Archive for May, 2012

The Scoop

Monday, May 28th, 2012

By Dalton Del Don

David Wright is having quite an interesting season. He leads the National League with a .382 batting average with a ridiculous .484 OBP and is on pace to finish the season with 108 runs scored, 95 RBI and 17 steals. However, the terrific production has come with just five home runs, giving him the same pace to finish the year as his steals. To put this in perspective, Wright entered Sunday slugging .604 – only one player in all of baseball had a SLG higher than .600 last season (Jose Bautista). Among the 10 players who slugged .550 or better last year, only David Ortiz hit fewer than 30 homers (he had 29). The average among that group hit 34.8 home runs. Wright is on pace to finish with fewer than half that amount. In fact, among the batters who finished in the top-20 in slugging percentage in 2011, not one hit fewer than 25 long balls (Josh Hamilton hit 25, and he missed 41 games).

I don’t totally buy how real this is, but I love the concept.

Speaking of being skeptical, I definitely was about this crazy video of an 80-year-old shown being forced out of a plane during a skydiving venture that later resulted in her nearly dying, but further research/interviews have proven it’s totally legit. Insane!

Speaking of crazy skydiving, this person set a world record for free falling without a parachute.

It gets even more bizarre when you consider Wright’s HR/FB ratio is a healthy 14.3%. His MLB-leading .451 BABIP has obviously been lucky, but he also sports a 29.1 LD%, and his career hit rate is .344. After seeing a massive spike in K% over the last few years, Wright has actually walked more than he’s struck out so far this year (29:32). In fact, his current walk rate is a career best, while his K rate is his lowest since his rookie season. It’s also worth noting even after moving the fences in during the offseason, Citi Field has continued to play as an extreme pitchers’ park. Wright will remain plenty productive moving forward, trading BA for homers, but his current combination of such a high slugging percentage resulting in so few bombs is pretty rare.

Yeah, you can go ahead and count me in.

There are too many memorable one-liners to even list when it comes to Rob Ryan describing his van.

This is 100% NSFW but equally as humorous. The final line kills me.

Asked last week whether I was worried about Roy Halladay on the XM/Sirius show, I said not at all. His BAA remained normal for him, he still had a 4.3 K/BB ratio, and although Halladay had already allowed half of last year’s home run total of 10, he gave up 24 long balls in 2010, when he finished with a 2.44 ERA and 21 wins. The drop in velocity was worth discussing, but it’s become increasingly difficult to label whether he’s throwing his four seamer or cutter. In 2010 during his first year in Philly, Halladay threw his fastball 37.4% of the time, according to Fangraphs. This year, he’s thrown it just 14.7% of the time, increasing his use of the cutter greatly (this might not be a Pitch fx glitch either, as Halladay confirmed he was using his cutter at a far greater frequency when we interviewed him on the aforementioned XM show last year. That wasn’t a “humble brag” either, because there was nothing humble about it. It bothers me when people use that phrase when they are just plain bragging, but I digress). Nevertheless, the two pitches are tough to distinguish, usually within two mph of each other. But after Halladay left Sunday’s start with a sore shoulder, it looks like my assessment of not worrying was wrong. There’s obviously legitimate cause for concern now.

These headlines really tell the story: Evil Clown Hired For Stalking, Threats And A Pie In The FaceGirlfriend Of (Female Genitalia) Boy Nabbed In StuartBriton Arrested With Roasted Human Foetuses For Use In Black Magic RitualTexas Honor Student Jailed For Missing Too Much School.

Animal Antics: Here’s a 40 LB barracuda jumping into a fishing boatThat’s a pretty big ratHere’s a frog sitting on a bench like a humanCouple splits over 550 house cats.

Long read: If you haven’t caught this Grantland article about Greg Oden, you need to do so now.

