Quick Pitch 8/12: Is Small Ball Back?

It’s no secret that Austin Hedges is absolutely atrocious at the plate. His career wOBA is .260 (MLB average = .321). In 2019, he set a personal record for K% at 31.4% of his at bats. As bad as he is at the plate, Hedges keeps a Major League job due to his incredible framing ability.

Source: Baseball Savant

Hedges is aware of his inability to contribute offensively, so he (and some of his teammates) has tried to get on base in less “conventional” ways.

Safe to say that Chicken Strip left that chicken raw. But how does he and his team respond?

Hmm. Another Padres bunt. An even worse Dodgers defensive play. This trend isn’t looking too good for the Boys in Blue, so if you’re Fernando Tatis what do you do?

At this point the Padres may as well lay down bunt every pitch for the rest of the game at least until the Dodgers prove they can get someone out. Tatis eventually singled to right, loading the bases. Then comes Manny Machado. Other than his bunt in game 7 of the 2018 NLCS on a 3-2 count, I don’t think anyone has ever seen this guy bunt.

News flash: he didn’t bunt.

The Padres’ 3rd inning last night reintroduced the question: Is small ball dead? Should it be?

The Dodgers obviously did San Diego a major favor by playing subpar Little League defense on the two bunts; however, credit has to be given to Jayce Tingler, Austin Hedges, Jurickson Profar, and even Manny Machado for recognizing and taking advantage of an opportunity to catch Stripling and the Dodgers off guard.

Small ball may be “dead,” but it shouldn’t be. There is always a time to throw down a bunt; this game is all about creating runs. The Padres did that, and because of it, they created a win.

Quick Pitch – 7/27

Coronavirus Outbreak

The first weekend of the 2020 MLB season is in the books, and it’s fair to say that it didn’t exactly go as planned. With news that at least 14 individuals inside the Miami Marlins organization have tested positive for coronavirus, the league office has its first true test. The 60-man player pool was created in order to combat the effect of an outbreak occurring throughout an organization. The main issue here, however, is and always should be protecting the health of the highest risk individuals inside MLB’s universe. It isn’t time to freak out yet. It’s time to sit back and see what Commissioner Manfred and the league will do to keep this season going in a safe manner.

Corey Seager…

Let’s talk about baseball. The Dodgers no doubt will be disappointed with an opening series split with the woeful San Francisco Giants, but there were a couple very encouraging signs that deserve some attention. 

When Corey Seager broke his body in 2018, many thought it would be unlikely that he would come back to be the same player that he was prior to the injuries. This claim was not necessarily debunked in 2019 when Seager had a very good but not great season at the plate and didn’t flash great arm strength at shortstop. Many Dodgers fans wanted Seager to be traded in the offseason or even at the deadline last year for someone like Francisco Lindor, but I was not one of these people. Seager’s approach at the plate is quite different from other Dodger batters; it’s well known that he relishes attacking the first pitch especially when it is a fastball. 

In this weekend’s opening series, Seager had 16 official at-bats. 12 of these 16 at-bats resulted in a hard-hit ball (95+ mph exit velocity). What’s even more interesting to me is that his approach at the plate has not changed despite calls for him to do so from fans. Seager is mashing the ball, and he’s doing so on the first pitch regardless of where it is.

With the exception of the ball that hit his wrist/bat in the last game, all of these balls were “hard-hit.” Source: Baseball Savant

If he keeps this up, he will be in the running for MVP at the end of the season. Eventually these hard-hit balls will find space in the field of play or leave the yard. It may still be a little premature to say so, but I’m going out on a limb to say that Corey Seager is back.

Article image sourced from LA Times.

Quick Pitch

Opening Day 2020 Edition

  1. The Ball is Still Flying

The Los Angeles Dodgers scored 27 runs in three Summer Camp games against real MLB opponents. Of those 27 runs, 16 of them were scored via the 6 home runs the team hit in those games. Historically, Dodger Stadium, as we all know, is not exactly home run hitting paradise with its large dimensions and notorious marine layer. The only evidence we need to justify that marine layer is Joc Pederson’s “I hit that ball to Pasadena” (thanks Joe Davis for the quote) reaction to a walk-off home run last year on Jackie Day. That ball got out by about 3 feet LOL. 

When MLB was accused of modifying the baseball to facilitate more home runs last year, the league responded by saying it just had gotten more efficient at coring the baseball. Well, so far in 2020, the coring of the baseball seems to be just as if not more efficient. It’ll be interesting to follow the home run trend this season, especially in a 60-game season.

2. Brusdar Graterol is Insane

So, this observation is even more obvious to those watching the Dodgers than the home run one. Graterol, originally a top prospect in the Twins organization, has long been touted as a flamethrower with starting potential, but I didn’t realize how hard this dude could throw until Monday night. The Diamondbacks may as well have been the Bad News Bears in the batter’s box. Graterol touched 101 mph with his 2-seam/1-seam fastball, and his command looked like it was in mid-season form. 

Source: Statcast, Baseball Savant

With the main struggle of the 2018 and 2019 Dodgers being the back end of the bullpen leading to Kenley Jansen, command and velocity like Graterol’s would be a welcome addition to the 2020 squad. The best part of this for the Dodgers is that originally Graterol wasn’t even coming to LA originally in the Betts deal, but Boston basically gifted him to the Dodgers when they didn’t like Graterol’s medical history. Thanks boys.

3. The New Rules Suck

I know the season hasn’t even started yet, but I already hate the new rules. Being a baseball purist, I love the idea of bringing pitchers in to face one guy. I love that pitchers hit in the NL. I love that games aren’t decided in extra innings until someone gets a guy who starts in the batter’s box across home plate. I get that 2020 is weird, but these rules didn’t need to happen. Let baseball be baseball. Those who actually follow the game are not worried about it. Leave it alone.