Sweeping up in Alameda (somebody needs to): Braves 7, Clumsies 3

As time goes on, we either learn stuff or get kicked in the ass. Sometimes we learn AND get kicked in the ass, but by learning, at least we lower the probabilities. My suspicion that such was the day for “The Strider of the Giants Causeway.”

Again, for most of this one, my only connection was ESPN Gamecast. A little came from the radio network (late). So without an eye on this, I am projecting or extrapolating. But I believe the Unathletics saw little hope against Strider and came in with a “bat lag, foul him off, and get some walks strategy.” To now, that monster heater, even as frequently as it is used, even against much better lineups, gets lots more swing and miss in the zone than what Gamecast showed. Well, the 2 early walks both scored on a double. After that, the monster awoke. One more walk that inning. No more walks. 36 pitches that inning. 70 more in the next 5 innings. The monster still needs a little better and more frequently used change up and still needs a little work on the slider for exactly these reasons. But, nevertheless he remains a monster. After one strikeout finished the first, there were 8 more.

The offense appeared to be in Hibernation Mode until inning 5. Then little d got hit by a pitch and soon a ball was “Vaughn Gone.” So, that evened it up. Then, Dansby launched one in the 6th to take the lead. Then 5 straight 1 out hits and it was 7 to 2. The “Merely wounding star” gave up a solo homer, but he is coming around. I think Deathstar will be fully operational when the calendar flips to October.

So, a day off in the Pacific Northwest. Then Mariners for 3.

Meanwhile, the Mets caused the Pirates to play like the Pirates and swept their doubleheader. So, this morning, Braves are a half game out. But yesterday morning, I saw where a prediction site had us favored at 57% to take the division. That tomahawk must be looking awfully big right now.

58 thoughts on “Sweeping up in Alameda (somebody needs to): Braves 7, Clumsies 3”

  1. JC’d from the previous thread:

    Watching the condensed game, I noticed a couple of things. First of all, he was clearly varying his fastball velocity — I saw it anywhere from 96 to 100. He was actually gaining velocity as the game went on; it seemed like he intentionally took a little off his fastball to regain feel as he was battling back in the second inning, which was cool to see.

    The other thing is, his slider is clearly continuing to evolve. The slider in the 16-K game appeared to have a lot more horizontal sweep than I’d seen before. Yesterday’s slider seemed to have a lot more 12-6 drop. In his PitchingNinja interview, Strider talked about how his primary focus is on the arm action and on tunneling the slider with the fastball, and basically figuring the shape would take care of itself. And as he’s continued to develop consistency the movement has absolutely improved all year, from where I would say his slider looked okay to not great earlier in the year, to now, to my eyes, it looks absolutely filthy.

    What did you guys see? What do you think?

  2. I put up a comment in the last thread and maybe it got buried or maybe it didn’t, but I’m going to repeat myself because I like all of you and I think I’d also like you all in person.

    I’m going to the game on Oct 1st, against the Mets. Timo will be there and we are planning a meet up. John Adcox is going to tagalong with me as well as a friend of mine named Jake. I would love for anyone else from our community to join if they can. I’m going to be ordering the tickets this weekend. If you want to join, email me at cothrjr at gmail dot com.

  3. Agree. To be honest, seeing just how far he hit that ball to the opposite field, showed me something I hadn’t realized about just how much power Grissom has. It was really something.

  4. He will learn how to pitch. Pitchers beat throwers every day. Ray’s relief pitcher
    Fastball 98
    Change up 92
    It fools hitters despite my puzzlement.
    Glavine will tell you throwing maximum on every fastball is throwing not pitching.
    Pitching is working all four quadrants of the strike zone with the fastball.
    Two seamers down, four up.
    Breaking balls and change ups down in and out. A balance of three pitches allows a complete game. Putting hitters away requires three good or better pitches, or hitters will foul balls away until you exit after 5 or 6 innings. The playoffs test everyone’s skills. Anxious to see how the youth responses.
    I saw someone with a white beard building an ark in South Tampa. Enough.

  5. MLB Network had a nice segment yesterday showing why Strider’s fastball, as good as the raw velo already is, plays up even more. He has a lot of extension (releasing the ball closer to home plate, which results in the 2nd-highest perceived velo in baseball – behind deGrom), and also has a relatively low release point, causing less drop (almost seeming to the hitter like it’s rising). And then especially if it’s up in the zone – good luck.

