At FanGraphs, Eno Sarris did some digging and found that in 2016, for the first time since 1925, Major League Baseball saw only league-average production from its outfielders. He derived that by using wRC+, or adjusted Weighted Runs Created, a statistic that individually weights a player’s various offensive contributions, then adjusts for league and park effects. The offensive decline, Sarris finds, has a lot to do specifically with a decline in power, which is coupled with outfielders getting smaller and faster.
While we do have the stereotypical outfielder build in Mike Trout (6’1″, 235 lbs.) and Bryce Harper (6’2″, 230), we’re seeing lots of young players who defy that mold: Mookie Betts (5’9″, 156), Adam Eaton (5’9″, 180), Jackie Bradley, Jr. (5’10”, 195), Ender Inciarte (5’11”, 165), and Billy Hamilton (6’1″, 160), for example.
Sarris also compares current fourth outfielder types to those 30 years ago and finds that, indeed, clubs have eschewed power in favor of speed and defense. He suggests that this could lead to a market inefficiency in which these speedy, defensive types are overvalued and the slower, power-hitting types (like Brandon Moss) are undervalued.
Free agent outfielder Cedric Hunter has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for amphetamines, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Hunter, 28, found his way back to the majors this past season, making the Phillies’ 25-man roster out of spring training. However, he hit just .088/.139/.176 in 36 plate appearances before being demoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 350 PA there, Hunter hit .294/.324/.433 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI.
The suspension will certainly be a detriment to Hunter’s ability to secure a contract. He might have to wait until April or May before latching on with a team.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that owners, frustrated by the pace of negotiations, could vote to lock out the players if they can’t come up with a new collective bargaining agreement by December 1. It could be the first work stoppage since April 2, 1995.
According to Rosenthal, the owners offered to eliminate direct draft pick compensation — a reason why players like Dexter Fowler and Ian Desmond had to wait until late February before signing prior to this past season — in exchange for an international draft. The players rejected the proposal, understandably.
The owners and the union are also at odds over the competitive balance tax and the Joint Drug Agreement, Rosenthal adds.
The last work stoppage, 21 years ago, lasted 232 days and canceled 948 games. Major League Baseball suffered a lack of interest after play resumed and many believe that the steroids-fueled home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa reinvigorated interest in the sport.