Hitter Contact-Quality Report: Left Field

Our position-by-position review of contact quality grinds on. In the last installment, we examined third basemen. Today, we move into the outfield. It’s two starkly different stories with regard to left-field production, as National League regulars have dramatically out-produced their junior circuit counterparts. As we have in the previous installments, we’ll use granular ball-in-play data, such as BIP type frequencies, exit speed and launch angle to perform this analysis.

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Implications of Red Sox’ Ban from International Signing Period

Yesterday, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reported that Major League Baseball was going to levy penalties against the Boston Red Sox due to improprieties perpetrated during last year’s International Signing Period. Today, Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports elaborated on that report. I’ve spoken with several international scouts about this news in an attempt to gauge the implications not only for the Red Sox but for the international market in general. The results of those inquiries appear below.

Some background on the issue

Boston was in the J2 penalty box last year as a result of the Yoan Moncada signing the year before. They signed two Venezuelan prospects from the same training program last year, both for $300,000, and a third from that program for $200,000. MLB has found that the best of those three prospects, a catcher/outfielder named Albert Guaimaro, received most of that money. This allowed Boston to acquire a player whom they wouldn’t have been able to sign (since being in the J2 penalty box means you can’t sign players for more than $300K), the agent makes more money and two prospects who otherwise may not have had an opportunity to play in a Major League organization now have that chance. As a result of MLB’s findings, five players signed by the Red Sox during last year’s period will be declared free agents and the club is now banned from signing any international prospects during the Int’l Signing Period that begins tomorrow.

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Disney Invests Over $1 Billion in MLBAM

Yesterday, after months of rumored negotiations, news broke that Disney had agreed to acquire a 33% stake in MLB’s streaming-video division, often referred to as BAM Tech. According the report, Disney — which has ABC and ESPN under its umbrella — agreed to acquire one-third of BAM Tech for $1.16 billion, which puts the overall valuation for the entire streaming division at $3.5 billion. As part of the deal, Disney also has the right to purchase another 33% of the company in the future, which would allow them to become majority owners of whatever they choose to call BAM Tech long-term.

The deal is certain to have far-reaching implications for the future of streaming video, and it also could have implications in the upcoming labor negotiations as owners attempt to separate non-baseball revenue from baseball revenue despite its origins within the game.

With this deal, it is clear that BAM Tech is set to be distinct from MLBAM, focusing on streaming efforts outside of baseball. This development was first announced last August, coinciding with a deal to acquire NHL’s streaming rights. MLBAM  has become a force in the industry, branching out from providing only MLB-related services several years ago to providing back-end help to ESPN, rolling out the WWE Network and HBO NOW, along with streaming the NCAA Tournament and PGA tour events.

MLB considered several options with their streaming-services business, from going public to staying put, but ultimately chose a strategic partnership with Disney. By retaining a large equity stake in BAM Tech, at least until the option to sell another third is due, MLB has bet on the continuing upside of the company. By partnering with Disney, the odds are good that more deals like what the league did with the NHL and HBO will come down the pike, and if MLB and Disney can grow the company together, the remaining equity the league holds will likely increase in value, perhaps significantly.

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Scouting Cuban OFs Luis Moiran Robert, Julio Pablo Martinez

The Cuban National Team is touring the independent Can-Am League right now and their roster includes two of the three best prospects left in Cuba. Below are my brief thoughts on those two prospects as a supplement to this week’s July 2 content, as both of them would fall under the J2 bonus guidelines were they to leave Cuba.

Luis Moiran Robert, OF, 6’2, 180, R/R

Robert (the second syllable is pronounced the way it is in Stephen Colbert and not the way it is in Keary Colbert) body comps to Alex Gordon. He has plus bat speed, advanced pitch recognition and generates contact to all fields. He walked three times on Wednesday and also showed the ability to make adjustments in the middle of at-bats. Reports from international scouts on his bat control were better than what I saw and his weight is distributed a little too heavily on his front foot for my taste, but Robert is only 19 and clearly has prodigious physical skill and a good approach so I’m not too concerned about the lack of results on this Can-Am tour. He’s hitting .255/.263/.291 on this trip and looks a little disintereste,d but he hit .305/.384/.413 last year in Serie Nacional at age 18 and is already hitting third in the lineup for the National Team.

