Lance Berkman tells Astros he'll be ready to come off the disabled list Tuesday

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Lance Berkman went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double in a rehab game today at Triple-A and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports that the switch-hitter called Astros manager Brad Mills afterward to say he’ll be ready to return from the disabled list Tuesday.
Berkman, who hasn’t played since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on March 13, said he told Mills “you can run me out there for about 10 or 15 games and see what happens.” However, the All-Star first baseman also told McTaggart that his surgically repaired knee isn’t totally healed.
“I wouldn’t say it’s completely behind me, but I would say it’s good enough to get out there and play,” Berkman said. “I hadn’t played a game in five weeks, so obviously not just my knee, but every part of me is kind of sore, just because I hadn’t been in game action. I anticipate being in the lineup on Tuesday and not coming out of it until the end of the year.”
After beginning the season with eight straight losses Houston has won three out of four games, but at 3-9 overall with an MLB-worst 2.33 runs per game offensively the Astros desperately need Berkman’s bat back in the lineup. He’s hit .299/.412/.555 with an average of 33 homers, 110 RBIs, and 100 walks per 150 games, posting a slugging percentage above .500 in each of his 10 full seasons.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.