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Is Madison Bumgarner overrated as a hitter?

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The Giants opened up the regular season in Arizona against the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon. It featured what is still considered a marquee pitching match-up, Madison Bumgarner and Zack Greinke.

Greinke is coming off of a disappointing 2016 showing, his first season with the D-Backs. He surrendered a run in the second inning on a Joe Panik sacrifice fly, bringing Bumgarner to the plate. Bumgarner, of course, is almost as well-known for his hitting as his pitching. He has 14 career home runs, all of them coming since 2012. The only pitchers that even come close to that are Travis Wood (seven) and Mike Leake (six).

Understandably, Greinke pitched Bumgarner carefully. He got ahead in the count after Bumgarner fouled off a first-pitch fastball. He then threw a slider outside, which set Twitter abuzz. Pitchers typically just pump fastballs against other pitchers. And even good-hitting pitchers are usually the worst hitters in their lineups. Greinke continued to tiptoe around Bumgarner, eventually walking him on seven pitches. The big question, then, is: was Greinke right to fear Bumgarner that much?

Since 2014, Bumgarner has out-homered seven of his position player teammates (min. 250 plate appearances), including Gregor Blanco who came to the plate a whopping 1,090 times. Only one of those seven players is still on the team: Denard Span (11 HR in 637 PA), who was in Sunday’s Opening Day lineup.

Bumgarner has had 12 position player teammates put up a lower slugging percentage since 2014. Three of them are current teammates and in Sunday’s lineup: Brandon Crawford (.427), Joe Panik (.403), and Span (.381).

Bumgarner has had 16 position player teammates since 2014 put up a lower isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average), which is arguably a better statistic to use to determine a player’s power. Those include Crawford (.167), Panik (.123), and Span (.115) as well as Buster Posey (.159) in Sunday’s lineup.

No, Bumgarner shouldn’t be batting cleanup in the Giants’ lineup, but he is rarely the least-threatening bat in the lineup, at least when it comes to power.

As if on a karmic quest, Bumgarner drilled a solo home run off of Greinke in the fifth inning, doubling the Giants’ lead to 2-0. It went 416 feet and was measured at 112.5 MPH off the bat, the hardest-hit home run by a pitcher in the Statcast era.

Bumgarner is rightfully respected when he steps into the batter’s box. By the way, after his first two plate appearances on Sunday, Bumgarner is up to 15 career home runs. Since the start of the 2014 season, he’s now hitting .230/.281/.443 (.724 OPS) with a .213 ISO. That’s decent, even by position player standards. The major league average OPS last season was .734.

Update (6:14 PM ET): Bumgarner clobbered another homer, this time off of Andrew Chafin, in the top of the seventh inning. Updated stats: 16 career homers. Hitting .234/.281/.459 (.740 OPS) with a .225 ISO since the start of the 2014 season.

Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base upon return from DL

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.

Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.

In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).

Corey Knebel sets modern record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout

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Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.

Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.

Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.