Two weeks from today we’ll be deep into over analyzing the Angels home opener. Next Friday most of the Angels regulars will make their way back home. The 2021 season is near.
One huge key to a successful 2021 could be Shohei Ohtani who keeps hitting massive home runs. That bomb Wednesday followed two other solid home runs on Tuesday.
As impressive as those were, the single down the line against the shift on St. Patrick’s day shows just how dialed in he is right now. He can do whatever he wants up there. If he can translate this to the regular season…..
Also swinging a hot bat is infielder Franklin Barreto. I’m not good with gif’s but it looks like he’s dropped his hands a bit and is keeping them a little closer to his body. This is creating a nice, short path to the ball and likely a spot on the Opening Day roster.
It is pretty easy to find video of guy’s swinging the bat, like Jo Adell here. And like Barreto’s, Adell’s swing is also shorter to the ball. What is really showing improvement to me, though, are the non swings by Adell. He’s sitting on a lot of pitches he flailed wildly at last year.
As for pitching, Andrew Heaney was very nice yesterday racking up 8 k’s. Jose Quintana continues to look sharp, and Griffin Canning looked pretty decent last time out. Alex Cobb hit 94 MPH in his outing to boot.
The new look Angels front office is working closely with skipper Joe Maddon to give players and coaches “options to be successful.” One player who is a big fan of the information Minasian and crew give out is catcher Kurt Suzuki who felt the data and way it is presented helped him in Atlanta.
It is worth noting that a player specifically mentioned as a potential benefactor of that data is Griffin Canning. The front office seems to think there’s a breakout season for him on the horizon.
From around baseball, Fangraphs has a new toy, “maximum exit velocity.”
Tom Verducci’s article on baseball’s pace of play problem is your long form read for the weekend. He has a great point that way too many pitchers take way too long between pitches. 40 plus seconds with nobody on base is a joke.
My old man yelling at the clouds rant: I’m less concerned about the time of games than the lack of action. Three true outcomes baseball leaves the fielders standing around with nothing to do. I’m fine with 3 hours, but I want more balls put into play, more baserunning, more motion around the field.
Aaron Boone feels “awesome” after getting his pacemaker.
Diamondbacks first base coach Dave McKay is feeling far from awesome. He suffered a broken rib and lacerated spleen after falling into the dugout earlier this week.
Taking a look at our division rivals, Houston prized prospect Forrest Whitley had his TJ surgery this week but their other super talented youngster Framber Valdez did not have surgery. He might be ready for the stretch run, which could be huge for the Astros.
The Texas Rangers look to be sorting out their lineup. 1-3 seem sorted out, but that leaves 4 and beyond.
The A’s are like that one friend you have who always is just a little bit ahead of the curve, a tad cooler than you. They are selling a $64,000 luxury suite using Bitcoin, the first to do so.
I’ve Googled “Cactus League Covid” every week and thankfully no outbreaks have been linked to Spring Training. One really cool piece did pop up this week, though. Surprise is using a drone to sanitize their stadium between games. The idea came from longtime MLB coach Dan Wakamatsu who figured out how to use drones on a farm (you just can’t take the farmer boy out of me).
The best thing to do during this fortnight, IMO, is watch the NCAA tournament. Is your alma mater in the Big Dance? Who are you rooting for? Who do you think wins it all? In an odd year I’m taking the top overall seed Gonzaga to win it all.
As always, please let me know what I missed.
Well, it looks like a member of the Cubs minor league system has been, shall we say, “supplementing his income” from minor league baseball in a very bad and illegal way.
That’s a lot of drugs. Kid is from Sinaloa, the cartel capital. I’ll bet anything those oxy’s are fakes and really fentanyl.
I expected to be angered by more of what I read in Verducci’s article, especially Manfred’s changes, but am pleasantly surprised. The pitch clock, base size (which I didn’t get before), and defining actual positions on the field especially are fine to me. More and more each year I find myself hating the shift and I finally realize it’s because shifts in their current form are another manifestation of a huge problem in the modern world: Silicon Valley-style innovation run amok. Data science and “disruption” prioritized over all else just for the sake of doing it and achieving some narrow metric gain with little thought to the practical real-world effect or broader social impact.
