The Reds have absorbed their share of tough losses this season, but none compare to how the Cincinnati Red Stockings dropped a 5-3 result to the Louisville Colonels on this day back in 1886. Louisville’s Chicken Wolf hit a game-deciding inside-the-park home run, though Cincinnati outfielder Abner Powell can be excused for failing to properly field the ball. A stray dog who had been sleeping by the outfield fence was woken up by the commotion of the play, and the startled hound proceeded to attack Powell (reports are varied as to whether the dog bit Powell’s pant leg or actual leg), distracting the outfielder long enough for Wolf to score. Questions abound — did the Colonels immediately adopt the animal as a Rally Dog? Why did Red Stockings manager Ollie Caylor not issue a video replay challenge? Was the dog motivated to help Wolf out of canine solidarity? Should MLB spice up the modern game by mandating that at least one random animal be roaming the field at all times?
While we ponder these questions, let’s look at some other items from around baseball…
- We’re over ten months away from the opening of the next international signing period on July 2, 2020, though Baseball America’s Ben Badler (subscription required) looks ahead by profiling ten of the most notable prospects in the upcoming class. Dominican outfielder Pedro Pineda could potentially claim the highest bonus of the bunch, as he has been connected to the Athletics for a bonus that could approach $5MM. The Cubs, Rays, Tigers, Dodgers, Marlins, Nationals, Angels, Blue Jays, and Twins are all unofficially linked to the other nine names on Badler’s list, with several other players also reportedly in line for multi-million dollar bonuses. Of course, the entire signing process as we know it could become moot should Major League Baseball adopt an international talent draft for next year, though nothing has yet been confirmed on that front.
- The Mets’ surge into wild card contention has been aided by a hot streak from Amed Rosario, who has hit .367/.403/.527 over his last 181 plate appearances. Long considered one of baseball’s best prospects, Rosario is breaking out in his third MLB season and establishing himself as a major cornerstone piece in the Mets’ present and future plans, Newsday’s David Lennon writes. Before Rosario’s bat came alive, the biggest question facing his season was whether or not he’d remain at shortstop, as the Mets were considering using him as a center fielder back in June. While Rosario’s defensive numbers aren’t good (minus-14 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-2.5 UZR/150), there is a sense he has improved his glovework as of late, and Lennon notes that “we get the sense that conversation is over” about a position change.
- The Phillies are exactly in the middle of the pack in Defensive Runs Saved, as the Phils’ +12 DRS ranking 15th among all teams. This modest number, however, represents a gigantic upgrade for their glovework, as The Athletic’s Mark Simon (subscription required) explores in a look at the most improved defensive teams in baseball. Philadelphia’s minus-146 DRS was by far the worst in baseball in 2018, yet the team has shored up their defense due to a number of factors, such as the additions of J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper, and moving Rhys Hoskins back to first base after he supremely struggled as a left field last year. The other big gainers were the Blue Jays, who went from minus-100 DRS in 2018 (29th among all teams) to minus-1 DRS and 18th place this season, and the Dodgers, who have gone from being very good to a potentially record-setting defensive unit. Los Angeles finished eighth in the league with +47 DRS in 2018, and now lead all of baseball with a +125 score, giving them a shot at breaking the Diamondbacks’ record-setting mark of +157 from a year ago. The eight teams on Simon’s list share at least one of two commonalities — either the teams are shifting more frequently, or else they are simply using better personnel, whether those are new players joining the team or players who have personally improved their glovework since last season.