All spring long the White Sox were auditioning No. 2 hitters. First we heard that it was going to be slow-footed A.J. Pierzynski. However, that no longer worked out because manager Robin Ventura decided he wanted to bat Adam Dunn third, meaning he needed a right-handed hitter batting second to separate a pair of lefties.
So, in steps Brent Morel.
Morel is getting the nod as the White Sox’s No. 2 hitter on Opening Day, even though he hit .245/.287/.366 in 413 at-bats last season. He didn’t exactly earn the role this spring either, as he walked all of once in 66 at-bats and finished with a .299 OBP.
Meanwhile, Alexei Ramirez seems to have been dismissed as an afterthought since day one, even though he appeared in 100 games as a No. 2 hitter last year and hit a solid .294/.351/.424. AL No. 2 hitters as a whole batted .268/.331/.414 last year, so Ramirez was well above average there. Yet Ramirez is batting seventh on Opening Day, right behind a fellow right-handed hitter in Alex Rios who hit .227/.265/.348 last year.
Ramirez isn’t spectacular, but he was the White Sox’s third best hitter last year behind Paul Konerko and the departed Carlos Quentin and he’s a good bet to rank right around there again this year (my projections have him with the team’s third highest OPS behind Konerko and Dunn). It really doesn’t make much sense that he’s hitting seventh to start.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.
Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.
Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.
This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.
As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.