Braves 4, Marlins 3 (11 innings)

Atlanta Braves vs. Florida Marlins – Box Score – August 09, 2011 – ESPN.

Brandon Beachy had a great start spoiled when he ran out of gas and the bullpen screwed things up, but the Braves held on to the win, in large part due to Martin Prado, who was pretty much the offense.

The one run that the Braves got without Prado came in the second, when Beachy worked a walk to load the bases with two out, and Michael Bourn worked another walk to score a run to make it 1-0. Prado grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning, but he’d make up for it later. In the fifth, he hit a solo homer to make it 2-0, and in the sixth, singled in a run to make it 3-0.

Beachy was dealing; in six innings, he’d struck out ten, allowed three hits and one walk. He’d had only one mini-jam, in the first. But he ran out of gas in the seventh, walking two around a popout, and lacking alternatives Fredi went with Anthony Varvaro to try to get out of it. That didn’t work; Varvaro got the first guy then gave up a titanic homer to John Buck to tie the game.

Eric O’Flaherty, held back in the seventh to be the eighth-inning guy because Craig Kimbrel had pitched three days in a row, walked the bases loaded (two were intentional) in the eighth, but got out of it with a couple of strikeouts. Jonny Venters was awesome in the ninth, and threw only twelve pitches, but Fredi pulled him for George Sherrill in the tenth anyway; Sherrill didn’t have any problems.

The game was going to end in the eleventh, because either the Braves would score and bring in Kimbrel, or Scott Proctor would pitch the bottom of the inning. Eric Hinske led off with a pinch-walk, but Jason Heyward, reduced to pinch-running duties, was picked off first. Bourn followed with a double, and then Prado singled him home; a good throw actually might have gotten him, but it was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla couldn’t get Prado home for the insurance run. Kimbrel was obviously not himself, but after walking the leadoff man got out of it with a bad bunt and a GIDP.

Uggla kept his streak going with another infield single in the fifth. And the Braves have finally released Proctor. Whoo-hoo! Maybe Arodys Vizcaino will be the needed righthanded reliever.

209 thoughts on “Braves 4, Marlins 3 (11 innings)”

  1. JC’d:

    I’ve actually been confused by J.J. Hoover’s conversion to relief this season–it happened relatively early in the season, he was nowhere near his innings limit (he still only has 95 total innings this season, compared to 153 last season), and had been pitching well in AA as a 23-year old (his quick stop in AAA was a disaster, though). Hoover looks like a projectable mid-rotation starter, and nothing about his numbers or development thus far suggested he was getting off course.

    That said, I’ll usually defer to the Braves when it comes to player development. If Hoover has been moved to the bullpen permanently–and it’s too soon to tell–then there was probably a reason for it. He’s a good pitcher, so I hope he gets another shot in the upper minors to start. But for now his path to the majors is probably through the pen.

  2. I saw him about a month earlier in a streaming “webcast” of http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_06_04_msbaax_monaax_1 . I wasn’t terribly impressed, but it is just one game. His fastball didn’t really move, and his curve didn’t cut sharply. He had another pitch he used as a changeup, but he didn’t use it much, and I don’t really remember it. He threw hard, though, and a lot of guys chased stuff I doubt a major leaguer would chase.

    It was only one game, though, and it was two months ago, so I’ll stay optimistic.

  3. Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day” might be the appropriate music video choice for the celebration of Proctor’s release.

  4. As of July 14, Law had moved Vizcaino (11) ahead of Teheran (12) in the Top 50 –

    Vizcaino:

    Analysis: Vizcaino would have been the talk of the Futures Game if it wasn’t for (Matt) Moore — electric stuff, great arm speed, better breaking ball than expected. He just needs to stay healthy. Preseason Ranking: 47

    Teheran:

    Analysis: He’s still very highly regarded in the industry, but I’d like to see some improvement on his curveball, which has been stagnant for two years. He’s still just 20 years old. Preseason Ranking: 6

  5. 4 – I believe most folks see the curve as a plus offering. It’s his lack of a third pitch, as well as his frame, that could prevent him from becoming a starter. But as a reliever he should be fine, if not great, with two well-above average pitches.

