When Conventional Wisdom Holds A Player Back: A Thought Experiment

We’ve made it this far. Sometimes, that’s misleading. It’s easy to give ourselves credit, but it’s also a fact that can lock us into a certain mindset: “We’ve been having success with this approach, so let’s keep using this approach.” These are the kinds of thoughts that breed conventional wisdom, ones that seem to make so much sense that we don’t need to think twice about them, so we don’t. Intentional or not, baseball is the same way sometimes. Say the speedy guy is up to bat. He slaps it to the opposite field and generates some offense with his…

Fast, For A Catcher: Analyzing a Quickly Moving Backstop Market

Have you ever had a baseball game on in the background in the dead of summer as you quietly go about your day, and then catch an absolute gem from a broadcaster that stops and makes you laugh? “He got down the line in a hurry…he’s pretty fast, for a catcher.” It’s possibly the game’s greatest backhanded compliment; an ode of sorts to the frequently lumbering yeoman who not only endure the dog days of August but who do so, willingly, wearing additional gear and sitting in an awkward squat for hours. A single sentence about their baserunning abilities —…

The Unique Strengths and Shortcomings of The Padres Pitching Development

Imagine, if you can, being a top-10 performer in your field. And not only are you top-10 now, or in the last year. You’ve been top-10 for a decade. High five! Now, imagine that another member of your team is not. Imagine that they’re not even above average or just average. Imagine that they’re almost the absolute worst in your field. And not just recently…but have been for as long as you’ve been good. What we really just contemplated was the dichotomy of the San Diego Padres pitching staff from 2009 through 2018. The team’s relief corps has been the…

Luke Voit And When To Believe In A Hot Streak

Baseball is speckled with flashes in the pan. Plenty of players have teased our attention with exceptional play for a month or half-season or even a whole season, only to fade into the background as an afterthought. Chris Shelton, Dom Brown, Josh Rutledge…I’m sure you have your own names that come to mind. These are the kinds of faces our brains drudge up when we think about sample sizes; why we’re reticent to buy into what our eyes see on the field through the summer and why we crave data to support it. So if you’re reluctant to buy into…

Scott Boras Definitely Has A New Plan

Scott Boras is looking for the Applyers this offseason. It might sound like the next superhero movie that will bomb, but it’s really the next step in how baseball is evolving. In an October 26 radio interview with The Michael Kay Show, which is available to listen to in full here, the typically cagey Boras gave a candid response when asked if the rise of analytics has changed what constitutes a great player. He went on to do as Boras often publicly does with resolve, providing an in-depth response that almost becomes easy to tune out because of how thorough…

Debut Review: Josh James Is The Next Ascendant Astro

Consider this: there is a prospect who starts the season in Double-A. He shoves, and is promoted to Triple-A. He shoves there, too. Naturally. He totals 171 strikeouts across both levels in just 114.1 innings with easy mid-to-high 90s heat and a sharp, horizontal slider. He’s bound to catch some eyes around the game, right? Except if your Big League club happens to be the Astros, who have spent the majority of the season in first place, and largely because of an historic rotation. In that case, you might not be catching many eyes at all, because the team that…

Minor League Notebook: Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio

Below is a quick write-up on observations about Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio from 8/19, when their New Hampshire Fisher Cats faced the Trenton Thunder. Each had five at-bats. Bichette played second base, while Biggio played first. In addition, there’s a transcript of my game notes after the write-up. Neither player had an electrifying night. Their performances didn’t resemble what makes their scouting reports glow. Rather, what they demonstrated were skills that could keep them in the Majors when they’re not filling the box score or even slumping. Bichette and Biggio each demonstrated three things that stuck out: an ability…