Blue Jays blue-chip prospect Anthony Gose has been bad in the big leagues, but has he been so bad that we should start to doubt his skills?
Last month, I wrote an article about 2012 Red Sox draftee Shaq Green-Thompson, who had begun his professional career by going 0-for-16 with 16 strikeouts. I wasn’t sure whether to write it. Baseball players go through slumps, and baseball writers write about them. That’s the way this works. But Thompson was just a couple months out of college, and his struggles were so acute that to draw any extra attention to them seemed cruel. The Red Sox source I quoted was concerned that I was out to “crush the kid.” I wasn’t, but I was worried about what would happen when other sites picked up the story. Ultimately, I decided to write about Thompson, but I tried to do it in a way that dwelt on his strengths, explained his struggles, and focused on what his streak said about baseball. It was still the first and only time I’ve felt bad about writing about a baseball player.
Eleven days later, Deadspin picked up on the story (via some other site, which made me feel a bit better). By then, Thompson’s stat line looked even worse. A flurry of Thompson tweets and articles followed. Not all of them were nice. Thompson went on to finish the short season 0-for-39 with 37 strikeouts. He’ll be better at football, which he’ll play this fall. Maybe he’ll return to baseball next summer. Or maybe he’ll decide not to come back and risk causing any more crises of conscience.
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A 2012 draftee has struck out in his first 16 at-bats as a professional. What does that say about him? And more importantly, what does it say about baseball?
One month ago today, the Red Sox selected Shaquille Green-Thompson in the 18th round of the amateur draft. Nine days later, they signed him to a contract. This was important for an obvious reason: if Green-Thompson signed and went on to play professional baseball, there would be a professional baseball player named Shaq. But as it turns out, the selection was even more important for another reason: Shaq Green-Thompson was about to remind us how hard it is to play baseball.
Green-Thompson is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound, right-handed-hitting-and-throwing outfielder. But that’s sort of a secondary definition—you can’t bring up his baseball abilities without burying the lead. That's because Green-Thompson is also one of the best 18-year-old football prospects in the country.
Two starting pitchers are putting up elite strikeout rates this year, without adding new pitches or heaps of velocity. This is how.
Strikeouts are up this season. That, in itself is nothing new: strikeouts have been up in many seasons—most seasons, even—since the dead ball disappeared. The explanations have multiplied almost as quickly as the Ks. The mound is higher. The strike zone is bigger. Hitters are swinging for the fences. Pitchers are increasingly specialized, and they throw pitches they didn’t use to throw, and they throw the ones that they used to throw harder than they used to throw them. Also, Jose Molina keeps tricking umpires into seeing strikes that aren’t there.
Those are all valid theories, and more than one of them, if not all of them, probably contain some truth. But to that long list of culprits behind baseball’s increasing lack of contact, I’d like to add two more: Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer.
Prince Fielder's new deal has albatross potential, but the Tigers hope it doesn't turn out like one of John's picks for the worst contracts of the free-agent era.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
As your mind reels at the size of Prince Fielder's payday, take a look at this list of 10 free-agent deals that didn't work out well for the teams that handed them out, which originally ran on February 20, 2007.
A writer who never saw Jack Morris pitch watches him in action for the first time and comes away even less convinced that the traditionalist case for his candidacy should earn him a call to Cooperstown.
A look into the mind of the champion of Tout Wars NL, Steve Gardner
At the end of every season, something I have always found helpful is to talk to the people who won their leagues to see how it all came together for them. Over the next couple of weeks, I will interview each of the three winners from Tout Wars to see what their secrets for success were in hopes that you can apply some of that wisdom to your own pursuit of 2012 fantasy success. The first interview was with USA Today’s Steve Gardner, who won the NL-only league by 8.5 points.
In his fourth column in the Asian Equation series, Michael looks at the starting pitchers who have crossed the Pacific, in which many failures are punctuated with a few very notable successes.
In the flood of players coming from Japan, the majority (34 of 43) have been pitchers. Unlike the pursuit of the next Ichiro I described in my previous column, this has less to do with the success of Hideo Nomo than it does with the pitching market–pitching is a difficult commodity to find in any league. What has doomed many NPB starters in MLB, however, has been both talent and adjustment to a different pitching philosophy. To understand and explain the differences between the two, I’ve drawn not only on my own expertise, but relied on Japanese pitching expert Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker for additional insight.
Pitching differences reflect a deeper philosophical difference between Japanese and American baseball. As I discussed in my first Asian Equation column, Japanese culture appreciates baseball’s emphasis on discipline, sacrifice, and the dramatic showdown between pitcher and batter. Instead of putting a batter away quickly, NPB pitchers build tension by indiscriminately filling counts before a perfectly placed strike three resolves the battle. These aren’t seen as “wasted” pitches, instead reflecting the samurai-like virtues of endurance and dramatic battles.
There was plenty of shuffling around on the waiver wire this week, especially for NL clubs in search of a new third baseman.
Domonic Brown is back, and then is immediately sent to Triple-A. Pablo Sandoval incurs the same injury Brown had, and now we finally know what is wrong with Ryan Zimmerman. Ben Zobrist does in one day what Hanley Ramirez has barely done all season and Dustin Moseley’s deal with the devil continues (although apparently he forgot to include run support in those negotiations). In all, it was just another crazy week in the Tout Wars leagues.