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The Baseball Roundup (6/9/15)

June 9, 2015

Kevin:

I’ll get us started today, by getting back into baseball.  First, a look around the league at last night’s diminished schedule of games, and then some responses to your baseball takes yesterday (since I was overwhelmed with the NBA).

I was happy to give Brad Hand some props when he turned around a losing streak to finally get a win, amidst suggestions he was one of the worst pitchers in baseball. He followed up his promising outing, by getting  his Marlins shelled by the Blue Jays.  They hit him up for 6 ER in 2/3 of an inning.  This game saw Stanton tie the league lead with his 19th homerun.  He did this on the way to pick up his kids from daycare, file a petition at city and hall, and buy a pack of cigarettes…Giancarlos is a fully grown adult. Donaldson also knocked one out of the park, for his 13th on the year.  He’s playing some great baseball.  Toronto is now the highest scoring team in the majors, and that would not have been my guess.

Reds take down the Phillies 6-4.  This game is significant for a couple reasons. Cole Hamels had been unbeaten against the Reds until last night, and that spanned 14 starts. He sported a stellar 1.58 ERA in those starts. Are you wondering who some of the best pitchers against individual teams are? This is a fun list. A lot of non-surprises on there: lots of Pedro, Clemens, and Randy Johnson. Aroldis  picked up another save, but not before giving up a run and issuing two walks. Certainly coming back down to Earth after last season.

More importantly in this game, Billy Hamilton stole second, third, and finally home. Sadly, the official scorer ruled the steal at home to be a fielder’s choice.  Likely the scorer had no idea what to do, since the play was weird as hell. Couldn’t be an error, since apparently purely mental mistakes cannot be classified as errors, even just throwing to the wrong bag:

Rule 9.12 Errors…
The official scorer shall not charge an error to a fielder who incorrectly throws to the wrong base on a play.

Funky. And kind of bullshit, but I guess it would get difficult to adjudicate these errors.

How rare is it for a guy to actually steal all 3 bases? It’s only happened 50 times in the history of baseball, and 4 of them were Ty Cobb, our antihero. Not surprised to know Pete Rose did it, but it was done most recently by Jayson Werth. This data included guys who’ve achieved that in the same inning, no idea if any of those were guys who got 2 hits in the same inning, which would kind of be a cheater’s way to steal 3 bags.  50 times is like getting struck by lighting in baseball.  This is roughly 1/7 the amount of no-hitters. And only a little more than double the amount of perfect games.

What do you need to steal bases that prolifically? Speed, and lots of it. Check out this graphic highlighting how quickly Hamilton rounds the bases.

Cool Animation: How Fast Does Billy Hamilton Get To First?

Just how fast is this guy? Many scouts have said they’ve time him from first move to touching second at 3.0 or 3.1 seconds. This would be faster than Ricky Henderson and is still not fully verified. Assuming this speed though, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America does some interesting math, pointing out that a fast release from the pitcher on a pitchout is likely to come in around 1.2 seconds, and anything under 2.0 seconds on the catcher’s pop is considered above average.  This means to throw out Hamilton, you’ve got to have a fast release, a good catcher, and a spot on throw.  A loss of even a tenth of a second at any of these stages will likely doom you to a RISP.

This brings a couple questions to mind: how fast would a runner have to be do be ‘uncatchable.’ How close is Hamilton to that time? And if it’s doable, what would the value of an olympic sprinter be on the basepaths? Though it was tried once before, that was decades ago, and sprinters have gotten notably faster: Since 1987, the World Record has dropped by over 2 percent. Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus does a more in depth job breaking down this phenomenon, and has some great frame by frame shots of Hamilton stealing, and what it would look like 1, 2, or 4 percent faster.

Last question on Hamilton, and speed…Who you got in a 40, Chris Johnson, Russel Westbrook, or Billy Hamilton? And why aren’t we seeing shenanigans like this at different all star games?