  6. I’m kind of half-heartedly defending FW on another forum, and was hoping for the insight of some of you all.

    He gets lambasted for the Gonzalez/Escobar trade, accompanied by trading away it’s only redeemable quality (Collins) to KC in what was essentially a lateral move. The rest of his trade history (Bourn, Jurrjens, both Vazquez trades, Francoeur, McLouth to an extent) is pretty solid, with the outlier being the “get something for Teixeira” trade.

    My thoughts were that there’s a very strong possibility that he was kind of hamstrung by “Bobby’s last season” and the influence of a legend was a strong factor in those moves. I don’t think Mather or Proctor get cut until the end of the season if Bobby is still the manager. Do you think he has a lot more autonomy since Fredi hasn’t firmly established roots here?

  7. JC’d from last thread:

    @304–Do you have difficulty reading? I’m having trouble finding the word “dominant” in my comment @291. What I said was “pretty good ML career.”

  8. I know Law is more interested in peripherals and stuff than results, but my god, a 20 yo gets promoted to AAA, goes 12-2 with a 2.16, and stays pretty close to his career peripheral rate and DROPS six spots.

  9. ESPN has a thing on the front page about the Blue Jays possibly stealing signs, and that is leading to their power numbers at home.

  10. There’s a big deal on ESPN right now about the Blue Jays stealing signs at the Rogers Centre. Apparently they have/had a dude sitting in CF who is relaying them to their hitters.

    If this is really a significant problem, how long until some MLB team adopts cap/helmet microphones ala the NFL? Now that I think about it I am halfway surprised it isn’t being used, because it would maybe have some impact on speeding the game as well- could potentially be used in place of some mound visits, etc. Anyone know if there’s a rule prohibiting this from being used?

    EDIT- sorry Bethany, didn’t see your post when I started typing…

  11. ESPN has a thing on the front page about the Blue Jays possibly stealing signs, and that leading to their power numbers at home.

    So that Escobar’s secret.

  12. Bill, the Escobar/AAG trade was a bad organizational decision. However, I dont think that Collins is a big loss. Relievers are a hit/miss and he’s walked 38 in 52IP this season.

    Most people forget that Pastornicky was involved in that deal also. He may be our starting SS next season and seems to be progressing. On the surface this deal may look bad, but Yunel put them in the situation to have to trade him. Not many professional ball players are flipping off the official scorer when charged with an error. He had some maturing that he needed to go through.

    This is one trade out of many for Frank Wren. The majority have played out to be in our favor and I dont see how anyone could look at the bulk of his work and complain. Thats just me though.

  13. I’m reading the article about the Jays, and the graph demonstrating the difference in home run rates for the Jays vs. opposing teams is pretty damning. We always make jokes about how players seem to hit more homers there, it’d be crazy if this is the reason why.

  14. Bill @ 10 – It depends on who you’re discussing/arguing with. If they are intent upon reading the Escobar/AGon as the belleweather trade for Wren, then they’re not really interested in a rational discussion.

    Every deal that Wren has done that didn’t have outlying circumstances (i.e. “get something for Tex” and “get rid of Escobar and find me a shortstop”) has been excellent.

  15. 11: That was meant to be @Sam/294 from the previous thread, who did weirdly refer to Proctor as a dominant reliever at some undetermined point in the past. I think the post numbering was different when I added my comment.

  16. @18

    I think the fact that the “Man in White” seemed to do the same thing (i.e. raise his arms) every time an offspeed pitch was thrown was pretty suspicious as well.

    Also I wish I knew who the “four unidentified pitchers” were. If Moylan wasn’t playing for the Braves, I’d put money on him being the one that threatened Bautista.

  17. @21- Yeah that’s well and good, but it looks like your simple mistake really hurt some feelings here. You better be more careful in the future.

    /sarcasm

  18. @14
    I’ve often wondered about players having blue tooth technology in their helmets. I remember one game against the Padres last year when the Padres broadcast would zoom in on McCann’s fingers before every pitch was thrown and then say “Oh he’s going with the slider” or what have you, Hanson had nasty stuff that night, but they were hitting him. It seemed like the hitters could hear the broadcast. It worries me because it would be nearly impossible to prevent. How could you tell if a player had a concealed wireless device in his helmet?

