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Sunday, April 04, 2021

Angels star Shohei Ohtani throws wild 100 mph pitch, drills home run in historic start

If there was any doubt before, it should be long gone now.

Shohei Ohtani is a true two-way star in Major League Baseball — and he didn’t waste any time proving it on Sunday night.

Ohtani, in a historic outing for the Los Angeles Angels, delivered a 101 mph fastball in their opening inning against the Chicago White Sox in Anaheim. Then, later that very same inning, Ohtani drilled a deep home run on the first pitch at the plate to put the Angels up 1-0 almost instantly.

The ball, which came off the bat at more than 115 mph, traveled more than 450 feet from the plate.


Ohtani’s night was already historic before the homer. The 26-year-old is the first Angels pitcher to ever hit for himself in a game while the designated hitter rule was in play in the organization’s history, and just the third pitcher to do so across Major League Baseball in the past 45 years, according to The Associated Press. He’s also just the first pitcher to bat second in the lineup since 1903.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 04, 2021 at 09:45 PM | 68 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, shohei ohtani

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   1. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 12:14 AM (#6011642)

I confess I really don't get the obsession with exit velocity. There were like 10 people on my Twitter feed gushing about how Ohtani hit a ball 115 MPH and most of them didn't even mention that it was a HR. Maybe it's obvious, but still the obsession with silly numbers rather than outcomes is kind of puzzling to me.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:15 AM (#6011649)
He’s also just the first pitcher to bat second in the lineup since 1903.
Cool!
   3. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 05, 2021 at 08:18 AM (#6011656)
I confess I really don't get the obsession with exit velocity. There were like 10 people on my Twitter feed gushing about how Ohtani hit a ball 115 MPH and most of them didn't even mention that it was a HR. Maybe it's obvious, but still the obsession with silly numbers rather than outcomes is kind of puzzling to me.


It's mildly interesting that it was the hardest hit homer of the season but yeah, I'm with you. Like most things it's interesting to me on the extremes.

What strikes me about exit velocity (and spin rate, ugh) is that the same people who mocked scouts for "good face" type stuff (rightly so) are now getting geared up about these numbers. For me it's just quantifying scouting. That's all well and good but if a guy can't play he can't play. At the end of the day gimme the guy who can get it done on the field. I've had the "joy" of an entire winter of hearing about Garrett Richards' amazing spin rate. Well yesterday most of his spinning was to turn and watch his outfielders chase after another line drive.
   4. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:14 AM (#6011658)
Here is an example of what I'm talking about:

Ohtani’s fastball topped out at 101 mph in the top of the first. What are the odds he can hit a baseball with 101 exit velocity in the bottom of the first?

That feels like it would be the coolest thing ever.


Now, the above was from Jayson Stark, who has made a career of writing about meaningless statistics and coincidences, but still..."coolest thing ever"? I was like "wtf cares"?

Now, all of you get off my lawn :-)
   5. dejarouehg Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:26 AM (#6011659)
I just don't find this all that compelling. Maybe because I don't buy into the fact that he is now, or will be (again), a really good pitcher. Hope I am wrong.

The home run on the other hand caught my attention. Maybe it was the placement of the microphones, but the sound of that shot jarred me. Reminded me of being at YS2 when I was sitting behind the 1b dugout and Buhner hit a HR into the ambulance area in LCF. I happened to be looking down and flinched. I thought someone had been shot. Maybe it was because there weren't a lot of people there at the time (game started early) but that was the only other time I remember that type of noise.

Perhaps instead of exit velocity, we can measure decibels. (Tongue planted firmly in cheek - both are stupid.)
   6. bunyon Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:32 AM (#6011661)
On Stark's comment about "can he hit 101 in the bottom of the inning"? A 101 mph batted ball is well hit but hardly uncommon. I generally agree with you all about the overhyping of exit velocity but it is a cool measure - what most of you are reacting to is the reaction of people to the stat, not the stat itself; isn't a better way to measure the game largely what the sabr revolution has been? Anyway, a 115 mph batted ball IS cool. The fact that it came in the bottom of an inning when the batter threw a 101 mph pitch is freaking amazing.

Like I said, I generally agree that exit velocity is overhyped because it's new and it lets us quantify something that previously only insiders at the park could really talk about. In time, it'll become just another measure. But even agreeing with that, don't get so curmudgeonly that you lose sight of the joy of a hard hit ball.
   7. bunyon Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:33 AM (#6011662)
Does Ohtani steal bases? He should try to get to 10-10 before Greinke.
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:44 AM (#6011663)
Does Ohtani steal bases?
I guess we'll have to wait for next month's baseball digest to find out...

Just kidding. Yes he does. He could maaaybe get a 10-W 10-HR 10-SB year.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:46 AM (#6011665)
When did MLB change the rule on the DH involving the starting pitcher? And why?
   10. bunyon Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:48 AM (#6011666)
Just kidding. Yes he does. He could maaaybe get a 10-W 10-HR 10-SB year.

It's important to have goals. I'd find this trio really cool.
   11. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:52 AM (#6011667)
Does Ohtani steal bases?


It's going to be hard for him to hit 100mph on the basepaths.
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:58 AM (#6011668)
When did MLB change the rule on the DH involving the starting pitcher? And why?
Which one?
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 09:59 AM (#6011669)

When did MLB change the rule on the DH involving the starting pitcher? And why?


What rule change do you mean? That pitchers can hit for themselves? It happened in 1976, so I think its always been the case that the could hit for themselves (it happens a fair amount in college baseball), they just typically don't.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:02 AM (#6011671)
If you were the designated hitter, you couldn't hit for yourself, as Ohtani was doing for the first five innings last night. If the pitcher was batting in an American League game, then you simply didn't have a DH. But when Ohtani was lifted for a new pitcher last night, he just slid over into a newly created lineup position.


What rule change do you mean? That pitchers can hit for themselves? It happened in 1976, so I think its always been the case that the could hit for themselves (it happens a fair amount in college baseball), they just typically don't.


Of course pitchers can hit for themselves. But when they do, they're not the DH. Look at that boxscore you linked, Brett is not listed as the DH, but the pitcher. In last night's game, Ohtani is listed as the DH.
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:06 AM (#6011672)
But when Ohtani was lifted for a new pitcher last night, he just slid over into a newly created lineup position.
I thought Cishek was in Ohtani's lineup spot, Pujols hit for him, and then the 7-foot tall dude came in to pitch and was in that same lineup spot, and then later they did a double-switch.

Edit: in the boxscores I have seen, Ohtani was listed as P.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:07 AM (#6011673)
Not sure what you mean, he's listed as the pitcher here. When Ohtani was lifted, the pitcher hit in his spot, and they pinch hit for him with Pujols, just like in the NL. Ohtani did not slide into any new lineup position.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:12 AM (#6011674)
OK, I see what happened. I went to BBREf and that was the top box score listed. But it's actually the previous night's game when he was also hitting second.

Good.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:25 AM (#6011677)
I don't know if this was just Maddon letting him do it on the big Opening Weekend nationally televised game or if he plans to make it a regular thing, but I have to think that over time, voluntarily giving up the DH for up to half the game is not going to be a smart move.

   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6011678)
I don't know if this was just Maddon letting him do it on the big Opening Weekend nationally televised game or if he plans to make it a regular thing, but I have to think that over time, voluntarily giving up the DH for up to half the game is not going to be a smart move.

If Ohtani can pitch reasonable deep it shouldn't be a big deal. It's not like Pujols is that much better a hitter than the other bench guys, and Ohtani is much better than Pujols.

When Ohtani starts, I'd much rather have 2-3 PA from Ohtani, 1 from Pujols, and 1 from Juan Lagares, rather than have 5 PA from Pujols.
   20. bunyon Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:39 AM (#6011679)
Can he go deep is the question, though, isn't it? I went and watched the condensed game - which I'm going to make a point of doing for his starts if I can't watch live - and he used 90 pitches to get through 4 and 2/3. That's going to be tough on a rebuilt arm.

Also, if you haven't seen it, it's worth seeing the White Sox turn in the 5th. Hell, it's worth seeing the entire Konradian effort put forth by the Angels. Not only did they have a pitcher throw 101 and hit 115, they threw balls wildly around the park, utilizing every foot of barrier around the field.

Also, all the discussion of Ohtani will be moot if he keeps standing on top of home plate when he covers wild pitches.
   21. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:40 AM (#6011681)
There is also an increased injury risk to Ohtani by having him hit, and you would think that hitting may affect his pitching a bit in terms of fatigue. Still, I agree, it is probably worth it to let him hit.
   22. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:49 AM (#6011682)
All they need to do is get a little more length out of Ohtani, and he should be able to get three PAs in his starts. Pinch-hit or double-switch for his reliever, and you won't lose anything offensively, especially since Ohtani is their best option at DH. I'd rather have three PAs out of Ohtani and one or two out of Pujols etc. than 4-5 out of Pujols.

