Getty Images

Report: Kyler Murray ‘leaning toward’ football

25 Comments

Henry Schulman and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle report that the Oakland Athletics expect their 2018 first-rounder — and 2018 Heisman Trophy winner — Kyler Murray to declare for the NFL Draft.

Does this mean that Murray will choose football over a professional career in baseball? Not necessarily, but a source told the San Francisco Chronicle that he is currently “leaning toward” an NFL career. Previously it had been reported that he was more likely to play baseball than football.

It’s possible that Murray is simply keeping his options open, but the calendar is worth noting: spring training begins in mid-February, the NFL combine is in late February, and the draft is in late April. His stock would likely be much higher in the draft if he has committed to football. At the same time, with the draft in the near future, declaring for it in the run-up to spring training could provide some sort of leverage for him with the A’s, though the form that pressure might take is unclear given that they have control over him for several years if he decides to play baseball. We talked recently about the pros and cons of a football vs. baseball career for Murray here.

Murray hit .296/.398/.556 over 189 at-bats for Oklahoma’s baseball team in 2018. He tossed 42 touchdowns and threw for 4,361 yards for the football Sooners. He projects as a center fielder. Some football minds have suggested he may be too short to be an effective NFL quarterback.

He has a big decision to make. At the moment, though, he’s leaning toward the NFL.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

Getty Images
2 Comments

The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.