  19. I’m surprised Odys was called up so quickly. I’ve been keeping an eye on his relief appearances at AAA and they haven’t been overly impressive so far.

  20. @24

    I didn’t consider that. Maybe that possibility precludes teams from using wireless audio, at least in an official capacity.

  21. Does this make anyone less angry about the Yunel Escobar deal (the Blue Jays/sign stealing fracas?)

  22. If you look athe the jays home/road splits, the are much much better at home. There might be something to this.

  23. The thing that jumped out at me was that Rogers was not a very hitter friendly place for anyone until the Jays started taking off in power numbers a few years ago. Visiting hitters stats did not enjoy the same boost.

  24. For all the complaints about Home Plate umpiring lately, last night’s was the worst (or at least the most one-sided) this season. I’ve been checking this site after every game and I’m sure it’s not perfect but it shows 12 pitches outside the zone called strikes to ATL hitters compared to 3 for FLA and 2 pitches in the zone were called Balls to FLA hitters to only one for ATL.

    Here’s the link: http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=8&day=9&year=2011&game=gid_2011_08_09_atlmlb_flomlb_1%2F&prevGame=gid_2011_08_10_anamlb_nyamlb_1%2F&prevDate=89

  25. @22, right, but as I heard the story on ESPN during lunch the Man In White has only been claimed to exist by some off the record pitchers. There’s also the small matter of quantifying how much if any, sign stealing aids in home runs, not to mention, if this has been known about since 2010, surely the other teams would have done something long ago. This really seems much more like a backhanded smear of Bautista from some sore loser players than anything real. Frankly, I think reporting on it without any corroborating evidence, like say video of the Man In White, and thinking that the home runs are by inspection a result of this is pretty f’ed up.

  26. @29, if you suddenly wound up with one of the games premier HR hitters on your roster, would that not follow logically?

    Unless we are taking this a step forward to saying that Bautista is a creation of sign stealing (as opposed to the innuendo that the good folk of the 4th estate are happy to accidentally on purpose imply)

  27. Looks like only two of their hitters have a drastic home/away split

    Yunel OPS at home .957, away .699
    Encarn. home .921, away .670

    Bautista is a beast at home and away.

  28. @Spike

    What’s worse with regards to Bautista is they mention 2010’s splits and conveniently ignore his 1.030 OPS on the road this year.

  29. @34, so yeah, over the last two years, Joey Bats has 9 more home HRs. Send in the freaking FBI.

  30. My gut reaction was, “Those heavy splits are mostly from right handed players. Maybe this is a result of a RH HR park boost and a team with lots of RH power and less LH power than other teams.”

    If you take a quick glance at the ballpark platoon splits for the Jays and the for league for last year, however, it’s pretty striking on its face. It’s not as bad this year, though. I’m not sure how it compares to league ballpark platoon home field advantage, but last year’s numbers are pretty striking, and it’s worth an investigation by people with some time to dig through the numbers.

  31. @35, not ot be gauche, but why don’t you look up the calculation in the name of skepticism and see?

  32. @39, Well consider this – Jose went from being 13/209 (6%) to 54/257 (25%) of the total team HRs. It seems to coincide oddly enough, with a 48HR spike in the team total. Pretty strong empirical evidence that this would play a pretty huge part in measuring total HRs against previous years for the Jays vs Teams That Did Not Acquire A 50+ HR Hitter.

  33. @42, I was agreeing with you, and demonstrating that this so-called sign stealing either didn’t exist, or provided no particular advantage.

  34. Mac, Beachy actually got 2 outs in the 7th. Varvaro allowed a homer to Buck, the first man he faced, before getting the next guy.

  35. @45 Seems like Beachy has been running out of gas earlier lately than he was at the beginning of the season.

    I like Varvaro despite the massive homer he gave up, I think he has the stuff to stay up here with a little more work.

  36. Ivan Nova is the first Yankees rookie to win 10 games since 1969. From 1970-2010, there were at least 99 rookies that won 10 games (possibly more, just going by “first year” and that may exclude pitchers who didn’t make enough appearances to lose their rookie status).

