The former Astros’ third baseman has a blog and some pretty interesting insights about Barry Zito plunking Prince Fielder — Ensberg lists his own rules for hitting a guy — as well as the strike zone. Here’s Ensberg after noting that Bud Selig is against automating the calling of balls and strikes because he likes “the human element”:
Yeah whatever dude. Getting booed sucks. It ripped my heart in
half to hear the fans in Houston boo me. As a result I no longer
concentrated on the game and instead concentrated on not getting
booed. That was too much heat for me and I buckled. The same thing
will happen to the umpires.
Umpires have a really difficult job. You may think it is easy to
call a ball or a strike, but you don’t see what Major League pitchers
can do with the ball. Major League catchers can frame a ball that
makes an umpire look like they missed it. You don’t probably consider
that the camera is “off-set”. But in the end, it is the heat of the
fans, managers, and players that causes that strike zone to expand.
Prediction: Technology will cause the strike zone to shrink at first and we may see
an increase in offensive production. After a year of that, the strike
zone will expand to its intended definition and pitchers will finally
get to throw a high strike.
I think what he means by the zone shrinking if things get automated is that pitchers will not get the corner calls they’re used to, while simultaneously being afraid to throw what is a textbook — and presumably computer-judged high strike — at first, but that they’ll soon adjust and start working up the ladder the way your old man’s favorite pitchers used to do in the 60s and 70s. Interesting thought, and something I’d like to see.
More generally, I like to see ballplayers and former ballplayers like Ensberg speaking directly to the public like this. As I’ll note later this morning, there is something deeply artificial and unilluminating about the reporter-ballplayer dynamic, what with all the cliches and mistrust and everything. I don’t figure we’ll see a lot of ballplayers saying “whatever, dude” to Bud Selig, but the more of these guys who let loose in the blogosphere and on Twitter, the more we’ll learn so much more about this here game we love.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”