MLBits: HOU 4-OF Shift? Cubs Overrated? Whither Marlins Man? World Series Predictions? More?

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MLBits: HOU 4-OF Shift? Cubs Overrated? Whither Marlins Man? World Series Predictions? More?

Chicago Cubs

Opening Day is just two days away, and I’ve gotta say … I kinda love that things are opening with a morning game on Thursday. That might seem like a luxury only “work-from-home” people can enjoy, but it just makes the wait that much shorter (nothing’s worse than waking up for Opening Day and then having to wait until 7:00 PM for things to start).

Better than that? There’s no off-day following the first game. In fact, the Cubs will play four in a row to kick off the season, so we’ll have no shortage of fun right out of the gate.

Are there 162 games in a season? Yeah, sure, but I can NEVER handle that second-day off-day. It’s the worst.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • This offseason has had no shortage of unique and peculiar plans (four-man rotations, six-man rotations, Shohei Ohtani’s whole thing), but the latest from the Astros could be particularly interesting. According to The Athletic, the Astros are going to bust out the four-man outfield with a lot more regularity this season, after experimenting with it a fair amount this Spring (if you recall, the Cubs actually did this against Joey Votto last season … before he pulled a double down the right field line).
  • For the Astros, the plan (primarily against pull lefties on the road) would be to move third baseman Alex Bregman out to left and shift the rest of the outfield over, while moving the shortstop, Carlos Correa, to the right side of second, while the second baseman, Jose Altuve, plays in shallow right. We actually took a look at it at Baseball is Fun earlier this spring:

  • Depending on how deep Correa plays, this *extreme* shift basically leaves the Astros with just one infielder, besides the battery. And while the Astros manager acknowledges that this is primarily about coverage (guys hit where they hit), there’s at least a little more going on: “There’s a psychological part of this on the hitter that I’m looking at, too,” AJ Hinch said via “How much does it mess with the psyche of the hitter? And I’ve watched, this spring, guys try to change their swing and try to hit the ball the other way and hit the ball to a gap. That’s largely advantage to us when big hitters like that do that.” That can be a powerful strategy.
  • The Cardinals may go with a 102 mph youngster who hasn’t pitched above High-A as their new closer, given the injury to Luke Gregerson and the now promotion of Jordan Hicks:

  • At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal writes about the MLB Players’ Union and the feeling that union head, Tony Clark, might be on his way out. With a big battle looming ahead, the union will want to act sooner than later if a change is to be made.
  • Do you know the Marlins Man? He’s the famous baseball fan who sits directly behind home plate at a number of big games, sporting that bright orange jersey (you might’ve even seen him at Wrigley Field a few times). Well he sent the Marlins a check for $200,000 for four season ticket seats over the next three seasons – Yeah, he was trying to ink a multi-year deal with the Marlins – but was denied by the team. Essentially, the multi-year pact was going to save him a bit of money in the long run ($205/seat/game vs. $250/seat/game), so the Marlins weren’t having it. The Marlins Man suggested that other teams have given him a discount with multi-year deals, including the Yankees, and now I’m just wondering how rich this dude has to be. “I almost sent them a check for $600,000 for a 10-year deal paid in advance,” Laurence Leavy (Marlins Man) said. “That’s what I was going to do initially. I’m disappointed they didn’t take almost a quarter-million dollars for empty seats.”
  • After releasing their initial projections, FanGraphs has taken the next step and asked their readership to rate each team projection as “very high, a little high, good, a little low, or very low” to get some subjectivity into the data. According to the results, the Brewers are the most underrated team in baseball this year (no surprise there, given the extremely low projections, and I tend to agree with the crowd), and they’re followed by the D-Backs, White Sox, Phillies, and Rockies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Cubs are actually among the ten most overrated teams, but it’s worth pointing out that they were projected to win 96 games in this study, which is pretty high (best in the NL and behind only the Astros in all of MLB).
  • has some World Series predictions for you, and that’s always a fun read just before the start of the season. As for the divisional winners, they pick the Yankees (AL East), Indians (AL Central), Astros (AL West), Nationals (AL East), Cubs (NL Central), and Dodgers (NL West) to win, in what figures to be pretty popular responses. The Cardinals and Mets are projected to win the NL Wild Cards, and they’d be joined by the Red Sox and Angels in the AL. All things considered, I think my only change would be the Rockies instead of the Mets for the NL Wild Card. Well, that and the fact that the Cubs are obviously going to the World Series this year, not the Dodgers.
  • While I think the excitement over Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge together on the Yankees is just a bit overdone [Brett: False], these infographics at Cut4 are downright unbelievable. Basically, one shows the number of homers those two have hit with an exit velocity over 115 MPH … compared to the rest of baseball, and let’s just say their slice of the pie is larger. The same process is repeated for other insane stats like that, and Stanton/Judge consistently lap the field.
  • Whenever you see a Cubs player swing at a terrible pitch, before you let yourself get riled up, just know that at least he’s probably not doing this:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami