MLBits: Ohtani's Impressive Debut, Opening Day Payrolls, Launch Angle, Always Bunt, More

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MLBits: Ohtani’s Impressive Debut, Opening Day Payrolls, Launch Angle, Always Bunt, More

Chicago Cubs

I mentioned this earlier, but I’ll say it again: the 162-game, nearly-everyday schedule of Major League Baseball is one of its best qualities.

In the NFL especially – but most other professional sports, too – stinky losses can stick with you for way too long. But in baseball, you split a series with one of the worst teams in the league (who had an injured rotation and a depleted bullpen) and you get to play another game at 3:10 the next day. It’s awesome.

Well, it’s more awesome if you win that game at 3:10, but you get my point. Here’s some news from around the league …

  • Ohtani to every team that did not sign him, sigh:
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
  • Jeff Passan dropped a bunch of notes at Yahoo Sports – including more on Ohtani’s first start, if you’re interested – but among the many gems was this story on new Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler and his rocky start to the season:

  • Indeed, after making a questionable pull decision in the first game of the year (one that probably led to the Phillies’ first loss), Kapler then called on a reliever who hadn’t yet warmed up. Woof. This managing thing isn’t too easy, is it?
  • According to FanGraphs, MLB Opening Day Payrolls are down from 2017 and it has to do with some of the previously biggest spenders (Yankees, Dodgers, Tigers, etc.) spending far less than usual. Obviously, there are still some teams that went above and beyond (including the Brewers, who have the biggest percent increase in their payroll in MLB), but the graph of actual dollars shows that things were ultimately in decline. It’s all something I think we more or less thought, but seeing it in graph and chart form really cements it.
  • I’m officially changing the name of the “Fly Ball Revolution” to the “Fly Ball Pandemic”:

  • I suppose it’s a very good thing for hitters, especially guys whose power wasn’t immediately apparent. Take Ian Happ, for example. After posting a .179 ISO in High-A (41.4 GB%, 33.3 FB%) and a .153 ISO in Double-A (45.3 GB%, 35.8 GB%), Happ bought into the fly ball revolution at Triple-A Iowa (38.7 GB%, 38.7 FB%) and improved his ISO all the way up to .317. And obviously now, he’s a serious power threat every time he’s up to the plate.
  • But aside from that more obvious angle, Brett has another one to consider:

  • It’s possible that we’re entering (or are already in) a new era, where corner outfield defense begins to be a lot more important than it has been in previous seasons. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on that this year, especially considering the Cubs have particularly interesting stories there in the corner outfield spots (can Schwarber play effective D? can Heyward play incredible enough D to make up for the lack of O?).
  • On Sunday, Twins starter Jose Berios was working a one-hit shutout in the ninth against the Orioles when Chance Sisco dropped a bunt down to the left side of the field, where there were no Twins defenders, for a single. The game eventually ended with the shutout intact, but the Twins were apparently annoyed by Sisco’s move: “Obviously, we’re not a fan of it,” said Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. “He’s a young kid. I could’ve said something at second base but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there. I’m sure they’ll address that. It’s all about learning. You learn up here.”
  • I’m sorry, but am I being punked here? I’m not kidding. I don’t even *a little bit* understand the Twins’ frustration. Berrios wasn’t working on a no-hitter or perfect game, the Orioles just hadn’t scored yet. Why in the WORLD should he not do whatever it takes to win? MOREOVER, the Twins were extreme shifting on Sisco, which means clearly they didn’t stop trying, why should he?

  • Strut:

Brett Taylor contributed bad puns to this post.

Author: Michael Cerami

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