  6. @2 I’m not a prolific poster here, but I would’ve loved to attend the meet up if it weren’t geographically difficult for me at the moment.
    I would love for the braves to have the division in hand by the time that series rolls around, but a complete Mets collapse seems a bit difficult to imagine this year.

  7. Yeah the Mets are about to play 9 games against three of the worst teams in MLB. Our next 9 are Seattle, San Francisco, and Philly. Good chance that this stretch could decide things. If we hold our own and stay within a game or two, then I like our chances.

  8. I recall Joe on the radio saying that Grissom’s opposite field HR was hit into a strong wind. The flags were starched.

  9. I’m sure that making the MLB schedule is a complex process, but it seems like it would make more sense for the Braves to go from Oakland to San Francisco, maybe even staying in the same hotel, and then to Seattle rather than from Oakland to Seattle to San Francisco.

  10. 3 rule changes for next year to be voted on tomorrow:
    pitch clock
    no shift (4 players must play on the infield 2 on each side of 2nd base)
    15 inch bases (currently 12)

    Having seen about 30 minor league games this year I love the clock and nobody seems to notice it, so I can wholeheartedly approve this one.

    I would like to see another few years of the shift just to see what it would evolve into – and make no mistake, today’s shifts are different even from what we saw at the beginning of the season. I don’t love it, but I can live with the more traditional interpretation. I will note that the positioning of the 2nd baseman on the outfield grass which has been a part of the game since the 1870’s is now banned as well.

    The change of the bases is bigger than it seems: that’s 3″ off both ends of a stolen base which given how small the margins are means steals will become a better deal. The larger base also means it will be harder to overslide which means Mallex Smith is about to be the “new” Tim Raines again. I like this.

    Edit to add sauce: https://theathletic.com/3578254/2022/09/08/mlb-2023-rule-changes-pitch-clock/?source=twitterhq

  11. Snowshine, I was thinking about the effects of the bigger bases primarily making it easier to steal also. And overall you are correct I think. But wouldn’t the difference actually be only 4.5″ rather than 6″? Only first and third bases would gain the full 3″ into the basepaths. While the 3″ bigger 2nd base would be split equally giving an extra inch and a half to each side.

  12. Thanks, Cliff. Keep up the good work.

    Ryan, wish I could join you but cannot. Win it for those of us who are with you in spirit.

  13. I’m not sure if I’m in the minority opinion on the shift or not, but I feel like you should be allowed to put your 7 defenders anywhere you want. It adds nuance to the game. They gonna outlaw 5 infielders in a game-winning late inning situation too?

    Pitch clock? Yes. Bigger bases? No opinion. Seems like a safety issue more than anything so why not.

  14. @15, 17

    Could end up being much more than either of those numbers if MLB repositions 2nd base. I don’t know if MLB is doing it, but they experimented with it in most minor league parks this year.

    The article linked below by Jayson Stark (The Athletic) does a good job explaining it, but basically, since the days of Old Hoss Radbourne, 2nd base has never been where it “should be”, relative to 1st and 3rd base. If they were to move it to its “rightful” home, combined with the 3″ larger bases, the result would be a shortening of the distance between 1st & 2nd (and 2nd & 3rd) by 13.5″!

    I’ll try to post a picture from the article for those that don’t have access to the Athletic.

    https://theathletic.com/3212654/2022/03/28/why-baseball-is-moving-second-base-and-what-this-experiment-could-mean-for-the-game?source=user-shared-article

  15. @17 No I think it’s 6 inches closer as stated. Draw a diagram with the far point of 2nd at the same position as today and both opposite edges are 3” closer to their respective bases.

    Just saw @20. I am assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the far side of the bases stay at their current positions.

