Bill Baer

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 08:  Manager A.J. Hinch #14 and catcher Jason Castro #15 of the Houston Astros argue with home plate umpire Jim Joyce #66 after Francisco Lindor #12 and Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians scored on a wild pitch  in the third inning at Progressive Field on September 8, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
David Maxwell/Getty Images

Video: Jim Joyce botched a wild pitch/foul ball decision


I regret to inform you that umpire Jim Joyce has made another controversial ruling. I say this because Joyce was the umpire whose safe call on a Jason Donald ground ball ended Armando Galarraga’s perfect game in 2010. Joyce was on the receiving end of a lot of vitriol despite apologizing to Galarraga the next day. Umpires are human, sometimes they mess up. Sometimes they mess up in important situations.

Thankfully, Thursday afternoon’s situation was, all things considered, a much less important situation. The Indians had the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning with Lonnie Chisenhall at the plate against Astros rookie pitcher David Paulino. With a 1-2 count, Paulino spiked a curve ball. The ball appeared to bounce up and hit Chisenhall’s bat, but home plate umpire Joyce didn’t see it. Francisco Lindor came around to score easily. Catcher Jason Castro, assuming the ball was dead, did not chase after it and instead chose to plead his case to Joyce, which allowed Mike Napoli to come all the way around from second to score as well. That bolstered the Indians’ lead to 4-1.

The umpires conferred but upheld the initial ruling: the Indians scored two runs on a wild pitch. The replay clearly shows that the ball hit Chisenhall’s bat.

The Indians would go on to win 10-7.

Yes, it was a terrible call. And, yes, the ruling should have been overturned. Essentially, the umpires got the call wrong twice. But, as I mentioned, umpires are human and make mistakes. That’s to be expected when you have human beings establishing the rules. It wouldn’t be as big of a deal if most of the other umpires, but because it’s Jim Joyce, it’s a big deal — the same way fans would¬†make a big deal about another balk call from umpire “Balkin’ Bob” Davidson. Sometimes, your reputation precedes you.

Rays sign Alexei Ramirez

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 13:  Alexei Ramirez #10 of the San Diego Padres smiles during batting practice before the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on May 13, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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The Rays have signed shortstop Alexei Ramirez, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. He’s already with the team at Yankee Stadim, having chosen uniform No. 24.

Ramirez, 34, was released by the Padres on Sunday after hitting .240/.275/.330 with five home runs and 41 RBI in 444 plate appearances. The Padres are responsible for the remainder of his $3 million salary for the 2016 season as well as his $1 million buyout for 2017.

The Rays recently lost Matt Duffy, who had been playing shortstop, to an Achilles injury. Ramirez will provide depth at shortstop along with Nick Franklin and Brad Miller.

Trea Turner: “People tell me [to hit the ball on the ground]. And I’m like, ‘Shut up.'”

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 02:  Trea Turner #7 of the Washington Nationals steals third base in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on September 2, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Nationals outfielder Trea Turner, formerly the Padres’ first-round pick in the 2014 draft, has bolted out to a .537 slugging percentage in 224 plate appearances since a mid-season call-up. But what has impressed both fans and teammates more than his power has been his speed. As Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post reported earlier this week, Statcast measured Turner at 22.7 both from home to first on an infield single and from home to third on a triple.

Turner’s baseball coach from North Carolina State, Elliott Avent, texts Turner every time he hits a home run urging him to bunt for a hit more often. Consultants advise Turner to hit the ball on the ground more. Turner says, “People tell me that. And I’m like, ‘Shut up.'”

Turner is already at 2.4 WAR this season, according to FanGraphs, over a full season, that projects to a nearly seven-win season which would put him in the MVP conversation with the likes of Kris Bryant and Corey Seager. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify on leaderboards, his .537 slugging percentage would put him in the top-20 in baseball. And his .192 isolated power, which is slugging percentage minus batting average, is more than 40 points better than the major league average for center fielders.

Plus, it isn’t as if Turner hasn’t been using his speed at all. He has 21 stolen bases in 24 attempts for an exquisite 87.5 percent success rate. His stolen base total prorates to over 60 over a full season’s worth of plate appearances. According to Baseball Reference, Turner has taken the extra base — first to third, first to home, second to home, etc. — 53 percent of the time, well above the 40 percent league average. Turner has even stolen third base three times, more than the Cardinals as a team (two) and nearly as many as the Dodgers (four).

Some people seem to fetishize non-power baseball as if it’s somehow superior. But the facts are clearly in: power baseball rules. It’s the most efficient way to score runs. Not only does a home run score as many base runners as there are on base, it requires only one event to do so whereas a team would need to string together three singles on average — or a single, a stolen base, and another single — to score one run.

Using weighted on-base average, a Sabermetric statistic that individually weights each way a player contributes offensively, we can clearly see how much more valuable a home run is than a single. Using FanGraphs’ “Guts” page, we see that in 2016, a single is weighted .878 while a home run is weighted 2.009. If Turner were to focus on hitting balls on the ground more, he would have to hit more than two times as many singles for every one home run he loses in doing so. To be clear, that’s on top of his current rate. And to be fair, it’s not quite that cut and dry, because singles can lead to more stolen base opportunities, but Turner would still have to ramp up his attempt rate by a lot. Stolen bases are weighted at .200 by wOBA.

In short, Turner’s doing it right, and he’s right to tell those attempting to get him to change his game to shut up.