Nationals Baseball: Bryce's Head, Revisited

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bryce's Head, Revisited

First I guess I somehow failed to say whether I thought the trade was good or not. It's good. It's very good. The Nats got something they need, maybe not terribly so if Kintzler is healthy, but still a need and they get better. They gave up very little in general, and specifically nothing that would matter over the next two-three years, which is honestly all I think you can ever plan for with any certainty. You do this deal every time.

Second, I want to say in this year of bad injury luck for the Nats (Matt Adams now!) the Nats haven't been exactly snake bit. They've had good replacement luck and good SP health luck (up until possibly now) and one more fortune. Their interleague rival stinks. The Nats are 4-0 against the Orioles now, on the way to no worse than 5-1 in my mind. If the Nats had the Yankees or Red Sox? That could easily be a 2-4 record. No, nothing is certain with any set of games. You might catch them when they are hot or when you are cold.  Maybe you just lose a series of 1-runners. But the reality is you want to have as many games against bad teams as you can and hope your opponent has as many games against good teams as possible. This year the slight interleague advantage is working very very strongly in the Nats favor. If the division is won by a couple games, this could be the difference.*

Ok onto Bryce. He's been terrible and the numbers tell an obvious story of decline.

Apr : .247 / .458 /. 528
May : .221 / .293 / .558
June : .143 / .238 / .214

That's pretty stark.  There is a narrative going around that it's Bryce's failure to adjust to the shift that's the problem. Essentially it's all in his head. Let's set that aside for now. If you are looking for an injury the obvious demarcation line would be May 31st.  The May numbers are bad, don't get me wrong but there is a bad slump in the beginning of the month when he went 2-26 followed by a 20-day stretch very much like April without the other teams avoiding him .250 / .325 / .574. So it seems like that's just a slow start. Possibly a nagging injury related slow start but a slow start. After May 31st though not only does the average really plummet, the power disappears as well. That's telling.

Did anything happen around that time? Nothing that I can tell without watching the games again (maybe I will) but it was on June 3rd that Bryce got his unusual day off. I say that because the Nats were playing an important game vs the Braves, a mediocre righty was going to be on the mound, and there was a scheduled day off the next day. It seemed like a very odd time to sit Bryce then. In hindsight now it seems like something was/is up. Or at least warrants a little more digging into the dead blank wall that is how the Nats talk about injuries.

Is there anything in the fancy stats? Well we talked before about him pulling the ball more. But it's not more than ever - he did it this much in his vaunted 2015. In fact a lot of his pure hitting numbers - How Hard, Where, What Type are almost mirror images of 2015. Of course teams are shifting more now. There's some worthwhile numbers in here. But can a shift alone explain a drop in BABIP from .370 to .210? I can't imagine but I don't know.

Of course I'm looking overall and at this point, we're trying to distinguish something monthly.  In May, as that article noted he stopped walking and started striking out more. However his walk rate was INSANE in April, like 30%, so that wasn't keeping up, and his K-rate was low for him. The K-rate going up to around 24% isn't a big deal, a couple ticks above average, but the BB-rate down to 9%? That's unusually low.

More striking were his contact numbers. He wasn't seeing the ball well and was missing a lot in May. I can't parse out the monthly splits yet but at the time of that article his Z-Contact (in the zone) was maybe around 82% - low but not crazy. Now it's under 80% just two weeks later. His O-Contact rate is dropping still too. They mention that one specifically at being 53% at the time of the article. It's at 52.6% now.  Not as dramatic but still the same pattern. He's making contact with nothing.

If we look at the other stats in June we things get alarming. The K-rate, ok at 24%, is 36.5%  His HR/FB rates dropped to 8.3% Soft rate up to 24.2% Hard down 27.3%. He's not hitting the ball at all the same way.  Squint and May can look like a frustrated Bryce trying to bully his way through the shift with half-success.  June is something else.

What about history?  How unusual is Bryce's June with an OPS under .500? Well here are his monthly OPS over the past few seasons.

2017 : 1.281, 0.875, 0.837, 1.234, 0.804, 0.417
2016 : 1.121, 0.785, 0.801, 0.621, 0.934, 0.648
2015 : 0.985, 1.379, 1.143, 1.015, 0.909, 1.216
2014 : 0.773,          ,          , 0.671, 0.830, 0.773
2013 : 1.150, 0.687,          , 0.786, 0.872, 0.684
2012 :          , 0.860, 0.780, 0.619, 0.748, 1.043

He's only gone under .500 once, in a abbreviated Sept/Oct last year. He was out because of a bone bruise.** I also highlighted any months under the .850 OPS he put up in May.  There are a bunch of those in 2016 when it was obvious he was playing through a shoulder injury (and he admitted as much before last year started). There's a bunch in 2014 when he injured his thumb and was out for two months. There's a bunch in 2013 when he hurt his knee in May.

