Buzzfeed has waded knee-deep into derp:
See, the thing about this is that while “hype in social media age” can, indeed, be tricky, baseball players are not properly assessed by their “hype in the social media age.” “Sharknado” got a lot of hype in the social media age too. No one has mistaken it for a good movie.
Likewise, no one who knows anything about baseball thinks that Yasiel Puig is anything akin to “a poor man’s Jeff Francoeur.” While raw and while, on occasion, known to chase bad pitches, that’s pretty much where the comparisons stop. No one chases bad pitches like Francoeur. Puig’s power is immense and natural and his home run stroke is not dependent upon guessing so often like Francoeur’s is. He has shown some patience as well. At the moment he has 23 walks in 296 plate appearances in his age 22 season. Francoeur walked 23 times in his age-22 season. In 686 plate appearances.
But such comparisons seem silly because it’s simply undeniable that Puig is the better player than Francoeur ever was at any time in his minor or major league career and has the potential to be much, much better. We cheapen him with a comparison based on the most superficial first impression of each and the “hype in the social media age” stuff. Even at the time of his 2005 breakout most observers knew that Francoeur was playing way above his head. Most observers now likewise believe that — though his current stat line is a bit inflated by a fast start — Puig is not doing anything that is truly unexpected.
So, yes, it’s an unfair comp. It’s like clicking on the Buzzfeed article in question, seeing lots of pictures and large text and thinking that it’s a publication aimed at preschoolers.
And that’s not the case at all, is it?
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: