Diamondbacks set all-time record for strikeouts in a season

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Last night the Diamondbacks set a new MLB single-season record for most strikeouts by a team, with 1,403.
Because they’re in last place I’m sure plenty of fans and media members will make a big deal out of all the strikeouts being a terrible thing, but it’s important to note that the Diamondbacks have scored more than the average MLB team and rank 15th overall in runs per game.
The point of hitting is, after all, to score runs, and so ultimately how you choose to make your outs is of minimal importance. For more proof of how unimportant strikeout totals can be, consider that the team with the fewest strikeouts in the National League is the Astros.
Houston has whiffed 456 fewer times than Arizona … and has the third-worst offense in all of baseball with 93 fewer runs than the Diamondbacks. Over in the American League the fewest strikeouts belong to the Royals, with 592 fewer whiffs than the Diamondbacks. Kansas City ranks 23rd in offense, scoring 41 fewer runs than Arizona.
So, to recap: Arizona set the all-time record for most strikeouts and has a slightly above average offense. Houston and Kansas City have the fewest strikeouts in their respective leagues, and one ranks 23rd in scoring and the other ranks 28th in scoring.
As always, how well you avoid outs is a whole lot more important than what type of outs you make.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.