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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Saxon: Mattingly is running out patience with Puig

Much like Puig running out of the baseline or whatever the hell that was at 3B.

Puig batted .122 in spring training. At times, he seemed unfocused. In one drill, the Dodgers practiced calling for pop-ups. How rudimentary is that? Each of the veterans, including Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier took it seriously, dutifully calling for the ball and waving others off.

When it came to Puig’s turn, he jokingly turned in circles in right field and let the ball land in the grass behind him. You would imagine a 10-year veteran might not appreciate that kind of behavior from a player entering his first full season.

Now, only two games into the 2014 season, we see a little more faith erode. Before Sunday’s game, Mattingly playfully compared Puig to the boy who cried wolf, saying he never knows when he is actually hurt because he grabs a different body part every time he strikes out.

After the game, a 7-5 Dodgers win that Puig left in the ninth, there was nothing playful about Mattingly’s tone.

“Shoulder yesterday, back today, so I’m not sure if they’re going to get him tests or get him to the MRI Monday or a bone scan on Tuesday, maybe,” Mattingly said sarcastically. “I’m not quite sure what we’ll do. We may not do anything. I’m not sure.”

After Puig’s first base-running gaffe Sunday, Mattingly slapped him on the back when he came off the field. After the second, he didn’t.

It seems pretty clear where this is going. Players with Puig’s volatile personality are a lot easier to like when they’re batting .517 than they are when they’re batting .122. These early months will dictate how the Dodgers handle Puig going forward.

The diva act will be tolerated as long as it rests on top of a sturdy batting average.

Repoz Posted: March 23, 2014 at 08:23 AM | 82 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dodgers

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   1. Dale Sams Posted: March 23, 2014 at 11:18 AM (#4675636)
Just Yasiel being Yasiel.
   2. Lassus Posted: March 23, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4675638)
I think if he bashes the hell out of the ball, they'll deal. The more important question will be if he does.
   3. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: March 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4675639)
he showed up weighing 251 pounds, 26 more than he weighed at the end of last season and 15 more than he weighed when he showed up the previous spring.
Wow, he's not even in the best shape of his life.
   4. RJ in TO Posted: March 23, 2014 at 12:19 PM (#4675644)
If Mattingly is fed up with him, I'm sure there are plenty of other teams willing to deal with Puig's "issues."
   5. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 23, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4675660)
Good chance his first year goes down as one of the all time fluke seasons.
   6. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: March 23, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4675667)
It's only a matter of time until this guy gets his ass kicked by someone. Everything about him screams out "disrespectful punk".
   7. MikeTorrez Posted: March 23, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4675670)
If Mattingly is fed up with him, I'm sure there are plenty of other teams willing to deal with Puig's "issues."


Always nice to know teams will look the other way when people drink and drive as long as they hit well.
   8. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: March 23, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4675671)
It's only a matter of time until this guy gets his ass kicked by someone. Everything about him screams out "disrespectful punk".


He's the Cuban Bryce Harper.
   9. MikeTorrez Posted: March 23, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4675672)
Oh I'm sorry. "Reckless driving" not a DUI. Still needs to grow up.
   10. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: March 23, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4675684)
He's the Cuban Bryce Harper.

Speaking of which, I love how the bad karma the Braves accumulated from repeatedly drilling him last year is still ####### them in the ass ten ways to Sunday, as their pitchers are dropping like flies. Heyward's shattered jaw was obviously just the first of many indignities to come.
   11. Sunday silence Posted: March 23, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4675744)
isnt Karma supposed to reset at the beginning of each new season? then again the Cubs are probably still paying for stuff that happened a hundred years ago I guess.
   12. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: March 23, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4675752)
Speaking of which, I love how the bad karma the Braves accumulated from repeatedly drilling him last year is still ####### them in the ass ten ways to Sunday, as their pitchers are dropping like flies. Heyward's shattered jaw was obviously just the first of many indignities to come.


Have you figured out which if the bukake members was your dad yet?
   13. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: March 23, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4675769)
Isn't Karma supposed to reset at the beginning of each new season?

You would think so, but when Julio Teheran is your number one starter, it certainly has to make you wonder, doesn't it?
   14. gehrig97 Posted: March 23, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4675780)
Not surprising Mattingly would have issues with this sort of behavior. Donnie Baseball was the Jeterian ideal in terms of "playing the game the right way." And then there's the fact that after his injury, the guy had to have an hour of treatment on his back before every game just to take the field.
   15. Bhaakon Posted: March 23, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4675782)
Always nice to know teams will look the other way when people drink and drive as long as they hit well.


I thought he got popped for driving 100-something down the freeway while sober, not DUI.
   16. Uncle Willy Posted: March 23, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4675802)
Did Puig not shave his sideburns?
   17. Chris Fluit Posted: March 23, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4675808)
There is a big difference between losing patience with Puig's brash, showboating personality and losing patience with Puig's poor baseball decisions. When an old school sportswriter complains about the former, we should rightly ignore them (or, even better, make fun of them). But when his actual baseball manager complains because Puig got thrown out on the bases twice in the same game for boneheaded plays, we might want to pick on Puig and not the manager. There's a reason why the sabermetric crowd coined the phrase, Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop.
   18. Anonymous Observer Posted: March 23, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4675816)
There's a reason why the sabermetric crowd coined the phrase, Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop.


