Johnny Damon wishes he were more selfish

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Johnny Damon got his 2,500th hit last night. After the game he talked a lot about it. The takeaway: There’s no “i” in “team,” but there is in “Johnny Damon:”

Prior to the game, Damon was asked what that hit would
mean to him.

“It is another stepping stone to getting to the ultimate place,” he
said.

Asked if he was referring to the Baseball Hall of Fame in
Cooperstown, Damon nodded, adding he hopes to reach 3,000 hits.

“You get that total or 500 homers and it would be something that
normally gets you in,” Damon said.

…He is a career .288 batter and has reached .300 five times with a
career-best of .327 with Kansas City in 2000, when he also had a
career-high 214 hits.

“I wished I’d thought of this earlier in my career,” Damon said of
the hit total. “I was never as greedy as maybe I should’ve been.”

Damon went on to talk about all those days off he took after the Yankees and Red Sox clinched and how they likely deprived him of hits.

It’s impossible tell from the text of the article if Damon was actually regretting those days off and those hits-not-achieved or if it was merely a casual observation, but either way it is unusual for the starting left fielder of a team in a playoff race talking about that kind of stuff.

This doesn’t bother me, really — I hate the canned “only winning matters” rebop, because I think it’s silly to assume that guys don’t think about their stats and milestones — but you certainly don’t see it every day.

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.