MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince reported on the Blue Jays’ use of a “performance coach” who professes that “batting average is Satan”. Somehow, that isn’t the most interesting quote in the article. In talking about how fans and players have moved further and further away from their reliance on batting average, Adam Dunn’s name inevitably came up. The White Sox slugger is hitting a cool .108 on the season and has hit a combined .184 over 2011-12, but contends that some of that is due to the pressure placed upon him when his batting average is reported in the media and flashed on scoreboards.
“I’m telling you,” said Adam Dunn, whose batting average has dropped in recent seasons, “if people didn’t post people’s batting averages on the scoreboard or in the media, people would be batting .400. I’m serious. I believe that. You look at Spring Training, and I know it’s a small sample, but you’ve got guys hitting .500 in 50-60 at-bats. They know they’re hitting good, but they don’t know what they’re hitting.”
Dunn has never even hit .270 in his career, let alone .400, but I think even he would agree that his batting average wouldn’t come close to .400 if the stat became invisible. The more spurious thought is that someone like Tony Gwynn, a career .338 hitter who flirted with .400 in 1994, was one national media habit away from history.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.