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What Is Madison Bumgarner Worth in Upcoming Giants Megadeal?

There’s what Madison Bumgarner is making, what he’s worth and how much he might make in his next contract.

Spoiler alert: These three things are very different.

What’s certain is the San Francisco Giants have gotten a lot more than they bargained for when they extended Bumgarner in April 2012. The left-hander’s contract guaranteed $35 million through 2017, with two club options in 2018 and 2019 worth at least $12 million and at most $16 million depending on his performance in Cy Young voting.

In five regular seasons since, this has paid for a 2.96 ERA across 1,072 innings. Bumgarner has further earned his cash by helping deliver World Series titles in 2012 and 2014. He won the latter championship almost single-handedly.

By’s version of wins above replacement, Bumgarner has only been the 11th-best pitcher in the league over the last five years. This is somewhere between hogwash and codswallop. He’s at worst a top-10 pitcher and more realistically a top-five pitcher.

Oh yeah, he’s still only 27.

It would be fun to speculate about what Bumgarner might earn on the open market in any offseason. But such a conversation is especially fun this offseason.

This is not only the winter he would have been a free agent had he not signed his extension but also a winter in which the demand for his services would’ve been elevated by the lack of other free-agent aces.

The total record payout for a free-agent starter is the $217 million David Price got from the Boston Red Sox last offseason. Bumgarner would have beaten that with room to spare, becoming easily the most expensive pitcher in history.

Of course, Bumgarner isn’t a free agent right now. There are thus only two ways he can land a contract more befitting of his talent: He can either ride three more healthy and productive years into free agency after 2019 or hope the Giants come calling with a second contract extension before then.

Not surprisingly, the Giants are very much interested in keeping him.

When the topic of Bumgarner’s future with the club was raised last October, Giants general manager Bobby Evans confirmed to Andrew Baggarly of the Bay Area News Group that preliminary conversations had taken place with Bumgarner’s representatives.

“When they’re interested in talking, we want to make sure we’re available,” Evans said. “But we don’t have a timeline. We want Madison to be here for a long time. At the right time, we’ll address this when his camp is ready to talk.”

In all likelihood, the right timeline for extending Bumgarner isn’t imminent.

The Giants are coming off their second straight year over the luxury tax threshold and are slated to be over the threshold again this year. The best time for them to extend Bumgarner would be after 2017, when they’re slated to have a fair amount of money come off their books.

Assuming his $21 million option for 2018 doesn’t vest, it’s a virtual lock the Giants will pay Matt Cain his $7.5 million buyout after 2017. Even more money would come loose if Johnny Cueto opts out of the final four years of his six-year, $130 million contract.

If Bumgarner and the Giants do indeed see a window after 2017, he’d be in a similar position age-wise to Stephen Strasburg when he signed his seven-year, $175 million extension with the Washington Nationals last May. That’s set to begin in his age-28 season in 2017. Bumgarner will be going into his age-28 season in 2018.

Of course, Bumgarner is a better, more durable and generally more accomplished pitcher than Strasburg, so an improvement on his deal would be in order. Say, something more like seven years at over $30 million per year.

While that wouldn’t match Bumgarner’s value on this winter’s market, he’d get the same going rate as Price, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, who are very much his peers.

However, there’s a rub.

Strasburg was only a couple of months from free agency when he inked his deal, so he had some leverage in his talks with the Nationals. Bumgarner will still be two years away from free agency if he negotiates next winter, giving him considerably less leverage.

“You’ll never get your value if you renegotiate early,” one agent told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle at the winter meetings, although he also admitted, “Bumgarner might be the exception because he is so unbelievable.”

As unbelievable as Bumgarner is, he’d likely have to hold off on signing and continue being himself in 2018 and 2019 to gain enough leverage to squeeze market value out of the Giants. That would require him not to break down. His track record bodes well there, but no pitcher is unbreakable. He’d be taking a chance.

Alternatively, Bumgarner and the Giants could make it easy on themselves and find the middle ground next winter.

My best guess is that would involve going back to 2013 and taking a cue from Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners. When they agreed to a seven-year, $175 million extension, what they actually agreed to was a five-year, $135.5 million deal on top of money Hernandez was still owed in the final two years of his original contract of five years and $78 million. Although he signed coming off his age-26 season, his new deal wouldn’t begin until his age-29 season in 2015.

The ages won’t quite line up if Bumgarner and the Giants go this route after 2017. He’d be coming off his age-27 season and negotiating a deal that would start in his age-30 season in 2020. But since the timing and talent similarities are there, the only other big difference would be the passage of time and corresponding inflation.

So, let’s see…call it five years and $150 million, starting in 2020 and running through 2024?

That plus the money in Bumgarner’s 2018 and 2019 options would mean at least $174 million and at most $182 million over a seven-year span. That would be good money for him and also a considerable discount for the Giants. Ergo, the middle ground.

Since this is a complicated case with lots of ins, outs and what-have-yous, my best guess is obviously less than a promise. The Giants could choose to be more generous despite their leverage advantage. Or, Bumgarner could be the generous one. Or, he could choose to bet on himself in 2018 and 2019, either to gain leverage on the Giants or boost his value for free agency.

Regardless, Bumgarner is only going to get closer to some kind of big payday as time passes. When it comes, it’ll put his first payday to shame.


Stats courtesy of Contract and payroll data courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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Why Did MLB Home Run King Mark Trumbo Come so Cheap to Orioles?

Major League Baseball’s reigning home run champion has a new contract, and it’s not the most expensive contract signed this winter.

Not even close.

Mark Trumbo, he of the league-leading 47 home runs in 2016, agreed to return to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was first with the details of his new deal:

And that’s all there is to it. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, there’s no opt-out in Trumbo‘s contract. He’ll be an Oriole for three more years, spanning his age-31 season to his age-33 season.

With that, we now know the terms of the 11th-largest contract signed this winter.

Trumbo‘s deal ranks just ahead of the three-year, $33 million pact that Kendrys Morales signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. The group of 10 players ahead of him is headlined by Yoenis Cespedes at four years and $110 million and also includes three relievers (Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon), a platoon outfielder (Josh Reddick) and an oft-injured starter (Rich Hill).

