A-Rod denies that he leaked the Biogenesis information to Yahoo!

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Alex Rodriguez is at Fenway Park and he has spoken to the assembled media about this morning’s 60 Minutes report that he leaked Ryan Braun and Francisco Cervelli’s names to Yahoo! back in February.

Not that it had to be him personally. Indeed, if such information was leaked “by A-Rod” it was likely from another person privy to it within his circle and could have quite possibly come without A-Rod’s knowledge. The same goes for his lawyer’s denials this morning. Given that A-Rod’s attorneys at one time represented Braun they would not be likely to leak it as a matter of professional ethics.

Which sort of goes to the heart of why I think this is more a story about P.R. than it is about potential future discipline. It would be hard for Major League Baseball to lay this sort of thing at A-Rod’s actual feet if it wanted to in the context of an argument that A-Rod violated the confidentiality rules of the JDA at the upcoming arbitration. If it was part of baseball’s trial strategy it’s likely that they wouldn’t be leaking this now.

After a week of people starting to question whether or not MLB is coming down too hard on Rodriguez, this feels a lot like a reminder from someone that, hey, he’s a bad guy. And he may be. But I don’t think that’s a revelation to anyone.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.