baseballism

Who is the True “Hit King,” Rose or Ichiro?


-David Strobach-

Ichiro Suzuki lined a double off San Diego Padres pitcher  Fernando Rodney for his 4,257th hit of his baseball career from Japan and Major League Baseball which combined passed Pete Rose for all-time hits.  In Japan Ichiro had 1,278 hits and 2,979 MLB hits.  Many people are crowning Ichiro the “Hit King” which is spurring much debate, is Ichiro the true “Hit King,” or is it Charlie Hustle?

 

Ichiro right away was his respectable humble self saying, “For me, it’s not about the record, it’s about my teammates and the fans.”  He has always been a such a humble and great man.  He did not claim himself as “Hit King” or boast about it in any way.

Ichiro’s iconic at-bat routine will forever be remembered- Nick Wass/Associated Press

Pete Rose made his opinion known to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale saying,

“It sounds like in Japan they’re trying to make me the Hit Queen. I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro, he’s had a Hall of Fame career, but the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high school hits. I don’t think you’re going to find anybody with credibility say that Japanese baseball is equivalent to Major League Baseball. There are too many guys that fail here, and then become household names there, like Tuffy Rhodes. How can he not do anything here, and hit (a record-tying) 55 home runs (in 2001) over there? It has something to do with the caliber of personnel.”

As much as this pains me to say it, I agree with Pete Rose.  All of Ichiro’s hits in Japan shouldn’t be in consideration when talking about MLB records.  It is incredible that Ichiro has hit that much in his career and even more incredible that he is approaching 3,000 MLB hits after coming into the Majors as 27 year-old.  Pete Rose, however, should still be considered MLB’s “Hit King” because he hit all 4,256 of them in the MLB.  He really does have a strong point that I agree with concerning the type of play here and in Japan.  The talent is simply better here and they are completely different leagues.  There’s reason tons of Japan players dreams are to play in the MLB.   Only MLB stats should be in consideration when talking about MLB records.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Ichiro deserves to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and should be considered to be one of the greatest hitters the world has ever seen.  Not only has he been one of the greatest, but Ichiro is an international icon.  Many around the world will recognize the name Ichiro.   He plays with all his heart and has made great contributions to the MLB.  I am not trying to take anything away from his stellar career, but unfortunately, the one and only Charlie Hustle deserves the title, “Hit King,” not Ichiro.

Let’s all enjoy the major milestones of future Hall of Famer:

 

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The Revelation of Jonathan Villar


-David Strobach-

Brewers shortstop, Jonathan Villar, has been nothing short of a revelation.   He was supposed to be just a gap shortstop until top prospect, SS Orlando Arcia, made his way up.  He was acquired this past off-season from the Astros in exchange for minor league RHP Cy Sneed.  Jonathan Villar has been a stud for the Brew Crew this year. Why is no one talking about him?  Let’s see just how good Villar has been.

Source: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America

Villar, only 25 years old, is slashing .296/.387/.426 with an OPS of .813, 5 home runs, and a league leading 23 stolen bases.  Jonathan has exceptional on-base skills with his .387 OBP.  As soon as he gets on first, it’s almost a sure bet he’ll be swiping second.  Villar has been hitting around .300 all year and it is far enough into the season to say he is no fluke.  He’s challenging pitchers with every aspect of his game.  His most underrated tool is his defense.  Defensively, Villar makes the plays and is always smooth at short.

FanGraphs states in their post on Villar: “Villar is on pace to hit 13 home runs, steal 60 bases, and bat .292. That’s 2014 Jose Altuve, but more power and less batting average.” That’s a pretty darn good way to look at how well he has been performing.  Mentioning Jose Altuve‘s name in the same sentence as Villar’s shows what kind of player he has been.  If you would like a more advanced breakdown on his success, I encourage you to read FanGraphs work.

From a fantasy perspective, ESPN fantasy baseball has him ranked as the seventh player in all!  Pretty amazing for a huy that was only supposed to be “gap player.”

Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

What makes Villar even more valuable is that not only is he playing All-Star caliber baseball, he’s young (25) and controllable (Brewers control through 2020).  David Stearns, Brewers GM, has said time and time again how his main goal is to find young controllable talent and he has found quite a hidden gem in Jonathan.  Villar should be a valuable core in the Brewers rebuild by moving positions (probably 3rd) when Arcia comes to take his spot. Let’s all applaud David Stearns for this fantastic find.

