Gonna play in a fantasy football league for the first time in like a decade. I’m so out of practice that I don’t even remember how to best prepare for the draft, especially when you’re coming into the thing without a base of knowledge (who is good and valuable “for fantasy purposes” can trip you up right quick if you’re otherwise so used to just watching and following the sport for who is actually good). I’ve got like a week to prepare …
• The Cubs won two of three from the Rockies at Wrigley Field, which is mathematically the overwhelmingly most likely outcome for these two particular teams at this moment in time. The Rockies came into the series the worst team in baseball on the road (in history?), and the Cubs came into the series having lost 13 straight at home. It was the baby soft force meeting the perfectly doughy object. At least there was some entertainment value …
• Last night’s doubleheader capper was the kind of ridiculous and silly game that is fun only when the outcome doesn’t really matter. If the Cubs had desperately needed to win that one, oh man, I would’ve been livid if they’d blown a big lead, then got a three-run game-tying homer in the final inning, then got a GIFT of a throwing error to tie the game again in the next inning, and then still couldn’t pull it out. Thankfully it doesn’t matter in the standings, and thus we can just marvel at the wildness of a seven-inning game that became a 10-inning game:
• Cubs attendance for this Rockies series, as you would expect, was extremely light. The Monday opener had an announced crowd of just 25,577, the lowest home crowd since April 2014 (Greenberg). And yesterday’s doubleheader, which naturally comes with a little weirdness, was about a thousand fewer. I suppose there’s some symbolism there with April 2014 representing the start of the COOKIES era, and now representing the end of this competitive era. Mostly it’s just a reflection of reality: yes, the Cubs’ attendance will always have a pretty high floor relative to other clubs, but this idea that attendance (and TV ratings!) are completely inelastic and insensitive to the quality of the team is bogus. It is, by far, a financially better situation when the Cubs are good. The owners know it. The front office knows it. Even if you think their sole motivation is money, of course they care about winning in 2022. It’s good for business!
• Patrick Wisdom was the only starter in Game Two without a hit, but played hero in Game One with a monster blast. I’ve had a draft saved for a while on a comp I wanted to discuss, but since he did that on the same day Miguel Sano did this, I’ll just discuss now:
Miguel Sano LAUNCHES the longest HR of the season so far 🔥
495 FEET 🤯pic.twitter.com/O4dZAAnoRe
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) August 26, 2021
• To be clear up front, I’m not saying that Miguel Sano is a comp for what Wisdom can be. One broke into the big leagues as an uber-hyped prospect at age 22, and the other is still trying to establish himself as a regular at 29. Instead, what I find interesting is that Sano has shown what you need to do to be a productive hitter with strikeout rates at Wisdom’s level. I discovered it when trying to find players who have been able to succeed, long-term, despite strikeout rates consistently above 35%, as Wisdom has had all year. It won’t shock you to learn there aren’t many! Sano is probably the only good example (36.5% for his career), and provides the lesson: the only way for the bat to provide value at strikeout rates up there is if (1) you still walk over 10% of the time, and (2) you hit the absolute crap out of the ball almost every time you make contact.
• Sano (11.7% walk rate, 45.1% hard contact rate, 13.1% soft contact rate) has been able to post a 117 wRC+ thanks to the walks and the huge BABIP/ISO the comes from his contact quality. Still not a *great* overall hitter, but certainly productive, and for Wisdom, that would especially be true because he can play a quality defensive third base, unlike Sano.
• Wisdom, for his part, has a 39.1% strikeout rate, 7.9% walk rate, 46.0% hard contact rate, and a 13.7% soft contact rate. Extremely Sano-like numbers, and he would have to continue to do that to be a solidly above-average hitter. It can be done, but it’s really, really rare.
• Mark your calendars! What? The Cubs aren’t mathematically eliminated yet:
MLB announces the 2021 postseason schedule. AL wild card game will be Oct. 5, NL wild card game will be Oct. 6.
World Series begins Oct. 26. pic.twitter.com/22JSNS0BEv
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) August 25, 2021
• The Dodgers and Padres went 16-INNINGS last night, which is absolutely bonkers when you’re talking about a game where the free runner starts at second base in the 10th. No game had gone longer than 13(!) innings in the current rules era, so going 16 is nuts. Just when the Padres thought they’d won it with a Fernando Tatis Jr. homer in the 15th, the Dodgers tied it and then won it the next inning. Bonkers game:
• Over those 16 innings, by the way, the Padres had just four hits. Oh, and a random bonus bit of ridiculousness:
Corey Knebel balks on purpose so the runner can’t see the catcher’s signs but umpires don’t call it so he does it again
Then he allows the tying home run to Fernando Tatis Jr., sending the game to 16 innings, the longest in the history of the runner on second rule by 3 innings pic.twitter.com/rn2rheykPe
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) August 26, 2021
• Just go ahead and draft him now:
GAVIN WEIR WITH ANOTHER NO-HITTER 🤯
The South Dakota left-handed pitcher has only allowed ONE hit in his last eight games and has thrown FOUR no-hitters this summer 🔥
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 25, 2021
• I always find it endearing when the road team sends out a group to go get coffee at Wrigley Field, because it winds up a group of baseball players in full uniform walking out into a neighborhood. The Rockies, by the way, did it right yesterday – Do-Rite are the best donuts in the world:
Just your typical ☕️ & 🍩 run lol pic.twitter.com/P52rkgny7U
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) August 25, 2021
• Dog stuff, coffee stuff, clothes, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad
• Interesting read on the struggles of recent MVPs Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger. Injuries have been a factor for both, particularly Bellinger, with the combination of shoulder, leg, and hamstring issues all sapping him of the ability to make good, hard contact (or at least he and the Dodgers must hope it’s the case, and will be better by next year). Bellinger has been the 6th worst hitter in all of baseball by wRC+, tied with, among others, Jason Heyward (62). We’ve talked before about Yelich’s seeming decline.
• I mean, the guy was one of the most blatant sticky stuff users in the game, so … yeah:
Like, he was a 40% K rate guy for most of his MLB career up until this year, and now he’s not even average at the one thing that made him good pic.twitter.com/actWRZbXPB
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) August 25, 2021
• As of the sticky stuff enforcement, Karinchak’s spin rates dropped 300+ RPMs, and overnight he went from one of the best relievers in baseball (2.37 ERA, 45.0% K rate(!), 11.7% BB rate) to a guy who may not have a job in the Guardians’ bullpen next year (5.25 ERA, 21.1% K rate, 15.6% BB rate). Again, he was not exactly subtle in his usage, and it appears that his was the kind of performance the league (and hitters) wanted out of the game.
• META: To all you huckleberries in the comments, you are cracking me up. I love you for it.