OK, so it’s not the biggest injustice that Trumbo won’t be making more money than most or all of those guys. But if nothing else, he is coming in under initial projections.

The guys at MLB Trade Rumors, for example, had Trumbo pegged for $60 million over four years. That didn’t sound so unreasonable for a guy who had hit 131 homers in five major league seasons even before breaking out in 2016. Teams normally do love power, after all.

But in retrospect, the danger of Trumbo struggling to find a market existed from the very beginning.

As good as it looks on the surface, Trumbo‘s career year in 2016 was more like a career half-year. He was unstoppable with a .923 OPS and 28 homers in the first half. He was then quite stoppable in the second half with a .754 OPS and 19 homers.

This was an effect of pitchers treating Trumbo like the kind of slugger he was. As Brooks Baseball shows, the righty swinger’s first-half power was concentrated on the inside. So pitchers went from challenging him:

To pitching him almost exclusively away:

A more advanced hitter might have been able to adjust, but nobody’s ever accused Trumbo of being one of those. With too many strikeouts and not quite enough walks, his hitting has always been about power first and everything else second.

That’s one thing prospective suitors had to worry about. They also had to worry about Trumbo‘s defensive limitations.

He’s not too shabby a first baseman, but most of his experience has been in corner outfield spots. With minus-24 defensive runs saved for his career, he has been shabby there. The man himself was honest back in July, saying the outfield is “daunting” at times, per Eno Sarris of FanGraphs.

Trumbo was thus prepared to head out onto the open market with a bat-only profile in which even the bat came with question marks. He then added another black mark to his profile when he rejected a $17.2 million qualifying offer from the Orioles, tying himself to draft-pick compensation.

In past offseasons, he might have found his desired payday anyway. Heck, it was just a couple years ago that Nelson Cruz, an older hitter with a similar profile, landed $58 million despite being tied to draft-pick compensation.

But at a certain point, it became apparent this offseason was different.

Reality started to sink in when Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Cleveland Indians for just $60 million over three years. That was well below the $92 million MLBTR projected for him and less than he seemingly deserved in light of his average totals (.912 OPS, 39 HR) since 2012.

More recently, Jose Bautista became the next slugger to land short of expectations when he accepted a deal from the Blue Jays that only guarantees $18 million for one year.

With Trumbo being the latest to come in below expectations, things aren’t looking so hot for remaining free-agent sluggers Chris Carter, Mike Napoli, Brandon Moss, Pedro Alvarez and Adam Lind.

Certainly, this is an unusually large collection of sluggers for a single offseason. But as Dave Cameron argued at FanGraphs, there’s something fishy about any notion of there being more supply than demand:

But the way you get a big supply of free agents or players available in trade at one spot is to have a lot of teams losing a player at that spot, so if the demand was there to replace the skillset, price shouldn’t be impacted all that heavily. But what we have now is supply without demand, as there just aren’t that many teams looking to add bat-first players to their rosters this winter…

This could be teams miscalculating how much they need power. But since the smart people who run these teams tend to be good with calculations, this is more likely the effect of a larger trend.

This brings us to a reality that B/R’s Jacob Shafer wrote about recently: Power on the free-agent market may be devalued because power is suddenly everywhere in today’s game.

Trumbo wasn’t the only one launching bombs in 2016. Pretty much everyone was. There were more home runs per game last year than every year in baseball history except 2000. In an environment like this one, power hitters aren’t such a rare commodity.

It all adds up to a tough break for Trumbo and a solid deal for the Orioles. And one they needed to make, to boot.

The Orioles won 89 games and nabbed a wild-card spot in 2016 in large part thanks to an offense that clubbed an MLB-high 253 home runs. With Trumbo back in the fold, they once again have a shot to ride a wave of home runs to October.

In lieu of the contract he may have been hoping for, maybe that’ll do as a consolation prize for Trumbo.


Stats courtesy of and FanGraphs.

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MLB Spring Training 2017: The Top 10 Outfielders to Watch

What’s about to proceed is a slideshow about outfielders to watch that won’t mention Mike Trout.

It sounds blasphemous, but there’s a method at work here.

The idea is to focus on 10 outfielders who will be worth monitoring during 2017 spring training. What they have in common is not that they’re slam-dunk superstars but that they have questions to answer.

Some must show they’re ready to be healthy and productive in this upcoming season after failing to be one or both in 2016. Others must show they’re ready to turn their unproven talent into proven talent. Others must show they’re ready to do jobs they may not be cut out for.

Let’s get to it.

Begin Slideshow

Breaking Down the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Class and Biggest Snubs

For a lucky few, today’s the day Cooperstown called to say, “Welcome.”

For everyone else: “Thanks for playing.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was finally announced Wednesday. To nobody’s surprise, this is the fourth straight year that the Baseball Writers Association of America voters selected multiple players for induction.


With not a moment to lose, let’s get to breaking down the newest members of Cooperstown and all the notables who missed the cut.


The 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Jeff Bagwell

Jeff Bagwell earned 71.6 percent of the vote in his sixth year on the ballot in 2016, putting him just shy of the requisite 75 percent. In his seventh year, he’s finally in with 86.2 percent.

It’s about time. Jay Jaffe’s Jaffe WAR Score System (JAWS), which is convenient for measuring players against their Cooperstown peers, rates Bagwell as the sixth-best first baseman in history, behind only Albert Pujols and four current Hall of Famers.

That’s quite a testament to what Bagwell did in his 15 seasons with the Houston Astros. He put up a 149 OPS+ (meaning his OPS was 49 points better than average) with 449 home runs and 202 stolen bases, making him the only first baseman ever with over 400 homers and 200 steals.

Previously holding Bagwell back has been the suspicion that he owed his career to performance-enhancing drugs. He was a muscly slugger playing in the 1990s and early 2000s, after all.

But as Jaffe covered at Sports Illustrated, Bagwell is only known to have taken androstenedione. It looks bad that Mark McGwire made the stuff famous as he was binging on home runs in the late 1990s, but at the time andro was legal both under U.S. law and MLB law.

Evidently, that’s no reason to keep Bagwell out of Cooperstown forever.


Tim Raines

With this being his 10th and final year on the ballot, it was do-or-die time for Tim Raines. The voters landed on “do,” boosting Raines from 69.8 percent in 2016 to 86.0 percent this year.

