Jayson Stark’s “Strange But True Facts” column is an annual tradition for baseball fans, and Stark is here with the 2017 edition of unusual statistical and factual oddities from the past season. Highlights include Matt Chapman’s odd do-over on his first career MLB hit, Travis d’Arnaud’s 22-position game on August 16, and the All-Garcia starting outfield deployed by the White Sox on April 14.
Some more from around baseball…
- Could Craig Kimbrel earn a $100MM free agent contract next offseason? WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford thinks it could happen, especially after Wade Davis’ three-year, $52MM deal with the Rockies established a new average annual value standard for a closer. Kimbrel turns 30 in May and is coming off one of his greatest seasons — a 1.43 ERA, 16.4 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 over 69 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen. Aroldis Chapman’s five-year, $86MM deal with the Yankees from last winter is the largest contract ever given to a relief pitcher, though Chapman signed that deal entering his age-29 season, whereas Kimbrel turns 30 in May. Kimbrel still stands a decent shot at topping Chapman’s mark, though cracking the $100MM threshold seems like a tall order.
- The Royals went into the offseason hoping to re-sign maybe one of Eric Hosmer (their top choice), Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas, though the Kansas City Star’s Rustin Dodd wonders if the team could re-assess its plans given the unexpectedly slow free agent market. All three players are still available as the calendar turns to January, and in the cases of Hosmer and Moustakas, they seem to be running short on viable landing spots. Re-signing any of those free agents, however, would cost the Royals compensation draft picks, which are valuable assets for a team that is looking at a rebuild. Dodd notes that K.C. was able to re-sign Alex Gordon when his free agent market proved to be quieter than expected, though given how Gordon has struggled over the last two years, the Royals probably aren’t thrilled with that comp.
- One of the reasons behind the lack of free agent action could be that teams are simply more cautious about the risk of spending big on a veteran player, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines. Of the 14 current players on free agent deals with a $20MM average annual value and worth more than $100MM in total, only Max Scherzer and Jon Lester seem like clear wins for their teams, while the other 12 players range from questionable investments to outright busts. Sherman proposes that players should be allowed to become free agents after just four years of service time, arguing that the current free agent setup is “a flawed system” that doesn’t properly compensate players through their prime years.