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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Texas Rangers: To bunt, or not to bunt? Against an extra Astro in the outfield, Joey Gallo may not want to change anything | SportsDay

Say it ain’t so Joey.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 29, 2018 at 09:29 PM | 78 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: joey gallo, rangers

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   1. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:10 PM (#5645393)
The Astros did similar shifts against Matt Adams in their spring training games against the Nationals, using 4 infielders on the right side or going with the "normal" shift of 3 infielders on the right side & 4 outfielders. In both cases, there's no infielder between 2nd & 3rd. IMHO, you have to bunt or slap-hit against that type of shift. A little batting practice should be enough for a Major League Player to hit about .750 against such a wide-open-spaces shift.
   2. John Reynard Posted: March 30, 2018 at 04:23 AM (#5645423)
Against Gallo does he even have a .750 contact rate? Ridiculous shifts work against guys who can't routinely make contact even without trying to hit the ball in a certain direction (which reduces ability to make contact more). This is why teams do it.

Of course if teams played more contact-oriented guys with lower power, teams would simply not shift against those guys.

   3. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: March 30, 2018 at 08:43 AM (#5645440)
IMHO, you have to bunt or slap-hit against that type of shift. A little batting practice should be enough for a Major League Player to hit about .750 against such a wide-open-spaces shift.


I hate you and everything you stand for, but in this matter you're not wrong. A slap bunt down the 3B line there is a double if you run out of the box. It's not like he's settling for a single.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: March 30, 2018 at 08:53 AM (#5645446)
Ridiculous shifts work against guys who can't routinely make contact even without trying to hit the ball in a certain direction (which reduces ability to make contact more).
Part of the reason they can't routinely make contact is they aren't really trying to maximize their contact rate.
   5. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: March 30, 2018 at 08:56 AM (#5645447)
Part of the reason they can't routinely make contact is they aren't really trying to maximize their contact rate.


Right. Gallo and his type of launch-angle-or-nothing hitter have very low contact rates because they intentionally trade weak contact for swing-and-misses, in order to maximize the power of the times they actually make contact. Any major league hitter could play fungo with that shift and get at least a single out of the deal.
   6. bunyon Posted: March 30, 2018 at 09:17 AM (#5645454)
Absolutely. If you have the skills to be a MLB hitter, you can choke up and punch the ball the other way with a very little practice. Guys with the skill to hit MLB pitching could also learn to bunt if they do some work.

To me, it's insane that they don't. Not because they should hope to do it but, if they can demonstrate the ability, teams won't be able to shift to such an extreme manner and the hitter can go back to hitting the way they want without the shift robbing them of a lot of hits.

Right now, Gallo either needs to homer or hit a sharp line drive to reach. It just blows my mind that the guys who face these extreme shifts don't take advantage of it.
   7. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: March 30, 2018 at 09:25 AM (#5645459)
It's worth noting that Gallo is hitting second in the Rangers order. He's followed by Elvis Andrus (who has put up an 800+ OPS for two seasons running now) and Adrian Beltre (who is an All-Star bat even as he ages.) It's not like he's Freddie Freeman and if he doesn't jack one the game is left up to Nick Markakis.
   8. bunyon Posted: March 30, 2018 at 09:34 AM (#5645466)
OBP > SLG
   9. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 30, 2018 at 09:36 AM (#5645467)
Generally I agree that guys should be able to bunt/check swing against this but to play devil's advocate a bit I think it needs to be situational. If Gallo is leading off an inning, yeah, get on base. But if he's up with two outs and no one on then ####, grip it and rip it son.
   10. BDC Posted: March 30, 2018 at 09:39 AM (#5645471)
I'll play contrarian too. I'm not insisting I'm right, but I see the opposite argument.

The typical pitcher nowadays throws really hard all the time – the counterpart of the launch-angle all-or-nothing hitter. With the shift on against an extreme-pull LHB, you've got a guy throwing low-90s, with movement, on the inside part of the plate (or at least trying to). It seems easy enough to say "just tap that pitch down the third-base line" but I wonder how simple it is in practice. It gets harder if the pitcher himself is left-handed, too.

Meanwhile, you can't defense the home run*, and that's what Gallo's wired for: the HR or the long drive past the outfielders. It may not look pretty, but as Rickey says, it's an effective tradeoff. Gallo has an above-average OBP even with the shift, even without bunting against the shift; and of course he has a fine SLG. Is he a great hitter? No, and may never be. But he's maybe as good as he's going to get. (Or he'll get a little better, since he's still only 24, but in degree, not in style.)

The notion with a guy who has that much power is that he should be trainable to do more mundane things and thus become a great hitter, but maybe he's just a decent hitter with a very extreme repertoire of results.

*EDIT: Though I would love to pass the popcorn wagon in the concourse some day when Gallo's up, and see the right fielder standing there :-D

EDIT II: If I'd bothered to RTFA, I'd have seen that that's what Gallo himself says …
   11. bunyon Posted: March 30, 2018 at 09:41 AM (#5645472)
I don't think anyone is suggesting Gallo become a slap hitter. We're saying he, or any of these guys, could render the shift useless with a few doubles down the line the other way.
   12. bunyon Posted: March 30, 2018 at 09:49 AM (#5645474)
He doesn't have to be good at going the other way. Literally any ball hit past the pitcher on the left side of the field is a hit and often will be extra bases. The defense would have to stop shifting and his desired approach pays off much more often.

No, there is no defense against the homer. However, there is a defense against balls over the OF heads and line drives to a small part of the field.

To take an extreme example: If the defense came off the field entirely - only a pitcher and catcher - should Gallo continue to swing for the fences?


I don't particularly like TTO hitting but also think it is the most valuable offensive approach. But when the shift is as extreme as it is with some of these guys, its value lowers. If you're a TTO guy, you need to take the defense out of the shift. There is only one way to do that.
   13. Stormy JE Posted: March 30, 2018 at 10:30 AM (#5645513)
I'm guessing that a guy who was saddled with 2016's second-highest K-rate is unlikely to fare too well if his coaches suddenly demand that he try to slap the ball the other way. Heck, there's probably a greater likelihood that the club will ruin his home run swing than push up his OBP by a few fractions of a percentage point.
   14. bunyon Posted: March 30, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5645522)
BDC (or others): was the shift against Gallo as extreme in 2017? I'm not sure I saw a single Rangers game last year (out of the country much of the season).

If it was, then, sure, his OBP and SLG were fine. My hypothesis is that the extreme shift is going to lower both numbers.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5645553)
I'm guessing that a guy who was saddled with 2016's second-highest K-rate is unlikely to fare too well if his coaches suddenly demand that he try to slap the ball the other way.

His K-rate is high partially because he swings as hard as humanly possible at every pitch. That didn't used to be the way hitters generated power.
   16. BDC Posted: March 30, 2018 at 11:12 AM (#5645569)
was the shift against Gallo as extreme in 2017?

I don't remember seeing the entire left side of the infield open, no. It will be interesting to see the results, I agree.
   17. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: March 30, 2018 at 11:16 AM (#5645578)
His K-rate is high partially because he swings as hard as humanly possible at every pitch.


I find it difficult to believe that this is not a commonly understood point on a site presumably devoted to the sport of baseball. Gallo K's BECAUSE HE SWINGS FOR THE FENCES. If he cut that swing down, if only once or twice a week when someone literally put their damned 3B in left field, and pushed a legged out bunt double into the gaping maw of emptiness on the left side of the infield, he'd improve his OBP (a benefit), his team would have more opportunities to score runs with him on base (a benefit), and teams would eventually stop putting the 3B in left field (a benefit.)
   18. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: March 30, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5645585)
I don't remember seeing the entire left side of the infield open, no.


As far as I can tell, the Astros are the first team to take the shifting elements this far. Usually the 3B moves to SS, the SS moves to 2B, 2B plays a short RF and 1B plays more or less straight up. Yesterday the Astros simply pushed Bregman into LF, moved the regular LF over and played a LCF/RCF split as if it were a softball league, and *still* shifted the SS over to stand directly behind the bag at 2B. There was NOBODY on the left side of the infield. NOBODY.
   19. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 30, 2018 at 11:20 AM (#5645587)
The ones that get me are the non-power guys. Teams shift on Jackie Bradley all the time. Hell the Sox were shifting on Denard Span yesterday (he smoked a triple anyway). I mean, those guys shouldn't be at all adverse to getting very good at bunting. Every team has a lefty or two where I see the shift and think "are you ####### kidding me here?"
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2018 at 11:21 AM (#5645589)
I find it difficult to believe that this is not a commonly understood point on a site presumably devoted to the sport of baseball. Gallo K's BECAUSE HE SWINGS FOR THE FENCES.

Yeah. It's like people don't remember that there used to be power hitters who didn't K in 1/3 of their PAs. Albert Pujols K'd less than 10% of the time in his prime. Barry Bonds 12% for his career.
   21. Stormy JE Posted: March 31, 2018 at 06:48 PM (#5646305)
I find it difficult to believe that this is not a commonly understood point on a site presumably devoted to the sport of baseball. Gallo K's BECAUSE HE SWINGS FOR THE FENCES.
It's so adorable how some folks are so convinced that a player who Ks more than all but one another player in the bigs could instantly become Ichiro if he wanted to.
   22. tshipman Posted: March 31, 2018 at 07:08 PM (#5646312)
Haven't we learned from the home run derby that changing a hitter's swing, even if it's temporary, and even if it's for a specific purpose, can sometimes cause more harm than good?

If I were Joey Gallo, I'd be reluctant to alter my swing to try to slap a single a few extra times. That seems like it's more likely to mess with my mechanics the rest of the time when I'm trying to repeat my HR swing that I get paid for.
   23. Greg Pope Posted: March 31, 2018 at 07:42 PM (#5646319)
Haven't we learned from the home run derby that changing a hitter's swing, even if it's temporary, and even if it's for a specific purpose, can sometimes cause more harm than good?

I don't think we've learned any such thing from the home run derby. There are anecdotes, sure, but I don't think HRD has been shown to actually throw off a player.