But there are too many to say these are related to injuries. I think Bryce, on a bad month, can find his OPS as low as .750. But I think there's a pretty strong correlation with anything under .700 and injury.

So where do I end up, assuming Bryce doesn't have a massive turnaround in the next week?  Historically, Bryce's stats tell us he doesn't have a month as bad as June without being hurt (or a teenager).  Fancy stats tell us something is way off recently. A casual glance suggest June has been different than the first two months. There's an odd day off right around where things seem to turn. All in all I have to land on injury, or perhaps as the Fangraphs piece suggest - eye issues.  Not for the season as a whole, though that might be true. April and May seem to be their own animals. But right now? Bryce is either hurt or has something else going on because he's not hitting like he ever has and it's not just a reaction to the shift because we saw that reaction in May and it wasn't like this.

*Which is terrible - yearly interleague is an abomination.  

** So if I'm watching those games I'm looking for anything that suggest reinjury of that bruise.

46 comments:

Nattydread said...

Best commentary on what's happening with Bryce that I've seen so far. I'm thinking there's something wrong with his eyes. Remember he wore glasses one day, too. He doesn't seem to be SEEING the ball.

Anonymous said...

I think a re-injury of his knee is inconsistent with having him play CF, which they've only started having him do since Eaton came back. It's possible there is an injury issue. I don't think it's his knee.

Carl said...

Still think he (and other hitters) should shift-bunt more often. They're gonna give you a free base hit, take it, especially when he otherwise can't hit for crap right now.

Jimmy said...

I mean I guess we can't write off injury, but really why would a guy continue to do this to himself if an injury was causing this level of terrible play? It would be far better to do a dl stint for his future value than anything he's currently doing now. I just can't buy into that line of thinking, sometimes career low slumps happen, sometimes they happen in contract years. honestly though it wouldn't be the worst idea to jettison him to the 10 day dl and play Taylor everyday.

Jimmy said...

I had forgotten how terrible his avg was in 2016, .243 good lord. I'm starting to suspect that he might actually be an affordable free agent.

Josh Higham said...

You should know, Harper, that in my head, at least, I'm giving you an appreciative golf clap for Evelyn Waugh, who probably isn't reading this blog.

Bryce is really staggeringly bad right now. Like, in spite of a monster April and adequate but May he is currently somewhere in the neighborhood of 8th-13th on the Nats in WAR, depending on which of baseball reference and fangraphs you like better and how much you care about say, 0.6 vs 0.5.

Steven said...

I doubt if it was really physical injury related, they would have started rotating him into CF...for what it's worth, I think he isn't seeing the ball. Something about him wearing glasses that one time and since he has swung through lots of balls in the zone, let alone out of the zone and it just gives me the feeling that the main problem is his eyesight...

Ole PBN said...

The glasses that we wore that one day had to do with him not being able to get his contacts in. Nothing to do with poor vision. His swing mechanics make him susceptible to pulling off the ball (hence the pop-ups, weak grounders, and swinging over breaking balls). Anytime Bryce has success is when he is inside-outing the ball and driving it the other way. It tells me he is seeing the ball deep in the zone and is simplifying his swing to make solid contact. Now he's trying to pull the ball into the right field upper deck and his head is going with him. Every swing and miss, he's leaning toward first base, almost about to fall over. Half his hits these days seem to be like the "double" he "hit" last night: bloops that find a hole. Not every player is the same, but guys like Rendon and Soto, they're swings are built to last: quick, short, and compact. Espinosa, Zimmerman, Harper... slumps are always right around the corner. Agressive legs kicks, big wind-ups, violent hacks equal a swiss-cheese swing. Sliders away? Got em. Curves in the dirt? See ya. Tailing fastballs away? Chopped to second base.

DezoPenguin said...

Plus, Bryce hasn't helped himself in any area other than the bat. Taylor's had, what, two good weeks of hitting that elevated his wRC+ to "merely below average" after two months of being absolute garbage at the plate, and it's got him past Bryce in both fWAR and bWAR.

