Data doesn't support Bradley's claims of ump bias

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Last week Milton Bradley complained that his various run-ins with umpires have caused the men in blue to widen their strike zone when he’s at the plate:

Unfortunately, I just think it’s a lot of “Oh, you did this to my
colleague,” or “We’re going to get him any time we can. As soon as he
gets two strikes, we’re going to call whatever and see what he does.
Let’s try to ruin Milton Bradley.” It’s just unfortunate. But I’m going
to come out on top. I always do.

What am I supposed to do? You lead the American League in OPS, and
two years in the top three in the league in on-base percentage. All of
a sudden now, I come to Chicago and I can’t see the ball no more? I
don’t know a strike from a ball? I don’t think I’m doing anything
wrong. There’s a lot involved, and it’s a lot of politics where there’s
nothing you can do about it.

The beauty of being a baseball fan in 2009 is that smart people have
access to the data necessary to actually investigate those types of
claims. Dave Allen of Baseball Analysts did just that, breaking down MLB.com’s PitchF/X data to see whether Bradley’s strike zone has indeed expanded recently.

His lengthy analysis is definitely worth reading, if only for the
cool-looking charts of the strike zone, but the short version is that
“there is no statistical difference between Bradley’s zone this year
and his zone in 2007 and 2008.”

Josh Hamilton has knee surgery, out 2-3 months

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.

As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:

That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.