 

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Run or Slide to 1st? The Science Behind It


-David Strobach-

In many games this year, runners have been sliding to first on very close plays.  Every time the announcer is heard stating that it’s actually faster to not slide.  This sliding/diving into first has been occurring noticeably more to me this year, so I decided to research it.  Let’s see what the truth is in this scientific breakdown done by ESPN’s Sport Science to see if sliding or running is faster.

Moral of the story after watching the science, always make sure to run through first!

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What Makes Baseball The “Mental Game”


-David Strobach-

 

Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical,” to explain how valuable the mental side of the game is.  What makes baseball the “mental game?”

There’s a nice amount of time in between each pitch whether you are hitting or fielding.  When you are fielding, you can think about what you’ll do with the ball if it’s hit at you.  Then, when the ball is hit, the reaction has to be within a split second.  If you make an error in those few seconds– everyone knows you’re the one who screwed up.  Baseball isolates you when you fail.  With all the time in between pitches, negative thoughts start creeping into your mind.  “How did I miss that?  What did I do wrong?  Was it my mechanics?  Did I misjudge it?”  Then, another ball is hit in your direction and you airmail it over first base.  “Jeez, 2 errors in the same inning.  What is wrong with me!?!!  What am I doing?”  An inning can feel like an eternity as you stand at your position, internalize the error and start to second guess everything. The fact that baseball gives you time to think and analyze before every pitch should be a positive attribute of the game. Unfortunately, for some, it can also be its most negative and self defeating attribute.

A sort of fear can build up inside of you, and you begin to hope that you don’t get the ball so you don’t mess up again.  You have already lost, if you have the fear of opportunity and fear of failure.   This dead time can kill you mentally.  As you start to second guess everything, you start to lose focus and perform even worse. Everything becomes very forced. Yogi Berra also said, “A full mind is an empty bat,” which exemplifies exactly what I’m trying to say.  The more you think, the worse the outcome.  It is fine to think about the situations in the game, but never to think about personal failure.   There’s even a medical term for this, “paralysis by analysis.”  By over analyzing yourself, it will paralyze your results. Clear your mind and visualize yourself succeeding, the results can be amazing by simply not overthinking.

Instead of  fear of another failure, a great player wants another opportunity to show they can get the job done.  If they make an error, or strike out, they look forward to the next time.  Self-confidence, is the common trait in all great players.  They know and believe in their abilities.  If you don’t believe in yourself, how are you supposed to ever succeed in anything?  The greats know they can hit and field-they’ve been training their whole lives.  During a slump, they just have to work through it.  You have to have the mental toughness to understand failure and how to over come it.  When I make an error at third base, I always think to myself that my favorite player, David Wright, who is a fantastic defender even makes errors.  He knows how to recover and make the next play. Self-confidence, not cockiness is key.  You have to trust yourself.

What makes baseball the “mental game” is the time it gives you to think.  Those who succeed have the self-confidence to overcome any obstacle.  It’s an amazing thought that a game can be won or lost in your head.  The most athletically gifted person in the world may lose to an average athlete because of a lack of mental toughness.  So, get out there, play ball, and don’t think too much!

 

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Take Note Sports World, The MLB Got It Right With Domestic Violence


-David Strobach-

Commissioner Rob Manfred made his first domestic violence stance since the new policy was implemented in August.  Closer, Aroldis Chapman, of the New York Yankees was punished and accepted a 30 game unpaid (will lose $2 million) suspension starting Opening Day for his abusive actions back in October, 2015.  Chapman allegedly pushed and choked his girlfriend and fired gun shots into the wall of his garage.  No charges were filed, but that didn’t stop the MLB from stepping in swiftly to lay down the law and send a powerful message to the MLB.  Manfred’s statement below:

Manfred did a good job conducting an investigation and acting quickly, within four  months, to discipline Chapman.  Aroldis denies he harmed his girlfriend, but in his statement he said he acted inappropriately:

“Today, I accepted a 30 game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions on October 30, 2015. I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening. However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry. The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration. I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family. I have learned from this matter, and I look forward to being part of the Yankees’ quest for a 28th World Series title. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.”

 

The MLB, MLPA, and Rob Manfred have my approval and respect for their handling of this domestic violence issue.  They created a new policy, stuck with it strongly, and sent a message to the league.  There will be no appeal, which is thankfully avoiding more conflict with the commissioner and arbitration.  If Chapman would have lost the appeal, he could have ended up having more games added to his suspension.  30 games is a good time length because if the suspension lasted 45 games or any longer, it would have prevented Aroldis Chapman from becoming a free agent due to service time.  Hopefully,  Aroldis will use this time to reflect on his actions and perhaps receive some counseling.   The message that domestic violence will not be tolerated in professional baseball by any means was well sent.  The whole situation was not a “circus” and it was handled professionally, unlike similar issues in the NFL.  Other sports take note, the MLB got it right with its domestic violence stance.  Let’s hope this step in the right direction continues across all sports.