If it is his eyes, I wonder if the Wilson Ramos LASIK solution is an option... As it is, he's costing himself tens of millions of dollars and the Nationals ball games.

PotomacFan said...

I really don't think giving Bryce a day off in Atlanta, followed by an off-day, indicates an injury. Rather, Davey just wanted to give him 2 days off. Bryce should be getting time off (as should all of the regulars) because it's an incredibly long season. And in particular, Bryce needs to somehow "reset" himself.

Not mentioned is why Bryce is still batting third (or last night, clean-up) in the Nats batting order. There are two big problems with this. First, it hurts the team. Second, it puts more pressure on Bryce to produce and everyone time he fails (which is often), it's got to eat at him even more. Why not move him down to 5 or 6 -- so long as there is someone behind him that can hit, so that Bryce doesn't see all bad pitches?

Bgsmitty43 said...

Has Bryce Harper ever played first base? You have one of your hottest hitters sitting (MAT) and getting only a few pinch hits. I understand Harper is not coming out of the lineup. Davy will have him work through his hitting issues while he plays. I just think the Nats would be more effective if MAT was in the lineup. If Harp played 1B, he could take over until Adams returns. He was a catcher in his early high school career and I know INF is a totally different ballgame than OF. If the Nats were willing to try Difo in CF last year, why not try Harp at 1B? Make sense or no?

W. Patterson said...

@Ole PBN - Interesting take on his swing and how close to the slump precipice he usually is. I've been trying to watch to see how much he's falling off towards 1B but am not good enough to make the call. I think I see, however, a lot more of the sky-high FB outs to short- or mid-outfield. Could be that Long is messing with his swings?

Johnny Callison said...

Bgsmitty: Had the same thought about Bryce at first so MAT can play. MAT's defense and speed have to be in the lineup when he's hitting a little which he is right now. Bryce's CF defense is not impressive.

PotomacFan: I completely support moving him to #5 or #6 in the order. Less pressure, and takes that dead zone out of the lineup. Maybe he relaxes (Bryce does not seem to be able to play relaxed, though).

I agree with Harper that something physical is going on. Some here are saying the Nats wouldn't be playing him if he were hurt, but it seems like that's exactly what happened a couple of years ago--instead of DLing him, they muddled through an entire unsatisfactory season. Bryce may not want MLB to think of him as injury-prone, so he's "playing through it," which is bad for the team, and probably worse for him than getting healthy and coming back and raking. But it could be his eyes. And I think his head's not right, but a hidden injury could be involved.

Jay said...

I think it would make Bryce crazy to get moved to 5th or 6th. I don't think it is an injury bc there have been absolutely no rumblings of such. Remember when Bryce had the phantom shoulder injury you could tell when he would swing and miss - obvious discomfort on his part. Also, Tom Verducci came out with that article in SI stating Harper was injured. It was rumored for a long time before that as well. Boras would have leaked something to someone. To think that Harper would be majorly injured enough to cause him to hit sub-Mendoza and not say anything to anyone??? I'm not buying. Just my 2 cents.

On a side note. Any one else feel a lot more comfortable in the 8th and 9th with Herrera and Doolittle closing it out. I always had anxiety with Kinzler and Madson. Bullpen may be shaping up.

The elusive 5 run HR said...

I've commenting to friends all season that he's trying to play MURDERBALL. He can't simply play baseball anymore. I feel like 3-4 years ago if someone shifted on him like they are now, he would have laid down a bunt or at least try to drive it the other way - and he'd have been happy to point out that he took it because they gave it to him. Instead he walks up to the plate with no one on and us down 3 and is trying to hit a 5 run HR every time.

I've been speculating for some time now that Scott Boras told him at the beginning of the season that if he hits XX HRs he'll get a $XXX M contract next year. The result are the swings that PBN alludes to. He can't hit anything on the outside half of the plate because his barrel is only making it through the inside of the plate.

Johnny Callison said...

Jay: I get that it's possible that being benched or dropped to 5/6 in the order could upset Bryce, but is it good for the team to make decisions based on that? I know Bryce is a "veteran" of sorts, but I think it hurts the team that a guy in a massive slump has the team so intimidated that he can't be benched. When you add in that the guy is probably leaving anyway, I think it's bad for the team. I can't imagine Zim liked it when he was dropped to 5th (can't remember if he was ever at #6), but they did it. Stuff like this (if true) plays into Harper not being a team guy.

billyhacker said...

