File this under stuff that makes predicting playoff baseball a fool’s errand. Because Joe Maddon gave the quote in the headline in Marc Topkin’s article noting Delmon Young’s contribution to the Rays since joining the team in August.
And your first impulse is to mock. But then you go look and realize that since joining the Rays Young has walked six times in 70 plate appearances, or once every 11.6 plate appearances. For his career he’s walked once every 28.3 plate appearances.
No, that doesn’t mean he’s a changed man. It’s 70 freaking plate appearances, and we know what best explains that. But it does go to show you that the relatively small number of plate appearances any guy gets in the playoffs mean very, very little. Which, in turn, makes the playoffs really exciting and makes predicting their outcome a somewhat insane and impossible endeavor.
The smart money has Delmon Young swinging at the first pitch in a bad moment. But the fact that he could, quite conceivably, work an eight pitch walk to load the bases for Sean Rodriguez or James Loney or something in the ninth inning of an elimination game is kinda awesome. It’s baseball without the long view that the regular season causes us to usually take.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.