Effectively Wild Episode 1375: The “Is This Guy Good?” Game

EWFI
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller banter about inside-the-park homers versus over-the-fence homers, the gratifying rise of home-run robberies, and the unique career of Edwin Jackson (who’s about to have played for the most-ever MLB teams and with the most-ever MLB teammates), then discuss the convergence of starting pitching and relief pitching and play a game to guess whether randomly selected relievers are having good or bad seasons (plus some closing banter about bobblehead dolls).

Audio intro: Al Green, "Have You Been Making Out O.K."
Audio outro: Paul McCartney, "Nod Your Head"

Sam on deep flyouts
Link to Rob Arthur on bullpen roles
Link to Ben on saves distribution
Link to Ben on bullpenning
Link to Sam on reliever roles and performance
Link to Rob Mains on bullpens
Link to Sam’s bobblehead video
Link to preorder The MVP Machine

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Yu Darvish’s 2019 Has Been Wild

Take one look at the numbers, and Yu Darvish is having a pretty rough 2019. A 5.40 ERA is bad enough, but he’s actually outperforming his FIP, which sits at a grisly 6.49. While it’s only eight starts, a small enough sample that I’d normally counsel patience, Cubs fans surely don’t feel that way — 16 games into his Cubs career after an injury-shortened 2018, Darvish has compiled a 5.16 ERA (5.64 FIP) and been worth -0.1 fWAR. A closer look at Darvish, however, makes the picture far more muddled. Despite his undeniably rough start, silver linings abound in his underlying statistics.

The story with Darvish has to start with walks. No one would ever call him a control pitcher (he’s had a walk rate higher than league average in five of his seven seasons), but he’s veered from effectively wild to caricature this year. His 19.3% walk rate is not only first in baseball, it’s first in baseball by a comical margin — among pitchers with 30 IP, he’s as far ahead of second-place Brad Keller as Keller is ahead of 54th-place James Paxton. It’s early in the season to start considering Darvish’s place in history, but full-season walk rates like these haven’t been seen since young Randy Johnson.

Let’s leave aside the walks for a moment, though. Take those out of the picture, and you might struggle to differentiate Darvish’s 2019 from the rest of his spectacular career. Here are Darvish’s groundball/fly ball ratio and hard-hit rate for every year of his career.

Yu Darvish, Batted Ball Rates
Year GB/FB Hard Hit %
2012 1.46 25.6
2013 1.08 30.5
2014 0.89 32.5
2016 1.01 30.0
2017 1.11 33.1
2018 0.95 27.4
2019 1.74 28.6

Darvish has not only amassed an average-ish hard-hit rate, he’s getting grounders like he never has in his career. Those are hardly the numbers of a pitcher with a 5-handle ERA. What gives? Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Still Not Clear What Kind of Year the Braves Intend to Have

The 2018 Atlanta Braves finished their season 90-72, in first place in an NL East that saw just one other team — the Nationals, at 82-80 — finish above .500. That Braves team featured three hitters under the age of 25 with wOBAs above .320, a strong farm system, and middling pitching that could surely be remedied with an arm-heavy offseason haul. After a winter during which the Braves didn’t add those arms, we gave them a 38% pre-season chance to make the playoffs — not an exceptional mark in a competitive division in which we gave three other teams better than that chance, but substantially improved from 2018’s pre-season 3.2% shot. After 2018, expectations were raised for this season’s summer in Atlanta.

One-quarter of the way through that 2019 season, sitting at 21-20 and three games behind the Phillies, it’s not yet clear what kind of season the Braves now intend to have.

The offense, at least, has been there — for the most part. Off-season acquisitions Josh Donaldson and  Brian McCann, along with holdovers Nick Markakis, Freddie Freeman, and Ronald Acuña Jr., are all hitting well (the lowest wOBA among the group is Markakis’s .362). Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson are hitting passably, which for Swanson is a major victory and for Albies is about par for the course (his .334 wOBA on the season to date is almost exactly in line with his .331 career mark). Johan Camargo and Ender Inciarte have fallen off a cliff.

The resultant 104 team wRC+ is ninth league-wide and an improvement on last year’s 97 figure (15th). But Atlanta’s top-third ordinal position betrays the fact that the Braves’ overall offensive performance is as close to the 19th-ranked A’s (94) than to the fourth-ranked Mariners (114), and is certainly not the kind of overwhelming force that can cover for poor pitching. And the Braves’ pitching, while not abysmal, is also not good. More damningly for a front office that didn’t add any major arms this offseason, it’s not better than last year’s crew.