Stay tuned for possible decisions on Jose Reyes and Yasiel Puig in the near future.

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Baseball Mirrors Life


-David Strobach-

There is no sport that truly shows all aspects of life like the game of baseball.

Baseball is one of the only sports without a clock, but always has an end.  There’s no telling how far the end could possibly be for a baseball game.  This can also be said about life.  We know we are living, but never truly know when the game of life will come to a close.  Throughout the game of baseball, you may miss that fastball down the middle,  your golden chance at success.    In life, there are times you may have a great opportunity, but miss it.  “Strike 3,” calls the umpire as you have your walk of shame back to the dugout after failing.  You may sometimes have that bad day in life, but don’t worry, there is always another at-bat, there’s always another day.  In life and baseball, it’s important to embrace our mistakes and failures, learn from them to make us all better for that next opportunity, that next at-bat. Go up to the plate after being 0-3 and take advantage of your next at bat, make contact or better yet, smack a home run. Don’t go down just “looking.” Flunk that test or bomb that job interview?  There will be another. Go prepare, practice, and kill it when the next opportunity presents itself.  Be proactive and don’t go down looking–with opportunities passing you by. Create an opportunity on the baseball field and in your life. You never know when the time will come, but always be ready.   After all, baseball is a game of failure….and so is life with many unpredictable variables—But that’s what makes it exciting!  Life and baseball can be disappointing and hard at times. So, take responsibility and action through practice, pushing yourself and trying new things.  Play every game and live every day to the fullest because you never know when the last game or day of your life will come.

In baseball, a sacrifice bunt or sac fly can be difference makers in a game.  In life, let’s say you have that big test Monday, but want to go to the football game on Friday.  Maybe money will be tight for you and have to chose whether you spend money on those new shoes or save it for your family’s well-being.  There’s always decisions to made about when and how to sacrifice something, in both life and baseball.  You could look like a big shot with those Jordan’s and look like the hero hitting that game winning three run homer.  Saving that money you spent on those J’s may help your family out a little bit, but you feel no pleasure or status since you don’t have those shoes.  Laying down that sac bunt helps the team win games and you may not get any notice or love for it.  You sacrificed a chance and your personal stats to look the hero for the sake of the team. Sacrificed those  J’s that you think would get all the ladies in order to help  your family.  Sacrifices may not be easy, but in the end it’s what will make all the difference allowing many to benefit.

A popular saying is that it takes a village to raise a child.  Well, it takes a team to win a championship.  In baseball and life you can never be successful on your own without anyone helping.  A strong supporting cast is always needed. So when things are going badly, reach out to your teammates, family and friends.

In life, you can never have full control of what’s going on.  There are always roadblocks.  When you go up to bat, you have to go with what pitches are thrown and make the most of it.  In life, you have deal with the cards you’re dealt and make the most of it as well.  Life and baseball can be incredibly frustrating.  Sometimes you can do everything right in both and STILL fail.  Sometimes things look like they’re going well for both, but change drastically in a matter of moments.  From hitting a line drive straight to the CF, missing a home run by inches, having your bat break, or getting a bad call – baseball is unfair.  In life, you may be doing great at your job and still get laid off.  Everything in your family could be going well, and suddenly tragedy hits.  It’s not fair.  It’s how you deal with adversity that makes you who you are and how you will eventually succeed.  So, get up to the plate, take action, and make something happen.

 

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David Stearns Finding Hidden Gems For The Brewers


-David Strobach-

David Stearns has been making quite a splash in the MLB since becoming the youngest GM, at age 30, for the Milwaukee Brewers in order to help them rebuild.  Other than the splashy Segura move, Stearns has made some under-the-radar moves that could positively impact Milwaukee baseball.  A team like the Brewers is not rebuilding from a dominant, star studded team.  They are rebuilding from the ground up.  It’s important for a rebuilding team to acquire young, cheap, and controllable talent.  David Stearns has been quietly acquiring some low budget, former top prospects under our noses. However, all that’s heard in the media is the Segura trade and Lucroy rumors.  These players below are low-risk, high-reward for the Brew Crew.  I do believe Stearns could be up to something, uncovering some cheap valuable talent that could turn out to be hidden gems.  Meet Garin Cecchini and Rymer Liriano.

