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[si]
The Pirates, true to their name, are fighting against the laws of baseball, the laws that dictate the league-wide convergence toward the three true outcomes. And they're winning. Tom Verducci writes: "If you are wearying of Three True Outcome Baseball (more homers, walks and strikeouts with fewer balls in play) then you should be a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 12-7 start and first place in the NL Central by playing the kind of baseball that is disappearing: a strike-throwing pitching staff, rangy defense and an offense that never got the “Launch Angle” memo everybody else did.

“I like to manage a team that coaches can bring their kids to watch play,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I definitely feel that way with this club. We’ve got a little throwback in us.”"
new  opening 
14 hours ago by TheSlurve2016
[espn]
Sam Miller says that Christian Yellich, in just 400 plate appearances, is making himself look like a future Hall of Famer: "When Christian Yelich showed up for the 2018 All-Star Game as a reserve, we all thought we knew who he was: above-average power, above-average speed, above-average defense, pretty good but unexceptional at everything. Yelich wasn't a superstar but certainly good enough to be, say, the fourth-best player on a championship team.
Then in the eighth inning of that game Yelich homered, and in the 400 plate appearances since then he's been the National League's best player. It's easy to overstate 400 plate appearances, even 400 plate appearances as good as Christian Yelich's past 400 have been. Good players go through long and surprising hot streaks. Even mediocre players do sometimes. Careers last 20 or 30 times that long, and a player's 400 best plate appearances get consumed by the much larger record.
But what Yelich has done is different. What we've seen the Milwaukee Brewers slugger do since July 2018 isn't necessarily unprecedented, but it is historic, because we've most likely just seen a player make the Hall of Fame.

"
new  opening 
14 hours ago by TheSlurve2016
[cbs]
Dayn Perry on the hobbled Clint Frazier who is keeping hte Yankees afloat: "In related matters, Frazier's been hitting the ball hard this season. His average exit velocity thus far in 2019 (89.4) is a full two ticks higher than the MLB average, and he's also upped his launch angle and fly-ball rate. Those are all good things for a power hitter. 
Frazier, of course, was once a decorated prospect. The Indians made him the fifth overall pick back in 2013, and he was a regular on overall top-100 prospect lists -- almost always in the upper half -- coming up through the system. He wound up being a key piece in the July 2016 blockbuster that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland from the Yankees. Frazier combined that pedigree with strong power numbers in the minors, so the Yankees probably expected that he'd eventually find his level. 
He might have found that level in 2018 if not for a jammed Yankee outfield and major post-concussion problems that for a time seemed like they might imperil his career"
new  opening 
14 hours ago by TheSlurve2016
[si]
Jon Taylor on the home run recorsd that are primed to fall: "The statement bears repeating: It's never been easier to touch 'em all.
I wrote last week about the game’s home run spike, but a look at the stats shows just how ludicrous things have gotten. Saturday’s doubleheader between the Twins and Orioles featured 17 home runs in 18 innings. Dee Gordon, who weighs as much as a folding chair, has as many home runs (two) at age 30 in 94 plate appearances as he did at age 26 in 650. Jay Bruce has twice as many home runs (nine) as singles (four). Gordon Beckham, who was effectively out of the majors the last two years and hasn’t topped nine homers in a season since 2014, is on pace to go deep 26 times."
new  opening 
14 hours ago by TheSlurve2016
[538]
Travis Sawchik on how the Rays have found something beyond "the extra 2 percent," which is leading to their hot start: "The Tampa Bay Rays are not supposed to be in first place in the AL East. Since 2008, the Rays have never ranked higher than 20th in payroll. This season, the Rays opened with a payroll [176 MM] less than the Red Sox and [144 MM] less than the Yankees. There are underdogs and then there are the Rays.
Yet, it’s a few weeks into the 2019 season, and the Rays are still in first place. And our projections predict that they’ll be a playoff team. It’s still early, of course, and the Rays’ hot start could cool as more games are played — and they did take a tumble over the weekend against the Red Sox. But they’ve been so successful — going into the weekend, their pitching staff had the lowest ERA and fielding-independent pitching in the majors and no lineup was making more quality contact, for example — that it’s worth trying to make sense of how the Rays are defying the odds. It’s not just homegrown talent and innovative strategies propelling them this year, though the defensive shifts and the reliever openers are still happening. Instead, they’ve found yet another way to win: They’re getting more out of other clubs’ players."
new  opening 
14 hours ago by TheSlurve2016
[fangraphs]
James Wagner writes on the declining velocity of Aroldis Chapman:"Aroldis Chapman was nicknamed the Cuban Missile for a reason. The Yankees’ lanky left-handed closer from the Caribbean island has long been the most prominent face of the velocity explosion in modern baseball. Ever since he broke into the major leagues in 2010, few pitchers could match his 100-miles-per-hour fastball.
Until last season. A month on the injured list with left knee tendinitis sapped some power, and his average fastball speed dipped slightly from the previous season, to 98.9 m.p.h. He was still among the hardest throwers in baseball, but for the first time since 2013, Chapman was not tops: St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks, nine years younger, claimed the title with a 100.5-m.p.h. average, according to Fangraphs.
“That’s no problem for me,” Chapman, 31, said in Spanish recently, adding later: “I’m not 20 or 22 anymore. The years pile up — not by choice.”"
opening 
2 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[nytimes]
Uh-oh The Mets are advertisng their "abundance of caution" with reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom: "Jacob deGrom, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, was scheduled to start for the Mets against the Cardinals in St. Louis on Saturday, but his plans have been rerouted.
DeGrom experienced soreness in his right elbow on Thursday, and on Friday General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen announced that deGrom would undergo a magnetic resonance imaging examination in New York on Monday. Manager Mickey Callaway initially told reporters that deGrom would leave the team and return to New York on Friday, but he will stay in St. Louis through the end of the series on Sunday.
DeGrom was placed on the injured list retroactive to April 16. He would be available to return and pitch on April 26, when the team starts a series against the Milwaukee Brewers."
opening 
2 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[japantimes]
Shoei Ohtani is taking batting practice. Hopefully he'll be back soon: "Shohei Ohtani’s drives into the seats at Angel Stadium came with an audience Friday, when the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way standout took another step toward his return from Tommy John surgery.
Ohtani took batting practice with teammates for the first time since the operation, preparing to return to the team this season as a designated hitter. He also threw from 27.4 meters for the first time, but he is not projected to pitch again until 2020 as he continues with his elbow rehabilitation following surgery Oct. 1.

The Angels have said Ohtani is expected to return to the lineup in May, although a precise date hasn’t been announced."
opening 
2 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[mlb]
MLb writes up a home run as statistically flukey. What do you think? :"Enrique Hernández owns Madison Bumgarner. He homered three times in a pennant-clincher. He homered twice on Opening Day.

He’s no fluke. But it was still something of a shock on Friday night when he lined an 0-2 fastball from the intimidating Josh Hader for a three-run homer to give the Dodgers a 5-3 comeback victory over the Brewers and extend their win streak to six.



In the Major Leagues, Hernandez had never homered on an 0-2 pitch, and Hader had never allowed one. The Dodgers saw Hader’s act last postseason, saw how manager Craig Counsell utilizes that electric left arm at all different stages of the game. The Dodgers know Hader presents a menacing opposing weapon around which a game plan is drawn."
opening 
2 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[theringer]
Zach Kram argues that Cody Bellinger may be the best player in the NL: "The equivalent NL honor, meanwhile, has rewarded many more pop-up performers. The “best in the NL” answer seems to cycle to a new player every year.

