Right Field

Reveille 6/24/13

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday a bit more bearable:

‐In honor of Jesus Guzman, Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation asks, “How much is too much when watching a home run?”

‐According to Jay Jaffe of SI’s The Strike Zone, there are a number of talented pitchers receiving insufficient attention from the fans, including Travis Wood:

Wood has gotten more attention in this space for his hitting (.276/.323/.517 with two homers) than for his pitching, but the 26-year-old lefty is thriving on the mound, too. Thanks to an MLB-low .226 batting average on balls in play, he’s eighth in pitching WAR (2.6) and 11th in ERA (2.74). His peripherals (0.6 homers, 2.7 walks and 6.3 strikeouts per nine) certainly won’t wow anyone, but his 12.0 percent popup rate leads the league. So does his 93 percent quality start rate; only once has he allowed more than three earned runs or pitched fewer than six innings. The bat has its value, too — he’s added another 0.6 WAR via that route — but all too often the rest of the lineup is taking a day off; the Cubs are scoring just 3.4 runs per game in his starts.

‐In his first start of the 2013 season, how did Roy Oswalt manage to strike out 11 batters in five innings yet relinquish four runs? Baseball Analytics’ David Golebiewski explains that the 35-year-old did little nibbling and threw too many fastballs in the middle of the strike zone.

‐ESPN Sweet Spot’s David Schoenfield explores whether strikeouts take on greater importance during the postseason:

I looked at each postseason game from last year. The team that struck out fewer times went 14–17 (six games had an equal number of strikeouts). So strikeouts don’t matter? Not necessarily. I looked at 2010 and 2011 and the team that struck out fewer times went 44–23 (with three games the same). Over a three-year span in postseason games, the team that struck out less went 58–40.

So maybe it means [columnist Tom] Verducci is basically right? Strike out less, win more.

Or is it simply proof of the old axiom that power pitching wins in the postseason? I will say this: If your pitchers strike out more guys than your opponents and your hitters strike out less, you have a pretty good chance of winning a postseason series. Using regular-season totals, the team that bettered its playoff opponents in both categories has gone 8–2 since 2010 (the exceptions being the Yankees losing to the Tigers in a 2011 division series and the Rangers losing to the Cardinals in the 2011 World Series).

‐Steven Goldman is shutting down the Yankees-centric Pinstriped Bible blog.

‐Before reading Bruce Markusen’s Hardball Times column on the career of Manny Mota, I had been unaware that Mota was the first player the Expos chose in the 1968 expansion draft.

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‐When a ballboy makes a play like this one in Target Field, it makes one wonder if a few scouts are now being assigned to watch him.

‐Writing in WEEI’s Full Count, former big leaguer Gabe Kapler believes that the Nationals front office needs to save Bryce Harper from himself.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.


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