So, Yasiel Puig currently leads the league in TOOTBLAN. Did he score himself some black ink in this category last year?
   19. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 23, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4675824)
when a manager every once in a great while criticizes a player in public it can generate a positive outcome

but if there is constant criticism the atmosphere becomes toxic.

everyone, not just players, need a constructive environment to achieve optimal performance
   20. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 23, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4675827)
According to tootblan.tumblr.com, the leaders in 2013 were:

Altuve 16
De Aza 16
Carlos Gomez 15
Eric Young Jr. 13
Puig 13
Aoki 13

On a rate basis, though Puig is second, just behind Young.
   21. Lars6788 Posted: March 23, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4675837)
Why no mention of Puig getting hit and lingering effects of that?

Why the hit piece?
   22. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 23, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4675848)
The basepath gaffes were pretty bad. Myself and Phil Coorey were at yesterday's game seated in front of some official Dodger staff and they were effing furious. Both mistakes were little league stuff. Puig is heaps fun to watch and generates a ton of excitement, but he gave away 2 outs yesterday, the first of which really kind of killed the possibility of the Dodgers putting up a big crooked number. They got a couple, however at that stage they really looked like they were headed for a big inning.
   23. SteveM. Posted: March 23, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4675875)
Speaking of which, I love how the bad karma the Braves accumulated from repeatedly drilling him last year is still ####### them in the ass ten ways to Sunday, as their pitchers are dropping like flies. Heyward's shattered jaw was obviously just the first of many indignities to come.


You really are a sad, pathetic man.
   24. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 23, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4675877)
That's unfair. You left out "breathtakingly stupid."
   25. Dale Sams Posted: March 23, 2014 at 06:07 PM (#4675882)
How does "Getting caught going to second on purpose so the runner from second can score" affect TOOTBLAN. Personally I think it should have no effect cause to me it always seems to be throwing away an put for a run that would have scored anyway.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: March 23, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4675883)
An unasked question is why do these sorts of blunders -- and we can include fielding blunders here too -- aggravate "us" so much more than other blunders.

Soriano has spent a career flailing away at crappy breaking balls. While we bemoan his K tendencies, we have enough sense to look past them and recognize that overall he has been a good player and this is just one of his flaws. When Arroyo gives up another bomb we don't ##### about his lack of fundamentals or question his mental acuity, we just realize that he's Bronson Arroyo, solid but unspectacular pitcher and there's really nothing we/he can do to keep his HRs down.

I saw Moises Alou fail to get back to a base on a fly ball a few times during his Cub career -- which annoyed me no end. But he also hit 283/353/484 including a huge 2004 so why should I be any more upset about that than I am about Soriano not laying off a crappy breaking ball despite the fact people have been telling him to lay off that pitch for 15-20 years.

Almost all players are flawed in multiple obvious ways. Some of those flaws are potentially fixable and some are fatal. But at the end of the day, Puig costing an out on the basepath is no more damaging than Soriano's flailing or Prince's crappy fielding or Alcides Escobar swinging at every pitch.

No, that doesn't mean you don't work with a player to improve. But it does mean, as HW suggests, that there should be a limit to how pissed off you get. And it also suggests there's a point where you accept this is just who the player is, this fundamental flaw is here to stay and decide whether he's still a worthwhile player or not. Certainly the last thing you want to do is harp on the guy to the extent he stops hitting like Moises Alou.

Also take him in for a ADHD check.
   27. Lars6788 Posted: March 23, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4675892)
Because we see Puig as being selfish, playing for himself and a big baby.

Harper can do all the things Puig does and we'd chalk it up to how hard he plays or how much he respects the game.

With Puig, he has to learn how to respect the game, be less reckless - be humbled.

I feel like whatever enjoyment I'll get watching Puig play the next five years - there will 10 guys saying that guy is rubbish.
   28. Bruce Markusen Posted: March 23, 2014 at 06:27 PM (#4675895)
The reason is simple. These kinds of blunders are eminently AVOIDABLE. A player who flails away at curve balls out of the strike zone is still attempting to do one of the most difficult tasks in sports: hit a baseball. But blunders that involve not knowing the number of outs, not knowing how to tag up, not understanding the game situation involving the score and the inning, these are errors that involve basic levels of knowledge and understanding that highly trained and talented athletes should be able to avoid.


We all acknowledge that these are the best athletes in the world at what they do. Shouldn't they be able to execute basic, rudimentary plays that can be done at any level of organized and supervised baseball?
   29. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 23, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4675905)
An unasked question is why do these sorts of blunders -- and we can include fielding blunders here too -- aggravate "us" so much more than other blunders.


The obvious answer is that the perception is that certain types of blunders are more fixable than others (and, I'm sure there's validity to that idea on a general level). And, from the perspective of the non-athlete, the mental error is more likely to be greeted with derision because that's the one kind the average person thinks he wouldn't make (whereas we know we can't do the the physical things that a Soriano or Fielder or Escobar can do).

Edit: Should have refreshed between starting this post pre-dinner and finishing it post-meal.
   30. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 23, 2014 at 08:40 PM (#4675925)
Soriano has spent a career flailing away at crappy breaking balls. While we bemoan his K tendencies, we have enough sense to look past them and recognize that overall he has been a good player and this is just one of his flaws. When Arroyo gives up another bomb we don't ##### about his lack of fundamentals or question his mental acuity, we just realize that he's Bronson Arroyo, solid but unspectacular pitcher and there's really nothing we/he can do to keep his HRs down.

