Clint Barmes talks about the deer meat injury

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If Clint Barmes never got another major league at bat, he’d still always be remembered for the injury he sustained in the summer of 2005 while carrying deer meat up the stairs of his apartment building.  He talked about that in the Houston Chronicle yesterday. This part struck me:

Barmes was a .318 hitter in 86 major league games before the mishap. He has batted .244 in 579 games since.

“It’s one of those things where everybody is like, ‘What would have happened if I didn’t get hurt?’ ” Barmes said. “I’ve thought about that. I’m not going to lie.”

Before 2005 he had two cups of coffee in which he didn’t hit terribly well. Before that, in six minor league seasons, he didn’t hit significantly better than he has in his major league career.

I’m not suggesting that his collar bone injury had no effect on him — I broke my collar bone 17 years ago and I still feel some random effects from it — but is it not possible that his 86-game hot start in 2005 was a tad fluky?  Only once in his career before that stretch had he hit above .300, and that was on his second go-around at AAA at age 25 in extremely hitter-friendly Colorado Springs.

The collar bone injury makes for a good story — and Barmes even credits the injury for him getting serious with the woman he went on to marry — but I don’t think it’s at all clear that, but for the injury, Barmes would be winning batting titles and making eight figure salaries.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.