  37. Per DOB:

    Bourn CF, Prado 3B, Hinske 1B, Uggla 2B, Heyward RF, Gonzalez SS, Ross C, Constanza LF, Hudson P

  38. Given Chipper’s advanced age, if he’s got a cold hand right now, they should probably make sure he’s actually still alive.

  39. 2010:

    Jays opponent overall: .255 .326 .405
    Jays opponent Rogers: .254 .322 .408
    Jays opponent not Rogers: .257 .331 .401
    Jays overall: .248 .312 .454
    Jays overall Rogers: .253 .315 .483

    Tango makes a huge assumption in saying, “And sign stealing would go beyond just batted balls. Walks, strikeouts, the whole thing comes into play.” In the 2010 data, at least, it’s clearly just hitting for extra bases where Toronto gets the extra umph. Frankly, I don’t know if anyone knows exactly how sign stealing affects a hitter. It might only be good for turning singles into doubles and HRs. By analyzing wOBA, you put in a couple of things that don’t change in with something that does change, and the whole thing seems less anomalous.

    What’s missing is, as he mentions, seeing if this is out of the ordinary or if this thing just happens some years to some teams.

  40. So, when does McCann return?

    Love me some David Ross, but Brian is special. Offensively, anyway.

  41. If sign stealing is for reals, could the Braves sue the Jays for damages, seeing as Alex Gonzalez had inflated value from the HRs he hit?

  42. He’s eligible to come off the DL sometime during the Cubs series. I forget whether it’s Friday or Saturday. Given reports, it sounds like he’ll be back sometime next week at the latest.

  43. Heyward back in the lineup as Chipper sits. Best defensive lineup in years.
    Edit: Nevermind, Freeman’s sitting.

  44. Also per DOB:

    Hanson has mild shoulder tendinitis, no structural damage, got a shot (assumedly cortisone), Braves hopeful he’ll make his start on Tuesday.

    McCann will play at Gwinnett Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday.

  45. I’ve been so caught up in other discussions that I don’t think I’ve mentioned how awesome Michael Bourn is and how happy I am we got him.

  46. @51, What’s missing is, as he mentions, seeing if this is out of the ordinary or if this thing just happens some years to some teams.

    Sure, but this would require “skepticism” or “due diligence” which have little place in the world of reporting these days.

  47. Bourn has been responsible for 11 runs in his first 8 games, tied for 2nd most of any player on our team during that span (behind Uggla). Guess who he’s tied with…
    Uggla-13
    Gonzalez-11
    Constanza-9
    Prado-9
    Freeman-8
    Ross-5

    Sea Bass is on FIRE!

  48. My standards are low. I find it fascinating that the reporters weren’t completely talking out of their asses, and there’s actually a pretty large anomaly here worth investigating. I really just expected it to be a handedness/team construction thing, but Toronto really did have a dramatic home field SLG advantage last year that their opponents didn’t have, and ESPN found it.

    Of course, being ESPN, they have to insinuate the worst, but it’s not completely unsubstantiated.

  49. As resident expert on hot hands and the like, I’ll note that I’d keep a wary eye on Constanza tonight. He was under a lot of pitches last night. Lazy flies instead of the ropes he’s been hitting. Two nights of that and I pull him.

  50. I should note that I almost spit out my sweet tea at dinner last night when I looked up and saw that Constanza had actually drawn a walk.

  51. Toronto really did have a dramatic home field SLG advantage last year that their opponents didn’t have, and ESPN found it.

    Well, sure, but here’s the money grafs from the Tango article cited above:

    In 2011, so far, Toronto batters’ OPS is 69 points higher at home. Their opponents are 47 points higher at Rogers. Since the typical home field advantage is about 30 or 40 points, seeing a 23 point advantage for Toronto batters over their opponents actually works against the theory, but in reality, it’s well within random chance.

