Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday a bit more bearable:
- When Jean Segura of the Brewers on Friday evening got thrown out stealing second after he had already stolen it, Mickey Mantle’s quote, “It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life,” immediately came to mind. Sports Illustrated’s Cliff Corcoran offers his thoughts on this bizarre occurrence.
- Rob Neyer of SB Nation reminds us yet again not to read all that much into Cactus and Grapefruit League statistics:
Essentially, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s spring is a case study for aspiring statistical analysts. It’s just possible, is it, that a player could collect 28 hits in 62 at-bats . . . and then 3 hits in 31 at-bats? Well, yes, it is possible. Obviously. It’s not at all likely. Those 28 hits in 62 at-bats did suggest that Jackie Bradley Jr. is a capable major-league hitter. Of course, his .271 batting average in 229 Double-A at-bats last season suggested something else. And suggested it more strongly.
Bradley actually turns 23 today, and is still a fine prospect. But he will, I suspect, live for some years as an object lesson for Red Sox fans (and yes, writers too). Spring-training statistics are a lot of fun, but they’re merely a snapshot in time, and they describe the random nature of raw performance statistics as much as they describe fundamental abilities.
- Daniel Nava made sure that the first game at Fenway Park since the Boston Marathon terrorist attack was not only memorable but included a joyous outcome.
- Some buckethead is looking pretty silly at the moment in the wake of the Rockies’ red-hot start (13–5). Troy Renck of the Denver Post profiles leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler, one of the keys to Colorado’s success to date:
He hit seven home runs in his first 40 at-bats left-handed this season, leaving him among the league leaders. For his career, the switch hitter has never hit more than 10 home runs left-handed in a season. . . .
When the 6-foot-4 Fowler arrived with the Rockies in 2008, straight from the Beijing Olympics, he weighed roughly 145 pounds. He could have been faxed to Denver. Looking at that player, it’s easy to see how opinions formed about his future. He could run, and without much muscle, he profiled as a slash-and-dash leadoff hitter.
Problem is, that’s not Fowler.
“I can see why, but a lot of people wanted him to be a different player than he wants to be. Right now, he wants to be a guy who can mash. That’s who he is,” said Bichette of Fowler, who’s now a much stronger 195 pounds. “Look in his eyes. That’s who he wants to be.”
- NBC Hardball Talk’s Bill Baer finds it rather amusing that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who claimed back in January that he didn’t “care about walks,” is now flabbergasted that the lineup isn’t — wait for it — drawing walks.
- It seems that the fans at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park are hooked on both their closer and grilled cheese.
- According to Fangraphs’ Paul Swydan, what makes Robinson Cano and Pablo Sandoval special is that they not only hit for power but also for contact:
Cano and Sandoval really do separate from the pack. Their SLG [slugging], ISO [isolated power] and wOBA [weighted on-base average] marks stand out as the best among the group. You could squint and put Crawford in the same group, but then Crawford has struck out far more frequently across this span than have Cano and Sandoval. …
Cano and Sandoval, on the other hand, are still swinging with the best of them this season. Cano’s swing rates are down from his 2011 peak, but he is his O-Swing% [the percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone] and Swing% are still five percent above league average as of today. And Sandoval trumps just about everyone. Sandoval’s swing rates are 15-20% above league average. Only two players are swinging at more pitches this year than Sandoval — Josh Hamilton and Jeff Francoeur — and neither of them have contact rates even resembling league average.
- Thanks to Blake Murphy of Beyond the Boxscore, we now know that the hitters on the 2010 Diamondbacks deserve the distinction of putting less than 63 percent of balls in play, the lowest percentage of any MLB team in history. Their walk, strikeout, and home-run rates were 9.5 percent, 24.7 percent, and 2.91 percent, respectively.
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!