Pujols named Sporting News' Player of the Decade

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It’s hard to argue with this:

No muss, no fuss, no drama–and no longer much debate about who is the best player in baseball. For much of the decade, the debate focused on Rodriguez and Barry Bonds. But in nine seasons, Pujols has never not surpassed a .300 average, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. Those Hall of Fame numbers (by age 29) define him only slightly more than his all-around pursuit of excellence.

A-Rod was a distant second.  He had better counting stats than did Pujols, but if you adjust for the fact that he has played the entire decade while Albert didn’t debut until 2001, those differences become minimal.  Pujols kills A-Rod on the rate stats. He also has a ring. He also isn’t loathed in the way that Rodriguez is loathed by so many, though I don’t think that entered into SN’s decision.  Really, the only way Rodriguez would have had an argument would be if he had stayed at short and continued to play good defense there, but that obviously didn’t happen.

Sad that this was such a no-brainer. I’m in the mood for an argument this morning, but this thing really doesn’t call for one. 

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.