Nolan Arenado is quickly becoming a household name. He hit a go-ahead grand slam to extend his hitting streak to 23 consecutive games last night, and doubled on Sunday afternoon against the Mets to make it 24 in a row, as he inches ever closer to the Rockies franchise record 27 games set by Michael Cuddyer last season.
But Arenado has been getting it done with the glove, too, making the Rockies’ left side of the infield the best defensive pairing in baseball. Arenado showed why with an incredibly heads-up, athletic play to get the out at third base in the first inning.
With runners on the corners and one out, Chris Young hit a weak fly ball to shallow left field. Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez caught the ball and with plenty of momentum, fired the ball in to cut-off man Arenado. It was a bit high, so Arenado had to leap to catch it. Daniel Murphy was a bit too far off of the third base bag. Noticing this, Arenado — hanging in the Colorado air — flung the ball quickly to Charlie Culberson covering the bag, who applied the tag for the final out of the inning.
You can watch the incredible play on MLB.com by clicking here. To the relevant parties at Major League Baseball in charge of sending out Gold Glove awards, the address for Coors Field is 2001 Blake St, Denver CO 80205. Arenado will take his now.
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: