Matt Cain

No-hitter analysis: a study in contrasts

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On the one hand you have Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann notes that there have been a lot of no-hitters and perfect games thrown in recent years. About which he says “something is wrong with this picture,” which he characterizes as “historical anomalies”  that represent a “severe skewing of the sport,” for which he credits “bizarre statistical thunderstorms” and, maybe, some mildly sinister steroid/no steroids hoodoo.  He ultimately claims that, as a result of all of this strangeness, we shouldn’t get too excited about Matt Cain’s accomplishments.

On the other hand you have Jay Jaffe.

Jaffe looks at the same seeming explosion in no-hitters and, rather than consider them anomalous and unnatural, looks at four factors which explain why they are happening more often than they used to, noting that the number of games played a year have almost doubled, how batting average is down, strikeouts are up and defense is better. Jaffe doesn’t presume to tell us what to think about the no-hitters, but he gives us actual tools to consider them intelligently.

In any event, this is a decent life lesson. When trying to understand a given phenomenon, listen more closely to the people who actually think about it and listen less closely to the people who just want to throw up their hands and squawk about it as if the problem is more scary than interesting.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.