Must-click link: Rany Jazayerli on the last 20 years of pitcher abuse

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Well, OK, the Grantland article is actually titled “A National Mistake” and the beginning and end discusses how the Nats were wrong to shut down Stephen Strasburg this month.

Personally, I found the middle more interesting, as Rany Jazayerli, who invented Pitcher Abuse Points for Baseball Prospectus back in 1998, presents a lengthy rundown of how pitcher usage has changed the last 20 years and makes his case that the reduction in the workloads of young pitchers has reduced injuries by a third.

There’s a lot of good stuff in there. My favorite: “Mark Prior threw as many games with 130-plus pitches in September and October of 2003 as every pitcher in the major leagues combined in 2012.”

As for his Strasburg take, I’m not sure I agree. I think the Nationals went about it wrong — they could have worked things out differently and not had to shut Strasburg down in advance of the postseason — but I believe the idea of limiting to about 160 innings was the right call.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.