How has the decrease in balls in play over the past few years affected defensive opportunities? Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs seeks to answer this question with an in-depth look at different positions on the diamond. Because of the trend of rising strikeout rates and home run totals among MLB hitters, there are fewer opportunities overall for defenders to make plays in the field. But it turns out the decrease in putout chances hasn’t spread evenly among the positions. While first basemen and third basemen on the whole have seen a similar number of opportunities, outfielders and middle infielders have seen theirs decrease significantly. Perhaps, then, this could lead to more focus on offense at these premium positions. Sawchik notes that the Indians weren’t shy about testing Jason Kipnis in center field at the end of last season, and reminds readers that the Reds are giving third base prospect Nick Senzel a test run at shortstop this spring. He also posits that there could be less of a concern with moving an “offensive-minded but large-framed” shortstop off of the position, citing Corey Seager and Carlos Correa as players of that type. Sawchik’s article provides helpful visuals that make the trends clear.
Other items from around the major leagues…
- Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press takes a closer look at the Twins’ decision to place the once-promising J.T. Chargois on outright waivers. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted yesterday, Chargois was not long ago considered to be one of the club’s top relief prospects and perhaps a future closer. Twins GM Thad Levine says he isn’t surprised that Chargois was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers. “He’s got plus-plus stuff and he’s got an option remaining,” said Levine. “He’s got a lot of positive attributes. Probably, if anything, (I’m) maybe a little surprised he got that far in the process.” As the World Series runner-up, the Dodgers had the second to last waiver priority, meaning that 28 teams passed on Chargois before L.A. got its shot to claim him.
- White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo will miss six weeks with an elbow injury, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. The 21-year-old outfielder complained of soreness in his elbow recently, and the results of an MRI determined that he had both a UCL sprain and a flexor tendon strain in his right arm. “We do not yet have a plan for him moving forward,” said GM Rick Hahn on the injury. “In the coming days, we will. As we sit here now there is a decent chance that rehab will allow him an ample time to heal. If that does not work, surgery is an option at some point. We are not there yet.” Adolfo was rated as the White Sox’ 14th overall prospect by MLB.com headed into the season. He spent the 2017 season at Class-A Kannapolis, where he hit .264/.331/.453 across 473 plate appearances, though his .366 BABIP suggests that some luck was involved, while his 31.5% strikeout rate is further cause for concern.