    How about 2010? Toronto batters had a 64 points advantage at home, while their opposing batters are 3 points under, giving a whopping 67 point differential (compared to the standard 30-40). Is that a big deal though? That’s about a 15 point wOBA advantage on 3000 PA. One standard deviation would be 9 points, so we’re talking under two SD. By itself, maybe there’s something to it. Maybe. But couple it with 2011, and there’s nothing there.

    2009? The Toronto hitters were 8 points UNDER, while opposing hitters were 63 points UNDER. Quite a reversal of fortune for all concerned. Anyway, that’s a 57 point advantage for Toronto hitters. Putting the three years together, the 57, 67 and 23 points of advantage averages out to 52 OPS points, compared to the league average of 30 to 40 points. That’s about 7 wOBA points. Given 8000 PA, one SD is 5.7 wOBA points.

    I don’t see it. And if you were to do all 30 teams, I’m sure you’ll find a couple of other teams with a bigger advantage at home than the Jays hitters.

    While I wouldn’t expect someone to go as far as SD’s, figuring out if the slg% difference was actually that anomalous compared to other teams seems like the least you could do before implying that it was.

  52. Constanza’s walk was of the “pitcher can’t find the strikezone” variety, if I recall. A walk is, to a certain degree, a walk, but I’d argue that a 4 straight way outside the zone doesn’t say much either way about a hitter’s plate discipline. Of course, my anti-Constanza bias is a matter of public record after the last 5 days.

  53. Those standard deviations are based on wOBA, not just SLG. If you partner the outlier variable with a bunch of other data that’s not changing, the effect is going to fall within fewer standard deviations of the mean. The ESPN article specifically talks about homeruns, and I don’t know of any results that imply a specific effect of sign stealing. Tango is understating the actual anomaly.

    However, I don’t know how often such a huge home field SLG advantage occurs in baseball over the course of a season. I spot checked a couple of other 2010 seasons, and it’s nothing close, but I haven’t done a survey.

    It’s probably just an inexplicable outlier, but it actually did happen.

  54. Mac,

    Much as I love a good Roman orgy, any chance we can get a more work appropriate ad for the left banner?

  55. I thought young people these days filmed themselves all the time. You never know when something crazy will turn you into the next viral superstar.

  56. 1.Bourn CF
    2.Prado 3B
    3.Hinske 1B
    4.Uggla 2B
    5.Heyward RF
    6.Gonzalez SS
    7.Ross C
    8.Constanza LF
    9.Hudson RH

  57. Oh, mine was for something called Caesary saying join a Roman Orgy now. One of those role playing games I think.

  58. @72 – Using wOBA does ignore potential benefits specifically to HR of sign stealing, so it’s not a good way to work back through results to see if stealing was indeed happening. It does answer the question of whether or not said stealing was of any real benefit though, which is a question that frequently gets ignored in cases of cheating. If there’s no net benefit to it, then so what?

  59. It’s an interesting question. Once you establish that something weird happened with the Blue Jays XBH last year, you can ask, “Is there a reason, or do weird things just sometimes happen?” The interesting question then becomes what else can you establish about that year that could explain the anomaly. It’s just a fun question about a fun game.

  60. Has anyone checked out Kotchman’s year he is having for the Rays. I mean, how is this possible?

    .338/.397/.475 in 378 plate appearances

  61. I have the opportunity to design some banners to go in USC’s stadium tunnels next year. Of all the schools in the country…

  62. My sister makes banners and signs in Columbia – I’ll tell her to be on the lookout for something ‘cocks related that’s clearly too well designed to have come from a South Carolinian.

  63. Since someone else brought it up, and I’ve been getting the same web ad here too, here is a screenshot of the ‘Roman orgy’ banner that’s currently running here:

  64. Still getting home run derby.

    Maybe it’s showing an ad based on other sites you’ve visited with ads from the same broker. I visit baseball sites. You guys must visit Roman Orgy sites.

  65. Note going back a long way; post numbers can change because I approve a message from a new poster. For instance, this one just went from 94 to 95.

  66. There’s a certain, um, non-coed factor to that particular facet of greek/roman history that keeps me away from that kind of site. I guess that’s why I am getting Home Run Derby.

  67. Ding, dong, the witch is dead! Which ol’ witch? The Proctologist!

    @89: That is much more interesting than the Target ads I get. I need to visit better sites, apparently.