As Ben Clemens noted last week, starters league-wide are improving relative to relievers. In Atlanta, where the Braves’ starting depth chart ran at least seven men long to start the season before being shortened by injury, and where Sean Newcomb has recently come into a relief role after a disastrous turn as a starter, the pattern holds. Last year, Braves starters posted a 3.99 ERA and Atlanta relievers a 3.99. This year, both outfits are worse — by a fair margin — but the relief crew’s regression has been particularly noticeable: their 4.87 FIP is the seventh-worst in the game, and a third of a run worse than the starters’ 4.41 mark to date (18th).

If you’re willing to be charitable to a front office (and, presumably, ownership group) that made “financial flexibility” the guiding star of their offseason, you might say that the Braves’ decision not to sign Craig Kimbrel (or any other major relief arms) this winter was a savvy move in a world where all that good young pitching the team spent a half-decade stockpiling was on the cusp of reaching Cobb County. Some of it has worked out. Mike Soroka and Max Fried have been excellent, and Newcomb and (to a much lesser extent) Touki Toussaint have been effective relievers once put into that role. There were certainly enough good pitchers on the Braves’ roster this offseason to squint and see a quality staff emerging from it.

But that hasn’t really happened. Despite Luke Jackson’s emergence as a strong option in the ninth, and Toussaint and Newcomb’s mostly effective efforts to shore up the innings leading into it, the rest of the bullpen’s performance has ranged from acceptable (Jacob Webb’s 3.54 FIP) to ghastly (Shane Carle’s 9.85). And it’s not just outliers bringing the overall numbers down: Chad Sobotka, who has a 6.52 FIP, is among the team’s leaders in relief innings pitched. Josh Tomlin, who has a 4.56 FIP and hasn’t been effective since 2017, leads the team in that category.

The rotation, meanwhile, despite the best efforts of Soroka and Fried, has seen Kevin Gausman, Julio Teheran, and especially Mike Foltynewicz struggle with bouts of inconsistency or injury and consequent ineffectiveness. Foltynewicz’s case is particularly worrying (a 6.88 FIP over three starts, in which he’s allowed 15 runs), both because it stands in contrast to strong performances earlier in his career and because it comes along with a nearly 2 mph drop in fastball velocity, and equivalent (though mostly smaller) velocity drops on pitches across the board. That drop has sapped his ability to strike hitters out, even as it does not appear to have materially affected his walk rate:

It’s not a pretty chart, and exposes the degree to which Foltynewicz’s recent success was built on top of his top-10 fastball velocity. Without that velocity, which began to slump in early August last season and has plummeted in the early going this year after an elbow injury limited him to just a few bullpen sessions and a substantially limited spring training, Foltynewicz simply can’t generate the separation between his fastball and his off-speed pitches that he needs to be successful. So far in 2019, his stuff just isn’t powerful enough to fool anybody. Gausman, too, was brought along slowly during spring training due to a shoulder injury, and Gausman, too, has been slowed by injury this season, leading to similar (if somewhat less dramatic) poor results.

So if a wait-and-see-what we have approach to pitching might have been justifiable coming into spring training — and even that is debatable — it’s no longer nearly as justifiable today. Injuries have killed the depth that underlaid the Braves’ inaction. What the Braves have now, in reality rather than in expectation, is a solid if not overwhelmingly consistent offense, inconsistent starting and relief pitching around a few bright spots, and only a three-game deficit in the division despite starting the first 41 games of the season just barely over .500. They also have that prized payroll flexibility so carefully hoarded in the offseason. If this isn’t the time to go out and buy pitching, it’s not really clear to me when is. Craig Kimbrel is still available. So is Dallas Keuchel, though he may admittedly carry a higher price than would be sensible for the Braves to pay.

For now, the Braves seem content to tinker around the edges of their roster and try to see if anything shakes loose. Last Friday, staring down the barrel of a four-game losing streak after a 10-inning walk-off loss in Arizona dropped Atlanta to 18-20 on the season, Snitker changed things up, moving Acuña Jr. from the cleanup spot to leadoff, Donaldson from second into the vacated fourth slot, and the struggling Swanson from purgatory somewhere near the bottom of the lineup into the two-hole. Acuña Jr. hit a 462-foot home run, and the Braves haven’t lost since.

That’s a nice story, but the offense isn’t really the problem in Atlanta. Their pitching — particularly in relief — is what’s holding them back, and it’s teetering on the edge just as the Braves enter a stretch in which they’re going to play the Cardinals, Brewers, and Nationals 11 times in 15 games. If the Braves’ pen didn’t play all that well in going 9-5 against the Marlins (who the Braves have played six times so far), the Rockies (five), and the Reds (three), I’m not sure it’ll play out so well against the better teams to come. In short, the first quarter of Atlanta’s season has given no indication that the pitching will work out on its own, even as there are a number of good arms to build around in-house already. Few other teams, at this point in the season, have so little of the story of their 2019 campaign down in ink. The Braves’ front office still has a chance to determine the way their season will go. They should take it.


Hyun-Jin Ryu Has Stepped Up His Game

The Dodgers have an injury-prone lefty who’s been dominating hitters lately, and it’s not Clayton Kershaw. Nor is it Rich Hill — it’s Hyun-Jin Ryu. The 32-year-old South Korea-born southpaw has yet to allow more than two runs in any of his eight starts (one of which, admittedly, was curtailed by a groin strain), and lately, he’s been utterly stifling. On May 1, he threw eight innings of four-hit one-run ball against the Giants. On May 7, he threw a four-hit shutout of the Braves. On Sunday in Los Angeles, he no-hit the Nationals for 7.1 innings before Gerardo Parra — who on Saturday night hit a game-winning grand slam — clubbed a ground-rule double that proved to be the Nationals’ only hit of the day.

Here’s some good company:

Though Ryu wasn’t as efficient as in his previous turn, where his 93-pitch outing gave him the season’s second Maddux, after Kyle Hendricks‘ 81-pitch job on May 3, he had allowed only one baserunner to the point of Parra’s hit, via a fourth-inning walk issued to former teammate Brian Dozier. He had served up just two hard-hit balls, a 99.1 lineout off the bat of Kurt Suzuki in the second inning, and a 95.5 mph fly ball from Anthony Rendon in the fourth, and had been the beneficiary of every no-hit bid’s seemingly obligatory defensive gem. In the sixth inning, Stephen Strasburg appeared to have singled to right field… only to be thrown out at first base by right fielder Cody Bellinger (it’s just after the one-minute mark here):

Alas, the lefty-hitting Parra, who earlier this month drew his release by the Giants and entered the day hitting an anemic .194/.276/.290, sliced a 98.0 mph drive to the warning track in left centerfield, where it bounced over the wall for the Nationals’ first and only hit of the day. That was Ryu’s 105th pitch of the afternoon; he completed the frame having thrown 116 pitches, the highest total of his MLB career.

Completing the no-hitter had seemed like an unlikely proposition; Ryu had finished the seventh inning at 98 pitches. Given the 24 pitches he burned in the fourth (including eight on Adam Eaton’s leadoff groundout), he appeared hellbent on testing the length of manager Dave Roberts‘ leash. Since taking the reins of the Dodgers for the 2016 season, Roberts has been at the forefront of a growing trend of pulling pitchers with no-hitters in progress (forget the openers, we’re talking those of at least five innings). His total of three in that span is tied with the Marlins’ Don Mattingly for the MLB high. Roberts famously gave the hook to Ross Stripling after 7.1 no-hit innings on April 8, 2016, then removed Hill after seven perfect innings on September 10 of that season, and told Walker Buehler to hit the showers on May 4 of last season; three relievers helped the rookie finish the job.

What’s more, Ryu had never thrown more than 114 pitches in a stateside start, and had been above 105 only twice in the past three seasons: 108 pitches against the Padres on August 12, 2017, and 107 pitches in the aforementioned May 1 start. “I’m not sure there’s a pitcher/manager combo alive less likely to push him through 9 just to try for a no hitter,” tweeted MLB.com’s Mike Petriello. Roberts suggested that he would have been more flexible…

…which was easy to say in hindsight, but anyway, enough about the manager. The pitcher struck out nine to go with his one walk and one hit, generating 14 swings and misses, including seven via his changeup and four via his cutter. In doing so, he lowered his ERA to 1.72, second in the NL; he’s tied for third in FIP (2.71), and ranks fifth in WAR (1.5). Most impressive within his stat line is his 54-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 52.1 innings. That’s a 28.6% strikeout rate (eighth in the NL) and a league-low 1.6% walk rate; his 27.0% K-BB% is third.

