December 6, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Batting .
11/14/2013: Let’s discuss the THT Annualby Dave Studeman
12/06/2013: Cooperstown Confidential: Ed Charles and 42by Bruce Markusen
12/06/2013: The Athletics get busyby Brad Johnson
12/06/2013: Getting to know Ryan Haniganby Chad Dotson
12/04/2013: Cataloging the non-tendered playersby Brad Johnson
12/04/2013: Alone on the pedestalby Jason Linden
12/03/2013: Mascot fight!by Greg Simons
12/03/2013: Why is a sinker “heavy?”by David Kagan
12/03/2013: The role of fall leaguesby Jeff Moore
12/02/2013: Nationals make great deal for Fisterby Matt Filippi
12/02/2013: The Twins go holiday shopping, but to what end?by Brad Johnson
12/02/2013: The end of the benchby Chris Jaffe
11/29/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Danny Waltonby Bruce Markusen
11/29/2013: The best rookies of the ‘30sby Chad Dotson
11/27/2013: Towards an award prediction systemby Shane Tourtellotte
11/26/2013: MLB’s coffers are overflowingby Greg Simons
11/26/2013: The role of prospects in tradesby Jeff Moore
11/25/2013: Stepping up to the plateby Frank Jackson
11/25/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about player birthdaysby Chris Jaffe
11/22/2013: The end of the road for Chris Carpenterby Chad Dotson
11/21/2013: All the news that’s fit to inventby Azure Texan
11/20/2013: Marcus Stroman, the mythbusting machineby Kyle Boddy
11/20/2013: Welcome to the birthplace of… someone elseby Jason Linden
11/19/2013: 2013 THT awards reviewby Greg Simons
11/18/2013: THT Fantasy has moved to Rotographsby Dave Studeman
11/18/2013: Atlanta gets burned againby Frank Jackson
11/18/2013: The 2014 Hall of Fame VC ballotby Chris Jaffe
11/18/2013: Must See MLB.TV 2013by Dave Studeman
11/15/2013: The best rookies of the ‘40sby Chad Dotson
11/15/2013: Card Corner: Wayne Granger: 1973 Toppsby Bruce Markusen
11/14/2013: 10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski tradeby Chris Jaffe
11/14/2013: The Screwball: The face of championship baseballby Azure Texan
11/14/2013: Player-A-Day: Casey Fienby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecumby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Pitcher performance after batting successby Shane Tourtellotte
11/13/2013: 25th anniversary: Rob Neyer writes a letterby Chris Jaffe
11/13/2013: Houston hoodoo ‘62by Frank Jackson
11/12/2013: It’s The Hardball Times Annual 2014by Dave Studeman
11/12/2013: Player-A-Day: Joe Mauerby Brad Johnson
11/11/2013: Fastball velocity by game stateby Jon Roegele
11/11/2013: The rise of the middle-aged managerby Chris Jaffe
11/08/2013: Player-A-Day: Josmil Pintoby Brad Johnson
11/08/2013: Hall monitor: The case for Andruw Jonesby Chad Dotson
11/07/2013: Big leaguers, bit partsby Azure Texan
11/07/2013: Player-A-Day: Nathan Eovaldiby Brad Johnson
11/06/2013: If he’d only gotten another shotby Jason Linden
11/06/2013: Player-A-Day: David DeJesusby Brad Johnson
11/05/2013: Player-A-Day: David Ortizby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Dariel Abreuby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: The Boston (Braves) Marathon of 1928by Frank Jackson
11/04/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about birthdays in 2013by Chris Jaffe
11/01/2013: Taking the close pitch with two strikesby James Gentile
11/01/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Don Baylorby Bruce Markusen
11/01/2013: The best rookies of the ‘50sby Chad Dotson
10/31/2013: The Screwball: Celebrate good times, come on!by Azure Texan
10/31/2013: Player-A-Day: Leonys Martinby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Player-A-Day: Jon Lesterby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Forecasting the major 2013 awardsby Shane Tourtellotte
10/30/2013: The effect of seeing pitchesby Jon Roegele
10/29/2013: Putting the knock on pitching changesby Joe Distelheim
10/29/2013: Player-A-Day: Ryan Howardby Brad Johnson
10/29/2013: Losing momentum in the sixth gameby Dave Studeman
10/29/2013: Previewing the fall Stars gameby Jeff Moore
10/28/2013: Player-A-Day: Travis Woodby Brad Johnson
10/28/2013: Marquis Grissom: Mr. October Jr.by Frank Jackson
10/25/2013: The blackballing of Dick Dietzby Bruce Markusen
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Xander Bogaertsby Brad Johnson
10/24/2013: The Screwball: Put it in neutral?by Azure Texan
10/24/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘00sby Richard Barbieri
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Michael Wachaby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: Earn money watching baseballby Dave Studeman
10/23/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Iglesiasby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: 20th anniversary: The Joe Carter gameby Chris Jaffe
10/23/2013: Giants take a risk with Lincecum’s two-year dealby Matt Filippi
10/23/2013: BOB: Nolan Ryan retires…for nowby Brian Borawski
10/22/2013: Where does David Price fit?by Jeff Moore
10/22/2013: Survey says?!?!?by Greg Simons
10/22/2013: ALCS post-mortem: The Fielder playby Shane Tourtellotte
10/21/2013: The best rivalries of 2013by Chris Jaffe
10/21/2013: World Series workhorsesby Frank Jackson
10/20/2013: WPS recap: ALCS, 10/19/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
10/19/2013: WPS Recap: NLCS, 10/18/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
10/18/2013: WPS recap: ALCS, 10/17/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
10/18/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Bob Baileyby Bruce Markusen
10/18/2013: The 2013 Atlanta Braves and core WARby James Gentile
10/18/2013: The best rookies of the ‘60sby Chad Dotson
10/17/2013: The Screwball: What about Bob Lemon?by Azure Texan
10/17/2013: WPS Recap: LCS, 10/16/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
10/16/2013: WPS recap: LCS, 10/15/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
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June 04, 2013
Ike Davis and comfort at the plateAll stats are as of Sunday, June 2
Living in New York, I am often subjected to sports talk radio. As I'm sure most people know, the New York media love controversy. This being said, one thing the talking heads have been discussing more than anything else is Mets first baseman Ike Davis and the possibility of him being demoted to the minors.
Davis, 26, is hitting .168/.245/.272 (.230 wOBA, 44 wRC+) in 177 plate appearances. As a team that is currently in transition and is still trying to figure out its core, the Mets have to be disappointed in Davis so far.
After strong and injury-plagued 2010 and 2011 campaigns, respectively, Davis struggled out of the gate in 2012 (.178/.228/.296 in first 171 PAs) and by the end of May there were talks of him being sent to Triple-A Buffalo. However, he quickly turned it around and from June 1 on, he hit .253/.341/.536 and finished the year with 32 homers. With a very good last four months, it seemed safe to think Davis would continue to hit in 2013.
It seems like deja vu because of what happened last year. However, although the slash lines are similar, there seems to be a little bit more swing and miss in his game. He's striking out in almost one-third of his plate appearances, while swinging and missing on 13.4 percent of the pitches he sees. It's kind of crazy to see a player struggle so mightily to find consistency.
For me, this lack of consistency for Davis comes from tinkering with his swing. Looking back at some video, it appears Davis has tried different stances over the years since making his debut in 2010. Here's a look with some screen caps:
Davis was going well at the time of the first two pictures, but he has two different stances. He seems to be more upright in 2010 while being in more of a crouch and maybe a little wider in 2012. He is seen using these same two basic stances in April and May of this year. He's also tried different toe taps and strides over the years and during the early part of this season.
Not being able to settle down with one stance will clearly take a toll on a player's ability to consistently produce, but it could hurt his mental toughness as well. Let's look at two spray charts, one from when he was consistently putting up solid numbers (2010-2011) and one when he was having trouble doing so (2012-2013):
It's clear that he's become more pull-happy in the last two years, while he was more of an all-fields hitter from 2010-2011. There seem to be more hits to left field and center field and even some more power to center field during the first two years.
The idea of a hitter losing himself isn't new; in fact, we saw it with Dustin Ackley just a couple of weeks ago. The Seattle second baseman was the second pick of the 2009 amateur draft and and made a successful big league debut in 2011 (117 wRC+ in 376 PAs). Since the start of 2012, however, he has hit .221/.288/.312, prompting the team to send him to Triple-A to work on his game. Here's what Mariners manager Eric Wedge had to say about it (via MLB.com):
"It's not his swing anymore," Wedge said. "He's in a pretty good position fundamentally. But I do think it's the mental that leads to the fundamental, the mental that leads to the actual performance. Listen, he's going to be a good hitter. He's going to be a good player. He's done a [heck] of a job at second base. … He gets down the line quicker than anybody, he can steal a bag, he cuts the bases as good as anybody. There's a lot there to like.
