If you can navigate your way through the obligatory (and clunky) references to VCRs and record players at the beginning of this column from Jayson Stark, you’ll get a great insight into the way that technology is changing the game of baseball. Most specifically with reference to just how easy it is for players to review video and research tendencies of opposing batters and pitchers via iPads and stuff.
And a fun provocative bit: the notion Stark sets forth about how the pitchers may be ahead of the hitters in using this stuff so far, which leads to this observation:
We’d bet that if we polled all American baseball fans on why runs per game and batting average have dropped five seasons in a row, 99 percent of them would answer “steroids” — or the lack thereof. And you know what? They wouldn’t be wrong. But there’s another force at work that we now believe may have been nearly as powerful: information.
There are actually many forces at work, I believe, and I think that fans would be wrong if they cited steroids testing as the overwhelmingly biggest reason why offense is down rather than just one of many factors. This article strongly suggests that small adjustments matter. And that there are all manner of small adjustments available to baseball players now. Stuff we rarely think about.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.