Combine that stingy walk rate with a .230 BABIP (second in the league, thanks in large part to the Dodgers’ stellar defense thus far) and you’ve got a pitcher who rarely has anybody on base. I haven’t played fantasy baseball in nearly a decade, so I seldom look at stats like WHIP or strand rate for even casual purposes, but dig: his 0.726 WHIP is second in the majors behind only Chris Paddack (0.689), while his 94.6% strand rate is in a virtual tie with Justin Verlander for the highest mark of the post-strike era. Blake Snell (88.0% last year) and Kershaw (87.8% in 2017) own the highest marks among full-season ERA qualifiers, while Pedro Martinez (86.0% in 2000) and Zack Greinke (86.5% in 2015) are tops among those who reached 200 innings.

Putting this in more analytical terms, albeit with the usual sample size caveats, here’s a scatter plot of pitcher performance (wOBA allowed) with the bases empty versus when men are on base:

Ryu is the red dot, Paddack the yellow one (the Padres righty is one of the reasons I had to lower the threshold of batters faced with men on base).

This is actually the second season in a row that Ryu has ranked among the majors’ stingiest pitchers. Last year, in 15 starts, he posted a 1.97 ERA and 3.00 FIP, with a 27.5 % strikeout rate and 4.6% walk rate. He missed 3.5 months due to a left groin strain so severe its description included the cringe-inducing phrase “tore muscle off the bone,” but he did not require surgery. That was just the latest in a string of injuries that has dogged the burly lefty since coming over from Korea, most notably a torn labrum that cost him all of 2015 and the first half of ’16, then elbow woes that culminated in debridement surgery after he made just one start in the latter season. Only in his 2013 rookie season did he make 30 starts or qualify for the ERA title, yet he owns a career 3.11 ERA and 3.36 FIP. Among the 112 pitchers with at least 600 innings in that span, his 82 ERA- ranks 17th, his 85 FIP- 18th, but because of his less-than-perfect attendance, he’s a modest 47th in WAR (11.9).

Ryu doesn’t have exceptional velocity; per Statcast, his four-seamer’s 90.4 mph average velo ranks in the 11th percentile as does his fastball spin. He’s in the middle of the pack as far as exit velocity (87.7 mph) and hard hit rate (38.8%) are concerned too. His 11.7% swinging strike rate is in the 66th percentile, though his 34.5% chase rate is in the 81st percentile. As The Athletic’s Eno Sarris pointed out last week, he’s the rare pitcher who has above-average command of five different pitches according to Stats LLC’s new Command+ metric, along with Marco Gonzales, Merrill Kelly, Mike Leake (who has six such pitches), Max Scherzer, and Noah Syndergaard; for Ryu, that would be his four-seamer, sinker, cutter, changeup, and curve. Obviously, that group includes a couple of impressive names, but it’s nonetheless a mixed bag, and only tells us so much.

The exceptional results Ryu has been getting owe a considerable debt to his changeup and cutter. The former, which he throws 22.0% of the time, averages just 79.1 mph according to Pitch Info, giving him more than 10 mph of separation from the, uh, heater. It falls out of the zone more often than not, batters can’t resist chasing it, and when they make contact, they tend to hit it on the ground. His results are more or less on par with the two young changeup artists I covered last week, Luis Castillo and Chris Paddack; he allows fewer baserunners with the pitch thanks to the low walk rate, but gets hit a little harder:

Some Damn Good Changeups
Pitcher PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA xwOBA EV GB% O-Swing% Zone% SwStr%
Ryu 2018 65 .177 .203 .274 .194 .229 79.9 37.2% 49.3% 34.8% 23.0%
Ryu 2019 60 .121 .133 .207 .146 .251 83.1 55.8% 56.4% 39.5% 20.4%
Castillo 85 .110 .190 .121 .152 .141 80.8 68.6% 54.2% 24.4% 31.1%
Paddack 63 .138 .206 .155 .172 .219 83.5 66.7% 51.2% 36.6% 21.3%
SOURCE: Brooks Baseball, Baseball Savant
wOBA, xwOBA and EV via Baseball Savant, all other stats via Pitch Info.