  68. So that’s why it seems like everyone in the free world sends me emails about being “enhanced” …

  69. The only one that ever bugged me was for Trade Tang, a notorious Chinese musical instrument counterfeiter, but I haven’t seen it in ages.

  70. Though I rarely even notice ads anymore, I’d say google might want to look at that one, it’s borderline at least. Also not easy to tell it’s an online game and not something entirely different.

    Personally I’m seeing an ad for an online jewellery shop, only google would know why that comes up.

  71. My ad is about a personalized baseball book. But then, I don’t visit sites that are associated with Roman orgies…

  72. You know, a day without Constanza-Heyward redux is a pretty good day around here, orgies and all.

  73. After Brian’s comment at 108 I now have a craving for ice cream.

    Edit: Bad timing that this comment comes after one with the word “orgy”

  74. @117 I have ad blocker on safari. If you were visiting the site at work, the orgy ad might be a bad thing.

  75. i am now a member of the “Heyward needs to go to Gwinnett for 2 weeks to get his head on straight” camp. he looks completely lost and his confidence appears to be shot.

  76. Using Chrome too, but I haven’t bothered with any adblockers for years. I don’t really notice online ads anymore and I’m happy if getting to show me ads help the sites I enjoy content on.

  77. I am confused by people who don’t want to join a Roman orgy. That’s just weird.

  78. For a while I always got rehab and drug counseling ads here, which kind made me fell like Google was unfairly judging me. I think it was because Mac reviewed that book about all those cokehead Pirates way back when, and I added it to my Amazon wish list. Cuz, like, I can quit anytime, I just don’t want to right now.

  79. I love chasing starters in the second inning. Smells like victory. (Sounds like thunder, so you may lose me shortly.)

  80. I think 4 runs is the real lock down stat for him winning, and he’s got 5 to play with now.

  81. Marlins announcers quoted the stat though I’m only paying cursory attention to them. Hudson has 140-something wins, 2 losses and 25 no-decisions when given a lead of 3 or more.

  82. The team finally feels comfortable scoring in bunches. Until now, a five run lead could lead to a Proctology exam in the later innings.

  83. Looked it up since I don’t trust those Marlin guys.

    2011 media guide says (so from before this season start) 113-2 with a 3 run lead. 130-5 when his team scores 4 runs or more while he’s in the game.

  84. I missed the second strikeout, but Heyward’s first was on a damn near perfect pitch. Borderline off the plate low and away isn’t something you can do anything with even if you touch it.

  85. it’s also probably distracting when you’re being outplayed by an 8 year minor league veteran who has a third of your talent.

  86. @147 – As DowneasterJC explained last night, one’s hand cannot be pronounced hot until 10ABs have been accrued at the same or similar temperature. Prado’s hand temp is close to stabilizing, but it hasn’t yet stabilized.

  87. Following on my phone. Was that wild pitch airmailed, or did it, perhaps, take a… badenhop?

  88. 151- yeah, Constanza is tearing the cover off the ball. all the worms in the infield must be terrified.

  89. You guys do realize that if you can chop the ball off the plate and beat the play to 1B every time, you should totally do that, right? If Constanza gets on base that way, he’s doing his job.

  90. I think the contention is that chopping balls off the plate and dribbling balls past the pitcher aren’t recognizable skills.

  91. Did not know that Vizcaino was the A-ball pitcher involved in the much-maligned Melky Cabrera/Javier Vasquez trade.

  92. I better not see any of the bullpen triumverate up tonight. Let’s see what Vizcaino can do if necessary, but it would be even better if Hudson can go the distance. Pitch count through 5 is looking good.

    Is Vizcaino with the team yet?

  93. @161

    Ummmm….Vazquez was a top 3 pitcher in the NL for us that year

    Edit: nevermind I see what you’re saying

  94. Chopping the ball into the infield and attempting to leg it out is absolutely a skill. It’s as viable an option for a single, with Constanza’s speed, as a roller through the middle.

  95. @160 Yep, it would be a good time for a complete game, especially to give the trio a needed day off.

