Saturday, May 25, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 25, 2024 -- "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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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Giants 8, Mets 7

E: Luciano 2 (4, fielding, throw)

I am pretty sure I have never cited fielding percentage in the Newsletter, which should give you an idea of how notable Marco Luciano’s .886 mark is. Luciano booted a tailor-made double-play ball Tuesday that should have ended the game and instead set up a Pirates comeback win. Last night, he did the same thing on what should have been a game-ending double play ball by Pete Alonso, setting up first and third with just one out and the Giants clinging to an 8-7 lead. It’s the Mets, though, so the Giants still won.

Luciano is off to a miserable defensive start, highlighting the question of whether he’s going to stick at shortstop. Keith Law, over at The Athletic, has had his doubts about Luciano’s defense for years. Again, we don’t talk about errors much, but Luciano’s error rates have been notable at each stop along the way, and even this year he made seven in 103 chances at Triple-A before his call-up. Range matters, arm matters, but if you’re booting a ball twice a week, you can’t keep the job. That’s who Luciano is right now.

The challenge for the Giants is that Luciano is also off to a .409/.480/.591 start at the plate, with just five strikeouts against three walks. He has almost no experience anywhere else on the diamond -- 46 innings at second base in the minors last year is all of it -- and the Giants have him blocked at second, third, and DH anyway. They even have young outfielders now, in Heliot Ramos and Luis Matos, earning looks. It would be hard to bump one of them to stick a completely untrained Luciano out there.

Luciano has to play shortstop to contribute to the 2024 Giants, and it’s very possible that his defense makes him unplayable there. It’s just odd to point that out with the oldest number in the book.
 
 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 23, 2024 -- "Noll Hypothesis"

 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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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If Steinbrenner wants to make a real point, though, it’s in that $100 million he’s having to light on fire each year. That, and not the money he’s spending on baseball players, is his problem. His business partners have set rules that take $100 million a year out of his pockets so that they can be guaranteed profits without trying to win baseball games. His business partners have made it so that every dollar he spends at the trade deadline this year costs him a dollar in penalties. If Steinbrenner is looking to complain about something being unsustainable, that’s where he should start.
 
 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 21, 2024 -- "Shortstops, Redux"

 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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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I am certain that trading Jackson Holliday is a better idea than moving him to center field midseason, and it may be a better idea even than going forward with him as a second baseman. There are not many good fits, though, and a deal like this requires a level of risk that has mostly been bred out of baseball executives over the last couple of generations. I doubt it will happen, but were I Mike Elias, I’d make the calls.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 20, 2024 -- "Phil., Harmonic"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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Suarez, Bohm, Stott...all homegrown Phillies who were contributors to good teams and who are now much better. Add Sanchez (a Rays signee acquired back in 2019) and Orion Kerkering, and a pattern starts to reveal itself. For all the deserved focus on the team’s frontline stars, on big free-agent signings like Wheeler and Bryce Harper and Trea Turner, the Phillies have become a modern organization that develops its own talent and then makes that talent better in the major leagues. Throw in what pitching coach Caleb Cotham has done with scrap-heap reliever Jeff Hoffman (5.68 ERA before Phillies, 1.99 with Phillies) and Matt Strahm (30/1 K/BB, 0.15 FIP this year), and you have to start thinking of the Phillies the way we do the Dodgers and Rays and Braves, a top-tier baseball machine.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 17, 2024 -- "Mariners at Orioles"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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I wrote it many times over the winter: The Orioles have too many position players to fit on the field at once. They have to pick the ones they’re going forward with, and use the rest to shape a championship roster. We know Mike Elias can develop talent and build a highly-rated farm system, but we don’t yet know whether he can take that next step. The Corbin Burnes trade was a good start, but there’s more to be done. James McCann and Ramon Urias can’t be taking high-leverage at-bats in August, much less October.
 
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 15, 2024 -- "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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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There’s not much in Chourio’s profile to hang your hat on. His 38/8 K/BB is bad. He’s got a lot of swing-and-miss in his game right now. When he makes contact, not much is happening: His expected stats on batted balls are a match for his actual ones. He has a 50% groundball rate and doesn’t even have a sub-split, say mashing breaking stuff or something, you can point to as a good sign.

