Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram has an interesting article up in which Derek Lowe expounds on the increasing prevalence of statistical analysis in baseball. The Rangers signed Lowe to a Minor League contract in March and was eventually added to the bullpen. Lowe, who turns 40 years old on June 1, posted a 5.52 ERA as a starter for the Indians, but found success in the bullpen after the Indians released him and the Yankees picked him up. As a reliever last year, he posted a 3.04 ERA in 23.2 innings. Lowe hasn’t been as successful this year, currently with a 5.56 ERA in 11.1 innings.
Lowe blames statistical analysis for his difficulty finding a job during the off-season:
Lowe won the job with the Rangers and has since found out that at least three teams wanted to sign him in a similar capacity. However, he didn’t pass the “stats test.”
“If you pump my numbers into the system compared to, let’s say, Tanner Scheppers, of course his stuff is going to outscore my stuff, I’m not naive,” Lowe said. “He’s a young kid who throws 98 mph with a great breaking ball. Listen, I know I don’t pass the test.
“But it doesn’t take into consideration the human element of sports. Don’t get me wrong, I think those stats can be beneficial. But I use more of a human element. Where has the guy had success? What cities has he had success? What cities has he failed at? Has he performed well when it matters?
Lowe also answered “God, no” when asked if Major League players pay attention to Sabermetrics. He’s wrong about that as Zack Greinke (link), Brandon McCarthy (link), and Brian Bannister (link) are three of an increasing pool of players who utilize modern analysis to improve on the field.
It is understandable why a 40-year-old player on the 18th hole of his career wouldn’t feel the need to add math to an already long list of things to do to stay competitive, but as the years go by, players like Lowe — just like the older writers who still reference slide rules and mom’s basement, and make Edwin Starr “WAR, what is it good for?” jokes — sound increasingly anachronistic in their refusal to adapt to the times.
The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud — normally a catcher — borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.
The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.
The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.
Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.
Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.
Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.
Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.
Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.