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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 412

post #12331 of 73002

eek.gif Kyle Seager game tying Grand Slam in the bottom 14th

post #12332 of 73002
Originally Posted by CHECKS Grossman View Post

eek.gif  Kyle Seager game tying Grand Slam in the bottom 14th

And look at the little kid get trampled in the stands. SMH
post #12333 of 73002
0-0 for 13 innings, then you want to score 10 combined in one? laugh.gif

roll.gif at Hawk Harrelson's call of the homer. Acted like it was a routine fly off the bat, then didn't say a word once it landed. He is everything that is wrong with baseball.
post #12334 of 73002
I can't stand him.
post #12335 of 73002
Originally Posted by Kevin Cleveland View Post

0-0 for 13 innings, then you want to score 10 combined in one? laugh.gif

roll.gif at Hawk Harrelson's call of the homer. Acted like it was a routine fly off the bat, then didn't say a word once it landed. He is everything that is wrong with baseball.

Hawk is a clown. I won't watch a white sox broadcast on The game will be better when he retires.
post #12336 of 73002

laugh.gif I gotta find Harrelson's call

post #12337 of 73002
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Every 1 of your post about the Nats sounds like the end of the world is happening laugh.gif
laugh.gif they just find a way to be more disappointing night in and night out. And all they say after games is "We've still got time". I should be used to this though since all DC teams NEVER live up to their hype ohwell.gif at least I have MLB.TV so I can watch other teams play while the Nats get blown out and shut down by Dillon Gee
post #12338 of 73002
the Astros have homered 6 times so far tonight LOL
post #12339 of 73002
Jackie Bradley Jr. looks completely overmatched at the plate
post #12340 of 73002
Jose Altuve pimp.gif

Big fan of his.
post #12341 of 73002
Cargo and Tulo, wow.
post #12342 of 73002
Two through six in the Rockies' order: 15-for-25, 10 runs scored, 11 runs batted in and six home runs. laugh.gif

And they're not even in Coors. But Great American isn't any better.
post #12343 of 73002
MLB Network just put a clock on Hawk's silence after the Seager slam. laugh.gif

40 seconds.
post #12344 of 73002
Originally Posted by Kevin Cleveland View Post

MLB Network just put a clock on Hawk's silence after the Seager slam. laugh.gif

40 seconds.

roll.gif gotta remember to watch mlbtv or sports center in the morning to see this lmao
post #12345 of 73002
Originally Posted by erupt107th View Post

Created with GIMP


post #12346 of 73002
Love Dom Brown. Happy he's sizzling at the plate.

Pro: Dom for Hebrew Hammer. Lol.
post #12347 of 73002
I love MLB Network but I hate this fool Billy Ripken.
post #12348 of 73002
I love MLB Network but I hate this fool Billy Ripken.
post #12349 of 73002
Originally Posted by Th3RealF0lkBlu3s View Post

I'm pegging him in the ear hole next time he's up to bat if I'm pitching/the manager.
Nothing to the head, but right in his back
post #12350 of 73002
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ChampCruThik View Post

Love Dom Brown. Happy he's sizzling at the plate.

Pro: Dom for Hebrew Hammer. Lol.

Don't tempt me man laugh.gif
post #12351 of 73002
Originally Posted by bbllplaya23 View Post

I love MLB Network but I hate this fool Billy Ripken.

Ripken is a million times better than Mitch Williams. I love MLB Network too, but Mitch Williams just kills good vibes. Dude straight up has the worst takes ever lol
post #12352 of 73002
Today's BioGenesis update:
Yankees' Alex Rodriguez refuses to pay Anthony Bosch, who then cuts deal to help MLB

MLB reached an agreement this week for Bosch’s cooperation in its long-running investigation into one of the biggest drug scandals in baseball history and plans to meet with him on Friday.

New York Daily News

The owner of the South Florida anti-aging clinic at the center of baseball’s latest doping scandal asked embattled Yankee star Alex Rodriguez for financial help after Major League Baseball filed a lawsuit that alleged he had sold performance-enhancing drugs to Major League Baseball players.

When Rodriguez rebuffed Anthony Bosch’s request for money, believed to be in the hundreds of thousands, the self-styled “biochemist” turned to a strange bedfellow — MLB.

“A-Rod refused to pay him what he wanted,” said a source. “Baseball was worried about that.”

MLB reached an agreement this week for Bosch’s cooperation in its long-running investigation into one of the biggest drug scandals in baseball history and plans to meet with him on Friday.

The Daily News reported Wednesday that baseball was concerned Bosch might turn to players for financial help if MLB didn’t lock him into an agreement to testify.

“They were afraid someone else would pay him,” said the source. “Bosch is the only guy that can provide them with what they need.”

Bosch is expected to provide MLB with enough dirt to suspend Rodriguez and nearly two dozen other players, sources familiar with the Biogenesis case have told The News, including Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who has had a target on his back since he successfully appealed a positive drug test last year.

According to one source familiar with the investigation, Bosch and his lawyer, Susy Ribero-Ayala, told MLB that Bosch will provide them with damaging information about his past dealings with A-Rod and Braun, including that he “treated” the Brewers slugger when the player was a student at the University of Miami.

CBS News learned Bosch has an agreement with the MLB to be interviewed under oath about allegations that his clinic supplied performance-enhancing drugs to some of baseball's biggest stars.

A baseball executive told CBS News that Bosch will name up to 25 players, including Yankees star Alex Rodriguez - the game's top-paid player - and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, the National League's most valuable player two years ago.

The baseball executive tells us Bosch's list will also include "big names" that "have not been made public before" in connection to doping.

Edited by RyGuy45 - 6/6/13 at 8:18am
post #12353 of 73002
A-Rod has the best/worst life in baseball.
post #12354 of 73002
Originally Posted by Jewbacca View Post

Ripken is a million times better than Mitch Williams. I love MLB Network too, but Mitch Williams just kills good vibes. Dude straight up has the worst takes ever lol

Yeah I'm not a fan of Mitch either. laugh.gif
post #12355 of 73002
Originally Posted by bbllplaya23 View Post

Originally Posted by Jewbacca View Post

Ripken is a million times better than Mitch Williams. I love MLB Network too, but Mitch Williams just kills good vibes. Dude straight up has the worst takes ever lol

Yeah I'm not a fan of Mitch either. laugh.gif

Mitch used to do local sports radio here before he got that gig sick.gifsick.gif dude is a blithering idiot
Eagles | Olympique Lyonnais | Arsenal | Sixers | Phillies | Flyers | PITT Panthers
DB The Collective
Eagles | Olympique Lyonnais | Arsenal | Sixers | Phillies | Flyers | PITT Panthers
DB The Collective
post #12356 of 73002
Thread Starter 
Appel No. 1 in final mock.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
This feels more like a scenario to me than a projection -- if Houston takes someone else at No. 1, then most of the picks succeeding it will change as well, and as of early Thursday it did not appear that the Astros had decided on their selection.

As of now, this is my best projection for the top 33 picks in the draft -- the formal first round, plus the six compensatory picks that teams received for losing free agents who received qualifying offers this offseason. I'll add relevant info and buzz as it comes in throughout the day.

Other recent content: For mock draft 3.0, click here. Version 2.0 can be found here. For my first mock draft, click here. And here is my ranking of the top 100 draft prospects.

1Mark AppelPOS: RHPHT: 6-5WT: 215School: StanfordAnalysis: So the last rumor of the night Wednesday … or the small hours of Thursday morning, had the Astros trying to nail down a price from Appel so they could take him with the first pick and still ensure that they had enough savings to exceed MLB's bonus recommendations with picks 40 and 74. They could still take Colin Moran, or Jonathan Gray, or (least likely) Kris Bryant.


2Jonathan GrayPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 239School: OklahomaAnalysis: Appel or Gray here, with money probably a major variable as the Cubs seem to view the two guys as very close. They may not have a choice if the Astros take one of the two, in which case Chicago will take the other.


3Kris BryantPOS: 3B/OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-5WT: 215School: San DiegoAnalysis: The Rockies have been linked to Bryant all spring. Rumor of the week has the Rockies shocking everyone here with Dominic Smith, although I get the sense that they like Smith a lot but not with this pick.


4Kohl StewartPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 190School: St. Pius X (Houston)Analysis: They have considered Reese McGuire, and I think they'd take Gray or Appel if either one got here, assuming they knew either player would sign.


5Colin MoranPOS: 3BB/T: L/RHT: 6-3WT: 215School: North CarolinaAnalysis: They'd take any of the four college guys I have going in the top five, with Clint Frazier as the backup option if all four are gone.


6Braden ShipleyPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 190School: NevadaAnalysis: I'm also hearing them linked to Austin Meadows and Hunter Renfroe.


7Austin MeadowsPOS: OFB/T: L/LHT: 6-3WT: 200School: Grayson (Ga.) HSAnalysis: They'd love Moran or Bryant, but I can't make either of those things work in a realistic scenario. Also hearing them with Stewart, Frazier and Ryne Stanek, as well as an outside shot at a deal with Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez, although that seems to be dead.


8Trey BallPOS: LHP/OFHT: 6-6WT: 180School: New Castle (Ind.) HSAnalysis: Stewart doesn't get past here. Ball and Shipley are their choices over Phil Bickford, who I had them taking in my last mock and is still a consideration here, but he put out such a huge bonus demand this week that some teams are scared off.


9Reese McGuirePOS: CB/T: L/RHT: 6-1WT: 190School: Kentwood HS (Kent, Wash.)Analysis: This one has seemed locked in for a while. If the Twins do end up taking McGuire, I'd guess D.J. Peterson here, over guys like Dominic Smith, Hunter Renfroe, and Clint Frazier.

Note: A compensation pick for failing to sign Mark Appel with No. 8 overall pick in 2012.


10J.P. CrawfordPOS: SSB/T: L/RHT: 6-2WT: 175School: Lakewood (Calif.) HSAnalysis: Hearing them with Ball, McGuire, and Crawford, but not Meadows and Frazier. Also heard one rumor they'd take Bickford and tell him to take less money or go to school.


11DJ PetersonPOS: 3B/1BB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 205School: New MexicoAnalysis: Have heard them on Peterson or Smith for weeks now. Gonzalez is another name that has gained some traction here.


12Hunter RenfroePOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 216School: Mississippi StateAnalysis: Seattle is being linked to a slew of names here, including Peterson, Bickford, and Crawford.


13Clint FrazierPOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 190School: Loganville (Ga.) HSAnalysis: Other possibilities here include Renfroe, Gonzalez and Hunter Dozier, who has moved up draft boards with a strong spring at Stephen F. Austin. Dozier is also helped by the fact that this draft is bereft of college shortstops, and he is probably the best one.

Update (11:50 a.m. ET): Hearing that Renfroe is their clear second choice if Frazier is off the board.


14Dominic SmithPOS: 1BB/T: L/LHT: 6-0WT: 195School: Serra HS (Gardena, Calif.)Analysis: Gonzalez is also in play here, as well as the other names I mentioned at No. 9 should they fall this far.


15Alex GonzalezPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 200School: Oral RobertsAnalysis: If Renfroe or Smith are still on the board, it's unlikely they'll get past here. Another name I've heard is Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge, who is built like a defensive end and has one of the more unique scouting profiles you will ever see.


16Austin WilsonPOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-5WT: 245School: StanfordAnalysis: I've heard them on a weird mix of players, but they seem to be locked in on bats. They're one of the teams linked to J.P. Crawford, and I've heard them connected to Judge, probably because they love high-upside athletic players even if their probability is low.


17Chris AndersonPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 225School: JacksonvilleAnalysis: Other possibilities here include Gonzalez and juco shortstop Tim Anderson.


18Ryne StanekPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 190School: ArkansasAnalysis: Heard a number of names here, including Nick Ciuffo, Hunter Harvey, Eric Jagielo and Gonzalez. Stanek was seen as a possible top-five pick coming into the spring, so some might see this as great value here.

19Tim AndersonPOS: SSB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 180School: East Central CCAnalysis: Hearing they're more likely to go college than prep here.


20Jonathon CrawfordPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 200School: FloridaAnalysis: Heard them linked to a lot of power arms -- a profile Detroit loves -- but not to anyone specific other than Crawford.


21Nick CiuffoPOS: CB/T: L/RHT: 6-1WT: 200School: Lexington (S.C.) HSAnalysis: Ciuffo seems to be the one name they'd really love to get here, with Dozier, Jagielo and Devin Williams other possibilities.


22Hunter HarveyPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 175School: Bandys HS (Catawba, N.C.)Analysis: I've also heard them with Travis Demeritte, Josh Hart, and Alex Balog (but probably at pick No. 37 in competitive balance round A).


23Travis DemerittePOS: SSB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 195School: Winder-Barrow HS (Winder, Ga.)Analysis: If the Cardinals really do go college at 19, that probably means Demerritte gets here, and Texas has been linked to him for a while.


24Rob KaminskyPOS: LHPHT: 6-0WT: 190School: St. Joseph HS (Montvale, N.J.)Analysis: Oakland has been linked to Hunter Harvey as well.


25Matt KrookPOS: LHPHT: 6-2WT: 190School: St. Ignatius Prep (Hillsborough, Calif.)Analysis: Linked to a lot of prep arms, with Krook earning particular attention from their pitching guru, **** Tidrow, as well as Ian Clarkin.


26Eric JagieloPOS: 3BB/T: L/RHT: 6-3WT: 215School: Notre DameAnalysis: Hearing they will go college here, with Jagielo edging out Wilson on their board.


27Jon DenneyPOS: CB/T: R/RHT: 6-2WT: 205School: Yukon (Okla.) HSAnalysis: Also heard them with Billy McKinney and Wil Crowe, the latter probably in the comp round (No. 38 overall pick).


28Devin WilliamsPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 172School: Hazelwood (Mo.) West HSAnalysis: Williams is a local kid, which makes him an obvious fit. I've also heard them with Ian Clarkin here.

Note: This pick is compensation for Kyle Lohse signing with the Brewers.


29Hunter DozierPOS: SSB/T: R/RHT: 6-4WT: 220School: Stephen F. AustinAnalysis: Other targets are the guys I mentioned at No. 21: Dozier, Jagielo and Williams.

Note: This pick is compensation for B.J. Upton signing with the Braves.


30Kyle SerranoPOS: RHPHT: 6-0WT: 185School: Farragut (Tenn.) HSAnalysis: If I had to say there was one pick I knew the least about, it would be this one. I've heard names such as Hunter Green, Hart and Clarkin, but don't feel like any of them was a particularly strong link.

Note: This pick is compensation for Josh Hamilton signing with the Angels.


31Hunter GreenPOS: LHPHT: 6-5WT: 220School: Warren East HS (Bowling Green, Ky.)Analysis: They'd love Krook but he likely won't get here. Cal catcher Andrew Knapp is also in play.

Note: This pick is compensation for Michael Bourn signing with the Indians.


32Billy McKinneyPOS: OFB/T: L/LHT: 6-2WT: 195School: Plano (Texas) West HSAnalysis: Have also heard them on Kaminsky, Andrew Thurman (although that was a little while ago), Dustin Peterson and Cody Reed, as well as …

Note: This pick is compensation for Nick Swisher signing with the Indians.


33Ian ClarkinPOS: LHPHT: 6-2WT: 190School: Madison HS (San Diego)Analysis: Probably worth mentioning that the last time they picked down here in 2010, they shocked everyone by taking prep shortstop Cito Culver, who was considered a pretty big reach.

Note: This pick is compensation for Rafael Soriano signing with the Nationals.


Time gets in the way of draft rebuilds.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
A smart baseball executive talked the other day about how difficult the new rules have made it for teams to build through the draft. Under the old rules, organizations could divert funds into their draft spending and aggressively pay players in the later rounds -- usually talented high schoolers who had thoughts of going to college -- and build their pool of prospects.

But under the new rules, with a slotting system, that really isn’t possible anymore without rule-bending. And remember, there are also new restrictions on signing international free agents.

“The teams that already have a good group of prospects are in an incredibly strong position,” said the executive, naming the Cardinals, Rays and Pirates among those clubs. “But on the other hand, if you don’t have that kind of talent in your organization, it’s become much more difficult to get it.”

Which is saying something. It has taken Pirates GM Neal Huntington many years (and many losses) to rebuild the organization through the draft, and similarly, Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore took over the Royals in the spring of 2006. The Royals are perceived to have a good group of prospects, in spite of this year’s results in the big leagues, but think about that: It required six or seven years to get there, and that's under the old rules.

So while the day of the draft provides hope, it is also a sobering time for teams that are talent-starved and face a long, long road to rebuild in the way they want to -- a journey probably lengthened by the new rules.

The Brewers don’t even have a first-round pick today. Neither do the Angels. Same for the Nationals.

It’s really easy to say you’re going to devote time to rebuilding a franchise through the draft, and through development. But that strategy doesn’t guarantee success, and requires a sustained effort over a period of time that may span more than one general manager.

• Keith Law talked about the draft, how negotiations take place and who might get picked where in Wednesday’s podcast. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer spoke about the team’s work on the second overall pick on Tuesday’s podcast.

• The likelihood of the Cubs taking Mark Appel is growing, writes Paul Sullivan.

• The Astros will start the dominoes tonight, when they pick the first guy in the draft.

• The Rockies may get third baseman Kris Bryant in the draft, writes Patrick Saunders.

• The Pirates have two picks near the top of the draft. They’re looking for impact guys.

• The Rays hope to change their draft stories, writes Marc Topkin. They have a strategy, writes Roger Mooney.

• The Marlins are going back to their roots today with their draft approach, writes Clark Spencer.

• Pitching is a focus in the draft, writes Zach Braziller.

• First-round picks are crucial to building a winner.

• The Royals are striving for organizational balance, writes **** Kaegel.

• Roch Kubatko writes about the Orioles’ draft.

• Athleticism is a high priority for the Diamondbacks in this draft, writes Steve Gilbert.

• The Mariners must be creative in the No. 12 spot, writes Todd Dybas.

The latest scandal

• Torii Hunter called the latest PED news “a witch hunt,” but I really think, after talking with some players Wednesday, that Hunter’s opinion is in the minority. Players are saying privately -- and even some publicly, such as Matt Holliday -- that they wanted cheaters rooted out, and that they feel no allegiance to cheaters.

Which is how it should be. I’ve written this here before and it’s worth repeating now: In 1995, the players used as replacements during the MLBPA’s strike were treated as scabs thereafter, because they were perceived to be a threat to the union’s stance, and to the other players’ ability to make a living. Well, in 2013, players who choose to take performance-enhancing drugs to gain a competitive advantage over other union members are a far greater threat than the replacement players ever were, and worthy of much harsher treatment from their brethren. Because the players who choose to cheat have effectively chosen to try to take jobs and money illicitly from other union members.

Alex Rodriguez is the sizable shadow that won’t go away for the Yankees, writes Tyler Kepner. The response within the Yankees organization to the latest news was basically one collective shrug: They have no control in this situation, almost certainly no ability to get out of the onerous contract despite Rodriguez’s past transgressions, no real way to know what Rodriguez might be as a player as he comes back from a second major hip surgery, and above all else, A-Rod’s actions continue to perplex many of them. From Kepner’s story:

“I think it’s embarrassing,” [Mark] Teixeira said, speaking generally about the report. “This is all speculation, but if it is true, then I don’t think it’s good for the game. We’re supposed to be good examples for kids, for fans. It’d be one thing if we didn’t have a policy. We’ve had a very tough policy for a long time. If that many guys are still cheating, it’s just very disappointing.”

From the Yankees’ perspective, Joel Sherman writes, why worry? Rodriguez’s biggest allies will be his lawyers, and not players, writes Bob Klapisch. Rodriguez declined to pay Tony Bosch, reports the Daily News.

The conversation on drugs will never end, writes Sam Mellinger. This is a short-term pain that is a long-term gain for baseball, writes Richard Griffin. I agree with him completely.

It seems like Bud Selig’s work is never done, writes Patrick Reusse. The union says judgment should be withheld.

Losing Nelson Cruz could cost the Rangers the AL West, writes Tim Cowlishaw. Bartolo Colon is back in the center of the PED storm, but he won. Clint Hurdle says he’s not going to worry about it. Tom Haudricourt wonders: Is Tony Bosch going to be credible enough to take down Ryan Braun and others?

If Major League Baseball officials entered into their agreement with Bosch without having some sense of whether he could provide corroborating evidence, it would be a major mistake. But I don’t think that’s the case; I think they know most of what they’re going to get, and would never have made their deal with him without knowing they are going to get a lot of stuff from him, whether it be FedEx receipts, hotel receipts, surveillance video, text messages, emails, phone records, etc.

Braun was out of the lineup because of a thumb issue.


• Cargo and Tulo put on a show, as Troy Renck writes.

From Elias Sports Bureau: Carlos Gonzalez hit three home runs and Troy Tulowitzki went 5-for-5 with two homers in the Rockies' win over the Reds. It's the first time in major league history that one player had a three-homer game while a teammate had at least five hits including two homers in the same game.

• How desperate were the White Sox to win and end their losing streak Wednesday? Enough so that closer Addison Reed threw 55 pitches over three innings.

The Mariners rallied from five runs down in the 14th inning, incredibly, only to lose. What a crusher.

Elias: The Mariners-White Sox game is the first game in major league history in which each team scored 5-plus runs in a game that was scoreless through nine innings. Kyle Seager is the first player in MLB history with a game-tying grand slam in extra innings.

• Watching Julio Teheran pitch Wednesday, I thought he was going to finish his no-hitter. He had tremendous stuff, and the Pirates seemed to be a little sluggish, in a day game after a night game.

From ESPN Stats & Information, how Teheran dominated:

A. Teheran threw a career-high 41 sliders, a pitch he just added to his repertoire this season. Pirates hitters put only 3 of the 19 sliders they swung at in play and none left the infield.
B. Teheran induced 22 swings-and-misses, nine more than any other start of his career and the most by a Braves starter in the last two seasons.
C. All 11 of his strikeouts were swinging (five fastball, four slider, one curveball, one changeup). There have been 52 double-digit strikeout games this season, but Teheran's is only the third in which all strikeouts were swinging.
D. Teheran started 23 of 28 (82.1 pct) hitters with a first-pitch strike, the highest percentage of his career. Ten of his 11 strikeouts came after getting ahead 0-1.
E. Teheran’s no-hit bid lasted 7 2/3 innings. That is the most no-hit innings by a Braves pitcher since Kent Mercker completed a no-hitter in 1994.

• It turns out Yasiel Puig is not going to get two or three hits in every game. But as long as he continues to produce, he will continue to play, even after Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp return from the disabled list. At this stage, with the Dodgers well back in the standings, they don’t have any choice but to play their best lineup every day, regardless of salary or resume.

• CC Sabathia continues his march toward 200 career victories.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Yadier Molina dropped his appeal, writes Rick Hummel.

2. Anthony Rendon started at second base.

3. Roy Oswalt could be promoted soon.

Dings and dents

1. Johnny Cueto has a sore arm.

2. Mitch Moreland hurt his hamstring and it didn’t look good.

3. Daniel Hudson had a setback, as Nick Piecoro writes.

4. A Dodgers pitcher is having Tommy John surgery.

5. Stephen Strasburg landed on the disabled list.

6. Jake Peavy may not be able to pitch again before the trade deadline, as Mark Gonzales writes.

Wednesday’s games

1. After home plate umpire John Hirschbeck went down, so did the Marlins.

2. The Rays rallied for a nice win.

3. A strong outing by Joe Kelly was wasted.

4. Alexi Ogando was "the man" for the Rangers.

5. R.A. Dickey bounced back.

6. The Orioles were blasted.

7. Jason Marquis flirted with the first no-hitter in Padres’ history.

AL East

• Jim Leyland raved about a Rays reliever.

• For a night, Koji Uehara disappointed.

AL Central

• The Royals’ long nightmare is over.

• The Tigers are concerned about Avisail Garcia’s habit of lunging to the first-base bag, writes Tom Gage.

• Chris Perez is subject to a drug investigation, as Bud Shaw writes. A package sent to his home was intercepted.

• The Indians were shut down by CC Sabathia, and swept.

AL West

• Six Astros -- count 'em, six -- hit home runs against the Orioles, as Jesus Ortiz writes.

NL East

• The Braves continue to be in a strong position relative to the Nationals, writes David O’Brien, in a June 1 post. This race feels like an NBA game: At some point, you figure that the Nationals will make a strong run, and we’ll see how the Braves respond to that.

• A Marlins rookie made his little brother cry, writes Joe Capozzi.

• Marlon Byrd clubbed a couple of homers.

• Davey Johnson shaved his beard.

• For the Nationals, the struggles continue, writes Amanda Comak.

• Cole Hamels rebuilt his confidence, and Domonic Brown clocked another home run.

NL Central

• The Cubs lost, but are hopeful today for other reasons.

• Pete Kozma got a needed day off.

• Starling Marte tried some added protection, then opted to ditch it.

NL West

• Paul Goldschmidt: Ridiculous.

Crime still pays in MLB.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Melky Cabrera was suspended for the use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2012 and lost about a third of his salary, or about $1.8 million of the $6 million that he made. Then, when he went into free agency, he signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

According to "Outside The Lines," Cabrera now faces a 100-game suspension, meaning that he could lose about $4.4 million in salary. So in the end, Melky Cabrera could be busted twice in two years -- and still walk away with $15.8 million for his work in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Does crime pay in Major League Baseball?

Heck yeah, it does.

And this will continue to be the case until the Major League Baseball Players Association steps up and aggressively pursues tougher penalties for those caught. Many players want this to happen, and have talked about making it happen -- and it may well happen for next year.

It’s very possible that Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and others will have to do the perp walk of public shame -- and along the way, they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

• It’s worth remembering this: A lot of players in a lot of sports have used performance-enhancing drugs, in following their competitive instinct to get an edge. Through the years, the methods have evolved, from scuffing a baseball to corking a bat to wide receivers and defensive backs covering their hands with stickum to hockey players bending their sticks, and finally, to athletes taking drugs.

So if MLB develops the information necessary to determine, once and for all, that Braun used performance-enhancing drugs, Braun’s name can be added to the legions of rule-breakers.

