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Interview with Greg Stanwood of Purple Row on the Dexter Fowler trade.
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Jim Palmer 2013 Topps Update ‘Chasing History’ It’s nice to see so many legends inserted into these ‘Chasing History’ cards that were parts of the 2013 Topps flagship set, but after releases in Series 1, Series 2, and Update, I … Continue reading →
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Welcome back to the Greatest Moments in Marlins History. We continue our countdown with moment 113. In 2003 a Marlin record was set (well a few were set but we are looking at only one of them today). Juan Pierre joined us in the off-season after the Rockies trade him for Charles Johnson, Preston Wilson, […]
It's Sunday. Come play a game.
And on the seventh day...we all needed a little rest.
This week in baseball has been one of the craziest in recent memory. The Rockies have been busy infuriating the internet, by trading a fan favorite for "what's his name" and "so-and-so", the backup catcher and relief pitcher roulette wheels have been spinning in full motion, and the Seattle Mariners stole Robinson Cano away from the big bad Yankees for the one-time down-payment of a private island and lordship over a small town in Washington.
I can't hardly keep my head on straight. I have so many conflicting thoughts about what's been happening in baseball and to my beloved Rockies that I think they've started a Fight Club in my head. And I just broke the first rule.
So for anyone who might be looking for a lazy Sunday, to sit and reflect (or not) and to remember how and why sports are supposed to be fun, I offer this silly game I've invented to engage our minds on something else before putting our armor on and heading back into the battlefield that is the hot-stove season.
Cross-sport City Team's
O.K. first things first, I'm gonna need help with that title. Here are the rules:
1.) Choose a city that you were born in, live in, and/or know the sports history of exceptionally well.
2.) Take every professional athlete in that city's history and put them into a "pool" of available players.
3.) From your available pool, create the best professional NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, or NHL team you can think of.
4.) PLAYERS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO PLAY THEIR OWN PRIMARY SPORT.
5.) Assume your team will be playing a season with playoffs against other similarly built teams.
6.) Assume all players are in their prime.
Here is an example. This was my first run through so I'm sure I forgot some people. I will be posting more in the comments and hope you'll join me.
QB: Todd Helton
RB: David Thompson, Ty Lawson, Eric Young Jr.
WR: Alex English, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzales, Alexi Lalas, Danillo Gallinari
TE: Carmelo Anthony, Wilson Chandler
DE: Dikembe Motumbo, Javale McGee, Timofey Mozgov
DT: Kenyon Matin, Nene, Kenneth Faried
OLB: Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Matt Holliday
MLB: Troy Tulowitzki
CB: Allen Iverson, J.R. Smith, Nate Robinson, Juan Pierre
S: Larry Walker, Marcelo Balboa
K/P: Kyle Beckerman, Conor Casey
Feel free to play with the formula and.or just mock me relentlessly.
The Washington Nationals bench lacked firepower in 2013, but the addition of Nate McLouth could pay huge dividends.
Friday was full of moves. Full of them. The Seattle Mariners fetched themselves Robinson Cano. The New York Yankees quickly responded by signing Carlos Beltran. The Boston Red Sox brought back Mike Napoli. And so on. There were more, but those are the notables.
And one that almost assuredly got lost in the Cano chaos: Nate McLouth signing with the Washington Nationals on a two-year, $10.75 million pact. On the surface, it’s just another "hoo-hum" signing. There’s no flash. The Nationals inked McLouth specifically to upgrade their bench, not re-engage an entire fanbase (I am indeed poking at Cano’s deal). It seems like a boring move, but let’s discuss it, because something tells me it’s not at all boring.
As for McLouth, he nabbed an even 100 wRC+ in 2013, his highest mark since 2009 -- that’s when he was a three-plus win player sporting Pirates’ black and yellow. In layman’s terms, he was pretty much a league average hitter. In exchange, the Baltimore Orioles got a 2.5-win player for just $2 million. Strictly confining ourselves to WAR and WAR only, 2.5 wins made McLouth baseball’s 13th-most valuable left fielder (200 minimum plate appearances). That puts him in the same neighborhood as Yoenis Cespedes and Gregor Blanco (I know, two exorbitantly different players).
Now, McLouth isn’t much of a power threat -- see his .141 ISO (.143 league average in 2013) and .323 wOBA (.315 league average). We’re not looking at a rare talent. But a rare talent isn’t what the Nationals had in mind in adding McLouth.
Before we get to McLouth’s specific impact on the Nationals, let’s dig a bit deeper into his 2013 campaign. I’ll keep going back to the refrain that it bordered on average (grabs your attention, right?), but on McLouth’s terms, it was a solid season that netted him a decent contract, which is worth some attention.
Consider the numbers below.
There are a handful of theories about McLouth’s turnaround. Getting consistent at-bats is high on that list, as he earned himself 593 plate appearances in 2013. Compare that to the mere 907 plate appearances he got over a three-year span (2010-2012, 302 average). There’s just something about getting consistent at-bats that spurs confidence and, thus, better production.
Of course, beyond the fact that the Orioles rotated a handful of nobodies in left field and couldn’t find a whiff of stability, McLouth’s at-bat totals didn’t just skyrocket because of his teammates. He made adjustments. He became a decent fixture in Baltimore’s lineup because he made some adjustments.
