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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Is 2020 finally the year for a DH to win MVP?

After driving in 130 runs and still finishing fourth in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2018, Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez felt understandably pessimistic about his position.

“For a DH to win MVP,” he told reporters the following spring, “they’re going to have to walk on water.”

Well, the Twins’ Nelson Cruz hasn’t quite done that in 2020. But he has arguably done enough to force the DH issue to the forefront. This is the “Year of the DH”—as in “doubleheaders” (lots of ‘em) and the DH finally arriving in the National League. But one DH has stood out from the rest—at age 40, no less.

Bottom line: One cannot concoct a short list of viable AL MVP candidates that doesn’t include ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:32 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: nelson cruz

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-17-2020

Montpelier [Idaho] Examiner, September 17, 1920:


Wingo was on first and Brazill at bat. The strike and steal was called for and Wingo went down with the pitch. Brazill failed to strike at the pitch, but after the ball had landed in the catcher’s hands and he had let loose of it on a throw to second, Brazill decided to swing. His bat hit the ball and it rolled foul.

Interference with the catcher’s throw, you say? Well, Umpire Bill Brennan ruled it an accident, according to the story, held that Wingo had stolen second and no penalty on Brazill.

If I were managing the team that was in the field, I would have absolutely lost my mind screaming at the umpire. I’d have been emphatically tossed. ...Read More...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:16 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: bad calls, dugout, history

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

NL on pace to outscore AL for first time in nearly 50 years

DH production across the two leagues is very similar. AL DHs are hitting .231/.318/.413 this year while NL DHs are hitting .234/.315/.411. Considering NL teams did not have an offseason to tailor their roster for the universal DH—it was dropped on them during the shutdown—that’s impressive. NL pitchers hit .131/.161/.168 last season, remember. Now those at-bats go to real hitters.

The universal DH certainly contributes to the NL outscoring the AL this year but it alone does not explain it. NL teams are receiving significantly better production than AL teams at four of the nine positions:...

Weighted runs created plus, or wRC+, is a catch-all statistic that adjusts for era and ballpark, and presents offensive output relative to the league ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 05:38 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: designated hitters

MLB umpire Joe West has never missed a call. Just ask him

Mostly, players and managers will argue, West is a good umpire. No one can remember him losing control of an important game because the situation was too big. Still, the questions always linger when he works.

Is he too big for the game? Can his loud personality, his arrogance get in the way?

Managers and players will tell you that there’s a side of him that screams: How dare you question me! Who are you to speak in my presence? I’m Joe West!

One manager said, “Sometimes Joe likes the villain role a little too much.”

West says he has never missed a call.

“My fourth year, [then-Padres manager] Dick Williams came out of the dugout to argue a play and said, ‘Just tell me you missed it and I’ll go away,’” West said. “I said, ‘I’ve never ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 05:35 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: joe west

How San Diego Padres’ A.J. Preller, other MLB GMs decide when to go for it [INSIDER]

Eric Longenhagen and I created a grid with this traditional/progressive spectrum on the X axis in our book “Future Value” and, at first, we thought it would be hard to pin down. After consulting with people in the game, nobody quibbled more than a notch or two (on a eight-point scale) despite the subjective nature of the grades. The people who work in front offices know what information is driving decisions and which staffers have the most pull with management, so it’s not hard to then figure out which clubs are using what sort of information in making those decisions, while it’s almost impossible to prove it objectively by just looking at the transactions log.

I use that on the X axis for this exercise as well, while the Y axis ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:19 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: aj preller

Tank for Kumar? With the grand prize of Vanderbilt’s Rocker on the line, it’s bottom or bust for the Rangers

Tardius, Minus, Kumar!

Slower, Lower, Kumar!

That’s Kumar as in Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt’s man-mountain of a pitcher and the grand prize awaiting baseball’s most abysmal team in next year’s draft.

Before getting your holier-than-thou hackles up, simmer down. Now’s no time for the faint of heart or stomach. Don’t tell me tanking sets a bad example for the kids. Shame on you for letting your kids watch these Rangers in the first place.