Elusive:
Boras and other agents know now, after last year's free agent debacle, that teams are not valuing the HR in the same way that they have in the past. They are valuing defense more, WRC+ more. Moustakas hit 38 HR last year and couldn't get a contract at age 29 (Finally got $6.5 million for ONE year). Logan Morrison hit 38 HR in 2017 and as a free agent got $6.5 million for ONE year! I just can't believe that Bryce thinks hitting a bunch of HRs will result in a big payday - but he sure looks like that's what he thinks, particularly given his defense. But injury could explain some of his commitment to power, especially if the problem is in the lower part of the body or his eyes (since both would affect his defense).

Ric said...

@DezoPenguin: "Plus, Bryce hasn't helped himself in any area other than the bat. Taylor's had, what, two good weeks of hitting that elevated his wRC+ to "merely below average" after two months of being absolute garbage at the plate, and it's got him past Bryce in both fWAR and bWAR."

No need to sell Taylor short. He's hit phenomenally for a full month (.366 since May 21). After 1.5 months of absolute garbage.

If you want to break down his season more, Taylor hit .189 his first 36 games, and .298 his next 35 games. So it is a little unfair to say he passed Bryce in both fWAR and bWAR because of "two good weeks" of hitting.

Nobody is saying Taylor is better than Harper. Nobody is saying he is nothing more than a fourth outfielder. But for goodness sake, do we have to downplay Taylor's accomplishments? Can't we just enjoy that he is ranked 12th in WAR among NL outfielders?

Josh Higham said...

I'm with Ric. If you want to pile on Bryce for how little he's helped his case in the field and on the bases, look no further than Wilmer Difo, fringy utility guy pressed into starting duty who has outperformed Bryce by bWAR with a cool OPS+ of 76.

SM said...

@ Josh Higham

Wait, what? An Evelyn Waugh reference? In a baseball blog? Way, way too pointy-headed for me. See here, Higham, what next? "Uneasy Money" by P.G. Wodehouse?

And now to baseball . . . Is Bryce's K-rate broken down by swinging Ks versus called Ks?

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper: two possibilities. May 5 I believe vs Velazquez, second AB (double check me, it might have been 1st or 3rd) he took a big rip and winces and takes a long walk around the batters box, FP remarked that Bryce seemed to pull something and hurt himself. The other thing I’m remember is when he I believe fouled a ball off his knee and then in the outfield dove for a ball and slammed on the same knee again and was limping around. I don’t remember what game but I believe that was more recent.

BxJaycobb said...

Pretty wild to lead your league in homers and walks and have like an .850 OPS and be below 1 WAR. Means fielding has been epically bad basically.

BxJaycobb said...

Guy has a .900 career OPS and best offensive season since Barry Bonds, which happened at age 22. Quite a Swiss cheese swing. (Not saying he’s good right now).

BxJaycobb said...

Are you really that eager to move Murphy to 2B from 1B right now? Your defense with Bryce at 1B and Murphy at 2B is....well...as bad as anything I can imagine?

BxJaycobb said...

I honestly don’t see anything different with his swing mechanics or effort in swing etc than normal. He’s just swinging straight through fastballs down the middle. I don’t get it. Something with his eyes honestly is my best bet. Because his pitch recognition and ball strike zone command has become so bad that it’s incredibly weird.

BxJaycobb said...

Yeah....I think WAR is decent at approximating stuff but fielding metrics are SO inexact as a science. It’s still unclear what is due to positioning vs the skill and range of the outfielder. They fluctuate crazily year to year. I just am way more skeptical of WAR when all of a players value (or most of it) is tied up in defense. Offense is so much more measurable. I guess i just don’t believe that somebody with a 125 wRC+ with a .850 OPS has been barely above replacement level this year and that Taylor has been one of the 12 best NL outfielders. Really? I value defense big time. But not that much. Taylor has probably made like 4-5 plays this year that an average CF doesn’t get to. And that more than compensates for a .300 OBP? Anyway. Very very hard to believe.

BxJaycobb said...

