Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 21, 2021 -- "Pitch Clock Compromise"

 

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

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"If we’re going to have a clock, though, let’s use it to target the worst offenders, the one-inning relievers who make up more than half the pitchers in the game today. Watching those games last night was agonizing."

Monday, September 20, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 20, 2021 -- "Re-Reset"

 

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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"The Dodgers’ run prevention has reached another level in the second half of 2021. They have a 2.64 ERA, more than a half-run better than that of the Brewers. They’re allowing less than three runs a contest overall. This is the best half of pitching any team has had since 2012, and one of the best since the strike-shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons."

Friday, September 17, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 17, 2021 -- "What I'm Watching"

 

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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"So consider what Alex Anthopoulos’s July acquisitions have contributed to the Braves’ lead in the NL East. Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, and Eddie Rosario have hit .246/.328/.497 with 32 homers in 549 PA. That’s like trading for a four-win hitter at the deadline."
 
 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 16, 2021 -- "The A's Fade"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"Through July 30, the last games before the trade deadline, A’s relievers had been fourth in the AL in ERA (3.79) and eighth in FIP (4.18). Since then, the group is 13th in ERA (4.79) and 12th in FIP. In September, the A’s pen is a Superfund site."

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 14, 2021 -- "No Grave, Man"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"The Mariners don’t have to make the playoffs for their 2021 season to have been a success. They identified a number of support pieces around their coming young core. They successfully launched Logan Gilbert. They traded for a four-year solution at third base after Kyle Seager."
 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 13, 2021 -- "Thinking Inside the Box"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"Yesterday the Jays scored 22 runs in seven innings against Zac Lowther, Spenser Watkins, Mike Baumann, and Eric Hanhold; none of them has even proven himself capable of pitching at Triple-A, much less the majors."

Friday, September 10, 2021

Joe Sheehan Newsletter, June 22, 2021 -- "Wander Day"

 

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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The Joe Sheehan Newsletter
Vol. 13, No. 50
June 22, 2021

In a few hours, the consensus top prospect in baseball, Rays shortstop Wander Franco, will make his MLB debut. Franco, who just turned 20 in March, has torn up the minors to the tune of a .332/.398/.536 line while being far younger than the competition at every level. This season, Franco is hitting .315/.367/.586 at Triple-A Durham. That’s meaningful because Franco had yet to play above A ball due to the loss of the 2020 minor-league season. He had just 700-odd pro plate appearances coming into 2021. Franco showed over the last six weeks that he could handle better competition and that the lost year hadn’t stunted his development.

Franco is, at 20, a complete hitter. In Triple-A, the switch-hitter had a 21/12 K/BB that would be impressive for anyone, much less a hitter his age. His strikeout rate of 12% is also remarkable for this era. When he puts the bat on the ball, it’s with a controlled, level swing that generates line drives. Listed at 5'10", 185, he nevertheless generates a lot of power, as he showed on this spring training blast from the left side. He has the speed of a young man, with 27 career steals (against 21 times caught, yuck), 20 career triples, and the mobility to play shortstop. His legs will probably not be a huge part of his game past his early twenties, however. 

I’m curious to see how the Rays deploy Franco. They began the season with an established shortstop in Willy Adames, a plus defensive shortstop nominally ahead of Franco in Taylor Walls, and two other shortstop prospects in Vidal Brujan and Xavier Edwards. The Rays gave Franco some minor-league reps at both second and third in recent weeks, perhaps preparing him to share an infield with Walls in the majors. (Since his call-up, Walls has hit .237/.356/.355 in 26 games with excellent defensive numbers.) Generally, the Rays value defense over offense, so I would be surprised to see Walls play, when he plays, anywhere but shortstop.

Joey Wendle hasn’t done anything to lose his job at third (.292/.350/.491), but he can play second base. It’s Brandon Lowe who has been a disappointment (.202/.304/.399). Lowe stands to lose the most in the Franco promotion. Yet even Lowe is a league-average hitter this season; he could get some time in left field. Franco may get some DH at-bats, pushing Austin Meadows into the outfield, squeezing out Kevin Kiermaier and his .280 OBP. The Rays have built a lot of positional flexibility into their roster; they can use that to get Franco in the lineup most days.

Even after trading Adames, the Rays have four MLB-caliber middle infielders, and Brujan coming up quickly. What a ridiculous organization this is. 

The timing of Franco's promotion has garnered some notice, coming with about 100 days left in the season. That's likely not enough for him to eventually gain the “Super Two” status that would allow him to go to arbitration after 2023, rather than 2024. I don’t think that’s much of a factor, myself, mostly because I think that specific aspect of MLB's compensation structure will go away in the new CBA. It’s a kludge no one likes that dates to the 1980s, and pushing arbitration back to three years of service (or even higher as a tradeoff for earlier free agency) is one of the few chips the MLBPA has left. 

