ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Expos at Braves – 07/06/2003
There’s the Mike Hampton we expected. He didn’t actually pitch too well (but better than he had), but he did hit a home run and score twice. As a pitcher, he showed better control with one walk, and struck out eight in seven innings. But he also allowed nine hits and four runs. Still, a vast improvement over recent outings.
Chipper was the hitting star, with two homers and four RBI. Andruw was hitless, but walked three times, and the Braves had seven walks in all. Every Braves starter reached base.
The Expos fell to nine games back with the loss. The Phillies lost to the Marlins again and now are 7 1/2 out, Florida remaining 10 1/2 out. The Phillies are the wildcard leaders, so the Expos are still close in that, but if they fall behind Florida I wonder if they’ll start moving players.
Seven Braves made the All-Star team. Javy, Giles, and Sheffield hung on for starters, but Furcal lost the lead at shortstop to Renteria. He’ll make the team anyway as a reserve, as will Andruw. Smoltz and Ortiz are among the pitchers.
About Hampton’s balk … Paciorek and Rathbun kept rattling on about Hampton’s feet, but it looked pretty obvious to me that he “bounced” his hands up and down before throwing over to first. Now, I’ve never been able to spot a balk in real time (unless someone drops the ball the way Rocker did a few years ago), but once the call is made I can usually pick it up. Anybody else see Hampton’s hands?
Nice to see both Maddux and Hampton bounce back this weekend. Hampton I feel pretty good about after yesterday, Maddux I’m still a little leary of. There is the school of thought that a pitcher really only controls his walks, Ks, and home runs allowed and the rest is all defense and luck. So let’s see how these two did in their starts after the Marlins Meltdown. Each pithced seven innings.
Maddux – 0 (good)
Hampton – 1 (also good)
Maddux – 0 (yikes!)
Hampton – 8 (good)
Maddux – 2 (not good)
Hampton – 0 (good)
So Maddux pretty much just threw strikes and hoped for the best. His defense helped him out and the two homers were solo shots. It’s impossible to be effective over the long term without strikeouts, so he better find a way to get the ball by a few people or his luck will run out.
Hampton was a little more hit unlucky than Maddux but did have a healthy strikeout rate so you have to feel good about him. He didn’t give free passes and kept the ball in the ballpark. And of course when he pitches you have two extra hitters (Hampton and Javy) in the lineup compared to when Maddux pitches which gives the team a much better chance of winning.
Overall an encouraging weekend. Florida looks like the strongest team in the East right now. It will be interesting to see how far Jack McKeon can take that team.
There’s also the question of whether the Marlins will hold their team together. And if the starting pitchers will stay healthy, though I feel more confident in McKeon’s ability to do that than Torborg’s. (I wouldn’t hire Torborg to wash my car.) But they’re more talented than the Expos and just playing better than the Phillies.
I don’t know what a balk is anymore. I quit trying to figure it out about ten years ago. It’s like the old NBA illegal defense rule. For the first 30 or 40 years it was simply “Don’t play zone”, then they decided to define was a zone was and got in all sorts of trouble. Same thing with the balk. The rules are meant to keep pitchers from tricking baserunners, but they don’t work that way. 90 percent of balks are technicalities.
Robert — you are making far too much soup from one oyster. Maddux, for the season, has Ked 5.2 men per 9 innings; Hampton 5.4. That is a difference without distinction.
Maddux is walking 1.6 per 9; Hampton 4.8. You can focus on Hampton’s last start to the exclusion of all else. But to me, Hampton’s 3.7 w/9 for his career, 4.2 w/9 the previous two seasons, and 3.9 w/9 for his two most recent pre-Coors seasons is way more telling than one walkless game.
Maddux has become homer prone this season. 16 in a hair over 120 IP is too many by a bunch. But how much of Maddux’s poor season is just pure luck? By observation, it appears that Doggie has been allowing a bunch of bleeders and bloops. By stats, much the same thing appears true. Maddux has allowed 382 balls in play less homers. On those BIP, his opponents are batting .296. The rest of the team is under .280. That Voros DIPS stuff that you reference would suggest that Maddux’s ERA, despite the HR struggles, isn’t really representative of his performance.
Is Greg really getting beaten on bloops and bad luck? I haven’t gotten to see many games this season, but whenever I see him getting hit, he’s getting hit hard, and even many of his outs are on hard-hit balls. May be small sample bias on my part, but the balls have gotten tagged, to my eye.
I am VERY leary to report something as FACT when I can’t prove it. And yes, not only has he given up a bunch of homers, his doubles are way up too, indicating that he has indeed been hit hard.
But every time I watch him (my t.v. viewing is down this year, but I’ve seen about 2/3 of his starts) it seems that he has allowed a number of infield bouncers that can’t quite get turned and outfield bloops that fall in just short of the fielders. Is that true? I don’t know. But it sure seems that way to my arguably biased eyes.
I don’t have a bloop stat either unfortunately, but it doesn’t seem to me that any more or less bloops are falling in this year, it’s just that they hurt more when your struggling and runners are always on. If a flare drops in there with two out and nobody on, no one remembers it. But if one drops in there that turns a two run inning into a four run inning, everybody says bad luck killed him.
On the other hand, I’m sure a few more bloops do drop in there these days since Andruw’s range factor seems to get a little lower every year.