Right. This is why I don’t buy these WAR comparisons where a guy who is a good fielder and fast and doesn’t hit close to average MLB player has produced more value than a guy who has like a .350-.360 OBP and 19 homers.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper: I would agree that this is 100% a tale of two totally different Harpers. He really hit great in April AND May. HORRID BABIP luck and the shift killed him in May. Killed him. And have overall killed him this season. (He’s hitting .164 on ground balls despite higher exit velocity on grounders than he’s had in other years. That is....insane, so yes, the shift is absolutely part of his numbers. The reason he pulled grounders in 2015 and did better is because the shifting on him has gone through the roof. Dave Schoenfield wrote about this like 3-4 days ago). Through May, i believe Bryce’s xBABIP (normal luck on balls in play) was like .306...i.e. he should’ve been hitting like .300 going into June, not ..230. Now. June is a totally different beast, both eye test and numbers. He’s been striking out a crazy amount, not walking, and just generally swinging and missing including in the zone a truly crazy amount that I’ve never seen before. So what this really SHOULD look like to me is a guy who has produced at his usual excellent levels for 2/3 the season and then for about a month looks VERY VERY different. So I think if the league shifts against Bryce like they did in 2015 this year, his year looks more like a guy hitting .290-.300 June 1, and then a brutal slump pulled him down to like .250 or .260 or so. Rather than how horrible it’s been. But yes. Something is up. It could be just timing (doubt it) and could be mechanics (doubt it), but the amount of swinging and missing at fastballs in the strike zone. I mean....it’s like he lost all his hand eye coordination skills overnight. So I wonder if something is up with his eyes.

Sammy Kent said...

My guess is that it has less to do with contact and more to do with contract. Bryce is suffering from the free agent year jinx. Simple, unadulterated stress over uncertainty, despite all the denials that it's in his mind at all and the requisite platitudes about loving DC and playing for the Nationals (which I do believe are all true). Boras could have chosen to work a long term deal for Harper just as he did for Stras, but he'd rather push the price for Bryce (and his corresponding fee) as high as possible. Ol' Scotty's greed is being rewarded by the baseball gods.

BxJaycobb said...

Maybe. And even if there’s something else stress if walk year wouldn’t help. But if 2016 had been his walk year wouldn’t we have said his struggles were due to his stress? Sort of confirmation bias. See what u want to see.

Kubla said...

At this stage in his career and with the available resources from playing on a major league team, he should be able to adjust to things like the shift/getting walked repeatedly/whatever the next anti-Bryce gimmick is. If things shake out and he reverts to form, then it really could in retrospect have been an extended run of bad luck. Otherwise, I'd be 1) pointing fingers at the coaching staff or 2) labeling Bryce as gifted with raw talent but uncoachable 3) an injury that only shows up in the batter's box. I'd like to think he's professional enough to rule out option 2 and have never heard his commitment questioned before, but you never know. Option 3 seems like a stretch, because most injuries that affect batting would also affect his throwing, and that seems to be okay.

I read the ESPN article on Scherzer's obsessive habits today. He's a generational combination of talent and personality, so copying him may not even work for people who lack the skills. On the other hand...couldn't the rest of the team learn something?

Mark said...

Personally, I think it is mental. He went into a major slump a couple of years ago after Madden intentionally walked him a thousand times in the Cub's series. Looks like he is trying to do too much/trying too hard. He looks unhappy and lost. I'm sure he has aches and pains, like every MLB player toward the end of June. Maybe that is affecting him, but there is no apparent major injury which Davey emphatically stated.

Ole PBN said...

@Kubla - I pointed out the same thing in regards to Murphy, particularly when it comes to bashing Zimmerman months ago. So much of what propels guys like Murph and Max into the stratosphere is there commitment to being a student of the game. Some people never watch film of themselves, others obsess over it. Personal preference really, but I think it does more good than bad to study your bad habits and correct them. Muscle memory is funny when you can actually see yourself committing a mechanical error, be in your swing or throwing motion. You don't believe it until you see it. This topic reminds me of RG3 and his response to the criticism that he didn't work hard during his time in DC. "I'm in the gym (taking selfies) every day. I work out every day and push my body to the limit every day." How about the film study time? Working out is not the same as gaining knowledge about your craft or your opponent. Not saying this is the case for Bryce, but he does seem like the physical grinder and not the studious learner that could allow himself to make the necessary adjustments to succeed at a high level again. The league has responded to him, time to answer back. I don't think luck, and bench press is going to solve that riddle.

BxJaycobb said...

I don’t know what it is. Pretty sure it’s not that he’s uncoachable though. Apparently he’s been working with Kevin Long overtime. And re throwing...don’t think that’s true that most injuries that affect batting affect throwing. Example, if his left hand or wrist is messed up or somewhere in his base. You can throw without your legs much easier than hitting. And if it’s his eyes then of course that wouldn’t affect throwing. But look. I feel like it’s a terrible slump. If it goes on all year then it won’t be a slump. But he has a very complex long swing. And he may just be prone to them.

