The Brewers are quite excited by the season their young shortstop Alcides Escobar had down in Venezuela this winter. He hit .393 and won the batting title. But it’s not just the hitting that impresses them:
Club officials were particularly impressed that Escobar – a noted
free-swinger – drew 14 walks in 45 games to finish with a .440 on-base
“I’m really happy for him,” said Nichols. “He had the eye of the tiger down there.”
Let’s not get too excited. His Venezuelan walk totals translate to roughly 50 walks over the course of a 162 game season, which isn’t much better than he did in AAA last year (though an improvement over his partial season MLB rates). Fifty walks in the bigs last season would have ranked roughly 95th out of 154 qualifiers, which is Yadier Molina territory. And, just like you figure he won’t hit .390 in the majors this year, you can figure he won’t walk 50 times here either.
So, sure, be happy that there was some improvement, and be excited about a guy who looks like he’s poised for stardom someday soon, but don’t count on Escobar living up to that “eye of the tiger” stuff for some time.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.
Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.
“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”
A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.
Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.
Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.
The score was tied in the top of the 10th inning in last night’s game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Yadier Molina was up to bat, facing Kenley Jansen and drove one to deep right center field.
Yasiel Puig was in full run for the ball as center fielder Joc Pederson ranged hard for it himself. Puig caught the ball, but not before slamming into Pederson. Both men went down, but Pederson went down harder, taking an elbow to the face from Puig before crashing head-first into the outfield wall.
Pederson came out of the game, apparently bleeding from his head. There will be an update on his condition today.
UPDATE: Oops, there was an update last night: