Jim Bowden of The Athletic chatted with Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto about the decision to trade for Dee Gordon and place him in center field despite a lack of experience at the position (subscription required). Unsurprisingly, Dipoto revealed that the outside-the-box trade was rather data-driven in nature. “We had a need in CF and believed his profile fit perfectly if he was willing to commit to the transition,” said Dipoto. “We then took a look at some of the available data (Statcast) and our analysts created a projection of what his acceleration and wide open speed might look like in center field based on comparable speed athletes in the database. The results were encouraging enough that we decided to go for it.” Dipoto raved about the manner in which Gordon has embraced the move, praising his commitment to learning the craft and “tireless” work ethic. Gordon has already impressed Seattle with his range in center, though Dipoto notes that he still has work to do when it comes to scooping ground-balls in the outfield and coming up in a crow hop after years of infield work.
Elsewhere in the American League…
- The Orioles could be looking at an extended absence for pitching prospect Chris Lee, who pitched to one batter on Tuesday before exiting with an injury. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters after the game that Lee suffered a right oblique strain and is set for an MRI on Wednesday morning (link via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko). Oblique strains often sideline players for a month or more, depending on the severity, and Showalter didn’t sound optimistic of a quick return. “There’s a pretty good pattern of the days it takes,” said the manager. “That’s one injury that pretty much runs its course. It isn’t earlier and it isn’t later.” Kubatko also notes that right fielder Austin Hays, who has been bothered by some lat soreness and was switched from right field to DH shortly before today’s game, will have an MRI on Wednesday as well. Lee wasn’t considered likely to make the Opening Day rotation, though Hays certainly projects as a possible impact piece for the O’s early in the 2018 season.
- An issue with Seung-hwan Oh’s physical in Texas didn’t cause the Rangers to pull their offer entirely, writes Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling, but the Rangers did change their offer to Oh after his examination. That prompted Oh to further explore the market, at which point he latched on with the Blue Jays on a one-year, $2MM deal with an option for the 2019 season. GM Ross Atkins didn’t express any concern over Oh’s medical status, per Zwelling. “We feel really good about our process and about the information that we had prior to Texas and after Texas coming out,” said Atkins. “Our due diligence suggests that with his emphasis on strength and conditioning, his emphasis on how he takes care of himself, that he should be able to help us.”
I recently read a piece (I think it was linked here, but I can’t find it) that argued that with all the Statcast and batted ball data, the more-important defensive positions are the corners (LF-RF-3B-1B) because guys pretty much pull everything these days. So the traditional view of “defense up the middle” is being eschewed. I think the piece specifically cited the Indians moving Kipnis around. And if that’s the case, then I can see Seattle making this deal just to have Dee Gordon leading-off for them… they didn’t get him for his glove, they got him for his legs and just found him a defensive home. So if the Seattle staff can pitch “away” from CF and Gordon can use his legs to get to the few balls that find him, then yeah, helluva trade. I’d love to see the end-season stats for how many putouts Gordon records, bet it’s quite low relative to league average.
My take is that this is the continued dumbing-down of major league hitters. Look at the super-shifts for LHB’s: the hole on the left side could land a 747 and guys still are too inept to shoot the ball that way. They bunt, but that’s more of a novelty to pique the fans’ interest.
No one is bunting to pique fan interest.
Hitters do need to be better at hitting to all fields, but if your strength is pulling and you get pitched to pull, it’s not that easy
I saw Billy Hamilton actually lay down a timely, tactful bunt yesterday and about fell out of my chair
That’s Billy Hamilton, though. He’s going to be one of the few guys in the game today where bunting is potentially more valuable than swinging away. He’s also been one of the leaders in bunt-hits since 2014 (his first full season) — number two only to Dee Gordon.
He also needs to work on it much, much more. Compared to the other leaders, his success rate is abysmal: https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=2&season=2017&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=12,d
Guys like Gordon and the Phillies’ Cesar Hernandez, in contrast, do it a lot AND have been quite good at it.
> I recently read a piece…the more-important defensive positions are the corners (LF-RF-3B-1B)
I read pretty much the opposite. CF, SS, 2B still get the most chances; the corners get the fewest (especially 1B).
“Where Defensive Opportunities Have Declined Most”
If you read the article, both of you are kind of right.
Specifically the article says
“this decline of balls in play suggests teams could and should perhaps become more aggressive in finding ways to add more offense to their lineups”
Now CF, 2B and SS still get the most balls hit their way, you are correct – but the number of balls his their way is getting to the point that it is so minimal (and in the case of MI v 3B, the once huge gap is disappearing).
To see that one can use the Chisenhall example they used. They cite him as playing 164 innings in CF, seeing 36 balls into his zone and his making 34 plays for a 0 DRS. (Implying he probably wasnt penalized for the two and otherwise the 34 were pretty routine for the average fielder)
Doing the math on that, he was seeing 1.9 balls per 9 inn into his zone, 1.8 per 9 of which were seemingly very routine
With such few balls going to CF, and with the ones that do generally being so easy to field (that even Chisenhall can do it with ease) indicates that Def in CF (and elsewhere) just isn’t all that important anymore – which is probably why the article makes its “could and should” be prioritizing offense over defense statement
But a team in the playoffs will likely get destroyed by fans/media if that strategy costs them a single game. Having a guy who can be at least average defensively is much more important in a short series.
I mean, I know what you’re saying, but I am not completely sure what is truly best.
Because, while what you’re saying is true …well, at the same time we all know the team will be equally destroyed if they sit a CF capabe bat to instead play an all-glove/no-bat guy only to lose because they put up goose eggs
The likelihood of needing a great play in the OF especially is just so low that it creates an interesting situation
Thank you! That was the piece!!
