Stat of the Day – Fastball velocity against

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OK, so this is pretty obscure and the results are so bunched together that one can’t take a whole lot from the data, but I wanted to check something and I though it was pretty interesting to see this work out mostly the way one would expect.
Here is a list of which hitters have faced the hardest fastballs this year (taken from Fangraphs):
1. Alex Rodriguez – 92.0
2. Billy Butler – 91.9
2. Ryan Braun – 91.9
4. Albert Pujols – 91.8
4. Jack Cust – 91.8
4. David Ortiz – 91.8
7. Dustin Pedroia – 91.7
7. Jhonny Peralta – 91.7
7. Ryan Sweeney – 91.7
7. Jermaine Dye – 91.7
7. Jason Bay – 91.7
7. Mark DeRosa – 91.7
7. Torii Hunter – 91.7
7. Jason Kubel – 91.7
7. Kevin Youkilis – 91.7
7. Matt Holliday – 91.7
7. Mark Teahen – 91.7
That’s the top 17. The first three and 12 of the 17 are right-handed hitters. Which makes sense, since they’ll see more right-handed pitchers and right-handers throw harder than lefties. I was actually somewhat surprised to see five left-handed hitters on the list: Ortiz, Cust, Sweeney, Kubel and Teahen.
I’m guessing part of the reason for the presence of the lefties is the lack of soft-tossing specialists in the league right now. Mike Stanton, Mike Myers, Rheal Cormier and others are all out of the league. There just aren’t many current specialists throwing in the low-80s. Brian Shouse and Daniel Ray Herrera are the only two, and even the ones who work in the upper-80s tend to throw at least as many breaking balls as fastballs when they’re facing quality left-handed hitters.
Besides the handedness, it’s worth noting the quality of the hitters above. A-Rod and Pujols are two of the game’s best, Braun isn’t far behind and Ortiz still has that reputation. Butler is the one Royal who scares pitchers, and given his career splits, he shouldn’t ever be facing left-handed relievers.
Cust is the real surprise. He’s at 91.8 this year after coming in at 90.9 and 90.8 the last two seasons. He’s known as an excellent fastball hitter, so he sees fewer fastballs than most of the hitters here (the only two of the 17 to see fewer are Pujols and Kubel). It’s probably just a fluke that he’s so high on the list. The A’s in general face harder throwers than most. Here’s the top and bottom six on a team basis (again, shamelessly taken from Fangraphs):
1. Red Sox – 91.6
1. Indians – 91.6
3. Blue Jays – 91.5
3. Athletics – 91.5
3. White Sox – 91.5
3. Royals – 91.5
25. Phillies – 90.9
26. Rangers – 90.9
27. Mets – 90.8
28. Pirates – 90.7
29. Cubs – 90.4
30. Marlins – 90.3

Nationals GM Rizzo won’t reveal length of Martinez’s new contract

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WASHINGTON — Dave Martinez spoke Saturday about managing the Washington Nationals for “many, many years” and over the “long term” and “quite some time,” thanks to his contract extension.

Sharing a table to a socially distanced degree with his manager on a video conference call to announce the new deal – each member of the duo sporting a 2019 World Series ring on his right hand – Nationals GM Mike Rizzo referred to the agreement’s “multiyear” nature, but repeatedly refused to reveal anything more specific in response to reporters’ questions.

“We don’t talk about terms as far as years, length and salaries and that type of thing. We’re comfortable with what we have and the consistency that we’re going to have down the road,” said Rizzo, who recently agreed to a three-year extension of his own. “That’s all we want to say about terms, because it’s private information and we don’t want you guys to know about it.”

When Martinez initially was hired by Rizzo in October 2017 – his first managing job at any level – the Nationals’ news release at the time announced that he was given a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year.

That 2021 option had not yet been picked up.

“The partnership that Davey and I have together, our communication styles are very similar. Our aspirations are similar, and kind of our mindset of how to obtain the goals that we want to obtain are similar. I think it’s a good match,” Rizzo said. “We couldn’t have hit on a more positive and enthusiastic leader in the clubhouse. I think you see it shine through even in the most trying times.”

The Nationals entered Saturday – Martinez’s 56th birthday – with a 23-34 record and in last place in the NL East, which Rizzo called “a disappointing season.” The team’s title defense was slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg threw just five innings because of a nerve issue in his pitching hand and players such as Starlin Castro, Sean Doolittle, Tanner Rainey, Adam Eaton and Carter Kieboom finished the year on the IL.

“This year, for me, we didn’t get it done. We had a lot of bumps in the road this year. But I really, fully believe, we’ve got the core guys here that we need to win another championship,” Martinez said. “I know Mike, myself, we’re going to spend hours and hours and hours trying to fill the void with guys we think can potentially help us in the future. And we’ll be back on the podium. I’m really confident about that.”

Rizzo was asked Saturday why the team announces contract lengths for players, as is common practice around the major leagues, but wouldn’t do so in this instance for Martinez.

“The reason is we don’t want anybody to know. That’s the reason,” Rizzo said, before asking the reporter: “How much do you make? How many years do you have?”

Moments later, as the back-and-forth continued, Rizzo said: “It’s kind of an individual thing with certain people. I don’t want you to know what I make or how many years I have. Davey doesn’t want you to know. And I think that it’s only fair … when people don’t want certain information out there, that we don’t give it.”

There were some calling for Martinez to lose his job last season when Washington got off to a 19-31 start. But Rizzo stood by his manager, and the team eventually turned things around, going 74-38 the rest of the way to reach the playoffs as an NL wild-card team.

The Nationals then beat the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series, where they beat the Houston Astros in Game 7.

Washington joined the 1914 Boston Braves as the only teams in major league history to win a World Series after being 12 games below .500 during a season.

“Everything from Day 1 to where he’s gotten to now, he’s grown so much. He’s really become one of my favorite managers of all,” three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer said after helping Washington win Saturday’s opener of a doubleheader against the New York Mets. “Davey really understands how to manage a clubhouse, manage a team. We saw it in the postseason. He knows how to push the right buttons when everything is on the line.”