dark at all. Five BP’ers, including yours truly, pegged Texas to go all the way in 2016, giving Jeff Banister’s club more backing than any other except the Cubs.
The Rangers had plenty going for them as a tempting pennant pick. They’d have a full season of Cole Hamels. They sported a breakout candidate in Rougned Odor. They’d added a cheap, high-upside bat in Ian Desmond near the end of the offseason. And, beyond all that, the injury-ravaged 2015 outfit had managed to win 88 games and the American League West. But, while I can’t speak for my colleagues, the determining factor behind my preseason vote was the potential for internal reinforcements to greatly bolster the roster midyear.
...an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of...
On Monday night this week, Jason Heyward played a baseball game in St. Louis. This wouldn’t be particularly notable, in the grand scheme of things, except for the fact that Heyward played rather a lot of games in St. Louis last year, and in those games he wore the traditional Cardinals red. And, also, that in the game on Monday night, he was wearing instead of those colors a uniform of dark Chicago blue.
On their march to the 2013 Bundesliga title, Bayern Munich triggered an out clause in Mario Götze’s contract, effectively poaching rival Borussia Dortmund’s best playmaking midfielder. Less than a year later, Munich again raided Dortmund’s cupboard, this time leaving with BVB’s top striker, Robert Lewandowski. Götze and Lewandowski are two of the top players in the world, but despite their talent, the moves were motivated less by Munich’s need to augment its already star-studded team than by the club’s pragmatic desire to cripple its only challenger to the Bundesliga crown.
The challenge of upgrading on Daniel Nava in Anaheim, the Braves' surprising semi-bid on Justin Upton, and the closer who wants to be a starter.
The Los Angeles Angels are trying to acquire an everyday left fielder
The Angels are currently set to go into this season with 33-year-old Daniel Nava as their starting left fielder, joining the 2014 Red Sox, the 2011 Pawtucket Red Sox and the 2007 Chico Outlaws as the only teams who can say that. Although Nava is smashing in spring training, his PECOTA projection (1.5 WARP) and his 2015 output (Zero.Zip WARP) have a little more authority than his .500/.619/.719 Cactus League line. As a result, the Angels are reportedly looking for an everyday left fielder to replace him.
The federal government gets into the sabermetrics biz.
Last week in Federal court, former St. Louis Cardinals executive Chris Correa was indicted on, and pleaded guilty to, charges that he improperly accessed the Houston Astros’ database, Ground Control, on multiple occasions. Before we go any further in this article, let’s get something out of the way. What Mr. Correa or anyone else involved in the case did or did not do is a matter for the FBI to investigate and the courts to adjudicate and I will leave that in their hands. Correa is quoted in the article as saying that he “trespassed repeatedly” and that he accepts responsibility for the case. Everyone else, not surprisingly, has largely declined to say much else.
As the end of Jason Heyward's free agency approaches, we look at the anti-Heyward arguments that managers and execs are surprisingly attached to.
Jason Heyward will sign somewhere soon. If you’re reading this, it hasn’t happened yet, but soon it will. When he signs, be it with the Cubs, the Cardinals, the Nationals, or the Angels, it will be for a ton of money. Heyward seems poised to get somewhere around $200 million on an eight- or nine-year deal, and it would be a surprise if it weren’t more, absent at least one opt-out clause.
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Diamondbacks interested in Yovani Gallardo
The desert was ripe with rumors over the weekend, one that came to fruition and others that might take time to unfold. After exporting Jeremy Hellickson to Philadelphia, the D’backs are said to be in the market for free-agent pitchers, but it’s not yet clear which starters could fit into general manager Dave Stewart’s budget.
How Matt Carpenter kept his signature skill from being a weakness.
Just over a year ago, Rob Arthur put together a series on plate discipline in which he used integrated probabilistic models to evaluate batters’ decisions to take pitches. It’s well worth going back to read in full, but for our purposes, I offer the nugget that I would remember most often throughout the 2015 season: Rob’s model found that Matt Carpenter was one of the 10 or so worst hitters in baseball at deriving value from taking pitches. That confused even Rob, who wrote, “Carpenter walks plenty, has good plate discipline statistics, and yet gains little value, at least on average, by taking pitches.”
Now, Carpenter took a ton of pitches during the period of that study, so though he wasn’t getting much from each individual take, he racked up plenty of value simply by taking a very, very patient approach. Still, Rob’s model had found something significant. Maybe Carpenter’s approach was too simplistic, or too passive. One way or another, in terms of leveraging each decision not to swing into added probability of the at-bat ending well, Carpenter was missing something.
A knock-down season series carries over into the postseason, as the more talented Cubs face the more experienced Cardinals.
The Cubs knocked Pirates ace Gerrit Cole out of the Wild Card game after just five innings, while their own dominating ace did what he’s done for months: Dominated. They now head to St. Louis for their first ever playoff clash with their arch-rivals.
Mets muster up some runs, but miss out on a chance to climb closer to first place.
The Wednesday Takeaway
The Mets have had an up-and-down July after a terrible June. They had put together some good games entering Wednesday's series finale against the NL East-leading Nationals, winning six of their previous 10 games. Their playoff odds had risen from 25 percent in the beginning of July to 39 percent after Tuesday's win against the Nationals.