OTOH, some orioles fans b*tch and moan endlessly about the fact that Adam Jones can't lay off low and away sliders, which annoys me to no end. Yes, he'd be a much better player if he did, but it's not like he just decided "screw it, I'd rather strike out." He doesn't recognize the pitch! (His fielding, particularly his tendency to drift back on balls rather than running to a spot, is a more reasonable criticism IMO.)
   31. booond Posted: March 23, 2014 at 08:44 PM (#4675926)
Mattingly shouldn't run down his player in public. The "different injury every strikeout" comment says more about Donnie than Yasie.

The Dodgers saw Puig in the minors 2012, the minors and spring training in 2013, if there was an issue then why is he on the big club?

   32. Walt Davis Posted: March 23, 2014 at 08:54 PM (#4675928)
these are errors that involve basic levels of knowledge and understanding that highly trained and talented athletes should be able to avoid.

Error #1: It's got nothing to do with talent.

It's also likely got nothing to do with "not knowing how to tag up". Puig surely knows how to tag up. When he screws up, or at least when he screws up something like that, Puig recognizes the error he made. It is an error of concentration and/or an error of getting caught up in the moment.

We all acknowledge that these are the best athletes in the world at what they do. Shouldn't they be able to execute basic, rudimentary plays that can be done at any level of organized and supervised baseball?

You mean basic, rudimentary plays like laying off a pitch in the dirt or a foot outside or being able to adequately field a position you've been playing for at least a decade or keeping your weight under control or taking a decent route to a flyball? There's no excuse for any of those. Those are every bit as much a mental mistake as getting caught off base, they are every bit as much a mistake of poor preparation and not working hard enough and "not listening" to what your coaches are telling you. Why doesn't Escobar "know how to take a pitch"? Why doesn't he "know how important OBP is"? It's possibly the single simplest concept in all of baseball -- don't make it easy for the opposition to get you out. Puig does that a few times a year by screwing up on the bases, Escobar does it every single PA -- which player is more fundamentally flawed?

By all means, work with the guy on improving his flaws. Work with him on improving the things he's good at too. Airing the issue in public might even work with some players -- doesn't seem like Puig is one but I don't work with the guy. And, at the end of the day, if you think the total package just isn't good enough then part ways. As long as you're applying that same logic to the other 24 fundamentally flawed players on your roster (or 23 if you're the Angels or the Dodgers) then there's no issue.

I understand the "why" of course -- as you said, you perceive these blunders as "eminently AVOIDABLE." I'm telling you you're wrong. I'm telling you they are certainly no more and likely less avoidable than Escobar's flailing -- and almost certainly far less damaging.

I'm reminded of a time when the city of Wellington took a street in the downtown that had been one way and made it two way. In the first couple of weeks, a few pedestrians got hit by cars. Someone I knew referred to them as "idiots" as if they knowingly thought to themselves "hey, this is a two-way street now but I'm going to ignore that and jaywalk the way I always have when I don't see traffic coming that old way without bothering to check if traffic is coming the new way."

Why did you spend 5 minutes looking for your keys one day last week? Why did you forget to bring your wallet to work? Never found you'd left your front door open or your car unlocked?* Reminded yourself to pick up the dry cleaning on the way out of the grocery store then found yourself at home unpacking the groceries and saying \"####\"? Forgotten about a work meeting? Replied to all when that was a bad idea? Replied to one when you meant to reply to all?

Soriano knows he shouldn't swing at pitches in the dirt, Puig knows he shouldn't over-run a base. Talent is not the issue; knowledge is not the issue; intent is not the issue. Sometimes you will be able to fix the problem but it is like "teaching" somebody to never misplace their keys. There's a good chance that this will be a flaw throughout Puig's career -- or possibly Puig will over-correct by running station-to-station, never trying to throw a guy out on the bases but always hitting the cut-off man, etc. There's also a good chance that if you leave him alone, his brain/body will learn from experience and do a better job of getting the body stopped in time just like people eventually got used to that street being two-way ... but, yes, you'd think that the connection would have been made by now if it was possible to make it.

* A couple of weeks ago, not for the first time, I came out of my house to find the hatch on the car up. It had been that way all night, since I had brought in the groceries the night before. Chuckling I thought "well, at least I got the bike out of the back" because I distinctly remembered bringing it in. Of course there was the bike laying in the back. It's certainly true I'd have been responsible if the bike had been stolen and I'd have felt a right idiot. But obviously not my intent and likely I'll leave the hatch open again sometime in the next year, hopefully without the bike in the back.

   33. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 23, 2014 at 09:16 PM (#4675935)
I'm telling you you're wrong. I'm telling you they are certainly no more and likely less avoidable than Escobar's flailing


And I'm almost certain you're wrong. You don't really know whether they are any more or less avoidable than Escobar's fielding issues. In all likelihood, they are most certainly one or the other. I find it impossible to believe that all of these errors are equally correctable (especially since, on many of the ones you listed, such as the inability to lay off the pitch out of the zone, it's generally some combination of the mental and physical at work).