But if suspended, Braun will forever own a special place among the cheaters: He will be the Lance Armstrong of baseball. Being a cheater, well, that’s like being part of a graduating class: Everybody gets a diploma. But if Braun is suspended, he will be baseball’s valedictorian of illicit behavior.

Because not only did he deny the use of performance-enhancing drugs -- as Rafael Palmeiro and many, many others did -- but Braun’s defense was to attack those in the system. It’s one thing to say I didn’t take steroids, but Braun’s side went after those within the chain of custody, most notably attacking the professionalism of Dino Laurenzi, the collector.

Braun had a public defense when he tested positive prior to the 2012 season, and there also was a vicious private defense aimed at Laurenzi. And think about all the people that Braun may have lied to along the way, in the Brewers’ organization, to other players.

It’s worth reviewing what Braun said on the day he spoke (here’s the videotape of a portion of that statement).

Here's a of full transcript of Braun's comments on the day he won his appeal in spring training 2012, and I've pulled out another key section that was not included in the video above.

In my [testing] case there was an additional third person, the son of the collector, who just so happened to be the my chaperone on the day that I was tested. The day of the test we had a 1 o’clock game. I provided my sample at about 4:30. There were two other players who provided their samples that day within 10 minutes of mine. The collector left the field at about 5 o’clock. There were at least five FedEx locations within five miles of the stadium that were open until 9 p.m. and an additional FedEx location that was open for 24 hours. There were upwards of 18 or 19 FedEx locations that were open between the ballpark and his house that he could have dropped the samples off at.

When FedEx received the samples, it then creates a chain of custody at the FedEx location where he eventually brought my sample to. It would have been stored in a temperature-controlled environment, and FedEx is used to handling clinical packaging. But most importantly, you then would become a number and no longer a name. So when we provide our samples, there is a number and no longer a name associated with the sample. That way there can’t be any bias -- whether it’s with FedEx, while it’s traveling, at the lab in Montreal, in any way -- based on somebody’s race, religion, ethnicity, what team they play for, whatever the case may be. As players, the confidentiality of this process is extremely important. It’s always been extremely important, because the only way for the process to succeed is for the confidentiality and the chain of custody to work.

Why he didn’t bring it in, I don’t know. On the day that he did finally bring it in, FedEx opened at 7:30. Why didn’t he bring it in until 1:30? I can’t answer that question. Why was there zero documentation? What could have possibly happened to it during that 44-hour period? There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.

The key words in that statement are there at the end: "There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector ... that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened."

If Ryan Braun was lying when he uttered those words -- if it’s proved that he was a user -- well, he has earned a special kind of scorn.

Braun, who is making $8.5 million this year and guaranteed $117 million from 2014 through 2021, stands by his spring training statement.

• Alex Rodriguez has made a lot of poor career decisions -- a lot of them -- but if Major League Baseball confirms the details in Tuesday’s Biogenesis story, then this would be the worst of them. Most superstar players are welcomed back for reunions, for Old-Timers Day, that sort of thing, but it’s hard to imagine teams ever welcoming back Rodriguez into their big tent without the passage of a whole lot of time. Because it means that he lied, and then lied again and again and again.

From ESPN Stats & Information, a timeline of Rodriguez's PED-related events

2003: Reportedly tests positive for steroids
February 2004: Traded to Yankees
April 2004: Samples seized from Las Vegas laboratory
December 2007: Denies using steroids in "60 Minutes" interview
February 2009: Sports Illustrated reports he tested positive for steroids in 2003
February 2009: Admits to PED use
January 2013: Linked to Biogenesis clinic in reports in Miami New Times
April 2013: New York Times reports Rodriguez purchased documents from Biogenesis clinic
Tuesday: ESPN reports MLB seeking to suspend Rodriguez, others

The Yankees owe Rodriguez at least $118 million over the next five years. The thing that complicates that total number is his $10 million signing bonus -- $6 million of it has already been paid, leaving $4 million to be paid over 2013 ($1M) and 2014 ($3M), so the actual guaranteed total is $118 million remaining on his contract.

This doesn’t include the potential $30 million he could earn by reaching various home run milestones. He’ll earn an additional $6 million for tying Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds on the all-time home run list, as well another $6 million for passing Bonds.

• Jhonny Peralta may face a lengthy suspension. A couple of Padres are in the middle of this, writes Chris Jenkins.

Rivera won't reconsider retiring.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Mariano Rivera is almost perfect as a reliever this season, with 19 saves and a 1.77 ERA, the sort of numbers that don’t square with the fact that he is 43 years old and announced his retirement back in March.

This isn’t quite Gale Sayers walking away from his sport, or Jim Brown, because those guys were much younger when they retired, but it is unusual for someone to quit while at the top of his profession, which is why he was asked again Sunday, in conversation, if there is any chance he would reconsider. His explanation was classic Rivera.

He is devout in his faith, and he said that before this year, he asked for the Lord’s blessing for his final season -- to go through the year with his health, and with the kind of grace for which he prayed. Inspired by the show "Undercover Boss," Rivera and Yankees media relations man Jason Zillo came up with an idea that they hoped would work, something different, in which Rivera would arrange meetings with fans and employees of other teams.

That has gone as he had hoped it would, and he has been touched by the people he has spoken with, he said.

So he has received precisely what he asked for from God, he explained. And he does not want to take that blessing for granted. He feels as if there is a compact in place -- in return for what he asked for, he will walk away -- and he will honor it.

“I don’t care if I get 100 saves,” he said. “I don’t care if they offer me $50 million. That’s it.”

• Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman sat for the Sunday Conversation, and talked about Alex Rodriguez, among other topics.

• What scared folks last night at Yankee Stadium was a lightning strike. After this, a lot of the stoic security personnel who line the field during rain delays rushed off; they had had enough.

• The other day, I asked David Ortiz what his thinking is at the plate, and he had a simple answer: “Away.” He looks for something to take to left field or left-center field. And this chart shows he’s having a lot of success with that.

Around the league

From ESPN Stats & Information, more on Domonic Brown and Patrick Corbin, two young players who are starting to put up impressive numbers lately. Corbin is having a lot of success in this, his second season, while Brown’s story is that of a top prospect who took four seasons to reach his potential.

• Age 23, Born in Clay, N.Y.
• Drafted by Angels in second round of 2009 amateur draft
• Acquired on July 25, 2010 from Angels a part of Dan Haren trade
• 6-8, 4.54 ERA in 22 games (17 starts) as a rookie last season
• First pitcher to nine wins this season

• From Elias: Corbin improved to 9-0 with a 2.06 ERA on Sunday. He is the fourth pitcher in the past 75 years to go 9-0 or better with such a low ERA through his first 11 starts of a season. The others were Juan Marichal in 1966 (10-0, 0.80 ERA), Sonny Siebert in 1971 (9-0, 1.77 ERA) and Roger Clemens in 1997 (10-0, 1.85).

• Corbin’s win streak of nine straight decisions to start the season matches the best streak by a pitcher to start the season in Diamondbacks history (Brandon Webb, 2008). The Diamondbacks have won his past 12 starts dating back to last season.

• Corbin is the first lefty, age 23 or younger, to start a season 9-0 or better since 1973 (Roger Moret started 11-0 for the Red Sox).

Best pitch: slider
• 43 strikeouts with his slider is most among NL starters.
• Miss percentage of 52.1 is most among NL starters.
• In play percentage of 17.1 is lowest among NL starters.
• Chase percentage of 44.2 is tied for third among NL starters.

• Age 25, Born in Zephyrhills, Fla.
• Drafted by Phillies in 20th round of 2006 draft.
• Phillies top prospect 2008-10
• This season set career highs in at-bats (202), hits (57), HR (16) and RBIs (40).
• In May, became first player in MLB history with at least 10 homers in a calendar month without a walk.
• Leads NL in HR (16).

• First Phillies player since Ryan Howard in 2006 to hit at least eight homers in a nine-game span.

• From Elias: Seven homers during current seven-game hitting streak. The only other Phillies players to hit safely in seven straight games while homering seven or more times are Chuck Klein (July 1929 and September 1930), Mike Schmidt (April 1976 and July 1979) and Chase Utley (April 2008).

Best hitting zone

Brown was once one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball and appears to be delivering on his almost-forgotten promise. How is he doing it? By a distinct adjustment -- handling pitches up in the zone more effectively and being more aggressive in swinging at those pitches.

Through 2012, he had hit .200 and slugged .323 on pitches "up" in the zone. This year, those numbers are .350 and .875, respectively. He's swinging at 53.5 percent of such pitches, which is the 11th-highest rate in the majors.

• The Phillies shut down the Brewers Sunday, led by Cliff Lee. From ESPN Stats & Info, how Lee won:
A. His seventh double-digit strikeout game without a walk since the start of 2010, the most in the majors in that span.
B. He threw strikes: 81 of 105 pitches were strikes. His strike percentage of 77.1 was his highest of the season and fifth best since 2009.
C. His fastball was out pitch: seven of 11 K's were from that pitch (tied for his third most since 2009).
D. He got batters to miss: They took 21 swings and misses (his most since 2009).

• I think Yadier Molina really cares and really wanted a hit in this situation, and 95 percent of the reason why he slammed down his helmet was because he was frustrated that he had grounded out. I think if the umpire had paused just a beat he would’ve realized this, too.

• The Dodgers are fully cognizant of all the possible downside in Yasiel Puig at this stage in his career, as he ascends to the big leagues. His understanding of simple fundamental defense and baserunning is lacking, or he just hasn’t placed a priority on it. He had issues with elementary stuff such as calling off other fielders on pop flies and showing up to work on time.

But as one of the Dodgers’ folks said in spring training, the intangible impact of Puig is so great that it’s tangible. His energy rubs off on other players, and his enthusiasm will naturally nudge others to play hard; he attacks the game like a linebacker. There’s probably a pretty good chance this is not going to work out, given his overaggressiveness at the plate -- pitchers will take advantage of that, in all probability -- but he has the kind of raw, Bo Jackson-type talent that makes it worthwhile for the struggling Dodgers to give it a shot.

B.J. Upton's new approach.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Just before last Sunday night's game, Atlanta Braves hitting coach Greg Walker stood at the mouth of the dugout and talked about B.J. Upton's complicated, dysfunctional swing. Upton's front foot wasn't getting down quickly enough -- toes and heel -- and as he moved to attack the many pitches he missed, his front hip tended to turn out, like a door swinging open, far too soon before the ball got to home plate. And because of that, his bat followed, dragging out of the strike zone.

This is largely the reason why Upton has struggled so badly against anybody with a decent fastball in the past couple of years. His swing has probably been in the strike zone a minimal amount of time for a majority of his at-bats. Upton had been working on repairing his swing in the days leading up to his benching last week, and when he did side work and took batting practice, it would all look better. But once the games started, the adrenaline of the competition was added in and broke down everything.
Walker raved about Upton's work to fix the swing, to fix all of these various issues. "He'll get it," Walker said. "He'll get there."

So it was interesting to see Upton's game-winning, walk-off hit in Saturday's victory over the Nationals. Upton, with a slightly open stance, gets his front foot down with something of a double-tap, and while he doesn't anchor his heel to the ground -- something he has been working toward -- Upton's front side stays in place, and doesn't turn out too early. He's in position to take the ball to right field.

It's a better swing; it's a better at-bat. It's a sign that Upton could be getting better, as Walker predicted.

This Sunday, we've got the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, with Clay Buchholz pitching against Hiroki Kuroda.

CC Sabathia's clubhouse impact.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
A few hours before the Yankees beat the Red Sox, New York general manager Brian Cashman sat down for the Sunday night conversation, and, among other topics, he talked about CC Sabathia and what he has meant to the franchise. Cashman recounted the conversations he had with Sabathia before signing him: Not only did he want Sabathia because he is a really good pitcher but he wanted Sabathia to help alter the Yankees' clubhouse dynamic, which he felt was very sterile.

Sabathia is now four wins from 200 for his career, and, no matter what happens going forward, he’ll be remembered as one of the better pitchers of his generation. But if there was a Teammate Hall of Fame -- for guys like Dale Murphy, Tim Raines -- Sabathia would be a first-ballot inductee.

He treats everybody from the clubhouse kids to the highest-profile teammates the same, with geniality and generosity. His personality in dealing with others is consistent: Nobody has to navigate around his moods. He does everything he can to help others. He blames no one. He is always accountable.

I was once told a story about a situation earlier in his career in which one of his teammates' failures seemed to pop up constantly. Another teammate asked him about it in confidence, to empathize with the pitcher, to give him a chance to vent a little, if he wanted to -- but even in that private setting, Sabathia wouldn't entertain the topic. "I need to pitch better," he said, saying those words in such a way that ended that vein of conversation.

It’s little surprise, then, that Sabathia took his recent slump so hard, so personally; he thought he was letting down everybody else. On Friday, he picked up his teammates.

From ESPN Stats & Information:

CC Sabathia tied Al Downing for the third-most 10-strikeout games in Yankees history.

Ron Guidry -- 23
David Cone -- 21
CC Sabathia -- 17
Al Downing -- 17
****** Ford -- 14

How Sabathia won:

A) His 27 sliders netted nine outs (six strikeouts), and he allowed only one base hit with that pitch.

B) His average fastball velocity was a season-high 91.4 mph; he has averaged 90 mph or better with his fastball in eight straight starts.

C) He kept his fastball out of hitters' hot spots. Of his 62 fastballs, only 20 were in the middle third of the batter's strike zone heightwise. In his previous start, 29 of his 54 fastballs (54 percent) were in that area.

Elias: Sabathia is the first Yankees pitcher in more than 100 years to end a drought of at least five straight team losses with a 10-strikeout/zero-walk performance. That had last been done in 1910 by Russ Ford, who threw a complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts and no walks against the St. Louis Browns, a decision that ended New York’s run of seven straight defeats.

Sabathia was able to punch up his velocity when needed, as Mark Feinsand writes. Joe Girardi was ejected and admitted he was wrong.

The Yankees got back Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis, as Dan Martin writes. The Yankees are relying on players of old, writes Joel Sherman.

Top 100 draft prospects.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Rule 4 draft is almost upon us, and I've updated my ranking of the top 100 prospects in advance of Thursday night's proceedings. (For the previous version of my draft prospect rankings, click here.)

This is not a projection or mock draft -- my latest mock is here -- but a ranking by talent and upside based on my own scouting of players (live and off video) and conversations with scouts from all over the country.

As with my ranking of the top 100 pro prospects, I use the 20-80 grading scale in these comments to avoid overuse of the terms "average" and "above average" across the 100 player comments. On that scale, a grade of 50 equals major league average, 55 is above average, 60 is plus, 45 is fringy or below average and so on.

Now, on to the rankings.

1Mark AppelPOS: RHPHT: 6-5WT: 215School: StanfordAnalysis: He's a polished, athletic college right-hander with three above-average to plus pitches, clearly the top talent in this year's class.


2Kris BryantPOS: 3B/OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-5WT: 215School: San DiegoAnalysis: Bryant's kind of right-handed power is very hard to find, and even if he ends up in right field he's athletic enough to be good there.


3Jonathan GrayPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 239School: OklahomaAnalysis: Shows two plus pitches and had much better conditioning and fastball command this year, although it remains to be seen if his positive test for the amphetamine Adderall hurts his stock at all.


4Kohl StewartPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 190School: St. Pius X (Houston)Analysis: He has been up to 97 mph with a plus slider and two other workable pitches, as well as a scholarship to play quarterback at Texas A&M once Johnny Football departs. That football scholarship gives him a little bit more leverage than your typical prospect in contract negotiations.


5Austin MeadowsPOS: OFB/T: L/LHT: 6-3WT: 200School: Grayson (Ga.) HSAnalysis: A huge raw talent, bringing football size and athleticism to baseball, but he hasn't exploded on the diamond the way you'd expect given his tools.


6Braden ShipleyPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 190School: NevadaAnalysis: A converted position player who didn't start pitching full time until 2012, Shipley is up to 97 mph with a plus changeup and a chance for an above-average curveball.


7Clint FrazierPOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-0WT: 190School: Loganville (Ga.) HSAnalysis: Frazier has the best bat speed in the draft, bar none -- some of the best ever for a draft prospect, in fact -- but he's a sub-6-foot right-handed hitter who'll end up in a corner outfield spot. That's not a profile typically associated with All-Stars.


8Trey BallPOS: LHP/OFHT: 6-6WT: 180School: New Castle (Ind.) HSAnalysis: Ball could be drafted as a hitter or pitcher and is in contention for the draft's best athlete. He's a little better on the mound, where he's up to 94 with feel for a breaking ball.


9Colin MoranPOS: 3BHT: 6-3WT: 215School: North CarolinaAnalysis: The best pure hitter among college bats, Moran should stay at third because of his hands and arm, but hasn't performed well on Friday nights when he's typically facing opponents' best starters.


10Sean ManaeaPOS: LHPHT: 6-5WT: 235School: Indiana StateAnalysis: A huge wild card, Manaea starred last summer in the Cape Cod League but fought a sore hip nearly all spring, walking off the mound in pain at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, and could fall out of the first round depending on what his medicals say.


11Dominic SmithPOS: 1BB/T: L/LHT: 6-0WT: 195School: Serra HS (Gardena, Calif.)Analysis: A pretty left-handed swing and a plus arm will go a long way even if you're "only" a high school first baseman, typically a risky class of player in the first round because you are already on the low end of the defensive spectrum.


12Hunter RenfroePOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-1WT: 216School: Mississippi StateAnalysis: Huge tools, comparable to Austin Meadows', but in a college player with no track record of performance prior to this year.


13Ryne StanekPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 190School: ArkansasAnalysis: Came into the year as a potential top-five pick, and still has the same stuff, including a fastball up to 99 mph, just with mediocre performances exacerbated by Arkansas jerking him around their weekend rotation.

14J.P. CrawfordPOS: SSB/T: L/RHT: 6-2WT: 175School: Lakewood (Calif.) HSAnalysis: In a draft with few true shortstops, Crawford stands out as the most likely to stay at the position, also bringing some feel for hitting but looking like a long-term prospect who might be five years out.


15Austin WilsonPOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-5WT: 245School: StanfordAnalysis: He suffered a stress reaction above his right elbow on opening day and never fully recovered; he still has the size and easy power to merit a first-round pick.


16Alex GonzalezPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 200School: Oral RobertsAnalysis: Gonzalez sits 90-93 with his fastball but has the best cutter in the draft and a very high ground ball rate, making him appealing to teams who value that specific skill as well as overall tools.


17Aaron JudgePOS: OFB/T: R/RHT: 6-7WT: 255School: Fresno StateAnalysis: The definition of high-risk, high-reward, as Judge has few physical comparisons in the history of the majors, but if a team can unlock the power in his size and strength, he's a potential 30-homer bat who can play solid defense in an outfield corner.


18Nick CiuffoPOS: CB/T: L/RHT: 6-1WT: 200School: Lexington (S.C.) HSAnalysis: The best receiving catcher in the draft, Ciuffo has the potential for above-average power down the road and plays with a tremendous amount of energy.


19Reese McGuirePOS: CB/T: L/RHT: 6-1WT: 190School: Kentwood HS (Kent, Wash.)Analysis: A plus-plus throwing catcher who should help cut down the running game, McGuire has caught and hit better this spring than he did on the showcase circuit last summer.


20Devin WilliamsPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 172School: Hazelwood West HS (Hazelwood, Mo.)Analysis: Williams is one of the top prep arms in the country, with an athletic build and delivery reminiscent of Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker's and a chance for three above-average or better pitches.


21Kyle SerranoPOS: RHPHT: 6-0WT: 185School: Farragut (Tenn.) HSAnalysis: Kyle is the son of Tennessee coach Dave Serrano and is slated to be the Vols' Friday night starter in 2014, but his plus curveball might never make it to Knoxville except as a spectator.


22Jon DenneyPOS: CB/T: R/RHT: 6-2WT: 205School: Yukon (Okla.) HSAnalysis: The best offensive catcher in this solid crop of high school backstops, Denney hasn't caught or thrown as well this spring as he did on the showcase circuit but still has the highest upside at the plate in that group.


23Marco GonzalesPOS: LHPHT: 6-1WT: 185School: GonzagaAnalysis: A low-upside, high-probability left-hander with a plus changeup and above-average breaking ball but a lack of size and a fastball that might end up in the upper 80s when he pitches every fifth day.


24Hunter HarveyPOS: RHPHT: 6-3WT: 175School: Bandys HS (Catawba, N.C.)Analysis: The son of former big league reliever Bryan Harvey, Hunter has an easy low-90s fastball and the chance for a plus breaking ball as well as a very athletic frame.


25Chris AndersonPOS: RHPHT: 6-4WT: 225School: JacksonvilleAnalysis: An up-and-down spring spurred by overuse at Jacksonville knocked Anderson out of top-10 contention, but his velocity perked up near the end of the year and he's flashed a plus slider as well.


No. 26-100
Click on hyperlinks for full scouting reports.

26 Eric Jagielo 3B Notre Dame
27 Andrew Thurman RHP UC Irvine
28 Billy McKinney OF Plano (Texas) West Senior HS
29 Connor Jones RHP Great Bridge HS (Chesapeake, Va.)
30 Matt Krook LHP St. Ignatius Prep (Hillsborough, Calif.)
31 Cody Reed LHP Northwest Miss. CC
32 Aaron Blair RHP Marshall
33 Rob Kaminsky LHP St. Joseph's HS (Englewood Cliffs, NJ)
34 DJ Peterson OF New Mexico
35 Andrew Mitchell RHP TCU
36 Wil Crowe RHP Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) HS
37 Tim Anderson SS East Central CC
38 Hunter Dozier SS Stephen F. Austin
39 Dustin Peterson SS Gilbert (Ariz.) HS
40 Blake Taylor LHP Dana Hills (Calif.) HS
41 Travis Demerritte SS Winder-Barrow (Ga.) HS
42 Hunter Green LHP Warren East HS (Bowling Green, Ky.)
43 Ian Clarkin LHP Madison HS (San Diego)
44 Ryan Boldt OF Red Wing (Minn.) HS
45 Jacob Brentz LHP South HS (Ballwin, Mo.)
46 Garrett Williams LHP Calvary Baptist Academy (Shreveport, La.)
47 Jonathon Crawford RHP Florida
48 Jason Hursh RHP Oklahoma St
49 Michael Lorenzen RHP/OF Cal St Fullerton
50 Josh Hart OF Parkview HS (Lilburn, Ga.)
51 Trevor Williams RHP Arizona St
52 Jordan Paroubeck OF Serra HS (San Mateo, Calif.)
53 Cord Sandberg OF Manatee County Private (Bradenton, Fla.)
54 Phil Ervin OF Samford
55 Phil Bickford RHP Oaks Christian HS (Ventura, Calif.)
56 Andrew Knapp C Cal
57 Dustin Driver RHP Wenatchee (Wash.) HS
58 Rob Zastryzny LHP Missouri
59 Ryan Eades RHP LSU
60 Tom Windle LHP Minnesota
61 Teddy Stankiewicz RHP Seminole State College
62 Kevin Ziomek LHP Vanderbilt
63 Bobby Wahl RHP Ole Miss
64 Alex Balog RHP San Francisco
65 Colby Suggs RHP Arkansas
66 Jake Johansen RHP Dallas Baptist University
67 Cavan Biggio 2B St. Thomas HS (Houston)
68 Myles Smith RHP Lee University
69 Matt McPhearson OF Riverdale Baptist HS (Columbia, Md.)
70 Terry McClure OF Riverwood HS (Atlanta)
71 Mason Smith OF Rocky Mountain HS (Meridian, Idaho)
72 Clinton Hollon RHP Woodford County HS (Lexington, Ky.)
73 Ryan McMahon 3B Mater Dei HS (Yorba Linda, Calif.)
74 Jan Hernandez SS Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (San Lorenzo, PR)
75 Andrew Church RHP Palo Verde HS (Las Vegas)
76 Andy McGuire SS James Madison HS (Oakton, Va.)
77 Adam Plutko RHP UCLA
78 Mike O'Neill OF Michigan
79 Scott Frazier RHP Pepperdine
80 Chad Pinder 3B Virginia Tech
81 Carlos Salazar RHP Kerman (Calif.) HS
82 Kent Emanuel LHP UNC
83 Trey Michalczewski SS Jenks (Okla.) HS
84 Jared King OF Kansas State
85 Chris Rivera SS El Dorado HS (Fullerton, Calif.)
86 Ivan Wilson OF Ruston (La.) HS
87 JaCoby Jones 2B LSU
88 Jake Sweaney C Garces Memorial HS (Bakersfield, Calif.)
89 Trey Masek RHP Texas Tech
90 Riley Unroe SS Desert Ridge HS (Mesa, Ariz.)
91 Casey Meisner RHP Cypress (Texas) Woods HS
92 Victor Caratini C Miami Dade College
93 Kyle Finnegan RHP Texas State
94 Zane Evans C Georgia Tech
95 Corey Knebel RHP Texas
96 Stuart Turner C Ole Miss
97 Corey Littrell LHP Kentucky
98 Garrett Hampson SS Renon (Nev.) HS
99 Christian Arroyo SS Hernando HS (Spring Hill, Fla.)
100 Jeremy Martinez C Mater Dei HS (Fountain Valley, Calif.)

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Price check
June, 6, 2013
Jun 611:44AM ETBy Jason Catania | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintReigning American League Cy Young winner David Price has been out for a while. What's the latest on the lefty?

Price is set to throw a bullpen session Friday, his first since injuring his left triceps and leaving his May 15 outing early, according to a tweet from Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.

Price had been throwing on flat ground over the past week, and since he hasn't had any setbacks, this is the next step in the progression.

It's still too early to put a timetable on Price's return, and it's also unknown if he'll need a rehab start or two. Assuming everything were to go just right from here on out, he could perhaps make it back in late June.

Rookie Chris Archer is holding Price's rotation spot and will give it up once the veteran is ready to go.Tags:Tampa Bay Rays, David Price, Chris Archer
Royals rotation reinforcement
June, 6, 2013
Jun 611:12AM ETBy Jason Catania | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintThe Kansas City Royals could be getting a young arm back soon.

Former top prospect Danny Duffy, a left-hander who is returning from last season's Tommy John surgery, is set to move to Triple-A Omaha, as Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweets. His next start is scheduled for Monday.

So far, Duffy has made three starts in his rehab assignment, all at Double-A, allowing 12 hits and five runs in 10.2 innings, with a 15-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

While the Royals five-man had been an asset early in the season, there have been some kinks exposed lately, namely Wade Davis (6.16 ERA) and Luis Mendoza (4.76). Fellow righty Jeremy Guthrie, so good for the first month, has also struggled at times since.

Duffy is still a few weeks from being ready, but the 24-year-old could be an option for the back of the rotation by the end of June.

The likeliest candidate to be bumped to the bullpen would be Mendoza or Davis, both of whom have experience in a relief role.Tags:Kansas City Royals, Luis Mendoza, Wade Davis, Jeremy Guthrie, Danny Duffy
If Moreland is out
June, 6, 2013
Jun 610:41AM ETBy Jason Catania | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintThe right side of the Texas Rangers infield suffered suffered what looks like another injury.

Already without second baseman Ian Kinsler, the Rangers may be losing first baseman Mitch Moreland, too. Moreland hurt his right hamstring and had to leave Wednesday's game immediately after hitting a leadoff double in the seventh inning, per T.R. Sullivan of

For now, Moreland is day to day, but he did miss 31 games last year with a strained left hammy. The Rangers sent him back to Texas to have the injury evaluated, and if it's deemed more serious, the club will have to figure out how to replace him.

The two options on the current 25-man roster would be Lance Berkman or Jeff Baker, who replaced Moreland Wednesday, but if a stint on the disabled list is in Moreland's future, Texas may consider bringing up prospect Mike Olt. Olt, though, only recently returned to action at Triple-A after missing a month with blurred vision.Tags:Texas Rangers, Mitch Moreland, Jeff Baker, Mike Olt, Lance Berkman
Who takes Strasburg's turn?
June, 6, 2013
Jun 610:21AM ETBy Jason Catania | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintThe Washington Nationals were hoping to avoid having to put Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list. They held out that hope as long as possible.

The right-hander officially went on the DL Wednesday with a sore lat muscle in his right side, per Tom Schad of

The 15-day stint is backdated to May 31, meaning Strasburg could be back by June 15. The move to the DL happened after Strasburg felt discomfort while playing catch prior to a scheduled bullpen session Wednesday.

Strasburg's next turn would have been Saturday, and Washington's options to replace him are somewhat limited, as they're already without lefty Ross Detwiler, who's out with an oblique strain.

Manager Davey Johnson did not reveal who would take the turn, but he did say he has an idea of who it will be. Schad speculates that could be either journeyman right-hander Ross Ohlendorf or lefty Danny Rosenbaum, both of whom are at Triple-A.Tags:Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg, Danny Rosenbaum, Ross Ohledorf
Cingrani time?
June, 6, 2013
Jun 69:54AM ETBy Jason Catania | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintThe Cincinnati Reds have experienced life without ace Johnny Cueto already this season. They'll have to do so again.

The right-hander was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season due to the same injury -- a sore muscle behind his pitching shoulder.

The injury is expected to keep Cueto out for a few starts, per of Jeremy Warnemuende Given that this is the second stint for the same injury, though, and Cueto missed a handful of outings last time, that timetable may be optimistic.

Cueto hit the DL before his scheduled outing Wednesday, so minor leaguer Pedro Villarreal was called up for the spot start, which didn't go well: 10 hits and six earned runs in 3.2 innings.

The question now becomes whether the Reds will turn again to rookie Tony Cingrani. The left-hander, who's continued to dominate at Triple-A since going back down, made six mostly successful starts in place of Cueto earlier in the season and would be a better option going forward.

Problem is, Cingrani threw seven innings on Sunday, so he's not synced up with Cueto's turn in the rotation.Tags:Cincinnati Reds, Johnny Cueto, Tony Cingrani
Impact of Peavy's injury
June, 6, 2013
Jun 69:31AM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintRight-hander Jake Peavy left his Tuesday start with what was described as rib pain on his left side. The news got worse Wednesday.

Peavy will be out for four-to-six weeks with a non-displaced rib fracture on his left side.

The veteran righty will be replaced by Hector Santiago, who filled in for Peavy last month.

The White Sox, who finally won in a crazy, extra-inning affair Wednesday night, are eight games under .500 and seven back in the American League Central. As such, they could be moving closer to sell mode if they don't turn things around dramatically over the next month or so. That task is now tougher sans Peavy.

Making matters worse, Peavy recently admitted that he would "go play anywhere" for a chance at a ring, meaning he's open to a trade to a contender. Of course, the fact that he's now unlikely to make it back before the All-Star break severely decreases the chances that another team would be willing to acquire him.Tags:Chicago White Sox, Donnie Veal, Hector Santiago, Simon Castro, Jake Peavy
Oswalt's progress
June, 5, 2013
Jun 52:31PM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintRoy Oswalt, who signed a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies this spring, has made three start for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, producing solid results in each, perhaps suggesting he's not all that far off from being physically ready to help the big club.

The veteran went seven innings Tuesday and struck out five. He allowed three runs on seven hits, and it's worth noting that his home park, where he's made two of his three starts, is a hitter's environment. All four of the long balls he's allowed have come in Tulsa.

Thing is, Denver isn't exactly forgiving to the fly ball pitcher, so Oswalt will have to live down in the zone if he's to survive in Colorado. He's slated for start No. 4 Sunday versus Springfield, the Texas League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. It's another home game for Tulsa.

The Denver Post reports that Oswalt has out clauses in his contract dated June 18 and June 28, which means he's about three starts from the first one.Tags:Colorado Rockies, Roy Oswalt
Myers making case for call-up
June, 5, 2013
Jun 51:11PM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintTampa Bay Rays outfield prospect Wil Myers started the season a bit slow, piling up some strikeouts, failing to hit for average or power and justifying, at least in the short-term, the club's decision to send him to Triple-A to begin the year. Myers rebounded to finish strong in April, then had a mediocre first three weeks of May. Since then, however, Myers has been torching the baseball, perhaps suggesting he'll be ready for the call sometime this summer.

Since May 25, Myers is batting .422 with five home runs and five doubles, and has seven multi-hit games in his last 10. He leads the International League in extra-base hits during that span, and while the strikeouts are still there he's been as productive as one can hope with his other plate appearances.

The Rays don't have a big need for offense right now and are likely to wait out Myers, so I'm not expecting a call-up before the All-Star break, but sometime after makes a lot of sense. Myers will be beyond the Super Two threshold and come September any time he spend with the big club is a bonus toward his 2014 campaign to make the club out of spring training.Tags:Tampa Bay Rays, WIl Myers
Could Utley be dealt?
June, 5, 2013
Jun 511:39AM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet1Comments1EmailPrintI've brought up the idea on a couple of occasions this spring that the Philadelphia Phillies may be a popular shopping center for contending clubs come June and July. Left-hander Cliff Lee and closer Jonathan Papelbon could be among those discussed by GM Ruben Amaro. What about Chase Utley?

Utley's contract expires after this season and while I don't have privileged information on the future plans of either Utley or the Phillies, it's certainly not a slam dunk that they bring back the 34-year-old. Utley, who has battled back from three injury-marred seasons, has produced as usual in 2013. He;s also, as usual, been hurt.

Should the veteran get healthy and be made available, contenders that could show serious interest include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles. The Toronto Blue Jays also could be a fit if they jump back in the thick of things in the east, as could the Chicago White Sox, if they, too, get back on track.Tags:Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Chase Utley
Checking Nolasco's trade stock
June, 5, 2013
Jun 510:58AM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet2Comments0EmailPrintRicky Nolasco could be traded this summer. While earlier this spring there's was little to no interest, as Nolasco had producing mixed results, he's been much better of late, and most recently he's been pretty good.

Nolasco is a free agent at the end of the season and is by far the Marlins' highest paid player at $11.5 million. The 30-year-old has made four straight strong starts since a blip May 14 and despite a 3-6 record, boasts a 3.61 ERA and 67-20 K/BB ratio in 82 1/3 innings.

The list of clubs that could use a reliable arm in the middle of their rotation is long, but the Los Angeles Dodgers may top that list with injury and severe struggles to a few veterans holding them back as a staff. Nolasco isn't much of a ground ball pitcher, so the smaller ballparks in Arlington and Cincinnati, and the thin air of Coors Field don't seem to be fits, but Dodger Stadium has always favored the pitcher. The Angels, Orioles, Giants and Mariners could also be fits.Tags:Miami Marlins, Ricky Nolasco
Twins to draft future ace?
June, 5, 2013
Jun 510:22AM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet7Comments2EmailPrintThe First-Year Player Draft is in three weeks (June 6-glasses.gif and ESPN Insider's Keith Law released his first Mock Draft this week, projecting the Minnesota Twins, who have the fourth overall pick, to go with Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma.

Gray has the best fastball in the class, earning an 80 grade on the 20-80 scale, and the right-hander also employs a slider and changeup that are above average at present. His timetable to the majors could get him in a big-league uniform inside of two years.

Gray tested positive for Adderall, but the industry may or may not feel that warrants Gray sliding down drat boards. The Twins' rebuild could be shortened a bit by getting a talent like Gray in their system to team with Alex Meyer and Kyle Gibson.Tags:Minnesota Twins, Kyle Gibson, Alex Meyer
Ethier the odd-man out?
June, 5, 2013
Jun 58:57AM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet7Comments1EmailPrintOnce Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford return from the disabled list, the Los Angeles Dodgers may have a tough decision on their hands. Rookie Yasiel Puig is off to a roaring start to his major league career, and veteran Andre Ethier continues to struggle. Considering the club's problems in the win-loss column, shipping out Puig may not be viewed as an option.

Ethier went 0-for-2 Tuesday and is batting just .234 with a .356 slugging percentage in 55 games. He's 1-for-14 in June and offers little to not value on the bases or in the field. A trade is one possibility, but it may be difficult to move Ethier and around $70 million guaranteed owed to him. It may make more sense for the club to continue to try and extract some value out of him, even if it means a part-time role.

The club has several outfield options after the starting three, including Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Hairston and Skip Schumaker, so they're covered in any case, but Puig is believed to be the future in right field for the Dodgers. If that future starts now, Ethier's days could be numbered.Tags:Los Angeles Dodgers, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hairston, Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke
Brewers' rotation
June, 4, 2013
Jun 43:19PM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintWith Marco Estrada's injury and word Tuesday that he isn't likely to make his next start, the Milwaukee Brewers have a decision to make when Estrada's spot comes up again later this week.

It does appear to be a short-term issue, so the club could call on Tom Gorzelanny for a start. The left-hander spent most of his career starting and didn't jump to a permanent relief role until last season. He's made just one start since July of 2011, however, and his longest stint this season is the two innings he threw Sunday.

Barring Gorzelanny or another reliever jumping to the rotation for a start or two, the club will have to make roster space to call up an arm from Triple-A Nashville. If Estrada needs a few weeks for the hamstring, he'll likely hit the disabled list, creating that room.

The candidates for recall include Mike Fiers, Johnny Hellweg and Tyler Thornburg -- all three are on the 40-man roster. Rehabbing left-hander Chris Narveson has made but one start and does not appear ready to give the club innings. He's slated to go again Tuesday night.Tags:Milwaukee Brewers, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Mike Fiers, Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Thornburg, Johnny Hellweg
Rasmus update
June, 4, 2013
Jun 42:44PM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet0Comments0EmailPrintIt's been a little while since we checked in on Toronto Blue Jays centerfielder Colby Rasmus, and while we were out he's flipped the switch a little bit.

Since the middle of May or so, Rasmus has found some consistency and over the past three weeks he's flat out been on fire, batting .353/.382/.608 to raise his season line to .261/.320/.457, a much more respectable triple-slash than he tossed up in April.

He ended up with very solid numbers in May and any talk, from me or anyone else, that Rajai Davis may get more time in place of Rasmus are now invalid suggestions. Rasmus has always had the physical tools to perform at a high level. He's 26 now, so perhaps this is the year he does so. The recent and somewhat lengthy stretch may be the turning point.Tags:Toronto Blue Jays, Colby Rasmus
Moustakas watch
June, 4, 2013
Jun 42:00PM ETBy Jason A. Churchill | Recommend0Tweet7Comments0EmailPrintWe've checked in on struggling third baseman Mike Moustakas, regularly this season, and the numbers remain ugly. I keep this running entry, by the way, because it's baffling that a player like Moustakas is scuffling in this manner. His weakness was supposed to be defense at third, and he's managing quite well there, but all the while tossing up a goose egg with the bat.

Moustakas, battling a quad injury f late, and is now batting .186/.257/.304 for the season. Oddly, he has just 19 singles all season, despite a solid contact rate. Some worrisome statistics attached to Moustakas' resume this season is a line drive rate that has sunk more than three percent and a big spike in fly balls, up to 51 percent after finishing 2012 at 49.8 percent, which led baseball. Too many fly balls, however, are certainly going to impact the batting average.

ESPN Insider's Keith Law checked in on Moustakas and suggests a few fixes might help him get things going:

Keith Law
Swing fix for Moustakas?
"I wish I could offer such a concrete opinion on Mike Moustakas' struggles, but there's nothing so glaringly different about his swing today. He's taking a much longer stride -- he used to have a minimal stride, just a short step forward that was more about having a trigger than transferring his weight -- and rather than whipping the bat through the zone as he used to do, he's almost dragging it behind him. It's possible that shortening his stride would help restore the lost bat speed, or at least keep him a little more closed through contact. He always rolled over his lead foot a little, but that's more pronounced today than it was when he was in the minors. Hosmer can at least get by now because his plate discipline is so strong, but that's always been a weak point of Moustakas', and he needs to hit to justify his place in the lineup, and right now his line is .180/.252/.309. I'd at least start by shortening his stride, if only to see if that can produce some short-term benefits."
post #12357 of 73002
Thread Starter 
Top 100 Draft Flashback: What Does It All Mean?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
While we’re on the eve of this year’s draft, we’re also taking a retrospective look at the top draft 100 picks—the cream of the amateur crop—from the 20 drafts from 1989-2008. The first four installments of the Top 100 draft flashback series explained our methodology and examined landing spots for position players and impact rates for both pitchers and players drafted among the top 100 picks.

In this installment, we’ll take a bigger-picture look at graduation rates and impact rates for top 100 picks, leading to a few theories about why the percentages break down the way they do. First up: position players.


Position Source Signed Graduate Graduate% Impact Impact% Top 5

C HS 81 26 32.1% 9 11.1% 162
C 4YR 65 34 52.3% 8 12.3% 92
SS HS 132 44 33.3% 11 8.3% 338
SS 4YR 73 35 47.9% 9 12.3% 177
2B HS 7 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 0
2B 4YR 22 9 40.9% 3 13.6% 92
3B HS 61 17 27.9% 6 9.8% 187
3B 4YR 47 27 57.4% 10 21.3% 202
OF HS 194 55 28.4% 23 11.9% 276
OF 4YR 153 72 47.1% 20 13.1% 180
1B HS 38 13 34.2% 5 13.2% 128
1B 4YR 44 19 43.2% 8 18.2% 273
HS 513 155 30.2% 54 10.5% 1,091
4YR 404 196 48.5% 58 14.4% 1,016
TOTAL 917 351 38.3% 112 12.2% 2,107

Graduate = 100 MLB games • Impact = 10 career WAR • Top 5 = WAR sum for five best

Approximately two out of every five (38.3 percent) position players drafted among the top 100 picks will reach the majors for at least 100 games. If modern draft history is any guide, then college position players will graduate for more than a cup of coffee about half of the time (48.5 percent), while high schoolers will graduate a little less than one-third of the time (30.2 percent). That last figures to rise slightly as more prep players from the 2006-08 drafts make the big leagues in the coming years. (Keep in mind that the typical ’06 high school pick still is just 25.)

Despite the large disparity in graduation rates for college position players and high school ones, the gap in impact rates is much narrower. About 14 in 100 college players in our study have accumulated at least 10 WAR for their careers, while nearly 11 in 100 high schoolers reached that level. In fact, the star-of-stars high school position players (Top 5) produced more wins above replacement (1,091) than their college counterparts (1,016), which is remarkable when you consider their lower graduation rate, lower impact rate and the fact that prep stars spot roughly three years of experience to college players at the time of their draft selection, a phenomenon that ought to make collegians in the later years of our sample considerably more productive.

High school position players keep track with collegians if you expand the impact threshold to 20 career WAR (34 high school, 31 college), 30 career WAR (17, 17) or 40 career WAR (11, 11).

In broad strokes, high school players drafted as shortstops, catchers or outfielders (particularly center fielders)—those positions that require the most athleticism, speed and/or skill—tend to outproduce their college counterparts. This is apparent from the comparative Top 5 WAR sums above—776-449 in favor of high school players—and also in the head count of 40-WAR players. For the high school set, those players would be Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, Torii Hunter, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Jason Kendall, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins—with Carl Crawford and Joe Mauer in hot pursuit. For collegians, J.D. Drew, Nomar Garciaparra, Chuck Knoblauch and Tim Salmon are the lone representatives in the 40-WAR club, though Curtis Granderson, Dustin Pedroia and Troy Tulowitzki could get there if their careers track normally.


The average draft position of top 100 draft picks, 1989-2008, can tell us a lot about the types of players that teams prefer. After all, the higher a player is drafted, the more money it typically costs to sign him. In this sample, we consider signed picks only.
RHP 51 49
LHP 50 47
C 55 55
SS 47 52
2B 68 49
3B 52 43
OF 47 52
1B 49 46

The fact that those high school shortstops, catchers and outfielders turned pro in the first place, rather than attend college, hints at selection bias on the part of major league organizations. Teams want these skilled, multi-tooled teenagers in their farm systems, and they’re willing to draft them higher and, consequently, pay them higher bonuses. Average draft positions for MLB graduates reflects this fact. The only positions where signed high school players are selected earlier than signed college players are catcher, shortstop and outfield (see Average Draft Position table). At every other position, pitchers included, teams tend to prefer college players, seeing as they draft and sign them out of higher draft positions.

On the other hand, college players drafted as third basemen, second basemen or first basemen hold distinct advantages over their high school brethren, outdistancing them 567-315 in terms of Top 5 WAR contributions. Their ranks of 40-WAR players include Lance Berkman, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, John Olerud, Mark Teixeira, Frank Thomas and Chase Utley—while Troy Glaus retired with 38 WAR, and Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman are strong bets to reach 40 before they’re done. The only high schoolers to crash that party are Scott Rolen and David Wright, though Eric Chavez could get there with a few more positive seasons.

This discrepancy suggests that teams seem more than willing to let those who profile as corner players or second basemen prove themselves in college before committing huge dollars to them outside the first round. For example, teams declined to meet the asking prices of top-10-rounds picks Glaus (Padres, second round, 1994), Helton (Padres, second, 1992), Teixeira (Red Sox, ninth, 1998) and Utley (Dodgers, second, 1997) out of high school, so they went to college and emerged as top-half-of-the-first-round picks. Giambi and Olerud also were drafted out of high school, but well outside the top 10 rounds.

The three demographics with the three highest impact rates are college third basemen (21.3 percent), college first basemen (18.2 percent) and college second basemen (13.6 percent), in part because teams draft with confidence, knowing those players’ bats have been vetted by major college programs.

Divvying Up The Pie
If we sort player-pool value by primary major league position, we find that teams are most reliant on top-100 draft picks to produce wins at first base (718 WAR), which is one-fifth of the WAR pie. That’s not entirely surprising when you see names like Thomas, Helton, Olerud, Berkman, Giambi, Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, Paul Konerko, Joey Votto and Prince Fielder.

The rest of the MLB primary-position hierarchy looks like this: center field (630 WAR), right field (452), third base (451), shortstop (414), left field (364), second base (324) and catcher (303). So if you take those 3,661 wins produced by top-100 draft picks and divvy them up by primary MLB position, the proportions look like the pie graph below.


Twenty-two percent of the wins produced by top-100 position players comes from those who settle on an outfield corner. Another 20 percent comes from players who land at first base. Another 17 percent comes from center field. That’s 59 percent of the pie right there, and the other four positions account for between eight and 12 percent of the pie apiece.

These results suggest that major league teams rely on premium draft picks to stock their clubs at first base and in the outfield, the positions that require the largest offensive contributions. That middle infielders, catchers and third basemen are not as well represented among the top-100 draft picks suggests that teams either lean on the international market to fill those positions or that domestic players at those spots develop unpredictably and come from later rounds in the draft.

On to a quick bit about pitchers . . .


Position Source Signed Graduate Graduate% Impact Impact% Top 5

RHP HS 275 90 32.7% 31 11.3% 198
RHP 4YR 367 136 37.1% 55 15.0% 207
LHP HS 113 37 32.7% 17 15.0% 157
LHP 4YR 146 70 47.9% 21 14.4% 140
HS 388 127 32.7% 48 12.4% 355
4YR 513 206 40.2% 76 14.8% 347
TOTAL 901 333 37.0% 124 13.8% 702

Graduate = 30 MLB games • Impact = 5 career WAR • Top 5 = WAR sum for five best

Four in 10 college pitchers in our sample (40.2 percent) reached the big leagues for at least 30 appearances, but the gap between their graduation rate and that of high school pitchers (32.7 percent) is much smaller than the gap for position players. College lefties, it should be noted, have a well-deserved reputation as safe draft picks. Their 47.9 percent graduation rate is in line with most college position-player rates, though their impact rate is lower than any pitcher demographic save for high school righties.

What’s really striking about this exercise, though, is how similar the impact rates are for high school (12.4 percent) and college (14.8 percent) pitchers. Take the impact threshold out to 15 WAR (21 high school; 26 college) or 25 WAR (10 high school; seven college) or 35 WAR (two high school; three college) and the percentages don’t change much. In fact, the top five prep pitchers—Roy Halladay, C.C. Sabathia, Chris Carpenter, Josh Beckett and Zack Greinke—actually have accounted for slightly more WAR (355) than the top five college arms (347)—Mike Mussina, Justin Verlander, Barry Zito, Dan Haren and Jered Weaver. Again, this is despite all the inherent advantages that the latter group possesses in the final years of our sample.

Also, No. 1 starters like Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain couldn’t even crack the high school top five, whereas next up on the college list are mid-rotation arms and one closer: Jarrod Washburn, Billy Wagner and Randy Wolf. This is an important reminder that, like up-the-middle high school players, teams don’t often let stud prep starting pitchers go to college. Money is rarely an object in those negotiations.

With the benefit of hindsight, the best high school pitchers to be drafted in the top 100 and go to college rather than signing were a pair of righties drafted by the Yankees: Mark Prior (supplemental first round, 1998) or Gerrit Cole (first round, 2008).
post #12358 of 73002
Thread Starter 
Framing the Hitters.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
All anyone can talk about these days, some of the time, is the matter of pitch-framing. It’s a concept we’ve been vaguely aware of since childhood, or since whenever we started paying attention to baseball, but for a while it was one of those things we ignored because we didn’t know how to measure it. Then some people started to measure it, and it seemed to make a big difference sometimes, and that’s exciting, and people got excited. People remain excited, since framing is a new field and it’s fascinating to learn how some catchers can do it while other catchers struggle. It’s a very small part of the game overall, but it still has that new-stat scent, and evidence suggests at the extremes it’s pretty significant. I’m thankful for the advances in pitch-framing research.

When people talk about framing, or receiving, though, they talk mainly about the catchers. That’s fine, the catchers are most responsible. They’ll talk a little about the pitchers, and that’s fine too, because catchers need the pitchers’ help. It’s hard to frame a pitch thrown to the opposite side of the plate. But good framing has victims, and worse framing has beneficiaries. The pitchers are affected but the batters are affected too, and it stands to reason framing isn’t completely independent of the guy in the box. Batters probably have some effect, so those batters are worth investigating. Which batters end up with the most extra strikes? Which batters end up with the fewest?

I’ll tell you right now: when I’ve looked at this before, I’ve discovered the obvious. There’s variation among the batters, but there’s more variation among the pitchers and the catchers. Batters have only a little to do with the way pitches are called. But as long as we’re investigating a small part of the game, we might as well investigate a small part of a small part of the game, because where do we stop? Why should we stop? It’s perfectly fine to learn for learning’s sake.

This explanation again. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone over Diff/1000 on FanGraphs, but I might as well do it once more. Diff/1000 is a stat I made up. It uses stats available here at FanGraphs — strikes, pitches, Zone%, O-Swing%, and Swing%. Using the plate-discipline data, we can calculate a number of expected strikes (Zone + O-Swing). We can then subtract that from the number of actual strikes, and put that on a per-1000-called-pitches basis. Then we can adjust it to set the league average to zero. For hitters, a positive Diff/1000 means they’ve had more strikes called against them than you’d expect. A negative Diff/1000 suggests a smaller zone. One of these days, you’ll all be familiar with this and I won’t have to keep going over this same summary.

I calculated Diff/1000 for all batters in 2011 and 2012. I looked only at the batters who faced at least 1,000 pitches in each season. The resulting correlation is 0.48, which suggests that we’re measuring something real. A total of 215 batters were investigated. Here’s a table of quintiles, which should also be informative:

Quintile 2011 Diff 2012 Diff
Group 1 25 9
Group 2 10 7
Group 3 0 1
Group 4 -9 -10
Group 5 -26 -14

The top 20% in Diff/1000 in 2011 saw an average of 25 extra strikes per 1,000 called pitches. The next season, they came in at +9. The bottom 20% came in at -26 and -14, respectively. It’s apparent that there’s regression, but it’s also apparent the regression isn’t 100%. Something is going on, here, that has at least something to do with the guy with the bat.

That’s all background. What’s most interesting right now is data for the current regular season. Which hitters have seen the most extra strikes, and which have seen the fewest? I’ve prepared a couple top-10 tables, and we’ll start with the unfortunate hitters. These hitters have seen a higher rate of strikes than you’d expect based on the rest of their numbers.

Name Pitches Diff/1000
Marwin Gonzalez 527 52
Jean Segura 886 51
Clint Barmes 562 50
Yuniesky Betancourt 688 48
Will Middlebrooks 763 48
Michael Bourn 578 45
Paul Goldschmidt 1071 45
Brendan Ryan 618 43
Ian Desmond 832 40
Marcell Ozuna 522 39

Obviously, it’s far from a death sentence. Goldschmidt’s been amazing. Segura’s been amazing. Bourn’s been good. This has only a little to do with overall productivity. But it isn’t irrelevant. Here’s the other side of the leaderboard:

Name Pitches Diff/1000
Andre Ethier 818 -65
Chris Iannetta 728 -51
Alexei Ramirez 771 -44
Carl Crawford 728 -42
Tyler Flowers 541 -41
Nick Punto 659 -39
Miguel Montero 848 -38
Dayan Viciedo 558 -38
Ike Davis 777 -36
Adrian Gonzalez 799 -36

Ethier’s been pretty bad. Davis has been pretty bad. Montero has been pretty bad. Getting extra strikes doesn’t make you bad, and getting extra balls doesn’t make you good. But still, it’s of interest to explore the extremes, those being Ethier and Gonzalez.

Thanks to Texas Leaguers, we can check out their respective 2013 called strike zones:



That’s Ethier on top and Gonzalez on bottom. You might have to stare for a while to see the differences, but the numbers above say they’re there. According to StatCorner, pitches taken in the zone by Ethier have gone for balls 23% of the time, and pitches taken out of the zone have gone for strikes 6% of the time. Pitches taken in the zone by Gonzalez have gone for balls 11% of the time, and pitches taken out of the zone have gone for strikes 10% of the time. Differences exist, although I’m not entirely certain why. A couple batting screenshots:


don’t yet understand why some hitters get bigger zones and some hitters get smaller zones. It might entirely have to do with a combination of batter height and unbalanced scheduling against various catchers. One notices that there are four Dodgers in the lower table above. One notices that the season is only a third of the way over, and these numbers could look very different at the end. There will be regression and shuffling and the final tables will say different things. But no matter the effect a hitter actually has, some hitters do end up with too many strikes, and some end up with too few. It matters only some, and not a lot, but that’s never stopped us from discussing something before. How many articles have there been about optimized lineup construction?

See, it’s not that Andre Ethier’s been unlucky. It’s that he hasn’t been lucky enough.

Let me know if you guys can see the images in this post.
post #12359 of 73002
Thread Starter 
Most Basic Possible Guide to the Draft.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Baseball’s amateur draft begins today and extends through Saturday. Below is a collection of the most basic possible information — like, totally elementary — concerning it.

Only the first two rounds of the draft will be conducted on Thursday. Rounds 3-10 will continue on Friday, with the remaining 30 rounds taking place on Saturday.

Here’s some of that same information, except also with start times and in the form of a table:

Day Rounds Start (ET)
Thursday 01-02 19:00
Friday 03-10 12:30
Saturday 11-40 13:00

Broadcast Information
According to, both that site (via video stream) and MLB Network will broadcast the first day of the draft. The second and third days (i.e. Friday and Saturday) will be available via only, it seems. As of press time, no link to the feed is available, although one assumes that pointing one’s browser to around 7pm ET tonight, for example, would be some kind of start.

Draft Order
Here, very much courtesy Baseball America, is a table featuring the first-round draft order, with each pick’s assigned value per the terms of the current CBA:

Pick Team Value
1 Astros $7,790,400
2 Cubs $6,708,400
3 Rockies $5,626,400
4 Twins $4,544,400
5 Indians $3,787,000
6 Marlins $3,516,500
7 Red Sox $3,246,000
8 Royals $3,137,800
9 Pirates (for failure to sign Mark Appel) $3,029,600
10 Blue Jays $2,921,400
11 Mets $2,840,300
12 Mariners $2,759,100
13 Padres $2,678,000
14 Pirates $2,569,800
15 Diamondbacks $2,434,500
16 Phillies $2,299,300
17 White Sox $2,164,000
18 Dodgers $2,109,900
19 Cardinals $2,055,800
20 Tigers $2,001,700
21 Rays $1,974,700
22 Orioles $1,947,600
23 Rangers $1,920,600
24 Athletics $1,893,500
25 Giants $1,866,500
26 Yankees $1,839,400
27 Reds $1,812,400
28 Cardinals (for loss of free agent Kyle Lohse) $1,785,300
29 Rays (for loss of free agent B.J. Upton) $1,758,300
30 Rangers (for loss of free agent Josh Hamilton) $1,731,200
31 Braves (for loss of free agent Michael Bourn) $1,704,200
32 Yankees (for loss of free agent Nick Swisher) $1,677,100
33 Yankees (for loss of free agent Rafael Soriano) $1,650,100

Various Mock Drafts
Here are links to various and notable mock drafts, with each mock draft’s first pick noted:

Baseball America: Jonathan Gray, RHP, Univ. of Oklahoma
Bullpen Banter*: Jonathan Gray, RHP, Univ. of Oklahoma
Keith Law: Colin Moran, 3B, Univ. of North Carolina
Kiley McDaniel: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
John Sickels: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

Why Is Matt Cain Struggling.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Walk around AT&T Park and ask people inside and outside of the organization what’s wrong with Matt Cain and you’ll get a different answer every time:

“He’s tipping his pitches from the stretch.”
“It’s just the Cardinals, that’s all.”
“The Cardinals got our signs from Bengie Molina.”
“It’s his command.”

It’s worth trying each pair of pants on, but there’s also one person who might have special insight on this matter. Matt Cain.

The Cardinals thing is just weird. Take his two starts against them out of his line this year, and he’s got an 4.04 ERA and a couple bad starts in hitter’s havens (Milwaukee and Colorado). Pitcher vs. team stats are iffy over long hauls, but last year the Cardinals scored nine runs in 11.2 regular season innings, and this year’s team is similar in structure. Still, over his entire career, Cain has had a 3.37 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, and against the Cardinals, in 57 innings, he’s had a 6.63 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. Other than the Brewers (and their park) and a few American League teams he’s seen once or twice, the Cardinals are his bane. His successes against them pale in comparison to the troubles he’s had against the team.

Because it’s gone on his whole career, it’s hard to blame any one thing that’s happening right now. Sure, Bengie Molina joined the Cardinals’ coaching staff. And Mike Matheny is their manager. Neither was there in 2008 when the Cards ran a nine spot up on him in 3.2 innings. If this recent outburst is due to some sign-stealage, we’d have a heck of a time proving it. That’s often done by the baserunners, who aren’t on television when they are attempting to convey the next pitch to the batter.

Watch video closely and it seems impossible that Cain is tipping his pitches with runners on. He’s very simple from the stretch, and the glove doesn’t look like it moves when he searches for his grip. But his numbers from the stretch this year are much worse than the league average, and his own average, at least as far as we can tell. Using ‘runners on’ as a proxy, we can see on that he’s normally had a .674 OPS against with runners on (slightly better than the league average of .737). This year, batters have a 1.079 OPS against him from the stretch.

It could be a small sample thing, or it could be mechanical. Former major leaguer Mauro Gozzo taught Matt Cain his basic mechanics way back when the Giants’ ace was growing up in Tennessee, and he preached to Cain that he should “stay back and balanced.” The pitcher needs to make sure he’s set and has his balance at his release point.

There does seem to be something going on with his release point. Look at his 2012 release points on the left, and then check out his current season on the right:


Things get a little tougher when you try to look at it in real life. Here are moving pictures, both against the Cardinals, both out of the stretch. 2012 on the left and 2013 on the right.


Looks fairly carbon copy. Let’s freeze it when we see the numbers on the back of his jersey (2012 on left, 2013 on right):


Maybe he’s a little out in front this year? Maybe?

This is tough, and Cain knows it. He’s “trying to get to key points in his delivery,” and his coaches are trying to make sure his “mistakes are down” in order to minimize the damage. The problem is that we know Cain likes to pitch higher in the zone than some, at least with the heater:


Joey Votto even complimented him on the ability in our interview:

Certain pitchers will still try to induce pop-ups from the player that has hit the fewest infield flies in baseball … “It’s got to be the perfect sliver of the strike zone, up and in-ish, and I have to take the wrong swing, and I have to swing at it,” said Votto. (And, yes, Matt Cain is good at it.)

When I told Cain about Votto’s compliment, his answer was almost predictable given his matter-of-fact nature: “I guess I’m missing the sliver.”

This year, Bill Petti debuted Edge%, a statistic that might help us understand command better. Since Cain’s walk rate is almost identical to his career walk rate, it would be tempting to say nothing has changed there. But he could be missing the edge and keeping the ball in the zone, or showing control but not command:

Fastball Career 2013
Edge% 19.8% 17.6%
Heart% 35.6% 36.9%

This might mean something. Cain is hitting the edge of the strike zone less, and he’s hitting the heart of the strike zone more. Too many balls drifting into the heart of the zone means one thing: “It seems like my mistakes are all getting hit for homers,” Cain said. And after a career showing a 7.1% home-run-per-fly-ball-rate, Cain’s right: 15.1% of his homers are leaving the yard on fly balls.

Not all homers are alike. HitTrackerOnline has a designation for home runs that did “Just Enough” and wouldn’t be dingers in all parks. Of the 1760 home runs that have been hit this year, 609 have been Just Enoughs (34.6%). Of the 13 home runs Matt Cain has given up this year, four have been Just Enoughs (30.1%). Cain is tied for 19th on the list of Just Enoughs, but that’s probably since he’s given up a lot of home runs. His percentage is less than the league percentage.

Part of the story *may* be pop flies. Pop-up percentage (or infield fly ball percentage times fly ball percentage) has been shown to have a similar year-to-year correlation as walk percentage (~.6), so it looks like it’s a skill. Cain’s shown it for years, and it’s gone right now:

Year PU%
2005 6.2%
2006 7.8%
2007 5.1%
2008 4.4%
2009 4.5%
2010 7.6%
2011 4.1%
2012 4.5%
2013 2.9%

League average for pop-up percentage is 3.8% this year, so even regressing back to league average would help Cain. Even better would be regressing back to his career average (5.2%). And since he’s shown this skill so steadily his whole career (enough that hitters like Votto have noticed, too) it’s probably a good idea to bet that Cain will once again show this skill this season. Maybe Cain should actually pitch higher in the zone, get his fly ball rate up to where it normally sits (this year he’s allowing the second-fewest fly balls of his career), and take the infield fly balls that come with that change?

Matt Cain’s velocity, pitching mix and swinging strike, walk, strikeout and ground-ball rates are all virtually identical to his career rates, so it’s tempting to say that nothing is different. And yet, Matt Cain is making mistakes. Since he’s always around the zone, they are hittable mistakes. And now that they are closer to the heart of the zone, they are being hit harder than they’ve ever been hit.

Ask the crowd, and there are a million theories. Ask the pitcher, and it’s just about making mistakes. Ask the numbers, and they say that yes, he’s missing his spots, but that his career still suggests he can right the ship. Maybe tweaking his release point and working his balance at that moment will be the spark that ignites the regression back to his career mean.

Q&A: Chad Mottola, Blue Jays Hitting Coach.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In 1992, the Reds took Chad Mottola with the fifth-overall pick of the draft. To put it bluntly, he was a bust. The erstwhile outfielder went on to play 16 professional seasons, but nearly all of them were in the minor leagues. He appeared in just 59 games at the big-league level, the last 10 of which came in 2006 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Mottola is now in the second phase of his career. He’s also back in Toronto, having been named the team’s hitting coach this past off-season. The assignment followed stints as the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator and Triple-A hitting coach.

Like many who have excelled in his current position, the 41-year-old Mottola understands the craft better than he executed it. A big believer in individuality and communication, he’s a self-professed “mad scientist in the cage.”


David Laurila: How do hitters mature?

Chad Mottola: The more you’re around the game, the more you relax in the box. You learn how to breathe and trust in your ability, which lets your quick-twitch take over.

As the levels go up, there is a lot more mental in the preparation. Guys at the big-league level have the talent. There are phases where it turns into a mechanical problem, but a lot of it is just trusting yourself in the box.

I have a background with a lot of the guys here. I had them in Triple-A the last couple of years, plus I was a minor league coordinator for a year. We already have a lot of the mechanics established, so now it’s more day-to-day maintenance.

DL: Are you seeing differences in the hitters you worked with in the minors?

CM: Sure. There’s a lot more pressure playing in front of 40,000 people. Each day — day in, day out — you’re trying to get them to settle down, because they’re pressing more than they did in years past. But I think it’s okay to push hitters. The last couple of years, at Triple-A, I saw guys come back from the big leagues understanding what I’m trying to explain. That’s different than me trying to explain something and them not having gone through it. Now they’ve failed a little bit, so they’re ready to make those changes. I think it’s OK to push a guy to failure.

DL: Do you view hitting as a science?

CM: I’ve kind of turned myself into the mad scientist in the cage. I played 16, 17 years — however long it was — and didn’t think I would end up on the path I’ve taken. Now I find myself a real student of the game, trying to figure out how to get them to do something, rather than just talking about it. I don’t think it’s fair just to tell guys how to do things; I want to put you in position so your body can feel it.

I want a hitter to be athletic. Take a guy like Brett Lawrie, who does a lot of things that are kind of outside the box; I don’t want to take all those things away. I always want you feeling athletic in the box. That’s the whole thing I want mechanically: that you’re balanced and athletic. I don’t want to talk about where your hands are starting, I just want to say, “Hey, you’re finishing here for a reason.” I see it as athletic mechanics, if that makes sense.

DL: What does Brett Lawrie do that’s “kind of out of the box?”

CM: He’s a high-strung guy who has a lot of movement, pre-pitch. That’s something I’d like to eventually cut down, but at the same time, I can’t take that all away from him, because he’ll have that stuck feeling where he can’t pull the trigger the same way he’s been doing his whole life.

He’s got a lot going on in his pre-load that we’d like to settle down, but that’s something that can take years. If he’s competing at the big-league level, and I want to ask for changes mechanically… I can’t get him un-athletic at the same time.

DL: What’s the difference between a hitch and a trigger?

CM: If it’s not on time it’s considered a hitch. If it’s on time it’s considered a trigger. That’s a thing about hitting — a lot of guys get there a different way. And that’s OK. But when it’s late, everybody thinks it’s a hitch and there’s something wrong with it. Conversely, if the hitch is on time, all of a sudden it’s considered a trigger.

DL: Adrian Gonzalez told me hitting has evolved over the last 10 or 15 years. Do you agree?

CM: I think the understanding of hitting has come a long way. The school I came up with has kind of gone by the wayside. It used to be, “Hey, just go do this,” and you had to figure it out on your own. Now, we — the younger generation of hitting coaches — have a little better grasp of the different ways to get there and get it done. There’s a reason you go to a game each night and everybody steps in the box a different way. I don’t think you want to take that away from players.

Letting a player have a voice is important. It’s his life. It’s his career and it’s his bed he has to sleep in at night. And it’s OK for me to have an argument with a player. I don’t take that as a bad thing. I actually enjoy… I guess it’s too strong to call it an argument; it’s more of a discussion. When a player asks me why, I think that’s the best day ever. He asks why, and I say, “Great, here we go.” Now is the time to learn.

DL: Do you watch video with hitters on a regular basis?

CM: Yeah, we watch video. It’s not a daily thing; it’s kind of watching when times are good. I don’t believe in watching video when it’s bad; I believe in video and a lot of work in the cage when the game is moving a lot slower. I don’t think it’s fair to watch video when the game is going 95 and a guy may just be late. It looks like his mechanics are off — and they are off — but it’s simply because he’s late. If we can’t do mechanics the proper way in the cage, then it’s not even worth talking about in the game.

DL: What about video on opposing pitchers?

CM: Each guy is different. There’s a little discussion of how he’s going to try to get him out — that’s pre game — and then there are some guys where we’ll discuss things during the game. But a lot of guys… we probably have a 50/50 split who don’t want to talk about it anymore. As long as they’re ready, they’re not concerned about the pitcher. Other guys want to know right away: Are they setting up in? Are they setting up out? How are they working me? It’s an interesting mix, and I believe both sides work.

DL: Is your basic approach “Get a good pitch to hit?”

CM: Absolutely, whether it’s the first pitch or seventh pitch. As good as pitchers are nowadays, and as specialized as they’ve become… everybody wants to get the starter out, but there are four specialty guys down there to throw an inning. If you sit back and let a couple of pitches go… I think you have to be ready to hit. The more ready to hit you are, the easier it is to lay off pitches.

DL: How do you go about working the count, but also attack pitches in your zone?

CM: The simplest way I can say it is that I want to make sure you’re in position to recognize pitches. If the game is moving too fast and you’re swinging early in the count, it looks horrible — and it is bad. But as long as you’re in position to recognize pitches, it will all take care of itself.

There are times when I’ll say, “We need to start taking pitches,” but that’s because the game is moving too fast on you, personally. It has nothing to do with the pitcher having quick outs, or doing what he’s doing — it has to do with you.

You should never play the game with a doubt in your mind. It’s too hard to say, “OK, if I swing, is it going to be a hit?” I can’t say, “Hey, get a good pitch and make sure you get a hit.” It’s impossible to play the game at 95 mph and be result-oriented.

DL: Are the majority of your hitters looking middle and adjusting, or are they looking for pitches in specific zones?

CM: Middle could be different each day. If we’re saying, “Hey, this guy is working you in,” and we have our sights set in, that could be middle that day. If we’re looking away and a guy is throwing his cutter away, that could be middle for you that day. To me, the meaning of “middle” changes by the plan of attack.

I also think you need to have individual plans for each player. There are only 13 guys, so I have the time to discuss what their plan of attack is that day. Jose Bautista is going to be a lot different than [Munenori] Kawasaki, so why should I sit there and say, “Hey guys, this is what our plan is for this pitcher.” No. It takes five minutes to tell each guy, “This is what he’s doing to you; this is what he did to guys similar to you in his last start.” We go about it that way.

When you talk about first-pitch swinging, there’s definitely a difference in a guy like Kawasaki, who damages completely different than Bautista. I don’t want Edwin [Encarnacion] or Jose worried about when they make an out. However, other guys, in different counts, may have to cover for them in a different way. If it’s two pitches, two outs, then we have to see some pitches. But Jose and Edwin have earned that right.

DL: Do you basically leave Bautista and Encarnacion alone and let them do their own thing?

CM: For guys like that — who have established themselves — it’s more maintenance. It’s more the check points they have; it’s not really that deep, whereas with guys like [J.P.] Arencibia, [Adam] Lind, Lawrie — guys I’ve had throughout their careers — it’s a lot more hands-on.

DL: If a hitter wants to make a mechanical adjustment, is he obligated to approach you about it first?

CM: He’s not obligated, but it’s part of my job to be in there with him every day to understand what he’s trying to do. We have Dwayne Murphy here as well, who is going to have suggestions for them. So it’s more about making sure we’re on the same page. It’s about the player getting better. It’s not about me taking credit, or me making sure I have full control of everything. What I want is to make sure they’re in a good comfort zone.

DL: What do you wish you knew as a player that you know now?

CM: It’s funny; I had no intention of ending up where I ended up, but I think playing for eight or nine different organizations I got to hear a lot of different philosophies. And being a pretty big prospect, I had a lot of people hands-on for three days, then they’d leave. Then I’d have a different guy for three days, and he’d leave. So I have a pretty good perspective of the way [hitters] think, and of how I have to make sure they understand what I’m trying to say — whether they agree or not.

A lot of the better hitting coaches I had weren’t the best hitters. A lot of the good hitters really had no good advice for me. They just said, “See it away, hit it for a double the other way. See it in, hit a home run.” The game’s not that easy, but for a select few.

DL: Did you make a lot of changes over the course of your career?

CM: I experimented with everything. And being with all those different organizations, I heard all those different philosophies. That’s why I think you have to have a well-rounded approach. You have all these different swings, different approaches and different personalities in the batters’ box.

What I should have been asking hitting coaches is, “Why do you want me to do that?” That’s not disrespectful, but at the time, as a player, I thought it was. Now that I’m on the other side, I understand it’s not. As soon as you ask me why, I know we’re going somewhere — but I better have a reason.

As I was playing, a lot of guys were throwing information at me, just hoping something would stick. By the end of the year I had tried seven different things, and had actually gone backwards. That’s my biggest fear: getting a player to do something but not understand the why. I want them to keep learning, and keep building and the days they ask why are the days we‘re getting places.

Brett Gardner’s New Life.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Fairly ordinary business on Wednesday. The Yankees beat the Indians, in New York. Makes sense. CC Sabathia beat Corey Kluber. You’d expect that to happen. Sabathia went the distance. Sure, all right, his decline is overstated. Travis Hafner clubbed a two-run dinger. Sounds like ol’ Pronk! Brett Gardner mashed a three-run dinger of his own. Well, not unheard of. It was Gardner’s sixth dinger of the season. Okay, stop right there.

Pretty much every day, I scan pretty much every box score. It’s a way to compensate for not being able to watch all of the actual action. Box scores can help generate ideas, and failing that, they can at least keep one updated. Seldom am I surprised when I look at a box score, because I think I have a pretty good awareness of the state of the numbers. But somehow this escaped me. I only learned today that Gardner’s more than halfway to double-digit dingers. Granted, he’s only more than halfway as of today, but you know what I mean. This isn’t the Brett Gardner I’ve been aware of.

Last year, the Yankees led baseball in home runs by outfielders. This spring, much was made of the power absence, what with Curtis Granderson‘s injury and the departures of Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez. The Yankees were left with Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Vernon Wells, with some kind of fourth guy, and things didn’t look promising. By no means has the Yankees’ outfield been powerful to date, but it hasn’t been weak. Wells began the year with a hot streak before cooling off. And now Gardner’s supplying some power out of nowhere. Used to be he was a patient, speedy, on-base sort who’d hit only the occasional dong. The current leaderboards are funny.

You know isolated slugging percentage. It’s SLG – BA. Simple! Gardner’s running an ISO of .164, after Wednesday’s performance. The league average is .150. We find Matt Holliday at .169. There’s Josh Hamilton at .166. Andrew McCutchen at .165. Alfonso Soriano at .155. The fact that Coco Crisp has an ISO of .201 tells you all you need to know about trusting the numbers at this stage, but we might as well linger for a minute over Gardner to see what might be going on, if anything.

Previously, 24% of Gardner’s hits went for extra bases. This year, he’s up to 34%, so this isn’t just a matter of doubles and triples slipping over the fence. It turns out this is a matter of a complete batting overhaul. Maybe that exaggerates things, maybe I’m being dramatic, but you can judge for yourself. There’s reason to believe this is kind of deliberate.

We’re going to compare 2013 Gardner to 2008-2012 Gardner. Conveniently, that spans the entire trustworthy PITCHf/x Era. A table of informativeness:

Split ISO GB% Fastball% O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% Contact% Zone% 1stSwing%
Old Gardner 0.103 51% 69% 19% 45% 33% 91% 55% 10%
New Gardner 0.164 40% 68% 25% 57% 42% 87% 52% 21%

I don’t even have to point the changes out. Gardner’s hitting way more balls in the air. He’s swinging a lot more aggressively, and that’s basically the whole of it. More swings at balls out of the zone, more swings at balls in the zone, more swings at first pitches. Gardner hasn’t seen a dip in fastballs, nor has he seen a marked dip in in-zone pitches. He’s generating completely different results.

Gardner, of course, still qualifies as patient. His O-Swing% is below-average, and his Z-Swing% is below average, and they aren’t below average by just a little. But, between 2008-2012, 507 players batted at least 500 times. Only Luis Castillo swung less often than Gardner did. This year, 219 players have batted at least 150 times. Gardner’s swing rate ranks 168th, around Drew Stubbs and David Murphy. Gardner isn’t a free swinger, but he’s a more free swinger, and that makes a difference since everything’s relative.

I did another comparison, between all 2013 players and those same players between 2008-2012, provided they had plate-appearance samples of 150 and 500, respectively. As you’d expect, there are very strong correlations between the two groups in groundball rate and the various swing rates. These are identifying characteristics, numbers that tend to stabilize pretty quickly if there aren’t changes being made. This is not new knowledge for you!

Compared to his 2008-2012 self, Gardner’s groundball rate is down 11 percentage points. Only Ian Desmond‘s groundball rate is down more. Only seven players have seen bigger increases in O-Swing%. Only one player — McCutchen — has seen a bigger increase in Z-Swing%. No one has seen a bigger increase in overall swing rate. The top five:

•Brett Gardner, +8.3%
•Andrew McCutchen, +7.8%
•Emilio Bonifacio, +6.8%
•Eric Young, +6.5%
•Lyle Overbay, +6.5%
It certainly doesn’t seem like a coincidence. Gardner was a slap hitter who seldom ever swung. Now he’s swinging more, and driving the ball more, and it’s hard to pretend like this is a fluke. Gardner’s batted nearly 250 times, facing more than a thousand pitches.

And Gardner’s wRC+ is 106. Before, it was 98. So it’s not like he’s conclusively improved, in that he’s still within the error bars. But there are changes, curious changes, changes I can’t seem to research. I dug around for articles about Gardner and Kevin Long for a while and couldn’t pull anything worthwhile up. There was talk of making Gardner more aggressive, but that was years ago. This year, it’s just a thing that’s been quietly happening.

What’ll be interesting is to see where this goes henceforth. There are strong negative correlations between ISO and Fastball%, and ISO and Zone%. The more powerful you are, the fewer fastballs you’ll tend to see, and the fewer strikes you’ll tend to see, too. Only Marco Scutaro and Ben Revere have seen more fastballs this season. Gardner’s Zone% is also well above average. Gardner’s being attacked like he was attacked before, when opponents assumed he was the same old Brett Gardner. Now he’s different, which might cause opponents to act different, which might cause Gardner to act different, which might cause opponents to act different, and I could go on but I won’t. Gardner might be responding to the way he was aggressively approached. So he might be approached more conservatively, and then we’d see how Gardner might adjust.

Ultimately it isn’t that important, because Brett Gardner isn’t any better or worse. His walks are a little down, and his strikeouts are a little up. You’d figure his BABIP will go down a bit on account of him hitting fewer grounders. Gardner remains a quality everyday player, a guy who doesn’t get enough credit for driving the Yankees forward. But adjustments like the one Gardner has made are rare, and worth identifying. Brett Gardner, at one time, made an impression on you. Impressions tend to last. This one should be tweaked. Brett Gardner isn’t the Brett Gardner you envision when you read the name Brett Garner.

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Scanning wikipedia last night looking through past drafts..................sick.gif
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