That was a great day! Certainly more than than had the Indians beat up on the Twins, and the Astros humiliated the Blue Jays.
When Jose Altuve and his tiny strike zone gets 3 home runs in an MLB playoff game, and they come off of different pitchers, it’s fair to suggest that the opposition had a pretty shitty plan for how to pitch to him. In his career, there have been more times than not that Altuve has gone an entire MONTH without hitting 3 home runs. He’s only hit as many as 2 home runs in the same game twice (9/26/2015 and 7/24/2016). But boy, oh boy, the Astros tarred the Chris Sale and the Red Sox 8-2 in what looked like a charity exhibition game against a JuCo team. This should make Game 3, when the Red Sox trot our Doug Fister, all the more fun.
On the opposite end of the strike zone size spectrum would be Aaron Judge, who paid the price. 0 for 4 with 4 strikeouts. And his zone was stretched a tad by plate umpire Vic Carapazza. But Judge was more a victim of a dazzling Trevor Bauer, who just made Cleveland manager Terry Francona look like a genius for calmly starting him in Game 1 instead of the more obvious Corey Kluber. Bauer went through the first 5 innings with a no-hitter. He got through 6 innings with a 1-hit shutout. And then 7 innings with a 2-hit shutout. 98 pitches and Bauer is will be fresh and ready for the ALCS. The Yankees end up losing 4-0. Now Francona goes to Game 2 up 1-0, the Yankees needing to win 3 of 4, and the next pitcher they have to get through will be Kluber, the AL CYA for 2017. In fact, they would have to go through Kluber TWICE since the whole reason Francona held him off was to have him slotted for any Game 5. The Yankees must feel doomed.
The best moment of my day yesterday came from checking in on the suffering of Red Sox fans in their game thread as they collided head on with the juggernaut that are the Astros. At first they were all “Verlander? He ain’t shit. look at all those wins against the crappy AL West.” Of course, it all devolved into the calls for the immediate firing of their manager John Farrell, something that feels oddly familiar. But I DO want to pause and comment on the AL West baloney. Only 2 teams in the AL East had winning records against the AL West – Toronto and Baltimore. Boston was only .500 against our Division. Overall, the AL West was 81-84 against the AL East. These Astros, all by themselves, blitzed the rest of the Division for 50 of our 337 total losses. So, again, I say thanks to MLB for finally gifting us a Tampa Bay type of doormat to offset the Yankee/Red Sox Division advantage that was gifting them 2 playoff slots year over year. And thanks also for doing that right as they allowed the Astros to tank their way into 1st round draft choice hoarding and morph into this juggernaut. And thanks for then solving the Yankees/Red Sox playoff problem once Tampa Bay got strong, by adding a second Wild Card slot so that they can more readily have both of their teams back in the playoffs. May Houston crush the souls of both of them.
[Question of the day: why can I not use the PITCHf/x tool to sort based on Batter, so that I could see all pitches the Batter faced regardless of Pitcher?]
Today is the best. Have some Four-Games-On-Day-Four-of-Playoff-Links:
A Little Bit of Angels News
Jahmai Jones and Jamie Barria were named LAA Prospects of the Year. This is a thing that is executed by MLBPipeline.com staff, so they are to be forgiven for failing to follow the exploits of Jordan Serena from the East coast……….
Bookmark yesterday in your calendars, people. You shall always need to know the birth date of Mrs. Jessica Trout when you do your goobering fan schtick…………
Um, FanGraphs, I know we have quickly seen a return of bullpen baseball in these playoffs (“bullpenning”, as the article calls it), but that does not mean that it’s proof of success over the long haul,.Sure, you folks love the theory, but it’s also still true that starting pitchers are the athletes most capable of eating innings. And a full season needs about 1,58 of those things eaten. So if a Joe Girardi decides not to lead with bullpenning, it’s still excusable………
Pain may come to the fans of all but one of the remaining baseball teams, but the rest of us would trade our pain for theirs in a split second……….
We are all having fun already, are we not? (Well, all we Halo fans.)………..
Lots of fun in this Grant Brisbee piece, as usual, but note the point he makes about a WC winner paying a pitching price to advance……….
Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock was earlier researching hotels near Fenway Park, most likely that he would have launched his terrorism against baseball fans instead of music fans……….
This is something in which we have to remain very interested. The Giants are among the three teams most aggressively pursuing the chance to wrest Giancarlo Stanton away from the Derek Jeters. That would do several things for us. It would take them out of the Justin Upton sweepstakes and improve the potential for Billy Eppler to keep Upton in the fold. It would also add a major threat to the Dodgers NL West hegemony. AND it would gut the Giants farm system, potentially moving us up in the rankings. The down side is that it would transfer the Giants’ prospect talent to the Marlins, and the Marlins are the only franchise with a farm ranked worse than ours. So that last one is a wash……….
The Red Sox need to learn from Ariel Prieto of the Diamondbacks. When caught with an Apple Watch in the dugout, just claim it was in airplane mode the whole time…………
Craig Calcaterra nails it here. Right when MLB is trying to initiate programs to open up decision-making career opportunities to a greater population of potentially qualified and willing people, the Braves go full-throttle on nepotism………..
CJ Cron take note. Getting more aggressive at the plate tends to lead towards poorer results. You know if you actually read that article, you’ll find a chart that reveals a weakness of Mike Trout……….
Managerial-Merry-Go-Round: Something I missed a few days ago after the Phillies dumped their skipper, Pete Mackinin, was that among the long-shot list of candidates is our once-very-own Tim Bogar……….Fredi Gonzalez (a front runner for the Tigers job) has come over to the dark side, studying sports analytics to figure out how to better do his job……….Paul Molitor has been invited to stick around in Minnesota, but he needs to think about it………
Home runs have become a thing, to the point that they are already overrunning the playoffs………….Says the guy still on the Boston payroll……….Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees’ wunderkind who never was, is retiring……….Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez gets edgy……….This bat flip needs its own air traffic controller……….Being sports drunk over a tattoo idea is only slightly less dangerous than being alcoholic drunk over a tattoo idea……….
As one who is privileged to lose astronomical amounts of time in the loving labor of providing your morning entertainment, I (as are others here on the masthead) am a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Not as formal as that fancy name, and nowhere near as recognized as that other baseball writers thingy. But, nonetheless, it gives me the chance to pretend to be serious. So, as serious as I have time to be, here are my 2017 awards ballot results and reasoning…………
My vote for American League Most Valuable Player Award is Jose Altuve.
Again, do I need a write up for this? Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa all abdicated their chances either by injury, or swoon, or both. Mookie Betts returned to earth. Andrelton Simmons does not have a sustainable bat. And though Francisco Lindor mysteriously found a power stroke (Really? Doubling his HR total from last season from 15 to 30??), he took a step back on defense.
And, disagree with me and you disagree with people a shitload smarter than I am, as Baseball America named Altuve their AL MVP yesterday.
My runners up to Altuve, in order, are Andrelton Simmons, Mike Trout, Aaron Judge (yeah, that massive fail out of the All-Star Break really exposed him), Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Justin Upton. Yeah, Justin Upton. Maybe you were not paying attention, but Upton finished with the 7th-best fWAR among position players n the AL (17th best in MLB), just in front of Simmons. And, no, I have no problem with a pitcher being the Most Valuable Player in the League, even if he does already have his own award category. In fact, it should be a law that if a pitcher wins MVP, that automatically means that they are the CYA winner, too. Some day I need to be Emperor, so I can fix that.