I didn’t get a good time on Robert from home to first because of all the walks, but eyeballed him as an above-average runner on a few steal attempts. I’m not sure that Robert will retain the wheels for CF as he fills out but he should at least be a defensive asset in a corner and I think he’ll hit enough to play there.

Early this spring, scouts lost track of Robert and thought he might have left the island.

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Have You Noticed What Carlos Correa Is Doing?

At the end of May, Carlos Correa possessed a .253/.348/.414 line that didn’t much resemble the numbers from his Rookie of the Year debut. The walks were there, the strikeout rate was about the same, but the defense was down and the power was out. Hey look at him now! He’s got a .268/.366/.477 and is approaching last year’s weighted-offense mark. Let’s look at what happened in June.

The easy answer is that Correa has been hitting the ball harder. He’s hitting for more power, duh. But if you split the season into two halves, each featuring roughly significant samples of balls in play — 100 balls in play is a good number, and most everyday players are at around 200 right now — you’ll see that Correa has improved more than almost everyone in baseball.

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July 2 Scouting Reports, Prospects 1-10

Yesterday, I published the scouting reports for the 11th- to 25th-best prospects available in the upcoming 2016-2017 International Free Agent Signing Period. Below are my reports for prospects 1 through 10. The full board, with tool grades, future value grades, velo ranges and more is here while my primer on the process is here.

1. Kevin Maitan, SS/3B, Venezuela (Video 1, 2, 3, 4)

Where to begin? How about at age 12? That’s when scouts started to identify Maitan as this class’s top overall player. By age 14, Maitan already had everything scouts are looking for in a baseball prospect. A picturesque build, good defensive actions at shortstop with plenty of arm for the position and not just usable but potentially impactful swings from both sides of the plate — as well as power projection to accompany it. The Braves have been all over Maitan for a few years and are expected to sign him for about $4 million.

I have a 55 FV on Maitan, the same future-value grade as Kiley McDaniel placed on Yadier Alvarez last year. But Alvarez was three years older than Maitan is now and risk/proximity to the majors factors in to future value. There’s a chance that Maitan develops a plus hit tool and plus raw power from both sides of the plate. His left-handed swing is of the traditional, low-ball variety and has a beautiful high finish. The bat is quick into the zone and long through it, producing gap-to-gap contact right now that should move toward and over outfield fences as Maitan matures.

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Picking the 2016 National League All-Stars

Yesterday, I revealed how I would put together the AL All-Star team, if I was given full authority to pick all 34 players. Today, let’s tackle the NL, and for efficiency reasons, I’ll just copy and paste the intro I wrote yesterday. If you already read that piece, you can just skip right on down to the picks themselves.

The All-Star Game is just a couple of weeks away, so it’s time for the annual tradition of deciding which really good players get acknowledged and which really good players get left out. The fact that there’s no shortage of ways to define who should make the All-Star team doesn’t help; is it about just gathering as many big name players as possible every summer, about rewarding the players who have performed the best so far this year, or some combination of the two?

I tend to lean towards rewarding in-season performance, while using career track record as secondary variable to help make the decision when picking between multiple worthy players. Yes, some guys are going to have great half-seasons and end up on the team despite not truly being long-term stars, but I prefer that over jogging out the same 34 names every summer just because they’re the guys we’re used to recognizing as stars, regardless of what they’ve actually done that season. To me, the All-Star Game is a reward for the players who are playing at a high level, and what you’ve done this season is the most important variable in selecting the rosters.

For my selections, I’m adhering to the MLB rules, so we’re picking 22 position players and 12 pitchers, and every team has to have a representative. Yes, even the Twins. Because some positions are performing much better than others — I’m looking at you, sorry sack of 2016 AL catchers — I did take some liberties with how many players get carried as reserves at each spot, but overall, I tried to pick a team that would satisfy the requirements of how the game is managed and still rewards 34 guys who deserve to make the trip to San Diego this summer. And injured players aren’t eligible for my picks, as I’m just going with players who are healthy enough to play in the game in a couple of weeks.

On to the roster!

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 7/1/16

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: Let’s Friday baseball chat

9:09
james: Jeff,

9:09
Jeff Sullivan: Good start

9:09
Houzer : If the Tigers become sellers- do you think there is a match with the Mariners for VMArt?