I agree with your point in general about the fact that we should understand that these flaws are merely part of the package and shouldn't be placed in an entirely different basket than other types of baseballing weaknesses, but I do think you're reaching too far to get there.
   34. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: March 23, 2014 at 10:07 PM (#4675952)
High school baseball is not major league baseball by any stretch of the imagination, and I feel like a nozzle for even bringing it up, but personally, I always felt like gametime decisions was the hardest part of the game. If I was having trouble making a throw fielding a ground ball or hitting a certain pitch, I could do about 1000 reps until it became muscle memory. But if I was having a hard time with judging fly balls on the basepaths and game situations there wasn't much I could do but keep playing and do my best to remember what I was supposed to do on paper as the game was going by at a million miles an hour. I tried repeating things in my head while running the bases but that was pretty distracting. I guess I might have been mentally weak, and I certainly didn't progress anywhere at any sort of high level, and furthermore there's no indication Puig has the desire to fix these mistakes, but I guess I kind of agree with Walt's claim.

For us, we watch a major league player miss a curveball and realize we could never have hit it. But we all think we know the situation while watching it safely from our seats. That leads to a certainty that those mistakes are easy to avoid, but that wasn't how it was for me in my rudimentary experience with the game
   35. BDC Posted: March 23, 2014 at 11:16 PM (#4675969)
Walt makes an interesting case. Some of the smartest and best professional writers I know make lots of spelling errors, and don't proofread well. Less talented writers might say "anyone can proofread, that's unforgivable," but it's not like they don't know that - it's just not always that simple.
   36. Scott Lange Posted: March 23, 2014 at 11:18 PM (#4675971)

But we all think we know the situation while watching it safely from our seats. That leads to a certainty that those mistakes are easy to avoid, but that wasn't how it was for me in my rudimentary experience with the game


Its not so much that I think I could do better, its that I see hundreds of other major league players all do better. I suppose that could be because Puig is uniquely lacking in the inborn talent of "recognizing game situations and making good judgments," but I think the Occam's Razor explanation is that he isn't trying very hard.
   37. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: March 23, 2014 at 11:53 PM (#4675981)
According to tootblan.tumblr.com,


Whoa. That really is a thing. Love it.
   38. Greg K Posted: March 24, 2014 at 12:46 AM (#4675993)
OTOH, some orioles fans b*tch and moan endlessly about the fact that Adam Jones can't lay off low and away sliders, which annoys me to no end. Yes, he'd be a much better player if he did, but it's not like he just decided "screw it, I'd rather strike out." He doesn't recognize the pitch! (His fielding, particularly his tendency to drift back on balls rather than running to a spot, is a more reasonable criticism IMO.)

It seems like in each sport there are things attributed to hard work, and things attributed to talent. It's always tempting to think that if only Daniel Cabrera had worked a bit harder on his accuracy, he could have made it. Whereas you rarely hear about a soft-tosser "if he just worked at it and threw a bit harder he'd be so much better".

For hitting, pitch recognition seems to be talked about as if it's a choice. If that guy put more thought into it he wouldn't swing at those sliders. But people just accept that the weak-hitting SS won't hit for power and incorporate that into their evaluation without wishing he could improve that skill.

I'm not sure how fair the distinction is, and its mildly insulting to guys like Votto to imply recognizing pitches the way he does is something any hitter can do if he would just make the choice to do it.
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 24, 2014 at 09:30 AM (#4676039)
It seems like in each sport there are things attributed to hard work, and things attributed to talent.

Right, but in each sport, there are actual things that are more or less attributable to hard work or talent.

Being in shape, running hard on the bases or in the field, knowing what the game situation is, concentrating on each pitch, etc., are far more about hard work and comittment than natural talent. That's why it pisses off fans and management so much when guys flub these aspects.
   40. Greg K Posted: March 24, 2014 at 09:37 AM (#4676044)
Right, but in each sport, there are actual things that are more or less attributable to hard work or talent.

Oh yeah I think that's right, and you're probably right in your examples. I think there are some aspects that are incorrectly viewed that way.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 24, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4676061)
Oh yeah I think that's right, and you're probably right in your examples. I think there are some aspects that are incorrectly viewed that way.

Sure, like swinging at breaking pitches in the dirt, or a pitcher being wild. For the most part, they're trying their hardest not to do those things, they just can't.

The batter literally doesn't see that the pitch will be in the dirt.
   42. Nasty Nate Posted: March 24, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4676098)
You mean basic, rudimentary plays like laying off a pitch in the dirt or a foot outside or being able to adequately field a position you've been playing for at least a decade or keeping your weight under control or taking a decent route to a flyball? There's no excuse for any of those. Those are every bit as much a mental mistake as getting caught off base,


Do you think that players know that the pitch is going to end up in the dirt but still choose to swing? I would think that the majority of hitters are just fooled by the pitcher.
   43. BDC Posted: March 24, 2014 at 11:16 AM (#4676102)
Do you think that players know that the pitch is going to end up in the dirt but still choose to swing?

When Vlad Guerrero was batting, we used to call that scenario "double into the RF corner" :)
   44. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4676113)
Being in shape, running hard on the bases or in the field, knowing what the game situation is, concentrating on each pitch, etc., are far more about hard work and comittment than natural talent. That's why it pisses off fans and management so much when guys flub these aspects.
I'm with you on the staying in shape and running hard bits, but intelligence and ability to concentrate aren't really about those things. Being able to make intelligent decisions in the heat of the moment is more about being calm despite the moment than working hard in practice. Sometimes this comes with game experience. Other times, it doesn't.
   45. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4676122)
I'm with you on the staying in shape and running hard bits, but intelligence and ability to concentrate aren't really about those things.


