People wonder why I’m emotionally checked-out from the Braves. Why I’m sleeping on their chances. Why I’m totally content to play the “happy to be here” card and to spend more time thinking about what, if any team I’ll pick up as a temporary rooting interest in the next round of the playoffs after the Braves bow out.
Here’s a good reason: Melky Cabrera is batting fifth in the Braves’ lineup tonight. Fifth! As in, the guy behind the cleanup hitter. The place you usually want to put a guy with a little pop, seeing as though there’s a good chance that the team’s two best hitters — third and cleanup — could reasonably be expected to be on base. Melky.
Depending on how you measure it, Melky Cabrera is probably the worst player in the league. At least among those who received any significant playing time. He’s five-tools bad: he doesn’t hit for average. He doesn’t hit for power. He isn’t fast. He doesn’t have a good glove. He doesn’t have a good arm.
Did Eric Hinske die and no one’s telling us? Is Nate McLouth battling a case of shingles? Is there anything sadder than the fact that both of those are questions that Braves fans legitimately deserve answers to as they wish for something approaching a quality lineup? Melky. Really. Fifth.
As I was trying to think of a way to end this post, I vented about Melky to Gleeman. His response: “If Matt Cain throws a no-hitter tonight, I would rank it slightly behind James Shields’ start.” And he’s right. Melky.
Know what I’m going to think about all winter? About what the 2010 Braves could have accomplished had they had even a single average outfielder beyond Jason Heyward.
We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.
StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.
Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.
That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.
All-Star voting ends this Thursday night, just before midnight eastern time. The All-Star teams — at least how they’ll appear before the dozen or two substitutions we’ll get before the game — will be unveiled on Sunday at 7pm on ESPN, just before Sunday Night Baseball.
Which means you still have time to alter these standings, which now stand as the final update before things are set in, well, not stone, but at least some Play-Doh which has been left out of the can too long and is kinda hard to mess with.