I’m heading out to the game tonight, so if you find yourself in the bleachers and you see me – Michael – scarfing down two Hot Dougs’ (don’t say sandwiches) hot dogs, don’t be surprised (but do come say hi!).
We still have sometime before the game, so let’s get to some news from around the league …
- By now, we’re used to rule changes affecting the game of baseball, but this is the first year for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which means each segment of the year will come with differences from what we’ve been used to. For example, the CBA will affect the way front offices deal at the upcoming Trade Deadline. At MLB.com, Jon Morosi runs down the differences in the new CBA and the effect they can have on the upcoming July Trade deadline. In short, because fewer teams will be eligible to receive a competitive balance pick after the first round of the draft for losing a qualified free agent, trades may be a little easier to execute. In other words, what was once a balance between Prospect So-and-So and the 35th pick in the draft is now a question of Prospect So-and-So and the 100th (or later) pick. As always, though, uncharted waters come with unexpected consequences. We’ll have to play this one out to really see how the CBA impacts trade talks.
- Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed a number of topics Tuesday, including the idea of playing real, regular-season games in Mexico City. The goal would be to continue spreading Major League Baseball across the world, of course, but also to test whether that’s a viable location for a Major League team in the future. He also heralded the increased use of Statcast by broadcasters, and reinforced that security remains a priority for MLB, in light of the Manchester bombing.
- As I’m sure you’ve heard, fastball velocity has been increasing over the years. In fact, the 92.7 MPH average fastball velocity in 2017 is the highest it’s ever been (a record set in each of the past seven years). However, did you also know that the number of fastballs thrown is declining? From 2002 (when Pitch F/X began capturing data), the percentage of fastballs has declined from 64.4% to 55.4%. At Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci uses this as a springboard to discuss the resurgence of the curveball and how it’s changing modern pitching. It’s a deep dive, but it’s a good one.
- When the St. Louis Cardinals lost Alex Reyes at the beginning of the season, many (including me) thought the blow was too devastating to overcome. After all, beyond him in the rotation, there was plenty of talent, but way more questions. And while regression may eventually strike the Cardinals, it sure hasn’t yet. Their rotational 3.06 ERA stands atop Major League Baseball by nearly half a run – the second place Dodgers are next best at 3.47. But don’t knock them for being lucky just yet, because their 3.74 FIP is second best in baseball and their 3.84 xFIP is seventh best (one spot behind the Cubs, for what that’s worth).
- Sticking with stats of the NL Central, while Eric Thames’ season stats still reside in the top ten of the league (by wRC+) he has certainly slowed down a bit lately … just not as much as some of the naysayers might’ve expected. In the month of May (64 PAs), Thames is slashing .250/.391/.423 (112 wRC+). That’s a far cry from where he was at the beginning of the season when he was being drug tested seemingly every day, but Thames was never going to keep up that pace anyway. And, of course, if he gets hot again, a 112 wRC+ slump is actually quite brilliant. I can’t wait to see his numbers at the end of the year.
- OH.HELL.YA. A TMZ report (via Hardball Talk) suggests that Charlie Sheen has gotten the original cast of ‘Major League’ on board for the oft-rumored ‘Major League 3’ (I know, there already was a ‘Major League 3,’ I have no idea why they don’t just call it ‘Major League 4’). A reunion of the original cast would be so awesome, though I’m not quite sure I know how they’ll explain any of these old men on a baseball field. Before we get too excited, though, I should point out that they’re still looking for financial backing. But, like, how hard can that be? Here’s my $5 ….
- The Boston Red Sox, not unlike the Chicago Cubs, were pretty heavily favored to win their division in 2017. However, also like the Cubs, they’ve started the season out with a 23-21 record in third place of their division. At Yahoo Sports, Darren Hartwell writes that despite the struggles, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, isn’t ready to blow things up (but, I mean, duh). I believe he mostly means that manager John Farrell’s job is not in danger, but again I’m not sure I understand why it would be right now. The season is still very young, and he just led a Red Sox team to a 93-69 record last season. Given what we learned about how much weight to (not) give to their first 50 games of a season earlier today, I’d say this is all a bit of an unwarranted freakout. Apparently, it’s not just Cubs fans.
- At Baseball is Fun, I took a deep look into Mike Trout’s 2017 season, because if you can believe it, he’s actually off to a better start than he ever has before:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) May 24, 2017
- After his homer last night, he is now tied with Aaron Judge for the Major League lead (15). It still blows me away that we get to see one of the best players of all time (and make no mistake, that’s what he is) play right in front of our very eyes.