Phrenology

Researchers: guys with short, wide faces hit more homers

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Sounds like phrenology to me, but what do I know. I have a bachelor of arts degree:

Tucked into the latest edition of Biology Letters, among articles on emperor penguin surface temperatures and predator-prey size relationship, is a study that suggests that the shape of your face may indicate whether you’d make a good power hitter.

University of London researchers Hikaru Tsujimura and Michael J. Banissy tracked nearly 200 Japanese players in one of that country’s two pro baseball leagues over the course of two seasons and found that players with short, wide faces tended to have higher-than-average home run numbers.

There’s even a sabr-sounding stat for it: fWHR, or acial width-to-height ratio. Which, even though it was created and researched by university psychologists, will likely cause a bunch of old school baseball columnists to use it to mock statheads. Tell me you’d be surprised if you read this one morning:

Some stat-obsessed researchers in Japan (who knew they had research labs in mothers’ basements?) have determined that guys with short, wide faces hit a lot of homers. Hope no one tells them about [Player with long, skinny face who hit a big home run the night before], because it’d be a shame if all of their research went to waste.

Actually, I doubt if we have to wait until some skinny guy hits a homer. I bet someone uses this stuff as a launchpad for an anti-science, anti-stats rant. Because, hey, it’s just the sports pages.

Anyway, this kind of thing is fun, even if it has even a remotely identifiable practical application.

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.