Andrelton Simmons standing on a baseball field with a glove on his hand is a web gem waiting to happen, and this winter Braves Journal is going to determine which of his gems is the best of his bestâ€”his Jadeite. To see the previous posts in the series, click here.
Round 2: Glove: Optional vs. 180Ëš Genius
Editor’s Pitch: In Minnesota this year, that will be a hit against Ervin Santana. Last year in Atlanta it was top of the 5th, one down. The catch itself is insane enough, with Simmons making the call to barehand it to give himself a chance to throw the runner out. Then, when the ball bounced slightly differently than he seemed to be anticipating, he stayed with it and nailed the runner with a perfect throw. Perfection on a diamond.
Last Round: Glove: Optional beat Short Hop Maestro 34-11.
Editor’s Pitch: Simmons’s instincts on this play are crazy. After he was forced to change his route, he still wanted to try to get two. The problem was, he had to run back to the bag to get the first out, which put his back squarely toward first. How does he choose to compensate for that? By jumping and spinning 180Ëš and throwing mid-air. Seriously, who does that? The throw wasn’t great, but it was certainly catchable. Had Freddie been able to catch it, this would have been one of the coolest double plays I have ever seen.
Last Round: 180Ëš Genius beat Showing Off the Arm 39-5
Thank you, ‘Rissa. Andrelton entertains. Genius.
I’m not sure if we had a discussion about the suggested rule change to require a reliever to face 3 batters per outing (basically eliminating the LOOGY/ROOGY role, speeding up end of games, and increasing the potential late inning offense), but here’s another proposed rule change to address the same essential problem (lack of offense.)
Sources: MLB could alter strike zone as response to declining offense
I bring both up here because both could factor into making BJ Upton a semi-useful player again, especially bringing the K zone back up to the top of the knees. BJ has a lot of problems offensively these days, but the fact that he absolutely can’t do anything at all with low strikes is a big one.
Simmons is so much fun to watch.
So try increase scoring and speed up games? Seems counter-productive here. Last I checked more hits slowed down the game. Not that I’m complaining or anything but there were more than a few times were LaRussa made me pull my hair out for his bullpen pitching changes.
Hits don’t slow down games today. 10 minutes per pitching change, with a string of one-batter relievers from the 7th onward slow down games.
It’s actually kind of remarkable that games have kept getting slower even as offense has declined. It’s baseball stagflation.
The argument against doing away with the DH in the American League has always been the Players Association would never go for it because it would put those DH players who can only DH out of work. Wouldn’t a similar objection be made against the “face three hitters” rule change since it would potentially eliminate specialized pitchers?
Doubt it. LOOGYs aren’t paid like DHs are paid, obviously. They’re basically just fringy relievers, and they’re always in danger of losing their job to someone who can get both righties and lefties out. It’s not like baseball is banning the use of the closer to only get the final 3 outs of the game.
Go watch one of those MLB Network broadcasts from the ’60s or ’70s. (Or if you have SNY or YES Network, check out an old Mets or Yankees post-season game from that time.) What you really notice most is that very rarely does a hitter step out of the batters box for any length of time. Those games moved & that’s really the most noticeable part about it.
Preach it, Coop.
I just realized which David Carr folks are talking about. Sad news indeed. He was tremendous.
I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic. BJ Upton can ONLY hit low strikes. They have to be middle-in, but that’s his only hot zone. Anything thigh-to belt blows right by him. He also gets killed on low pitches out of the zone, but so does everyone.
See that red box with the .365–that’s low and in to BJ where he golfs.
Yeah, not the quarterback.
His book, “Night of the Gun,” is pretty harrowing/sketchy stuff, but it’s as original & honest a memoir as you’ll ever experience. Still, even if he never wrote that, his NYT columns over the years have been must-reads. His sense for the root of a story & his unflinching take on it was often really remarkable (and fairly rare in this climate).
Like any vital artist who dies in his prime—whether it’s Philip Seymour Hoffman or Vic Chesnutt—it’s hard not to be a little selfish about it, knowing that there won’t be any more of that great work to enjoy.
And we just signed EY Jr to a minor league deal with a ST invite. Isn’t he the one that broke Hudson?
@8 is the real culprit. Well that and commercials. And really, I am not sure ‘why’ a 2:40 game is so much more desirable than a 3:00 one that it’s worth fundamentally altering the rules to get there. Is there really any constituency that is ‘that’ pissed off over game length?
I remember thinking Young would have been a useful bench piece for some of the recent Braves teams, but he doesn’t do anything for the current incarnation unless he flukes into a decent first half and can be flipped.
@13, I never read Night of the Gun but now I need to. Brilliant journalist. It’s a gut punch to lose him.
I’m playing Baseball Mogul 2015, and BJ Upton actually doesn’t suck. Then it hit me. I know the Braves won’t make the playoffs this year, so I will label this season a success if BJ Upton just doesn’t suck. That’s it; that’s the extent of my hopes and dreams.
We working some kind of numbers for the “suck” threshold so we can all play along or is it just a sniff test season?