What’s going on with Adrian Gonzalez? His homer Sunday was just his fourth of the year, which is especially perplexing considering he talked this offseason about how his shoulder is finally fully healthy, stating he wasn’t 100 percent last year. Fenway Park is a great place to hit, but its one negative is suppressing home runs for left-handed batters, but we are talking about a player who once hit 40 home runs while playing half his games in Petco Park. Gonzalez has been unlucky when it comes to power, with a HR/FB rate of 5.6% (career mark is 16.5%), but his current BABIP (.324) is right in line with his career level (.322), making his .269 batting average all the more disappointing. Gonzalez’s walk rate (7.8%) is his worst since his rookie season, continuing a downward trend in each of the past three years. He just turned 30 years old and hits in the middle of a lineup that’s among the best in baseball, but the lack of homers is alarming. Being pushed into playing right field also increases his risk of injury. I’m still plenty optimistic and would buy low if such a thing exists, but I predicted Gonzalez would win the AL batting crown before the season and would have drafted him ahead of Miguel Cabrera, so there’s definitely egg on my face so far.

Harrowing footage of a big rig getting demolished by a train.

He’s not as good as Enrico Palazzo, but I do appreciate this little league ump. And this one too. You see, it’s funny because they are making children feel bad about themselves.

Here’s a driver nearly hit by a semi while carrying multiple kids in his trunk.

Rickie Weeks’ .152 batting average is the lowest among qualified hitters in all of baseball by a wide margin. He’s at least contributed five homers and two steals to fantasy owners, but it’s tough to call his start anything but an utter disaster. It’s possible last year’s ankle injury has lingered, and just out of principle I’d recommend trying to buy him low right now. However, problem is, when he inevitably starts hitting, there’s always the risk of injury shortly to follow, as he’s played in 130 games just once during his career. Entering Sunday, an astronomical 42.2% of Weeks’ at-bats have ended with either a strikeout or popout – that isn’t ideal.

This one is aptly labeled “drunk chick fail.”

Wheel of Fortune fail.

Another fail, as this Lamborghini Crashes in the Chicago Suburbs.

Quick hits: Mat Latos pitched into the eighth inning Sunday, gave up five runs and had a BABIP of zero (Colby Lewis accomplished a similar feat May 10). Latos never pitched out of the stretch…Adam Dunn is on pace to finish with 253 strikeouts. The MLB record is 223…Take away his one start in Coors Field (this might be a problem moving forward, since that’s his home park and all), and Christian Friedrich has a 23:3 K:BB ratio over 18.0 innings. The intriguing former first round pick should at least be stashed right now…It’s been a really small sample (you typically want about three years worth of data before drawing conclusions), but it’s still surprising the new Marlins’ park has been the best hitters’ park in baseball this year…Aroldis Chapman’s 15.23 K rate would go down as the second highest in MLB history (minimum 70 innings). He’s also yet to allow a run over 26.0 innings…Melky Cabrera is on pace to finish with 246 hits, which would be the most by an NL player since 1930.

Police Blotter: Teenager tried to rob officer at police stationThe Zodiac killer may (or may not) have finally been identified…Man arrested for drunken driving, with Zebra and Parrot as passengersNaked man who was eating face off victim killed by police.

“The Dictator,” which was based on a romance novel by Saddam Hussein (I refuse to believe the ugly rumors it was ghost written), was absolutely brilliant. Sacha Baron Cohen is a true genius.

When it comes to speeches, “I Have a Dream” now has a serious rival. And by that I mean the opposite. I haven’t meticulously checked her facts, but I’m going to go ahead and assume they are accurate. Also, this isn’t safe for work (or for sane people). Seriously, listen to the whole thing. It may change your life.

Quick hits, part deux: Before he was touched up for a whole two runs Saturday, 19-year-old Dylan Bundy had allowed zero earned runs over 30.0 innings this season, with a 0.23 WHIP and 40:2 K:BB ratio. Pedro Martinez in his prime couldn’t possibly be expected to match that performance, regardless of level. There isn’t a minor leaguer I’d rather own in keeper leagues…Stephen Strasburg is hitting .389/.421/.722. He’s holding opposing batters to a .223/.290/.278 line…Before the play in which he suffered the thumb injury that will sideline him 4-to-6 weeks, Emilio Bonifacio set an MLB record by stealing 18 consecutive bases without being caught…I have no idea what to make of it, but 26 of Tim Lincecum’s 38 earned runs this season (h/t Henry Schulman) have occurred in one bad inning during his 10 starts…If you prorate Mike Trout’s production over 162 games, you get this: .302-108-24-72-48. He strikes out too much, but he’s 20 years old and might already be baseball’s fastest player and one of the game’s best defensive players. Trout is quite the catch (see what I did there?).