9:10
Jeff Sullivan: I have difficulty accepting the premise. The Tigers are better than the Mariners are! And, of course, it’s hard to picture the Tigers selling again.

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The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced a few years ago by the present author, wherein that same author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own fallible intuition to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column this year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion in the Five) is any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above who (a) received a future value grade of 45 or less from Dan Farnsworth during the course of his organizational lists and who (b) was omitted from the preseason prospect lists produced by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, and John Sickels, and also who (c) is currently absent from a major-league roster. Players appearing on an updated prospect list or, otherwise, selected in the first round of the current season’s amateur draft will also be excluded from eligibility.

In the final analysis, the basic idea is this: to recognize those prospects who are perhaps receiving less notoriety than their talents or performance might otherwise warrant.

*****

Chad Green, RHP, New York AL (Profile)
This represents Green’s second consecutive appearance among the Five and third overall this season. He entered the week having produced two excellent starts, recording strikeout and walk rates of 40.8% and 2.0%, respectively, over 14.0 innings of work. The 25-year-old right-hander didn’t reach those same frenzied heights in his most recent appearance, but continued to exhibit the same sort of fielding-independent dominance nevertheless. Facing Nationals affiliate Syracuse, Green produced a 6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio against 21 batters over 6.0 innings, conceding just three hits and no runs (box). And again, this doesn’t appear to be a case of mere polish or deception: Green sat at 95 mph during his only career major-league start and 97 mph about a month later while appearing in a relief capacity for the Yankees.

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Scouting Chris Paddack, San Diego’s Return for Rodney

The Miami Marlins have traded white-hot RHP Chris Paddack to San Diego in exchange for Fernando Rodney. Paddack was an eighth-round draftee in 2015 and was signed for a $400,000 bonus. He dominated prep competition at Cedar Park High School in Texas, striking out 134 hitters in 75 innings during his senior year. He fell to the eighth round, in part, because he was 19-and-a-half on draft day. He was also a fastball/changeup guy without great breaking-ball feel. Arms like that tend to slot after fastball/breaking-ball pitchers because orgs think it’s easier to develop a changeup over time than it is to learn how to break off a curveball.

Paddack was solid during Gulf Coast League play after he signed last summer but looked so good this spring that Miami let him bypass the New York-Penn League and sent him straight to Low-A. He had made some physical strides, strengthening his lower half and repeating a delivery that was often inconsistent and stiff in high school. The results this season have been staggering: 48 strikeouts and just 2 walks — plus only nine hits allowed — in 28.1 innings over six starts. Paddack hasn’t allowed a hit in his last three starts and two of those came in consecutive appearances against a Rome lineup that failed to make adjustments to his stuff or sequencing.

A broad-shouldered 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Paddack has a well-paced, easy delivery. He commands a low-90s fastball – with terrific plane and run, which help the pitch play as plus – to both sides of the plate and has been up to 95. The meal-ticket secondary pitch here is the changeup. It’s already plus and Paddack will use it against both lefties and righties. It’s difficult to identify out of his hand, dies as it reaches the plate.

Perhaps one of the key components of Paddack’s step forward this season has been the development of a curveball. Paddack struggled to find consistency with any sort of breaking ball in high school and public-sector reports on what he was throwing were all over the place. Dan Farnsworth’s offseason Marlins prospect list had Paddack presciently ranked as the #2 player in the system but listed the breaking ball as a slider. The curveball Paddack throws is of the 12-6 variety and rests in the 73-77 mph range. It’s a fringe-average offering right now but is flashing average and should mature there, though Paddack’s expedient breaking-ball improvement might be a sign that the pitch has more development in the tank than is typical.

When pitches get away from Paddack they do so up in the zone, and while pitch movement has been his saving grace in those situations — and while he’s still been able to miss bats — it may become more of an issue at the upper levels. He’ll also have to improve upon sequencing and pitch usage, but Paddack is just a year removed from high school and it isn’t reasonable to expect much more than he’s shown to this point.

There are also those who think sudden upticks in velocity like the one Paddack has experienced over the last several months are harbingers of ulnar-collateral doom but there’s nothing beyond anecdotal evidence to support that and Paddack’s build and delivery don’t sound any alarms.

I think, given Paddack’s relatively short track record of success and the fact that he’s just a year removed from high school, there’s still a good bit of risk associated with his prospectdom, but he has mid-rotation stuff right now and that changeup might just continue to improve.