JE34 said...

An Evelyn Waugh reference, and Wodehouse in the comments. En fuego, people. Take a bow!

I'll say it again: If hitters focused on punishing the shift, the shift would go away. If Bryce would routinely slap the ball towards 3rd base when no one is anywhere near it, he would force the fielders to be more evenly distributed. Early in a game, especially with no one on base, there is no reason NOT to do this.

It is the same rationale as taking the base-on-balls when pitchers are trying to get you to chase stuff out of the zone. You're willing to do that, but not willing to take a free base hit? It makes no sense whatsoever.

ESPECIALLY when mired in a slump, it is utter madness to voluntarily decline the lower-risk opportunity to reach base when one is given it. I'm not saying it's easy to push a nasty slider up the 3rd base line against the shift... but if I'm paid to play baseball, I would expend a lot of energy to master this. It is certainly 1000x easier than hitting line drives in between fielders who are close together.

W. Patterson said...

@JE34 - "...slap the ball towards 3rd..." assumes that he can get the bat on the ball. And that might be half of the problem. I'll wager that there are some bright people associated with the Nats who might have suggested that.

Nevermind. The braintrust has determined that all Nats hitters should try for that 5-run dinger - - at 200 mph using a 90 degree launch angle

On another note, maybe the Orioles are out of their slump? (snark)

Mark said...

MAT's baserunning, (he leads the league in steals), plays into his value also.

SM said...

@ W. Patterson

What you say is reasonable. But I would argue that pulling outside pitches--and Bryce does it often--leads almost invariably to ground ball outs on the "pull" side. (Hello, there, Wilson Ramos!) Add the dramatic shift, and Bryce is virtually boxed in.


In Bryce's case, pitchers aren't just throwing outside pitches, but high and outside. I think Harper's "Bryce's Head, Revisited" is particularly apt. In Max's 0-2 loss to Toronto last weekend, Bryce was actually called out on a high, outside fastball. (Calls, incidentally, that Max was not getting, noted consistently by the Blue Jay announcers.) You get the sense that Bryce may be even more inclined to chase those pitches--and concomitantly, rival pitchers more inclined to throw those pitches.


None of us is going to fix Bryce's batting woes, of course, except Bryce. The only player in history who drilled balls through or over the shift was Ted Williams. And unless Bryce stands in front of mirror, naked, with a bat in his hands screaming "I AM TED F***ING WILLIAMS" and is transmogrified into TED F***ING WILLIAMS, Nats fans will be soaking their pillows with tears of frustration.

NotBobby said...

This is said a lot (the Madden walk thing) but it wasn't Madden. Madden just continued it, it was actually started the series before - Reds maybe? But sports writers absolutely adore Madden so it get contributed to him.

BxJaycobb said...

To me the shift and pulling grounders is about 10% of the problem. If he were walking and not swinging through pitches you would have most of Bryce Harper back.

Steven said...

@NotBobby - St. Louis started it

JE34 said...

It was Pete Mackanin and the Phillies who did the pitcharound game before Joe Maddon and the Cubs. Harper yelled about this a lot.

@SM: I was concomitantly transmogrified the other day. It was awesome.

Josh Higham said...

@ Steven and NotBobby - it was Mackanin and the Phillies (4/26-4/28). Bryce only walked twice in that StL series, but 5 times (twice IBB) in the first two games against the Phils. Maddon got credit for it (5/5-5/8) for two reasons, I think. a) Maddon and b) 6 walks in game 4 of that series, which is truly preposterous.

Josh Higham said...

Oh man, while I was checking game logs, JE34 snatched my moment of pedantic triumph from under my nose. Alas.

BxJaycobb said...

True. I personally think base running and steals are (unfortunately) less and less valuable these days due to decreasing batting AVGs and the dependence on homers. For the same reason defense is becoming less and less important (way fewer balls in play in general, mostly Ks and BBs and HRs. Although it depends a bit on the team. If you are a team with a lot of K pitchers it’s REALLY less important.) There are just so few rallies where runs are scored due to a stolen base. Far more are taken off the board by getting thrown out (I.e. giving away outs and having fewer hitters come up with chance to hit XBH.)

Mark said...

Bryce is on his way back... Did you not smell it last night?