Raines also makes the JAWS cut as an all-time great left fielder. What stands out from a career that spanned 23 years is Raines’ 1981-1992 peak, when he averaged a 128 OPS+ and 60 stolen bases.

Of course, no justification for the longtime Montreal Expos star would be complete without words from loyal (and occasionally threatening) Raines fanboy Jonah Keri.

Writing at, among Keri’s points for Raines were that he’s the only member of the 800-steal club who wasn’t already in the Hall of Fame and that his 3,977 times on base is more than a handful of Hall of Famers, including famed hitting guru Tony Gwynn.

That’s a Hall of Famer, folks. Today, it’s finally official.


Ivan Rodriguez

If there’s a surprise member of this year’s Hall of Fame class, it’s this guy.

Although Ivan Rodriguez initially showed well in the ballots tracked by Ryan Thibodaux on Twitter, his share of the vote began to dip as more ballots came in. That was likely related to questions about Rodriguez and PEDs, which were well covered by Tyler Kepner at the New York Times.

However, Pudge’s track record won out in the end. And rightfully so, as JAWS rates him as the third-best catcher in baseball history.

Pudge also passes the traditional smell test. Among other things he collected in a 21-year career, the longtime Texas Rangers star owns 311 career home runs and a career caught-stealing rate of 46 percent.

Rodriguez won the American League MVP when he was at the height of his powers in 1999. A few years later in 2003, he won the World Series with the Florida Marlins.

And now, he can add a Hall of Fame plaque to his collection.


The Biggest Snubs

Trevor Hoffman

Trevor Hoffman debuted with 67.3 percent of the vote last year. This year, he just missed with 74.0 percent of the vote.

The longtime San Diego Padres closer ranks behind only Mariano Rivera with 601 career saves. He owes those to longevity and consistency, as he put up a 141 ERA+ (i.e. his ERA was 41 percent better than average) in an 18-year career.

That’s to say there are good reasons why he’s so close to being inducted. Come next year, he should be more than just close.


Vladimir Guerrero

After Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero was the first-timer with the best shot of getting inducted this year. But it’s not surprising that he fell short with 71.7 percent, as Thibodaux’s tracker made no guarantees:

Guerrero’s shortage of support can partially be traced to his iffy sabermetrics. JAWS doesn’t rate him as a Cooperstown-level right fielder, which reflects assorted flaws he had in his game.

Still, working in Guerrero’s favor is his seemingly complete lack of PED suspicion and his strong traditional stats. It’ll be hard to deny a guy with a .318 average, 449 home runs and 181 stolen bases.

Plus, what won’t soon be forgotten is Guerrero’s limitless plate coverage and an arm that could do this:


Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds took a big leap toward induction in his fifth year on the ballot, improving to 53.8 percent from from 44.3 percent in 2016.

This looks like the upshot of Bud Selig being put in Cooperstown. The logic goes: If the commissioner of the steroid era is fair game for the Hall of Fame, then why not the best player of the steroid era?

Bonds put up a 182 OPS+ and clubbed a record 762 home runs in a career that spanned from 1986 to 2007, peaking with a record 73 in 2001. He also won seven MVPs, including four in a row at the height of his powers between 2001 and 2004. On performance alone, he’s an all-time great player who had an all-time great peak.

In past years, the role of PEDs in Bonds’ career was a firm barrier between him and Cooperstown. Now, clearly less so.


Roger Clemens

As per usual, Roger Clemens is right there with Bonds in the voting. In what’s also his fifth year on the ballot, he improved to 54.1 percent from 45.2 percent in 2016.

In 24 seasons between 1984 and 2007, The Rocket put up a 143 ERA+ with 4,672 strikeouts and won a record seven Cy Young awards. Despite his own ties to PEDs, Clemens certainly looms large among the game’s most accomplished pitchers.

Basically, Clemens was to pitching what Bonds was to hitting during virtually the same time span. And now that Selig is in the Hall of Fame, any logic that benefits Bonds must also benefit Clemens.


Edgar Martinez

Edgar Martinez is running out of time on the ballot, so it’s a good sign for him that his share of the vote just shot from 43.4 percent in his seventh year to 58.6 percent in his eighth year.

The knock against the longtime Seattle Mariners great is that he spent most of his career as a designated hitter. But like it or not, the DH has been a position for 40 years. And with a .312/.418/.515 career slash line and a 147 career OPS+, Martinez is the best full-time DH baseball has known.


Mike Mussina

Mike Mussina also picked up some votes, going from 43.0 percent in his third year to 51.8 percent in his fourth year.

Mussina’s sin is that he didn’t make it easy for anyone to rant and/or rave about him during his 18-year career. He was never the best pitcher around. Nor the most entertaining.

However, Mussina was very good over a very large sample size with a 123 ERA+ in 3,562.2 innings. Per JAWS, he makes the Cooperstown cut among starting pitchers.


Curt Schilling

In his fifth year on the ballot, Curt Schilling actually declined to 45.0 percent from 52.3 percent in 2016.

From an on-the-field perspective, Schilling’s case didn’t get any worse. He still owns a 127 ERA+ in 3,261 regular-season innings, as well as a 2.23 postseason ERA that helped him win three rings.

Rather, this appears to be Schilling’s penance for emerging as a purveyor of—ahem—controversial talking points. Some see him as being in conflict with Cooperstown’s character clause.

“[Schilling] represents the antithesis of the character clause that the Hall and BBWAA continue to instruct voters to honor,” wrote Dejan Kovacevic at “I’m not even going to dignify his many actions and statements with a listing or a link. Find them yourself. He’s not worth it.”

Schilling’s decline in the voting could prove to only be temporary. But that may be up to him.


Other Notable Snubs

Manny Ramirez

With a career 154 OPS+ and 555 home runs, Manny Ramirez owns the biggest numbers of the first-timers on the ballot.

However, he also owns three positive tests for PEDs: one inconsequential test in 2003 and two that got him busted in 2009 and 2011. Because he broke legitimate rules with the latter two, it’s no wonder he got the Rafael Palmeiro treatment with 23.8 percent of the vote.


Gary Sheffield

Now three years into his time on the ballot, Gary Sheffield is still struggling to find upward mobility. He got just 13.3 percent of the vote, a modest increase on last year’s 11.6 percent.

