MLBits: McGwire Without PEDs, Ohtani Raking, Stanton Booed, Gyroko to DL, Pirates Hot, More

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MLBits: McGwire Without PEDs, Ohtani Raking, Stanton Booed, Gyroko to DL, Pirates Hot, More

Chicago Cubs

Over the weekend, I’m going to a place in Lakeview called “Bad Axe Throwing” for my friends birthday.

If the Cubs turn things around, I will be there throwing axes at targets and having a jolly good time. But if the losses pile up (on top of a 17-inning loss, two shutouts to terrible teams, and a rainout), I might be throwing those axes with a little more anger.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • Mark McGwire recently opened up about using PEDs and how he (says he) didn’t necessarily need drugs to do the things he did at the plate, and the entire conversation is really interesting:

  • But since then (before today), he’d recorded just one hit (a double) and four walks in 18 plate appearances … while striking out eight times, including an 0-5 with 5Ks in his last game at Yankee Stadium. And, yes, Yankees’ fans have apparently already changed their tune:

  • Booing the 2016 NL MVP who’s going to be on your team for a decade in his fourth game of the season on his new team at home? Yeesh. Rough crowd. (Random note: Ian Happ has only one more strikeout than Stanton).
  • Also, you look really silly booing Stanton when he does this the very next day:

  • Speaking of crushing homers, this Shohei Ohtani batter guy is good, because he just did this off of Corey freaking Kluber:

  • If you haven’t caught our off-day check-in earlier today (or if you’ve been living under a rock), you might’ve missed Bryce Harper’s *ridiculous* start to the season coming into today, which features four homers and seven walks in 24 plate appearances (nearly half of his trips to the plate turned into a homer or a walk … think about that) without a single strikeout. If he really has one of those career-years just before hitting free agency … whew … watch out. He might earn something fierce. And speaking of which, ESPN discusses the upcoming free agent class and how, collectively, it’s expected to shatter previous spending records and for good reason: “ESPN researcher Sarah Langs found that the 322 players who signed free-agent contracts that offseason [2015] had amassed an aggregate career wins above replacement of 1,383.1. By contrast, next winter’s top 40 free agents alone (including Kershaw, Price and others with opt-out clauses) have accounted for 878.7 WAR.” There’s some serious talent loaded in this upcoming class (we looked into all of it right here), and it’s very much expected to break the 2015 record of $2.5 BILLION committed to free agents in 2015.
  • (That volume did decrease slightly today when Charlie Blackmon re-upped with the Rockies, though.)
  • Although we’re five games into the season and the San Francisco Giants have managed to win two games (just like the Cubs!), despite scoring only six runs. Six. Six total runs. That’s all they’ve scored. And they have the same record as the Cubs. But I digress. The point of this bullet is that until Evan Longoria’s two-run homer last night, Giants second baseman Joe Panik accounted for all for *all* of the Giants offense through the first four and a half games. Three solo homers. Three runs scored. Three RBI. That’s fun.
  • The Cardinals have placed infielder Jedd Gyorko on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring injury (his second in two seasons). “Don’t know the severity, but we knew pretty quick when he came off the field,” manager Mike Matheny said before Tuesday’s game. “He’s a tough guy, not a lot of injuries. This hamstring thing he’s had before, though, so it heightened our concern. But it was pretty clear that it would probably take a little bit of time. How much, we’re not sure of.” Gyorko was a solid player for the Cardinals last season, earning 2.5 WAR with a 112 wRC+, while playing mostly third base (plus some second and first), so they will miss him when he’s gone. We’ll keep tabs on his progress and let you know when he’s coming back. In the meantime, the Cardinals have called upon Triple-A outfielder Harrison Bader, who is now officially a candidate for Rookie of the Year, I’m sure.
  • Sticking in the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates are off to a really good start this season, as the only remaining undefeated team (4-0). Naturally, the headlining question of Adam Berry’s ( recent mailbag is “I know, I know, it’s four games. But is it possible the Pirates are better than we expected?” To his credit, Berry points out that, no, you can’t take *anything* from just four games, especially when those four games were won by a combined seven runs and three of those four games were against the rebuilding Tigers. You tell ’em, Adam!
  • At FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik explores whether we’ll continue to see more four-man outfields during this and future seasons, as teams are more comfortable with extreme defensive shifts *and* more players are hitting the ball in the air than ever before. We saw what the Astros did already, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of it before it’s all said and done.
  • Speaking of which, Jeff Sullivan follows up at FanGraphs, by pointing out that the average launch angle this season is already way up. In 2015, it was around 10.1 degrees. In 2016, 10.8 degrees. In 2017, 11.1 degrees. And in the early-going in 2018, the average launch angle is a staggering 13.3 degrees! That’s insane. Outfield defense really will matter now more than ever.
  • It’s almost insane to call something like this this early, but Jay Jaffe wrote “Bartolo Is Back and Better Than 2017 (For Now)” at FanGraphs, and I’m certainly not going to argue with him, because I want it to be true. In his first start of the season, the 44-year-old righty (now with his 11th franchise) tossed 6.0 innings of one-run ball, with one walk and four strikeouts on the road. That’s impressive, no matter which way you slice it, and I hope he dominates this year.
  • Yesterday, we all had a good laugh when the Braves played “Go, Cubs, Go!” as Bryce Harper walked up to the plate, but we didn’t have an video of it. Now we do:

Author: Michael Cerami

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