If I were Joey Gallo, I'd be reluctant to alter my swing to try to slap a single a few extra times. That seems like it's more likely to mess with my mechanics the rest of the time when I'm trying to repeat my HR swing that I get paid for.

Joey Gallo's swing is now a fine-tuned machine? I'm not buying it.
   24. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 31, 2018 at 08:07 PM (#5646324)
Has bunting ever harmed anyone's swing? Perhaps they were doing it wrong.
   25. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 31, 2018 at 08:21 PM (#5646329)
I don’t think anyone is suggesting Gallo turn into Ichiro. He doesn’t have to drop a perfect bunt or slap the ball to a precise spot. He’s got literally half an infield where any kind of batted ball is an easy hit. I’d bet every hitter in Major League Baseball is able to do that pretty easily if they work at it. The bat control necessary to hit a ball 500 feet can be fine tuned.
   26. Stormy JE Posted: March 31, 2018 at 09:24 PM (#5646342)
I don’t think anyone is suggesting Gallo turn into Ichiro. He doesn’t have to drop a perfect bunt or slap the ball to a precise spot. He’s got literally half an infield where any kind of batted ball is an easy hit. I’d bet every hitter in Major League Baseball is able to do that pretty easily if they work at it. The bat control necessary to hit a ball 500 feet can be fine tuned.
Actually, some here are suggesting that he should have no problem slapping 95MPH fastballs and 12-6 curves to the left side for extra-base hits. However, I do agree that bunts should be attempted occasionally.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 31, 2018 at 10:18 PM (#5646354)
Actually, some here are suggesting that he should have no problem slapping 95MPH fastballs and 12-6 curves to the left side for extra-base hits.

Yes, because a medium ground ball is an extra base hit with no one playing in half the field. A weak ground ball is a single.

Against the extreme shift, he doesn't need to hit the ball hard the other way. He just need to hit a routine grounder to 3B, which is an automatic single, and will often be a double with the LF playing deep.

A 1.000/1.000/1.000 line is better than anything Gallo can do with his regular swing.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2018 at 10:34 PM (#5646356)
A 1.000/1.000/1.000 line is better than anything Gallo can do with his regular swing.


But he would never approach 1.000/1.000/1.000 ...

Count me among the "easier said than done" crowd. I think a bunt is the clear winner here, because the intention is so clear that even if he misses it, it might cause the defense to shift to a more normal alignment.

The article quotes Joey Votto on this topic, and frankly I take his word on the matter before any of you lot:

Gallo isn't the first to face this dilemma. The Chicago Cubs unveiled a similar four-man alignment against Cincinnati's Joey Votto last August. Votto attacked it by doubling into the right field corner.

His approach: Change nothing.

"No matter the infield setup, no matter the alignment of the infield or outfield, I do the exact same thing," Votto said at the time. "It's when I get caught up in what's going on defensively when I get myself into trouble, [like] changing my approach. If that turns out to be a detriment to hitting balls in the outfield, then I clearly have to hit it over the outfield and into the stands. That was also something I was thinking about doing."


This is a guy that, remember, has gotten in trouble among Ohio troglodytes because he has loudly prioritized OBP over RBIs.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5646429)

But he would never approach 1.000/1.000/1.000 ...


Every ground ball to the left side produces that line.

So, if he succeeds 50% of the time, and makes outs all the other times he tries it, he's still at .500/.500/.500. Much better than anything he can do.

It can't really be that hard to intentionally make an out. That's effectively what he's doing. Intentionally hit a medium ground ball that's an out 95% of the time.
   30. Jeff R. Posted: April 01, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5646433)
Every ground ball to the left side produces that line.

So, if he succeeds 50% of the time, and makes outs all the other times he tries it, he's still at .500/.500/.500. Much better than anything he can do.

It can't really be that hard to intentionally make an out. That's effectively what he's doing. Intentionally hit a medium ground ball that's an out 95% of the time.


And yet, nobody really does that. Why not? It's almost like it's not that easy to push a 95-mph fastball exactly where you want it to go.
   31. BDC Posted: April 01, 2018 at 11:25 AM (#5646435)
Gallo has stumbled out of the gate this weekend, 2-for-12 with no walks or home runs so far. He'll get some walks and home runs eventually, and he may improve his strike-zone judgment and become a star, but he may instead never really be a star; he may go along as a 2-3 WAR player who strikes out a boatload. That would be Mark Reynolds – that would actually be better than Mark Reynolds, and Reynolds has had a long career. I continue to think that if Gallo fails to stick around as a regular, it'll be because pitchers keep the ball in the park, not because he passes up some bunt opportunities.

Though as Clapper and JE were saying, bunting per se is not really the issue. All major-leaguers really should be able to bunt, which doesn't involve swinging at all and isn't going to mess with any hitter's approach. Whether or not you can bunt a high inside fastball the other way with any success is a different matter, but Gallo is a good athlete and a fast runner, and I agree that the occasional bunt would be a good addition to any batter's repertoire.