I now have a vision stuck in my mind of all 30 MLB front offices as pesky gig app startups peddling PowerPoint projections to perma-buzzed VC bros and foisting their innovations on the rest of us in the unsuspecting public at-will.
I did not want or know I needed this image, but damn, Verducci, well done. I may have to follow up with the science, tech and society angle he touched on here in my own piece because that’s partially what I do for a living, but am going to need some time with this first. Whew.
Until then, just to reiterate, fuck shifts. Kill shifts before they kill you.
I don’t mind shifts at all. If you are a good mlb player you should work on hitting the opposite way and taking advantage of the shift. Get your base hit or double.
Sure. So simple. So easy. Why haven’t any of these moron MLB hitters thought of this?
Even as a high school pitcher it wasn’t that hard to force a hitter to hit to one side (or fail and have weak contact/K otherwise). I can’t imagine how much harder it is to fight that off from an MLB pitcher if that’s his primary focus for the at bat. That’s actually one of the hidden advantages of a shift, it narrows what the pitcher is trying to do and makes a meh pitcher more effective.
I hate the shift.
Here’s one of those things I’ve recently realized: Shifts have been part of the game for decades but until a few years ago they were based on hunches and reputation. Now they’re based on hard data
Just like there’s a difference between old school sign stealing and using a camera.
So either we ditch the computers or we limit how much in game strategy is implemented by them. And we aren’t going to get rid of computers
Well if we are, we better hurry before its too late…… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy4EfdnMZ5g
Reminds me of the golf pro at one of the courses I play with some friends. There is a green there that you can have an uphill putt, miss it, have your ball roll a foot past the hole, only to have the ball take a U turn and roll completely off the green. When I asked him about it and suggested that maybe they might want to take some of the slope off the green as it was too hard to keep the ball on the green and par the hole, he looked at me, smiled, and said “ If you want to birdie or par that hole, just play better”. Damn, he was right. I spent at least 25 rounds, trying different approaches, finally learning a strategy to play that hole and give myself the best opportunity at success. I still have to hit the shots. Now, I don’t get paid to play that course or hole, but these mlb players do get paid to hit the ball, and put it in play, even against the shift. You want to beat the shift? Hit better! Even if you have to bunt. Make the defense pay. Don’t add more Manfredesque rules because the “modern game” needs it.
Yeah, this has pretty much been my thought process over the last few seasons. Hitting a baseball is already one of the hardest tasks in sports scientifically. Until about the 2010s, it was basically a duel between the hitter and pitcher (with some sidekicking from the catcher). The fielders and coaches went on instinct and experience backed by some general data.
Now it’s the hitter vs the FO’s computer, which just cues up the algorithm tailor-made for him from several layers of detailed data on every move he’s ever made and then tells all nine defenders exactly where to be and what to do. And the hitter still has the same quarter of a second or so to overcome all this as he did before. The age-old advice given to hitters of “just put the ball in play” and “make solid contact” doesn’t actually apply anymore unless the ball is also going to end up over the fence.
Other sports have offsides and illegal formation rules. Baseball already has rules about where the pitcher and hitter stand and even how the pitcher can move past a certain point. It seems logical enough to me to rebalance the game a little by making “infielder” actually mean something and possibly doing the same for second baseman, short stop, and third baseman.
Also, making the bases bigger to encourage more steals and hit and runs may help a bit here by pulling middle infielders out of position, but you’ve got to get more runners on base first.
Lower the mound and move it back 3’.
Give the hitter that extra millisecond and make it a little further for the pitcher to make a play on a bunt. Might even give the pitcher an extra millisecond to keep from getting beaned by a line drive.
Trout says his swing has been off for the last year and a half but he finally figured something out and feels like himself again.
Per a piece that just dropped on The Athletic.
The first 2 paragraphs were nice to read
The Athletic is a great subscription. Definitely worth the money. I don’t get a cut for saying it.
You can get a year for $1 per month right now.
Thanks for the rec. hard to beat that price
Jeeez… so that’s “off”.
