Martin Prado makes up for lack of offense with bro hugs

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Martin Prado went into today’s series finale against the Phillies hitting .230 with a .639 OPS, which is about 33 percent below the league average according to Baseball Reference. The Diamondbacks acquired Prado in January in the trade that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta. The D-Backs’ return on the trade hasn’t been so good at least when you look at the stats, but Steve Hummer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution argues you need to look at the intangibles:

But it took only one pass through the Arizona Diamondbacks circular clubhouse to come across unmistakable evidence that he did not forget to bring his intangibles.

For instance, arriving teammates passing Prado’s cubby had better be prepared for a long bro hug. And the gesture is contagious. The sound of back-slapping is a regular part of the background music of the Arizona clubhouse, the percussion of a team that is more than holding its own in the NL West.

Teammate Eric Hinske said of his new teammate, “Martin’s all about the hug,” then went on to call him “the best player in baseball.”

When statistically-oriented people complain about the prevalence of intangibles in baseball conversations, this is why — this is a complete and utter exaggeration of a mediocre player’s value.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.