Yep. There are a hell of a lot of players on ADHD medicine - at least some of whom probably have legitimate issues in that area. And some guys just aren't all that smart. I certainly wouldn't have held the occasional bonehead play against Pedro Guerrero, for example.
   46. Sean Forman Posted: March 24, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4676146)
Myself and Phil Coorey were at yesterday's game seated in front of some official Dodger staff and they were effing furious.


Were either of you guys the Red Sox fan with the $40 hot dog they showed on TV?

I'm with Walt.
   47. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:05 PM (#4676208)
Sometimes you will be able to fix the problem but it is like "teaching" somebody to never misplace their keys.


I fixed that problem by putting a valet key for my car in my wallet, worked like a charm even though I never had to use the valet key in 7 years - for so long as the valet key was in my wallet I never once lost my regular car keys or locked them in the car...

Of course a week after I gave the valet key to my wife (she'd lost her set) I locked my set in the car in a supermarket parking lot...
   48. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 24, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4676254)
Do you think that players know that the pitch is going to end up in the dirt but still choose to swing? I would think that the majority of hitters are just fooled by the pitcher.

Of course, and it boggles the mind that this could be deemed controversial.

The controversy is predominantly ideological, of course, driven by fanboys who think their heroes can do no wrong and can't be criticized for laziness or stupidity by mere "mortals." To counter this, they define deviancy down, or up -- or whatever the hell direction you have to go to equate swinging at a filthy slider from an elite major leaguer with loafing or regularly ####### up worse than a competent little leaguer on the basepaths.
   49. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4676273)
Of course, and it boggles the mind that this could be deemed controversial.

The controversy is predominantly ideological, of course, driven by fanboys who think their heroes can do no wrong and can't be criticized for laziness or stupidity by mere "mortals." To counter this, they define deviancy down, or up -- or whatever the hell direction you have to go to equate swinging at a filthy slider from an elite major leaguer with loafing or regularly ####### up worse than a competent little leaguer on the basepaths.


I wouldn't be so extreme, but I think this is uncomfortably close to the truth.
   50. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4676279)
Do you think that players know that the pitch is going to end up in the dirt but still choose to swing? I would think that the majority of hitters are just fooled by the pitcher.


Why are some players "fooled" more than others?
   51. Sunday silence Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4676284)
they dont carry valet keys in their wallet?
   52. Nasty Nate Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4676287)

Why are some players "fooled" more than others?


They are worse at baseball.

Why did you put quotes around the word 'fooled?'
   53. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:29 PM (#4676302)
They are worse at baseball.


It's stunning that this has to be stated. Some hitters don't identify breaking pitches well out of the hand. They are, generally, amazing athletes with incredible baseball talents otherwise, but this is a weakness in their game. Not everyone has Ted Williams' eye. And barring some somewhat cutting edge sight improvement training processes that are nowhere near mainstream yet, you can't really teach "see the damned ball better." You can't improve that by trying harder. You can, or at least should be able to, improve "don't get thrown out taking stupid turns on the bases" by trying harder.
   54. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4676307)

Earlier in the sabermetric revolution, I think having a low OBP was mistakenly viewed as some kind of character flaw, or at least something that could be corrected. Players who didn't walk much and who chased bad pitches were viewed as trying to pad their triple crown stats and sacrificing outs at the expense of taking the easy walk and helping the team. When many people throughout the game didn't realize the value of a walk, I think that was an understandable if mistaken perception. Several decades later, the value of OBP is pretty well understood within MLB, and even the most sabermetrically inclined organizations have not been very successful at helping guys develop plate discipline (moreover, too much focus on drawing walks at the developmental stage seems like it can have real negative effects).

Why are some players "fooled" more than others?

I don't know but there are a number of plausible physical explanations -- worse eyesight, slower reaction times, slower bat speed meaning they have to start their swing earlier, etc.
   55. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4676311)
Why does Miguel Cabrera ground into so many double plays? He should be more like Mike Trout.
   56. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4676316)
Earlier in the sabermetric revolution, I think having a low OBP was mistakenly viewed as some kind of character flaw, or at least something that could be corrected. Players who didn't walk much and who chased bad pitches were viewed as trying to pad their triple crown stats and sacrificing outs at the expense of taking the easy walk and helping the team. When many people throughout the game didn't realize the value of a walk, I think that was an understandable if mistaken perception. Several decades later, the value of OBP is pretty well understood within MLB, and even the most sabermetrically inclined organizations have not been very successful at helping guys develop plate discipline (moreover, too much focus on drawing walks at the developmental stage seems like it can have real negative effects).


Agreed. This sort of thinking always reminds me of the story of Curt Schilling in Arizona. The team was going over how to get certain hitters out, and Schilling didn't understand why the strategy was to pitch them in a certain way to get weak grounders. Schill was like "just throw your fastball up and he'll swing through it!" He didn't understand that not everyone had Curt Schilling's fastball.

You can no more teach a guy to see the breaking stuff better than his eyes will let him than you can teach a journeyman to throw Curt Schilling's fastball.
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 24, 2014 at 03:53 PM (#4676321)
Agreed. This sort of thinking always reminds me of the story of Curt Schilling in Arizona. The team was going over how to get certain hitters out, and Schilling didn't understand why the strategy was to pitch them in a certain way to get weak grounders. Schill was like "just throw your fastball up and he'll swing through it!" He didn't understand that not everyone had Curt Schilling's fastball.