Sheffield’s 140 OPS+ and 509 home runs are numbers worthy of Cooperstown. But his chances are complicated by a questionable defensive reputation and even more so by ties to PEDs that are less murky than most.


Larry Walker

Paul Swydan of FanGraphs had an interesting article that urged voters checking the box for Guerrero to also check the box for Larry Walker. He may not have been as flashy a player, but his 141 OPS+ across a 17-year career is just one thing that must be taken seriously.

Seven years on, however, Walker is still struggling to expand his constituency. He improved to just 21.9 percent of the vote from 15.5 percent last year.


Jeff Kent

Jeff Kent is also stuck with a small group of supporters. He debuted with 15.2 percent in 2014 and has improved to just 16.7 percent in three years since.

Kent’s claim to fame is that a record 351 of his 377 home runs came while playing second base. He also won an MVP in 2000. Otherwise, it’s telling that he’s far off the JAWS radar for second basemen.


Fred McGriff

Fred McGriff has been on the ballot for as long as Martinez but has barely budged from the 21.5 percent he earned in his debut year back in 2010. He got just 21.7 percent this year.

In fairness, “The Crime Dog” is a Cooperstown-worthy nickname. McGriff also has a 134 OPS+ and finished just seven home runs shy of 500. But alas, JAWS isn’t crazy about him either.


Sammy Sosa

The good news is that Sammy Sosa managed to hang on with 8.6 percent of the vote. The bad news is that he’s still far, far away from the necessary 75 percent with just five years left on the ballot.

On the one hand, it’s odd to see a guy with 609 career home runs getting the cold shoulder. On the other hand, it’s fair game to question how he hit 292 of those in just a five-year span.


Billy Wagner

Also barely hanging on is Billy Wagner, who sunk to 10.2 percent from 10.5 percent in his first year on the ballot in 2016.

Some upward mobility may still be possible for the former flamethrower. The best way to see Wagner is as Hoffman with less longevity but more dominance. Among all pitchers who have ever thrown over 900 innings, he owns the best strikeout rate and the second-best ERA+.


Lee Smith

Say farewell to Lee Smith. In his 15th and final year on the ballot, he gathered just 34.2 percent of the vote to fall well short of induction.

Smith was a darn good reliever in his 18-year career, compiling a 132 ERA+ across 1,289.1 innings. But with only 478 saves and modest peripheral numbers, he lacked the goods to impress wide swaths of old-school or new-school voters.


Jorge Posada

With the low bar set at five percent of the vote, it was one and done for quite a few guys. Certainly the biggest letdown is that Jorge Posada couldn’t escape that fate in garnering just 3.8 percent of the vote.

It didn’t help that Posada was sharing a ballot with one of the greatest catchers of all time. Beyond that, there are nits to pick with his track record. JAWS reflects that.

However, anyone who argues that a catcher who hit 275 home runs and won four World Series titles deserved better has a solid case. 


Stats courtesy of and FanGraphs.


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Jose Bautista’s $18M Re-Up Keeps Blue Jays Near Top of AL East

Jose Bautista may have entered the free-agent waters thinking they would take him to a better, richer harbor. Instead, they’ve pushed him right back from where he came.

And that’s not so bad.

A move that has seemed inevitable finally came to fruition Tuesday, when Bautista re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays on a deal that, as reported by TSN’s Steve Phillips (via MLB Network Radio), will pay him at least $18 million and perhaps as much as $60 million:

Since mutual options are rarely exercised, however, it’s likely this pact will end up costing the Blue Jays just the $18 million.

That’s only slightly more than the $17.2 million they would have paid Bautista in 2017 if he’d accepted the club’s qualifying offer in November. And to hear Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tell it, Toronto also got Bautista back for less than what was available elsewhere.

For Bautista, who’s hit an MLB-high 249 home runs since 2010, $18 million is a nice raise over the $14 million he earned each year from 2012 to 2016. So, at least there’s that.

And thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, the Blue Jays won’t get to make him another qualifying offer if he chooses to test the open market again after 2017. And since Bautista won’t be tied to draft-pick compensation, the big payday that eluded him this winter could come next winter.

Of course, draft-pick compensation was just one thing that limited Bautista’s marketability this winter.

Another was certainly the specter of decline hanging over Bautista’s head. He’s 36 years old and coming off a season in which he managed just an .817 OPS and 22 home runs—his worst marks since the days before his big breakout in 2010. He also rated well below average on defense in right field.

There may be no fixing his defense. Even when Bautista was an asset in right field, it had as much to do with his arm as anything else. He acknowledged early in 2016 that said arm was still compromised from a shoulder injury that cropped up at the end of 2015.

“It’s using it when you need to, having the history of the injury last year, on an unnecessary throw, there’s more of a conscious effort on my end to just make the necessary throw,” he told Shi Davidi of

In an alternate universe, the Blue Jays could ignore this question mark by hiding Bautista at designated hitter. But with newcomer Kendrys Morales locked into that position, that’s not going to happen.

The bright side for Toronto is that it could afford to take a defensive hit this winter. Per Baseball Prospectus, it had the American League‘s most efficient defense in 2016. Even if the Blue Jays do take a few steps back in 2017, they could still be very good at turning batted balls into outs.

Of course, worse defense might require them to take a step forward (or at least avoid a step backward) on offense.

For that, Bautista and Morales will have to make up for what Toronto lost with the departure of Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders. Encarnacion left a hole the size of an .886 OPS and 42 home runs. Saunders left a hole the size of an .815 OPS and 24 home runs.

Morales should replace Saunders’ production, so the pressure will be on Bautista to put 2016 behind him and be more like the guy who averaged a .945 OPS and 38 homers per year from 2010 to 2015.

Guaranteed? Not quite.

As’s Keith Law expressed in his free-agent rankings, the real concern is that Bautista’s 2016 drop-off was a case of his age seeping into his bat and slowing it down. Per Baseball Savant, Bautista’s modest (for him, anyway) .463 slugging percentage against fastballs lends some truth to that.

But as far as offseason gambles go, there have been far dumber bets placed than this one.

