Kevin Slowey and "this pitch count crap"

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Joe Nelson of KFAN radio is either an ignoramus or a troll. Maybe both. All I know is that someone who says stuff like this probably needs his medication adjusted:

We don’t live in a
“What if” world. We live in the real world. Kevin Slowey also lives in
the real world and he had a real chance to throw a real no-hitter. Now
that chance is gone because the pitch count and possibility of injury
said he couldn’t go on any longer. Give me a break! That’s the worst
ideology of all-time.

I am shocked at how many people are buying
into this pitch count crap. The pitch count has been worse for baseball
than the steroid era. There have only been 268 no-hitters in the
history of the game, and the freaking pitch count stood between Kevin
Slowey and number 269.

The “worst ideology of all time!” Darn tootin’! I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, but at least it’s an ethos that didn’t prevent a no-hitter.

More seriously speaking, this Nelson fellow can’t be serious. If he was, he wouldn’t launch into some inane rant about how, if we’re going to be so hoity-toity as to count pitches, we should count swings too.  Actual quote from the guy: “There isn’t a
pitcher in major league baseball with a higher risk of injury than any
batter – regardless of the number of pitches thrown.” If Nelson can find a single person in organized baseball to agree with him on that point I will give him a shiny silver dollar. I hear that people like him like shiny things.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Don’t link this, Craig! It’s what they want!” To which I respond: I really don’t care. If Nelson’s traffic numbers increase to such a degree that it leads to so great a proliferation of his blindingly ignorant garbage to where society will have nowhere else to turn for cogent analysis, the whole of sports media is doomed anyway.

Short of that, I take a decent amount of personal satisfaction in calling the guy stupid.

The Mets are a mess

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The Mets lost again on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Braves. It’s their sixth consecutive loss and the club is now in last place in the NL East. Not exactly the start the Mets envisioned.

Matt Harvey got the start, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on five hits and five walks with only one strikeout. After the game, Harvey said he was tight and that he threw yesterday expecting to start on Friday instead, per Matt Ehalt of The Record. Sounds like no one communicated to Harvey that he’d be starting this afternoon until it was too late for him to properly prepare.

Harvey started because Noah Syndergaard was scratched due to a “tired arm.” Syndergaard blew reporters off after the game, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma then added that Syndergaard ripped Mets P.R. guy Jay Horwitz for letting reporters approach him.

By the way, the Mets also lost outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a hamstring injury. Not much else can go wrong in Queens.

Joey Votto isn’t on board with the latest fly ball trend among hitters

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If you haven’t heard, fly balls — not ground balls or line drives — are all the rage among hitters these days. Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez summed it up perfectly last month when he said, “I’m not trying to hit a [freaking] line drive or a freaking ground ball.” The goal is to maximize damage. Last year, for example, fly balls became hits about 17 percent less often than ground balls (7.4% versus 24.6%), but hitters had a slugging percentage more than twice as much as on ground balls (.539 versus .267). This refocusing has helped hitters like Martinez as well as Ryan Zimmerman reinvigorate their careers.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is as much a student of new age analytics as anyone in the game, doesn’t feel that this approach is necessarily a good one, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto said:

Where I get concerned is the guys that make this attempt and burn out too much of their time and don’t get a chance to be their best selves, and either don’t make it to the big leagues or don’t perform their best in the big leagues because they’re always attempting this new style of hitting. I see it with a lot of guys. Everyone tells the good stories, but there’s a lot of s—ty stories of guys who are wasting their time trying things.

Votto added that while the fly ball approach is working right now, pitchers will soon adapt and the fly ball approach won’t be so good anymore. And he’s right. Baseball has always been a game of adjustments. For example, as teams have gotten comfortable with shifting their infield, hitters like the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber have both dropped bunts down the third base line for easy hits. Knowing that hitters are aiming to hit fly balls now, pitchers may stay higher in the strike zone more often as one possible solution.

Votto is just trying to stay as well-rounded as possible. He says that he wants to become “unpitchable.” Votto wants to be like Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whom he describes as a guy “who can do absolutely anything he wants” and “at all times [has] all options.”

So far, Votto is having another productive season despite a relatively pedestrian batting average and on-base percentage. He’s hitting .238/.330/.563 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 94 plate appearances. Coincidentally, he’s been hitting way more fly balls than usual as he’s currently carrying a 42.3 percent rate compared to his 33.1 career average, according to FanGraphs. His line drives are way down to 16.9 percent compared to his 25.4 percent career average.