Interestingly, it's somewhat more effective for Ohtani to pitch (and hit for himself) in road games, when the Angels are batting in the top of the inning. But I'm sure the Angels brass would rather have him pitch at home.

   23. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:49 AM (#6011683)
When Ohtani starts, I'd much rather have 2-3 PA from Ohtani, 1 from Pujols, and 1 from Juan Lagares, rather than have 5 PA from Pujols.


And hope it doesn't go extras.

Unless Ohtani is one of the league's best hitters, and the Angels have no other options, I'd be surprised if the numbers support the strategy.

Good exercise though for the numbers folks. What would Ohtani have to hit in excess of the Angels' replacement level DH to make it worthwhile?
   24. bunyon Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6011684)
I don't care if the numbers support this. This is the coolest story in baseball in a looooong time. He should hit when he starts even if Pujols was 2004 Pujols.

I figure this can last maybe a few years. Let him do it while he can.


   25. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:53 AM (#6011685)
And hope it doesn't go extras.


The ghost-runner rule is playing right into the Angels' hands here.
   26. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:53 AM (#6011686)
The whole concept that Ohtani should be kept out of the batter's box because you're giving up the DH is just another piece of evidence that the DH is an abomination. "This athlete can do this amazing thing, but we can't let you watch him do that thing, because of this rule. No, it's not illegal to do, but if he does it, then eventually he leaves and can't do the amazing thing anymore, so it's better to not see him do it at all rather than see him do it a little bit."
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:56 AM (#6011688)
I don't care if the numbers support this. This is the coolest story in baseball in a looooong time. He should hit when he starts even if Pujols was 2004 Pujols.


By all means, I'd much rather see the Angels do this even if it's not optimal strategically.

The ghost-runner rule is playing right into the Angels' hands here.


Is the Zombie runner still in place this year?
   28. pikepredator Posted: April 05, 2021 at 10:57 AM (#6011689)
Super exciting. It's like when Cabrera got the Triple Crown. Never knew I'd see it in my lifetime.

I hope he stays healthy. It was a major bummer when he got hurt the first time around.
   29. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 11:02 AM (#6011690)
He should hit when he starts even if Pujols was 2004 Pujols.


Well, if you have 2004 Pujols, he's at 1B and it's not an issue. If you have 2004 Pujols the hitter who can't play the field, you trade him, because it would be a waste to have him or Ohtani on the bench in 80% of your games.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 11:03 AM (#6011691)
And hope it doesn't go extras.

Unless Ohtani is one of the league's best hitters, and the Angels have no other options, I'd be surprised if the numbers support the strategy.

Good exercise though for the numbers folks. What would Ohtani have to hit in excess of the Angels' replacement level DH to make it worthwhile?


Ohtani projects to about a 115 wRC+, Pujols more like 85. That's a big difference.
   31. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 05, 2021 at 11:35 AM (#6011693)
Ohtani projects to about a 115 wRC+, Pujols more like 85. That's a big difference.


Yeah but is it big enough to matter over a couple PA a game? As a practical matter Ohtani is probably going to get two, maybe 3 PA a game with Pujols/Others getting 2 or 3 on most nights as well. As noted above extra innings becomes a challenge as the Angels could run out of players. That could be mitigated if they went with 14 or 15 position players and "only" 11 or 12 pitchers. The other concern I would have is if the Angels have Ohtani hitting 2nd like they did last night I'd think his spot in the order would come up in higher leverage situations over the course of the season. For a lot of obvious reasons you don't want your 10th, 11th, 12th best hitter hitting ahead of Trout in a key spot.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 11:49 AM (#6011695)
Yeah but is it big enough to matter over a couple PA a game? As a practical matter Ohtani is probably going to get two, maybe 3 PA a game with Pujols/Others getting 2 or 3 on most nights as well. As noted above extra innings becomes a challenge as the Angels could run out of players. That could be mitigated if they went with 14 or 15 position players and "only" 11 or 12 pitchers. The other concern I would have is if the Angels have Ohtani hitting 2nd like they did last night I'd think his spot in the order would come up in higher leverage situations over the course of the season. For a lot of obvious reasons you don't want your 10th, 11th, 12th best hitter hitting ahead of Trout in a key spot.

