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Must-click link: the pitcher who could not swing but got a hit

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Almost everything Sam Miller of ESPN writes is entertaining and enlightening but this thing he wrote today about Mets pitcher Robert Gsellman is one of my favorites in a while.

Gsellman, you may or may not know, tore the labrum in his non-pitching shoulder last year. He could still pitch, but he could not swing a bat. Except he still went up to the plate 17 times in 2016, most of them before the world at large knew that he had a torn labrum and could not swing. Miller takes us through each and every one of his plate appearances like a forensic detective, trying to determine whether or not the opposition knew — or should have known — that Gsellman literally could not swing a bat.

The results are somewhat sobering. Not from a substantive baseball perspective, as even a healthy Gsellman was not likely to do much damage to the opposition or, frankly, to the Mets, no matter how wonderfully or poorly he hit. It’s more sobering with respect to just how cautious and observant the average human being is in this thing we call life.

Miller brings this point home after Gsellman combined with Jake Thompson and Ryan Howard of the Phillies in a play that led to Gsellman — the man who could not swing — getting his only hit of the year. It happened when each of them failed to do the most very basic things possible under the circumstances: (a) to take a pitch when you can’t swing a bat; (b) to throw a 3-0 strike to a guy who can’t swing; and (c) to field a bunt from a guy who was 100% likely to lay down a bunt:

Look. You have expectations when you walk out the door every morning. You expect basic competency: The chef at the restaurant knows the difference between cooking oil and bleach. You expect basic self-preservation: The guy driving in the opposite direction as you isn’t suicidal. You expect that cause and effect will follow predictable rules: The cashier will give you a handful of change, not a raccoon

You expect to turn on a baseball game and see two capable, self-interested teams. And you end up with a batter who can’t (and shouldn’t) swing a bat, a pitcher who can’t throw a strike and Ryan Howard standing 15 feet behind the bag. Mathematically speaking, all three of these men are better at their job than your doctor is. Cheers.

Hope your checkup went well today and the MRI was read properly.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics