I’m not a statistics guy myself — math is hard, yo — but I’ve long considered myself a fellow traveler in much the same way that guys like Timothy Leary and Wavy Gravy hung around a lot of rock bands in the 60s without making any music. I’m totally down with the statheads even if I can’t do a thing that they do.
So I’m pleased to read that Max Scherzer — one of my favorite pitchers simply because he strikes out a ton of dudes yet doesn’t seem like a fascist — is a big stats geek. No, he’s not redefining the field or anything, but as a pitcher he’s really aware of the advanced metrics and has, to some extent, used them to refine his game.
Sure, he has struggled until recently and got sent down to Toledo, but that’s about talent — command is a talent, by the way, not an intellectual exercise — but any time I read about ballplayers who look at the advanced stats, I see a guy who seems genuinely interested in wanting to improve his game, and you have to dig that.
UPDATE: We write a lot of damn posts here at HBT. So many that I didn’t remember the fact that Aaron gave statty props to Scherzer just last August before writing this.
Crap. I shouldn’t have admitted that. If I had gone all day without anyone else reminding me that this is basically a repeat, I could save myself a lot of work in 2011 just writing what I’ve written in 2010. Of course, maybe by then people won’t remember this post admitting that either . . .
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.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.