After 105 minor league homers, 27-year-old Clint Robinson was promoted to the majors by the Royals for the first time Thursday.
Robinson, a 25th-round pick out of Troy University in 2007, has been tearing up the minors for 2 1/2 years now. In 2010, he hit .335/.410/.625 with 29 homers and 98 RBI in 477 at-bats for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. In 2011, he came in at .329/.399/.533 with 23 homers and 100 RBI in 503 at-bats for Triple-A Omaha. Back at Omaha, he was hitting .314/.418/.500 with eight homers and 37 RBI so far this season.
Still, Robinson has never been taken very seriously. In fact, he was pretty lucky not to be released after such modest seasons in A ball at ages 23 and 24 in 2008 and ’09. He finished with OPSs of .806 and .819 those years, and if the Royals had other first base prospects they needed to play, they could have let him go.
Unfortunately, late bloomers with little defensive value generally don’t get many chances, if they get any at all. The Royals already have Eric Hosmer at first base and Billy Butler at DH, and those two simply aren’t budging. Robinson isn’t a candidate to play the oufield, so barring an injury to one of those two guys ahead of him, he’ll be little more than a pinch-hitter for the Royals, making it doubtful he’ll stick around for long.
Still, it’d be nice to see Robinson get a real chance. Unlike some quad-A players, he’s not a big strikeout guy. In fact, this year, he’s fanned just 31 times versus 38 walks in 220 at-bats. Robinson probably isn’t Bryan LaHair, but he’d deserve a look as a stopgap first baseman or designated hitter should any team need one.
The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.
Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.
Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.
Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.
Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.