Grades
Fastball: 60/60
Changeup: 60/65
Curveball: 45/50
Control/Command: 45/50+
FV: 50


Rangers Hitters Couldn’t Be More Clutch

Thursday afternoon, I wrote about the Mets’ offense, and about how it’s been remarkably unclutch. It’s not the only thing that’s been going wrong for them, but it’s been a big deal, and it’s one of the reasons why the Mets feel like they’ve lost a lot of their momentum. Consider this a companion piece, as everything came out of the same research. If things were to keep up, then by one measure, the Mets would have the least-clutch offense since at least 1974. Similarly, if things were to keep up, then by the same measure, the Rangers would have the most-clutch offense since at least 1974.

The Rangers own the best record in the American League. As the majors go, they’re hanging around with the Cubs, and the Rangers have also staked out a massive lead in the AL West. It would be a shocker if they didn’t win the division, and whenever you have a team playing this well, there’s a lot that goes into it. What’s interesting is it’s not like the Rangers have been particularly lucky with health — players have seemingly dropped left and right. But replacements have stepped in, and the Rangers are blowing away their estimated BaseRuns record. The biggest contributor has been offensive timing.

I know this verges on coming off like a bad word; no one wants to think of their team as being sort of fluke-y. That’s really not the point I want to drive home, anyway. The Rangers deserve credit for what they’ve done. What they’ve done has been almost unbelievable.

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Orioles Bench Coach John Russell on Not Following the Ball

“Keep your eye on the ball” is one of baseball’s oldest adages. According to John Russell, it doesn’t apply to managers and coaches. The Baltimore Orioles bench coach and his professional brethren have responsibilities that go beyond watching the flight of the cowhide sphere.

Russell, who skippered the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to joining Buck Showalter’s staff in 2011, expounded on the subject during a mid-June visit to Fenway Park.

———

Russell on watching the game: “I think different managers do different things, but you run little checklists in your mind. First, there’s a lot of preparation involved before the game begins. Once it does, you obviously keep an eye on your pitcher. But one of the biggest things — we talk to young managers about this when they first start out — is that you don’t want to be caught following the baseball. When the ball is hit, you don’t want to just lock in on it. If you do, you’re going to miss a lot.

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Mets Hitters Couldn’t Be Less Clutch

Let’s face it: As the Mets go, there’s no shortage of things to worry about. The team overall remains in a decent position, but now there’s concern regarding two pitchers’ elbows. Meanwhile, Matt Harvey still doesn’t quite look like himself. David Wright is probably done for the year. And the lineup just isn’t producing runs. Injuries haven’t helped, and Michael Conforto‘s collapse didn’t help, but the pitchers are getting so little margin of error. Things in New York are frequently tense. They’re tense today. It feels a little like last season, before the season turned beautiful.

I can’t say anything about Steven Matz. I can’t say anything about Noah Syndergaard. I can’t say much about the various injuries, or about Conforto’s chances of getting it going. I don’t know where the Mets are going to go, and their struggles have helped open the door for the Marlins. What I can say is this: Offensively speaking, the Mets have been impossibly unclutch. It shouldn’t continue like this. Of course, what’s done is done.

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Dodgers and Marlins Kick Off Trading Season

Well, we’re almost to July, and teams that need pitching help have decided not to wait any longer. According to reports, two small trades for pitching help are being completed this afternoon.

Neither Fernando Rodney nor Bud Norris are the kinds of guys that are going to single handedly carry you to the playoffs, but both also have their value in providing useful depth, and both are having excellent starts to the 2016 season. Rodney’s strikeout rate has spiked back up this year, allowing him to be an effective pitcher even with his command problems, and will likely slide into the Marlins bullpen, allowing them to ride A.J. Ramos, David Phelps, and Kyle Barraclough a bit less in the second half. Though, if Keith Law is correct that the Marlins gave up a “good prospect” to get a half season of Rodney’s inconsistency, that seems like a steep price to pay. But we’ll have to wait and see what price they paid.

For the Dodgers, this was very likely a reaction to the news that Clayton Kershaw is heading to the DL, weakening the team’s rotation even further. Norris has been pretty good of late, and as Jeff Sullivan recently noted, that’s coincided with him getting rid of his garbage change-up and replacing it with an effective cutter. If that swap continues to pay dividends, he could be a nice back-end starter for the team in the second half.

