No need for 1,000 words of analysis today. Just some quick hitting observations about last night’s Yankees vs. Nationals action:
In the bottom of the 4th, the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon led off with a double to left field.
As always happens with a runner on 2nd and nobody out, the “he’s going to try to hit the ball to the right side here to advance the runner to third with less than two out” conversation started with the announcers. Nationals’ outfielder Juan Soto was the “he” at the plate in this case. Juan Soto – he of the .404 OBP, .571 SLG and 1 HR every 13 AB. I rarely speak for all Yankee fans, but I will here: We would be ecstatic if he grounded weakly to the right side.
He did. Ground ball to first, three unassisted. Rendon to 3rd.
And with it, Washington’s run expectancy for the inning went from 1.057 to .896. Yes, in terms of scoring runs (you know, the point of baseball) you’re more than 15% better off with a runner on 2nd and no out than a runner on 3rd with one out. That’s under normal circumstances. Juan Soto at the plate and Mark Reynolds on deck are not normal circumstances. Washington tapped their way out of a potentially big inning.
Wait for it…
Simpleton Summer Camp’s Michael Kay said (as he ALWAYS does), Soto “…does his job…”.
Not to be out done, Simpleton Summer Camp’s Al Leiter declared “That’s winning baseball.”
That’s when my head started to hurt. Mute button time.
Speaking of non-winning baseball: For the 2nd time in a matter of days, Didi Gregorius was thrown out trying to steal 2nd base with two outs and Giancarlo Stanton at the plate. Al Leiter defended that, too. (Being left handed, over six feet, and able to throw a ball 90 plus MPH will get you far in life – intellect of a goat, aside.)
Didi’s thinking in these cases isn’t far behind Leiter’s. To be clear: When a batter with a career .549 SLG is at the plate, you do NOT try to steal 2nd. The advantage of being on 2nd is a small one in that case when compared to the risk. When the Austin Romine’s of the world are up, maybe. Stanton is not Romine. And don’t come at me with the Stanton isn’t Stanton yet nonsense. In 2018 he has the same slugging percentage as the National League HR leader.
Speaking of the National League HR leader…
In 2018, Bryce Harper has 0.6 WAR. Aaron Hicks has 1.1. Harper has played in 15 more games than Hicks in ’18. Think that’s a two and a half month aberration? It isn’t.
Since the start of 2017, it’s 5.3 to 5.0 for Harper despite Harper playing in 38 more games. If you’re goal is to win a baseball game, you’re better off having Aaron Hicks on your team than Bryce Harper. Yes. You. Are.
(Always remember the blog that last season told you that both Didi and Harper were overrated.)
*Full disclosure: I missed the partial first game, only saw the second, regularly scheduled game.