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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 224
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Can't imagine the amout of career earnings Hamilton smoked, snorted and drank away.
And the world series Tampa probably would have won with him.....
Jesus Flores is a starting caliber catcher though, so at least we have depth there. Sucks though cause Ramos was just starting to heat up I wonder what injury is next..
Speaking of Ramos, is there another org that trades away top talent for such marginal players like the Twins? A top catching prospect for a closer?
The M's come to mind. Pre- Jack Zduriencik
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Votto put our scrubby team on his back today.
I called it.
I told my girl "Votto is going to end this. It'll be great if he can do it with a grand slam on a 3 HR day".
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Josh Hamilton has 18 homers in the Rangers' first 34 games, something nobody has ever done in the history of baseball. But here's another number that is a little stunning: Hamilton has just 13 walks, with five of those being intentional.
How unusual is that 18-to-13 home run-to-walk ratio Hamilton currently has?
Well, consider the number of walks drawn by the greatest single-season home run leaders in history:
1. Barry Bonds, 2001: 73 homers, 177 walks
2. Mark McGwire, 1998: 70 homers, 162 walks
3. Sammy Sosa, 1998: 66 homers, 73 walks
4. McGwire, 1999: 65 homers, 133 walks
5. Sosa 2001: 64 homers, 116 walks
6. Sosa, 1999: 63 homers, 78 walks
7. Roger Maris, 1961: 61 homers, 94 walks
8. Babe Ruth, 1927: 60 homers, 137 walks
9. Ruth, 1921: 59 homers, 145 walks
The pitchers have always reached a tipping point in dealing with a hitter as good as Hamilton is right now, when they decide the risk of facing the hitters behind Hamilton is lower than it would be to throw a pitch to the slugger.
There is an intermediate step for pitchers to try, an approach that was used against Vladimir Guerrero, who seemed to swing at anything he could reach. Pitchers would expand the strike zone -- almost to where they would roll it to the plate.
Pitchers could throw stuff far out of the strike zone to see if Hamilton will hack at it. The numbers suggest that he might.
Mark Simon of ESPN Stats and Information dug out these stats: Going into Saturdays' game, Hamilton had swung at the first pitch in his at-bats 57.5 percent of the time -- by far the most of any hitter in the majors. Freddie Freeman ranked second, at 51.7 percent.
Hamilton had swung at the second pitch 60.6 percent of the time, more than any hitter in the majors other than the Cubs' Darwin Barney, who had swung at 60.7 percent of his second pitches.
"I don't know why they throw him a strike," a talent evaluator said this weekend. "He swings at everything. Why throw anything over the plate?"
There have been moments in the past when Hamilton's hyper-aggressiveness has exasperated the Texas staff -- such as during the postseason last year, when the Detroit Tigers gave him nothing to hit early in that series and Hamilton swung anyway. Later in that series, Hamilton made an adjustment, taking more pitches and going a little deeper in the count and giving himself a better chance to do damage.
But generally, Texas manager Ron Washington believes that Hamilton should be left alone, rather than being admonished for jumping at pitches early in the count. In 2012, that approach is working for Hamilton in a big way.
"I've never seen a hitter with better pitch recognition," said the evaluator. "He gets that front foot down and then adjusts with his hands. It doesn't matter whether it's 98 mph or 75 mph -- he'll adjust."
In other words: If it's a 98 mph fastball, Hamilton is ready for it. He plants his front foot in his swing, identifies the pitch, and then swings. If it's a changeup, Hamilton will read it, wait before starting his hands, and then swing. If it's a slow breaking ball, Hamilton will read it, wait before starting his hands, and flick his bat at it, as if he's swinging a wiffle ball bat.
That's what he did on Saturday, clubbing his 18th home run on a curveball from former teammate C.J. Wilson. It was Hamilton's ninth home run in his last six games -- and his seventh off a breaking ball this year.
From ESPN Stats and Info, the year-by-year total of home runs for Hamilton against breaking pitches:
He has killed everything on the strike zone compass this year -- up, down, inside, outside, low-and-outside, high-and-inside.
It might be time for pitchers to start beyond the far reaches of the strike zone and see if Hamilton will follow them. If he doesn't and starts taking walks, then facing the hitters behind him might be far less treacherous than pitching to a hitter who is doing things we have never seen before from anyone, whether it's Ruth, Maris, McGwire or Bonds.
From ESPN Stats and Info: Willie Mays and Josh Hamilton are the only two players in MLB history with a .400 batting average and at least 17 homers in their team's first 34 games. Mays was hitting .405 with 17 homers for the 1964 Giants. Hamilton is hitting .402 with 18 homers for the 2012 Rangers.
All four of the previous players to hit at least 17 home runs in the team's first 34 games finished the season with between 40 and 50 homers.
The Hamilton home run tracker:
• 18 home runs (in 2011, he hit his 18th on Aug. 28, against the Angels)
• Matches the combined homers of Mike Napoli (7), Adrian Beltre (6) and Ian Kinsler (5) this season
• Average distance: 414.3 feet
• Hamilton's home run Saturday was his third shortest (383 feet)
• Five homers off left-handed pitchers, 13 off right-handers
• Five during day games, 13 at night
• Six home runs have given Texas the lead, one (Saturday's) tied the game
• One home run to left, five to center, four to right center, eight to right
Wilson took the ball in consecutive starts on consecutive days, Mike DiGiovanna writes.
The Rangers have had open dialogue this year in their contract talks with Hamilton, so it's possible something could be worked out this season. But no, this burst of offense from Hamilton hasn't changed anything; the Rangers have always recognized and respected his potential and his prowess, which moved them to acquire him and then to retain him despite the inherent risks that come with someone with his history of addiction.
There is a school of thought that the Rangers' knowledge about Hamilton's history -- deeper than that of any other team, naturally -- would make them less likely to sign him than other clubs. I totally disagree: It makes them more likely to sign him.
For other clubs, Hamilton's past is a dark abyss, an unknown that might make them reluctant. The Rangers are in the best position to know what works for Hamilton, what makes him tick, and what helps him; they are in the best position to properly assess the risk versus the reward. And for Hamilton and his family, who have all dealt with a whole lot of uncertainty, the Rangers are a known quantity. They know the team's support system and have seen how he can thrive within it.
Teams pay now and later for big contracts, writes Joel Sherman.
His résumé for the Hall of Fame is solid, considering his position; he is arguably the greatest fielding third baseman in National League history. But he's not a lock. Rolen's career by the numbers:
All-Star appearances: 7
Gold Gloves: 8
• Albert Pujols drew a walk Saturday, his first in more than two weeks. He's got seven for the season. "They are pounding him with fastballs," said an evaluator, "and he's cheating like crazy to get to them."
Because opposing pitchers are challenging him inside, he is starting his swing earlier -- turning on his front foot, opening up in his swing -- and this has made him more vulnerable on the outside part of the zone. Pujols' brilliance in the past has been built on his balance, and he just doesn't seem to have that balance right now.
• Jered Weaver has always had that unusual crossfire delivery, in which he seems to step toward the third base dugout rather than directly at home plate. He assumes it came from emulating his brother, Jeff, and yes, as an amateur, coaches tried to change him. But in the end, he stuck with what felt natural to him. "I went back to what I know," he said Saturday.
It's working for him.
• The Baltimore Orioles are nearing the end of a 15-game stretch in which they have faced the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays -- and they're 8-4 in that run. So yes, it's time to take them seriously. They've got a two-game lead in the AL East in the aftermath of Brian Matusz's outing against the Rays on Saturday. Mark Reynolds landed on the disabled list.
Dings and dents
The Nationals summoned Sandy Leon from the minors, Amanda Comak writes.
Moves, deals and decisions
6. Bob Brookover takes another look at the recent Philadelphia trades and how they cut into the organization's depth.
From ESPN Stats and Info, how McCarthy shut down the Tigers:
A. McCarthy struck out eight hitters with his curveball despite throwing only 12 two-strike curves for the game. He had six curveball strikeouts combined in his first seven starts of the year.
B. Tigers hitters missed on seven of 10 swings against McCarthy's curveball.
C. McCarthy went to just one 2-0 count all game and only two three-ball counts.
D. Overall, McCarthy induced 20 swings and misses; his previous season high was nine.
2. The Rays made a bunch of mistakes.
9. For the Cardinals, there is more frustration.
13. Felix Doubront got it done for the Red Sox.
16. The Rockies' offense went flat.
17. Anthony Gwynn got a big pinch-hit.
19. The Giants' plow horse got it done, again.
By The Numbers, from ESPN Stats and Info:
2: Bases-loaded walks for Adam Wainwright on Saturday; he had just one in his career entering the day.
10: Home runs -- and games -- at Target Field for Jose Bautista; he's fifth all time in home runs at the park (opened in 2010).
Why Hamels, Victorino could be dealt.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Weeks of conversation take place before most trades are executed, and in a lot of cases, the first talks are theoretical feelers. No hard offers, no firm proposals, just an idea tossed out, like part of a brainstorming exercise.
This was the vein in which the Phillies first raised the idea of a possibly dealing Cole Hamels or Shane Victorino weeks ago. Philadelphia did not play well in the first days of the season, and with Hamels and Victorino eligible for free agency in the fall -- and neither close to a new deal -- the Phillies called around to lay the first groundwork for a possible swap of the two veterans.
There may not be another call made. The Phillies could start playing better -- they beat the Padres on Friday night -- and they would continue to go about the business of trying to extend their consecutive streak of division titles.
But if the Phillies never turn it around -- if they don't get a boost from the return of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard -- then they at least have an early idea of who may or may not be interested in making a deal for Hamels, who is among the pre-eminent left-handers in the league, or Victorino, a plus defender with speed and power.
You can bet this, too: Very, very few rival executives -- if any -- would call the Phillies unsolicited in April or May to ask about any of their players, because of professional courtesy. To make that kind of overture could be construed as circling like a vulture over a team's opening struggles. "This is a team that won 102 games last year," one official said. "You wouldn't call them to ask about one of their prime guys this early."
Said another: "Calling them [in April or May] would take a lot of [guts]. Nobody's really talking trade this time of year, and if you called a team that's off to a bad start like that, you might get your head taken off."
The Phillies could have an ulterior motive in having these theoretical trade discussions drift into public view. As they work to clarify the negotiation position of Victorino and Hamels, a suggestion that they're willing to trade them could pressure the two veterans to the table -- although in both cases, it appears that there is a significant gap between what the Phillies are willing to pay and what the player is asking for.
The Phillies made some roster changes.
• The Dodgers' Dee Gordon and James Loney have struggled terribly at the outset of this season. Gordon has nine errors already, and with five hitless at-bats Friday, his batting average has fallen to .218, and Loney has just one homer and eight RBIs, with a .227 batting average. But the team's 21-11 start has created flexibility for the team in waiting for the two regulars to dig their way out of their early-season troubles.
The team has been happy with Gordon's daily effort, and his work habits, and believe he is much closer to being the type of player he was in September, when he hit .304 in 56 games and stole 24 bases. And the Dodgers have seen in the past that Loney can be a better player than he has been so far this year.
Keep in mind, however, that the Dodgers are in a very different place now under new ownership, and will be able to be more aggressive in taking on salary in midseason deals.
What follows is pure speculation: You wonder whether the Dodgers could be a good landing spot sometime this summer for Kevin Youkilis, if Loney doesn't hit and the Dodgers look for an upgrade at first and determine that Youkilis is healthy enough to take on for the rest of this season.
• Josh Beckett's demeanor and choices are under a lot of scrutiny these days, but as he has noted, he is not pitching well -- and these days, he is working with very different weapons. His velocity has diminished, and rival evaluators think his breaking stuff isn't nearly as dynamic as it has been in the past.
From Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Info:
"Beckett's fastball velocity is down from 93 mph to 91 mph this year. He's thrown 17 of his 298 fastballs at 93 mph or higher this year; last year, 826 of his 1,541 fastballs were at 93 mph or higher.
"He's had a lot of trouble finishing off left-handed hitters with two strikes:
2011: 531 two-strike pitches, 102 strikeouts
2012: 95 two-strike pitches, 13 strikeouts
"Within that, his curveball is lacking versus lefties."
2011: 149 two-strike curves to lefties -- 36 strikeouts, six hits
2012: 26 two-strike curves to lefties -- two strikeouts, three hits
Beckett compared his past three days to being on a reality show. Beckett wants to be part of the solution. Bobby Valentine won't legislate off days. Bob McClure addressed the timing of Beckett's golf outing, within this Scott Lauber piece.
By the way: Beckett's remark that players only get 18 days off a year is not getting a lot of sympathy from within the baseball community. "He's a starting pitcher," said one former player. "That means he can play golf three times a week. I'm not feeling his pain."
• The Blue Jays don't have a master plan for Vladimir Guerrero, as he prepares to join the organization. They signed him for essentially the same reason that the Rays signed Hideki Matsui: as organizational depth. If Guerrero shows in Triple-A that he can be a productive player, and a need arises for the Jays, then he could be promoted. If not, then the Jays lose nothing. If a need doesn't develop and Guerrero has a better opportunity elsewhere, they'll let him pursue that.
• Carlos Ruiz's strength at catcher, Hamels said the other day, is that he is "unpredictable. He won't let [pitchers] fall into patterns. There's no way for a hitter to know exactly what's coming next."
Recently, Hamels reached a count of three balls and no strikes, and almost uniformly in these situations, the pitcher will throw a fastball. Ruiz called for Hamels' best pitch, the changeup -- just in case the hitter was looking to hack 3-0.
Ruiz has continued to grow as an offensive player, as well. In going 3-for-3 on Friday, he improved his batting average to .340, and his OPS to .987. Matt Kemp would be the NL MVP if a vote were taken today, but Ruiz would be somewhere in the top 10.
There is little evidence that the Angels can stand up to the Rangers, writes Bill Plunkett. Texas is now eight games ahead of the Angels.
Moves, deals and decisions
2. Dale Sveum will pick his closer on a daily basis.
5. The Giants added a veteran pitcher.
6. Oakland summoned an outfielder.
Dings and dents
From ESPN Stats & Info, how Gonzalez shut down the Reds:
A) Gonzalez threw 78 percent fastballs, his highest in a start since June 2011. Gonzalez elevated the fastball on 44 of 90 pitches, getting eight outs with six by strikeout.
B) Gonzalez stayed to the arm side (away to righties, in to lefties), throwing 53 pitches (46 percent). The Reds went 1-for-10 with seven strikeouts in at-bats ending with a pitch to Gonzalez's arm side.
C) The Reds swung and missed at 22 of Gonzalez's pitches, matching the highest total in the majors this season.
Harper loves to get booed.
11. The Giants couldn't deal with Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.
14. The Pirates' offense came up with nothing.
15. The Mets blew a lead, as Anthony McCarron writes.
20. The Marlins got to frolic.
By The Numbers, from ESPN Stats & Info
4: Marlins walk-off wins this season (second in the majors behind Nationals' five).
11: Adam Dunn's home runs this season. He had 11 all of last season.
25.1: Consecutive scoreless-innings-pitched streak owned by Dodgers' Chris Capuano that was snapped in the sixth inning by the Rockies.
40: Consecutive games in which Matt Holliday has reached base against the Braves (second-longest active streak in MLB).
49: Consecutive saves streak by John Axford that was snapped Friday (was fourth-longest in MLB history).