Swinging away and slapping ground balls to left field is actually harder, I think, despite the apparent comical ease of it. Gallo's whole approach is based on an uppercut pull swing. You're still seeing the fastballs inside, daring you to pull, and now you're supposed to instantly adjust both angle and direction of swing, and ground those fastballs the other way … this does sound more like Rod Carew than, say, David Ortiz. A successful ground ball to the left side might be an accidental bonus anyway, as much of the time as you could pull it off intentionally.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: April 01, 2018 at 11:31 AM (#5646436)
I would be a lot more open to the idea that hitting a pitch the opposite way was something extraordinarily difficult for these lefthanders if righties hadn’t been doing it for decades in a situation far less useful (man on second, nobody out)..Now I wouldn’t worry about it with a hitter as good as Joey Votto. But the swings of lesser mortals really aren’t that sacred.
   33. McCoy Posted: April 01, 2018 at 11:41 AM (#5646439)
Well, they weren't all doing it successfully every single time.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 01, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5646442)
I would be a lot more open to the idea that hitting a pitch the opposite way was something extraordinarily difficult for these lefthanders if righties hadn’t been doing it for decades in a situation far less useful (man on second, nobody out)

Exactly.

Hitters just don't practice situational hitting or bunting anymore, because they're convinced they get paid for HR and BB.

Well, they weren't all doing it successfully every single time.

Gallo doesn't have to do it successfully every time. 50% would be a huge increase in value.

And from a game theory point of view, after he hits a few doubles to left on routine ground balls, team will stop the extreme shift, b/c it's embarrassing to have a slow roller turn into a double.
   35. tshipman Posted: April 01, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5646504)
Hitters just don't practice situational hitting or bunting anymore, because they're convinced they get paid for HR and BB.


Who led the league in situational hitting last year, off the top of your head?

Now who led the league in home runs?
   36. BDC Posted: April 01, 2018 at 05:24 PM (#5646539)
First-inning solo HR for Gallo today. So far on the day he is slashing .333/.333/1.333 by not bunting, I have no idea whether that's better than .500/.500/.500 with the bunts :)
   37. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: April 01, 2018 at 10:07 PM (#5646603)
Twins apparently complained about someone bunting to beat the shift in the 9th inning of a 7-run game today. I wonder what the game would look like if the players could write all the rules they wanted?
   38. bunyon Posted: April 02, 2018 at 08:14 AM (#5646651)
No one is suggesting it is easy to hit the ball hard the other way. A lot of people can't. But simply putting the ball in play the other way is. Or is for someone with the skills displayed by someone who can successfully hit MLB pitching, which Gallo has demonstrated. We're also not saying you can "instantly switch". It will take practice. It will take the willingness to give up the long ball. But for someone with MLB hitting talent to, fairly quickly adapt a swing to punch the ball the other way is not a huge ask.

And, again, the goal is not to become Ichiro. The goal is to collect enough hits, some doubles, to make the defense come out of the shift.

I asked a hypothetical above: how would you instruct your hitters to swing if the defense played no defense? I think, obviously, you would stress contact above all else. A strikeout would be the worst possible option. That doesn't mean you would homer everytime. You would strikeout some. You would pop out some. You would get held to second or third some. But you'd do everything you could to minimize K if the field was wide open. Well, for Gallo, half the field is wide open.

Now, why is it important to convince teams NOT to shift? Well, what would happen if the defense could double the number of fielders? Would you expect BABIP to go up or down? It's obvious, right? By only trying to hit the ball where the defense is playing, with twice the number of fielders as usual, Gallo is giving up a lot of hits on balls in play. He needs to convince teams not to play him that way and there is only way to do that.

He has to bunt or hit the other way for maybe a week. Everyone now and then in a blow out and the shift vanishes. Or, he does end up batting .400 and slugging .700 if teams insist on shifting so absurdly.

Note also no one is saying change your approach for the usual "shift" that we always had. OF swung way around to the pull side, 3B way off the line. The argument to bunt or go the other way is solely because shifts have become massive, leaving entire fields open. Gallo doesn't have to guide the ball between a slightly wider than usual hole. He just has to get it past the pitcher on the left side. A routine ground ball to the 3Bman or to the 3B side of short is a double. A ball down the LF line is a triple or more.

The guy says he can't do that. But MLB hitters can't bunt anymore either and the reason is the same: they aren't trying to. And, for the most part, it makes sense. Gallo's approach, without a shift, probably is his best approach given his skills. But with that massive shift, he really does have to walk or homer to be productive.
   39. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 02, 2018 at 02:57 PM (#5647057)
Since this is nominally a Rangers thread: 'Big Sexy' Is Back:
The Rangers announced Monday that they’ve selected the contract of veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon and optioned fellow righty Nick Gardewine to Triple-A. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Colon, Texas moved righty Ricardo Rodriguez from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL. Additionally, Texas announced that Tommy Joseph has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Double-A Frisco.

Texas will turn to Colon, 44, to start tonight’s game in Oakland. The timeless veteran inked a minor league pact with the Rangers this offseason and delivered strong results in Spring Training, working to a 3.00 ERA with a 10-to-2 K/BB ratio in 18 innings of work.

Better double-up on the post-game spread order.
   40. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:03 PM (#5647060)
And, again, the goal is not to become Ichiro.
Which, of course, would be impossible even if Gallo wanted to, by virtue of the Inverse Law of Ichiro.
   41. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:17 PM (#5647066)
As far as I can tell, the Astros are the first team to take the shifting elements this far. Usually the 3B moves to SS, the SS moves to 2B, 2B plays a short RF and 1B plays more or less straight up. Yesterday the Astros simply pushed Bregman into LF, moved the regular LF over and played a LCF/RCF split as if it were a softball league, and *still* shifted the SS over to stand directly behind the bag at 2B. There was NOBODY on the left side of the infield. NOBODY.


Which is absurd and not the intent of the game's founders and should be immediately prohibited.

I’d bet every hitter in Major League Baseball is able to do that pretty easily if they work at it. The bat control necessary to hit a ball 500 feet can be fine tuned.


An oaf like Joey Gallo wouldn't even be in the major leagues if not for the current boring, beer-leaguer trends. In some ways, he's not really even a major league hitter. The blithe assumption that he has the capacity to trade oafish power for quality contact is just that -- a blithe assumption.

A clod like Joey Gallo flailing haplessly against an outfield with four guys in it perfectly encapsulates much of what's wrong with major league baseball in 2018.
   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:20 PM (#5647068)
The blithe assumption that he has the capacity to trade oafish power for quality contact is just that -- a blithe assumption.

He doesn't need "quality" contact. He need a routine ground ball to 3B, which will be a double, given the extreme shift.
   43. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:22 PM (#5647070)
He need a routine ground ball to 3B, which will be a double, given the extreme shift.


Who says he can do even that? If he could, he would.

You don't think the Astros studied the question before they put on the "defense" they put on? I mean, the guy was literally gifted a hit if he could hit a simple grounder to the left side of the infield. Not just to 3B ... to the left side of the infield.

This isn't what baseball was meant to be. It simply isn't. The game's rules have been hacked.
   44. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:34 PM (#5647076)
Joey Gallo has 701 career plate appearances and in 53.5% of them, he hasn't put the bat on the ball. He's struck out in 40% of them.

Sorry, but that's not a major league hitter in any serious sense of the term. The relative value of the various hitting events, as now hacked by Big Data, might say that he is (*) -- but he still isn't. Not as properly understood.

It's a slightly different point -- but are baseball fans so dull that they actually enjoy watching the guy hit like #### just because they occasionally will get to see him hit a homerun? Other than hit the ball far when he occasionally connects, the guy literally does nothing well on a baseball field. He can't hit (**), he can't run, and he can't field. At some point, something has to be done such that he isn't the kind of player offered up by the sport's producers. If it means changing the incentives and the relative values, then by all means -- change the incentives and the relative values.

(*) Or might not.

(**) He's, frankly, incompetent at hitting. A .202 career batting average while striking out four out of every 10 times you step to the plate will do that to a man.
   45. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:44 PM (#5647086)
This isn't what baseball was meant to be. It simply isn't. The game's rules have been hacked.

Bah. If John McGraw had access to real-time batted ball data on every hitter, I have no doubt he would have put his fielders where the ball was most likely to be hit. Same goes for Cap Anson too.
   46. BDC Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:52 PM (#5647091)
Ach, back to troll-feeding :(

Joey Gallo is not an oaf, and he was obviously a major-league hitter last season. You may not like his style, but it's roughly the same style that got Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds to long careers in the majors. Gallo may never be as good as Dunn, but he's arguably about as good as Reynolds ever got. Maybe he'll flop soon, but the idea that Gallo was bad last year is untenable.

Also, what on earth are you on about with "literally does nothing well on a baseball field?" Gallo runs well, plays a creditable third base, and is fine at first base. Those are important aspects of his value right now. Gallo's only 24, and he might not be a good runner or fielder for very long, but he's not c30-year-old Adam Dunn out there by an extremely long shot.

EDIT: He's, frankly, incompetent at hitting. A .202 career batting average while striking out four out of every 10 times

Gallo had an OBP of .333 last year in a .324 league. How is that not competent hitting? OBP is not exactly some black-box superstat :)
   47. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5647092)
Bah. If John McGraw had access to real-time batted ball data on every hitter, I have no doubt he would have put his fielders where the ball was most likely to be hit. Same goes for Cap Anson too.


Oh, I don't disagree -- but the rules would have been changed long ago to adjust.

Decent data -- accurate spray charts and the like -- have been available for 30-40 years, but still the norm of shifting only against a very, very, very few hitters held until like 3-4 years ago. As often happens when well-established norms get traduced, the traduced norm should now be codified. Happens all the time in American life, not just in sports.

Given baseball history, I'm quite confident in the conclusion that the sport was not intended to consist of a clod like Joey Gallo haplessly flailing against an outfield of four. I'm enjoying baseball's opening week like everybody else and it's good to have it back, but the sport isn't operating at anything close to peak potential. When stuff like ACLJGHFAAOOF become a way of life in other sports, the other sports always adapt. But baseball rarely, if ever, does. Bug, not feature.
   48. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:57 PM (#5647095)
he's still at .500/.500/.500. Much better than anything he can do.


