Isn’t it great when you can predict what columnists are going to write about? I’m on the lookout for something ridiculous on this very topic right now. Don’t let me down, guys.
I’m getting the sense that some fans believe the Yankees were still in shock after missing out on Cliff Lee and as a result, were too slow on Zack Greinke. Don’t buy into all that.
Chances are this was a much more complex situation that we realize. We know that the Royals were trying to involve the Yankees in talks, but there’s no evidence to suggest that the Bombers ever seriously considered trading for Greinke. Whether their lack of interest can be attributed his anxiety condition or not, the Yankees were never a realistic option here. Also keep in mind that the Royals had a lot to gain by even having the Yankees in the discussion.
There was also the matter of Greinke’s limited no-trade clause, which included 15 teams. Aside from the Yankees, Red Sox and Nationals, we don’t know exactly who was on there. The Royals may have been a bit hamstrung in that regard.
And so, I’m sure there are many Yankee fans who are still losing it because outside of re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, pretty much nothing has went according to plan this winter. To that I say, welcome to the life of most every other baseball fan. Fun, isn’t it?
“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.