If Pujols was a good hitter, I agree with you, but he's not. 3 PA at a 115 wRC+, 1 at 85, and 1 at 70 (say Lagares or whatever other scrub) averages to 100. That's way better than Pujols getting 5 PA. Even if you add a 6th PA at a 60 wRC+, that's still 93.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 11:58 AM (#6011696)
If Pujols was a good hitter, I agree with you, but he's not. 3 PA at a 115 wRC+, 1 at 85, and 1 at 70 (say Lagares or whatever other scrub) averages to 100. That's way better than Pujols getting 5 PA. Even if you add a 6th PA at a 60 wRC+, that's still 93.


That's true, but that's with 3 PAs. Sometimes he'll get two. And it's not inconceivable, given modern pitcher usage, that in home games he gets just one (as Tom mentions, doing it on the road is better than at home). If he gets four, you probably have nothing to worry about that game, either because he's dealing or because the Angels are scoring a boatload of runs.

But it's not just his lineup spot where it has an effect. If you have to make two additional substitutions for his spot, you're limited in what you can do elsewhere, which is more of an issue in the bloated bullpen era.

Hitting him second, however, is the way to go. That certainly increases the likelihood he gets to 3 PAs in a given game.

Like I said, I would be interested to see what the actual numbers say on how well he'd have to hit, how poorly his replacements have to hit, how many PAs he'd need to average, etc., to make it work.
   34. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 11:59 AM (#6011697)
Also, all the discussion of Ohtani will be moot if he keeps standing on top of home plate when he covers wild pitches.


This isn't fair - he was standing properly in front of the plate to receive the throw from Fletcher, but the throw was high, causing Ohtani to jump. His jump took him backwards a bit right onto home plate where Abreu was sliding. It was a complete fluke.

In the commentary during the game, they mentioned that Ohtani liked hitting when he pitched as it got him mentally involved in the game in a different way. And, honestly, I thought it was good. From an outsider's perspective, his main problem pitching has seemed to be between the ears. Once he settled down in the first inning, he looked more comfortable on both sides than he has all spring. I have to admit, that statement was a surprise to me, as I thought I'd heard the opposite. But I'm completely down for Ohtani batting when he pitches if he's comfortable with it. Ohtani + an AB from Pujols + an AB from X is fine, especially with the extra innings rules the way they are.
   35. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 11:59 AM (#6011698)
I think the extra inning concern would be greatly mitigated by the zombie runner rule. I checked 5 AL teams including the Angels, and found only 1 game that went as many as 12 innings in 2020. Most extras were 10. In 2019, the Angels played games of 12, 14, 15, and 16 innings. The pitcher's spot would probably come up on average once every 2 extra inning games, maybe less. There appears to be about 12 extra inning games per team per full season. So we are talking about 6 times a season.

edit: actually, since Ohtani starts at most every 5th game, it's possible it might not come up at all. Once or twice almost on average.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 12:17 PM (#6011701)
I think the extra inning concern would be greatly mitigated by the zombie runner rule. I checked 5 AL teams including the Angels, and found only 1 game that went as many as 12 innings in 2020. Most extras were 10. In 2019, the Angels played games of 12, 14, 15, and 16 innings. The pitcher's spot would probably come up on average once every 2 extra inning games, maybe less. There appears to be about 12 extra inning games per team per full season. So we are talking about 6 times a season.


That would be interesting when your PH makes the last out of the ninth. The 10th would start with your reliever on second (since I doubt you'd want to waste another position player for PR duties).

   37. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 12:27 PM (#6011704)
True, but that possibility is even more remote that having to use a PH in extras. And if it does happen, that all but negates the possibility of the pitcher's spot coming up again.
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 12:43 PM (#6011705)
I wasn't commenting on the likelihood of it happening, nor whether it should be a factor in the decision. Just that it "would be interesting" when it happened.
   39. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 12:47 PM (#6011706)
Sure.
   40. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 12:51 PM (#6011707)
I was merely noting that if it did happen, teams might want to burn another player, because given how extra inning games have gone in the zombie runner era, they would be unlikely to have to burn one for the pitcher's spot. Unless they score a couple of runs, in which case they are pretty well off anyway.
   41. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 05, 2021 at 01:27 PM (#6011711)
Hitting him second, however, is the way to go. That certainly increases the likelihood he gets to 3 PAs in a given game.