How much better really? I guess the .500 OBP alone is pretty useful but Gallo is slow so putting him on first base is less beneficial than it would be with other players and while many singles with men on base have the benefit of advancing a runner two bases, any single like this against a shift is only going to advance a runner one base. I'm not entirely disagreeing with you, just asking the question because I think when you get to this style some of the traditional assumptions go out the window. A player with a .500 OBP is a great player because it comes with certain assumptions, but a .500 OBP with nothing but infield singles is going to have some sacrifices.

He's, frankly, incompetent at hitting. A .202 career batting average while striking out four out of every 10 times you step to the plate will do that to a man.


His OBP was better than league average last year, his SLG was better than league average last year and he was good for 1.3 WAA. Actually in a bit of serendipity and one of the things that makes baseball so perfect Gallo, the ultimate TTO lumbering player, had the same WAA as Jarrod Dyson a player who regularly puts the ball in play and has value due to his speed that Gallo can't dream of.
   49. SoSH U at work Posted: April 02, 2018 at 03:59 PM (#5647097)
You hate players like Joey Gallo. And you hate the defense that exposes the Joey Gallos as being so ill-equipped to play major league baseball.

Neat trick.

I guess the .500 OBP alone is pretty useful


The .500 OBP alone is extraordinarily useful, and renders everything that follows moot.
   50. BDC Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5647099)
Joey Gallo is not slow. He is an extremely large guy, and may not stay fast for long, but he runs well.
   51. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5647100)
Joey Gallo is not an oaf, and he was obviously a major-league hitter last season.


We'll just have to agree to disagree then. He hit .209 as a corner infielder/DH and K'd almost 200 times in a mere 532 plate appearances. There's no sense in which, to me, that's a major league hitter.

For more detail, see 43 and 44.

Gallo runs well, plays a creditable third base,


He doesn't run "well," he runs marginally ok. His fielding percentage in 72 games at 3B was .930. That's dreadful. (My back of the envelope measuring stick would be 1987-89 Bobby Bonilla, who I saw up close in many games and was the worst fielding 3B you'll ever want to see play in the major leagues. He'd probably cop to the charge. 1988-89 Bobby Bo's range factors at 3B were way higher than Gallo's and Bobby Bo played on turf.)

Those are important aspects of his value right now.


His running and fielding are "important aspects of his value"? Words ... elude. The only explanation is that you're a fan, which is understandable.
   52. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:04 PM (#5647102)
So, wait, oaves like Joey Gallo shouldn't be in the majors, but opposing teams also shouldn't be allowed to align their defenses to penalize oaves like Joey Gallo?

EDIT: Ha - a delicious, ice-cold Cherry Coke to SoSH.
   53. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:07 PM (#5647106)
His OBP was better than league average last year, his SLG was better than league average last year and he was good for 1.3 WAA.


Those things don't measure core competence. A cancer doctor who diagnoses ten patients, botches eight completely, and has genius, Houseian, insights that give two an additional 30 years over replacement isn't competent IMHO.
   54. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:08 PM (#5647107)
You hate players like Joey Gallo. And you hate the defense that exposes the Joey Gallos as being so ill-equipped to play major league baseball.


I hated players like Joey Gallo long before the shifts came along -- and proudly so. Google me and John Jaha, for example. The shifts make it even worse; they're basically the other team holding up a sign proclaiming, "LOOK EVERYONE, THE GUY HITTING IS A ONE-DIMENSIONAL BEER-LEAGUE CLOD!!"

It's the functional equivalent of an NHL team pulling the goalie when the other team's fourth line is on the ice. It renders the proceedings a bit of a joke, to say the least.
   55. BDC Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:11 PM (#5647111)
Well, I hated George Mikan when he came up with the Lakers, too. If you can't hit the running jump shot from 25 feet you shouldn't be in professional basketball :-D
   56. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:13 PM (#5647113)
Those things don't measure core competence.


Getting on base and hitting for power don't measure the core competence of a baseball player's hitting ability?
   57. SoSH U at work Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:14 PM (#5647115)
I hated players like Joey Gallo long before the shifts came along -- and proudly so. Google me and John Jaha, for example. The shifts make it even worse.


Oh, I know about your longstanding opposition to the beer leaguers. I've been around here as long as you have.

I just find it amusing when your passionate opposition to those ballplayers runs headlong into your passionate opposition to the data miners and modern defensive techniques designed to neuter those very ballplayers.

Methinks if not for cognitive dissonance, you wouldn't have any cognitive at all.
   58. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:19 PM (#5647121)
I just find it amusing when your passionate opposition to those ballplayers runs headlong into your passionate opposition to the data miners and modern defensive techniques designed to neuter those very ballplayers.

Methinks if there weren't cognitive dissonance, you wouldn't have any cognitive at all.


???

It's not dissonance; they have a common source -- data mining. Joey Gallo's cloddish approach is paid for by a major league team because of data mining, and the Astros play their ridiculous shifts because of data mining.
   59. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:22 PM (#5647125)
Getting on base and hitting for power don't measure the core competence of a baseball player's hitting ability?


