MLBits: Gomez, Fielder, ARod, Ridiculous Plays, Mistake Differentials, Exit Velocity, More
Let’s check in on some news from around the league ….
- Back in 2013, Calos Gomez was worth 7.4 WAR (according to FanGraphs), after pairing excellent defense with a .284/.338/.506 slash line. The only four position players more valuable (by WAR) than Gomez that year were Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Josh Donaldson, and Miguel Cabrera. So … he was pretty good. Unfortunately, Gomez’s production has been in a tailspin ever since. After another nice year in 2014 (5.7 WAR), he posted just 2.6 WAR in 2015 and has been in the red this entire season (-0.4 WAR heading into today). After missing some time with a hamstring injury in 2015 and spending more than a month on the DL with a rib cage injury this season, the Astros recently designated Gomez for assignment – a swift, unexpected decline.
- Now, the Astros have 10 days to trade, waive, or release Gomez, and he’ll certainly wind up somewhere. Among the most interested parties, you’ll find the one visiting Wrigley right now: the St. Louis Cardinals. Apparently, according to Mark Saxon (ESPN), the Cardinals are intrigued by Gomez’s ability to play center field (although, even that has been far from a strength this year), and are currently looking into Gomez. With the news that Matt Holliday will miss some time with a broken thumb, picking up an outfielder – any outfielder – might make some sense. Of course, it’s never that simple. Saxon is also reporting that the Cardinals might be outbid by the Mets, who are said to be “open” to reacquiring him. Something to keep an eye out for.
- On Wednesday, the Rangers’ designated hitter and first baseman, Prince Fielder, announced that he “can’t play Major League Baseball anymore,” after undergoing neck fusion surgery in late July (his second season-ending neck surgery in the past three years). Fielder, a long-time Milwaukee Brewer, is quite familiar to Cubs fans and I can’t say I’m not bummed that he’s done – especially considering how it’s happening. To clarify, Fielder is not retiring from baseball, he’s been deemed medically unfit to play. In other words, this isn’t a personal decision of his, it’s something the doctors are telling him is no longer possible. That’s a heck of a bummer. Of course, because he’s not retiring, he’ll still collect the $24 million/year until 2020 – I’m guessing he’d prefer to earn it on the field. The Rangers are on the hook for $9 million/season, the Tigers will pay $6 million/season, and insurance covers the rest. After hitting .305/.378/.463 in 2015, Fielder was slashing just .212/.292/.334 in 2016. He was a pretty fun player to watch. I’ll definitely miss him.
- With more home runs leaving ballparks in 2016 than they have since 2000 (seriously), some people have – perhaps, expectedly – began to wonder if a new type of undetectable performance enhancing drugs could be the reason (an optimistic group we are, eh?). But Rob Arthur and Ben Lindbergh (our friendly neighborhood stat-geeks from FiveThirtyEight), have a completely different theory, one connected to the new construction of the official baseball. Steroids, the thought goes, take a long time to permeate their way through the game, but the recent explosion of home runs has been very stark and very sudden. One of the more likely explanations, then, might be the new kinds of baseballs. There are a number of other likely culprits – all innocent – and it really is an interesting mystery to follow. I definitely suggest checking this one out.
- At Tangotiger.com, Tom Tango has an excellent, quick look into expected wOBA production of hitters based entirely on exit velocity (as well as a very succinct explanation of estimating what might have happened and predicting what could happen). The turning point, it would appear, is 88 MPH – that is when the serious damage starts to kick in. Most exit velocities below 88 MPH result in a similar expected wOBA, while each MPH faster exponentially increases the expected production of a hitter. Really great read.
- Alex Rodriguez’s days with the Yankees may be numbered, but his time in baseball may not yet be through. According to Jon Heyman, Today’s Knuckleball, the Miami Marlins have had internal talks about acquiring Rodriguez. And while it’s a fun thought (and even something the Marlins would totally do), there isn’t much evidence to suggest it’ll actually happen. Rodriguez’s final game with the Yankees is today, and any team that hopes to get him on their playoff roster will have to grab him before September 1, so we’ll likely know the final answer very soon.
- Interested in another way the 2016 Chicago Cubs stand out completely above the rest? Check out the following graphic of their fundamental play:
#MLB #Cubs #WhiteSox Pitching, fielding and baserunning mistakes quantifed and visualized https://t.co/vYHAkIr1NZ
— Scott Lindholm (@ScottLindholm) August 12, 2016
- By this measure, the Chicago Cubs have the best net team vs. opponent mistakes in all of baseball, by a very healthy margin. Given the fact that the Cubs defense has been (by far) the best in baseball, and that their base running has always been well-regarded, perhaps this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Click on the link in the tweet for an interactive chart.
- The South Bend Cubs hit into what has got to me the most ridiculous double play I have ever seen. The ball bounces off of two people before it even gets to the shortstop, and he still turns it. Mind-boggling.
- The Mets have been in a nose dive for some time now, and manager Terry Collins pretty much lost it after his team was swept by the Diamondbacks this week.
- A young little leaguer hit a two-out, walk-off grand slam to inch his team closer to the Little League World Series, after the opposing team walked the bases loaded to get to him. I can’t imagine the pressure of that spot, but I’m guessing not much measures up to the feeling of pure joy he experienced after launching a ball over the outfield fence. His face says it all.
- It’s been in discussions for a while, but now it’s happening, officially, for 2017: the Astros are getting rid of Tal’s Hill in center field.
- The Padres Travis Jankowski made perhaps the gutsiest straight steal of home you’ll ever see. He didn’t wait for a pitch, or hope the pitcher turned his back, he just broke for the bag as soon as the catcher tossed the ball to the pitcher – who was in between the mound and home plate. I don’t know where you find the courage to attempt that.
- Today is the anniversary of the start of the 1994-95 MLB strike … those poor Expos … how would you feel if that happened today?
Today is the anniversary of the day baseball stopped in 1994. Alas, those Montreal Expos … pic.twitter.com/f7CzbL3gt1
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) August 12, 2016
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.
Spring Training Miscellany: Velazquez Walks It Off for the Cubs with a No-Doubter! (And Some Other Less Happy Stuff)