Rockies roughed up the Cards 11-3. John Lackey was abused, and Tulowitzki hit another homerun. So did our recent wunderkid Arenado. I love it when we bring a guy up, and they continue to shine, or get even better. It makes me think that the guys are reading our blog, and performing accordingly (If you’re out there Nolan Arenado, you’re welcome). Cards were the last team to lose 20 games, because, as always, they are playing with a cheat code. In Draft News, the Rockies also drafted a shortstop, as apparently everyone did. Shortstops went with the top 3 picks, and 4 of the top 10. This will continue to fuel speculation that Tulo could be moved at the deadline (though silly, given the unpredictability of MLB Drafts).  What would the haul be on a potential Tulo trade? Any interest from the Tribe? His salary is 20 million a year, but maybe they’d just want Nick Swisher. (I hate his presence on the Indians, and on our monetary situation)

Chris Sale and the White Sox shutdown the Astros 3-1. Sale now has 49 strikeouts in his last 31 innings. Smoke show. Astros manager A.J. Hinch could only say, “The night was all about Chris Sale.” Scary good from this guy. Chris Correa did get called up for the Astros, and the highly touted prospect drove in their only run. Keep an eye on him going forward.

In a battle between two potentially unsustainable records, the Royals, led by, Jason Vargos, beat the Twins 3-1. Big game, another big hit by comeback sensation Kendry Morales. Sucks when a guy has a devastating injury, sucks more when he did it celebrating, but still good to see him back.

Brewers shutout the Pirates 2-0. AJ Burnett took the loss, but doesn’t appear to be falling back to earth, as he gave up 1 run in 7 innings, striking out six and walking only one. The old man is looking great.

Some quick thoughts on the Indians…They drafted Brady Aiken with the 17th overall pick. He was the former No.1 pick of the Astros last year, but they couldn’t agree on a deal because of team concerns after his physical. Specifically, they were really worried he would need Tommy John surgery eventually. Their doctors were vindicated, as Aiken underwent the surgery in March of this year. Could be a great steal for the tribe, as pre-surgery he was a 96-97 MPH flamethrower with strong command. I’m also continuously confused as to how the hell the baseball draft system works. I’ve read up on it, but it seems their signing bonus system is downright silly. Is this just commonly known and accepted? Why no call for reform? Drew, I’m looking at you on this one. Also, Drew needs to help us out in regards to an overall draft breakdown.

I’ve got a whole host of weird Cycle stats I wormholed my way into, but I’ll save them for another day, as my sister already called us out for being too long-winded on here. Specifically saying, “Nobody gets ‘fifteen final thoughts,’ on a subject.”  Give me some info on the late night games (Padres v. Braves, D-Backs v. Dodgers). I’ll likely be spending the day in silent meditation and prayer in preparation for tonight’s Cavs game.

Later

Tony:

I’ll start by noting that you constantly call Giancarlo Stanton “Giancarlos.” It’s hillarious.

Additionally, I’m on a French keyboard, so toda’s response is likely to be fairly brief. The fact that you have to shift to add a period is just too much for me right now. It is giving me a new appreciation fordifficult the simplest tasks on a internet are if you can’t type. Hunting and pecking is so tedious.

You expressed shock that Toronto is the highest scoring team in the bigs right now. Who would you have guessed?

With Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson, they would have been one of my preseason picks. My other favorite would have been the Tigers. Miggy Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Yoenis Cespedes, and the bash brothers JD and Victor Martinez is a scary crew. Interestingly Detroit is just below league average with 4.12 runs per game.

The team that surprises me is the second heightest scoring Dianondbacks! Paul Goldschmidt drives in almost 20% of their runs and a casual fan likely can’t name another player in their starting lineup: Ender Incierte, AJ Pollock, Yasmany Tomas, Jake Lamb, Chris Owings, Wellington Castillo, and Nick Ahmed…

Though Vasile notes that AJ Pollock is an emerging (and enigmatic) superstar.

The Dodgers are the third team I would have expected to find in the top 3 offenses at this point.