Trout has the 16th best Spring OPS on the team. That worries me, not because he’s 16th but because it likely means we should take the stats with a grain of salt and Shohei’s OPS of 1.809 and Hot Pockets’ 1.315 are pretty mirage-y.
On the positive side Walsh can’t possibly hit this badly once we play for real.
I got faith in Mike and no faith in Upton.
Upton is always streaky and always crushes fastballs.
The first couple of starts in ST pitchers are throwing a really high percentage of fastballs. As the pitch variety increased, expect Upton’s output to decrease.
Good insight Jeff, and I agree.
I can’t remember. Who is Hot Pockets? We need another nickname DB article.
Amen to that! But isn’t that your bag?
I’m too busy studying.
Oh, I realize that. I hope it’s going well!
It’s going well, thanks.
But I haven’t been following nicknames, etc… for the 2020 and this year’s ST. If someone was, I’d appreciate the article update.
I’m glad it’s going well. I really respect what you’re doing. As for the nickname update, I’d do it, but I’m at a disadvantage because I was literally unconscious for half of last season. Now that I’m more or less back to near 100%, I’ll try to start keeping track of the new nicknames.
Dude, I’m just glad you’re better. We’ll leave it to one of the young’uns to do.
Today’s lineup is the least inspiring I’ve seen all spring
Youre outta step boomer
I’m probably close to your age and MLB is not talked about on ESPN or FS the way FB and BB is. This is a sport that’s still run by Chris Mathews and Anthony Fauci ( old, white and cranky )
And I thought Manfred was a horrible commish.
Basketball… tune into the final 2 minutes (that might take 30 min if it’s a close game) to see if it’s worth watching. I don’t even do that. The sport just isn’t interesting to me anymore. And that’s having gone to Game 7 Lakers v Celtics in 2010 (which wasn’t a good game other than the team I wanting to win won).
Sports, unfortunately IMO, are becoming less about the sport and more about the players individual “brand”… which attracts “fans”.
Football, similar to soccer overseas, has a game a week so people want to tune in/pay attention to the smaller stuff.
Baseball could use an adjustment here or there (who doesn’t get annoyed at the 5th throw over?! An opposing crowd usually boos anything more than once) but is otherwise the same as it’s always been.
I really like “other” sports out of your top 3 like NHL and rugby. Handshakes after playoff series, beers in the opposing teams locker after a match. That stuff doesn’t happen in other sports. Sometimes it’s those little things that make you appreciate what you’re into/watch.
Didn’t you mention you’re a cricket fan? I once saw a test match go like 5 days.
Good memory ‘71. I’ve only recently gotten to know the sport much better. You might like T20 more than ODI or Test cricket because those matches last 3 hours. The latter two can go for 8 hours or in the case of Test cricket, days. I find the sport both entertaining (wickets, 4s and 6s) and relaxing (can go a few overs/innings in ODI or Test without much happening).
For those that like the current pace of play with baseball or some of baseballs finer intricacies might find cricket at least watchable.
What is the point of a regular season game of no consequence that goes beyond 11 innings? Then you have to a backup player to come in and pitch?
Just more injury risk that’s completely unnecessary. Meanwhile the 20 game winning starting pitcher will also be extinct by the end of this decade too which is good news for Arte since he can hand out minimum wages to them.
20-game winners, 20-complete games, and 250+ innings are extinct already. You rarely heard of pitchers going under the knife back before the 90’s. I’m just happy I was able to watch a great era of the game.
Bring back the “unleaded” and “leaded” coffee then. Do you know what guys were doing to their bodies in the 80s/90s and later?
I prefer my humans to have white scleras, not yellow. Comparing what Nolan Ryan was able to do game in-out will never match up to what today’s pitchers are doing. Does anyone bat like Rod Carew anymore? The game changes and players change.
The point of those longer games is to still complete them with the same rules the rest of the game is played in. I’d rather go to and spend my hundreds of dollars a game to potentially see an 11 inning MLB game (heck, a guy having a ‘rest day’ might even still come into the game at some point) where NBA games classically have star players sitting out many games throughout a year (maintenance days or whatever they call them). Funny how a sport that has twice as many games has less “rest days” for their star players than another more popular sport. Just one of the many reasons baseball still gets my attention/money where basketball gets none. I don’t care if ESPN, FS or Dan Patrick all talk about FB and BB more… I don’t watch those programs anymore either. ESPN recently resigning with NHL will make me keep my ESPN+ subscription.
What’s the point of a regular season at all if it has no consequence? Just start with the postseason.
(Yes, this was sarcasm. Don’t change extra innings. Teams need to employ long relievers for these scenarios.)
I believe football is as likely to fall out of favor as baseball in the near future if not more. The ongoing research on TBI and football is the main reason. Parents of athletic kids are going to steer them toward sports that are less likely to cripple them but make comparable money. Baseball, basketball, and maybe even soccer will benefit and eat up the talent and market share over time.
Besides the TBI issue and other scandals plaguing the NFL with both its players and owners, the game itself is just as slow and action-less as baseball, though in different ways. The last Super Bowl was the least-watched in over a decade despite featuring one of the greatest players to ever play the sport going up against maybe the greatest player currently in the sport. The commercials were an unfunny mess for like the 10th year straight and this time had the added stench of an overwrought pile of corporate HR/political consultant kumbaya bullshit. It will always be around because it’s an easy avenue for marketing and only requires casual attention, but when we zoom out over time I think there will be very little bread left at this circus.
Pretty much my thoughts, and I love football. Sports in general have gotten less entertaining for me as the games get slower, there are more ads, and half the ads are either victim porn, fake plastic heroism, or for drugs I need to ask my doctor about. I care about racism and domestic abuse, etc. I just don’t care for the 3 hours where I’m trying to be entertained by a sport and as sports start failing to entertain me I will find other stuff. .
As everyone with a message to sell or a virtue to signal starts to horn in on any environment that has more than 200 eyeballs watching it I’m just watching a lot less of everything and getting more into watching little league games, bum fights and the Darwinian struggle that takes place in Costco parking lots. The whole point of the things I do for fun is for me to have fun, if I’m not having fun then let it wither and die.
Hey- I have four sisters and I kiss all of them. No tongues, though. We aren’t a bunch of inbred hillbillies.
The NFL does in fact have ties as does college FB. Obviously the NHL has had them forever.. The NBA has never dared to go head to head with the NFL from November to January and BTW why do all the major networks carry the NFL as opposed to MLB and NBA? Arte would love your 3rd point BTW being the miserly jerk that he is……he’d hire you to pitch for him as long as you would do it for free!
College football does not have ties.
Can I rant here too?
I despise the college football overtime system. By making it so easy to score it almost ensures multiple overtimes. The goal of the setup is to get the games decided quickly but it backfires.
Move the ball back to the 40. Get a first down or so and you can score. Don’t and you can’t. Make a touchdown actually mean something.
Isn’t this what this is for, rants 🙂
College (and HS) Baseball players get practically zero publicity compared to FB and Roundball players. Even if they aired the draft, there’s no casual audience, unlike those two sports.
Thats because nobody cares about Prep & college baseball where most all of the drafted players form those arenas will never be heard from again.
That’s my point. Since nobody cares, it’s not worth it to make a huge show out of the MLB draft.
Well there are definitely some exceptions. This one was pretty awesome. https://twitter.com/MLBNetwork/status/1080207790382018561?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1080207790382018561%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fftw.usatoday.com%2F2019%2F06%2Fmike-trout-draft-2009-only-guy-best-guy-angels-mlb
Boomer? Ha ha. Not quite. I’m solidly Gen X.
You pretty much perfectly described softball. 7 innings, very few pitching changes.
The NFL’s ratings are coming back to Earth. The contemporary sports in general are seeing that. My issue isn’t with an MLB game taking three hours. It is that the game I fell in love with featured a lot of action and today’s game features far less.
It’s not the pitching changes. It’s the lack of balls in play. A strikeout is not the same as a grounder to short. That little anticipation when the ball leaves the bat, the motion of the fielder dashing towards the ball, the first baseman moving to the bag, the runner sprinting down the line. Will he make it? Is the throw accurate?
All of those things that go into a routine out are missing in three true outcome baseball. Oh, and strikeouts take longer.
I agree. I like to see more opposite field hits (the shift happens for a reason, right) and the like that involve more than 3 players (P, C, hitter). Hasn’t launch angle and exit velocity made for less ‘contact’ hitting?
Yes. And the realization from an analytics standpoint that strikeouts are OK as long as a guy parks enough over the fence.
I get that from a pure numbers perspective but from a fan perspective it sucks. I’d rather see two doubles than a K and a bomb.
Similarly I’d rather see a double, a groundout, and a sac fly than a homerun sandwiched between two strikeouts.
I’m all for analytics, and I don’t think analytics can be blamed for the current tidal wave of three true outcome baseball. Teams have ALWAYS been looking to score and prevent runs more efficiently. But the game needs to change so that putting the ball in play becomes more valuable, and so that striking guys out becomes more difficult.
Well said. I agree
I meant to F71.
Hey I still like wooden bats over aluminum ones. The average MLB game from the 1960’s used to last 2.5hrs ( same as a NBA game ).
Ha ha. It’s all good.
I grew up watching the teams of the 80s and 90s. Stolen bases were still a thing, speed was key and strikeouts were a lot less frequent. So I’m biased towards a game that looks like the one I first enjoyed.
Pitchers threw inside, even hit batters on purpose. Not hustling to 1st or taking a crappy route to the ball got you pulled from the game. There were a lot of things more enjoyable back when that just don’t happen anymore
That sounds all aggressive and manly and sis gendered and stuff. Gross. I think we should stop keeping score all together and the team that does the most to fight climate change and inequality of outcomes should win.
The Mariners may finally win something this way.
I remember going to San Diego in the late 70’s to see Randy Jones pitch, and the entire game lasted… One hour, thirty three minutes.
Everybody in any sport is always going to use a stall tactic to their advantage..
However MLB always has so many more than NBA and NFL If one team is getting killed in the NBA and gives up 11 unanswered points you can call a timeout to try to stop their momentum.
I guess I’m just old school but I don’t care about the pace of play. It was somewhere around 1976 when the NFL replaced baseball as the Nation’s top sport. So let the folks have their football and leave baseball alone. The whole idea is that it’s a pastime – meaning a way to pass time. It’s supposed to be slower paced and a way to relax. If the younger folks want constant input – that is their choice. But to change the foundation of a grand pastime just because folks have lost their attention spans to video games and constant input makes little sense to me.
Maybe they (MLB) just need to come up with more creative advertisements like this:
14 years ago… how would that ad play out in 2021??
Disgusting. I feel threatened, which is the same as hurting me. This violence must stop. I flagged that video so we can all be saved from this.
I do. A pitcher who keeps going through the signs, stepping off the mound, playing cat and mouse with a batter getting more and more impatient. Sure, two outs in the ninth of a close game, man on third, absolutely take your time and ratchet up the suspense. But all game long this drives me crazy with frustration. Pitch the damn ball.
I get and acknowledge that. But what is there really to do without fundamentally altering the game? There have always been slow-as-molasses pitchers and others that keep things humming. That’s baseball. Are we going to install a referee who blows a whistle and imposes delay of game penalties?
This is not new. Football replaced baseball as the #1 sport over 40 years ago. This was mostly due to declining attention spans and a need for action. Baseball continues to survive because of a smaller but passionate fan base that is willing to invest hours of boredom/relaxation for minutes of sheer excitement.
If there are changes that can speed up play that would not affect the game, I would be for them. But a loosely enforced pitch clock (and similar changes) does little to effectuate change and just annoys purists like I am.
I purpose that a batter has to keep one foot in the box instead of walking across the plate then around the catcher and umpire and finally stopping at the edge of the box before stepping into the box with arm and hand raised and finally ready to hit as the pitcher steps behind the mound. Hitter steps out of box and adjusts his gloves before finally once again stepping into the box and swings and misses.
MLB got complacent just like anybody else who was a frontrunner ( British Empire, Sears, General Motors ).
Society changed and attention spans waned. That doesn’t make baseball any less of a beautiful game or a relevant game. It may have a smaller % of the fan base but with population growth there are a lot more possible consumers than in the golden age of baseball. My personal opinion is you leave baseball the way it is. There will always be plenty of fans. It will never replace football as the number one sport in the USA but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant.