While there’s no ignoring the various concerns that popped up during Bautista’s 2016 season, his core skills remained very much intact. He continued to show a fantastic eye, keeping his walk rate right where it needed to be. He also continued hitting the snot out of the ball, finishing with a career-high 41 hard-hit percentage.

Which brings us to the ZiPS projections. According to FanGraphs, Bautista will post an .868 OPS and hit 27 home runs in 2017. Not bad. And possibly conservative, to boot.

All of the above shows the Blue Jays are a better team with Bautista than they are without him. Not drastically better, but better.

If nothing else, they’re better enough to make an AL East race that didn’t look all that interesting before Tuesday look more interesting. The Boston Red Sox should still be counted among the league’s (surprisingly large) collection of clear division favorites, but now the Blue Jays have enough weapons to give them a run for their money.

Bautista and Morales alongside Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and Devon Travis is a good lineup. A starting rotation headed by Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada must be viewed as one of the league’s best. In the bullpen, Toronto still has the criminally underrated Roberto Osuna.

Bautista could well be playing in his third postseason with the Blue Jays come October. Once there, he’s shown he knows what to do.


Stats courtesy of and FanGraphs.

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Red Sox Spring Training 2017 Preview: Predictions, Players to Watch and More

When the Boston Red Sox report for spring training, they’ll officially embark on a 2017 season that they hope will result in their fourth World Series title since 2004.

Oh, by the way, the magic date is February 13.

That’s when Red Sox pitchers and catchers are due to report to Fort Myers, Florida. Position players will report three days later. After that, all sorts of stretching, working out, assorted high jinks and, yes, even a few games here and there will ensue.

There’s no telling what will happen. But at the least, we can preview it and offer a few predictions. 


The Big Newcomers

With most of last year’s AL East-winning roster due to return, the Red Sox didn‘t have many items on their offseason shopping list. So they went for quality instead, with the catches o’ the winter being…


Chris Sale, LHP

The earth shook and thunder clapped in early December. That was from the Red Sox acquiring Chris Sale in a blockbuster trade with the Chicago White Sox.

Sure, they had to give up a four-prospect package highlighted by Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada and 105 mph man Michael Kopech. But in Sale, the Red Sox got back one of the league’s very best starting pitchers.

Since 2012, the 27-year-old left-hander has racked up a 3.04 ERA and more wins above replacement than all starters not named Clayton Kershaw or Max ScherzerEven in a 2016 season in which his velocity and strikeout rate took hits, Sale still dominated with a 3.34 ERA in 226.2 innings.

With him joining Cy Young winners Rick Porcello and David Price in Boston’s starting rotation, Red Sox manager John Farrell is about to get his first sense of what it’ll be like to be able to breathe easy three out of every five days.


Mitch Moreland, 1B

David Ortiz’s retirement created a need for a left-handed hitter with power. The Red Sox made Mitch Moreland the answer with a one-year, $5.5 million contract.

The 31-year-old will match neither the 1.021 OPS nor the 38 home runs that Ortiz gave the Red Sox in his 2016 swan song. But with good numbers to the opposite field, Moreland could at least be better than expected at Fenway Park. And fresh off his first Gold Glove win, he’ll certainly be an upgrade at first base over Hanley Ramirez.


Tyler Thornburg, RHP

The Red Sox had to give up Travis Shaw and well-regarded prospect Mauricio Dubon to pry Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee BrewersNot cheap, but also not bad relative to the absurd prices paid to relievers on the open market.

Thornburg, 28, may not be elite, but he at least arrives in Boston as an overlooked gem. He put up a 2.15 ERA and struck out 12.1 batters per nine innings last season. Alongside the flame-throwing Joe Kelly, Thornburg profiles as a capable setup man for Craig Kimbrel.


The Big Storylines

When the Red Sox aren’t gawking at their big new additions this spring, they’ll be tending to other matters. Those include…


Life After Big Papi

For the first time since 2002, Big Papi will be nowhere to be found at Red Sox camp. He’ll be busy enjoying his retirement—apparently by pursuing a new career as the Happy Gilmore of tennis.

There’s now a noticeable void in Boston’s offense, but it could be worse. The Red Sox had the No. 1 offense in baseball last year, and’s Buster Olney thinks they still have the league’s top lineup. Ramirez, Moreland, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts surely would agree. Farrell would as well, for that matter.

Of course, Ortiz also left a leadership void. But a guy who would know isn’t too concerned about that.

“We’re in good shape,” Pedroia told Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. “I think, especially what David did leadership-wise with a ton of guys, he’s leaving us in good shape. We’ll be all right.”


Pablo Sandoval Back at Third Base

Now, this. This is a real question.

The Red Sox basically got nothing from Pablo Sandoval in his first year in Boston in 2015, as he put up a .658 OPS and struggled defensively. They then got absolutely nothing from him in 2016, in which he played in just three games before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.

But with Shaw and Moncada out of the picture, the Red Sox don’t have much choice but to entrust the hot corner to Sandoval. This will be the baseball equivalent to trusting Keith Moon with a Holiday Inn hotel room.

The good news is that Sandoval has given every indication that he’s in good shape for the first time since signing his $95 million contract.

The bad news? Well, see above.


David Price Has a Score to Settle

As Sandoval looks to get his old job back, Price will be looking to get his groove back.

The veteran lefty didn‘t look like his usual ace self in the first season of his seven-year, $217 million contract with the Red Sox. Although he pitched 230 innings, he put up just a 3.99 ERA and allowed a career-high 30 home runs.

“Last year was the first time in my career I didn’t have fun when I was on the field,” Price told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “When I’m pitching well, I’m smiling. There wasn’t a lot of smiling.”

Within that same interview, the 31-year-old also vowed to prove he can be successful in Boston. That process will start this spring. After that, anything goes.


Who’s Behind the Plate?

Ah, yes, but who will Price be throwing to? Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart will vie for playing time behind the plate, and it sounds like each one of them has a shot at earning the starting gig.

“You’ve got three guys that can battle for an everyday job,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told Mastrodonato. “If you said right now who’s the leading guy, it’s Sandy Leon.”

After posting an .845 OPS in 2016, Leon can claim to have the bat. Vazquez can claim to have the glove and the arm. Swihart, a former top prospect, has a shot at the best of both worlds.