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Moving The Needle

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

I forgot to post this, but here’s my New York Times column from earlier this week.

The Scoop

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

By Dalton Del Don

Before the season started, I noted just how different Billy Butler’s approach at the plate was before and after the All-Star break last year. Entering the ASB, Butler had a 43:49 K:BB ratio with a .415 slugging percentage. Afterward, he posted a 52:17 K:BB ratio with a .511 SLG. Here were his GB/FB rates over the final five months of last season: 2.09, 2.44, 1.48, 0.78, 0.97. The approach appears to have continued into 2012 so far, at least on the surface, as he currently has a 16:4 K:BB ratio with five homers over 27 games. However, digging deeper, his GB% (48.3) is actually nearly a career high, and Butler is hitting fewer flyballs than ever (31.5 FB%), it’s just that they have gone over the fence at the best rate of his career (17.9 HR/FB%), so he’s been a bit lucky in the power department. So while his 30-homer pace appears unsustainable, a .300-22-100 type campaign is well within reach and would be plenty valuable in fantasy terms. One positive is that all five of his home runs have come against right-handers this season, as he’s typically done most of his damage against southpaws throughout his career.

This bike crash is pretty brutal.

Intense plane crash caught on film.

Crazy footage of a kid getting hit by a bus.

Anibal Sanchez’s shoulder scared me off him in March, but it’s certainly been to the detriment of my fantasy teams so far, as he looks like one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. After striking out 202 batters over 196.1 innings last season, he leads the National League with a 10.26 K/9 rate in 2012. That’s been accompanied by a career-low 2.43 BB/9 ratio and a career-high 48.1 GB%. When you add that all up with someone who’s also tough to homer against (career 7.8 HR/FB%), it’s a combination that could potentially lead to a Cy Young award. Health remains something of a concern with Sanchez, but his fantasy owners may be holding what’s equivalent to a winning lottery ticket.

These grandmas watching the Kim Kardashian sex tape are pretty damn funny.

I’m beginning to think “the human element” needs to be stopped.

This encounter of a woman interrupting a news taping constantly spitting is truly bizarre.

I dropped Pedro Alvarez in my home league a couple weeks back, even questioning whether he was the worst hitter in all of baseball on the radio at the time. He’s since hit four homers with 10 RBI over his last 11 games and has recently become the team’s new cleanup hitter. The strikeouts remain ugly, but he also has seven of his eight walks on the year during that span. There’s little question Alvarez will hurt your batting average, and this is obviously a small sample, but the former No. 2 overall pick possesses plenty of power potential. He’s also crushing left-handers (.364/.364/.818), which is a surprise. In a thin landscape at third base with Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Zimmerman shelved, Alvarez suddenly holds plenty of value.

This footage is disturbing, but not nearly as bad as a much more close version that was only recently removed from YouTube. Wow.

Funny bit of Cousin Sal working at a temp agency.

Long read: A remarkable story about one of the most sought after fugitives in U.S. history, whom after finally being caught, may walk free anyway.

Speaking of nice surprises at third base, look no further than Edwin Encarnacion, who’s currently on pace to finish the season with 50 homers, 134 RBI, 95 runs and 22 steals. It’s safe to say the streaky E5 is going to slow down, but he’s also locked into regular playing time, and the DH role appears to suit him well. While he’s never been given a real opportunity, it’s worth noting Encarnacion has averaged one HR per 19.5 at-bats since joining Toronto. Adrian Gonzalez has averaged one HR per 19.8 ABs throughout his career. Moreover, batting in the middle of a Blue Jays’ lineup that has scored the third-most runs in the American League this season, Encarnacion should continue to rack up counting stats. Still just 29 years old, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Encarnacion finished with more fantasy value than teammate Jose Bautista.

Police Blotter: Jilted dentist pulls out all of ex-boyfriend’s teethThis guy was ignored in a DEA holding cell for five days and was forced to drink his own urine in order to survive…Disturbingly tan mom arrested after 5-year-old daughter gets sunburn. Seriously, her defense team better be good!

A poor outing in Atlanta by Johan Santana in which he gave up six runs over 1.1 innings brings down an otherwise terrific start to the season. His current 9.87 K/9 rate is his best since 2004, resulting in a 2.61 ERA and 1.19 WHIP despite the disaster against the Braves. His return from surgery appears to be a huge success, although his velocity is a career-low (he’s averaging 88.4 mph with his fastball. His career average is 91.4 mph). Santana has been getting a little lucky, with a .282 BABIP and 2.7 HR/FB%, but note his career levels are .275 and 8.9%, respectively, so some crash back to earth isn’t necessarily in store, although more gopher balls can safely be expected. Santana will almost certainly be on an innings limit this season, but he’s been an absolute steal for fantasy owners who gambled on him so far, and there are no signs suggesting it’s been a total fluke. He’s back.

Animal Antics: Lion tries to eat baby dressed in zebra outfitFish slaps catWindow surpriseDog guards owner’s bike that he later rides on.

Freddie Freeman entered April 17 hitting .162 with a .189 slugging percentage. He’s since raised his OPS 470 points, as he’s up to six homers and 26 RBI on the year. His 31:5 K:BB ratio is ugly, but Freeman also leads major league baseball with a 37.2 LD%. After a fairly drastic split last year, he’s actually hit lefties better than right-handers so far in 2012, which could be big news moving forward. In such a shallow position in the National League, Freeman has emerged as the clear No. 2 fantasy first baseman in the Senior Circuit.

These headlines really tell the story: Meth Lab Explodes In Man’s PantsHang-Glider Pilot May Have Swallowed EvidenceOne Direction Stars May Have Gotten Chlamydia From A KoalaZoo Caretaker Licks Monkey’s Butt To Help It Defecate.

Quick hits: This year Brandon Morrow already has induced five times as many double plays (GIDP) than he did all of last season…Not a Yankees fan and have him on zero of my fantasy teams, but it was sad to see Mariano Rivera go down like that…Conversely, it was pretty cool to see Chris Davis pitching in a high leverage situation, striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches while reaching 90 mph…The Giants went 43 consecutive innings without having a lead this past week…Josh Johnson has allowed an MLB-high .439 BABIP, while Shaun Marcum leads baseball with a 14.4 SwStr%…Put a fork in Ubaldo Jimenez, he’s done…Over his last three relief appearances, Alfredo Aceves has recorded 11 strikeouts…Owning Jayson Werth just about everywhere, it wasn’t fun watching Sunday Night Baseball, when he mangled his wrist in front of everyone. Good times…It’s possible (and I emphasize may here) I may have been wrong about Luke Hochevar this year. Good God…It’s Bryan LaHair’s world, the rest of us are just paying rent.

After hearing good buzz, I saw “The Cabin In The Woods” last week, and even while entering knowing it’s not what you expect it to be, it still wasn’t anything near what I expected it to be. Unfortunately, I can’t say I loved it, although I will say it had the best scene involving a unicorn in the history of cinema.

This whole Sarah Phillips saga is easily one of the craziest I’ve ever come across. Unbelievable.

I certainly wouldn’t call the Mayweather/Cotto fight a classic, but it was refreshing to see Money May be the aggressor for once, really changing styles to put on a show, which resulted in him being hurt more than ever, although it was again a dominating performance. It would be shame if we don’t get to witness such greatness ever again.

Speaking of greatness, Jack White’s new solo album is ridiculously good. I highly recommend it…Also, I saw The Black Keys, who were opened by The Arctic Monkeys, last week, which was a fantastic show. But my ears were still ringing the next morning – does that mean I’m getting old?

Quick hits, part deux: It’s too early to take Park Factors seriously this time of year, but Coors Field’s current rating of 1.797 on runs scored would end as the highest ever since ESPN started tracking it. And it almost always becomes a much bigger hitters’ park in the hotter summer months…Edinson Volquez is off to a strong start with his new team, but realize he’s somehow managed to pitch in Petco Park in six of his seven starts so far this year…After getting hit by a pitch that was clearly on purpose by Cole Hamels, Bryce Harper not only got to third base from first on a single to left field, but he also stole home afterward during a Hamels pickoff attempt to first base. I especially liked how the Yahoo box score said he stole “4th base”…This has been, without question, the craziest year ever for closers.

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