Look, not much is happening today, so random is fine, right? Of course it is.
My friend Nick Collias — who is both a Spanish speaker and a writer for MLB Trade Rumors — sent along this feature story about Albert Pujols from Multimedia del Caribe in the Dominican Republic. It’s in Spanish so it’s not going to be good reading for most of you, but Nick says it’s all about Pujols as father/husband* as opposed to Pujols as baseball-wrecking machine. Choice quotes:
- “I scrub, wash, iron, and do everything I can to help my wife. I have to help my wife, and not simply by being in the stadium with the Cardinals. There are people who think you’re just a ballplayer, but that’s not true. I’m a husband and father, and that is a blessing that God has given me, and to which I must dedicate myself.”
- “It doesn’t bother me to change a diaper. Not at all. Recently I’ve been doing it the old-fashioned way, where instead of throwing the kids’ clothes in the washing machine, I’ve knuckled down and washed them with my hands. That’s how I learned to do it, and that’s how I do it every time I have the chance.”
So Albert Pujols is richer than you, better at his job than you are at yours and works harder at home than you do too. I feel so great about myself. Don’t you?
*I’m trusting. It could easily be about Pujols being the mastermind behind some stolen auto parts ring and I’d have no real idea given that all of the Spanish I once knew slid out of my head circa 1994. Let’s assume Nick is telling the truth, however.
“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.