I’ve included Ryu’s 2018 numbers there to illustrate that the pitch is working even better for him than it did last year, when it worked pretty well. The big differences from then to now are last year’s lower groundball rate and tendency to work further off the plate against righties (and in to lefties):

Petriello has a good look at how the vertical gap between Ryu’s four-seamer and his changeup has widened this year, though that’s mostly due to his working higher with the heater. As for the cutter, it’s a pitch Ryu didn’t introduce into his arsenal until 2017. It’s about three clicks slower than the fastball, averaging 87.3 mph, and it now accounts for 21.2% of his pitches thrown; over that three-year timespan, he’s mothballed his slider and cut way back on the usage of his curve. The pitch didn’t work especially well for him last year:

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s Cutter
Year PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA xwOBA EV GB% O-Swing% Zone% SwStr%
2017 108 .232 .324 .326 .272 .282 83.3 58.1% 27.2% 48.7% 6.3%
2018 87 .274 .299 .452 .318 .322 88.1 52.4% 23.9% 55.1% 6.8%
2019 41 .150 .171 .275 .192 .248 91.8 56.0% 29.1% 47.7% 15.2%
SOURCE: Brooks Baseball, Baseball Savant
wOBA, xwOBA and EV via Baseball Savant, all other stats via Pitch Info.

Look at that jump in swinging strike rate! I don’t see a great deal of year-to-year variation in his spin rate (2029 to 2063 rpm in that span) or movement to account for the jump, but location-wise, he’s not only throwing it in the zone less often (while getting significantly more chases), he’s keeping it out of the middle third:

Obviously, the caveat all over this is that of small sample size; we are talking about a body of work that covers a modest 134.2 innings over the past two seasons. Still, it’s been an impressive run, and if Ryu — who returned to the Dodgers upon completion of his six-year, $36 million deal by accepting a $17.9 million qualifying offer — can stay upright while fleshing out this body of work, he should be in line for some kind of multiyear payday this coming winter, though one with some complexity of structure likely — incentives, a vesting option or a club option. J.A. Happ’s two-year, $34 million deal with a $17 million vesting option for year three comes to mind.

While Ryu’s fragility makes him one more pitcher in a rotation full of less-than-durable ones, his early-season performance has provided a best-case scenario while helping the Dodgers weather the late arrivals of Kershaw and Hill, whose combined total of eight starts matches his own. His rise to the occasion is just one more reason why the Dodgers (27-16) are vying for the league’s best record and remain the favorites for a third straight NL pennant.


The Art, Science, and Psychology of Catcher Framing

Catching is a thankless job, but it’s widely considered to be one of the most important roles on the field. In 2018, there were 721,191 pitches thrown in the major leagues, and there was a catcher on the receiving end of all of them. Of those pitches, umpires got the ball or strike call wrong nearly 5% of the time. Every umpire has quantifiable tendencies, some of which adjust from pitcher to pitcher and some of which remain consistent. Nearly all umpiring careers follow a trajectory similar to that of players, in that they start in the minor leagues and work to be promoted, calling balls and strikes in front of TrackMan arrays, often for years.

As such, the sample of data teams can use to detect those tendencies grows quickly. The more pitches called, the more data teams collect, meaning that by the time umpires reach the upper levels of the minor leagues, their tendencies are a known commodity. And while umpires can and certainly do improve their craft, old habits are tough to kick. In March, building on previous research, FanGraphs released an update to our catcher WAR that includes the value of pitch framing. Which catchers generate more called strikes for their pitchers can be quantified, but the question remains: How can catchers improve their receiving abilities?

To start, it’s probably better to think of it not as pitch “framing,” but as pitch “absorption.” Consider the following. A baseball is about five ounces. That might not seem like much, but try to envision yourself catching an object that is moving in different directions and hitting different locations with the speed of a major league pitch and not only being able to keep still, but guide the ball in a motion that we call “framing” in order to make the pitch seem closer than it is. Of those 721,191 major league pitches thrown in 2018, 604,007 were “competitive” — more than 124 pitches per game, per team, that had a chance to be called a strike. Read the rest of this entry »


Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 5/13/2019

12:06
Avatar Dan Szymborski: OK, I’m here!

12:06
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I’d like to say something out of my control happened, but I tend to start Twitter rants two minutes before I have to be somewhere

12:07
Matt: The chat post is messed up – showing the HTML code

12:08
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Should be fixed now.

12:08
Voldemort: Do you have confidence in Jesus Aguilar to turn things around this season? He’s looked sharper the last week or so.