No, I think Franco is up now at about the point he was always coming up, after he showed he could handle the upper levels of the minors. Had the minor-league season started on time, parallel to the MLB season, I suspect Franco would have been up in May. If there’s an external factor here, it’s less Super Two and more Miserable Six, with the Rays losing that many contests in a row. When you get swept by the Mariners, you take a good long look in the mirror. The Rays had a three-game lead in the AL East a week ago, and now they’re looking up at the Red Sox again. They’re hitting .222/.300/.361 in June; only the Rangers have been worse. Over the six-game losing streak they’ve hit .198/.247/.343 with just 20 runs scored. Kiermaier and Brett Phillips are killing the team, which is why I think that’s where Franco will get his playing time, and even Meadows (.208/.260/.375 in June) is at some risk.

There’s no guarantee, of course, that Franco will be an upgrade. Jarred Kelenic got this treatment in the Newsletter six weeks ago and is already back at Triple-A. Gavin Lux and Jo Adell were recent top-five prospects who have yet to launch in the majors. Even Mike Trout hit .163 and was sent back down before becoming Mike Trout. 

Franco, though, is a level above most of those guys. There’s a difference of degree between being a top prospect and being the top prospect. Franco compares to Fernando Tatis Jr., to Kris Bryant, to Bryce Harper, a fully-formed player who steps into the majors ready to thrive. 

My favorite comp, though, goes back a bit further, and wasn’t in fact a top-ten prospect at the time. In 2003, 18 years ago almost to the day, the other Florida team called up a 20-year-old infielder who had also turned pro as a shortstop, and who was tearing things up in the minors. It might be a lot to ask Wander Franco to hit a walkoff extra-inning homer for his first major-league hit, but it’s in the footsteps of Miguel Cabrera that I think he will follow. Cabrera hit .268/.345/.468 as a rookie, splitting time between third base and left field. The Marlins, under .500 when he arrived, went 54-31 in the 85 games Cabrera started, snagged the NL wild-card berth, and went on to their second championship in seven seasons. 

Wander Franco is a more accomplished hitter, a more polished hitter, and a more complete player than Cabrera was at that point. He is going to step into the Rays’ lineup and be a big part of why this team wins another AL East crown.
 

Newsletter Excerpt, September 10, 2021 -- "What I'm Watching"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"The Padres may be my favorite example this year of how wins count the same all year long. September doesn’t mean more than April. The Padres were 34-19 as of Memorial Day weekend, and have gone just 40-46 since then, yet they’re still in position to lock down a playoff berth, maybe even by just playing .500 ball these last few weeks."

 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 9, 2021 -- "Nine Batters"

 

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"It’s silly to get too bogged down in the stats of a seven-game winning streak, but you can notice that the Jays have won in slugfests and in pitching duels. They scored 29 runs against an A’s team that had been top-five in the AL in ERA and FIP. They have allowed just four runs to a Yankees team that had been one of the most productive offensive teams since the trade deadline. If you pull back a bit, you see the Jays are 10-1 in their last 11 dating to August 28. A team that drifted for five months is now swimming like mad."
 
 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 8, 2021 -- "Mailbag"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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"The “Major League” clubhouse clip got me thinking…

Who is the more believable baseball manager…James Gammon in “Major League” or Wilford Brimley in “The Natural”?

--Daniel W.

Brimley, and I love the performance, is almost playing a caricature. It’s how the part is written. I think I’d give the edge to Gammon for having a bit more to work with.

--J.

 
 
 

 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 7, 2021 -- "Reset"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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"The Padres’ final 25 games are against teams no worse than 68-70 as I write this. After they play the Angels the next two nights, the Padres won’t have a single sub-.500 team left on the schedule. Sixteen of their final 23 games -- not a typo -- are against the Dodgers and Giants. Ten of their final 20 -- again, not a typo -- are against the Giants."

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 2, 2021 -- "Competitive Balance"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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Baseball has the best competitive balance of the three major sports. It’s not particularly close. The idea that baseball has bad competitive balance is something that Bud Selig lied into the air supply 25 years ago, and has been regurgitated ever since as fact. I used to say, and it still holds up, “‘competitive balance’ is code for ‘the players make too much money’.” 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Newsletter Excerpt, September 1, 2021 -- "The Cardinals' Big Day"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"It’s hard to talk about the Cards’ August performance, however, without talking about the schedule. Of their 15 August wins, 13 came against the Twins, Royals, Pirates, and Tigers. This will, in fact, be the first week since the first week of August in which the Cards don’t play the Pirates. It’s been a baby-soft slate and credit the Cards for leveraging it, but it’s not clear that we learned much about them in August. I might argue that losing five of nine to the Pirates and Tigers since August 20 is evidence that they underachieved."