Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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What’s on tap: Previewing tonight’s action

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Happy weekend once again. A full slate of action tonight like every Friday night. The highlight for those of you of a certain age is a rematch of the 1972 World Series. What? You don’t have a burning desire to relive the 1972 World Series? Man, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

Of more current relevance are the Orioles and Jays meeting in Toronto. As I mentioned this morning, Baltimore is on a roll and they’re in the process of meeting first Toronto and then Boston on the road. Could be a big week or so for them. Out west we have just as big a matchup in Seattle, where the Rangers take on the Mariners. Stay up late and watch it so you don’t have to play catchup at the end of the year when they’re involved in the most compelling division race and you need to pretend you know what you’re talking about.

Note: that last bit was me talking to myself more than any of you. What? I go to bed early. I’m old. Sue me.

Detroit Tigers (Mike Pelfrey) @ New York Yankees (CC Sabathia), 7:05 PM EDT, Yankee Stadium

Philadelphia Phillies (Jeremy Hellickson) @ Washington Nationals (Stephen Strasburg), 7:05 PM EDT, Nationals Park

St. Louis Cardinals (Michael Wacha) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole), 7:05 PM EDT, PNC Park

Baltimore Orioles (Kavin Gausman) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 7:07 PM EDT, Rogers Centre

Houston Astros (Lance McCullers) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Andiese), 7:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field

Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray) @ Cincinnati Reds (Anthony DeSclafani), 7:10 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel) @ Atlanta Braves (Bud Norris), 7:35 PM EDT, Turner Field

Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright) @ Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey), 8:10 PM EDT, Target Field

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale), 8:10 PM EDT, U.S. Cellular Field

New York Mets (Matt Harvey) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Junior Guerra), 8:10 PM EDT, Miller Park

San Diego Padres (Andrew Cashner) @ Colorado Rockies (Jon Gray), 8:40 PM EDT, Coors Field

Miami Marlins (Justin Nicolino) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin), 9:40 PM EDT, Chase Field

Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber) @ Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago), 10:05 PM EDT, Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Texas Rangers (Derek Holland) @ Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma), 10:10 PM EDT, Safeco Field

The hardest hit ball in Statcast history resulted in an easy double play

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Statcast is pretty neat. The brainchild of MLBAM collects data using a series of high-resolution optical cameras and radar equipment to precisely track the location and movements of the ball and every player on the field at any given time. The result: new data about how hard balls are hit in the form of the dramatic sounding “exit velocity.” The angle of elevation of each batted ball. Route efficiency for hitters and other things. So much new data.

Data, however, is kind of useless without context. It takes some time to get context and Statcast has only been around a couple of years. A lot of smart people are messing around with all of that new data and I am confident that at some point there will be some insights gained about our beloved game based on the manipulation and interpretation of said data. They’re smart dudes.

For now, though, it’s generally being talked about — at least by broadcasters and fans — like some kind of parlor trick or something from those 1001 interesting facts books. “Oh, wow, look how hard that ball was hit!” being the most common thing you hear mentioned. On some abstract level it’s cool that we know that a homer had an exit velocity of 103 m.p.h. or whatever, but for now, until we can say something beyond just how hard the ball was hit, all that really matters is that it went over the fence.

Which brings us to the hardest-hit ball of all time! It happened last night in the Marlins-Twins game. It was a hit off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. Not surprising! He hits the ball hard! It also happened to be a ground ball which turned into one of the easier double plays you’ll see on a given night:

Obviously angle of elevation matters a good bit too. And at some point I’m sure someone will be able to make some keen insights into how those things go together with the type of pitch delivered and perhaps explain how hitters can maximize the chances of the sweet spot in both of those metrics coming together. For now, however, it’s still “oh, neat,” as I pencil in 4-6-3 into my scorebook.

Jimmy Rollins designated for assignment

Jimmy Rollins
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Some bad news for a big name: the White Sox have designated shortstop Jimmy Rollins for assignment.

Chicago did so to call up top shortstop prospect Tim Anderson today. They did that because Rollins was hitting a mere .221/.295/.329 with two homers and eight RBI over 149 at-bats. That’s in keeping with his 2015 performance, so it’s less likely a slow start than simply where Rollins is as a player right now.

Anderson, meanwhile, was hitting .304/.325/.409 at Triple-A this year. He had a similar yet slightly better line at Double-A last season. He hit a tad better than that across three levels in 2014. Just as Rollins is who he is now, Anderson seems to be a guy who can get on base at a decent clip for a middle infielder and supply some gap power on occasion. It’s time to see what the 23-year-old can do in the bigs.

This may not be the end of the line for Rollins. Rollins’ defense has noticeably deteriorated, but perception tends to lag the numbers with some front offices and so someone might still think he’s a plausible stopgap at shortstop based on reputation alone. Hard to say. As of now, he’s 37 with a career line of .264/.324/.418 and has 2,455 hits, 231 homers, 470 stolen bases, four Gold Gloves, an MVP Award and a World Series on his resume.