If he could hit .250/.300/.380 with decent defense, that’d be pretty much fine. The major league average for centerfielders last year was .265/.325/.394.
Obviously, he won’t, but that would be my threshold of minimum satisfaction.
@20 I’d be happy-ish if BJ could hit .225/.310/.360 this coming season. That line (combined with average D in CF) would actually push him up to about 2 WAR I think.
The problem isn’t the 3 hour games. It’s the 3.5 and 4 hour games that are required to bring the average/median game time up to 3 hours. And game length is something to tweak for, but not the primary concern that MLB should be addressing. The primary concern is the combination of an explosion of Ks and a dearth of offense. The game has and can survive well enough if it’s low runs scored, but lots of hits and running on the bases. But combine no offense with a sequence of one-out flamethrowers from the pen K’ing the side after the sixth? That’s unwatchwable. MLB is entertainment first and foremost, and they need to fix that problem. Their produce is impossible to enjoy right now.
It would be nice to see MLB cap the amount of times a manager could make a pitching change during an inning. Say you could only make a call to the bullpen twice per game in the middle of an inning (barring injury of course).
Force the managers to start their relievers at the top or bottom of an inning. We wouldn’t have to worry about Fredi letting our hitters bat for themselves and then only allow them to face one more batter before pulling them.
If MLB shrinks the strike zone, this will be good for us, because we mostly went all-in on building a pitching staff this offseason. We would’ve sold offense at the absolute peak of the market for pitching when it was at its nadir.
@24 – absolutely true.
Another interesting fact; John Schuerholz is a key player on MLB’s rules committee.
Dropping the DH would speed up the games, but the won’t do that
OT but who cares in February:
Am I wrong to think fangraphs significantly under-values health? I’ve been thinking about it ever since the flood of articles about the “snubbing” of Curt Schilling.
This year’s example:
Kershaw: 7.2 WAR
Cueto: 4.1 WAR
Would you rather have 34 starts from Cueto or 27 starts from Kershaw and 8 from Maholm? Would anyone say the second package is worth 75% more?
It’s hard to say there is an inefficiency with the difficulty predicting health, but there is definitely a flaw in creating the Hall of 75 WAR.
@23 How would you prove injury? 5 day mandatory DL?
Louis Jordan, the third best villian of all the mediocre Bond movies in the 80’s, has passed. Sad day, folks. Sad day.
If they wanted to shorten games by reducing pitching changes, why not just stop cutting to commercial during pitching changes? They pause longer than necessary just so they can run commercials, and ESPN and Fox games, they pause an extra 30 seconds longer than non-national games.
If they were comfortable losing revenue (fewer pitching changes = fewer commercial breaks) then why not just reduce the commercials and let the managers continue to deploy the optimal atrategy for winning actual baseball games.
I’m all for cutting regularity and length of advert breaks. The owners will be reticent on that because it takes money out of their pockets, obviously. But I’m cool with it. Ain’t my money.
I’m also on board with requiring relievers to face at least three batters, or end an inning. (If he comes in and retires two guys to end the inning, he can be replaced, because there’s no extra time required to have a new guy start the next inning.) I like that idea for both reducing delays for pitching changes during the games, as well as reducing the impact of late-middle relief pitchers coming in throwing 95 and making the end of games unwatchable.
I’m also on board with moving the bottom of the K zone back up to the bottom of the knees, rather than the top of the ankles. Again, reduce K’s, make them throw more hittable pitches, increase action and enjoyment of the product on the field.
Hitters get paid to hit; pitchers, to pitch. Why penalize pitchers because hitters insist on swinging from their heels and refuse to go the other way?
The pitches that are being called strikes at the ankles are unhittable.
True. Make the pitchers throw underhand, and call everything below thigh high a ball then. That should help the offense.
Sorry, Sam. I have little sympathy obviously, but I shouldn’t get on my soap box.
Honestly, do you think the umps are the bigger issue? Only the good ones can achieve any kind of consistency with the strike zone and even that the strike zone is not consistent among umps.
Just to stir a conversation.
Does the technology exist to define the strike zone electronically? Could strike calling be automated, thus allowing umpires only to make fair-foul and safe-out calls, which would be subject to review automatically?
No, the issue is that the umps are less terrible than they were, actually. When MLB implemented QuestTec and started grading the umpires based on their ability to call the QTec zone, strikes started migrating downward in the zone. The QT zone says that any pitch where the top seam of the ball crosses the lowest part of the back of the batter’s knee is a strike. That means a ball that crosses at the mid-shin/high ankle is a rule book strike. That’s a bad call, but that’s the call the computer says to make, so the umps grade out to the computer to keep their ratings high.
You can snark about underhanded pitching all you want, of course, but calling a 95 mph pitch at the ankle a strike is bad for the game.
I’m a good snarker.
Here’s a thing I did: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/a/25593
Very nice Alex. Just finished listening. Good balanced analysis. Pretty crazy Pecota projections for Kimbrel. Interesting that Bowman singled out Medlen as being a clubhouse leader that the team missed last season. I expected Hudson and McCann and Prado.