The dog days in August have become the post-season races in September. There are a little more than three weeks left of the MLB regular season, and there is so much that needs to be decided. Wednesday morning are 17 teams within 3 1/2 games for a place after the season.
Our weekly series, which examines various trends throughout the league, continues with careful beams, a breakout player on a disappointing team and an unusual league leader. Last week we looked at Salvador Perez ‘home use, Adam Frazier’s tough time in San Diego and Paul Fry’s bad August.
Welcome to the conscious beam time
It’s a new craze sweeping baseball, and it’s no surprise that two of the smartest teams in the game are ahead. With a multi-run lead in extra innings, the thrower has begun deliberately removing the automatic runner to third base. Dodgers straight Corey Knebel did it last week and Rays straight Collin McHugh did it earlier this week. Here is Gag:
Back in May, Craig Kimbrel a runner deliberately disappeared to third base while he was with kids. It was in the ninth inning, although Chicago had a three-run lead at the time, so the run was relatively insignificant.
With a multi-race line, the runner does not mean anything to others. Moving him up to third base does not hurt. It helps the team on defense in several ways. First and foremost, it means that no runner on the second base tries to steal prisoners’ signs, and teams are paranoid – paranoid – about character stealing these days. Understandable, I think.
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The jug is also capable of throwing from full wind with the runner on the third instead of the second (if the pitcher chooses), and it also gets the runner out of the way of shortstop on the potential ground. Trading the extra 90 feet of a race that does not tie the match or give the other team the lead in exchange for all these benefits makes sense.
Two years ago Dodgers closer Kenley jansen became the first musty in what we will call the social media age that deliberately prevents a runner from second to third. He protected a two-round lead with a runner on second and two outs, and he was worried the runner stole the sign, so he deliberately rejected him to third. Jansen then recorded the final to win the match.
“We feel, I and [bench coach Bob Geren], we talked about it a bit, and he came up with the idea [leads of] two races or three races and two outs, says Jansen to journalists, including Ken Gurnick at MLB.com. “Especially yesterday, tying races on the plate, not saying anything about anyone, you never know. Always have to be on your toes. Just be extra careful. I finally thought it was a good time to try it, and it turned out pretty well. “
This is a copycat league – is not every league a copycat league? – and soon enough, other teams will deliberately prevent runners from second base. You can only do that in certain situations, obviously, but there is profit in it. Before you know it, conscious beams will be near automatic with a multi-barreled wire and a runner on second base. It will happen. It may take some time, but it will happen.
Want MLB do something about it? I do not think intervention is necessary, this is a harmless strategy and a little comical relief, although I am to eliminate beams completely. MLB rule 8 mainly describes beams as a movement on the mound that the judge thinks is meant to fool the runner. However, most beams do not fit that description. Most beams are called when the must is screaming or doing something similarly harmless. Get rid of them and life will go on. That would be a small change in the sport.
Until MLB eliminates beams (to be clear, there is no indication that the league is considering this), the deliberate beam strategy will remain valid in certain situations, and we will see more teams do so. The Dodgers and Rays (and Cubs) who beat everyone are not surprising. That’s what they do. Now it’s just a question of how long it will take the rest of the league to catch up.
“If you’re wondering, no, the base runner can not refuse the beam. He has to move up one base on the intentional beam, and an attempt to return to the other base will result in the runner being called out. It falls under the running bases.” in reverse order to confuse the defense “according to MLB rule 5.)
Polanco’s big second half
This has been a year to forget twins, which sits in last place in AL Central and traded stalwarts Nelson cruz and José Berríos by the deadline, . Minnesota has a lot of work to do this winter, especially on the pitch side. They will look to regroup to what is not exactly a powerhouse division.
One of the few bright spots for the twins in recent weeks is the short-stop-second-baseman Jorge Polanco. The 28-year-old switch-hitter has tackled ankle and back problems throughout the season (however, he has not been on the injury list) and took an impressive .252 / .318 / .431 strike line into the All-Star break. Polanco was just another underperforming twin.
In the second half, however, Polanco has been one of the best hits in baseball, and has surpassed the home team in the first half in a little more than half as many games. His 26 home runs are a new highlight of his career, and earlier this week he became only the seventh player in franchise history with four extra-base hits in a game (three doubles and one home run on Monday). Polanco is the first twin with four extra-base hits than Cruz since Michael Cuddyer on September 21, 2005.
“I saw the ball well and I was on time for the fast ball,” Polanco told reporters. including Betsy Helfand of St. Paul Pioneer Press, after his four-extra-based hit game. “I react to breaking the ball. I think it helped me a lot today.”
After hitting .252 / .318 / .431 with 12 home runs in 80 games in the first round, Polanco owns a .328 / .371 / .656 battle line with 15 home runs in 47 games since the All-Star break. Polanco, Ozzie Albies, Bryce harps, Cedric mullins, and Marcus Semien are the only players in baseball with 30 doubles, 25 homers and 10 stolen bases this season.
“He does not swing harder. He does not try to lift the ball too clearly,” twin boss Rocco Baldelli told reporters. including MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park, about Polanco’s hot series earlier this week. “These are subtle changes that some hiters make, and some talented guys are able to make at certain points in their careers. I think he has all the other skills we’re talking about as good hiters, and he’s just adding this team to on top of all those other positive, productive things he does. ”
Certainly good health has contributed to Polanco’s big years – he was hampered by ankle problems last year that required surgery each of the last two seasons – and the change of position also works. As a full-time stop from 2017-2020, Polanco was saved on minus-30 defensive runs, one of the worst grades in baseball. Now he ranks about average on second base. Going from horrible in one position to average in another is a nice upgrade for the team.
The Twins have several big questions to answer this offseason (who will play next year? Who will play shortstop? What is the plan? Byron buxton coming to free agency? etc.), but the other base position is decided. Polanco is at his best age as a 28-year-old, and he has signed reasonably well through 2023 (with club options for 2024 and 2025). He is a long-term building block in a central position.
MLB’s unlikely hit by the pitch leader
Padres right-handed and sliding specialist Austin adams have either a good bad season or a bad good season. I can not say what it is. The 30-year-old has a 3.28 ERA with 68 strikeouts of 46 2/3 innings, which is objectively good. He has also hit 31 shots in the 46 2/3 innings, and if that’s not bad enough, Adams has hit 20 shots. Twenty hits on 46 2/3 rounds!
Despite being a relief, Adam’s baseball leads in hits and not by a small margin either. Padre’s teammate Joe musgrove is in second place with 15 strokes, and he has thrown 107 more rounds. Adams throws the big, sweeping slider almost 90 percent of the time, and he throws it in the zone about 40 percent of the time. Not surprisingly, all 20 hit shooters have come on sliders.
“I was still brainwashed with the old-school theory that you need to throw your fastballs for a strike. Then I realized that in the big leagues it’s important to get out. It’s not about how you do it,” said Adams. . told reporters, including MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, earlier this year. “Actually, I was just trying to sew this square needle in a round hole when I was there Citizens [in 2019]. And I really could not figure out how good my slider was before me [got traded to the Mariners that year]. ”
Adam’s slider is almost literally unbeatable. Opposing hits have hit .142 with a .177 slugging percentage against the course this year, and they have missed with 35.7 percent of the turns. The MLB average against sliders is a .210 stroke average and .364 slugging percentage with 35.4 percent whiffs. When you have a slider that gives such results, you should throw it away a lot.
The downside is all the movement and low zone (and predictability) leads to many trips and many strokes. Again we are talking about 31 rounds and 20 strokes strokes in 46 2/3 rounds. More than one free base runner per round! There have been 146 cases of a pitcher hitting at least 20 strokes in a season. Here are the fewest blows faced among the 146 cases:
- Austin Adams, Padres in 2021: 210 (20 HBP)
- Ed Doheny, 1900 The giants: 647 (22 HBP)
- Bronson Arroyo, 2004 Red Sox: 764 (20 HBP)
- Jake Weimer, 1907 Red: 816 (23 HBP)
- Victor Zambrano, 2003 Devil Rays: 836 (20 HBP)
Unless he does the impossible and faces 437 in San Diego’s last 24 games (that’s 18.2 strokes per game, essentially a starting workload every single game), Adams will wipe out the record. No pitcher has come close to hitting so many blows with this small amount of work.
The thing is, this is a whole new problem for Adams. He spent 2017-20 as an up-and-down reliever (he also spent some time on the injury list), and during that time he beat only two of the 143 big hits he faced, or 1.4 percent. Now he hits almost one in every 10 strokes he encounters. It’s pretty top.
As effective as he has been, making all of Adams’ free base runners a responsibility, at least when distributed incorrectly. You do not want him to come in with the bases loaded in a close game. He tends to push one or more runs over without a ball being put into play. Adams has appeared in 59 games this season, and Padres manager Jayce Tingler has picked him up with men at the base just 14 times. The other 45 times Adams came in to start a game and had a clean slate.
This use gives Adams a certain margin of error – he can not make a bad situation worse with trips or plunks – and allows him to go for hits with slider after slider, and not sweat a free base runner here or there. I guess it’s also a safety issue to consider when hitting so many blows, even if no one seems to have been intentional, and to be hit with a slider from the mid 80’s is preferable to being hit with a fastball from the mid 90’s.
With less than four weeks left of the season, Adams is close to a lock to lead baseball in strokes, and he has a shot at breaking the Modern Era record (Jack Warhop struck 26 strokes in 243 1/3 innings with 1909 Yankees). A relief that leads baseball in hit batteries is pretty crazy. A relief worker who sets a new Modern Era record for hit batteries is pissed off almost unthinkable, and yet it is within reach of Adams.