Just a post filled with several short bits on several baseball topics that have come up in the new season. None of them warranted a full post but I think they work well like this. Enjoy.
I really, really like this Atlanta Braves team. Despite their loss today they’ve gotten off to an amazing start. Justin Upton has more home runs than both the entire Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins. Their run differential (runs scored minus runs allowed) is the highest in both the NL and AL, and we don’t even have Brian McCann or Fredi Freeman playing regularly. We’ve got bench players in the starting lineup and they are still scoring tons of runs. They have a feel good story in Evan Gattis. There is literally nothing to not like about this team right now, I hope it continues.
I’ve seen a lot of discussion about the growing trend in the “Three True Outcomes”. Those outcomes are the home run, the walk, and the strikeout. The concern is that people will grow board with the lack of true defensive plays since of all plate appearances you will see one of those outcomes about a third of the time right now, an all time high in the history of the sport. I’m not so concerned, if the rate of the three outcomes was higher, say 40-50% then maybe, around 30% still seems low to me. As I have read elsewhere, the walk rate and the home run rate have remained quite steady in recent years and the driving factor in seeing more The Three True Outcomes has been growth in the strikeout rate. I think management around the game has come to terms with the strikeout. They have recognized that most swinging strikeouts occur on bad pitches and if a bad pitch is going to be hit it will likely be hit weakly on the ground, with a man on first this can easily lead to a double play. I would take the strikeout every time in those situations. Hmmm… that might be a good research question, looking at the correlation between grounding into double plays and strikeout rates. Probably already been looked into but I think it would be fun to find the answer for myself in the data.
Yovanni Gallardo, starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, was caught driving with a blood alcohol level of .22, almost three times the legal limit in Wisconsin. As of yet he doesn’t face any sanctions from MLB, previous players caught and convicted of DUI have not faced serious sanctions, and yet there is a player for the Astros who tested positive for marijuana and is being suspended 50 games. Does this strike you as backward? I hope it does.
I am surprised with how little talk I have seen about this being the first true inter-league season in the history of the game. I don’t like it and given the expansion of the Wild Card system I think we can safely say that the World Series does not mean as much anymore. It started as a way to test the best team from each league as determined by a long season and those teams had not faced each other all season, so it was exciting to see how the best teams would matchup against each other. Now the road to the World Series is through a highly random tournament and teams will have faced each other so there is no longer any mystery. I may be in a minority but I think I am going to start considering the regular season champion (as determined by total wins) on the same level as the World Series Champion. Call me crazy, I don’t care.
Thoughts? Let me know in the comments.