Out of Left Field, July 24th Edition

Out of left field is an occasional My Baseball Page post about matters that don’t necessarily require 1,200 words of analysis, but should be touched on briefly anyway. In no particular order…

Michael King

Like everyone else, I’m disappointed about Michael King’s status. It’s frustrating to see a late bloomer who was finally starting to see continued success lose the rest of a season due to an injury. From a selfish standpoint, he was a lot of fun to watch pitch so it’s also frustrating from a pure entertainment perspective that we’re not going to see him for a while.

That said…

From a cold, analytical, wins and losses bottom line standpoint his loss to the team is negligible. I’ve written about this before so there’s no need to rehash, but the bottom line is this: Teams need a good bullpen on a whole in order to win, but relief pitchers on an individual level don’t move the needle that much – frankly they’re the most replaceable players on the field.

Let’s do some math. King posted 1.7 fWAR in 2022, so at that rate* he would have produced 1.2 fWAR over the rest of the season. When you consider that whatever pitcher(s) picks up his workload will make up for some of that WAR – even an average reliever will get about 0.7 over that time span – King’s loss comes out to…(…checks math, carries the one…) less than one win for the team.

(*Assuming he’d continue to pitch that well is a big assumption. King was on pace for 86 innings and 57 appearances this season which is a massive workload – his performance likely would have regressed.)

King’s been great, but let’s not overreact. If Judge, Cole, or DJ are lost for an extended period, then it’s panic time.

Juan Soto, did you know?

It seems like a lot of Yankees fans just don’t get how rare of a player Juan Soto is. We can spend half the day discussing what a dominant hitter he’s been in his five big league seasons, but let’s go in a different direction – let’s talk about how ridiculously young he is.

Soto is the same age as Austin Wells, the Yankees’ first-round draft pick from 2020.
Soto is 18 months older than Trey Sweeney, the Yankees’ 2021 first-round draft pick.
Next Spring Training (Soto’s 6th) he’ll be the same age Aaron Judge was when he made his MLB debut.
Remember the Yankees winning the 1998 World Series? Soto was born after that.

Soto is a remarkably rare player. You do not look for reasons to “not” acquire him, you just do it.

“It’s about batting average and contact!” No, it’s not…

Yesterday afternoon I was watching the Guardians vs. White Sox, and let me tell you it was a damn fun game to watch. As I was watching, I suspected I knew the reason why, but I had to check anyway (because that’s what I do).

Cleveland’s and Chicago’s batters have the two highest percentages of ABs that result in a ball put in play in MLB. If you’re a fan of walks and strikeouts, these are not the teams for you. As you would imagine, a lot of balls in play means a lot of fielding plays and a lot of base running – in other words, action! (Heck, even when it’s bad fielding and bad base running it’s still entertaining…)

But here’s the thing: Neither team is a particularly good team. Which I say both as a reminder and as an opportunity for me to beat a dead horse: What is “aesthetically pleasing” baseball, and what is “winning” baseball, are two very different discussions. Just something to remember when the discussion of how to improve the game comes up.

To wit:

The Yankees’ batters have a lower team batting average than both the Nationals and Royals. The Yankees’ batters strike out significantly more than both the Nationals’ and Royals’ batters.

The Yankees have scored more than 145 more runs than both the Nationals and the Royals.

It’s not about batting average and contact kids – it never has been, and it never will be.

Did I miss something? Let me know. Leave a comment below or yell at me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and/or the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

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