  16. krussell, I’m with you. The game is already more offense friendly than the historical average I think. I love the pitch clock because games have grown so long and tedious at times. I don’t think it will tilt the scales too much either way. While the bigger bases will probably provide another advantage to the offense I think it will be small and I am for the added safety factor. I’m against the shift ban. Already too many changes in the game, from ball park size, to rules, to bigger athletes, to better lighting, to the baseballs themselves, and several others that favor offense. We don’t need to ban one of the few tactical advantages the defense still has. It’s been allowed in the game forever and teams should be allowed to deploy their defenders as they see fit. I understand the argument that it would increase base hits and exciting tactical situational baseball rather than being more dependent on the home run as the game has become. But I don’t think banning the shift will decrease home runs at all as players will still try to hit the ball with the barrel and proper launch angle just as much. It will just create more home runs with additional base runners and more scoring overall. If baseball wants to ban the shift it needs to do something that will offset this additional offensive advantage to an equal or greater degree. I don’t know if that’s changing the mound height or allowing pitchers to use gripping substances again or more humidor use or something else but I for one don’t want to see another level of increased offense. That would also make the games longer which is a problem they acknowledge and are trying to address with the pitch clock

  17. Well, we’ll just try this. If you end up being able to actually see the picture linked below, you can see that lines from the outer edges of 1st and 3rd intersect 2nd in the middle of the base, rather than the outer corner. They hypothesized that 1st and 3rd were moved to their current spots to assist with fair/foul calls, but no one bothered to move 2nd. And it’s been that way ever since. And probably almost nobody even knew. Wild. In a nerdy sort of way.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/tdZAiEhmjh3Df4138

  18. Add me to the chorus. No prob with pitch clock. Huge problem with forcing fielders to play in a certain place.

    I just hate it because it’s such a gross departure from tradition.

    Another way to fight against shifts would be to reinstate an old rule from the bygone era: let a foul bunt with two strikes remain as a foul ball, not a strike out. That would encourage more bunting against the shift.

    Sure, it’s a little ridiculous – but at least it’s consistent with baseball tradition!

  19. Pitchers can step off the mound for a pickoff or any other reasons — a “disengagement” it’s called — twice per plate appearance if there is a runner on base. But, if a runner advances during the same plate appearance, i.e., by stealing a base, the pitcher gets another two step-offs. Stepping off resets the clock to its full time (20 or 15 seconds depending on whether a runner is on).

    If a pitcher steps off a third time or more, the penalty depends on what happens. If the runners are safe, the pitchers are charged with a balk. If an out is recorded, like on a successful pickoff, no balk is charged. No balk is charged if a runner advances, either.

    Haven’t seen this part talked about much yet. If they implement this part of the proposal then stolen bases should skyrocket. I mean, what kind of jump will guys be getting once a pitcher has thrown over twice and you know he can’t do it again? Not sure I like this part at all. Maybe make the penalty a ball instead? A balk seems really harsh.

  20. I’m for the pitch clock. I’m fine with bigger bases, for both safety and encouraging running.

    I’m against opening the can of worms that will result from defining where players are positioned. As someone else pointed out, there’s a long-standing precedent of bringing in an outfielder in late game situations. Generally, I feel like this is equivalent to other sports defensively shutting down a superstar and making someone else beat you.

  21. @21. I’m trying to find a way to see your 6″ closer but my feeble mind just can’t figure it out. To me it’s like this. If each of 1st and 3rd bases outside edges remains on the base/foul line, and the bases are 3″ bigger, that makes both bases 3″ closer to 2nd base. And 2nd base is 3″ bigger as well. But it’s not going to be moved off it’s halfway position between 1st and 3rd so it’s 3″ extra gets divided equally and is 1 1/2″ closer to each respective base/foul line. A total of 4 1/2″ closer each between 2nd and each of the 1st and 3rd base bags. Another way of saying it is that you’ve added 9″ total width among the three bases and if you’re not moving anything over across the foul lines, and 2nd base is still positioned equi distant between the other two that extra 9″ can only be divided in half, with an equal split of 4 1/2″ less distance on either side of 2nd base.

  22. @28 Assuming that the back corner of the base is at the same spot as now, both sides facing 1st and 3rd are three inches closer. So 3” more first base and 3” of second base. Second is 3”wider on two sides, so you don’t have to divide it.

    I think I’m picturing it right.

  23. I don’t have a strong opinion either way on the shift. However, is it just my opinion or are we seeing fewer highlight reel plays in the infield because of the shift? It seems 2nd basemen are much different with the shift. They need better arms since they play in the outfield a lot but not as much range because 3rd basemen are often nearby.

  24. Mallex Smith is about to be the “new” Tim Raines again.

    It was only a matter of time, snowshine. Only a matter of time.

  25. I just made a little trip down memory lane regarding my just mind-boggling bad assessment of Mallex Smith circa 2016.

    Mallex was new to baseball but possessed elite athleticism, and at age 23, hit .238/.316/.365 with 16 SBs and a 1.1 HR% in 215 PAs. I said he could become somewhere between Kenny Lofton and Tim Raines. That was ludicrous, incomprehensible, and I should have been banned from this blog the second I said it had I not been in a overseeing role. An all-timer, even for a guy like me.

    Michael Harris had a 2.5 HR% in AA before being called up. He has immediately improved his home run percentage of PAs to 4.4, nearly doubling it overnight while facing the hardest competition. Unsustainable, perhaps, but really incredible. Mallex’s HR%, on the other hand, got worse as he aged. He cut his HR% in half the year after his rookie season (0.7), and then almost cut it in half again (0.5%) the next year. He did not improve his stolen base % of PAs the next year, but then exploded with 40 SBs the next year (doubling his rate of attempt per PA) while turning in a 115 OPS+. That was his high water mark, he was then terrible for Seattle the next year, and then he was out of baseball halfway through the next year.

    Really weird that a football star and elite athlete never seemed to add any power to his game, and instead got worse in the power department. He basically said he’d be a 1980’s outfielder when everyone was playing like 2010’s outfielders. Michael Harris, on the other hand, has magically exploded into a true 5-tool player with above average power for his position after seemingly not possessing it 3 months ago in AA. WTF?

    Would Mallex have been helped by Kevin Seitzer? Who was telling Mallex Smith to play like Juan Pierre? Weird.

  26. The 2nd base stuff is fascinating, y’all. Thanks for sharing.

    Echoing a lot of the smart thoughts above re: teams should be allowed to put defenders wherever they want. For everyone who is disappointed that a hard-hit smash up the middle is no longer a hit, people used to hit balls really hard right at the shortstop all the time, too. Just, nobody cared, because… that’s where the defender was! This might be unfair, but it reminds me a little bit of something (which I might be misremembering) from the Ken Burns baseball doc, where there was apparently some early opposition to the curveball back in the Olde Times, because some thought the pitch was ‘un-Christian’ in its deception. Despite the sinfulness, the game evolved, and batters eventually learned how to hit it!

    I will say I find some dumb poetic romance in the fact that baseball is a game without a clock. But I’ve come around to the pitch clock thing (though limiting the # of pickoff attempts seems weird/unnecessary to me), and this fun article by Grant Brisbee from a few years back is part of what sold me on it— he compared two very similar games across eras to try to find the difference in game times, and it turned out the biggest culprit was “inaction pitches,” pitches resulting either in a ball, a called strike, or a swinging strike, with no fouls/outs/hits being made. Somehow these took basically twice as long in our era.

  27. @33/35 – And I specifically remember that the first time Martin Prado came up, I wrote: “If Prado is the answer, I don’t want to know the question”.

  28. cph, ain’t nothing more unChristian than a hundred mph fastball followed by a killer slider out of the same arm slot; but a nicely chucked Chuck Morton curve’s pretty close.

  29. I thought Juan Francisco was going to hit 40 HRs for us, back in the day. Do I get any credit for this bad take? (Whither FatJuan…)

    Nobody really ever thinks about the rules that have been in place for a hundred years, but I guess at the beginnings, when the rules were still being worked out, the two-strike bunt rule was put in there in order to speed up the game. Can you imagine some pesky dude named Skeeter O’Malley just up there bunting foul balls on purpose for like 20 minutes, running up pitch counts and driving everyone insane?

  30. There doesn’t seem to be much controversy among us chickens on this. I would point out that the new rule would certainly allow you to put an outfielder anywhere you wanted, so long as four guys are on the dirt and two are on each side of second. Still think it’s a bad change, though.

    FYI: denied yet another Thursday recap, I’m working on something I’ll post late this afternoon.

  31. I thought Tommy Hanson was going to be out next Timmy Hudson :(

    Hindsight is cruel. Especially cruel in some cases.

  32. They want to speed up the game, but taking away the shift is going to slow the game down because it will allow more hits.

  33. To quote The Long Kiss Goodnight: may the best of our past be the worst of our future!

  34. I completely agree with the apparent consensus here that the proposed anti-shift rule is a bad idea. It will indeed lead to more hits and offense. Why? Because the shift works! For all the fan complaining when their team shifts and the other team hits it where they ain’t, the shift takes away far more hits than it allows. That’s why they do it.

