There’s a lot to get to around the league today …
- At Yahoo Sports, Tim Brown asks the question we’ve all been asking for about two years now: Can Shohei Ohtani really succeed as both a hitter and a pitcher in the Major Leagues? There’s little doubt that, if he picked just one or the other, he’d be highly successful, but he’s reportedly quite set on doing both. I tend to agree with Brett that, if he does play both ways next season, we’ll probably see 75-80% of his potential on either front (though it’s not crazy to believe that might actually provide the most overall value), but how exactly will he pull it off?
- Rick Ankiel, who was a starting pitcher and designated hitter for the Johnson City Cardinals back in 2001 (after his case of the big league yips), made it work, but admits it was difficult. And yet, he’s confident it can be done at the Major League level with enough talent and work ethic (both of which he believes Ohtani possesses). Other players like Chris Archer and Jayson Werth each offer their take on the possibility, agreeing that it’ll be both difficult … yet possible. One NL Scout, however, doesn’t share their optimism, suggesting that there are just not enough hours in the day to practice and succeed both ways in today’s game. I can’t wait to see Ohtani try.
- According to Travis Sawchik (FanGraphs), pace of play has never been worse than it was this past season, but maybe pitchers don’t deserve all of the blame. Remember, a pitch clock is likely coming, but it could be met with a clock for hitters, too. As Sawchik gets into, hitters may be getting too much of a pass on how much time they’re increasingly forcing pitchers to take between pitches.
- The Yankees still don’t have a manager for next season, but candidate, interviewee, former-Yankee, and recent-retiree Carlos Beltran would “love to give back” in the job. It sounds like he’s enjoyed the interview process so far, but feels a bit overwhelmed by the weight of the opportunity (which is more than understandable): “At the beginning, it’s a little bit overwhelming. It’s a lot of information that you have to digest.” I can’t pretend to know what Beltran does or doesn’t buy into, but being a big league manager in today’s game requires a lot more than it might have, say, 20 years ago. You don’t have to be a stat geek, necessarily, but you almost certainly must be willing and able to blend advanced information into your coaching decisions and strategies – tough to pull it all off immediately after you retire from playing. Beltran is one of six candidates to have interviewed for the job.
- And in case you’re wondering, Jennifer Lopez has her own thoughts on the Yankees next skipper (LULz):
— Jennifer Lopez (@JLo) November 30, 2017
- (If you didn’t know, J-Lo and A-Rod are an item.)
- At MLB.com, Andrew Simon takes a look at the ten rookie pitchers who lit up the Statcast leaderboards for something impressive in 2017 (high velocity, spin rate, limiting hard contact, etc) and it’s a pretty great read. For a few examples, Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland tied Dallas Keuchel for the third lowest average exit velocity, Yankees lefty Jordan Montgomery was sandwiched between Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw in a particular swing and miss category, and Reds righty Luis Castillo was tied for first with the highest average four-seam fastball velocity as a starter (97.5 MPH). No Cubs show up on the list, but one Brewer (Brandon Woodruff) and two Reds (Sal Romano, Castillo) do.
- At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan takes a detailed look at the huge second-half turnaround of Rays starter and youngster Blake Snell. After running out a 4.98 ERA in the first 11 starts of his season, Snell finished strong with a 3.31 ERA from July 24th on (13 starts). Only one pitcher, Justin Verlander, showed better improvement in expected wOBA before and after July 24, and there are reasons to believe it’ll stick for Snell. And perhaps it’s just the optimist in me, but maybe if the Rays believe in Snell’s future enough, they’ll be more comfortable moving another starting pitcher in trade … even a very good one like Chris Archer.
- If you recall, Lewis Brinson, the Brewers top prospect and a consensus top 15 prospect in all of baseball, injured his hamstring running to first base near the end of the season and has been rehabbing ever since. Now, according to his own comments on Twitter, he’s back to 100%. If healthy, Brinson could make a big impact on the Brewers as soon as this coming season.
- The Mets 2018 ZiPS projections have been released and there’s all sorts of interesting bits to dissect. For one, Michael Conforto is expected to lead the team in offense (125 wRC+) and besides him, only Yoenis Cespedes (113 wRC+) is expected to offer something better than a league average performance. On the mound, Noah Syndergaard is expected to lead the team in ERA and FIP, but because #Mets (and the torn lat muscle from 2017), he’s only expected to throw 141.7 IP.
- This is all kinds of fun: Cut4 presents the “All Out-of-Position Team” of 2017. Recognizing players succeeding in unnatural positions – like Scooter Gennett pitching an inning of relief at Wrigley Field – Cut4 puts together a very unusual All-Star team and it’s well worth your time. One Chicago Cub even makes the list, but can you guess who it is and what unnatural position he played? No, it isn’t Jon Jay as a magnificent relief pitcher! It isn’t even Anthony Rizzo as a third baseman (missed opportunity!).
- Today is the great Bo Jackson’s birthday, and that reminds me of a few of his more memorable moments. Including that time he broke a bat over his head …
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 25, 2016
- That time he made Mr. T (yeah, that guy) literally lose his mind on a play at the plate:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) December 10, 2016
- And that time he was the chillest ninja ever:
Happy Birthday to Bo Jackson, who was the most casual ninja ever. pic.twitter.com/0R6FPconjz
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) November 30, 2017