Let’s not get too worked up about All-Star snubs

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If I had carte blanche to make an All-Star team I probably wouldn’t have done it like John Farrell, Mike Matheney, voting players and voting fans did. I think everyone would make different choices if they had their say, and of course any committee of decision makers is subject to the weird things that committees do.

I’d like to think I’d find room for Garrett Richards or Huston Street. That Kyle Seager or Ian Kinsler could make the team. That maybe Josh Harrison wouldn’t be on it and, instead, I’d find room for Anthony Rendon. That is, if I wanted to maintain that utility player role Harrison is apparently filling. If I just wanted to go for star power and narrative, I’d go for the finally-rebounding Justin Morneau and let him return to Minnesota with his head up. I’d probably replace 85% of the relief pitchers picked with starters, all of whom could easily go an inning next week. Most starters are more famous. They’re bigger stars, and that’s what the All-Star Game is about. It’s also why I will giggle at anyone who says Derek Jeter doesn’t belong. He’s the biggest star of them all.

But while I’ll gladly argue with anyone on a surface level about this choice or that choice (arguing is fun for me if you haven’t noticed), it’s really, really hard for me to get genuinely worked up about “snubs.”

Partially because, between now and next Tuesday, a lot of players on the All-Star team will beg out with injuries, real or imaginary. Many pitchers will be ruled ineligible by their teams due to work loads and the like. Just about everyone who is “snubbed” as of this morning will be in Minneapolis next week. That is, if they want to be. Many of these guys are probably secretly happy that they were snubbed so that they can get three or four days off in the middle of a long season to go fishing or to the beach or to spend time with their kids, wives or girlfriends. Regardless of how it all shakes out, no one is likely to give quotes to the press in which they honestly and passionately express their feelings of being slighted.

I’m a blogger and bloggers have the reputation of shooting first and aiming later, substituting immediacy for consideration and reaction for reflection. We can argue about how fair of a stereotype that is for a given web-based writer, but I totally see where that’s coming from.

But in the “biggest All-Star snubs!” game, I’m inclined to wait it out for a few days. If we do so, most of all of this will be taken care of.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.