May 27, 2006
Filling in for an ailing Bartolo Colon, 2004 first-round pick Jered Weaver makes his major league debut for the Angels and shuts out the Orioles for seven innings to earn a win. He allows three hits, walks one and strikes out five in a 10-1 victory.
Weaver went on to open his major league career 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA, but the Angels still chose to send him down when Colon came off the DL on June 18. The alternative would have been to demote his brother, Jeff, who was the team’s weakest starter at the time.
The Angels did make that switch a couple of weeks later, recalling Jered to replace Jeff on July 3. Weaver won three more starts in a row afterwards, opening his career 7-0 with a 1.15 ERA before taking his first no-decision on July 29 against the Red Sox. He was 9-0 through 12 starts before finally losing for the first time, and it was a cheap loss, too, as he gave up just one run over six innings against Boston in a game the Angels dropped 2-1.
Weaver ended his season 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA, but he finished a mere fifth in the ROY balloting in what was a very strong year for AL rookies. Justin Verlander won the award with a 17-9 record, Jonathan Papelbon finished second with his 0.92 ERA and 35 saves and Francisco Liriano came in third place with a 12-3 record and a 2.16 ERA.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.