Beyond the raw variability you normally get in Arizona Fall League performances thanks to prospects from different levels and varying levels of fatigue meeting in the desert, Keith Law said it’s worth keeping an eye on the new rules Major League Baseball implemented in order to test them during real competition.
From what Law saw, it’s rough out there.
The Saturday night game at Salt River Fields, the spring home of the Diamondbacks and Rockies, exemplifies the entire problem. The game used the automated strike zone, a variable pitch clock and a ban on shifts. The result was a game that was called after seven and a half innings over three excruciating hours because the teams ran out of pitchers. Why did they run out of pitchers in just seven and a half innings, you ask? Because the pitchers they did use walked 22 guys.
The robot ump is only in place at Salt River Fields, so this shouldn’t affect the White Sox prospects with the Glendale Desert Dogs all too often. In the game played back on Friday, nothing looked out of the ordinary, for better (nine walks between the teams) or worse (25 strikeouts).
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The Desert Dogs are a respectable 6-4, but White Sox prospects haven’t contributed much to the efforts so far, except for one big swing. We’ll get it to it in a bit.
Céspedes got plunked by another pitch, giving him three HBPs over 29 plate appearances. The bruises help offset the lack of walks, if nothing else. Otherwise, it seems like Céspedes battle with controlling the strike zone and getting the ball in the air are going to be a fall-long pursuit.
Friend of the Podcast Jim Callis talked to Céspedes through an interpreter about his first stateside season after two years off, with Callis also sprinkling in his scouting report.
Céspedes’ bat speed and strength create well above-average power, though some international scouts wondered how well it would play against more advanced pitching. He can get overly aggressive at the plate, and his right-handed stroke can get too long and uphill. He hit just .287/.351/.415 in four seasons in Cuba and only .253/.343/.316 in 27 games during two years in the Can-Am League. […]
“In Cuba, the velocity wasn’t the velocity that we have here in the States,” said Céspedes, who went 3-for-18 (.167) with a double and a steal in his first week with the Glendale Desert Dogs. “It was a big adjustment for me and another stepping stone for me. The velocity as well as the sharpness of the breaking balls were the two biggest adjustments I needed to make.”
Sánchez nearly went the entire week without an appearance, but he started Saturday’s game at second base to get him an entry in the game log. He connected for this double:
Sánchez also drew a walk. He has two in 10 plate appearances, compared to one over 41 plate appearances between Céspedes and …
… who saw plenty of playing time. He’s making contact, but he’s still figuring out how to make impact contact on a regular basis. He did his a grand slam to start the week, so there’s no reason he can’t do it again.
After the game, MLB Pipeline interviewed him, with Danny Farquhar serving as translator. While a lot of the answers were boilerplate, he did say that his success this year was built on turning around fastballs, and that he’s trying to work on selectivity in the AFL.
It was an ugly week for this group, starting with Johan Dominguez. He recorded just one out while giving up two homers in a five-run first back on Oct. 18, which cause his ERA to swell to 23.14.
Meanwhile, Caleb Freeman and McKinley Moore are hanging in there despite strikeout-to-walk ratios they’d prefer to reverse. Both players did enough during the season that some wobbles during the AFL aren’t automatically troublesome, but the memories of Tyler Johnson’s sudden strike-zone issues are a little too fresh, with a poor fall the start of his troubles.
(Photo by Dru Bloomfield via CC license 2.0)
About that Keith Law’s article, to be honest, I am skeptical of the measures MLB is trying to implement to speed up a baseball game. The reasons for it is because I strongly believe MLB and team’s owners will try to monetize it thru commercials.
These playoffs games have been very long, but have you notice the amount of commercials in between innings? I am old enough to remember a couple of commercials was the most that could be inserted in between innings. Nowadays, I have seen 5 commercials. Actually sometimes they cut off a commercial because the hitter is already ready to bat.
Once MLB figures out to save 20 mins for a game, they will find out a way to monetize 15 mins of it via commercials. NFL is like that. Four periods of 15 minutes each (total of 60 mins) and the games go on for 3 hours so it is basically 2 hours of commercials and chit chat banter vs 1 hour of playing time. This is the main reason I never picked up Am. Football which I find increasingly boring and unnecessarily violent.
It’s even worse than that.
This is one of the things I hate about sports being in bed with gambling. The feeling that the sport will begin to be tailored to fit gambling.
Stadiums are already being redesigned as we speak. This is so wrong. I feel like in 10 years I will see slot machines in a stadium.
The comparison I see is to a horse track. Some people might go there just to see a race, but it is designed as a gambling venue and experience based around a sport taking place inside. And sure, it also may have things like slots. May not get to that pont, but just that general direction is troubling to me
I can see “fans” sitting on those lounges betting on things, and watch them on big TV screens conveniently located in those lounges, and not even bothering to have a baseball experience. This is so fucked up. I will never set a foot in those lounges. I will look at them with the same disgust as I gave to the “smoking lounges” I once saw at the Richmond Itnl airport.