In short: This could be a fun competition.


Who’s at the Back of the Rotation?

As good as the front three of the Red Sox’s rotation looks, don’t underestimate the back end. Fighting for the last two spots will be two 2016 All-Stars (Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz) and a former top prospect (Eduardo Rodriguez).

Dombrowski indicated in a chat with Olney that it’s the two All-Stars who have the upper hand. That’s fair. Although both ran out of gas at the end of 2016, Wright (3.33 ERA in 156.2 IP) and Pomeranz (3.32 ERA in 170.2 IP) both had successful seasons on the whole.

Don’t sleep on Rodriguez, though. The lefty was quite good as a rookie in 2015. And after a slow start, he got back to being quite good with a 3.24 ERA in his final 14 starts of 2016.


Prospects to Watch

Alex Speier presented his list of the Red Sox’s top 10 prospects at Baseball America very early in the offseason. Four of them were subsequently traded, which complicates this segment of the program.

Not to worry, though. The Red Sox still have…


Andrew Benintendi, LF

Andrew Benintendi found himself in the majors just a year after he was drafted by the Red Sox with the No. 7 pick in the 2015 draft. And man, did he impress.

In 34 games, Benintendi hit .295 with an .835 OPS. He also showed well in left field, where he made one of the best catches of the season in Tampa Bay:

Technically, Benintendi is indeed still a prospect. And a very well liked one, at that. When Jonathan Mayo of polled executives about the game’s best hitting prospect, Benintendi was the winner.

The 22-year-old won’t qualify as a prospect for much longer. The Red Sox’s everyday left field job is his to lose, and it would be quite the upset if he lost it.


Sam Travis, 1B

Although the Red Sox are short on MLB-ready prospects after Benintendi, Sam Travis is one to keep an eye on.

A second-round draft pick in 2014, Travis is now a .303 hitter with a .364 on-base percentage in the minors. Although his power is less impressive, those numbers reflect a legit hit tool.

With Moreland and Ramirez ahead of Travis on the depth chart, regular playing time should come later rather than sooner for the 23-year-old. But if nothing else, he has a chance this spring to make an impression the Red Sox will remember if a roster spot opens up this season.


Dark Horses to Watch

The Red Sox are heading into spring training with few roster spots up for grabs. That’s not the best environment for dark horses to steal the spotlight, but a few guys to watch are…


Rusney Castillo, OF

Remember Rusney Castillo? Let me refresh your memory: He’s the guy who’s crashed and burned since signing a $72.5 million contract in 2014.

Yeah, that guy. Because Castillo has struggled mightily and is now off the 40-man roster, he’s a long shot to break camp with the Red Sox.

But maybe not as long a shot as everyone thinks. The 29-year-old was last seen hitting .392 in the Puerto Rican winter league. In speaking to Rob Bradford of, former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora chalked this up to changes that have occurred for Castillo both on and off the field.

So…maybe? Maybe.


Blake Swihart, C

Although Swihart will be in the mix for playing time behind the plate this spring, he’s a dark horse because he has one thing Leon and Vazquez don’t: options.

Beyond that, Swihart also has some development left to tackle after getting set back in 2016. The Red Sox’s decision to move him to the outfield was questionable to begin with, and even more so after he suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

But don’t count Swihart out. His two-way talent made him an elite prospect as recently as 2015, and he’s still only 24. With a good spring, he might upset established order in Boston’s catching depth chart.


Deven Marrero, INF

With only Josh Rutledge penciled in alongside Brock Holt, the Red Sox also have a backup infielder job that could be attainable this spring.

Deven Marrero would seem to have the best chance of stealing it. Although the 26-year-old has failed to live up to being picked in the first round in 2012, he’s still a right-handed hitting infielder with versatility. With a hot spring, he could begin to look like a right-handed hitting infielder with versatility and some upside.


Robby Scott, LHP

The Red Sox bullpen mostly looks set. But given how badly he struggled in Boston down the stretch in 2016, Fernando Abad, it’s fair to speculate, is on thin ice as the club’s go-to lefty specialist.

As such, keep an eye on Robby Scott. The 27-year-old put up a 2.54 ERA at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2016 before breaking through with seven scoreless appearances for the big club at the end of the year. If Scott keeps it up this spring, he may be able to steal Abad‘s role.


A Few Bold Predictions

Let’s quit the previewing and end with some predictions of the bold variety…


Chris Sale Will Have a Lousy Spring, Prompting Panic

After the price they paid to acquire Sale, I can only imagine the amount of handwringing that will be going on if he has a rough spring.

I’m also guessing I won’t have to imagine it. Dominating in spring training generally isn’t Sale’s thing, after all. Per, his career ERA in the spring is just 4.20, and he’s struck out just 87 batters in 96.2 innings.

Will it mean anything when Sale has another lousy spring? Not at all. The freak-out will be real, though.


The Sandoval Question Won’t Be Answered

The Red Sox’s Sandoval experiment is an unnecessary risk that’s short on assurances that it will be successful. So, I’m going to treat it as such.

It’s great that Sandoval is looking good, but nobody has any idea how comfortable he’s going to be in his new body on the field. It’s also unknown if he’ll be feeling any ill effects from last year’s surgery.

Otherwise, it’s just hard to have confidence in a guy who hasn’t seen major league pitching in 10 months and who hasn’t really hit major league pitching in over two years.

Since Shaw is no longer around to pick up the baton, I imagine the Red Sox will break camp with Sandoval at third base regardless. His leash, however, will be extremely short.


Other Than That, Things Will Be Fine

Careful not to burn yourself on this hot take, man.

In all seriousness, the Red Sox simply don’t invite many bold predictions about this, that and the other thing. They have a deep, star-studded roster with a perfect mix of youthful and veteran talent, and it’s all overseen by a front office and manager who have had the reins for a while now.

No alarms. No surprises. It’s the best spring training experience a team can hope for.


Stats courtesy of and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. 

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MLB Spring Training 2017: The Top 10 3rd Basemen to Watch

We could go on and on (and on) about Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado and the other superstars at third base in today’s MLB. The position is capital-L Loaded.

But since we know what those third basemen are all about, let’s pivot to some guys who more closely resemble question marks going into spring training.

Ahead is a list of 10 (11 if you want to get technical) third basemen worth keeping an eye on in February and March. Some will be returning from 2016 seasons marred by poor health and/or poor production. Others will be battling for playing time. Others still are young up-and-comers looking to make a good impression. One in particular figures to be a major piece of trade bait.

Bottom line: What they have in common is that they’re all interesting. Read on to hear more.

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Is MLB Headed for Dearth of Intense Division Races Next Season?

There are things the 2017 MLB season can be counted on to deliver. Mike Trout will make highlights. Giancarlo Stanton’s bat will make loud noises. Bartolo Colon will make assorted GIFs.

But if you’re counting on some intense division races, we need to talk.

It’s a little early to be looking that far ahead, but not too early. With spring training now just a month away, we basically know what teams look like on paper. And that’s what matters for projections.

And right now, they paint a picture of a lopsided power structure. 

According to FanGraphs, there’s a clear favorite in all six divisions. And by “clear favorite,” I mean a team projected to win the title by six or more games. Like so:

This would be unusual. Last season, two of the six divisions were decided by five games or less. There were two such division races in 2015, 2014 and 2013 as well. In 2012, four divisions were decided by five games or less. And so on.

Even in the weird world of projections, never mind just unusual, this is unheard of. FanGraphsJeff Sullivan traced the history of division projections back to 2006 and found that this is the first time that not even one race has been projected to be close.

This isn’t so much a matter of there being too many bad teams in the league. There certainly are objectively terrible teams out there, but the early division favorites account for just six of 16 teams projected to finish over .500. That’s a solid amount of contenders.

Rather, this is a case of these six teams looking really good, while those other teams only look regular good. And that’s not just apparent through the eyes of computer projections.

Start in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox may have lost David Ortiz, but that’s just one missing piece from last season’s 93-win roster. More to the point, it’s only one missing piece from an MLB-best offense that still has MVP runner-up Mookie Betts and a handful of other stars.

Plus, the additions of Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg and Mitch Moreland could make up in run prevention what the Red Sox lost in run production when Big Papi retired. Sounds like a potential superteam

In the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians handily won the division last year with 94 wins before going on to win the American League pennant. Now they have Edwin Encarnacion and should also have healthy versions of Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.

After winning only 84 games and finishing third in the AL West last year, the Houston Astros have padded their lineup with Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick and Brian McCann. Throw in an elite bullpen and a rotation in which 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel is just one of several rebound candidates, and all the pieces for a juggernaut are there.

In the NL East, the Washington Nationals entered the winter off a largely trouble-free year highlighted by 95 wins and an easy division win. All they needed was a center fielder. By trading for Adam Eaton, they filled that need with one of the most underrated stars in the league.

In the NL Central, there are the Chicago Cubs. They won 103 games and the World Series last year. And while some pieces (namely Dexter Fowler, Aroldis Chapman and Jason Hammel) are gone now, on the whole, the band hasn’t been broken up.

Which brings us to the Los Angeles Dodgers and their place in the NL West. It could be argued that they haven’t done enough by only bringing back Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen and Rich Hill and adding nothing new to a team that won only 91 games in 2016.

However, that relatively unimpressive figure was less a talent problem and more of a health problem. Per Baseball Heat Maps, the Dodgers racked up 2,418 disabled list days last year. If their notion is that a similar roster will produce more wins as long as the injury bug stays away, well, they’re not necessarily wrong.

So, there. Just in case anyone needed to hear it from an actual human: The teams that are supposed to be great actually look great.

Underneath them, there’s a shortage of candidates that could join the club. The San Francisco Giants are the only other team projected to win more than 85 games. And with Mark Melancon in to stabilize their bullpen, they have a real shot at improving on last year’s 87 wins. The projections may be underrating them.

Otherwise, questions abound.

The AL East is the Red Sox and then a bunch of teams stuck in a weird purgatorial realm. The AL Central is the Indians and then everyone else. The Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners are relevant in the AL West but lack Houston’s upside. The New York Mets will push the Nationals in the NL East but face health and defense pitfalls. In the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates have the distinction of simply not being on the Cubs’ level.

Certainly, the projections reflect all of this. But now also seems like a good time to acknowledge the obvious caveat with projections.

These things were not written down by Nostradamus several hundred years ago. They’re calculated by computers based on the likely production of each team’s players. Them being human beings and all, they’re prone to being swayed by other forces.

Like, for example, the World Series hangover effect.

Yeah, yeah. It’s a cliche. But one that Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost came face-to-face with last season.

“It’s a little bit different,” the skipper said in May, via Fox Sports. “They still have that desire, because they want to do it again. But it’s more work this year.”

It’s not just you, Ned. Ever since 2006—the year MLB got serious about performance-enhancing drugs—only one of 11 World Series winners has matched or beat its regular-season winning percentage the following year. Only four World Series losers stayed the same or got better the following year.

Down has generally been the way to go for each league’s reigning champs. That could spell trouble for the Cubs and Indians.

Meanwhile, the other favorites have more specific pitfalls.

The Dodgers have so far done nothing to solve their crippling weakness against left-handed pitching. The Nationals’ overall strength could be undermined by a bullpen that’s short on shutdown arms. The Astros will be in trouble if their starting pitchers don’t rebound. And as good as the Red Sox lineup could be, WEEI’s John Tomase isn’t wrong in writing it contains “four giant mysteries.”

The disconnect between what’s on paper and what could happen on the field raises the question of the projections’ track record with alleged superteams. Sullivan looked into that too in a piece for And though he didn’t find a pattern of the projections being way off, he did find: “Overall, there has been a slight amount of underperformance among the superteams.”

The superteams failing to live up to their projections in 2017 is all it would take to open the door for upsets. And while there are good reasons why they don’t project as well now, the various teams referenced above could very well see an opportunity.

The projections make it look like six teams will be holding all the cards in 2017. If that ends up being played out in reality, 2017 will be very much out of the ordinary. And not in a good way.

Or, it’ll be just another baseball season. A bunch of weird stuff will happen, and at the end, even the experts will be muttering to themselves, “Hell, I just can’t predict this game.”


Stats courtesy of and FanGraphs.

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MLB Free Agents 2017: Predicting Landing Spots for Top Players Still Available

These are hard times for MLB free agents. With spring training fast approaching, roster spots and money are in shorter supply than they were at the beginning of the offseason.

