Though baseball hasn’t publicly embraced sports science the way it has analytics, the Giants are looking towards that very field as a way to gain an advantage. A fascinating article by Ian MacMahan of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) provides some insight into the goals of Geoff Head, San Francisco’s newly-promoted assistant director of player development. “Everybody in baseball is tired by August,” Head tells MacMahan. “But if we are a little less fatigued than our opponent, it gives us an advantage.” The field of sports science focuses heavily on factors such as hydration, nutrition, workload and sleep; experts attempt to put together a formula that will keep players performing at their optimal levels as often as possible. According to Dr. Glenn Fleisig, the main difference between sports science and analytics is that sports science focuses on the “physical and medical aspects of a player,” as opposed to gameplay-based statistics. Less than half of all MLB teams currently have a dedicated sports scientist on their staff, and heavier use of sports science data could lead to big improvements by baseball players. As MacMahan puts it, “no one hits a home run sitting in the dugout nursing lead-filled legs and a tight back.”
- Evan Woodbery of mlive.com provides some insight into the questions the Tigers face as the winter meetings commence. Most notably, Woodbery reports that there hasn’t been much buzz surrounding shortstop Jose Iglesias, who will become a free agent after the 2018 season. With no open spots on the 40-man roster, Iglesias is one player Detroit could consider moving in order to take advantage of having the first pick in baseball’s Rule 5 Draft this Thursday (As Woodbery points out, Ian Kinsler could also be on the move before then). Though Iglesias hit just .255/.288/.369 across 489 plate appearances last year, his excellent defense boosted his fWAR to 1.6. Because he’s projected to earn just $5.6MM in his final year of arbitration, there would seem to be some surplus value in his contract.
- Reliever Peter Moylan is generating some interest, specifically from the Royals and Braves (hat tip to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston). As Drellich notes, Moylan held opposing right-handed hitters to a .161/.244/.236 batting line in 2017 (and may have also provided the Royals with some intangible value thanks to his espresso skills). The 38-year-old Moylan has typically been excellent against righties over the course of his 11-year major league career; he’s posted a 2.22 ERA against them in 280 innings with the Braves, Dodgers and Royals.
- Even after losing out on Shohei Ohtani, the Rangers may still elect to use a non-traditional rotation, Evan Grant of SportsDay writes. Texas has reportedly kept contact with Yu Darvish, who has pitched in a six-man rotation in Japan and prefers such a setup; that might be one item which could help entice him to return to Arlington. Grant mentions Cole Hamels, who is generally a stickler for routine, as someone who could present a roadblock to such a strategy. However, based on Hamels’ quotes in the piece, he’d be willing to consider it if the modification helped bring about a postseason berth. “I’d love to get to the postseason again and win a World Series. That’s what I want to do here,” said Hamels. “If we can be stronger and healthier, not as worn down, you have the advantage.”