See for me this is one of the interesting aspects of the question. Yeah he is likely to get more at bats, but so is his much worse replacement. I think there is a really fascinating study to be done here. Does it make sense. How good/bad do the replacements have to be to make it work/not work? If you do it, where should he bat? Does it change at home versus on the road?
   42. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 05, 2021 at 01:47 PM (#6011715)
I confess I really don't get the obsession with exit velocity.

For 150 years, we talked about that one was really smoked, dang, he killed that ball, that was a laser, who hit the ball hardest, it makes a different sound when he hits it. etc. etc.

Now we can actually measure who hit it the hardest. I find that really cool.


   43. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6011727)
Hopefully this is consistent with the DH rule:

Use an opener. Have Ohtani DH. After two or three innings, pull the opener and slide Ohtani to P. Thereby giving up the DH, but it's still just Ohtani hitting. He gives you five innings. You're now seven or eight innings into the game. Maybe Pujols has to pinch hit. Maybe not. But in a standard nine-inning game you're getting Ohtani at least 3 PA.
   44. SoSH U at work Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:29 PM (#6011729)
I believe that would work, yes.
   45. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:30 PM (#6011730)
That would not violate the DH rule AFAICT, but how does Ohtani get ready to throw 5-6 innings? What is a SP normal pre-game routine?
   46. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:31 PM (#6011731)
Yeah he is likely to get more at bats, but so is his much worse replacement.


This isn't necessarily true, though, is it? If you assume a high likelihood he gets through the first inning in a home start (it's irrelevant in a road start), the second spot in the order should have fewer plate appearances from that point forward than most other spots in the order. I think that the third spot in the order would be optimal in this regard, since he'd be guaranteed to bat in the first inning but would be one spot further down, but I think the Angels like him batting in front of Trout to get him more fastballs.
   47. CFBF's Results are Certified Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:39 PM (#6011732)
Is Ohtani capable of playing the field, or is he pure DH?
   48. dejarouehg Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:40 PM (#6011733)
Use an opener. Have Ohtani DH. After two or three innings, pull the opener and slide Ohtani to P. Thereby giving up the DH, but it's still just Ohtani hitting. He gives you five innings. You're now seven or eight innings into the game. Maybe Pujols has to pinch hit. Maybe not. But in a standard nine-inning game you're getting Ohtani at least 3 PA.


As much as I detest the opener concept, I think your scenario would be likely if the Angels had pitching depth.

I have no doubt Madden is trying to game plan another way to use him. Likely a stupid idea but perhaps if your starter from two nights prior is a decent fielder, he can bat 9th and start he game in LF or RF and lengthen Ohtani's place in the game so that when he's done pitching, he could possibly stay in the game at 1B/OF, and if Walsh is playing 1B, he can go to LF/RF, etc. I understand when he's done pitching you don't want him to have to throw any more, but hopefully the Angels may have a meaningful game down the road where they need his full set of skills. (I'm much more impressed by his bat than his pitching.)

Regardless more strategy = more fun.......and the Angels bench strength is a higher priority than most teams.
   49. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:41 PM (#6011734)
What is a SP normal pre-game routine?


He can get loose before the game. And barring a miracle inning (in which case you probably don't need your good pitcher that day anyway), you know when his last time up before he takes the mound will be, so you send him to the bullpen to tune things up before he comes in. Pitchers sometimes come back out after rain delays, it would be similar to that.
   50. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:41 PM (#6011735)
Well, he can play pitcher. but he has never, at least in MLB, done anything other than pitch or DH. He hasn't played in the field since 2014, when he was 19 years old.
   51. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:46 PM (#6011736)
He can get loose before the game. And barring a miracle inning (in which case you probably don't need your good pitcher that day anyway), you know when his last time up before he takes the mound will be, so you send him to the bullpen to tune things up before he comes in. Pitchers sometimes come back out after rain delays, it would be similar to that.


