So that Bulls comeback win was ridiculous. I was not able to stay up for it, so let’s just say I woke up to all kinds of surprising news today.
• Eno Sarris took a deeper look at the lack of in-game video this past season, and how it impacted hitters and pitchers. Notably, the third-time-through-the-order penalty almost entirely vanished, theoretically because hitters were not able to maximize their adjustments to a starting pitcher’s stuff that day by using video. But for a guy like Javy Báez, who was particularly frustrated by the lack of in-game video and opened up about it, it’s possible that the impact was more specifically about getting the timing right on his swing, relative to the starting pitcher’s delivery (and/or, just for his own purposes that day, regardless of the pitcher). Sarris points to Báez and Christian Yelich as guys who have complicated loads in their swing, that are heavily dependent on getting the timing right. Without in-game video, the normal process of righting that ship was totally out of whack. Maybe a reason to bet on a big bounce-back for those guys – the top two MVP finishers in 2018 – this year?
• For what it’s worth on this issue: in his career, Javy Báez’s OPS jumps 100+ points when he’s facing a starting pitcher the second and third time in a game (the first time he faces a starting pitcher, he has hit just .247/.296/.413 in his career). So that does square with him being a big “in-game adjustments” guy. The 2020 data set is so small that it’s not going to tell us enough to confirm this point, though, as Báez was absolutely brutal against starting pitcher’s the first time he faced them (.148/.193/.222), and then was much better (but still quite bad overall) the second and third times through. Yet we barely have a 100 PA sample TOTAL for those 2nd and 3rd time through categories … so, yeah, you can’t really take anything certain away from it.
• With word last night that the non-AAA minor league seasons will be pushed back this year, a reminder that it’s actually good news for those teams’ long-term viability:
Financially yes. Which is why the MiLB operators I talked to are happy to move the season back. They believe they have a much higher likelihood of playing in front of significant numbers of fans in June-Sept. than April-May.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) January 6, 2021
• Cubs Insider has an extremely fun read with the New Year’s resolutions from six Cubs prospects. They are all fun to read and give you a sense of the guys, but I especially liked the one offered up by Max Bain, who was signed last January but hasn’t yet had a chance to show what he can do on the field: “I want to prove that I’m worthy of being in this organization for years to come, not just the guy who was given an opportunity because he threw hard on Twitter. There’s so much more that I’m going to have the opportunity to showcase and I cannot wait.” Bain – who also has an absurdly great name, I mean come on – set records at Driveline this offseason for how hard he’s been throwing, but he’s right that it takes more than just top-tier velocity to be a successful minor league pitcher (let alone more than that). Still, stoked he’s in the system.
• Adbert Alzolay has been grinding all offseason on his strength and endurance, which is going to be critical not only to his health, but also the ability to throw 120+ innings this year if the performance merits it. Remains possible that he’s just flat out a stud this year:
• Anthony Rizzo getting after it:
• The Cubs are different:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 5, 2021
• You are correct:
The best .300+ hitter you never heard of: Riggs Stephenson, born #OTD, batted. 336 in career (w .407 OBP), notably w @cubs, inc .362 w 110 RBIs for the 1929 pennant-winning club. His @sabr bio https://t.co/7sqgaANH6J pic.twitter.com/dZzmfT51Rw
— SABR BioProject (@SABRbioproject) January 5, 2021