You can no more teach a guy to see the breaking stuff better than his eyes will let him than you can teach a journeyman to throw Curt Schilling's fastball.


Or Ted Williams as hitting coach telling guys to recognize a breaking pitch by the way the seams spun, and them not being able to see the seams at all.
   58. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: March 24, 2014 at 04:45 PM (#4676373)
Earlier in the sabermetric revolution, I think having a low OBP was mistakenly viewed as some kind of character flaw, or at least something that could be corrected.


I used to ride Garrett Anderson HARD about this on AOL boards and usenet. Now I realize he was just too lazy to be more like Tim Salmon, so I don't hate him as much.

;-)
   59. bjhanke Posted: March 24, 2014 at 07:44 PM (#4676531)
The one thing that I thought was really worthwhile in Moneyball (the book) is that Paul DePodesta had confirmed by statistics that the ability to take walks is much more a tool than a skill. I suspect that the reasons scouts don't treat walks like that is that they don't get enough chances to see a kid play. You can tell if a guy can run, field, hit, hit for power, and throw just by watching him for 2-3 games, if you're an experienced scout. But the ability to take walks? I don't think you can figure that one out anywhere near as fast. However, if you know that taking walks is a tool, you don't get frustrated with the Willie McGees of the world, you just accept that he doesn't have that tool, just like Mark McGwire was too slow to really play the outfield. The best you can do is watch the kid, see what he does have and what he doesn't, and try to balance it all out to figure out if the kid has MLB potential. And then you can try to get him to improve his weaknesses (take more pitches), but you can't expect him to start taking a hundred walks every year. He doesn't have the tool. - Brock Hanke
   60. bjhanke Posted: March 24, 2014 at 07:44 PM (#4676532)
The one thing that I thought was really worthwhile in Moneyball (the book) is that Paul DePodesta had confirmed by statistics that the ability to take walks is much more a tool than a skill. I suspect that the reasons scouts don't treat walks like that is that they don't get enough chances to see a kid play. You can tell if a guy can run, field, hit, hit for power, and throw just by watching him for 2-3 games, if you're an experienced scout. But the ability to take walks? I don't think you can figure that one out anywhere near as fast. However, if you know that taking walks is a tool, you don't get frustrated with the Willie McGees of the world, you just accept that he doesn't have that tool, just like Mark McGwire was too slow to really play the outfield. The best you can do is watch the kid, see what he does have and what he doesn't, and try to balance it all out to figure out if the kid has MLB potential. And then you can try to get him to improve his weaknesses (take more pitches), but you can't expect him to start taking a hundred walks every year. He doesn't have the tool. - Brock Hanke
   61. Squash Posted: March 24, 2014 at 10:50 PM (#4676593)
The one thing that I thought was really worthwhile in Moneyball (the book) is that Paul DePodesta had confirmed by statistics that the ability to take walks is much more a tool than a skill.

That was the one thing? :) Personally I would agree with most of the comments above that things like plate discipline (and fielding ability) are largely a tool, which is why efforts to teach it have been marginally successful at best.

Re: Puig in particular, given some of the reports we've heard, it wouldn't surprise me if he has some personality issues (overconfidence and overaggression are two that come to mind) that lead to his mental miscues on the field. Those issues can also make a person fairly insufferable on personal level, which might be part of why Puig is getting more guff than a lot of other players who had reputations for making bonehead plays early in their careers. Over 162 games it's one thing if you're Vlad Guerrero trying to throw everybody out but are basically a nice guy, it's another if you're airmailing throws and then figuratively flip the manager the bird every time you come back to the dugout.
   62. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: March 24, 2014 at 11:05 PM (#4676598)
Were either of you guys the Red Sox fan with the $40 hot dog they showed on TV?


Sean, fortunately no !

I balked at those a few times. We did have over 500 beers Saturday night though - that was fun
   63. Greg K Posted: March 24, 2014 at 11:19 PM (#4676600)
Why are some players "fooled" more than others?

The same reason some players hit balls farther, run faster, or throw balls faster than others.
   64. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 25, 2014 at 02:02 AM (#4676635)
The radio jocks on the D'backs flagship station could not be more delighted with this nugget of news. Months after the pool party, there remains many hard feels in Phoenix.
   65. The Good Face Posted: March 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4676685)
It's stunning that this has to be stated. Some hitters don't identify breaking pitches well out of the hand. They are, generally, amazing athletes with incredible baseball talents otherwise, but this is a weakness in their game. Not everyone has Ted Williams' eye. And barring some somewhat cutting edge sight improvement training processes that are nowhere near mainstream yet, you can't really teach "see the damned ball better." You can't improve that by trying harder. You can, or at least should be able to, improve "don't get thrown out taking stupid turns on the bases" by trying harder.


While I generally agree with this post, I do think that baserunning, like outfield defense for example, is also a sort of baseball tool that some players are just inherently better at. It's not a speed thing, more an intuitive capacity; Albert Pujols was slow, but just seemed to "get" baserunning, and Brett Gardner can fly, but still often looks mechanical out there, like he has to think through every move. Practice and drilling could almost certainly help, but some guys just seem clueless on the bases even if they're generally regarded as hard charging redasses who take the game as seriously as a heart attack. Jorge Posada, I'm looking in your direction...
   66. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4676729)
While I generally agree with this post, I do think that baserunning, like outfield defense for example, is also a sort of baseball tool that some players are just inherently better at. It's not a speed thing, more an intuitive capacity; Albert Pujols was slow, but just seemed to "get" baserunning, and Brett Gardner can fly, but still often looks mechanical out there, like he has to think through every move. Practice and drilling could almost certainly help, but some guys just seem clueless on the bases even if they're generally regarded as hard charging redasses who take the game as seriously as a heart attack. Jorge Posada, I'm looking in your direction...

There's definitely a "tool" aspect, but there's also a big part that can be studied and improved. Knowing what OFs have poor, average or good arms. Noticing whether OF are playing deep or shallow, Studying a pitcher's move to first.

I think there's more that can be learned (given the constraint of your speed) than can't.
   67. bads85 Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM (#4676738)
I used to ride Garrett Anderson HARD about this on AOL boards and usenet. Now I realize he was just too lazy to be more like Tim Salmon, so I don't hate him as much.


The Human Out Machine!
   68. The Good Face Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4676742)
There's definitely a "tool" aspect, but there's also a big part that can be studied and improved. Knowing what OFs have poor, average or good arms. Noticing whether OF are playing deep or shallow, Studying a pitcher's move to first.

I think there's more that can be learned (given the constraint of your speed) than can't.


I dunno. I think it's like taking a good (or bad) route on fly balls; some guys just do it effortlessly and other guys never seem to figure it out no matter how hard they try. Practice can probably help, but I really think some players just struggle with baserunning in the same way that other players struggle with sliders in the dirt. It's just a limitation in their game.

Jorge Posada was a famous redass and workout warrior who took the game VERY seriously, but he was a comically bad baserunner, one of the worst in MLB history. I don't think the problem there was a lack of preparation or effort; he just really sucked at baserunning.
   69. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4676745)
Jorge Posada was a famous redass and workout warrior who took the game VERY seriously, but he was a comically bad baserunner, one of the worst in MLB history. I don't think the problem there was a lack of preparation or effort; he just really sucked at baserunning.

Well, he was glacially slow. Also, as a C, I doubt he had much spare time to spend on his baserunning. The return on investment was always going to be much higher by working on his hitting, or working with the pitchers to gameplan.
   70. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4676751)
While I generally agree with this post, I do think that baserunning, like outfield defense for example, is also a sort of baseball tool that some players are just inherently better at. It's not a speed thing, more an intuitive capacity; Albert Pujols was slow, but just seemed to "get" baserunning, and Brett Gardner can fly, but still often looks mechanical out there, like he has to think through every move. Practice and drilling could almost certainly help, but some guys just seem clueless on the bases even if they're generally regarded as hard charging redasses who take the game as seriously as a heart attack. Jorge Posada, I'm looking in your direction...


Eric Karros was a terribly slow baserunner. His greatest "skill" might have been grounding into double plays because he was so slow. Yet, he was a pretty darned good baserunner and knew how to swipe a bag from time to time.
   71. The Good Face Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4676753)
Well, he was glacially slow. Also, as a C, I doubt he had much spare time to spend on his baserunning. The return on investment was always going to be much higher by working on his hitting, or working with the pitchers to gameplan.


I definitely think practice and preparation can help; at the very least a player who's a lousy baserunner and knows it can be very conservative and station-to-station whenever possible (which also imposes costs on his team). But Posada was no slower than your average catcher, and certainly faster than the Molinas of the world; he was just really bad at baserunning.
   72. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 25, 2014 at 12:00 PM (#4676755)
I definitely think practice and preparation can help; at the very least a player who's a lousy baserunner and knows it can be very conservative and station-to-station whenever possible (which also imposes costs on his team). But Posada was no slower than your average catcher, and certainly faster than the Molinas of the world; he was just really bad at baserunning.

Agreed, all I'm saying is that it's very possible that he never really tried to improve his baserunning, given the competing demands for his practice time.
   73. bunyon Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4676850)

Re: Puig in particular, given some of the reports we've heard, it wouldn't surprise me if he has some personality issues (overconfidence and overaggression are two that come to mind) that lead to his mental miscues on the field. Those issues can also make a person fairly insufferable on personal level, which might be part of why Puig is getting more guff than a lot of other players who had reputations for making bonehead plays early in their careers. Over 162 games it's one thing if you're Vlad Guerrero trying to throw everybody out but are basically a nice guy, it's another if you're airmailing throws and then figuratively flip the manager the bird every time you come back to the dugout.


This is probably true. It isn't like there are a lot of folks clamoring to defend the guy.

As to improving a skill, I'm not sure how much practice can improve baserunning. Some, for sure, but how much? The one thing that can be done is that Puig could learn about himself. If the data shows that his incessant trying to take a second base is costing him, he can stop. That is pretty binary. I can know that if I'm joking around and hurting my coworkers, I can stop. That is pretty binary. Sure, we'd like to say everyone can be themselves all the time but some people are annoying gits and, at least in the workplace, would be well advised not to be themselves.

As has been said, if he hits .400, people will tolerate a lot. But a .240 hitter can't keep forgetting the number of outs, airmailing throws and getting thrown out by 20 feet on routine singles.
   74. The Good Face Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4676875)
As to improving a skill, I'm not sure how much practice can improve baserunning. Some, for sure, but how much?