See, that's too gimmicky, and possibly too risky for a guy with a history of arm troubles, especially when the upside is maybe 1 more PA.
   52. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:46 PM (#6011737)
If the Angels had played better defense, or Maddon had decided ~ 80 pitches, rather than 92, was the limit for Ohtani’s 1st start, his performance would look quite a bit better. Let’s give him a few more starts, but if Ohtani regularly goes 6 innings, or more, forgoing the DH doesn’t seem like a problem unless the Angels have a damn good one, which doesn’t seem to be the case except for Ohtani himself.
   53. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 05, 2021 at 02:48 PM (#6011738)
You're risking injury. You are risking ineffectiveness. You are risking him having to be taken out sooner, thus possibly giving away the extra PA on the back end.
   54. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 03:01 PM (#6011743)
Nearly all baseball players (and athletes in general) are creatures of habit, but starting pitchers seem to be above average even in that subset. There have been comments about Ohtani struggling with the new routines in American baseball, and it's clear from his struggles last year that he can get in his own head a bit too much. Maddon commented after this one that he wanted to reward Ohtani for playing such a great game by leaving him out there to work through his struggles that inning, and Ohtani himself said it meant a lot to him.

All that to say, messing with his routine as a starting pitcher by using an opener, while strategically sound on paper, might not be good for Ohtani physically or mentally.
   55. Karl from NY Posted: April 05, 2021 at 03:11 PM (#6011745)
I confess I really don't get the obsession with exit velocity

I think the idea is that exit velocity correlates with future offensive production better than HR itself. Like for pitchers, future ERA is predicted better by HR allowed than by current ERA. So if you want your player to be good at offense in the future, exit velocity is a stronger signal that he actually did something right. Any particular hit or HR could be a fluke, but you can't fake exit velocity.

I'm not sure if that bears out to be true, but that's the argument at least.
   56. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 05, 2021 at 04:14 PM (#6011760)
I confess I really don't get the obsession with exit velocity
I think the idea is that exit velocity correlates with future offensive production better than HR itself.
You guys are overthinking it. 100 MPH is a big number, and people like big numbers. The end.
   57. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 05, 2021 at 04:14 PM (#6011761)
GIDP
   58. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 04:22 PM (#6011764)
You guys are overthinking it. 100 MPH is a big number, and people like big numbers. The end.

I guess so. Perhaps my issue is that I have no context for these numbers. Is 101 MPH pretty much a guaranteed HR? I gather 115 MPH is.
   59. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 05, 2021 at 04:27 PM (#6011766)
You didn't have any context for pitcher mph until you heard it mentioned a lot. Exit velocity is the same.

Last year's max exit velocity leaders:

Alonso 118.4
Devers 116.7
VladJR 116.1
JavyBaez 116

115.0 would have tied for 11th with George Springer.

Is a 101 mph pitch a guaranteed strikeout? No, but it is still interesting information.

MLB 2020 Max exit velocity leaderboard


   60. bunyon Posted: April 05, 2021 at 04:44 PM (#6011771)
Cruz hit a 116.6 mph grand slam today. Good lord, it never got 20 feet off the ground. Amazing to see.

Does it help to know it was 116.6? No, but it doesn't hurt, either.
   61. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 05, 2021 at 04:58 PM (#6011773)
Cruz hit a 116.6 mph grand slam today. Good lord, it never got 20 feet off the ground. Amazing to see.
That reminds me of how they used to describe George Foster homers, line drives that would hit the stands so hard they'd kill the five people trying to catch them. We couldn't measure exit velo back then, so we were more descriptive about it.
   62. Walt Davis Posted: April 05, 2021 at 05:35 PM (#6011781)
#58 ... even 115 isn't a guaranteed HR much less 101. That's why you need launch angle. (In case it's not obvious, not enough and you have a nasty LD/GB; too much and you just have a very high pop-up/FB ... it's probably very rare to hit a ball that hard at a steep angle but you never know.)

Anyway, look at Ryan Zimmerman sometime. Over the statcast era (basic data now available at b-r), he hit the ball an average of 4 MPH over average and had about 53% hard-hit vs 39% league average. He averaged just a 105 OPS+, in large part thanks to his 48-49% GB rate. He still had an above-average 4.4% HR rate and HR/FB rate. But he was hitting a lot of hard ones right into the ground. That's what the launch angle focus is all about, turning 105-MPH GBs into 105-mph LD/FBs.