Baseball plain and short is becoming a boring stat intensive game. Not like the game I remember in the 60s and 70s. Bring back complete games, bunting, take out slides and inside pitching and for God sakes ban the WAR stat.
ok grandpa, lol, just kidding actually you sound like me
LOL – Dock Ellis, quite an interesting chap and good pitcher.
I got his autograph at an Oneonta Yankees game during the summer of ‘86. He was very friendly from what I recall.
Missing the take out slide at second and also miss the play at the plate. We use to practice that as kids. Now all gone. If they put in the dH in the NL I’m done with the game.
I’d be surprised if the DH in the NL didn’t eventually happen.
Doubt you will be done with it. You’re a big baseball fan now you would still be after that.
“If they put in the dH in the NL I’m done with the game.”
Being forced to watch a guy who has no business holding a bat in his hands at the plate is largely why I pay such little attention to the NL.
A skill game should not include pretty automatic outs once every 9 attempts. That is what the 9 hole is in the NL tho, with even PHers generally being only marginally better.
Tells me you have no sense of the game. The DH takes much strategy out of the game.
Oh yeah, god forbid we lose the “strategy” of “…well our starter is completely taxed and can no longer find the plate at all. But if we just walk the catcher, we know the pitcher is still going to strike out”
It creates as much if not more mindlessness as it does strategy, and having a guy at the plate every 9th AB that probably couldn’t get a hit off the camera operator is rather ridiculous.
Weather Report of Atlanta
As a fan of NL play, I’m not a fan of the DH role either. I would like both leagues to have different styles of play. It gives each league an identity. That being said, if they ever introduced a DH role. Maybe make it a limited DH. This limited DH can be brought into the game at anytime and placed anywhere in the lineup. The DH could theoretically take the place of a defensive minded player or the pitcher. However, once the starting pitcher is removed, this NL DH must take the pitchers spot in the lineup the rest of the game. You also can’t remove the DH once you add him to the lineup. This would create a sense of strategy if they put the DH in the NL. Also, with limited pitch counts and rare pitchers who can hit/produce at the plate, managers would OCASSIONALLY ponder leaving that pitcher in the game or pull him early due to pitch count. I’m sure my proposal falls short of perfect, but I don’t think the AL DH is perfect for the NL either.
Well if the guy is taxed you can never be sure he’s going to strikeout the pitcher. Maybe you shouldn’t have walk the guy to get to the pitcher. Maybe you make a double switch. The AL fans probably doesn’t even know what that means. No much more strategy in the NL. AL games bore me. Every inning is just sit back and see if they can hit three run homers. Send your starter back out there until he hits 100 pitches. No strategy whatsoever so you don’t really have to second guess any moves made. Everything is predictable. Sad way to play the game.
Hasn’t baseball always been a stat intensive game? The moment the box score was created with more than just hits and runs fans latched on and couldn’t get enough. You’d be that old fart 150 years ago saying, these number statistics they’re writing down is ruining the game. What happened to just looking at a guy and knowing he could play?
Fun fact: Henry Chadwick is first known to create a box score for baseball in 1859. He created stats like ERA. There were a lot of critics then too, but it help gain interest in the sport.
Stats yes, but we’re overloaded with them now. I’m a stats person, but there are too many and I’m not sure the new ones are very accurate. Analytics is an overkill, I believe subjective evaluations are being ignored for the new stats. The game is no fun, it’s was over evaluated.
What’s not over-evaluated today? “Big Data” is a part of everything in our lives. Why only single out baseball as having too much of it?
I can see the argument but the most defensively gifted guys, Inciarte, Kiermeyer, Iglesias, Simmons, etc. all play up the middle and the bat first guys usually play the corners because you don’t really need the range to play those spots. Also with shifts being implemented to the point where you have your second baseman and shortstop on the same side of the field at times it increases the importance of your middle positions.
Teams like the Mets and Orioles, persistent cheapskates known for corner cutting, always have injuries
Wonder their better investment than strength and conditioning and nutrition
The orioles aren’t really known for injuries. They are know to have the toughest physical. The Mets on the other hand, are known for injuries to 75% of their roster. Pretty big contrast.
We had the iron man, bro.
Hey, his house is up for sale.
Mets were 1st in DL roster effect for 2017, Orioles were 26th. You failed with your argument. Link provided.
Damn. I’m just surprised the Mariners were not only not first, but were all the way down to 7th. I guess it goes to show that their MLB record for pitchers used was as much an indication of their absence of SP depth as it was injury problems.
Not only do I love the Dee Gordon trade for his speed on the bases and quintessential lead off hitter profile but he can move back to 2B when Cano gets moved to DH and Kyle Lewis/Braden Bishop/Ian Miller come up. Cano is so slick and graceful at 2nd but his range is shrinking each season
Unless the M’s magically find their 1B this or next season, I can’t help but think that switch will be better for Cano over DH’ing him. Especially since he does still have hands and can get the balls at him even with limited range — both of which are still important skills at 1B.
More DH time the older he gets will always be better, of course, though.
Where’s all the vitriol for the Rangers changing their offer to Oh based on his physical and then losing him to Toronto? If that had been the Orioles, they would have gotten roasted like a pig on the beach.
We signed two pitchers. One with an injury concern coming off of a terrible season and yet they both passed the physical. Our aversion to giving out long term deals or signing IFA’s is way worse than our physicals. That has saved us from a lot of bad deals. But I guess they all go hand in hand and have the same risk aversion strategy at the forefront.
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