Ryne Sandberg opines on Giancarlo Stanton injury, says, “Today is a different game”

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Marlins outfielder and NL MVP award contender Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face by a Mike Fiers offering in Thursday night’s game against the Brewers. He suffered multiple facial fractures and dental damage, likely ending his season.

The incident has resulted in no shortage of angles from which to form an opinion, whether it’s who should be fined and suspended, the non-HBT ruling on Stanton, or the necessity of more protection in the batter’s box. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg found a unique angle, though. Via Stephen Gross of The Morning Call:

Sandberg said it’s possible Stanton misjudged the pitch, however, the game being played differently today than when he played, could also have played a part.

“There were certain pitches whether you blink or whether I did not pick up the ball at the time, you were usually trained to turn your back to the pitch,” said Sandberg. “In my day there weren’t too many games where I didn’t either have to hit the dirt or get down on a pitch or turn my back because the game was played differently. In some regards, the hitters do get pretty comfortable standing in there, not even thinking it is a possibility any more. If I was a hot hitter even more soft on my feet almost expecting to get brushed back and go in the dirt. Today is a different game.”

For what it’s worth, the HBP rate in Sandberg’s era was much less than it is now. Per Baseball Reference, in the prime of Ryne Sandberg’s career (1982-1992), the HBP rate per game wavered from 0.13 to 0.20. The HBP rate over the last five seasons has wavered from 0.30 to 0.34. Though the difference seems small, it adds up over the course of 2,500 games. Excluding data before 1901, the ten-highest HBP rates have all come in the 2000’s.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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