Games » Detroit TigersApr10
Improved base running a positive sign
I’ve told people who look at this website not to get overly concerned about the point totals we use in this system. Don’t sweat someone getting more points than someone else or whether you think that’s fair. It’s a how-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin-while-driving-in-runners-in-scoring-positon kind of argument anyway.
As I’ve said many times before, change the points or the categories and you will change the system’s outcome. What the system does very well is reveal patterns, for players and for teams. The longer they play, the stronger the patterns become.
It’s early, but the pattern that is jumping out at me now is the improved base running. When you mention base running, people tend to think about stolen bases and of course that’s part of it. (The Royals stole another one in this game.)
But what I’m talking about is going first to third, second to home, scoring from first on a double and being ready to take an extra base whenever the defense makes a mistake. In this game, Matt Treanor beat out an infield single by hitting the front of first base with his toes, just the way it’s taught.
That kind of small thing done well adds up over 162 games.The Royals know they won’t hit for a lot of power and intend to make the most out of all those singles with improved base running. So far, so good.
Philosophically, a pitcher giving up a walk is worse than a pitcher giving up a home run. I guess it’s good that major-league baseball doesn’t score philosophical points or the Buddhists would be kicking butt. (They should form baseball teams. They’ve got the right mind-set, and I’m guessing the uniforms would be pretty snazzy. And what a thrill to hear, “Now pitching, the Dalai Lama.”).
Anyway, as a manager you want your pitcher to continue throwing strikes, no matter the situation. All the guys who went to the mound in this game did that. As I’ve pointed out before (and no doubt will again) that limits the damage.
If you’re going to give up a long one, don’t walk two guys first.
Kila and the curveball…
It’s pretty much a tradition to challenge a new hitter in the major leagues with fastballs. The thinking seems to be, “Sure, the guy can hit a fastball, but he’s never hit MY fastball.” If the hitter proves he can hit a major league fastball, then he has to prove he can hit major league breaking stuff…and apparently that’s where Kila Ka’aihue is right now (according to smarter people than me).
During the TV broadcast, Frank White said they were throwing curves into the zone to get ahead of Kila and then out of the zone once he had two strikes. He’ll have to prove he can hit the first one and lay off the second before he gets more hittable fastballs.
The tendency to feed new hitters fastballs often leads to hot starts the first time around the league. The second time around, the new hitter will have to adjust and if he can’t, he’s done. (Remember Bob Hamelin?)
The same thing is true of new pitchers: hitters will take a pitch just to see what the new kid has. Later, they’ll go after the same pitch. So the same thing will happen with the rookies in the bullpen. The second time around will be more challenging.
A mental mistake…
Wilson Betemit had a monster day, but made a mental mistake when he stood at the plate, then slowly began jogging after hitting a home run. But Wilson didn’t hit a home run, did he? Nope, it was a double, but could’ve easily been a triple if he’d run hard out of the box.
I’ve asked major league hitters how they can stand and admire a ball that might not leave the yard. They all say, “When you get them good, you know.” The next question is, “Ever been wrong?” At that point they usually get a sheepish grin (sheep actually grin?) and tell you some story about bouncing one off the wall and having to ‘scamper.’ (At least that’s how former Royal, Russ Morman described it…I’ve seen Russ run, that dude never scampered in his life.)
With runners at first and third Matt Treanor blocked two pitches in the dirt from Kanekoa Texeira. That not only kept the runner on third, but kept the runner on first from advancing two bases, which kept him from scoring on a fly ball later in the inning.
Unfortunately, Matt gave one back when he made a nice block on strike three to Brennan Boesch and then threw the ball away when he tried to complete the strikeout by going to first. (Miguel Cabrera launched one a couple pitches later.)
Here’s the problem: when you ease up on a throw, your arm slows down. Out of habit, your brain is still working with the old arm speed. It hits the usual elapsed-time-release-point, but because your arm is going slower it’s not in the usual position. The brain says, “Throw NOW!” and the ball goes high…at least that’s the excuse I used every time I launched a throw and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to work on my theory.