Trey Mancini has played seven games this season and has four homers. That’s great, but a lot of guys have hit four homers in the first seven games of a season.
If you stretch things back to last year, Mancini has a record. Not a major one, but a pretty neat one.
Mancini played in five games last season and had three homers. Taken together, that gives him seven homers in his first 12 major league games. That matches Trevor Story — last year’s first-half rookie sensation with the Rockies — and Dino Restelli of the Pirates, back in 1949, for the most homers in the first 12 games of their career.
Restelli only played in two major league seasons — 1949 and 1951 — and finished with 13 homers. Who knows how great Story’s career will be. Same goes for Mancini. But the start of things has been pretty great.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.