Who might that player be this year? A turn to the early 2019 leaderboards illuminates a clear favorite. About 10 percent of the way through the season, Trout ranks second in FanGraphs WAR. He ranks second in Baseball-Reference WAR. And he ranks second in Baseball Prospectus WARP. Don’t trust defensive numbers this soon? Trout ranks second in advanced offense-only metrics like wRC+ and DRC+, too. Number one in all those metrics is the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, who isn’t actually better than Trout but might be the newest claimant to the “best in the NL” prize."
opening 
3 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[espn]
Eddie Matz profiles Justin Verlander who turns 36 today and wants to be the Tom Brady of baseball: "Verlander disappears for a few minutes, reemerges with a plate of food, and then plops down on the couch next to Peacock and a couple of other hurlers. He stares at a large, wall-mounted flat screen on which MLB Network's Eric Byrnes is frenetically breaking down the previous day's Manny Machado signing, and proceeds to attack his breakfast.
Like most right-handers, Verlander holds his fork in his left hand and his knife in the right. Unlike most righties, after cutting into his pile of circular waffles, he does not do the transfer. He does not pass the fork from his left to his right. Instead, he simply shovels bite after bite into his piehole with his weak hand. It's as if he's racing against the clock. As if he's running out of time.
He's not.

LAST FALL, JUSTIN Verlander said he wants to be the Tom Brady of baseball."
opening 
3 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[si]
Jon Tayor on the threat of a housecleaning in Boston: "Mookie Betts: trade chip? Such is the terrifying universe posited by Red Sox lefty David Price amid his team’s brutal 6–13 start to the season. “If we don’t start playing better, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, maybe myself, we could get traded,” Price told the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier following Boston’s series loss to the Yankees. “We’re what, 30th in minor league systems? We’re dead last. We don’t play better, Mookie Betts will be traded, J.D. Martinez will be traded. It will be tough for a while here.”
How serious Price is about this apocalyptic vision is unclear, but the doom and gloom is warranted. The Red Sox have the third-worst record and second-worst run differential (-42) in the majors, better only than the Marlins, and trail the first-place Rays by eight games in the AL East. Mookie Betts: trade chip? Such is the terrifying universe posited by Red Sox lefty David Price amid his team’s brutal 6–13 start to the season. “If we don’t start playing better, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, maybe myself, we could get traded,” Price told the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier following Boston’s series loss to the Yankees. “We’re what, 30th in minor league systems? We’re dead last. We don’t play better, Mookie Betts will be traded, J.D. Martinez will be traded. It will be tough for a while here.”
How serious Price is about this apocalyptic vision is unclear, but the doom and gloom is warranted. The Red Sox have the third-worst record and second-worst run differential (-42) in the majors, better only than the Marlins, and trail the first-place Rays by eight games in the AL East. "
opening 
3 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[ftw]
Ted Berg on the teams that need Craig Kimbrel: "It’s April 18 and Craig Kimbrel is still a free agent.

We last saw Kimbrel looking uncharacteristically shaky in the 2018 postseason for the world champion Red Sox, but the right-hander has been arguably the most dominant reliever in the game for most of his nine-season big-league career. Meanwhile, a bunch of clubs with designs on contention turn to lesser pitchers in late innings, and there’s a case to be made that 28 of the 30 MLB teams could really use Kimbrel right now.

Not every one of those 28 teams needs Kimbrel to the same degree. There are some competitive clubs with obvious holes to fill in their bullpens, like the Brewers after the loss of Corey Knebel and the Braves after the loss of Arodys Vizcaino. Others, like the Yankees and Mets, would massively benefit from an extra, dominant arm in the bullpen but might nonetheless be better served by the addition of starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who’s also lingering on the open market."
opening 
3 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[usa]
Gabe Lacques on an especially important series for the Rays: "For the better part of a decade, the Tampa Bay Rays have attracted certain buzzwords that stick to them like a sweat-soaked shirt in a Pinellas County summer.

Innovative. Disruptive. Efficient.

Here’s one that should really haunt the American League East Division hierarchy: powerhouse.

Yes, the franchise that brought you Joe Maddon’s managerial zaniness, four-man outfields and the 'Opener' has now amassed a roster that, through the season’s first 19 games, performed exactly as the Rays envisioned.

That’s a little scary.

In an industry where most of the proprietary edges have vanished as teams rush headlong into the analytics era, the Rays — off to a 14-5 start entering Friday — have managed to stay ahead of the game and, for the moment, ahead of their big-money brethren in the AL East.

