Philadelphia Phillies v  New York Mets

Jimmy Rollins takes some shots at Jose Reyes


While preparing for Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cardinals yesterday at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Jimmy Rollins still managed to keep up with one of his favorite hobbies: Tweaking Mets fans.

The big topic of the day? Jose Reyes’ decision to take himself out of Wednesday’s season finale following a bunt single in order to preserve his lead for the National League batting crown. Rollins told Mike Puma of the New York Post that he would have done things differently.

“I would have played the whole game,” Rollins said. “I’m like, ‘Hey, I fought this hard to be in this position and I’m going to see it through to the end.’ My personality, I’m going to ride it out. I worked this hard to be this good and put up these numbers, I would like to see it all the way to the end.”

Keep in mind, Rollins is a .272 career hitter and has never batted higher than .296 in a full season in the big leagues, so he will probably never have to worry about being in the the same situation. Sorry, most of you guys know I’m a Mets fan, so I at least had to get that one out of my system.

Anyway, that’s not all. Rollins also questioned Reyes’ motivation in the past, hinting that he wasn’t a team player in previous seasons.

“He did everything he needed to do, and when you see that coming from another player, you see them putting the team first,” Rollins said. ” ‘It’s not about me. I’ve got to push the issue for the team. I put myself in position that puts us in position.’ In previous years you just didn’t get quite that feeling from [Reyes] being in the other dugout. This year you really did. It was like, ‘This man is doing everything he can.’ “

If Reyes wasn’t doing “everything” he could from 2006-2008, when he was one of the best players in baseball, well, I feel pretty cheated. More realistically, though, whatever drop in production we saw from 2009-2010 was because of injury, not because he wasn’t a team player. It’s important to understand that Rollins is also looking out for himself here, as he will also be a free agent this winter. Rollins, who turns 33 in November, can’t touch Reyes in terms of production at this point, but will clearly try to argue that his leadership and intangibles are worth a similarly significant investment. And hey, can’t blame the guy for trying.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon
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I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.