They're part of it. But net-net his incompetencies outweigh his competencies -- and by quite a bit. I disagree that the core competencies of a hitter are properly measured solely by relative weights. I get the counterargument, and I get that mine is a distinct minority position around here -- but I'm still quite comfortable with it.
   60. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:26 PM (#5647129)
I hated players like Joey Gallo long before the shifts came along -- and proudly so. Google me and John Jaha, for example. The shifts make it even worse; they're basically the other team holding up a sign proclaiming, "LOOK EVERYONE, THE GUY HITTING IS A ONE-DIMENSIONAL BEER-LEAGUE CLOD!!


Did you hate Mike Schmidt too? Because through 1976, his first 2500 PA, Schmidt's K% relative to the league was barely better than Gallo's so far. 1.87 for Schmidt, 1.96 for Gallo. Schmidt led the league in K in 1974-76, and was 3rd in 1973 despite just 443 PA. After that he got much better. Maybe Gallo will, maybe he won't. But Schmidt was far from a clod.
   61. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:38 PM (#5647139)
Did you hate Mike Schmidt too? Because through 1976, his first 2500 PA, Schmidt's K% relative to the league was barely better than Gallo's so far. 1.87 for Schmidt, 1.96 for Gallo. Schmidt led the league in K in 1974-76, and was 3rd in 1973 despite just 443 PA. After that he got much better. Maybe Gallo will, maybe he won't. But Schmidt was far from a clod.


"Relative to the league." Nice move.

By 1976, Mike Schmidt had played in two all-star games, been an MVP 3, 6, and 16, won a Gold Glove (with many more clearly to come) and anchored the lineup of a pennant winner. His career batting average was .252, not .202. He'd led the major leagues in homeruns three straight years. He'd stolen 23, 29, and 14 bases the last three years.

So he was an ok hitter for average, a great power hitter, a good base stealer, and a great fielder. In other words, he was significantly better than Joey Gallo at every facet of baseball. (Which includes way better in OPS+, a more "modern" metric.)

Other than that, yeah, they're dead-on comps.
   62. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5647145)
By 1976, Mike Schmidt had played in two all-star games, been an MVP 3, 6, and 16, won a Gold Glove (with many more clearly to come) and anchored the lineup of a pennant winner. His career batting average was .252, not .202


At Gallo's age, his career BA was .197
   63. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:49 PM (#5647150)
He'd led the major leagues in homeruns three straight years.


He also led the league in strikeouts 3 times, something Gallo has yet to do.
   64. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 04:52 PM (#5647155)
He also led the league in strikeouts 3 times, something Gallo has yet to do.


Gallo's 2018 is Schmidt's 1974 -- when Schmidt had an OPS+ of 158. Want to bet on whether Gallo has an OPS+ of 158 this year? He doesn't even have to lead the majors in HRs, like Schmidt did.
   65. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:00 PM (#5647160)
Gallo's 2018 is Schmidt's 1974


Nice try, it's Schmidt's 1973. Same age, first time as a full time player. Schmidt batted .196, struck out 136 times in 443 PA (30.1% vs league average of 14.1%), and had a 92 OPS+. Gallo in 2017 batted .209, struck out 196 times in 532 PA (36.8% vs league average of 21.4%), and had an OPS+ of 121. I'd be willing to bet Gallo goes not put up a 158 OPS+ this year, nor will he match Schmidt's career as a hitter. But if 23 YO Gallo in 2017 was a clod, and not really a major league hitter, what was 23 YO Mike Schmidt? Slightly less cloddy because he stole 8 bases in 10 attempts vs Gallo's 7 in 9?
   66. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:05 PM (#5647163)
He doesn't run "well," he runs marginally ok.

You can find sprint speed online now. He's not as slow as you make him seem.
   67. BDC Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:05 PM (#5647165)
Bear, why does an OPS+ of 158 prove that Schmidt was great, but an OPS+ of 121 somehow not prove that Gallo was good?

(Leaving aside that at age 23, Gallo's OPS+ was 121 and Schmidt's was 92. As Misirlou notes :)

As others have said, it's fine if you just don't like a player's style. But if you want to make a statistical argument, you have to decide which stats matter. You can't just say that a given stat is relevant if you like that player and not relevant if you don't :)
   68. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:07 PM (#5647167)
Nice try, it's Schmidt's 1973.


The 2018 thing was a lead-in to the proposed bet. 2017 was Schmidt's 1973 and yes, Schmidt had a shitty year. I'm sure he looked oafish at the plate at times, but not as a way of life. And I guarantee you there weren't a bunch of people saying, "I don't care if he looks oafish, look at the walks and the relative weights."

In 1973, an oaf was just an oaf. There's a lesson in that.
   69. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:11 PM (#5647173)
Bear, why does an OPS+ of 158 prove that Schmidt was great,


It doesn't. Being really good at every facet of baseball, and excellent in several, proves Schmidt was great.

But if you want to make a statistical argument, you have to decide which stats matter.