 

Garin Cecchini 3rd/1st and LF

Age: 24

 

In 2014, at Triple-A, Cecchini had a very average year, but 2015 is what really made the Red Sox want to move on from the once top prospect with the awful slash of .213/.286/.296 and a OPS of .583. The Milwaukee Brewers decided to scoop him up acquiring him for cash considerations.  3rd base couldn’t be any more shallow for the Brewers and adding Garin seems more like a depth and competition move.  I feel David Stearns could be uncovering a very solid player in here in Cecchini.

 

Pic from: nesn.com

 

Look past his dreadful year to see his potential.

 

Garin Cecchini was once one of the Red Sox’s top prospects before 2014, ranked #51 by Baseball Prospectus.  He plays third base, first, and some outfield. Cecchini’s slash was .322/.443/.471 with an OPS of .915 split between A/AA. These are very good numbers that prove he can handle the bat well.  This shows where the top prospect status comes from.  Cecchini also possesses some speed as he stole 51 bases at the Single A level.  He is a not a complete burner with his speed, but runs well.  Getting on base has always been the strongest aspect of his game.  Pure hitting and his on base expertise has always been praised in scouting reports.  Cecchini is average defensively, not great. Garin has good size at 6’ 3” but his size doesn’t translate into power.  In fact, he has never hit more than 7 home runs at any level in professional baseball.  His lack of power may not be a huge factor for the Brewers at this point regarding the 3rd base position for them since it is so shallow. Scouts have always raved about him and Stearns sees something worthwhile in him.

 

Keith Law scouted Cecchini saying, “He showed he could really hit, projecting as a consistent .300-plus hitter whose future hit grade is a 65 or a 70.”

 

Baseball Prospectus describes him, “Excellent hand/eye coordination; natural bat-to-ball skills; hit tool could end up well above average.”

 

A change of scenery could rejuvenate his career.  Let’s say he bounces back, makes the Brewers and slashes around .285/.390/.425.  That would result in quality player for the Brewers to have. Maybe as he figures things out in a few years, he could be up around .300,  This could all very well be wishful thinking, but Cecchini has had scouts raving about him for reasons. There is definitely a reason to keep an eye on this young man.  It sometimes takes players a little while longer to figure it all out and David Stearns is hoping Garin finds his mojo with the Brew Crew.  Third base is his to win and hopefully that inner top prospect talent comes back for him.  This was literally a no risk, high reward move for Milwaukee, and that reward could be a quality 3rd baseman.  If he still struggles, then nothing is lost.

 

Rymer Liriano OF

Age: 24

 

Rymer Liriano, a toolsy outfielder the Brewers acquired from the San Diego Padres for left-hander  Trevor Seidenberger. Liriano is a very intriguing player to look into.

 

Bernie Pleskoff  wrote in 2014, “That fall, what I saw daily from Liriano was a rare mix of power and speed tools for a player his size. Along with his potent bat and better-than-average speed for his 6-foot, 230-pound frame, Liriano flashed a much-better-than-average arm from right field. In fact, he threw so hard, his mechanics and velocity may have even contributed to the need for his career-interrupting elbow surgery last year. At the time of his operation, Liriano was ranked the No. 3 prospect in the Padres’ organization. He is currently ranked No. 6 on San Diego’s Top 20 Prospect list.”

Pic from: eastvillagetimes.com

 

In 2014 he slashed  .291/.361/.473 with 14 home runs and an OPS of .836 between AA/AAA.  In the 14 games he played at AAA,  he hit a whopping .452 which led his Major League call-up that year.  Then, in 36 games with the Padres, Liriano struggled mightily hitting, .220/.289/.266 with an OPS of .555.  This poor play resulted in his demotion back to AAA for the 2015 season.  Last year, he had similar numbers to those of 2014, even slightly better, .292/.383/.460 with an OPS of .843 and 14 bombs as well.  To show his speed, in 2011, Liriano had 66 stolen bases.

Liriano has a very unique skill set and could be a special player.  His numbers at Triple-A were great in 2015 and for the position the Padres are in, it is baffling  they would trade him right now.  He is a player with an immediate chance to positively impact a team with many tools.  It is unclear where he would fit in with the Brewers in the outfield right now, but could definitely compete for time in center field.  Liriano showed his talent last year and could translate it to the Major League level with the Brewers.  With his track record of minor league success and various tools,  Rymer Liriano could end up being a gem for Milwaukee.

 

These two moves are both low risk, high reward.  It seems that these  transactions could be great for the Brew Crew.  Let’s hope these two players pan out and David Stearns could look like a genius to us all.  If not, it’s back to the drawing board.

 

All stats from: Baseball-Reference.com

 

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