Jhonny Peralta hopes the Tigers pick up his $7 million option for next season

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Traded from Cleveland to Detroit last month, Jhonny Peralta said yesterday that he’d like to remain with the Tigers next season:

I want to be here. I hope they pick up the option. But I want to be here. I like everybody here.

That comes as no surprise, because “the option” is for $7 million and that’s likely significantly more than Peralta would fetch for next season on the open market.
Peralta has shifted back to shortstop for the Tigers after playing primarily third base for the Indians, but few teams are likely to view him as a legitimate option defensively at shortstop and his .244/.310/.405 hitting line in 116 total games this season is hardly good production from a third baseman. And he was even worse last year, hitting a career-low .254/.316/.375 in 151 games.
If the Tigers want him back for 2011 they can certainly accomplish that for less than $7 million, although it’s possible they could decide to pick up the option just to avoid being pressured into a multi-year commitment.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.