It isn't a purely statistical argument, though statistics are part of it. It's an "applied five-tools" argument (*) and a "core competence as a hitter" argument.

Batting average matters to competence more than it matters to value. Same back-and-forth we've had with the discussion of the HOF candidacies of people like Dewey Evans and Bobby Grich.

(*) Look at something like Kenny Lofton's 1994. I mean ... that's a baseball player. MVP-4, LOL. There isn't a chance in holy hell Frank Thomas was a better player that year.
   70. BDC Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:23 PM (#5647177)
Being really good at every facet of baseball

Well, except striking out like a clod, which is apparently bad when you're Gallo but really good when you're Mike Schmidt :)
   71. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:31 PM (#5647182)
I was always a bit of a devotee of Bill James's power-speed number as a good shorthand for well-roundedness and players who could do both well always appealed to me. I simply don't care that we can now crunch the numbers more accurately, for much the same reason that I wouldn't care about watching two computers play chess against each other. So people were confused and flying a bit blind about relative weights and relative values of various events back in the day. BFD. I have yet to read anything that even comes close to convincing me that I should care.

In 1994, Kenny Lofton hit .325 with 80 walks, had 9 triples and 12 homers, and 60 stolen bases, and played a gold glove caliber centerfield, in a season that had 40% of it lopped off. If we can now crunch the numbers superduper accurately, and find some more one-dimensional -- and potentially even oafish -- mix can be more "valuable," I literally do not care. I'd much rather watch Kenny Lofton play.(*) That's the philosophical divide here.

(*) And to take it even further, though irrelevant, I'd rather look at Kenny Lofton's statistics.
   72. PreservedFish Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:35 PM (#5647184)
Well this thread certainly took a great turn.
   73. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:35 PM (#5647185)
Do you also hate one-dimensional speed guys like Vince Coleman/Juan Pierre/Ben Revere, or just the oaves?
   74. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:40 PM (#5647189)
Do you also hate one-dimensional speed guys like Vince Coleman/Juan Pierre/Ben Revere, or just the oaves?


The Cardinals and Marlins didn't seem to have much trouble winning games when Coleman and Pierre were at their best. Pirates won with Omar Moreno.

So at the end of the day, who cares? They were exciting players and their teams won. Good enough for me. The retort is that their lineups weren't optimal and they didn't "play the most optimal way." There's no reason I should care about that, particularly if the most optimal way is way more boring. In terms of aesthetics, baseball has devolved, not evolved, as things have gotten more "optimal." So not only shouldn't I care, I should prefer the more aesthetically evolved version. Which for the most part, I do. I mean, put Coleman's 1985 or Pierre's 2003 on modern MLB.tv in HD and MLB At Bat, and current stadiums, compare it to 2018 actual, and it's not even a close call. I wouldn't say that about any of the other four major North American sports. (Although the NBA is getting a bit too homogenized and three-happy for my tastes.)

Bill James got all this started with his entirely correct observations that some baseball front offices did some dumb things and baseball beat writers sometimes said some dumb things. But it's a very long distance between that and "Everything everywhere in baseball must be hyper-rationalized and hyper-systematized." That very long distance is what people miss.
   75. PreservedFish Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:52 PM (#5647196)
It's worth noting that Gallo has one of the strongest arms in baseball - is throwing strength still an important skill? Or is it a wan modern liberal construct?
   76. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 02, 2018 at 05:59 PM (#5647200)
I was always a bit of a devotee of Bill James's power-speed number as a good shorthand for well-roundedness and players who could do both well always appealed to me.


The Cardinals and Marlins didn't seem to have much trouble winning games when Coleman and Pierre were at their best. Pirates won with Omar Moreno.

So at the end of the day, who cares?


Gallo had a power/speed number last year of 12.0. Top numbers for Coleman, Pierre, and Moreno:

VC - 11.1
JP - 5.6
OM - 14.5

Clearly the 12.0 guy is the least rounded.
   77. -- Posted: April 02, 2018 at 06:02 PM (#5647204)
Gallo had a power/speed number last year of 12.0. Top numbers for Coleman, Pierre, and Moreno:


But Gallo's doesn't translate exactly because he swings out of his shoes practically every time he swings, giving him an advantage in HRs over his predecessors. He's only permitted to do that because of data mining and the collapse of a worthy norm.

Nor of course did I ever say Juan Pierre and Vince Coleman were well-rounded players. You're inventing that. But as between their applied speed and Joey Gallo's somewhat artificial homers, I'll take their applied speed.
   78. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 02, 2018 at 06:11 PM (#5647206)
But Gallo's doesn't translate because he swings out of his shoes practically every time he swings, giving him an advantage in HRs over his predecessors. He's only permitted to do it because of data mining and the collapse of a worthy norm.


They could have used data mining in the 70's, and maybe that would have stopped Omar Moreno from swinging out of his shoes, as his routine 100+ K numbers, and my teen age eyes will testify to. That guy swung for the fences all the time.

Look, it's clear you prefer BA and stolen bases to value. And you prefer players on winning teams. That's cool, but it doesn't make Gallo "barely a ballplayer"

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