I’m sure by now you’ve seen Marlins starter José Ureña blatantly nail the red-hot Ronald Acuña with the first pitch of the game yesterday, but I haven’t said anything about it yet, and I’d like to. So, here it goes … Are you bleepin’ kidding me?!
- I have RAILED against retaliation in baseball for several years now – going back to my interview with John Baker – but at least when we discussed it, I understood that we’re usually talking about retaliation and/or protection of a teammate. There’s at least a sense of justice there, even if I disagree with it. This, however, was done, why? Because Acuña was better than you? That’s not just dangerous and infuriating (like every purposeful beaning) it’s downright embarrassing. It is embarrassing as for Ureña, his teammates, his coaches, his front office, and unfortunately, Marlins fans.
- I’m already bugged when Cubs pitchers hit batters on purpose (thankfully, it’s been quite rare in the past several years), but if they did it to a young guy for the sole purpose of him being too good, I’m honestly not sure how I’d react, but I’d probably lose all respect for that pitcher. It’s just so lame, I can’t even get my head around it.
- And as for Don Mattingly’s comments, well, let Rob Friedman’s gif speak for itself:
“If you watch Jose pitch, every first pitch of every game is pretty much there.” Mattingly said.https://t.co/sT56wycQIY
Here are Urena's first pitches for the season. pic.twitter.com/i93iHNcQkY
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 16, 2018
- Of course, this entire issue was made worse when Acuna was forced to leave the game in the next inning due to the pain. But the good news is that the CT scan performed last night on his elbow was “normal,” and he’s just day-to-day. And, if you can believe, it there’s even more good news.
- In case you were unaware, Acuna entered the game on a five-game home run streak, including a three-game streak with a leadoff home run. Because he had to leave the game, however, fans were disappointed that both streaks ended. But maybe they didn’t:
Per MLB rules, because Acuna's only plate appearance resulted in him being hit by a pitch, his home run streaks will be intact when he returns to action.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 16, 2018
- He’s still got a chance! And nothing would make me happier than to see him step back up to the plate and drop one in over the outfield wall in his first at-bat back. If you’re interested in more takes from players, coaches, and analysts (past and present), MLB.com has you covered. I was particularly pleased to see an “old-schooler” like Chipper Jones snap back hard on Keith Hernandez’s truly mind-boggling comments. Moving on.
- Although he did have a 2-hit game yesterday (including a triple), Javy Baez has slowed down a bit lately, which has suddenly made the 30-30 club seem slightly out of reach. I don’t doubt that he’ll launch five more homers before the end of the season, mind you, but getting the 11 steals he needs will be more than a challenge.
- Speaking of which, MLB.com recently sized up all sixty 30-30 seasons that have happened in MLB (yeah, that’s it), ranking them by which club has the most. Unsurprisingly, the Giants (Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, and Willie Mays) lead the way with seven, followed by the Mets (5), and Braves (4). The Cubs have had just two such seasons throughout their storied history, both of which were Sammy Sosa (1993, 1995). Baez was, at one point, on pace to reach it, but it’ll take a seriously hot AND daring finish to the season to make it happen.
- At FanGraphs, Nate Freiman takes a much-needed look into the relationship between a batters’ height at the strike zone.
- At MLB.com, Joe Posnanski has a really interesting discussion on errors and the nature of using them at all anymore. The discussion was sparked by an “error” Jackie Bradley Jr. receive for missing a running catch in the outfield the other day. David Adler sums up the issue succinctly:
Here's how good Jackie Bradley Jr. is in CF: He got such an insane jump on a ball in the gap that when he missed a running catch, he got hit with an error.
The catch probability was 6%.
He had to go 80 feet in 4.2 sec.
Most OFs don't get close enough to have the chance to miss.
— David Adler (@_dadler) August 11, 2018
- Obviously, some would argue the official scorer got it wrong. After all, they’re supposed to determine whether the catch was impossible or at least out of a player’s normal bounds of effort. But that’s the problem. We’re relying on an individual’s subjective opinion. Perhaps that was fine – necessary, even – before the advent of suitable technology, but with the ability to wield Statcast in such a way as to determine the catch probability … well why is a human still doing it entirely on his own? If the purpose of errors is to help fans and coaches determine which defenders are good at their job, Bradley Jr. was just dinged unfairly. The guy ran 80 feet in 4.2 seconds. Another, worse/slower outfielder wouldn’t have come close to that ball, and wouldn’t have gotten an error either. Perhaps it’s time to retire that stat … or at least combine it with the information provided by Statcast (i.e. if the play has just a 50% or lower probability, then …) or whatever.
- On Twitter earlier today, I had a little fun taking a stab at *my* version of the perfect Game 1 of the NLDS lineup, and here’s what I came up with:
Game 1 of the NLDS, and I'm going …
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Kris Bryant, 3B
Jason Heyward, RF
Javy Baez, SS
Kyle Schwarber, LF
Willson Contreras, C
David Bote, 2B
Kyle Hendricks, P
Ian Happ, CF
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) August 16, 2018
- But I’d like to add some clarifications. First, starting Kyle Hendricks. Given everything I looked at earlier today, I’m beginning to think Hendricks isn’t just okay, but rather that he’s as good as ever. The only other legitimate option right now, of course, would be Cole Hamels (whom Brett chose), and, I mean, sure. If he keeps it up, he’d definitely be the guy, but it’s been three starts. Let’s wait and see what happens.
- As for no Ben Zobrist, well, frankly, I’ve since come around on that decision. My original thinking was that, with the downgraded defense moving Addison Russell to the bench, David Bote’s defense and hot bat might be better than having Zobrist in there. I also love keeping Jason Heyward in right field and having Ian Happ’s power bat in the lineup (homers are disproportionately valuable in the postseason). BUT I could be convinced to do Heyward in center, Zobrist in right, and Bote still at second. What about you?
- Carlos Correa made one of the luckiest behind the back stops last night (and got the out!) and his teammates were cracking up. The Astros do have their fun:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) August 16, 2018