Besides, it’s not like we thought of it first. Already hashtags are circulating nation-wide as fans realize there could actually be a pot of gold at the end of this pandemic. #TankforKumar is the politest of the campaigns. In the interests of keeping it kid-friendly, go with #KumarRanger. In ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:15 AM | 49 comment(s)
  Beats: kumar rocker, rangers, tanking

Braves reportedly laying off several top scouts

One of the many trends of the 2020 MLB season has been reductions in front office and scouting positions across Major League Baseball. The Atlanta Braves have reportedly joined in laying off several top veteran pro scouts on Tuesday according to a report by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

The scouting profession was already thought to be in trouble as teams turned to video analysts for more of their scouting reports. The truncated regular season and the cancellation of the minor league season have put many scouts in jeopardy as teams have been forced to truncate spending.

The question for many of these scouts going forward is how many will be brought back? We have seen the player development model and scouting shift in recent seasons. ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:11 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: braves

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-16-2020

Washburn [Wisconsin] Times, September 16, 1920:

In a recent St. Paul-Toledo game Duke Duncan apparently made a pick-up off Kelly’s bat, after a great sliding dive. Umpire Murray ruled it a fair catch, a double play resulted and Duncan was a hero.

Later in the game Duncan came to bat and claimed he had been hit on the foot by a pitched ball. “That ball hit me,” he howled. “No, it didn’t,” answered Murray.

“How do you know,” shouted Duncan. “You miss ‘em all. You said I caught that fly in the fourth inning; I didn’t; I picked it up off the ground.”

Got eem.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 10:12 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Manfred: Expanded playoffs likely to remain beyond 2020

While appearing on a virtual panel organized by Hofstra University’s business school on Monday, commissioner Rob Manfred said the league’s expanded postseason format featuring 16 teams would likely return in 2021 and beyond, according to Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post.

“I think there’s a lot to commend it,” Manfred said of the format, “and it is one of those changes I hope will become a permanent part of our landscape.”

The commissioner added that “an overwhelming majority” of owners favored the expanded playoffs before the pandemic shortened this season to 60 games and necessitated the change.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 09:18 AM | 154 comment(s)
  Beats: post-season

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Giants-Mariners Tuesday game postponed due to air quality, series moves to Oracle Park

With air conditions considered “very unhealthy” in the Seattle area on Tuesday and an Air Quality alert in effect in the region until Thursday at noon, the San Francisco Giants are headed back to the Bay Area.

A two-game series scheduled to begin Tuesday at T-Mobile Park in Seattle was postponed and the teams are now expected to play the games this week at Oracle Park in San Francisco.

The league has not yet determined whether the Giants and Mariners will play a doubleheader on Wednesday or if the teams will take advantage of a mutual off day on Thursday and play one game on each of the next two days.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2020 at 05:16 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, mariners

SABR CEO Scott Bush on the Business of Minor League Contraction

David Laurila: What are your general impressions of the proposed contraction — good for baseball, or bad for baseball?

Scott Bush: “I think it’s going to be difficult to measure the impact of this for several years. With the focus on geographic proximity and the ability for teams
to have more access to players, there’s going to be the potential for improved player development. There’s also going to be, from a minor league perspective, the potential for improved relations with the parent clubs. And if there is an emphasis on geographic proximity, one could assume more meaningful regional ties between the minor league teams and their parent clubs.

“But there’s certainly going to be, at minimum, a short-term loss in terms of ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2020 at 03:14 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: minor leagues

MLB Announces Postseason Schedule and Sites: Get Ready for No Off-Days

A significant additional wrinkle this year? No off-days.

The ALDS and NLDS will take place from October 5-9 and October 6-10, respectively. They are five-game series, and they will be completed in five days.

The ALCS and NLCS will take place from October 11-17 and October 12-18, respectively. Again, they are seven-game series, and they will be completed in seven days.

The World Series, from October 20-28, will have two off-days. But otherwise, you’re playing straight through. What if there’s rain, you ask? Or an outbreak? I guess we’ll see!

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2020 at 02:29 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: post-season

MLB playoff contenders to enter quarantine before season ends

So the plan that was hammered out requires all contending clubs — even those at home — to move to a hotel in the last week of the regular season. All players on the 40-man roster and IL will be asked to join that quarantine because once it begins, clubs can no longer summon a player from the alternate site to join the 28-man roster — it will only be those who are in the quarantine.

As teams are eliminated from playoff contention, players on those clubs can leave the hotels if they desire.