12:08
Avatar Dan Szymborski: He’s certainly looked better. There’s still hope.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jalen Beeks, Dallas Braden, and John Means on Crafting Their Changeups

Pitchers learn and develop different pitches, and they do so at varying stages of their lives. It might be a curveball in high school, a cutter in college, or a changeup in A-ball. Sometimes the addition or refinement is a natural progression — graduating from Pitching 101 to advanced course work — and often it’s a matter of necessity. In order to get hitters out as the quality of competition improves, a pitcher needs to optimize his repertoire.

In this installment of the series, we’ll hear from three pitchers — Jalen Beeks, Dallas Braden, and John Means— on how they learned and developed their changeups.

———

Jalen Beeks, Tampa Bay Rays

“I had a changeup in high school, but it wasn’t very good. When I got to college, I changed the grip; I moved my pinky finger down. It’s pretty much a circle change. I grip it hard and think about it almost like a fastball. I don’t pronate. No one taught it to me. I just threw it one day and it worked. You have to tinker. You have to figure out what works for you.

Jalen Beeks’ changeup grip

“It’s gotten better over the last year. I think that’s mainly from my mechanics having changed a little bit. I use my legs more, and have shortened my arm action. I’m not so tall on the mound now. I’m activating my legs more, by getting into more of a squat position. And like I said, I think fastball. I throw it as hard as I can. My average fastball is around 92 [mph] and my changeup is around 88. Read the rest of this entry »


The Unlikelihood of Mike Fiers’ Second No-Hitter, Quantified

When baseball fans quibble with sabermetrics, one of the arguments I hear is, “If we can already predict everything that will happen, then why isn’t baseball just played on a computer?” It’s a funny stance to me for two reasons. First, statistics can’t predict everything; they can only tell you the odds of an event occurring. And, second, the randomness of baseball — and, really, sports in general — is something that even the most devout statisticians can marvel at.

Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career last week. Rachael McDaniel did a brilliant job of explaining how unlikely it was for Fiers, the individual, to have the fortunate of joining the group of 35 pitchers to throw two no-hitters in the big leagues. I just want to borrow a few lines from McDaniel’s prose, but you should really read the whole thing. It’s great:

That’s the wonderful thing about pitching achievements, the no-hitter and the perfect game. With their length and intensity, with the level of collaboration and the sprinkling of luck that is necessary to sustain that nine-inning walk along the knife’s edge, there is so much room for serendipity. In the annals of the no-hitter, you can just as easily find the greatest of all time proving why they’re the greatest as you can a roster of unlikely heroes — rookies, journeymen, washed-up veterans — who, for those few hours, reach out and find perfection.

I want to take a second crack of explaining how unlikely Fiers’ second no-hitter was, but with a different angle: math. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Audio: Craig Edwards Lowers and Raises the Alarm

Episode 861

FanGraphs writer Craig Edwards joins the program to discuss various causes of potential baseball panic. For instance, ought we to panic over Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.’s slow start given the early-career performances of other former top prospects? No! Should we shift uncomfortably in our seats over Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s recent acquisition of 21 regional sports networks given how it may impact the pricing and availability of baseball broadcasts? Maybe! We also discuss the St. Louis Cardinals, for Craig is a Cardinals fan.

Craig’s piece on Vlad Jr. can be found here. His most recent piece on Sinclair can be found here.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @megrowler on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximate 38 min play time.)


Sunday Notes: Rowdy Swings Maple, Mancini Swings Birch

Rowdy Tellez’s weapon of choice is 34 inches long, weighs 32 ounces, and is made out of maple. Trey Mancini’s is 33-and-a-half inches long, weighs 31 ounces, and is made out of birch. Both do damage. The Blue Jays first baseman is known for his light-tower power, while the Orioles outfielder is coming off of consecutive 24-home-runs seasons.

How they went about choosing, and then settling on, their bat models differs.

“When I first got into pro ball, I signed a bat contract with Victus,” explained Tellez, who was drafted by Toronto out of an Elk Grove, California in 2013. “I told them what I wanted, and they sent me bats. I didn’t really like it at first, so I tweaked it a little more. I got to what they called an AC24, which is kind of a combination of models. It’s kind of like a 271 knob and handle, maybe a little bit thicker heading towards the barrel, and then almost like an I13 barrel, but circumference-wise a little bit thinner, and a tick longer. I’ve kind of stuck with that. It’s a comfort thing.”

Mancini was drafted by Baltimore out of Notre Dame in 2013. Three years later, a C243 model Louisville Slugger became his bat of choice. Read the rest of this entry »