The Billy Hamilton stuff is interesting. Pudge Rodriguez in his prime had a 1.75-1.8 pop time and it seems like a pitch-out is universally 1.7 with a good pitch. So absolute best a battery can pull off right now is like 2.8-2.9. So 1 or 2 tenths of a second fastter than Billy should be ungettable… Fore the ultimate thief, I don’t know if pure sprinter is where you go since they have to deal with pick-off attepts and start the sprint facing home plate. Therefor, you also need a guy with lateral speed and a first quick step, maybe someone that crushes the shuttle drill… Of the top of my head, Kent State’s Dri Archer (now a Steeler) might be good, or maybe a Buster Skrine.

I think Chris Johnson kills those two guys in a combine timed 40. He’s one of three guys to run it faster than the aforementioned Archer. Though I guess he has lost a step. Still, he has trained for it. Read your Sam Miller article, the type of running matters.

Did you know Billy Hamilton has the 3rd most stolen bases all time? NO, not THAT Billy Hamilton. The one that played in the 19th century.

To get Tulo, Tribe might have to add Lindor to the Swisher offer. That’s steep…

The AROD update:

1. AROD only needs 9 more hits for 3000.

2. AROD only needs 3 more hits for 2000.

Round one of the draft is in. I not so uniquelly assumed Swanson would go number 1, and was proven correct. Three SS in a row to kick it off is pretty rare though… like, never happaned before rare. In fact, with the exception of pitcher, no other position has monopolized the first three picks like that. A record-tying eight shortstops were selected in the first round (36 picks), matching the number that were taken in 1971 and 2002.

The Astros walked away with Alex Bregman who they hope will be stuck behind Correa and Altuve. I like that Lunhow worries about talent more than positionel need. Bregman is insurance, a potential ace bargaining chip, and could certainly cut his chops some at the hot corner, thought he would lack some deired power.

The Astros also got Kyle Tucker. Hir brother Preston is currently playing for the Astros. Astros keeping it in the family – love it. Kyle broke his brother’s school record with 31 career homers, and has the power to potentially move to a corner outfield spot at the next level.

Houston also nabbed Daz Cameron, son of former big leaguer Mike Cameron. Cameron, who was No. 6 overall on MLB Pipeline’s Draft board, fell out of the first round due to rumors of high bonus demands.

The Astros, by virtue of being awarded the No. 2 pick after they were unable to sign last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Brady Aiken, were one of the few teams with a large enough bonus pool to take a chance on the talented high schooler.

There were a couple other bloodlines picks: Tyler Nevin, the son of 1992 No. 1 overall pick Phil Nevin, went next to Colorado. Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes, went to Pittsburgh.

So, I love the Astros draft. Cleveland’s scares me, but I think I love it just as much. Getting a first overall pick in Aiken at 17 is fantastic (especially when he is a hard throwing lefty), but playing with damaged goods is a risk. Clearly there are two conclusions here: 1) the Indians think they can handle rehabbign Tommy John guys (perhaps the training tactics I recently wrote about help explain that?), 2) nothing about Akien’s elbow should inhibit the healin, as the Astros feared last year. My immediate thought is: “the rotation is stacked, so he won’t be rushed, and this could pay off big time in 2019 when this kid is the the guy in the rotation… High risk but super high reward.

Also like the Triston McKenzie pick. He went 9-5 with a 0.79 ERA this year. He struck out 157 in 91 innings. AND HE IS HUGE. 6’5” frame should make for a lot of gas.

But my favorite? Juan Hillman. His legal guardian is former big league pitcher Tom “Flash’ Gordon. That counts for bloodlines for me!

Lots of pitching for the Tribe and while I don’t think you can ever have too much, a Tucker or Cameron could have been nice.

Ryan Romano wrote up q piece on The Tragically Unlucky Cleveland Rotation. He notes that “we can reasonably expect that when the 2015 season ends, Indian starters will have sustained the highest K/9 and BABIP in the world. If that does happen, it will make history: No team since 1900 has done it.”

Let’s say the Rockies and Twins overtake the Indians, so that the latter ranks third in BABIP for the campaign as a whole. How rare is that (i.e., an MLB lead in K/9 and a top-three finish in BABIP)?