  96. I want Heyward to play, but he has some huge issues with his swing right now. 0-4 w/ 3K doesn’t help his cause to play over T Bone

  97. @167 – You don’t seem to understand. How a player is actually playing the game of baseball is irrelevant. You don’t account for his actual at bats or how utterly lost he might be at the plate. You just look at his MLEs, cross-reference last year’s stats (best if you adjust up for the injury portion of that season, natch) and then ask Keith Law if it’s okay to like him and stuff.

    Also, T-Bone just repeated that same “non repeatable skill” for the third time tonight. Weird how lucky that guy can be, huh?

  98. Can there be a ‘Chip-o-Meter’ that counts every time he says some variation of “the game is revolving more around speed, the days of the 40-home run hitters are over, speedy guys are making a comeback”?

    He said that about once a week before Bourn/Constanza. Now it’s about once every other game.

  99. @164 It’s also extremely hard to do. The reason Costanza is being called lucky right now is because everyone figures, probably rightly so, that’s he’s not actually trying to chop the ball so weakly that he can get an infield hit out of it.

    Just because you can reach base on weakly hit balls doesn’t make hitting balls weakly a realistic strategy. There’s a reason hitters try to hit the ball hard, and it’s because it gives you the best odds of being productive. The occasional bunting for a base hit is an exception that proves the rule. Sure, guys with enough speed can succeed despite their inability to hit the ball hard, like Juan Pierre, so maybe Costanza can be another one of those guys. But he’s still trying to make solid contact, despite his results. Hence the “luck”.

  100. @148 – I would say Balfour is a worse name for a pitcher, and Badenhop is a worse name for a fielder. And I suppose Fielder is a worse name for a hitter.

  101. “Just because you can reach base on weakly hit balls doesn’t make hitting balls weakly a realistic strategy.” Actually, I think it does. See @165

    And Bob Walk was the Braves pitcher with the worst name — other than Dank Lob.

  102. @171 – the fact that you’re unfamiliar with or unappreciative of a strategy does not make it unreliable or ineffective. It just means you’ve only watched a certain kind of baseball to date.

  103. @173 I left out an important qualifier. Doing it without intention and relying on it to happen spontaneously is not a viable strategy. But as I said in the first sentence, it’s extremely difficult, albeit not impossible, as you demonstrate. But I’ve seen no evidence Costanza is actually trying to do this.

  104. Sam, think about the mechanics of hitting a ball off the plate and running it out for a hit. The main thing it depends upon is exceptionally poor contact to the point of just about missing the ball. If you make even slightly better contact, the ball quickly gets to an infielder and you get thrown out regardless of your speed. Yes, speed increases the range of angular crappiness in which your contact can fall and still result in a hit; it does not increase it to the point of a 1.000 BAbip, which is what you imply in 169.

    Speedy guys can expect higher BAbips yes. Michael Bourn, for instance, has posted the following BAbips in the last 4 years: .290, .366, .329, .381. Jose Constanza is riding a .417 at the moment, and it’s not based off of solid contact. That is right up next to the definition of lucky.

  105. @175 And you’re ignoring the crux of the issue, which is that Costanza is not trying to do any such thing. He’s trying to hit the ball hard and failing, but failing in such a way as to allow him to use his speed to leg out a hit. Fine. Good for him. But do you actually believe that is a sufficient enough “skill” for him to succeed for any significant period of time in the big leagues?

  106. @179 – I humbly suggest that you watch the games. Constanza has been intentionally chopping the ball into the dirt *all night long.*

    @177 – No, the mechanics of the Baltimore Chop is to have the bat control to contact the top of the ball and chop it down. To do that, the batter sacrifices power in his swing. It worked for Wee Willie Keeler, and it’s working for Constanza tonight.

  107. The defense really is way, way better with Prado at 3rd and Constanza and Heyward in LF and RF respectively. That’s got to make up for the offensive fall-off from Zombie Chipper to Constanza right?

  108. Ok, somebody’s got to talk to Heyward about trying to hit the ball straight down into the earth instead of all these line drives and going the opposite way with deep flyouts. If there’s anything that the last 90 years of baseball have proved, it’s that he won’t have any success with his attempts to hit for power.