I would assume a pitcher topping a 101 exit velocity is reasonably common (think MadBum or Zambrano HRs e.g.) and pitchers out-hitting their top pitching velocity as common as dirt. It's the 101 pitch velocity that makes it "unique" and a 115 exit velocity is a big one.
   63. Perry Posted: April 05, 2021 at 05:52 PM (#6011783)
During the Cards' opener Tyler O'Neill smoked a line drive homer and people on a Cards' list were oohing and aahing over the exit velo. I checked and at the time it was the 3rd-highest EV of the game -- behind a single and a double by Jesse Winker.
   64. Walt Davis Posted: April 05, 2021 at 06:05 PM (#6011784)
On Ohtani batting when he pitches ... I suspect it's a bad idea on average but probably not enough to matter. As Snapper notes, the crux of the issue is that Pujols is your alternative DH. But this also is part of the reason it's probably a bad idea -- if Pujols (or any other non-Ohtani player) is gonna start at DH 1-2 times a week, why not let that be when Ohtani starts? Anyway, the questions that spring to my mind:

1. How much will batting/baserunning tire him out? Of course we deal with this all the time in the NL but they don't get on base very often and aren't generally putting in massive "effort" in the box or on the bases. I don't know if anybody's ever done a study to show it does affect their pitching but it's pretty clear they try not to tire themselves. Ohtani probably burns a bit more energy that probably has some effect on his pitching fatigue. I doubt this is a large impact on average but we can imagine there might be games where he legs out a couple of doubles or scores from first on a double (or worse yet gets thrown out at home for the 3rd out) where it might have a noticeable effect.

1A. Is the risk of injury raised significantly? I assume not very much -- i.e. relative to using Ohtani X days a week as DH when not pitching. Possibly #1 increses the risk of injury slightly.

2. The PH penalty. In theory, Ohtani could get 3 PA then the regular DH gets one PH and the only detriment is the 5th or later PA. That 5th PA isn't going to matter too often. But the 4th PA is also likely to stink because all PH stink. In the Angels case, it's not just a Pujols PA, it's a Pujols PH PA. Three PAs of 115 OPS+ and 2 of 85 OPS+ vs 5 PA of 85 is one thing; but if it's 3 PAs of 115 and 2 of 65, the math changes a bit.

Of course we wouldn't even be having this conversation if he was in the NL. We'd be discussing what's the optimal place for him in the lineup given the value of his 3rd PA. So how do AL PHs do relative to NL ones? Difficult to have a fair comparison, happens all the time in the NL, still a handful of PH semi-specialists here or there.

Over 2015-19, the AL/NL scoring difference has been pretty small for whatever reason, ranging from .08 to .16 R/G. If Ohtani can get, say, 60% of the PAs in his start, then the Angels hold onto to (roughly) .05 to .1 of that advantage so they are probably at worse losing .03 to .06 R/G (in abstract average).

Still I am risk averse and would default to my first point -- if somebody is gonna be taking 1-2 DH starts a week anyway, make those Ohtani's starts (unless there's a large platoon disadvantage to doing so).
   65. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 05, 2021 at 06:09 PM (#6011786)
Does it help to know it was 116.6? No, but it doesn't hurt, either.

Helps more to know that it was a homer, though.
   66. Walt Davis Posted: April 05, 2021 at 06:12 PM (#6011787)
Back to EV ... I have no problem with folks oohing and aahing over REALLY big numbers. That's no different than us remembering Mantle's (supposdly) 500-ft HR or Kingman hitting it "halfway" down Kenmore or Glenallen Hill hitting it onto the rooftop or Reggie hitting the light tower or whatever. And maybe 115 is ooh and aah territory for a pitcher. But as #63 notes, a "7th best EV of the season" (even late in the season) is not ooh and aah territory. (Much less 3rd best of the game.)

But we've had HR distances displayed for every HR for, what, 2 decades now. EV is really no different and I assume eventually we'll be pretty ho-hum about it.
   67. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: April 05, 2021 at 06:33 PM (#6011789)
I confess I really don't get the obsession with exit velocity. There were like 10 people on my Twitter feed gushing about how Ohtani hit a ball 115 MPH and most of them didn't even mention that it was a HR. Maybe it's obvious, but still the obsession with silly numbers rather than outcomes is kind of puzzling to me.
Smart organizations love to pick up guys with good EV numbers and bad LD numbers.
   68. Froot Loops Posted: April 05, 2021 at 07:38 PM (#6011802)
Smart organizations love to pick up guys with good EV numbers and bad LD numbers.


Can you name some of these guys?

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