We’re contractually obligated to bring up Eric Hosmer once a week here at Bleacher Nation (Brett makes me), so take note that the Padres first baseman is absolutely mashing to start the season: .390/.429/.542 (187 wRC+). I don’t think anyone saw that coming.
As I’m sure you recall, the Cubs and Padres discussed a Hosmer deal at the last trade deadline (and reportedly again over the offseason), but nothing ever came together, and it’s not clear if it ever will again. The rumors were never really about acquiring Hosmer – he was just the vehicle by which San Diego could save money and the Cubs could pick up a prospect. The Cubs could’ve added some much-needed left-handed offense and a prospect or two …. (none of which is to say the Cubs won’t be better off in the long-term, or that Hosmer would’ve done this with the Cubs, or that he won’t fall completely off from here).
Anthony Rizzo’s Three Homer Game
Another almost(?) 2022 first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo, has gotten off to a monster start this year, slashing .283/.411/.733 (231 wRC+), which is second-best in MLB behind only Mike Trout.
Of course that line is propped up by the first THREE homer game of his career last night:
They were certainly “Yankee Stadium homers,” for what that’s worth. He set a record:
3 HRs in one game in the Statcast era averaging just 350 feet in distance per homer? First time ever! pic.twitter.com/m7MfA6huhv
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) April 27, 2022
You can’t call it a “dubious” record, because it’s still GOOD to hit lots of home runs! But, well, it’s kind of a funny record.
That little outburst brought him to a league-leading 8 HRs on the season, and raised an additional $15,000 for kids fighting cancer:
What makes nights like last night even more special is knowing we raised money to help make things easier for families going through the worst time of their lives. If you can, join our team and make every HR count. https://t.co/aNwhMAbcn3 https://t.co/dDaCOt0F9u
— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) April 27, 2022
The Yankee Letter Let-Down
Despite staunch legal resistance out of New York for more than two years, the infamous “Yankee Letter” from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was released. Aaaaand there was nothing in Al Capone’s vault.
Yes, there are some details of the Yankees using the video replay room in 2015 and 2016 to “decode sign sequences and pass them to a runner on second base, who would then relay them to the batter.” But at the same time, it does not implicate them in anything close to what the Astros were doing, nor does it accuse them of sign-stealing after 9/15/2017, when the league clarified the rules and increased the punishments.
They were still stealing signs in a way that’s not quite in the spirit of the game – and this certainly diminishes the impact of their very public complaints about the Red Sox and Astros – but it’s not quite as bad as I’m thinking a lot of people were expecting. Lot of details right here.
The upshot: The Yankees (and Red Sox) were illegally using the replay room to steal signs, but neither scheme was anything close to what the Astros were doing with trash cans. Other teams were very likely doing similar things to New York and Boston. That element spanned the game.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 26, 2022
Oh, I guess there was one piece of new news: we now know that the Yankees were fined $100,000 for “improper use of the dugout phone (this was before the punishments were strengthened), which is obviously not a lot of money, especially for them.
The fine aimed at the Yankees in 2017 for their sign-stealing transgressions was less than what CC Sabathia made per inning that season.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 26, 2022
Home Runs Down
The sudden decrease in home runs this season (have you noticed?) has been a little less obvious for us Cubs fans, I think, for two main reasons: (1) the Cubs are right in the middle of the pack in terms of overall home runs hit this year, and (2) the new-look offense clearly traded off power for more contact, meaning obsessive Cubs fans might be less likely to notice the league-wide trend.
But make no mistake, home runs are way down compared to the last few years by this point in the season. That’s true both for the league, and the Cubs, in particular:
2022: 637 PAs, 14 home runs
2021: 617 PAs, 23 home runs
2020: 593 PAs, 20 home runs
2019: 609 PAs, 24 home runs
Ken Rosenthal and Eno Sarris get into it at The Athletic, diagnosing the issue, explaining some of the contributing factors (one type of baseball, the new humidors in all 30 ballparks, bounciness vs. drag, etc) if you’re looking for an explanation.
It is worth noting up front, however, that for as extreme as this chart looks at first glance (with respect to this season), 2017-2021 were the true outliers, not 2022. Baseball might just be returning to something closer to normal on the home run front:
Two balls were used last season.
The original ball intended for use in 2021, according to a memo obtained by The Athletic, was supposed to reduce batted ball distance by around two feet.
That ball, MLB says, is the only one in circulation this season.https://t.co/K1qbLgde6B
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) April 26, 2022
Correa’s Potential Extension
Carlos Correa has begun his season slashing .179/.270/.268 (65 wRC+) … so I guess not all offseason misses are bad, eh? Kidding, kidding. He’s not worried yet, citing slower offensive starts throughout his career, and is apparently quite interested in staying in Minnesota long term:
“I told ‘em, ‘Hey guys, I know I have the opt-outs in the contract. But I really like it here,’” Correa said. “‘I love the people here. I love the way I’m treated here. If you guys see the value I bring to this organization and what I do for other people around me and the game that I bring, I would love to have a long-term relationship here if that’s what you guys would like.’
“My wife feels right at home in Minnesota. My son is growing up. We feel right at home already and it’s only been two or three weeks of the season. That’s where I’m at mentally.”
Funny thing is the Twins response – which you can see in full here at The Athletic – wasn’t quite as warm. It boiled down to a Let’s talk about that another time, champ. Though I still suspect everyone would bet on an opt-out, so long as Correa stays healthy.
Odds and Ends
• Cardinals fireballer (and new starter) Jordan Hicks was hit in the wrist by a comebacker on Tuesday and removed from the game after trying to pitch through it. However, the X-Rays were negative and he expects to make his next start in five days. We’ll see: “I’ll be excited for this next one and ready to go and I’ll be locked in,” said Hicks, who was cleared for 60-to-65 pitches on Tuesday as he works to build up his arm after making the conversion from reliever to starter. “This is a little different because it’s my throwing arm/hand. I expect the swelling to go down overnight. I’ll probably be no-throw (on Wednesday) and then prepare the next couple of days to make my next start.”
• Baseball can be absurd some times. Losing (or winning) like this would just be a laugher.
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) April 27, 2022