MLBits: Seattle's Record Start, Improving Pitch-Framing, Yankees and Keuchel, More

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MLBits: Seattle’s Record Start, Improving Pitch-Framing, Yankees and Keuchel, More

Chicago Cubs

I’ve never really been a big reader and that’s especially true now that audiobooks are so ubiquitous. If there’s a must-read book that I somehow find the time/energy for … I’m gonna listen to it. But I also don’t love that quality about me.

Don’t get me wrong, audiobooks are fantastic and will always have a place in my life (I’m currently listening to “The Way of Kings,” which is really great), but I want to be a card-carrying member of the book-readers club. And considering my current, confirmed collection of actually-read books consists almost entirely of properties that’ve been turned into movie franchises and TV series (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Da Vinci Code, etc.) I just don’t don’t feel like I’ve earned it.

So on Monday, I went to the Chicago Public Library, got myself my (literal) first ever library card and checked-out “Catch-22.” I’m five chapters in and I really like it. [Brett: OMG MICHAEL YES! Catch-22 is so freaking good.] Of course, reading that book has come at the expense of listening to that Way of Kings book I love, which is a bit of a … dilemma.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • Over the offseason, the Mariners traded away a number of good players like closer Edwin Diaz (1.96 ERA, 3.5 WAR), shortstop Jean Segura (111 wRC+, 3.8 WAR in 2018), and second baseman Robinson Cano (136 wRC+, 2.9 WAR), among others, in an apparent rebuild. But they sure don’t look like a rebuilding team. Through their first 14 games, the Mariners have won 12 times, including two five-game winning streaks. Even cooler, they’ve tied the MLB record with 14-straight games with a home run to open the season, and they did it in dramatic fashion late last night:

  • That’s Mitch Haniger hitting a go-ahead, ninth-inning home run, his third of the season, to tie the record and give the Mariners a win, all in one swing.
  • Bonus Mariners tidbit: old friend Dan Vogelbach is hitting .423/.529/1.154 right now with a 327 wRC+. FIVE of those Mariners homers are his.
  • I have a couple more active records for you, too. Royals outfielder Whit Merrifield has extended his hitting streak to 31 (!) games, dating back to last season, which breaks the Royals record previously set by Hall-of-Famer George Brett. He’s got quite a ways to go until he reaches the magical #56, but who wouldn’t love to see that? This is the longest streak since 2011, when Dan Uggla reached 33 consecutive games with a hit.
  • Poor Chris Davis, who’s the current all-time leader for consecutive at-bats without a hit, wasn’t forced to start last night, but did get a chance to pinch-hit … and flew out to center. To be fair, he did hit it 102 MPH and 371 feet. That’s a home run sometimes. That’s the kind of luck he’s having.

  • Khris Davis (of the A’s) is probably like “Dude … you’re ruining our brand.”
  • Speaking of somewhat surprising starts, the Yankees are 5-7 and learned on Tuesday that they’d be without recently-extended ace Luis Severino until at least the All-Star break (strained lat). But according to sources close to SNY, that doesn’t mean they’re going to go after free agent starter Dallas Keuchel – unless his price drops further. What do you think? Do you buy it? Or is that an obvious leverage grab from a team with all the money in the world and a sudden, glaring need that can be filled perfectly by the market. Hmm…
  • Did you know Edwin Jackson posted a 3.33 ERA over 92.0 IP last season? I think the Cubs should take a flyer on … just kidding. But it does sound like the 35-year-old Jackson is nearing an agreement on a Minor League deal with the A’s. Good for him. If that guy is anything, he’s a survivor.
  • Don’t hold your prospects down, I guess:

  • The counter argument, of course, is that whomever they were replacing could’ve also done reasonably well in a small sample and even if they didn’t the amount ANY player can affect such a tiny collection of games versus another, even replacement-level player is minimal. But also, who cares. Just bring ’em up. Baseball loves young players right now, let’s see them.
  • After a somewhat promising start in the framing department, Willson Contreras (who has otherwise been absolutely fantastic) is already the second-to-worse qualified catcher by his framing score in baseball. But that’s a little misleading. As of today, he’s only slightly below neutral behind the plate, which would actually mark an insane and wonderful improvement. It is possible.
  • Take Robinson Chirinos, for example, who was the second-worst pitch framer in baseball, behind only Willson Contreras, last season. The Astros placed a heavy focus on receiving over the offseason, and the early results this year have been fantastic (he’s been exactly neutral behind the plate). Obviously, like with Contreras, the sample is small, but that’s a very good start and seems to suggest that a catcher can, indeed, improve in this area over the course of a single offseason. Let’s hope that rings true for the Cubs.
  • These two pitches look freaking identical for so long, and then go in completely different directions. How do you deal with this:

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Author: Michael Cerami

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