We have reached Peak Brandon in Major League Baseball

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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, bit it’s worth its own mention: we have reached Peak Brandon in Major League Baseball.

I’ve been meaning to look at this all season, having noticed that the Giants are fat with Brandons, complete with the Belt, Crawford and Hicks models. If Brandon Wood hadn’t been a major league bust the Giants coulda traded for him and had the elusive all-Brandon infield. So close.

But it’s not just the Giants. I went to Baseball-Reference.com and counted 41 Brandons who have played major league baseball (I didn’t count guys with Brandon as a middle name who showed up). Twenty-two of them are currently active. Another 15 of them were active no later than 2004. That’s in the entire history of Major League Baseball.

Probably also worth noting that we’re at Peak C.J. too, as five C.J.s have played major league baseball in its history, with four of them currently active (and one, Nitkowski, broadcasting). Two of them play for the Angels (Wilson and Cron).

I’m sure this is all tied up in the general popularity of names, which means we’ll likely have a lot of Aidens playing baseball in a decade or two. But I do find it rather fun. As do the Giants, who are having fun with it this weekend:

Oh, and if you’re curious.

(thanks to Jen for the heads up on the All-Brandon Weekend)

 

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