I appreciate that you’re good with the way things are. I would like to be, but I want to see more people become fans. The fact is that back in the 70’s and even the 80’s to some extent (when I was growing up and learning to love baseball), there were nearly the amount of short-attention-span-grabbing entertainment options that there are today. Kids and adults have come to expect every second to amuse them. Baseball will never be that, but it used to be MORE of that when pitchers worked faster and batters didn’t perform elaborate routines with their batting gloves each pitch. And baseball can help itself by trying to get back to that and bringing in more of a modern audience.
We can lament the erosion of attention spans all we like, but I don’t see that trend reversing course any time soon (although I do think it’s slowing) and I would like to see baseball cater to that a bit by getting back to what it once was – a game of action.
Well articulated thoughts Gor
Dude, we both know, deep down, if the MLB tries to limit the amount of fiddling with your jewelry and crossing yourself and adjusting your shirt a hitter can do per pitch it’s going to become a racial issue, even if plenty of white players do it to. We should just let these players do what ever they want and when it gets boring go watch or do something else. We don’t really live in an era where you can enforce things on people.
Well, most people.
What drives me nuts is I watch MiLB games with a pitch clock. All these players who have come up the last three years functioned fine with that before hitting the MLB, they just can’t do it now.
Great point on pace of play vs. lack of action.
American football is often used as a comparison by people complaining baseball is too slow. Those games have a 40 second play clock and teams always use that time, but nobody cares because you are guaranteed action on every play.
Pie chart visualizing a NFL game.
So what would the MLB pie chart look like?
GREAT question… have you found anything??
May I just say how grateful I am to have a two week NCAA tourney leading into a baseball season! My sports cup runeth over!
Nice roundup of articles.
No interest in NCAA tournament, but there’s a One Day International cricket match (black caps v Bangladesh) this afternoon at 3 (espn+) that will be going on long after today’s ST game. Would be interested to hear what some of you thought about that sport especially after Verducci’s article.
Adell’s entire approach seems more quiet this spring. Would love to see him carry that into a solid month or two whenever AAA finally starts and feel more at home whenever he gets back to Anaheim.
Looks like Lagares may be the surprise who steals Fowler’s ABs in those early months.
I have been happy about Adell’s improvements at the plate. Granted it’s ST, but his approach has been much better. However, he has a LONG way to go on the defensive side. It seems like every other game I’m seeing a defensive gaffe on his part. That can’t happen in the big leagues. Until he can prove he can field, I do not want to see him on the big league club.
Correct. For example, his D has cost the team at least a run in several games. His bat does not make up for that. So he is a net negative at this point in my opinion.
Totally agree about Adell and his defense. It is too important a part of the game to be neglected. If he has been taking in the info Joe has provided it doesn’t show much.
I think it was the Breweres game that he let a ball get by him that should have been a single. It was late in the game and the runner advancing to second represented the tying run. That is the kind of thing in the regular season that gets you beat.
Agree that he should be in AAA until he gets his d significantly straightened out.
The show is not the place to work on defense skills that should be done in high school and A ball. He needs to be in AAA for a season at least.
I agree with all of you that Adell is not ready for the Majors yet. His hitting has changed because he listened to the hitting coaches as he has got rid of that bat wiggle behind his back, but still keeps the bat at a 45 degree angle and he really needs to change that as his wrists would be more in play with his hips and add more control. He seems headed to the position of DH.
he changed his front leg from a flamingo lift to more of a quick step (a la Shohei). His timing was just terrible, hopefully that adjustment with his front leg will help.
Definitely an adjustment with the front leg. He talked about it in this piece in the athletic.
Good to see JUp having a very good March as he looks forward going into April and becoming the player of a few seasons ago. Kudo’s to Heandog for showing up with 8 K’s, look for a decent season from him. Space station just reported seeing a ball hit by Ohtanisan fly by.
Watched the UCLA game against Michigan State and what a game it was indeed. Wow Howdy what a finish. But sadly the slipper won’t fit after this game as injuries have taken their toll. Does seem odd that the Bruins were the underdogs.
Only saw highlights but that was an incredible play in game