If the lounges are set up for people who don’t have a ticket to the game to come and pump money into the stadium, sure why not? It’d be no different than sitting at a sportsbook and watching games there, but the teams get the money for it. If the expectation is that you have to buy a ticket to the game to get into the lounge, why the hell would you even do that? If you have a betting lounge in the stadium, you can bet on your phone from your seat and get a much better view of the game.
They are not to be inside the stadiums: https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2021/08/10/why-nearly-all-mlb-ballparks-will-have-a-sportsbook-attached-to-it-in-the-future/?sh=75ff86cb36d8
I thought for a moment I will see them inside which I find it disgusting. This is so wrong anyways.
I mean, its not like these things don’t already exist in some capacity. Empower Field in Denver has a BetMGM lounge on the first deck and I rarely saw anyone in it once the game started. If people want to gamble, they are going to find a way to gamble. Putting a sports lounge outside your stadium gives another way for fans to give you money when attending a game.
I think these are two different things: 1) Gambling existing, and 2) Gambling industry getting on bed with MLB
Only one is inevitable. The other one can turn ugly fast.
There are two stadiums already more or less attached to casinos. That’s a fun thing associated only with Vegas though, definitely shouldn’t be like that everywhere.
Oh shit…I forgot about that. Manfred and his terrible ideas. And this one is such a bad idea.
Ugh. Sports gambling makes me want to stop watching sports.
This is so bad on so many levels. Total middle finger to real fans in the name of money.
I sound like my dad. I never thought I’d sound like my dad. But he was right.
Reinsdorf has been giving the middle finger to real fans in the name of money for his entire tenure as owner.
You mean like when they signed Eaton as their starting RF for 2021, that sort of thing?
Yeah, taking money from the young bro’s will really get them engaged in the game. So, Manfred, let’s teach the younger generation that baseball and gambling are one and the same, and without gambling baseball isn’t really a very good or interesting sport. That’s engagement, right?
And while we’re at it–taking money away from young people–let’s have a promotional deal with a crypto exchange and put its patch on the ump’s uniforms. What sizzle!
Here’s the problem with Manfred and all the sharpies in slim suits in NYC. They hate the game they oversee.
After waiting on that Astros pitcher rocking the baby to sleep before each pitch, I really do want that solved. Not sure the clock is the answer but it needs something.
22 batters walked sounds really odd. If the strike zone was consistent (?), then it should benefit both pitcher, catcher, and batter knowing where it is. I hope this was either the pitchers, catchers freaking out about it or the zone was moving erratically.
My first thought was umpires might exert some leeway to get through a game that roboump doesn’t give.
You might be right but I bet no one saw that coming.
Just stoppoing the batters from arguing should speed things up as once again, the human has been removed from the complaint dept.
I assume they set the strike zone too small to decrease strikeouts. I don’t view this as a failure for robo-umps as much as it’s a necessary step in the process of calibrating them. Next time they use it the strikezone will be the broad side of a barn and there will be 40 strikeouts and they keep correcting until you get to the sweet spot.
It’s like when they are figuring out your eyeglass prescription. They don’t guess right on the first try. They keep flipping between finer and finer options.
I thought the mnor league test produced more strikes. Like in Daytona. But maybe this zone was different. Related to an earlier point about gambling, I have the feeling that might push along roboumps so as to remove more of the questionable human element.
The walks illustrate something I’ve been worried about. Umpires get about 1/4 of their calls wrong, and most of those are called strikes that are actually outside of the zone. I think consistency is important, but a true strike zone would make things much harder for pitchers. The final zone will have to be a touch bigger than it currently is if you don’t want to see walks and batting averages explode.
Good god this is wrong on so many levels. Currently, the average umpire misses 6% of pitches within the defined strike zone, according to umpire scorecards. If you want to quibble with whether they have the correct zone, I can’t argue but there is no way you can argue your way to umpires missing 25% of calls. The worst offenders end up around 12% missed calls but those are extreme outliers. I can’t definitively say if anyone will be helped or hurt yet because we haven’t seen in play out with major league talent. I can say that pitchers are no longer going to lose the low strike to a stingy ump. Breaking balls at the top of zone will get called which doesn’t happen all that much now. A pitcher missing his spot to the opposite side of the plate will still get the call because the roboump doesn’t give a damn about where he thought the pitch was going, only where it ended up. Some pitchers will be hurt when they have to pitch more towards the center because they are getting fewer borderline calls but it should all balance out in the end and I’m not sure the product on the field will be all that different, outside of our ability to bitch about something when we lose a game.
On a lighter note, I included video of an interview with Rodriguez, in which Danny Farquhar serves as the translator.
Thanks for posting the interview. I enjoyed it. Rodriguez is so young!
The captions were word soup.
Pretty cool. I didn’t realize Lord Farquhar was fluent in Spanish.