We all know Ronald AcuÃ±a Jr. is special. How special? Well, he had, before tonight, 395 games played in the major leagues. Comparing him to the other 3,928 players who managed to play 395 games or more after their first 395 games (thanks, Stathead), he ranks:
- Fourth in homers, behind only Ryan Howard, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge. So he is performing better than every member of the HOF.
- 23rd in total bases, behind 13 HOFers and only two active players: Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun.
- He is only 49th in OPS, which I find a little surprising, but it is no slight to note that RAJ trails the leader, Ted Williams, whose first 395 games sported a gaudy 1.086. (RAJ is at 0.925, which is only a little ahead of Ryan Klesko.) That said, 19 of these players are in the HOF, and another half a dozen or so are on the short list of guys who will get in eventually. You’d be hard-pressed to find a much better prediction from a one-dimensional tool.
But what strikes me is that these lists, dotted as they are with many HOF members, also contain a bunch of guys who had a great first 400 games, but whose careers for one reason another never quite reached legendary status â€“ guys like Klesko and Jim Gentile and Travis Hafner. Gary Sanchez is not likely to make the Hall of Fame. RAJ is a great baseball player, is great fun to watch, and is still odds-on to rescue the Bravesâ€™ current lethargy. But itâ€™s amazing how far he has to go to be an alltime great. Weâ€™ve missed you Ronald. Stick around this time.
Austin Riley was sufficiently unnerved by RAJ’s return that he put the first pitch he saw from Drew Smyly in the left field seats. The Cubs tied the game up on a pickoff play in which the guy picked off first lasted long enough between the bases to allow a man from third to score. I though you were supposed to practice this stuff in spring training. I guess that was one of the days they missed.
Drew Smyly, who some of you will remember as a guy with a World Series ring, had a problem with the gopher ball last season. When you have a problem with the gopher ball, you’re the sort of guy who gives up homers to Dansby Swanson. That gave us the 2-1 lead. Last season, about halfway through, I said Drew Smyly was dead to me. As long as he pitches against us though, I suppose I can accept Zombie Smyly. He ended up pitching 4 2/3, giving up two dingers and leaving men on 2nd and 3rd.
Smyly made 23 starts last year. He went less than 4 2/3 in 8 of them. He gave up more than 2 runs in 13 of them. He gave up 2 homers or more in 7 of them. This was a slightly above average 2021-vintage-Smyly appearance, but not so much that I miss him… particularly not given that he has been replaced by the magnificent Kyle Wright who pitched efficiently and well for 7 very strong innings. His ERA increased to a Gibsonesque 1.13.
Smyly was replaced by Scott Effross who Avilaned the two inherited runners. It is not well known how he became a Cub. Apparently, Cubs Manager David Ross said he needed another arm in the bullpen and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said “F… Ross!” and he was taken literally.
A big tension moment of the game came after RAJ’s first hit in the 7th when Riley faced yet another recent ring-bearer, Chris Martin, with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 7th. Martin turned Riley’s bat to Goop with a weak grounder to 3rd. (That is hopefully my last lame Gwyneth Paltrow reference.)
Travis d’Arnaud and Adam Duvall conspired to deprive Will Smith of a save with three runs knocked in in the 8th. With him out of the closer role, and given his success in the postseason last year, we may have to retire the Hancock thing for a while. No need to slap him around any more than necessary.
I am not yet ready to weigh in on the baseball aerodynamics question. And I won’t be until at least June. I suspect that this is not the difference between night and day… more like the difference between standard time and daylight savings.
I feel safe in saying that we weren’t going to repeat as World Champions if we failed to win a series this year. Indeed, I suspect we need to win more than one series a month. But the road to another ring starts with the first series win. On to Arlington.
Sports jacket. OMG. Paging a 1970’s prom. (Was there a worse period for fancy dress in world history?)
In the last two days, Frenchy has done a great job telling Chip he has no idea what he’s talking about. Frenchy’s genius in this regard is to do this so much more amiably than I would. My favorite in this game is when Chip commented on a fly ball and was (per his normal procedure) shocked that a ball that sounded so loud was short of the track. Frenchy first said “yeah, it was loud, but he hit it too high.” This then made Chip (who has always equated sound with distance) say that the problem was that the wind caught the ball. Frenchy then repeated, ever so gently, his original remark, rather than pointing out (as I screamed at the screen) that little short of a hurricane could change a fly ball’s landing spot by 30 feet.
Another good one: “Is there a psychological trap in saying the savior is back?” “No.” Don’t even acknowledge that this is a good question, Frenchy.
It sure was nice to see the boys put the ball over the fence tonight! Glad that both Dansby and Duvall could end their droughts.
From last thread:
From my perspective, this start for Wright may have been the most confidence inspiring. Not because every pitch was working perfectly, but because he had some adversity and persevered. He now has a 1.13 ERA and a .83 WHIP and 34 strikeouts over 24 innings. Iâ€™m totally impressed.
From last thread: Olson just hit a 116.8mph double last night (2nd cubs game), so he is still stinging it on occasion. Well yes, he looks like he is slumping, who thought he was going to hit .400 all year. Peaks and valleys, my friend.
And yes td, Wright has been quite the revelation. That 1.13 ERA includes the only run scored today, on that boneheaded pickoff play. He should be under 1.00
Quite a few balls were WALLOPED tonight.
Wonderful stuff, thank you
“No need to slap him…” made me laugh out loud in the office to strange looks from my team. I have declined to explain my outburst as they just wouldn’t get it
It is written, “Thou shalt love JonathanF.”
Grrreat recap, JF, plus the win.
Beautiful recap, JonathanF. “Effross/F…Ross” – funny.
And how about that Kyle Wright?!
I did call Dansby’s first HR against Smyly. Just sayin’.
Yes, great recap. When I catch some of your pop culture references, I always wonder how many others I’m missing.
I imagine that many of the players who had a great first 400 games but weren’t destined for Cooperstown were players who started older and so were already at their peak.
@7 yes you did
JonathanF, can you share the Stathead query? (I’m having trouble figuring out how to run the “through this player’s first 395 games” query!)
AAR: the span queries are a little flaky. I had to run this one seven times yesterday before it ran without an error. If you’re gettin a Bad Gateway Error, then you’re probably doing it right! I just tried to run it three more times and it failed every time. If I manage to get it to run, I’ll post it.
Here’s the HR query, which runs more reliably: https://stathead.com/tiny/JWZui
Oh it’s a span query – that’s smart! I’ve never used one of those.
My new least favorite Chip-ism is the thing where he goes around the broadcast booth and asks everyone how many people they think are in the crowd, and then finally gives out the real number. Nobody cares what the booth crew’s GUESS for the attendance is, and if you give us a whole bunch of numbers beforehand, nobody’s going to remember what the real number was. I like hearing the attendance — but don’t give us all the guesses!!
Here’s how I imagine Chip thinks this is received (from my Tweeter account): “Merriment and general hilarity ensue! Many laughs are shared. New bonds are formed, and old ones restored. Strong men are brought to tears, and lovers embrace a little tighter. The young lads and maidens dance and sing, for Tom’s prediction was but thirty score short of the actual.”
I agree completely. I was going to write that up, but it seemed so small in the pantheon of annoyances. And don’t forget that the “rules” make the winner the closest without going over for no particular reason. It won’t be interesting until we get picks from The Freeze. (JK!)
The Cubs’ radio team have had an “attendance game” for many years, since Ron Santo (RIP) was the color commentator. Of course, now it’s sponsored. It probably predates Chip’s move from the Cubs to the Braves. I suppose that’s where he picked it up.
Braves keep signings utility players who can’t play SS to MILB deals. The last is Hernan Perez who, surprisingly, has 10 years of MLB service.
Just noticed that Waters played last night. Single and a double in three ABs.
@15 there’s rules?! And a winner?! Wow, I guess I REALLY stop listening during that section of the broadcast.
@16 makes sense he’d bring it over from the Cubs broadcast, I get the sense he kind of wishes he was in THAT booth every night…
So after a Bad Gateway error of my own, I finally got the query to work! Because OPS seems so vulnerable to things like vicissitudes, zeitgeists, and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, I decided to sort on RE24 â€”Â Base-Out Runs Added, which (along with WPA) is maybe the most saber-y stat they have available. And I went through 396 games, after Ronald’s 1-5 night last night.
Just like with OPS, Ronald came in around 50th place. But I think RE24 has a slightly better studs-to-scrubs ratio than OPS.
The top eight consists of six Hall of Famers plus Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, who are locks. Numbers 9 through 20 include six Hall of Famers, four Hall of Very Gooders, and Juan Soto, who’s essentially the new Pujols; the only player who really breaks the mold is Jim Gentile, a classic example of a guy who didn’t get established till his late 20s, then had a couple good years and fell off quickly.
Ronald is in 53rd place; of the 52 men above him, roughly half are Hall of Fame quality: twenty-two are in the Hall (including Monte Irvin, whose candidacy included his performance in multiple leagues); Trout and Pujols are certain to be inducted; at least three more active players are reasonably likely to make it (Juan Soto, Buster Posey, Joey Votto); and Dick Allen’s a likely eventual Veterans Committee inductee.
One impressive thing is just how much better Soto has been, though.
If you’re on Twitter, read this whole thread.
@20: I think we can agree that Soto has been better with the bat, but Ronald is (a) better with the glove; and (b) faster on the basepaths. Does that close the whole gap? One measure you might use is WAR/162 games. Ronald is at 6.1, Soto at 6.2. Pick your Waner.
Of all the lineups Iâ€™ve seen, this is definitely one of them.
For those interested in what Kyle B. is saying:
Once you accept that Acuna was not going to play today, then I’m pretty happy with this lineup. Get Heredia and Contreras some ABs.
I don’t have a problem with Acuna getting some rest, but their plan as laid out the other day is pretty much cockamamie. It’ll have him playing like 60 percent of the games. I mean, he doesn’t need to Freeman it or anything, but the left-handed side of a platoon plays more often than they described the other day. If he can’t play more often than that, he shouldn’t be back. For the record, I think he pretty obviously can.
What was Bauer charged with? Iâ€™m confused.
@ 27, no criminal charges.
It was a severe heat up. And after the first beat up, woman sent texts effectively saying give it to me way more. The counter to permission is â€œthe any foolâ€œ defense. As in â€œany fool would know she didnâ€™t want that big of a beat down.â€ He has to be a twisted joker, but 2 years when there isnâ€™t enough â€œthereâ€ to get California prosecutors to prosecute or California judges to issue restraining orders.
“If his last name sounds familiar, it’s because his brother Adonis Garcia played for the Braves.”
If his last name sounds familiar? Garcia? There have been 51 Garcias in MLB history.
Avisail (who we saw this week) might sound familiar too, but he is of course unrelated
That seems like a good time to have tuned in.
Demeritte was looking 4 before he hit 2nd base.
@31 he was in a position to see the CF attempt to field the ball!
July 3, 1943 Leon Culberson
You heard it here first.
@33 JonathanF, can your statistical search magic say how many RBI we’ve had on HR this year, compared to how many HR? Optimally with some kind of comparison set.
As I know many of you thought before the game, this lineup is a homerun hitting juggernaut. Seriously, how many were expecting two homeruns from Contreras and an inside the park homer from Demeritte? Not me.
@34: Counting tonight, the Braves have 28 home runs this season with 33 RBIs, for an average runs per homer of 1.2.
In 2021, the Braves hit 262 homers with an average RBI total of 1.6.
From 1966-2021 the Braves have hit 8545 homers with an average RBI total of 1.6
Last year, all of MLB hit 6037 homers with an average RBI of 1.58
@36 Perfect! thank you.
One more take: Last year, the 30 teams ranged from 1.4 (Oakland) to 1.73 (Miami)
Great win tonight.
@21 that’s fascinating insight from Davidson, thanks for sharing.