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Two-way Players Newsbeat

Monday, April 13, 2020

Sunday Notes: Was Jim Edmonds Better Than Andruw Jones?

Who was better, Jim Edmonds or Andruw Jones?

I asked that question in a Twitter poll earlier this week, expecting that it would be a close call. Centerfielders both, they played 17 seasons each and finished with similar WAR totals (Jones 67, Edmonds 64.5). Making the comparison especially intriguing was the fact that one was clearly the better defender, while the other was clearly the better hitter.

Instead of a nail-biter, I got a landslide. A total of 4,017 people voted, and a resounding 71.4% opted for Jones. Edmonds, despite having a huge edge in wRC+, garnered a meager 28.6%.

Let the debate begin!

 


Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Shohei Ohtani Close To Throwing Off Mound

Angels right-hander/slugger Shohei Ohtani has progressed to long tossing from a distance of 180 feet and is following those sessions up with higher-intensity throws from 60 feet, pitching coach Mickey Callaway told reporters on Tuesday (Twitter links via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register and Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com). The next step for the righty would be to throw off a mound, and while Callaway didn’t put a specific timetable on when that might happen, he noted that it should be “soon.”

Ohtani, 25, hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 2, 2018, due to Tommy John surgery that wiped out his entire 2019 campaign — at least on the mound. He, of course, was able to return as the team’s primary designated hitter for much of the season and turned in a generally excellent year, hitting .286/.343/.505 with 18 home runs and a dozen steals in 425 plate appearances.

 

 

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:48 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, shohei ohtani, throwing, two-way players

MLB free agent Jose Bautista shows off his pitching form in continued attempt to come back as two-wa

Six-time MLB All-Star and free agent Jose Bautista hasn’t appeared in a major-league game since 2018, but he may return with an added dimension to his game. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Bautista spent the winter working out as a pitcher and there’s now a video showing his progress. 

Marcus Stroman, Bautista’s Toronto Blue Jays teammate from 2014-17, posted a video to Twitter of Bautista tossing a slider in his front yard. In the caption, Stroman wrote Bautista could “easily” pitch in a major-league bullpen, adding his sinker, slider and changeup are “MLB ready.” 

Bautista’s hoping to become one of the few true two-way players in the MLB. To qualify, Bautista must pitch 20 major-league innings and play at least 20 games as a position player or designated hitter (with at least three plate appearances per game). The two-way player designation would allow Bautista to serve as a pitcher without taking one of the position’s 13 allotted spots.

A position player his entire 15-year career, it’s fair to wonder whether Bautista can maintain his arm over a full season. And in response to Stroman’s clip of Bautista, a fan asked if he’s capable of pitching 50 games out of the bullpen.

Well, this would certainly be something of interest to see…..

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:27 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: comebacks, jose bautista, marcus stroman, two-way players

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Shohei Ohtani, Mended but Undaunted, Is Ready to Amaze Baseball Once Again

Angel Stadium in Anaheim has been turned into a grown-up’s playpen. Four thousand tons of dirt cover the baseball field, sculpted into giant peaks resembling a scaled-down version of the San Gabriel Mountains, in preparation for a February monster truck show. Workers on break operate remote-control versions of the real monsters, soaring, somersaulting and swarming the cordillera with comic imprecision. To see the faces of the controllers is to understand why the lever in their hand is called a joystick.

In the luxury suite of Angels owner Arte Moreno in an otherwise empty stadium, above it all, is the greatest two-way baseball player the planet has seen in a hundred years, granting his first one-on-one interview since arriving in the U.S. in December 2017.

Shohei Ohtani, 25, is 6’4” with a broad-shouldered, narrow-waisted, long-limbed physique that hints at the competitive swimmer he was in childhood. “But every time baseball was the most fun,” he says through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “So I fell in love with it.”

Two-plus years after he left Japan to sign a six-year, league-minimum contract with the Angels—foregoing at least $200 million more if he had waited until this season—Ohtani remains deeply, madly, monogamously in love with baseball.

Wishing him all the best going forward- there’s something to be said in this day and age for players far different from the norm…..

 

QLE Posted: March 11, 2020 at 12:35 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: shohei ohtani, two-way players

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Jose Bautista Eyeing Return As Two-Way Player

It’s been more than three months since Jose Bautista made it known that he had no plans to officially retire. There’s been virtually nothing mentioned about him since that time, but ESPN’s Jeff Passan now reports that the 39-year-old Bautista has been working out as a pitcher this winter in hopes of a return as a two-way player. Bautista plans to play for the Dominican Republic in this month’s Olympic qualifier tournament, though he might not pitch in that setting.

Bautista’s accomplishments at the plate are well known, of course. He emerged from journeyman prospect status to Blue Jays stalwart and feared All-Star slugger with a 2010 season that saw him rip a league-leading 54 homers. That kicked off a run of six straight All-Star appearances and helped to bring about the “Joey Bats” moniker that followed him throughout his career. From 2010-16, Bautista raked at a .264/.387/.542 clip, averaging 36 homers per season. His 2015 ALDS bat flip after a go-ahead, three-run homer against the Rangers stands out as one of the more iconic moments in Blue Jays franchise history.

All that said, Bautista’s production dipped sharply as he entered his late 30s. A 2017 return to the Blue Jays on a one-year, free-agent deal didn’t prove fruitful, and a followup effort split between the Braves, Mets and Phillies was better but not particularly encouraging. In a combined 1085 plate appearances between those two seasons, Bautista batted .203/.323/.371. He did not sign with a club last winter and sat out the 2019 season.

Deeply skeptical, but, on the other hand, it’s not like his career has followed normal trajectories so far….

 

QLE Posted: March 03, 2020 at 12:43 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: comebacks, jose bautista, two-way players

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Some of the New Roster Rules Are Garbage

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball made official a handful of rule changes that had been in the works for nearly a year. In case you missed it while following the latest twists and turns of the Astros’ sign-stealing saga or the excitement of pitchers and catchers reporting, here’s the full press release, which spares us from having to retype it:

...

The three-batter minimum rule — and the existential threat it poses to lefty specialists — has been the most discussed of these changes. Our own Ben Clemens illustrated that it won’t matter all that much, a conclusion supported by Sam Miller’s examination, while other analysis such as this article by Tom Verducci and this one by Cliff Corcoran suggest it could have a negative impact.

The changes to the injured list and the service time tradeoffs that come with the permanent 26th man and the limited September roster size can bear closer analysis, but the rules that have my attention today — and this should be no surprise if you’ve been reading my work here — are the ones concerning position players and two-way players. By themselves, they won’t amount to much, and while they do close the loopholes that come with the 13-pitcher limitations on the new 26-man rosters, those are some pretty narrow loopholes to begin with. What they really do is stamp out a bit of novelty, not that the sport needs further encroachment by the Fun Police.

Traditionally, a position player pitching appearance has been a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency desperation move (generally in extra innings) or a lighthearted farce that draws attention away from an otherwise unpleasant blowout. Through some combination of higher-scoring games, higher per-game totals of relievers, concerns about reliever workloads, the reduced stigma of this particular maneuver, and — a factor I had not previously considered, but one Craig Edwards brought to light — an increasing number of noncompetitive games caused by a lack of competitive balance — the rate of such appearances has accelerated in recent years. Depending upon how you feel about the trend, last year marked either the peak or the nadir of the position player pitching phenomenon:

Maybe it’s just me, but the changes to the September call-up rules strike me as being a far bigger issue than this.

 


Thursday, February 13, 2020

MLB OKs 3-batter minimum among rule changes

NEW YORK—Major League Baseball went ahead with its planned rules changes for this season, including the requirement a pitcher must face at least three batters or end the half-inning, unless he is hurt.

The changes were agreed to by MLB and the players’ association last March 8, subject to the study of a joint committee. The three-batter minimum will start in spring training games on March 12.

There were 2,162 pitching appearances of three batters or fewer last year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, but 1,471 of them finished with the end of a half-inning or a game.

The active roster limit will increase by one to 26 from Opening Day through Aug. 31, will drop from 40 to 28 through the end of the regular season and return to 26 for the postseason. Each team may have a maximum 13 pitchers through Aug. 31 and during the postseason, and 14 from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season.

So, how many of these changes do we hate already?

 

QLE Posted: February 13, 2020 at 12:28 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: injured list, rosters, rule changes, three-batter minimum, two-way players, video review

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Shohei Ohtani Not Expected to Pitch for Angels Until May Amid Elbow Injury Rehab

Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Tuesday two-way star Shohei Ohtani isn’t expected to pitch until mid-May as he completes his recovery from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in October 2018.

Eppler explained Ohtani will remain the club’s primary designated hitter and can rehab without being removed from the MLB roster under the league’s new rules, per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.

The 25-year-old Japanese sensation enjoyed a strong start to his career on the mound before he suffered the major elbow injury. He posted a 3.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings across 10 starts in 2018, his first MLB season after five years with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan.

Ohtani made 106 appearances as the Angels’ DH in 2019. He posted a .286/.343/.505 triple-slash line with 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases. His .848 OPS would have tied for 26th in the American League if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Something for us to get ready for…...

 

QLE Posted: February 12, 2020 at 12:41 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: elbow, shohei ohtani, two-way players

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani completes Tommy John rehab, eyes 2-way role in ‘20

Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani has completed his throwing program, the final step in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, and was cleared to return to his native Japan, where he will rest and recover for his anticipated return to a two-way role in 2020.

Ohtani spent the 2019 season as a designated hitter, rehabilitating from surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow in October 2018. He had been throwing off a mound for more than two months before having to undergo season-ending surgery to address a rare knee condition around the middle of September, which prompted him to shut down his throwing progression for a couple of months.

The Angels did not disclose how often Ohtani threw off the mound when he restarted his throwing program. They are still working to define a blueprint for building him back up as a starter for the 2020 season.

Well, here’s hoping we have more of that two-way fun this upcoming season.

 

QLE Posted: December 21, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: shohei ohtani, two-way players

 

 

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