Out of left field, NYY/BOS edition

Out of left field is an occasional post where there are some thoughts that don’t require 1,000 of analysis but must be shared.

Yes, “must”.  In no particular order…

Mookie Betts has been leading off for the Red Sox lately.  This is an incredibly bad move from a manager who’s had a pretty good year and a half stretch.  Lead-off batters, as you would imagine, leadoff more innings than any other position in the lineup and not just in the first inning – when you bat after the worst hitters in the lineup who are prone to ending innings, you’ll lead off even more innings.  Therefore, it doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out* that the lead-off batter bats with fewer runners on base than any other spot in the lineup.  Therefore, a batter with power is a bad choice to bat first as that power could better help maximize scoring opportunities batting 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th.  Putting a player with power in the one spot is a pretty good waste of the player’s ability.  Over his last 2,036 plate appearances, Betts has a .532 SLG – the 6th best in MLB over that stretch.

Insert Brad Pitt voice as Billy Beane:  When your enemy is making mistakes, don’t interrupt him.

So Gleyber Torres hit a 100.3 mph laser off the right-center field wall last night and turned it into a single because of his preference for watching the ball from the batter’s box as opposed to running.  This didn’t get under my skin quite as much as Aaron Hicks playing a misjudged line drive into a triple last week because he jogged back to the wall to pick up his initial misplay (which resulted in a triple for the opposing batter, as he was – wait for it – running…), but Gleyber’s inaction did get under my skin.

That being said, and this is a reminder to the “Stats aren’t everything!  There’s more to the game than numbers! Grit, hustle, heart, intangibles, something something…” crowd:  Gleyber’s lack of hustle will show up in his numbers.  His non-run out of the box dropped his SLG %, his WAR, and his base-running metrics – and if his team didn’t pick him up, his runs total as well.  And as much as we all hate to admit it, over the course of the year, it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.  I’m not saying you need to be happy about players not hustling, but it’s not something to go all nuclear over either.  Gleyber can never hustle ever again and you’ll still win way more games because of him than in spite of him.

It is such a cool time to be a baseball fan.  In the middle of the game last night, I saw online that 6 of the first 7 pitches Rick Porcello threw to Gary Sanchez were away – 5 of them breaking balls.  (Location, velocity, degree of movement, spin rate were all included in the information I saw.)  I’m thinking that either Sanchez noticed as well or someone on the Yankees bench did and told him.  There’s no way a guy sitting on his couch with the remote in one hand and his phone in the other can know that without the batter knowing right?  Well in Sanchez’ next at-bat, Porcello threw a slider away again but this one was a cement mixer at belt height.  The Kraken was released, bye-bye baseball.  I was part glad that Gary was paying attention and made Porcello pay (it reminded me of Alfonso Soriano’s HR off Schilling in game 7 in ’01), and part elated about how cool baseball is today.  I literally, in real time, have access to what the guys in the dugout do, for free.

Now if we can just get the folks in the booth and the Commissioner’s office to stop droning on about all the problems…

*But Tom Tango, a math whiz, did do the math.

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