- It speaks to the talent of this team that the difference between a loss and a win yesterday was likely the inches between Shin-Shoo Choo's glove and the ground on Beltre's fly in the ninth. Or the decision to keep Colby in the game versus Damon. That said...
- Yesterday and Wednesday are neck and neck for the ugliest outings of the young season. Three straight series lost, and 4-6 over the last ten. It seems that nothing's going right for the team right now, outside of Beltre's three-run shot in the 11th on Friday. That, and the bullpen.
- Mike Young has scared me for years, as I thought it was likely he would take up 20% of the payroll while declining from good to mediocre. Luckily, though, the teams payroll has jumped far higher than I thought it would be, so that 20% thing is blown out of the water. But the decline? We may be in the middle of that. Young's hitting balls on the ground 54 per cent of the time now- by far, the highest of his career and 8 per cent higher than his career average. You might say 'Small Sample Size!', but Young is 116 Plate Appearances into the year, and GB% tends to stabiilze by 200 PA's. You can estimate how regression will effect it by subbing in his career rate over the next 84 PAs- but that would still give you the highest GB rate of his career.
- There's a reason- and a good one- why I love pitchers who get a lot of groundballs. Grounders turn into singles a good amount of the time, and the occasionally turn into doubles- but they very, very rarely get past that, and turn into outs more often than anything else. Ergo, a batter putting the ball on the ground- rather than a liner or a flyball- isn't ideal.
There's more warning signs with Young. He's swinging at pitches outside of the zone almost 38 per cent of the time, whereas the league average is 29.4%. There's an old scouting adage about bat speed failing in older players, which leads to them guessing, which leads to them chasing. I'm not saying that's happening, but if I had to read the tea leaves, that would be the safest guess.
- If you want good news, I've been predicting Young's demise for about three years straight, and it hasn't happened yet.
- Of course, Young still has good end results for the season as a whole (I'll take a .759 OPS, 341 wOBA/ 114 wRC+ as good) to go with the scary peripherals. Nelson Cruz can't really even claim good peripherals this year, and his results have been terrible (.593 OPS, 267 wOBA/61 wRC+).
***Average, on wRC+, is 100. Nelson Cruz has a 61. Average is 100. Nelson Cruz has a 61.***
What's weird is that Cruz is swinging at pitches outside the zone only 25% of the time (compared to his career average of 31%). To me, I'm reading that teams are challenging Cruz inside the zone (where he's swinging an unfathomable 73% of pitches) and he's not able to make them pay right now. Nelson Cruz, though, is always just a flip of the switch away from being one of the scariest baseball players on the planet. As long as that switch is still there, though.
- Yu Darvish was astounding yesterday. He had about no real command, yet only served up one meatball pitch (that Jason Kipnis deposited in the left field bleachers) and struck out 11 batters with a curve that seemed to exist only to embarrass hitters. Basically, he walked out with one solid tool and turned out a quality start that should have looked much better outside bad-to-questionable defense in one inning. If that's him at his worst (and we likely haven't yet really seen him at his best) then he's one of the strongest pitchers in the American League, easily.
- After a one-day scare to the whole baseball world, Mariano Rivera confirmed that he would come back next year. This is good news, because despite the fact that I hate the laundry he wears, Mariano Rivera is good for baseball and one of this generation's most special players. It's also good news for Rangers fans as his salary returning next year will further hamstring the Yankees financially (I know, it's a strange new world with the current CBA), which weakens them and could lead to a player like Nick Swisher escaping the Apple and moving to Arlington- which could make the Rangers better in several different scenarios.
* If you can keep a secret- Koji Uehara has retired the last fifteen batters he has faced, in order.*