Veteran slugger Vladimir Guerrero agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles a whole ten days ago. On Wednesday, he will finally take his physical. If he passes, the O’s will officially introduce him on Friday.
That all comes from Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, who has also caught word that Guerrero will wear his old familiar No. 27 in Baltimore. He sported that number while with the Angels and Rangers.
The 36-year-old is expected to serve as Baltimore’s primary designated hitter this season, moving Luke Scott to left field and Felix Pie to a backup role.
Vlad finished with a strong .300/.345/.496 batting line, 29 home runs and 115 RBI over 152 games for the Rangers in 2010. His new deal with the O’s will pay him $5 million this year and $3 million in deferments.
“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.