Josh Hamilton’s triple crown chances: pretty darn good, all things considered

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It’s ESPN Insider, but Dan Szymborski has a column up today assessing Josh Hamilton’s triple crown chances. While normally that’s pie in the sky stuff, as Dan notes, Hamilton winning the triple crown is more like pie on a moderately high shelf territory.

He ran 100,000 simulations of the remainder of the season, taking Hamilton’s historic norms and projections for this season going forward, and …

After all the numbers are crunched, Hamilton remains essentially a coin-flip to lead the league in each of the Triple Crown categories … In the 100,000 seasons played, Hamilton won the Triple Crown 16.1 percent of the time, terrific odds for such a difficult feat.

Hamilton’s historically shaky health is the key, but Dan bakes that into the projections. Indeed, some time on the DL would actually help his odds of winning the batting title. What he really needs to avoid is an extended stay which would put him in a hole in the counting stats.

I wouldn’t bet on it, but people do bet on things often bet on stuff with worse odds.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.