As we’ve seen with some other rookies, there comes a point when having them work things out in the majors is counterproductive. Complicating matters for the Brewers is their early success, which means they have to value performance over development. If Chourio isn’t going to play every day in Milwaukee, then he’s better off in Nashville.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 13, 2024 -- "Clipped Wings"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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The parallels between the two bird teams diverge on the mound. The Cardinals, thanks to a surprisingly effective bullpen, are 17th in MLB in FIP, while the Jays are 26th. The Cardinals emphasized missing bats in the bullpen and getting innings from the rotation this winter. Their starters are 13th in the league in innings pitched, while as expected, not being terribly effective: a 4.31 FIP that’s 23rd in the league. The Cardinals have been vulnerable to their opponents breaking games open in the middle innings, where they’ve allowed 89 runs, tied for the most in baseball. Their starters, the third time around, have allowed a .287/.358/.489 line, seventh-worst in baseball by OPS+. As ever, when you eat innings, you get the runs.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 10, 2024 -- "Field of Skenes"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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Across 24 hours these next two days, then, the Pirates will be putting their future on the field. Jones has been one of the breakout stars of the early season, with a 2.63 ERA and a ridiculous 52/5 K/BB in his first seven career starts. He goes tonight against the Cubs, then Skenes follows him. For at least the next two months or so, until the Pirates put the brakes on the two pitchers, the Pirates are going to do what very few teams do these days -- start ace-caliber pitchers in back-to-back games. Skenes and Jones could be the 1-2 punch every team desperately wants to develop.
 

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 9, 2024 -- "Notes"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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Remember, we no longer get pitchers’ duels, where the tension mounts as two hurlers quickly dispatch the opposition. Even good starters on good days rarely pitch the ninth, most don’t see the eighth, and often a pitcher is pulled having posted six shutout innings. There have been 59 starts already this season in which a pitcher went exactly six innings and allowed no runs. There were 141 of those, total, in the 1970s. Last year, there were 199 starts that fit the criteria. There were 255 during the entire 1980s.
 
 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 8, 2024 -- "The Shortstops"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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Let’s focus on the three incredible talents at the top of the game’s shortstop pool, the Jeter/Rodriguez/Garciaparra of their era: Gunnar Henderson, Elly De La Cruz, and Bobby Witt Jr. By bWAR, they’re three of the top 20 players in baseball so far this season, Henderson and Witt among the top six. They get to those lofty rankings in different ways, and of course, age has to be part of the equation if we’re answering the original question: Which of the three would go first if you were starting a team today?
 
 

Monday, May 6, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 6, 2024 -- "Twins, Past and Present"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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All this is to say that Bendix is right on the merits. He has to start over if he’s going to do what he was hired to do, build Rays South. Trading Arraez now, when the second baseman has two seasons to free agency, is the first step on that path. The Marlins, owing to all those pitching injuries, don’t have much to deal. There are no good hitters on this team. There are few healthy pitchers, fewer still effective ones. Arraez is the best hitter for average in baseball, but that’s the extent of his skill set, and it’s fair to wonder whether he has peaked.
 
 
 

Friday, May 3, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 3, 2024 -- "Royal Confusion"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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If you want to look outside, see that it’s a sunny Friday afternoon in May and go outside without finishing this, I don’t blame you. The Royals’ offensive statistics are throwing up so many mixed messages it’s hard to say whether they’re lucky or unlucky. Forget output and timing, though, and just consider this: The Royals are making a lot of contact, a lot of hard contact, and a lot of the best contact (barrels). All of that is sustainable. As likely as not, when their performance with runners on base regresses, their overall performance should improve. This may not be a top-five offense; it is at least an average one.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, May 1, 2024 -- "Brew Crew Doing the Do"

 

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.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $79.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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It’s another typical Brewers team, showing off the whole range of talent acquisition. William Contreras is an MVP candidate picked up in trade, with Willy Adames, Joey Ortiz, and Oliver Dunn also products of swaps. Brice Turang, Sal Frelick, and Jackson Chourio -- the latter two not contributing much so far -- are farm products. Blake Perkins was a free-talent add who had been let go by his third organization when the Brewers signed him in 2022, and while Gary Sanchez is more famous, he’s playing for just $3 million himself, practically free.