One of those adjustments was that he was far more disciplined. After totaling a 25.3 O-Swing% in 2012, he cut back on the free-swinging, lowering his O-Swing% to 21.8 in 2013. You can slice it how you want, but both marks are very good, way better than the league average, and if you add in the fact that he had a 77% O-Contact% (0.1 off his career-high, which he also compiled in 2008), you get a pretty good contact hitter. Over the span over 550-plus plate appearances, the benefits of even a slightly improved O-Swing% roll in.
And that’s what happened with McLouth, as his K% went from 20.5% in 2012 to 14.5% in 2013. He hasn’t struck out at a lower frequency since 2008. The walks weren’t quite as evident, and they’ve been going downhill. His BB%’s since 2010 go as followed: 11.5%, 13.7%, 9.1%, 8.9%. The latter two figures hover around the league average of 8.2%.
It’s incredibly hard to get the best of both worlds, though, unless you’re Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera. If I had a preference, though, fewer strikeouts, equaling more balls in play, is probably the better bet with someone like McLouth who’s a decent baserunner (13th-best BsR in baseball last year). Simply putting the ball in play opens the door for some other possibilities.
Really, we could go on all day with the speculation. But here’s one more important trend:
Something does seem a bit fishy. McLouth took a huge leap in 2013, but he also took a huge leap from 2011 to 2012 without the same kind of results. That said, there does just seem to be something about the massive leap he took.
There is some real evidence to counter the doubts about this effect.
That’s improvement in three of the four main categories, with special attention on McLouth’s progression against sliders -- a devastating pitch against most lefties. While the .235 average doesn’t stand out, the nearly 100-point improvement does, especially since we’re dealing with stats put into the context of two strikes.
This next table is in all counts, against both lefties and righties. I started in 2010 because that’s when McLouth’s wRC+ plummeted to 70, rendering him a far below average hitter. McLouth improved in each of the four categories in 2013, especially against what used to be his nemesis--the slider.
It’s all starting to become clear where McLouth’s improvements stemmed from in 2013. He hit off-speed pitches better and set up with a more disciplined approach. It’s that simple.
Summing It Up
Yes, this is quite detailed the evaluation for a guy who’ll spend a large fraction of 2014 on the bench. The Nationals have Bryce Harper in left, Denard Span in center and Jayson Werth, the National League’s best offensive player by wRC+’s reckoning, in right. There’s no room for a regular starting spot, even if you want to point to the fact that McLouth had a better wRC+ than Span did in 2013. It’s hard to imagine that being a regular trend, though, given McLouth’s vagaries at the plate.
Of course, an injury could occur. It’s something I’m extremely hesitant to rule out. Really, really hesitant, given Harper’s aggressive nature on defense and on the base paths, Werth’s bleak injury track record and an aging Span.
Considering those factors, I’d say McLouth is almost guaranteed more than a handful of starts scattered around all three outfield positions. And if one of the three starters goes down for an extended period of time, Washington has a solid replacement in McLouth, as we’ve gone over in great detail. Not to mention that the Nationals bench could use a jolt. We could go off what their pinch hitters produced -- a .608 OPS, 17th-best in baseball. But it’s probably worthwhile to simply look at the raw numbers and names.
That would give us four outfielders who logged at least 150 plate appearances: Scott Hairston (68 wRC+, who had 174 plate appearances between the Cubs and Nationals), Steve Lombardozzi (67), Tyler Moore (64) and Roger Bernadina (42) make up that quartet. Nope, there isn’t an average one in bunch.
To oversimplify it: Washington’s bench could use some restructuring, and the addition of McLouth is very good start. Even if the Nats are done adding to the bench, they’re in a better position, especially if Hairston bounces back (realistic) and Danny Espinosa finds his power stroke (a little less realistic). A lot of "ifs," but a big weakness could become a big strength for the Nationals in 2014.
. . .
Jake Dal Porto is a writer at Beyond The Box Score and Golden Gate Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @TheJakeMan24.More from Beyond the Box ScoreFollow @BtBScore Follow @SBNationMLB
Reggie Jackson 2003 Topps T-205 Let’s get right to it – I’m on the fence on this card. Have a look: I like the artsy-feel that this card employs, and the design reminds me a bit of a playing … Continue reading →
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The Royals are in on everyone! At this point its probably easier to list the player the Royals are not looking at.
I think its safe to say the $85 million payroll the Royals said they were bound to may be more myth than reality. In anticipation of the Winter Meetings, Jon Heyman reports the Royals are after former Tigers second baseman Omar Infante, although they will have to outbid the mighty Cano-less New York Yankees to get him.
#royals will try again to beat yanks on omar infante. should be strong market. also an uphill battle for kc.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 8, 2013
Infante is a right-handed hitting Venezuelan second baseman who will turn 32 in a few weeks. In twelve MLB seasons with the Tigers, Marlins, and Braves, he is a career .276/.319/.402 hitter. Last year for the Tigers he hit .318/.345/.450 with 10 HR 51 RBI in 476 plate appearances and 2.4 WAR. His value is tied mostly in hitting for average andh e is a high-contact hitter, with few walks or strikeouts. He has modest pop for a second baseman, hitting a career high 49 extra-base hits in 2012 with the Marlins and Tigers. He is a capable defender, although not exemplary.
Omar is thought to be seeking a 3-4 year deal at around $8-10 million per year. Consider the Royals were apparently willing to go $40 million over three years with Beltran, a deal for Infante would be a steal and would consider a much bigger upgrade for the Royals at second than Beltran would at RF/DH.
This past October during a radio interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner made a promise to the fan base. ?The 189 is a goal. It?s important, and it?s certainly a goal that we take seriously and we?re going to strive for, but[...]
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