Pair of Angels on track for rare accomplishment

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There’s still a ways yet to go, but both Brandon Wood and Jeff Mathis have opportunities to become the first players since 2003 to finish a season with 200 plate appearances and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of at least 12:1.
Let’s look at the carnage:
Wood – .163/.180/.219, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 54/4 K/BB in 189 plate appearances
Mathis – .195/.214/.294, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 50/4 K/BB in 161 plate appearances
Only eight different players have accomplished such a feat during the expansion era. One did in twice:
Andy Kosco (1970, Dodgers) – 40/1 K/BB in 228 PA
Ivan Murrell (1973, Padres) – 52/2 K/BB in 216 PA
Rob Picciolo (1979, Athletics) – 45/3 K/BB in 363 PA
Rob Picciolo (1980, Athletics) – 63/2 K/BB in 281 PA
Tom Paciorek (1986, Rangers) – 41/3 K/BB in 220 PA
Kim Batiste (1994, Phillies) – 32/1 K/BB in 214 PA
Mariano Duncan (1995, PHI/CIN) – 62/5 K/BB in 277 PA
Shawon Dunston (1999, STL/NYM) – 39/2 K/BB in 255 PA
Todd Greene (2003, Rangers) – 47/2 K/BB in 210 PA
Of the nine, just the two National Leaguers had decent seasons in the process. Duncan hit .287/.297/.423 while playing all over the diamond. Dunston, by then a supersub and pinch-hitter, hit .321/.337/.453 with 41 RBI in 243 AB.
Credit Picciolo with consistency. He had a 589 OPS in both seasons. He was actually far worse as a rookie, hitting .200/.218/.258 in 419 AB in 1975. He had a 55/9 K/BB ratio then. Picciolo never again received 200 plate appearances in a season after 1980.
Wood might have had a chance to join the club as a rookie in 2008 with additional playing time. He had a 43/4 K/BB ratio in 157 plate appearances that season.
Mathis, though, has never been nearly so awful before. He finished with a 90/30 K/BB ratio in 328 plate appearances in 2008 and a 73/22 K/BB ratio in 272 plate appearances last year. He’d seem to be less likely than Wood to enter the exclusive club.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.