The expanded 16-team playoffs will have the best-of-three first round played exclusively in the higher seed’s home stadium. The Division Series and League Championship Series will be played in bubble-like scenarios. The NL playoffs will be ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2020 at 11:38 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-15-2020

New York Sun, September 15, 1920:

Word painter touring the West with the Yankees refers to Detroit as the “picturesque city of straits.” To others the only thing picturesque disclosed by repeated visits to Detroit is the sight of pedestrians, seemingly with little or no rights dodging automobiles as they risk life and a few limbs in timorous attempts to cross the street.
Bancroft, the best shortstop in the game, made an unusual catch. He backed out for McHenry’s tall fly, slipped and sat down while waiting for it, arose and brushed himself off and when the ball arrived from its celestial travels caught it.

Must have been one heck of a pop fly.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 15, 2020 at 10:23 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says he hopes fans will be able to attend LCS and World Series games

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fans have not been permitted to attend any regular-season games to date, but Manfred is optimistic that could change by the time the LCS and World Series are played. As Evan Drellich of The Athletic notes, while speaking remotely to the Hofstra business school on Monday, Manfred said the following:

“I’m hopeful that the World Series and the LCS we will have limited fan capacity. I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games. We’ll probably use that same theory. But I do think it’s important as we ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2020 at 10:08 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, postseason

Monday, September 14, 2020

Done deal! Steve Cohen agrees to buy the Mets | Sale details, final price tag

It took a while, much longer than anyone anticipated. But billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has a deal in place to buy the New York Mets. Sportico broke the details on Monday, based on information from a person with direct knowledge of the sale.

The person was granted anonymity because the deal isn’t signed, though an announcement will be made later today. Allen & Co., which is overseeing the sale, declined to comment. Cohen will own 95% of the team, with the Katz and Wilpon families retaining the other 5%. While financial terms of the agreement haven’t been disclosed, two people with knowledge of the deal have said the sale values the team at about $2.42 billion. That would make it the most paid for an MLB franchise, topping ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2020 at 05:36 PM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: mets, steve cohen

MLB is forbidding boozy playoff celebrations

Still, MLB recognizes it can remove one vital element from any stadium celebration — alcohol. The teams supply it in celebratory moments and MLB is going to forbid its presence. MLB also can, to a large extent through the teams, control the clubhouse. To that end, the league is going to ask players to celebrate on the field and to mask up as soon as it’s possible to do so. Commemorative shirts and caps are likely to be distributed in a way to limit contact with as many people as possible.

The restrictions come at a time when there is the potential for more celebrations than ever, since the playoff field is swelling from 10 to 16 this year. But that also leaves the awkward question of when to celebrate. The Dodgers, for example, have ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2020 at 03:33 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: alcohol

Verducci: Unpacking Seven False Ideas About MLB

Myth No. 3: Keep your fastball down
That became a bromide when velocity was lower and before the sinker fell out of fashion. (The pitch gets hammered because it more closely matches the plane of the modern swing than any other pitch.) It’s definitely not true in today’s game.

Batters hit 56 points higher against low fastballs than they do against high fastballs. The low fastball is a worse pitch for elite throwers such as Max Scherzer (+.262 points), Gerrit Cole (+.236) and Jacob deGrom (+.107).

eams such as the Rays use the data for a general pitching philosophy: get ahead with high fastballs, then finish off the hitter with your best breaking ball down.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2020 at 03:16 PM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: home field advantage

Alex Dickerson talks false positives and false reports

On Sunday, the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres played a doubleheader. They did that because a false positive result on a coronavirus test of a Giants player postponed Friday’s and Saturday’s games.

Alex Dickerson was that player, and multiple tests afterwards — including one at a hospital — proved that he did not, in fact, have the coronavirus.

But that all came after a few reporters had already leaked who the Giants player was, and even “reported” some rumors about irresponsible, protocol-breaking behavior by Dickerson that led to contracting the virus (that, again, he didn’t actually contract).

On Sunday, Dickerson opened up with the media. He confirmed that he was the positive test, and expressed a lot of ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2020 at 03:10 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: alex dickerson, coronavirus, giants

Dorktown: A Hall of Famer’s most outrageous accomplishment was with his bat

While Drysdale was a pretty good batter for a pitcher, posting a career OPS above .500 when the average pitcher’s was under .400, for a period of time in 1958 he was nothing short of a Greek god while at the plate.

On August 14th, he took Cubs reliever Marcelino Solis deep in his last at-bat of the game. His next game, he went 1-for-3 while homering off Braves starter Carl Willey. Then, in his next game, also against the Braves, each of Drysdale’s first two at-bats resulted in homers off Juan Pizarro.

For those scoring at home, that’s four dingers in a six-at-bat stretch … by a pitcher. Which is about as ludicrous as it gets, right? Indeed, pitchers historically homer in right around 0.5% of their at-bats, meaning the odds that ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2020 at 01:25 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: don drysdale, jon bois

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-14-2020

Memphis News Scimitar, September 14, 1920:

To all pitchers desiring to keep Babe Ruth from leaning on their offerings the following is submitted as sound and safe:

1—Get a job pitching for the Yankees.
2—Failing in this throw the ball over the grand stand.
3—Induce Ruth to join the army or the navy.
4—Get him to go into the movies and quit baseball.
5—Quit baseball yourself.
6—Get you a job driving a garbage wagon.
7—Stay out of baseball entirely.
8—Or get a job in some league where Ruth doesn’t play.

These suggestions seem like they’d be mostly effective.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 14, 2020 at 10:06 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Angels’ Albert Pujols hits 660th career home run, ties Willie Mays for 5th on all-time list

Albert Pujols hit his 660th career homer Sunday, tying the Los Angeles Angels slugger for fifth on the all-time list with Willie Mays.

With the Angels trailing 3-2, Pujols launched a fastball from Colorado Rockies reliever Carlos Estevez into the empty seats in left field at Coors Field for a two-run drive in the eighth inning.

He was eagerly greeted by his teammates following his first homer since Aug. 4.

“I was just telling them, ‘Finally, I hit one in the air,’‘’ Pujols cracked.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2020 at 09:16 AM | 54 comment(s)
  Beats: albert pujols

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Texas’ Skinny Rebuild Isn’t Working Out

But for those hoping that a full rebuild will yield quick results, think again. While it’s more than possible that ZiPS is wrong, it can’t be overlooked that entering the season, the system projected the Rangers to end up with the least value from rounds one-to-five of the 2015-19 drafts of any team in baseball, with their picks combining for a total of 16.6 WAR. The player in the system ZiPS liked the most entering the year, Sherten Apostel, still projects as not-quite league-average at his best. Leody Taveras is playing in the majors right now, but the projections only peg him as having a 70-80 wRC+ in his prime. He may play enough defense to be a contributor, but it’s unlikely he — or Tejeda, Josh Jung, or Cole Winn — ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 13, 2020 at 06:33 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: rangers

Chicago Cubs’ Alec Mills tosses no-hitter against Brewers

Chicago Cubs righty Alec Mills threw the league’s second no-hitter of the season on Sunday, shutting down the Milwaukee Brewers in a 12-0 victory.

Mills, 28, struck out five while walking three.

Asked in the postgame interview on the Marquee Sports Network how he felt, Mills responded: “I have no idea. It hasn’t really hit me yet. I didn’t really know how to celebrate. Just something that came together today.”

The Brewers never got close to a hit in the final innings as Mills threw a career-high 114 pitches in just his 15th career big league start. He induced a popup by Jacob Nottingham and then struck out Tyrone Taylor for the first two outs of the ninth inning before getting Jace Peterson to ground out to short.

Mills said that his ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 13, 2020 at 06:31 PM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: alec mills, cubs, no-hitters

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Oakland Athletics’ A.J. Puk and Matt Chapman set for season-ending surgery

Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman and left-handed prospect A.J. Puk are both set to undergo season-ending surgery next week, according to the team.

Chapman is set for surgery Monday after getting another opinion on his right hip tendinitis.

The 27-year-old Chapman, a back-to-back Gold Glove winner at third and an All-Star in 2019, was hitting .232 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs this season.

Puk is set to undergo surgery Wednesday on his pitching shoulder. He hasn’t pitched this season because of inflammation in the shoulder that required injections. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in 2018.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 12, 2020 at 03:29 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: aj puk, athletics, matt chapman

Friday, September 11, 2020

Rays’ all-lefty lineup a first in MLB history

The Rays are making baseball history on Friday night.

With Tampa Bay set to face the Red Sox and right-handed pitcher Andrew Triggs at Tropicana Field, manager Kevin Cash filled his lineup card with nine left-handed batters. This marks the first time in Major League history—going back to at least 1901—in which a team has started nine lefties in the same game.

The previous record for starting left-handed batters was eight, which had been done 26 times. The most recent was by these same Rays, against the Marlins on Sept. 5. The only right-handed batter in the lineup that day was right fielder Hunter Renfroe, but on Friday, it was lefty Brett Phillips getting the start in right.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 11, 2020 at 04:55 PM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: rays

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