When he’s healthy, Carlos Quentin is one of the game’s scariest right-handed hitters. Problem is, over the last two seasons, Quentin has been bothered by a right knee injury, limiting him to a total of 168 games out of a possible 324. Quentin had surgery in October 2012, but it bothered him during spring training and throughout the first half of the 2013 season until he was finally shelved for the remainder of the season at the end of July. He had surgery again in early September to remove loose bodies in his knee.
According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Quentin was so demoralized that, at one point, he considered retiring:
Quentin acknowledged Wednesday that he was “blowing smoke up everyone’s (backsides)” when he said he was healthy last spring. His lack of enthusiasm then was noticeable. His eagerness now is even more so.
He said there was a point in 2013 he thought he might have to retire, “because I can’t produce and do well, so I shouldn’t be out here.” Now, at 31 years old, he’s talking about playing more than ever.
Quentin, 31, has an .866 OPS in 660 plate appearances since being traded from the White Sox to the Padres during the off-season prior to the 2012 season. The Padres will pay him $9.5 million this season and $8 million in 2015. If either the Padres nor Quentin wants to pick up his $10 million mutual option for 2016, the outfielder can become a free agent.
Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”
Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.
This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.
The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.
This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.
The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.
The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.