I think Wedge brings up a good point here because Ackley has had success at the major league level. Davis is a similar case, but it seems that they have each struggled with the mental side of hitting. The M's sent Ackley down with the hopes that he can work on his approach in a more relaxed setting while getting some confidence back. It might take reset in Las Vegas for Davis to get back to being productive, but after the turnaround he had last year, patience might be the best move.
Posted by: Matt Filippi
May 25, 2013
Joey Votto’s bid for historyThere’s this guy on the Reds named Joey Votto. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He’s pretty good.
That’s a rather blatant understatement. He’s led the league in OBP three times in a row. He’s led the league in walks each of the last two years while hitting over .300. He has some power, so he once led the league in slugging percentage. No wonder he’s already won an MVP.
But so far, this might be the most impressive season he’s had. Currently, he leads the league in walks drawn and hits. That’s tough to do. In fact, it’s been done only once in the last half-century, four times since 1900, and six times ever.
Here is a list of everyone who ever led the league in walks and hits in the same year:
Lenny Dykstra, 1994
Carl Yastrzemski, 1963
Richie Ashburn, 1958
Rogers Hornsby, 1924
Billy Hamilton, 1891
Ross Barnes, 1876
That’s nice company. Four are Hall of Famers. Barnes was a great hitter by the rules of the day, though the league soon changed the rules. (He was master of the fair-foul hit, in which if the ball first landed fair, then it was fair even if it went foul before leaving the infield). Dykstra is the weird one, but even he had a nice career.
Will Votto keep it up? It’s tough to do, but if he stays healthy and keeps hitting .361, you've got to like his odds.
Posted by: Chris Jaffe
January 20, 2013
The greatest Cardinal is goneFor Cardinals fans of the past 15 years, the greatest player they've ever witnessed wearing the birds-on-a-bat jersey obviously is Albert Pujols. For fans such as me who grew up watching Whitey Herzog's runnin' Redbirds, it was Ozzie Smith. A generation before that, it was Bob Gibson or Lou Brock.
But the greatest St. Louis Cardinal of all time undoubtedly was Stan "The Man" Musial, who passed away Saturday at the age of 92.
Musial was the definition of what it means to be a Cardinal, the epitome of striving for success in that classic Midwestern manner. For the Simons family, our Cardinals fandom goes back at least to the beginning of Musial's career, as it and my father's early life matched up quite nicely.
Dad was born in the spring of 1940, and the next season Musial made his major league debut. At that time, no one knew what to expect from either of them, my dad because he was just learning to walk, Musial because he was fresh-faced, 20-year-old kid with all of 239 plate appearances in Double-A.
By the time my father turned nine years old, "The Man" had earned three Most Valuable Player awards and a trio of batting titles. While Musial would win another four batting championships, he could muster "only" four more second-place finishes among his 18 seasons of receiving MVP votes.
Dad was too young to appreciate the three World Series titles the Cardinals brought home by the time he'd started first grade, but he had another 17 seasons to follow the greatness of Musial. Consistently, relentlessly, Musial portrayed excellence year after year, batting well over .300, walking a bunch, striking out very little, and clobbering plenty of pitches over the walls of Sportsman's Park.
When Musial's career was complete, he had compiled a .331/.417/.559 BA/OBP/SLG line with 3,630 hits (an NL record at the time), 475 homers, 1,951 RBI, 1,949 runs scored and 24 All-Star Game appearances (thanks to a stretch of seasons with two games a year). His strikeout-to-walk numbers were an astounding 696-to-1,599, his OPS was 976 (13th best all-time), and his OPS+ stood at 159 (15th best all-time).
When Musial's career was complete, my dad's childhood had officially ended, as he married my mom in the summer of 1963, Musial's final campaign. I don't think she knew it at the time, but my mom was being indoctrinated into the Simons family Cardinals fan club. Lucky her.
One of the greatest attributes of Musial's career was his balance, his consistently. See those RBI and runs scored totals up above—1,951 and 1,949, respectively? Put those on a scale, and it will hardly sway one way or another. And then there's his home and away hit totals of exactly 1,815 each. Recalling those near-perfect pairings reminded me again of my parents, matched together so well that they'll be celebrating 50 years of marriage this summer.
It might seem odd that a player's passing immediately brings to my mind thoughts of my family, but the Cardinals are ingrained in us, part of the ebb and flow of our everyday lives. A large majority of the conversations my dad and I have touch on the Redbirds at least briefly. I was granted full membership in the club before I was even born, and I'm forever grateful for it.