This much is certain, though: The top free agents still standing won’t be unemployed forever. They’re going to land somewhere.

So, let’s go ahead and predict where these somewheres will be.

Since the free-agent market has largely been picked clean, we’re only going to focus on the 10 best players still looking for work. We’ll find homes for them by speculating about what’s spinning around the rumor mill and on where their talents fit.

Let’s start with the best free agent remaining and go from there.

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Alex Reyes Will Emerge as MLB’s Newest Ace in 2017 Rookie Season

Alex Reyes’ journey has already taken him from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic to the top of prospect rankings and finally to the major leagues in 2016.

Next stop: the top of the St. Louis Cardinals starting rotation.

OK, so that’s not set in stone. With a healthy Lance Lynn set to rejoin Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake and Michael Wacha in 2017, the Cardinals have five proven starters for five spots. That’s a tough nut for a 22-year-old with only 46 major league innings to crack.

The Cardinals did remove a key barrier in Reyes’ way when they traded Jaime Garcia in December, however. After that, Mike Matheny declared the young right-hander would get his shot.

“He should be a starting pitcher,” the skipper said, via “We’ll see how it plays out through spring training. There are certain guys who have slotted innings set for them, and Alex is going to have those. He’s earned that.”

No kidding. With a 1.57 ERA in 12 appearances (five starts) last year, Reyes was a shot in the arm for a Cardinals pitching staff that had tumbled from the high perch it had occupied in 2015. That’s pretty good as far as first impressions go, and it wasn‘t even enough work to strip Reyes of his rookie status. 

That means Reyes is technically still a prospect. And my, what a prospect he is.


While there was some disagreement about the league’s best hitting prospect going into 2017, Reyes ran away as the best pitching prospect in’s Jonathan Mayo’s poll of MLB executives.

“I don’t even know who else is a candidate,” said one pro scouting director. “Reyes has the best combo of stuff and results with the stuff.”

Reyes’ stuff has had scouts drooling for years. Baseball America‘s report on him last year, for example, remarked he featured “closer stuff” for six or seven innings when he was at his best. That included a fastball that could climb as high as 100 mph and a 12-to-6 curveball described as a “true hammer.”

In the minors, Reyes used his weapons to strike out 12.1 batters per nine innings. But it wasn’t until he was promoted in August that fans got a proper introduction to his stuff.

It must have been love at first sight for many, as Reyes pitched a 1-2-3 inning that featured a couple of 101 mph fastballs in his debut:


Per Brooks Baseball, Reyes was no longer flirting with triple digits by the time the Cardinals were stretching him out as a starter and long reliever in September. But he was still sitting in the mid-90s. And overall, Baseball Prospectus vouches that Reyes showed a fastball that ranked in the top 10 in average velocity (96.7 mph) and whiff-per-swing rate (26.9 percent).

As for Reyes’ other notorious offering, he used his curveball sparingly by throwing it only about 8 percent of the time. However, the curves he did throw lived up to their “hammer” reputation by ranking here in downward action, per Baseball Prospectus:

  1. Alex Reyes: -11.57 in.
  2. Mike Fiers: -11.33 in.
  3. Seth Lugo: -11.18 in.
  4. Chris Tillman: -10.52 in.
  5. Evan Scribner: -10.44 in.

That’s what Reyes’ ball-on-string curve looks like in numbers. And now for moving pictures:

The revelation of Reyes’ breakthrough, though, was the quality of two supposedly inferior pitches. 

Although scouts didn’t ignore his changeup during his journey to The Show, the consensus was that it lagged behind his heater and hook. But it was an effective go-to pitch for him against major league hitters. It accounted for 23.7 percent of his offerings and held batters to a .172 average.

Contrary to those of his fastball and curveball, the measurements on Reyes’ changeup aren’t eye-popping. Its effectiveness is more a matter of location and deception. Reyes showed an ability to (mostly) spot it on the glove-side corner of the strike zone, where it worked well in tandem with (mostly) high fastballs because…

Well, let’s let the man himself explain.

“I feel like that [the changeup is] more of a swing-and-miss pitch for me now because hitters have to be geared up for the fastball,” he told J.J. Cooper of Baseball America.

The other pitch that served Reyes surprisingly well is the slider that he broke out in September. He threw it more often than his curveball that month and limited hitters to a .143 average with it.

This is another pitch that doesn’t have otherworldly measurements. But albeit in a limited sample, he showed it’s the breaking pitch he has better control of. Whereas his curveballs were all over the place, his sliders routinely broke off the glove-side corner.

That means Reyes impressed with four pitches from either a sheer electricity perspective or from a command-and-sequencing perspective. With an arsenal that loaded, it’s no wonder opposing hitters were so overwhelmed.

It would’ve been good enough if Reyes had dazzled only with his rate of 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. But even his solid .283 batting average on balls in play doesn’t capture how well he managed contact. Per Baseball Savant, the average exit velocity off him was an MLB-low 84.9 mph.

Since hitting Reyes’ stuff is such a challenge, arguably the best strategy against him is for hitters to keep their bats on their shoulders.

Although Reyes’ stuff was as advertised last season, it’s less encouraging that his control was also as advertised. He walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors and stayed that course by walking 4.5 per nine innings in the majors.

That’s no way to be efficient, and it also lessens his margin for error. Clearly, this defect needs fixing.

However, that doesn’t seem to be a major undertaking.

Reyes isn’t walking batters because he’s a small dude with a high-effort delivery. Even his listed size of 6’3″ and 175 pounds seems conservative, and he shows his strength and athleticism with every pitch. He puts as much effort into throwing a baseball as Average Joe does into changing the channel.

As Christopher Crawford and George Bissell of Baseball Prospectus noted upon Reyes’ arrival, his challenge is maintaining a consistent arm slot. That should be a matter of making simple tweaks rather than undergoing a major mechanical overhaul.

That’s to say Reyes isn’t far away from the leap between dominating in a small sample size and dominating over a larger one.

I’ll leave it to Wainwright (via Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal) to explain what that means:


As everyone will have noticed by now, there’s no argument here.


Stats courtesy of, Brooks Baseball and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. 

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