    I guess more scoring is what the powers that be want, but as I’ve said before, I prefer a 2-1 game over an 8-7 game any day. Maybe that’s baby boomer nostalgia, but I’m not sure most fans want to see the longer games that will result with more hits and runs.

    And in any event, the emphasis on barrels and the long ball will only accelerate. I think that at some point if extreme shifts continue, hitters may start to take the advice that Chip gives 30 times per game: “If he could just guide one the other way, he’d have a hit!” If you can get more hits by swinging hard and pulling the ball (as the new rule would lead to), batters are even less likely to go back to the Tony Gwynn or Rod Carew approach.

  35. Are the dimensions of the infield dirt uniform throughout baseball? Infield firmness certainly is not which causing significant differences in how fast a ground ball gets through the infield. The positioning rule will put a premium on infielders’ quickness. If they can, teams will extend the infield dirt out as far as possible to give my infielders a better angle at groundballs.

  36. Man, we’re about to see some huge changes in baseball. More emphasis on contact, more emphasis on speed, more emphasis on infield defense. Dang.

    I do love the pitch clock. Keep the show going, boys.

  37. The game will be a bit faster, but I don’t see offenses changing strategy. I think the three-true-outcomes approach has been proven superior. If anything, the bigger hole on the right side will just make power lefties even more pull happy. Freddie Freeman is going to win a batting title probably, but outside that I don’t see much change coming. As long as pitching staffs have 5 guys throwing 100, hitting HRs is the best strategy. You aren’t stringing together 3 singles against deGrom all that often.

  38. Guess I’m just the contrarian to what seems to be the consensus in here regarding the shift. I hate seeing the shift. I can’t fully explain it, but it doesn’t feel like baseball to me. It feels like a cheat code in a video game.

    Also, shorter game run time is not the ultimate best outcome for MLB. A 3hr 15 minute game with 15 hits is preferable to a 3hr game with 5 hits.

  39. While we’re playing contrarian, exactly how much time per game is taken up by ads?

    Re: the shift. I saw quite from a MLB player who basically said, yeah, I COULD hit a single through the hole in the shift, but it’s still better for the team if I try for the home run. I don’t know the numbers, but I’d bet they back him up.

  40. @33, 35, 36, 39, 41 – I thought when Glenn Hubbard came up in 1978 that he was likely to have a better career than Dale Murphy.

  41. Oh, hey, cph’s article answers the commercial question! About 10 extra minutes more in 2014 vs 1984.

    And it is an outstanding fun article!

  42. I was convinced when the Braves extended Freddie but not Heyward that they had the wrong guy. I was sure Jason would have a more productive and longer career.

  43. Baseball will continue to get worse. A great game will soon be an embarrassment. Maybe next year. My memory of playing will always be of a pure beautiful game.
    All sports as bad as some are, they are passing the joke called baseball. DH, aluminum bats, restricted defense, running on second, relief pitcher restrictions. Why just put the ball on a post like some youth leagues? Give a trophy to every team, and admit you fucked the Picasso into a paint by number.
    Assholes.
    This is probably my last comment
    High school and college wrestling just around the corner.
    I wish the best to all who tolerated me.

    Plus concerts at Red Rocks, Skippers Smokehouse, The Capital Theater, and so many more venues.
    Please be safe.

  44. @51, that’s true but as the article points out, the length of the commercials is proportional to the length of the game. The longer the game, the more commercial breaks. So the ads are actually more of a symptom than a cause.

  45. @54 true, true

    And I’d love to see similar numbers for the NFL and NBA. As the article said, there’s plenty of time (like a relief pitcher coming in) when they might as well show commercials, because there’s not really anything else going on.

    And in the grand scheme of things, I get it. This is a business. I just wish that the ad revenue meant that it was cheaper for us to enjoy the game, through lower ticket prices or free streaming. Giving us access to the advertisingOopsIMeanGames increases the people seeing the ads, right?

  46. The biggest show-me is ending the truly insane blackout rules. Until MLB gets that right, it’s impossible to take them seriously on any of their claims of being fan-friendly.

  47. The black out rules are flat out criminal.

    In other news, it’s pretty interesting how we went from “Ozzie is woefully underpaid” to “has Ozzie been Wally Pipp’ed”?

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