If a guy's an absolute disaster on the basepaths, I suppose you could train/convince him to play an incredibly conservative, station-to-station baserunning game, but that has its own costs; now you've got a guy who can't go 1st to 3rd, can't score from 2B on a single, can't score from 1B on a double, and can't take advantage of pitches in the dirt, fielding miscues, etc. Not the end of the world if he can do other stuff well, like put up an OPS+ of 160.
   75. bfan Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4676883)
If a guy's an absolute disaster on the basepaths, I suppose you could train/convince him to play an incredibly conservative, station-to-station baserunning game, but that has its own costs; now you've got a guy who can't go 1st to 3rd, can't score from 2B on a single, can't score from 1B on a double, and can't take advantage of pitches in the dirt, fielding miscues, etc. Not the end of the world if he can do other stuff well, like put up an OPS+ of 160.


How about learning how to pick up the appropriate base coach; it is practiced in youth sports leagues starting at about age 9, so I am sure he has the mental aptitude to learn how to do that.
   76. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 25, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4676884)
I think snapper has it right. There's a limited number of hours in the day and there's not much marginal benefit for a slow guy to spend a lot of time studying pitcher's pickoff moves or practicing his jump from first base. Even if he could pick up a few stolen bases over the course of a season, he's probably better off working on his hitting and fielding.

But things like listening to the first/third base coach, running hard out of the box rather than admiring a long fly ball, and knowing the number of outs just require in game alertness and effort, not hours of practice. And there's no downside risk like there is with trying to steal bases. These are the easiest outs to avoid and extra bases to pick up, which is why it's especially frustrating when those kind of mistakes are made.
   77. The Good Face Posted: March 25, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4676896)
But things like listening to the first/third base coach, running hard out of the box rather than admiring a long fly ball, and knowing the number of outs just require in game alertness and effort, not hours of practice. And there's no downside risk like there is with trying to steal bases. These are the easiest outs to avoid and extra bases to pick up, which is why it's especially frustrating when those kind of mistakes are made.


But some guys are just BETTER at stuff like that, and there doesn't seem to be any correspondence between "lazy", clueless players and intense, focused ones. Jorge Posada routinely made horrible baserunning blunders, and it wasn't a result of him being slow or a catcher; other, slower catchers have better baserunning numbers than he did. And it wasn't a result of him being lazy or unfocused; he was an intense redass who was all about "playing the game the right way". He was simply not very good at making quick, accurate judgments about when/where the ball was going to arrive when it was in play and he was on the basepaths.

With the exception of running hard out of the box, which is almost purely an effort thing (and also not very important), I think the rest of that stuff is a baseball tool, not much different from the ability to take a good route on a flyball, or to lay off on the slider in the dirt.
   78. bunyon Posted: March 25, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4676897)
And, look, it may well be that he can't improve his weak areas because he just isn't that good at them.

But let's not act like that doesn't count. Running into outs, giving up extra bases with poor judgement on throws, etc. counts. If you want to tally up double plays hit into, you have to count outs given away on the bases. If he can play like he played last year, especially at the start, he can have these weaknesses and still be valuable. But it will take his margin of error way down.
   79. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 25, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4676901)
With the exception of running hard out of the box, which is almost purely an effort thing (and also not very important), I think the rest of that stuff is a baseball tool, not much different from the ability to take a good route on a flyball, or to lay off on the slider in the dirt.

Knowing the number of outs is simply a matter of caring. No ballplayer is too dumb to remember the number of outs.

Picking up the base coach is also 95% about caring. You don't need to react quickly to look at the coach, and do what he says.
   80. The Good Face Posted: March 25, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4676914)
But let's not act like that doesn't count. Running into outs, giving up extra bases with poor judgement on throws, etc. counts. If you want to tally up double plays hit into, you have to count outs given away on the bases. If he can play like he played last year, especially at the start, he can have these weaknesses and still be valuable. But it will take his margin of error way down.


Oh it absolutely counts, and it's fair to ding a player for it, just like it's fair to ding a guy for taking lousy routes on fly balls, or taking terrible hacks at sliders in the dirt. Of course, a player needs to have some overwhelming strengths if they're going to stick in MLB while consistently making terrible judgment plays in the field/on the bases. Manny Ramirez's career is probably illustrative here.

Knowing the number of outs is simply a matter of caring. No ballplayer is too dumb to remember the number of outs.


Mmmm, we're gonna have to agree to disagree on this one.

   81. BDC Posted: March 25, 2014 at 04:56 PM (#4676929)
How widespread a problem is the (tactically significant) forgetting of the number of outs? I've seen really smart players do that on occasion. I am also sure that there are a few slugging leftfielders who if polled by direct brain transmission would have a hard time coming up with the correct answer often enough, but does it affect their play? See the ball, catch the ball, don't throw it into the stands unless you see a mass exodus from the infield afterwards. No extra points for answering the quiz mid-inning :)
   82. Greg K Posted: March 25, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4677047)
This isn't really meant to mean anything other than an excuse to mention that I went to a baseball game today (how amazing is that!)

Joe Mauer hit a high, high pop up on the left-field line today that dropped in. He assumed it would get caught and was only 3/4 of the way to first when it landed, so only got a single. A lady behind me said "they'll be kicking him in the dugout after this inning!"

I'm sure the Twins don't really care if Mauer runs out pop ups in Spring Training, but I thought of this conversation when it happened. Also, Spring Training is fun! And the Twins have a nice little park here in Fort Myers.

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