Quick fan’s thoughts:
One of the cool things about baseball and aging is that when matters of discussion arise from plays, players and games in the past we often can remember them like it was yesterday. Even if our memories are inaccurate about half the time, what the hell…
On last night’s broadcast – which was a joy with Kenny Singleton, David Cone and ONLY Singleton and Cone doing the talking – they mentioned that last night was the 40th anniversary of the “Reggie Bar”. I was at that game when Reggie bars were distributed for the first time and I remember it like it was yesterday. I got my bar upon passing through the turnstiles, and ate it before we got to our seats. (The bar, it must be said, was a great start on the road to type 2 diabetes for anyone wishing for that journey.) Reggie hit a home run in the first inning and the fans decided to throw their Reggie bars on the field in salute. To an 8 year old this seemed really dumb. This was my first introduction to the idea that maybe baseball fans aren’t the logical thinking types.
Then a little later in last night’s game, Aaron Hicks hit an inside the park home run. Hicks’ reaction was a reminder that 360’ is a long way to run full speed. It reminded me of another game that I was at when I saw Deion Sanders hit an inside the park home run as a Yankee. (With some credit to the crew at Simpleton Summer Camp, someone there remembered and brought up the clip.) I remember vividly that Deion turned that 360’ into about 460’ with his inability to turn the corners correctly around the bases. If Statcast existed then to track his route efficiency it would have been hysterical. It would have looked like a ground hog evading an alligator attack. But, to Deion’s credit, it was also the fastest I’ve ever seen anyone run on a baseball field.
Back to the game:
- Brett Gardner is a great – not good – great base runner. This is not only my opinion, it’s backed up by the very smart people who track these things at Fangraphs, Baseball Reference and Baseball Prospectus.
Specifically, in last night’s game: Top of the 5th, Miguel Andujar on 3rd, Gardner hits a bloop into shallow left center field. Gardner a) took off 100% on contact, b) immediately read that CF Leonys Martin would either catch it or have trouble with it, so therefore Gardner c) took off for 2nd base.
He was safe. Aaron Judge then singled and Gardner scored on the hit. That is a run in what turned out to be a close game that would not have scored if it weren’t for Gardner’s skills. And for those of you who are anti-stats, his WAR went up as a result. The ability to take extra bases without running into outs on the base paths is tracked, weighed and factored in to WAR ratings. So there. You were saying something about batting average…
But it begs a question that I’ve brought up before: Should Brett be batting 5th or 6th? I’ll come back to that another time, I’m sure.
- Aaron Hicks in the lineup now makes four players on the active roster who would be better cleanup hitters than Didi.
- Is it possible Aaron Judge is underrated? Even when he stays off the highlight reel, he’s on base all the time, being an efficient base runner, and holding base runners to one base on hits just with the presence of his arm in the field. Yes all of that is tracked and shows up on his WAR, too. Which, when combined with his power production, he was more valuable than Altuve last season. Yes, I’m still bitter.
- OK, I may be the last man in on this: I might – might – be getting concerned about Dellin Betances. As a general rule players who are dominant for 4 years and bad for 6 weeks don’t need to be fretted over. But after his previous outing where he looked great, last night was a return to the hold your breath Dellin we’ve seen since late last summer. To be continued…