Still pretty rare, as it turns out. Eleven teams have done it, and one of them looks rather familiar:

Team Year K/9 K/9 Rank BABIP BABIP Rank
Indians 2014 8.92 1st .321 2nd
Rays 2007 7.71 1st .328 2nd
Indians 2000 7.82 1st .313 3rd
Pirates 1983 6.71 1st .298 3rd
Indians 1964 6.92 1st .294 2nd
Dodgers 1963 7.17 1st .276 3rd
Dodgers 1958 5.94 1st .287 2nd
Reds 1947 4.32 1st .287 2nd
Robins 1925 3.69 1st .306 2nd
Cubs 1917 4.26 1st .271 3rd
Senators 1916 4.50 1st .280 3rd

Yes, last year’s Indians managed to pull this off, meaning Cleveland could go back-to-back here. The 2014 rotation featured glovework even worse than the 2015 one — it came in dead last in both UZR and DRS. Maybe we should have predicted the present shortcomings.

Perhaps we should have…

At least we have the secon baseman in the league! Scott Lindholn can help you visualize while he surveys the field.

The Astros called up another prospect: pitcher Vincent Velasquez. He came into the year ranked 75th on Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Prospects list but had never pitched above Class A before this season. He’s dominated the Texas League in five starts and 26 1/3 innings, pitching to a 1.37 ERA with 12.6 strikeouts and 3.1 walks per nine. Velasquez is slotted to take over for YOUR BOY Fausto/Roberto. I’n guessing that whole experiment is over.

Because I can’t get enough Venditte… here’s the single best full-length treatment of the Pat Venditte Phenomenon that I’ve seen.

You can recap the rest of the games if you’d like. It’s too hard to type for me, but I do want to add further discussion engendered by yesterday’s Game of Thrones thoughts (the 15 your sister found gratuitous). This is going to be the conversation within the conversation: SUPER meta, man…

JONNER:

Tone…wtf.

“This terrorist attack ending was 100x more intense and enjoyable than last week’s episode of HBO’s The Walking Dead. Large scale battle is awesome. And the good guys can get their asses kicked, but I need the threat to feel real, and in Mereen it sure did. What a fantastic little twist.”

1) You aren’t at all angry about the fact that a colliseum full of harpies comes out of nowhere?!  No one thought it prudent to make sure the commoners aren’t bringing weapons to the locale of the Queen?  Not to mention all these secret harpy members are maskless and then all throw the masks on – thought no one was supposed to know harpies identities.  Also seems tough to conceal a gigantic gold mask.  Also, you aren’t perturbed that Dani just peaces out on the rest of her crew.  Drogan killed alot of folks, but there were alot left for these soft unsullied to handle without him.  Seems like that group should all be dead.  How you liked this episdode more than last week is a little odd to me – at no point did I think Dani was dying without some serious dragon involvement.   Since we haven’t had any…she cant die yet.

2) Jorah should have died 2-3 times during his lil gladiator battle.  Annoying.  He also saves the day after being delivered a pretty formidable chest/rib wound.

3) Arya is definitely slicing that dude up next week while playing a hooker

4) Brianne of Tarth comment was spot on

Tony:

Great takes all around. I would have agreed with 2 – 4 regardless, but the difficulties of materializing the terrorist attack are well explained. I submit! I still liked it better, but I suppose that has nothing to do with it “feeling real.” I’m shocked we have such opposing takes. Did you love the attack on Hardhome?

JONNER:

But for the fact we actually got to see Drogan slay bi°*hes…I hated that scene almost entirely.

I didn’t like it as much as most who deemed it the best episode to date – nothing beats the wildfire battle for me – but I liked finally seeing what we working with with the white walkers and the revelation that we are dealing with living creatures and dead ones who form the white walker army.  Sidenote, are you aware that according to legend the night king is a stark.  They didn’t discuss that in the episodes, but westerosian legend in the books is that the night king was a stark who was also lord commander and fell in love with a white walker (nights watch can’t fall in love). After learning that it made me really enjoy the end of the battle alot when the night king raises the army and has a stare off with Jon Snow.

