How will Tuesday affect the decisions of Buck Showalter moving forward?
Buck Showalter most likely regrets his decision not to use Zach Britton in this year’s AL Wild card game. Regret, though, can be a tricky phenomenon. For instance, regret likely played a large part in Showalter’s decision to not use Britton. How so? Well, when Showalter was quoted defending his decision after the game as saying that “it’s an away game,” he was really saying that he feared using Britton only to have a lesser pitcher blow a lead in a save situation with Britton unavailable. Showalter was saying that he feared he would regret making a decision that could lead to that sequence of events.
This type of decision, one in which we make a decision in the attempt to avoid what we imagine to be the worst outcome possible (as opposed to trying to make the best decision possible), is fairly common place. How many times have you not applied for a job because you do not know if it would be any better than your current job? How many times have you not asked someone on a date that you wished you had? How many times have you not raised your hand in your class when you had a question? How many times have you decided to go back to the same restaurant instead of trying the new place? How many times at that same restaurant have you ordered the same thing? We so often choose the devil we know versus the devil we do not know, we so often choose the safety of the routine and of inaction often for no other reason than our being people—social organisms wired to fit in, wired to not do anything we might come to regret. It is therefore not surprising that even people at the top of their fields like Showalter could convince themselves into making poor decisions if only to avoid future regret.
Zach Britton's absence was the big story, but the Blue Jays' win was about much more than Buck Showalter's curious decision.
Because Twitter exists, there’s some chance that we’ll permanently misunderstand the Blue Jays’ win over the Orioles on Tuesday night. Because we can all document our feelings as Zach Britton remained unused through the ninth inning, then the 10th, then the 11th, and because we know everyone else was feeling it too, and because our worst suspicions about the whole thing seemed to be confirmed as the postgame press statements rolled in (no, Britton wasn’t hurt, yes, Buck Showalter was holding him back to protect an eventual, hypothetical lead), there’s a good chance this great baseball game will be forced to live in the too-short shadow of a single decision.
Time to hand out the hardware for those who brought home the bacon, and other metaphors.
Well, the regular season is over and with it goes the fantasy season. Hopefully you were able to take home a championship or two, and hopefully my advice didn’t cost you too badly in the standings. Like last year, I’m finishing things up with a review of all things closer. I’ll hand out a handful of totally subjective awards that are voted on by a one-man panel.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Last installment we started to break down the fastball by talking about velocity. While we touched on other aspects of the pitch, we will go into greater detail with fastball movement today. The movement of a fastball is just as, if not more, important than velocity. Eventually even below-average hitters will time up an 80-grade fastball that’s straight as an arrow, but only a small amount of movement is needed to move off the barrel towards the handle or the end of the bat. That being said, let’s dive into the different types of fastball movement.
If these players are on your league's waiver wire, they might be worth a look depending on the format in which you play.
Welcome back to our weekly walk through some of the players who may want to keep an extra eye on in your leagues. Mike and I will be tackling this topic on Thursdays again and focusing on a single hitter and pitcher in four of the more popular formats: shallow mixed, deep mixed, NL-only and AL-only. These are certainly not the only players who are worth picking up, but it gives us a nice opportunity to write about players we have close tabs on in our leagues.
Having a great pitch doesn't make you a great pitcher, as the PITCHf/x leaderboards show.
If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for PITCHf/x leaderboards filled with info from Brooks Baseball for a while. And now that you have them—again, if you’re like me—you’re compelled to keep sorting columns in descending order, in every possible permutation, just to see what will rise to the top. Sometimes what rises to the top is a name you don’t expect to see. This is an article about a few of those names, and the pitches that plucked them out of obscurity and took them to the top of a leaderboard where no one would have expected them to be.
There are many ways to gauge the effectiveness of a particular pitch. One way is to see how often batters fail to hit the pitch when they attempt to. This leaves out a lot of information—how often they attempt to hit it, how well they do when they succeed, how well the pitch sets up a subsequent offering—but it is a quick-and-dirty way to assess unhittability. The most unhittable pitches—by this definition of “unhittable”—are pretty predictable. Cole Hamels has the most unhittable changeup. Zack Greinke (or Edwin Jackson, depending on your minimums) has the most unhittable slider. A.J. Burnett has the most unhittable curve. (That one might seem slightly less predictable, but even during his disappointing seasons, Burnett’s curve was always hard to hit.) Among relievers, if you set the thresholds low enough, Aroldis Chapman has the most unhittable fastball and the most unhittable slider. Aroldis Chapman is really hard to hit.
Brian Wilson experiences more elbow soreness, Carlos Marmol's MRI comes back clean, Zach Britton gets good news about his shoulder, and Orlando Hudson's groin continues to keep him off the field.
Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants (Right elbow soreness)
After finally appearing to be over his 2011 elbow problems, Wilson developed soreness in his right elbow, which has to have everyone concerned. He missed over a month last season due to a strain of the flexor muscle mass on the inside aspect of his elbow. In addition to contributing to force reproduction levels necessary to throw the ball in the upper 90s, the flexor mass is an important stabilizer to the ligament, made famous by Tommy John (with an assist from Dr. Frank Jobe).
Velocity is one of the factors that have been associated with injuries to this ligament in throwers. Whenever a pitcher experiences multiple bouts of elbow pain within a year’s time, there has to be concern about some underlying cause, whether it is ligament, cartilage, or tendon damage. Wilson was able to throw in a minor-league game on Thursday and kept his velocity in the upper 90s. He’s not out of the woods yet, but for now, he’s day to day.
Prince Fielder is a perfect fit, but the Orioles have numerous questions to answer
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
Buck Showalter has high hopes for the latest youngster to join the Orioles' young rotation.
Zach Britton is a rare bird, and not just because he pitches for the Orioles. The left-handed rookie's best pitch is a hard sinker that during his minor-league days caused hitters to pound the ball into ground at an amazing rate. Britton has now reached the majors on the strength of his two-seam fastball that stays low in the strike zone and breaks plenty of bats.