Friday, the Rays play the first of 38 games against the defending World Series champion Red Sox and Yankees. For now, the getting is good."
opening 
3 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[nytimes]
Tyler Kepner: "The Yankees are only 7-9, and Tuesday marked the first time since 1992 that the rivals had played each other at least 15 games into a season with both of them under .500. But this game was the Yankees’ best of the season, with contributions at the plate and in the field from Frazier, Tauchman and Gio Urshela, all reinforcements for the wounded."
opening 
5 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[nbc]
It's bad :"The Red Sox attempted to shake things up before the game by summoning Leon from Pawtucket and designating Blake Swihart for assignment, but Swihart probably could've caught an 8-0 loss just fine.
Eighteen games into the season, the Red Sox are entering the panic zone. They're 6-12, good for last in the American League East, with a minus-40 run differential that's topped only by Miami's minus-43. In case you haven't noticed, the Marlins aren't trying. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are defending World Series champs.
With three games looming against the division-leading Rays this weekend, the Red Sox could trail by double-digits by the beginning of next week."
opening 
5 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[hardball]
Howard Megdal writes on the current state of pitchers hitting: "But what if we’ve been setting pitchers up for failure?
Imagine this: whatever your job is, you showed some aptitude for it in high school. And then, as a condition of employment, you weren’t allowed to do it — at all — through college, and most of your early professional lives, before asked to do it again at the highest level. How do you think you’d fare?
Well, that’s the current state of play for major league pitchers every time they are asked to hit. They don’t tend to hit in college. They never hit in the minor leagues. And then, against the best pitchers on earth? It’s hitting time, even as their teams carefully limit how much they are allowed to even practice the craft."
opening 
5 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[ftw]
Andy Nesbitt on the horrible start for the Red Sox and Chris Sale: "The defending-champion Boston Red Sox currently, well, stink.

That’s hard for me to say as I’m from Boston and root, root, root for the home team but after Tuesday night’s 8-0 loss to the hated New York Yankees (though hated is tough to say here since most of their lineup Tuesday night was a bunch of no-names and backups just trying the help out) it really looks like the 2019 Red Sox are in a lot of trouble."
opening 
5 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[cbs]
R.J. Anderson on the inevitable callup of VLad Jr. "It was only a matter of time before we spotlighted Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the 20-year-old Toronto Blue Jays minor-league third baseman who is almost universally held as the game's best prospect. So, why not today? Why not now? The timing works well: Guerrero is once more hearty and hale following a late-spring oblique injury that sabotaged his (limited) hopes of making the Opening Day roster. Since returning, he's appeared in seven games between the High- and Triple-A levels, hitting .360/.448/.560 -- good for a 1.008 OPS that is, um, 65 points worse than his full-season mark last year. Lordy.

There's not much fresh acreage to survey when it comes to Guerrero. The kid can hit, and will graduate from the minors' top bat to one of the majors' best as soon as he receives the opportunity. The public scouting reports that grade Guerrero's hit and power tools as 7s and/or 8s are right on, per those in the industry. He is, by all accounts, a special talent. How special? A talent evaluator for a rival team remarked to CBS Sports that "you'd be surprised by the number of people who think [Vlad Jr.] will be an even better hitter than his father." The reason being Vlad Jr. already possesses better plate discipline than his pops had.
opening 
5 days ago by TheSlurve2016
[deadspin]
Deadspin's Luis Paez-Pumar on Christian Yelich's freakish performances against the Cardinals: "When Christian Yelich homered in the first four games of the season, all of which were against the St. Louis Cardinals, it was a fun curio—a hot streak carried over from the Brewers right fielder’s MVP season last year and a great player being great in an unusual way. Gabe Fernandez even wrote about it as such here, with Yelich averaging one dinger per game. The flukiness was part of the fun. Surely the 27-year-old couldn’t continue his home run dominance over St. Louis, not just because he had only hit one home run against other opposition since that first series but because that’s just not how it works.
Well, not only did Yelich homer on Monday as the Brewers hosted the Cardinals in Milwaukee once again, but he went supernova again, hitting three home runs and driving in a team-record seven runs in a 10-7 victory:"
opening 
6 days ago by TheSlurve2016

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