  109. “Chopping the ball into the infield and attempting to leg it out is absolutely a skill.”

    That may be, but he also has a BABIP around .450 (after tonight). Leaving aside the fact that nobody can sustain that – including 1st ballot hall of famers – his career minor league BABIP is much lower. And minor league BABIPs are, on average, higher in the minor than in the majors. So he hasn’t been able to hit singles like this with any consistency even in the minors.

    I love what he’s doing right now, by the way. Results matter, even if they’re not predictive. It’s just that chopping the ball into the infield and attempting to leg it out, even if a skill, cannot be this successful without some luck.

  110. Pete — aren’t players, y’know, different? So shouldn’t they try to do different things to maximize their contributions?

  111. @181, If this a refined strategy that is ingrained and repeatable, how is it he is only now slugging over 450 (.524!)?

  112. Adam @ 189 – if we are to believe the BABIP line of reasoning, hitting the ball on a rope to the outfield, “even if a skill, cannot be…successful without some luck.”

    No one expects Constanza to continue to get on base at this clip. But it requires an inversion of head-inserted-into-one’s-own-ass depravity to praise the guy utterly lost at the plate (anyone watching the at bats tonight could tell you as much) with three K’s and a fly out, while hating on the guy that’s getting on base left and right.

  113. Because pitchers haven’t adjusted to it yet, for one thing. The response is to throw high strikes and inside pitches you can’t chop down on. Then he adjusts, if he can. I call this… baseball.

  114. @191 – This isn’t hard.

    To date, Constanza has been on fire, lining ropes to the gaps. He’s been seeing the ball and driving it.

    Last night, as noted by his three pop-up/can-o-corn fly ball outs, he started getting under the ball.

    Tonight, he’s *clearly* adjusting to try to get on the top half of the ball and play the chopper off the plate (and he’s gotten on three times by doing that.)

  115. @190 – Absolutely. My contention is with the idea that Constanza has tried to do anything other than hit balls hard tonight. The fact that Wee Willie Keeler maintained a .341 career average by supposedly attempting to hit balls straight down into the dirt over 100 years ago when players wore thin mockeries of modern fielding equipment on their hands does nothing to convince me that Constanza can have success, or is even attempting to have success, with the same strategy.

  116. @195 – I don’t mean this sarcastically. I’m asking honestly. Have you watched his at bats tonight? He’s clearly doing it intentionally.

  117. “But it requires an inversion of head-inserted-into-one’s-own-ass depravity to praise the guy utterly lost at the plate (anyone watching the at bats tonight could tell you as much) with three K’s and a fly out, while hating on the guy that’s getting on base left and right.”

    Very well, but since I haven’t said a word about Heyward tonight… well, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

  118. @201 – Sorry if I’m conflating posts.

    As JonathanF says @193, the adjustment pitchers will/should make is to pitch him high and in, eliminating his ability to get on top of the ball and chop it. If they do that, he’ll have to go back to a more standard approach. If they can’t do that without walking him, his strategy tonight is hella effective.

  119. @197 – I’ve seen all three of them. Play tonight’s three at bats over again 1,000,000x, and assuming he’s actually trying to do what your saying, and assuming that he makes fair contact with the ball in all of these (this is not a good assumption BTW) he’ll get a hit on about 35% of those at bats, not 100% of them. That’s ignoring the high number of strike outs that are going to result from his intentional attempts to miss most of the ball with the bat every time he swings.

    Good result tonight, of course. It’s great that we’ve been able to benefit from his good luck. But it’s just luck.

  120. Well, had to make it interesting. But the streak is extended and we got the W. Let’s keep it rolling against the Cubs.

    Vizcaino’s strike 3 pitch to Morrison was absolutely filthy.

  121. Good result tonight, of course. It’s great that we’ve been able to benefit from his good luck. But it’s just luck.

    Because nothing could ever fall outside of the brackets of things you already understand, right? Whatevs, dude. G’night, kids. Good win tonight.

  122. Guys, dead horses can’t get deader. Move the heck on. This blog is getting too damned bitchy lately.

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