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VOLUME:XLVII ... June 1, 2021


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How's everyone doing with the "ghost" runner on 2nd base in extra innings. In case you forgot how it works, here's a quick link to our Constitution/MLB section , where this resides. I believe everyone's health is doing just fine and other than having to go to work, for some, the coming summer looks great. Remember if you need any file, at the upper left of the TEAMS page has a link or you can just email me. Time to look at our pennant races.

 

HARWELL DIV: alb2

Albuquerque has just crushed anyone that got in the way as built their 17 game lead. As you'll see in the team stats section they hit the ball far better than anyone else. Pitching is pretty good too. They haven't lost a series at home OR away. They are on pace for 135 wins. Last month the Horsemen were a league best 21-6 (11-3h). Knob Noster holds down second place as they struggle with their struggling pitching staff is helped out by a solid hitting attack. The Knuckleheads despite a solid 16-11 (9-5h) in May lost five more games to Albuquerque in the standings. In third we find Havre de Grace. The Bucs are 9 back of the Knobbies after their blah 13-14 (7-7h) month. We have dead heat for 4th place with Kentucky and Uniontown. They are 30 out of first and four games out of 3rd. The Bourbons were 14-13 (7-7h) last month. The Raiders posted a 13-14 (9-5h) record in May and have yet to win a road series.

 

CARAY DIV: stars2

Our lone pennant fight is here. Western NY has a tiny one game lead. The North Stars were 17-10 (8-5h) last month to stay in front. Hot on their heels is Laurel Highlands with an excellent hitting side of the ledger. The Mustangs put up the exact same record as WNY and isn't giving one inch in the fight. Way behind those two 18 games out of first is Centralia. The Minefires put up an 11-16 (4-9h) record in May. Four games behind them in 4th place is Lincoln. The Lightning were a horrible 6-21 (3-10h) last month. Dead last we find Syracuse, four games out of fourth and 26 out of first. The Blues just a tick better than Lincoln with a 7-20 (3-10h) May record have yet to win a home series. Poor hitting probably the reason or maybe it's the equally lousy pitching. Whatever the reason they suck.

 

ALLEN DIV: fatcats2

Ottawa increased their lead to seven games as they try to put this race to bed. Undefeated on the road in series play, the Fat Cats were 14-4 (7-2h) last month and their pitching staff at home is the best in the league. Bennett Run pitching is the best in league with an offense in the middle of the pack has second place. The Boilermakers were 12-6 (7-2h) in May. Third place and 15 out of first is Burnsville. The Blaze had a disappointing 7-11 (2-7h) month and are getting some good pitching at home. Fourth place and 20 out of first and 5 out of third is Etiwanda. The Anteaters were 9-9 (6-3h) last month. In the cellar it's Sin City. The Knights have the leagues worst pitching and hitting which isn't a good thing and are now 8 out of fourth and 28 out of first. The Knights were a sad 3-15 (1-8h) in May

 

TEAM STATS: This section could easily be labeled "Albuquerque Top 10 Hits". They lead the league in runs, hits, homers, walks, doubles and tied for most triples. In case that didn't impress you, they also lead everyone in AVG, SLG, the only team with 900+ OPS and boring everyone to tears they are ahead by 170 in total bases, 40+ in extra base hits and have put over 900 people on bases. They do strikeout a bunch though if that makes us feel any better. Ahem, elsewhere around the hitting side of stats we see Sin City offense has some problems. They are the only team hitting under 200, under 800 in total bases and last in OBP, SLG, just barely over 200 runs, not yet at 400 hits and not even close to putting 600 runners on base. The anti-Albuquerque shall we say? Knob Noster is one of two with over 400 runs. Syracuse is second best in drawing walks. Kentucky is matching the Horsemen in whiffs. On the bright side, the Bourbons are way better than the rest in steals which is something Burnsville has no interest in doing. Lincoln hitters must have lots of body armor or IL members. Laurel Highlands is flat out awesome at hitting in doubleplays. Quite a spectacular display of defense by Burnsville, especially at home. Havre de Grace and defense? Nope. Centralia really sad OPS at home.... On the mound side of team stats Bennett Run is the top of the class but there are four other teams with ERA's in the threes. Sin City and Lincoln putting up some impressive complete game totals along with their alarming ERA's. Lincoln owns a 6+ ERA at home. Ottawa hurlers don't give up many homers while the Knobbies throw lots of fat pitches. Burnsville pitchers are going to make you hit the ball because walking hitters is not happening much and just barely happening at home. Lincoln pitchers are still thinking the plate moves. Syracuse & Albuquerque strike out a ton of hitters while at Ottawa it is contact time...... In case you wonder about this kind of thing we are scoring 9.6 runs a game, 16.1 hits, 3.3 dingers, 6.3 walks and 16.8 whiffs. That's for both teams in the game.

 

PLAYER STATS: castromax liam We still have six hitters over 300 in average. Willi Castro (Alb) this month's surprise leader. Freddie Freeman (Ott) tops in OBP & OPS (he's the only 1000 guy) plus he's 2nd in Average and Slugging. Jose Abreu (Kno) well out in front in RBI along with extra base hits and tops in Slugging plus he's second in homers. Trea Turner (Kno) on top of both the hits & doubles list. Mike Trout (Sin), the pride of Sin City, leads us in bombs but only by one. Brandon Belt (Alb) leads the Walks board and is 2nd in OBP. Shall we just give Adalberto Mondesi (Ken) the Stolen Base crown now? No surprise to see Joey Gallo (Ken) with the most whiffs. Brian Downing in 1989 hit 151 for the season. Matt Olson (Bur) is really giving that one a shot with his 135 hitting. Ramon Laureano (Hav) & Joey Gallo (Ken) also more horrible than Brian..... On the mound we find six pitchers with ERA's in the twos. Yu Darvish (LHi) not much from being in the ones. Antonio Senzatella (Eti) is the worst of two in the sevens! Trevor Rogers (Lin) the other guy equally that bad. Jacob deGrom (WNY) on top of the Wins list with a very tidy 11-0 record. Then at the opposite end of that stat, we have Kyle Freeland (Utw) and his 0-10 record. Two others with 10 losses. Max Scherzer (Syr) leading the K board by a couple. Liam Hendriks (WNY) on top the Save chart. Six pitchers with WHIP's under one, Jacob deGrom (WNY) the best. If you like whiffs, Justin Bieber (Bur) is your man per 9ip. Corbin Burnes (Alb) isn't even allowing five hits per 9.

 

PAGE TWO: belt We have four 500 hitters and Garret Hampson (Utw) is 2 for 4. That said, Ke'Bryan Hayes (Ken) is rocking in his rookie year. He's hitting 391 (52/133) and a 1210 OPS. Kolten Wong (Bur) still locked in at 000 with 21 at bats. Kike Hernandez (Bur) isn't hot either with a 082 (5/61ab). No extra base hits yet for Wilson Ramos (Kno) after 27 at bats. Brandon Belt (Alb) still the leader in runs with 60. Raimel Tapia (Eti) has been nailed 4 of his 8 steal attempts while Trea Turner (Kno) is 13 fpr 13 in stealing bases. Willson Contreras (Lin) and teammate Keston Hiura have been hit 14 times which has yet to happen to Marcel Ozuna (Alb) after 307 PA's. Manny Machado (LHi) top man in hitting into DP's with 16 while his teammate Dominic Smith has 0 after his 168 PA's. Trea Turner (Kno) has made 17 errors. We have 40 players still in the minors..... On the hill Shawn Armstrong (Hav) has yet to allow an earned run after 15.7ip for his 0.00 ERA and then there is Luis Patino (Lin) with a 10.29 after 7ip. We have 37 undefeated pitchers and as noted before Jacob deGrom's (WNY) 11-0 is best. There are 28 winless pitchers and also noted before, Kyle Freeland's (Utw) 0-10 is the bottom of the barrel. Luke Weaver (Lin) has the most complete games with 12 and also leads in walks with 54 over 117.0ip. Sonny Gray (Hav) has three shutouts. Antonio Senzatela (Eti) has given up 27 bombs in 68.3ip while Mychal Givens (Hav) has none after 26.3ip. James Karinchak (Syr) has 15.3 k/9 ratio (30/17.7ip). Jesse Hahn (Ben) has a 0.00 WHIP in 5.7ip and Luis Patino (Lin) has a 2.71 with 9 bb/10h in 7.0ip. Finally Nick Wittgren (Cen) and Dylan Flore (Cen) have been in 32 games. Twenty-two with zero games

 

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THE SHOW

 

Major League Baseball has become Dave Kingman - Joel Sherman: NY Post

 

kingman

It hits .236 — Kingman’s lifetime average. It walks in 8.9% of its plate appearances and strikes out in 24.1% — Kingman’s averages were 8.2 and 24.4 (as of 5/22/21). It does this in an endless hunt to hit home runs. In Kingman’s 1971 debut season, a plate appearance ended in a walk, strikeout or homer 24.7% of the time, meaning no ball was put in the field of play. It is 36.1% across MLB each of the past two seasons. Hit by pitches — another not-in-play outcome — also have been at record levels the past two years.

 

A nine-inning game is on average taking 3:07 to play, tying last year for the longest ever. So it is taking longer than ever to produce a half a run less per game than even two years ago and a batting average that would be the lowest ever which was .237 in 1968. That year two pitchers — Luis Tiant and Sam McDowell — averaged a strikeout per inning. This year 39 — including J.T. Brubaker, Tyler Mahle and Logan Webb — are averaging a strikeout per inning. It used to be you had to be an elite starter to do that, now Pitchers Anonymous. Among relievers, 94 of the 143 who had appeared in 15 games avere a strikeout per inning

 

Nearly every innovation of the past decade - plus has favored pitchers, making hitting even harder. What should frighten those who love the game is this from one GM: "I think we are not at the bottom." Marlins manager Don Mattingly recently said: "It’s been coming. It’s been building. And now it is at a point where it is getting so much more attention because it is just a game that sometimes is unwatchable." There are no easy solutions. But doing nothing is no longer an option. Here are three potential offensive additives I would recommend:

 

(1) Lower the strike zone to combat velocity, which is at the root of so many issues. Velocity rises, which forces quicker decisions by hitters, which leaves more susceptible to breaking balls — especially in the fastball up, breaking ball down model. The average fastball was 89 mph in 2002 (Fangraphs). It has been on a pretty steady climb to 93.4 this year. Batting average pretty much drops with each mph, and pitchers have particularly adapted to work the top of the zone with substantial heat, a pitch that has the devilish combination of being tempting to swing at and incredibly difficult to hit. "It used to be that pitchers offered straight fastballs and something that moved. You don’t see straight fastballs any more, unless it is 98 [mph] at the top of the zone. That is a hard pitch to hit. And then you are exposed to anything low, which is an offspeed pitch." Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long said. Bringing the zone down to the belt (from the midpoint between the belt and shoulders) would allow hitters to train to be more disciplined to not offer above that — a pitch they are pretty much never hitting. It will also reduce the diversity and trickiness of the breaking ball down. This also would help address the rise in hit-by- pitches, especially in the upper body and head area, since pitchers no longer will work up as much.

 

(2) Really address sticky stuff. Everyone suddenly is Gaylord Perry — going to pant legs, inside their gloves, to their non-pitching wrists or to the brim or back of their caps before each pitch. They are reaching for something to create a greater stick, which creates more spin for better break and depth on breaking balls and better ride on fastballs. Not everybody. But not a few. One GM said, "The substance thing is a joke. The fact we are ignoring it is a bigger joke. We are seeing pitchers improve their stuff by 300-400 rpms. This isn’t rosin or sunscreen to get a better grip. I think, like steroids, we have created pitchers who are dominating who might not even be in the game if they weren’t cheating." The reality is there are many ways that pitchers can improve legally — from weighted ball regimens that increase velocity, to high-speed cameras that help refine efficiency of movement and release, to computer-generated scouting reports that pinpoint hitting weaknesses in a precision human scouting could not. "If you can’t hit a slider, you go to the plate now and get five sliders. There are no more hitter’s counts where you can just expect a fastball. The evolution of the game plan is now 100 percent geared toward exposing weaknesses. If you can’t hit a changeup, you are going to see that pitch all the time."

 

(3) Limit shifts. From 2006-18, batting average on balls in play ranged from .295 to .303. It was .292 last year and .288 this season. One GM said, "We are just so much better at positioning than ever. For every one that gets through a shift, there are three that get taken away. Everyone knows where my guys hit the ball and play accordingly." At Double-A this year, all four infielders must have their cleats on the infield dirt when the pitch is delivered, with a consideration for the second half of the season of enforcing two infielders on both sides of second base. The NBA and NFL consistently address defensive strategy to promote offense, and a shift is nothing more than a zone defense.

 

MLB did not get to be Dave Kingman in one year or for one reason. It is going to take more than one change and one year to reverse this trend. But there can be no more delay.