Been a While

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:30
Jun 092017

Life has been busy; today it eased up: last day of seminary. Perhaps I should explain: I teach a scripture study class each school day at 6:00 am for High School students. Between getting up early to teach the class, going to bed early so I am not exhausted, and preparing lessons, this is a time-consuming activity; today was the last day of school for Seniors, so it was the last seminary class as well. I expect to have more time and energy for baseball going forward. We shall see.

The Yankees have been treading water since their great start: they are 13-14 since starting the season at 21-9. Since 13-14 is more like their preseason projections, we might well expect to see a .500 team going forward: if they were to go 53-52 in their remaining 107 games, that added to their 34-23 current record yields 87-75; their best season in a number of years, and a wild-card contending record. Clearly, Yankee fans are expecting more.

There are signs: the rotation has settled down – four of the five starters are pitching quite well (the exception, oddly, is Tanaka), and starting pitching was always this teams’ projected Achilles heel. Judge’s home run rampage is slowing, as expected, though he still leads the league with 18. But his OVERALL offensive game has actually improved: teams are respecting his power, and pitching him more carefully, with the result that he is walking more, and hitting more singles. His strikeout rate is rising, though nowhere near last year, but some of that is unfair: there is a clear indication that umpires aren’t yet adjusted to how high his knees are! Not that many 6’7″ hitters around baseball at the moment. Judge’s slash line is .330/.436/.670 – slugging down (but still great) but BA and OBP up.

There’s one other thing that helps predict better things going forward: first base has been an offensive (and defensive, truth be told) black hold for New York; and how hard can it be to find a first baseman that can hit (and field a little)? Bird was hurt and awful, Carter has been healthy and awful. But Tyler Austin is healed, and he is unlikely to be as bad, and Bird should be back soon, and there are indications that he is unlikely to be as bad. Headley has faded but Gardner is on fire, Castro has cooled off but Hicks has heated up. And Gary Sanchez hit two homers off David Price last night, so HE may be on the upswing, as well.

The Yanks took 2 of 3 from Boston, Battering Porcello and Price in the process (and losing to Pomeranz, go figure). And their two young starters, Severino and Montgomery, both missed this series: the Yanks started Tanaka (awful), Sabathia (amazing) and Pineda (almost as amazing). Go New York!

Do we care about the all-star voting? Usually not, but when has a rookie LED all players in the voting (Judge, of course)? Never in my memory.

Meanwhile, can the Astros really be this good? On pace for a 114 win season, they are THIRTEEN games up after 61 games. How are they doing this? Well, they have only ONE regular with an OPS+ under 100: Aoki in left at 76. But several others (3B Bergman 100, DH Beltran 101, 1B Gurriel 106) are pretty much average. But they DO score a lot of runs – if your DH and 1B and 3B are average, they are productive players (hitters positions) and if your 2B and SS are 155 and 152 then, well, you ARE going to score.

Their pitching is not as good as I thought, as 3 of 5 starters have ERA+ under 100 (that is, below average) and THREE of their 5 most-used starters are on the DL, including the unhittable Dallas Keuchel. Still, they roll along. I think they’ll falter big-time. I only predict them for 107 wins.

Life is fun. stay tuned

 

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