Overall, I’m also more excited about a possible battle between the walkers and what I assume will be a unified human race when the time comes.  Dany and Dragons vs. whitewalkers is most appealing, but I have no clue whats gonna happen as I didn’t actually read the books.  My coworker fills in some of the details that either get glossed over in the show or I didn’t pick up on.

Kevin:

I thought last nights episode was my favorite of the season. About time with these dragons. I wouldn’t have been too shocked if they’d killed Khaleesi pre dragons. Would’ve gone along with all the blue balling re:dragons they’ve had piled on. I agree she totally left captain midge out to dry.

Last question, who’s hotter, the caramel assistant to Khaleesi, or the daughter of the sand lady who showed her bits and went poisonous last episode?

JONNER:

The sand snake wonan in prison, for me

Is Tyrion gonna start getting with Missandei?

Tony:

A) I deff saw him give her the look. He likes falling in love with prostitutes. You can take that to the bank.

B) I like seeing the dragons because I don’t think there even is a battle with the white walkers without them. Even with dragon glass, clearly the dragons need to be strafing those zombies or its futile. They RUINED those free folk.

C) I did know about the Night King cause I read Grantland’s “Ask The Maester” (see: https://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/ask-the-maester-the-origin-of-the-nights-king-the-wights-and-dragonglass/). Even if you have a reliable book savvy source, I thoroughly recommend reading every week. But good looking out and passing the word. I didn’t find out about Ask the Maester until far too late.

D) Snake chick is HANDS DOWN HOTTER than the translator, Mose. How do you even ask that.

Jonner, any thoughts on other points in that post? i.e Jorah touching D?

Drew:

1) I’d take the other Snake Sister who plays the hand smacking game with the poison one. She is a smoke and I would subsequently do some bad things…

2) that dragon took some serious hits from spears.  It may have just been me, but I would have expected for their skin to be a little tougher than that.

3) the harpies out of nowhere pissed me off as well.  Completely ridiculous.

4) Arya is going to get royally fuc*ed for lying. She is supposed to claim no allegiance to her prior life and she clearly still does.

JONNER:

AMEN.  Maybe chalk it up to it still being young, but D aint taking diddlypoo if thats all it takes for dragon to get hurt.

As for your comment Tone, ya know,  I didn’t really notice Jorah touching Dany in this particular episode, but I have thought for a while (whether it was thrown in your face at some point or I just came to that conclusion on my own) that Jorah loves Dany.  He is also similar to Baelish IMO in that over the course of time he has gravitated towards what he perceives to be his best chance at power.  Obviously thats a recurring theme in the show, but those two seem to be the two biggest leaches.

I have not peeped grantland, but every once in a while I read towerofthehand.com which offers good stuff.  Be careful tho because sometimes it comes at you from the standpoint of book reader vs. show watcher and can give some stuff away.  Gotta be prepared to anticipate a spoiler and skip a paragraph (unless you don’t really care).  I’ll check out grantland, although I hate Bill SImmons and by virtue, anything he is associated with (except…cough…30 for 30…cough).

Tony:

Grantland left Simmons in the dust. It runs on its own now and its packed with talented writers – both the sports writers and the pop culture ones.

Ask the Maester only does background in the form of a Q&A. Don’t worry, no spoilers.

As for Jorah loving Danni, I don’t even think that’s speculation at this point. People have acknowledged it – not least Jorah to Danni. But Tyrion said something like “you know he loves you, right?” in Hardhome.

By touching I just meant, he grabbed her hand to lead her away from the Blood of the Harpies during the attack – like 2 or 3 times. He has the skin thing, why isn’t she infected!?

And I gotta thing the spears thing is young dragon hide…

I’m shocked, but not, that Drew prefers the the older snake.

TZ OUT

Kevin:

Not much time as I’m about to head to the Natural History Museum with the little sister.  Loved the additional Thrones thoughts, and really enjoyed getting some verbage from Drew and Jonner.  Hoping to hear from them more often. Interesting news came out today: George R. Martin will publish a Game of Thrones coloring book, so get your crayons ready. I’ll leave you with this awesome routine Lebron should incorporate into pregame tonight:

bYrcq16 - Imgur

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