My family has loved the Cardinals for over seven decades, and Stan Musial was the ideal representation of a Cardinals player all that time. There is no one to take his place, but we all have the memories to cherish.
I called home last night to ask my dad if he ever saw Musial play in person, but he was asleep, so I'll have to check again today. I did speak to my mom, and she told me they did see Musial in spring training a few years ago, and he was ambling around the field, chatting with players and waving to the fans. Another great memory, another delighted fan.
The enduring images of Stan Musial are of him rapping a solid hit, playing his harmonica, thanking the fans. Whatever mental picture you have when Stan "The Man" Musial comes to mind, it's almost certainly a pleasant one.
For "baseball's perfect warrior ... baseball's perfect knight," his enduring legacy will be one of consistently bringing unwavering commitment to the field and joy to the fans, day after day after day. That's true for my parents, many other family members, and millions of Cardinals fans everywhere.
Thanks for the memories, Stan Musial. You are, and always will be, "The Man."
Posted by: Greg Simons
September 25, 2012
Dee Gordon, invisible manI've been reading Bill Chuck's Billy-Ball.com for years, and he and I exchange e-mails about his posts from time to time. On Monday, Bill had a post that caught my eye for an odd reason, and I felt obliged to comment.
Bill was citing the number of players with 20-plus stolen bases thus far in the 2012 season. Having just watched Sunday night's Dodgers-Reds tilt that included Dee Gordon throwing balls everywhere except to the first baseman's glove, Gordon was on my mind. (I have Gordon on a fantasy team, too, so I've been following him and his one-category contributions all season long.)
I couldn't help but notice that the speedy Gordon wasn't listed among those with at least 20 swipes, so I mentioned this to Bill. He responded that he had done a search at Baseball-Reference.com, and we all know the power and wonder that is B-Ref, so the lack of Gordon on the list was surprising.
I could think of only one explanation for this omission, which I shared with Bill: "Maybe B-Ref looks at his overall game, realizes he does NOTHING good except stealing bases and makes the value judgment to disregard him as a baseball player. It doesn't sound logical, but it's the best reason I can think of."
Bill found the glitch and re-posted the list, but I couldn't stop thinking about Gordon and his future. With the acquisition of Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers found a shortstop for the remainder of 2012. However, 2013 could be a different story, with Ramirez possibly shifting to third base once again and opening up short for Gordon.
The question is, can Gordon do enough to justify the starting role? Yes, he has terrific speed. In about one-third of a season last year, Gordon swiped 24 bags, and this year he has pilfered 31 bases in about a half-season of games. But what else does he bring to the table?
Last year, he raised expectations with a .304 batting average in 224 at-bats. Sure, his slugging percentage was an unimpressive .362, as was his .325 on-base percentage, but if Gordon could hit .300, he would at least appear to be providing value. This season? How about a .228/.281/.281 triple-slash line? Gordon's stick has gone flaccid.
Defense? Well, if you watched Sunday's performance, you got a glimpse of why people question whether Gordon can remain a shortstop.
So you have a weak-hitting, poor-fielding speedster. The mid-1970s Oakland A's took a player like this, Herb Washington, and made him a pinch-runner. Incredibly, Washington appeared in 92 games in 1974 but had zero (yes, zero!) plate appearances. (He returned in 1975 for a mere 13 games, also without ever standing at the dish.)
Dee Gordon is almost certainly a better player than Herb Washington, but he needs to make some significant improvements at the plate and in the field if he wants to stick in the big leagues for any length of time.
Posted by: Greg Simons
June 23, 2012
Jim Thome: all-time walk-off homer kingYesterday, on June 23, 2012, Jim Thome made history.
In the bottom of the ninth in a Phillies-Rays game tied 6-6, the veteran slugger hit a pinch-hit solo walk-off home run to end the game.
It’s the 13th regular season walk-off home run of Thome’s career—more than anyone else in baseball history. Previously, he was tied with a handful of other great sluggers with 12. Here’s the all-time leader board:
Batter Walk-offs Jim Thome 13 Babe Ruth 12 Jimmie Foxx 12 Stan Musial 12 Frank Robinson 12 Mickey Mantle 12
A longer list of leaders can be found here.
Now Thome stands alone atop the all-time leaders.
Granted, Mickey Mantle has 13 if you include the postseason as he hit one in a World Series, but we never mix postseason stats with regular season stats in any other category, so why here? The next best among active players is David Ortiz, with 10.
Thome is No.1 in the clutchest sort of home run of them all. Congrats, Mr. Thome.
Posted by: Chris Jaffe
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