That said, Norris also has a pretty long history of underperforming his peripheral numbers, with +11 WAR in his career if you go by the FIP-based WAR, but only +6 WAR if you go by RA9. With over 1,000 big league innings, it’s pretty likely that a good chunk of that difference is due to Norris’ own weaknesses and not just bad luck, so we shouldn’t expect him to be as good as his FIP suggests. But even with some BABIP issues, a guy with average walk and strikeout rates and some groundballs can be useful, and Norris is good enough against RHPs that he could be an effective situational reliever in the playoffs, if the Dodgers manage to get there.

Like with the Rodney deal, we don’t know what the acquisition cost was, but the Dodgers certainly needed to add an arm with Kershaw going down for at least a few weeks. Norris isn’t an ace, but he can help the team survive for a little while, and if this new cutter proves effective, maybe even do more than that.


The Great Yankees Bullpen… Sale

The New York Yankees aren’t completely out of the 2016 postseason race, but they’re also not trending up. The team has done little this season to make anyone think they’re playoff-bound or anything more than a .500 team. Masahiro Tanaka has been good and CC Sabathia is having a nice bounce-back season, but Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino and Ivan Nova haven’t been able to keep the ball in the park, giving up 52 homers in 274.1 innings. On offense, the only above-average hitter is a 39-year-old Carlos Beltran, and he’s having trouble staying on the field. The strength of the team is an historically great bullpen, and if the team is willing to give up on this season, they could get quite a return over the next month by dealing Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and maybe even Dellin Betances.

The Yankees are currently 37-39 with a negative-34 run differential*. They’re nine games back in the division and six games out of the last wild-card spot, needing to pass six teams to get there. Our projections have them going 44-42 the rest of the way, thereby ending the year at exactly .500. BaseRuns says the Yankees have played like a team that should be 33-43. While the team’s peripheral pitching stats suggest the team has outperformed their results a little bit (4.43 ERA and 4.00 FIP), we’re still talking about a team that might be .500 if things had worked out better, not a team that looks like a contender. The team’s best playoff odds are likely behind them and the team has a roughly 6% chance at the postseason right now.

*Numbers before play on Wednesday.

chart (2)

So in all likelihood, the team should be sellers. That said, a team of veterans with long-term contracts doesn’t generally make for the most appealing trade partner. If he’s still healthy, Carlos Beltran should be in demand, and it’s possible that Nathan Eovaldi might bring something back, but the strength of the Yankees has been the bullpen, and if they’re going to sell, that’s where they’ll get the greatest return.

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July 2 Scouting Reports, Prospects 11-25

Below are scouting reports on the prospects ranked 11-25 on my 2016 July 2 Sortable Board which you can find here. Most of the players discussed below, as you’ll see on the board, are of the 35 FV variety. So too are the unranked players listed below them on the board. The group highlighted here separated themselves from the rest primarily because of (a) a more realistic likelihood to play a premium defensive position and (b) perceived upside. Scouting reports on the top-10 players will run tomorrow. We’ll also have a “best of the rest” rundown of other players in the class next week.

11. Yordy Barley, SS, Dominican Republic (Video)

Barley is a plus runner with twitchy and athletic defensive actions, a lightning quick transfer and a plus arm. His footwork and hands need polish but he has the physical ability to be an above-average defensive shortstop at maturity. Offensively, Barley is smooth and graceful, he has loose, whippy wrists and sprays contact to all fields. The body has some room to fill out and add some power while retaining the speed for shortstop, and Barley’s swing has the natural loft to hit for some power in games. The feel to hit is a little raw and Barley probably won’t ever have more than fringe-average bat-to-ball and game power, but that kind of offensive profile from a good defensive shortstop who also provides value on the bases is a good everyday player. He is expected to sign with the Padres for about $1 million.

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Congress Is Asked to “Save America’s Pastime”

Rightly or wrongly, minor-league baseball teams believe the ongoing, class-action lawsuit over minor-league players’ wages presents something of an existential threat. As has been previously discussed here on a variety of occasions, the litigation contends, in short, that many minor league players’ salaries — which can run as low as $3,300 per year — violate the federal minimum wage and overtime laws.

Even though minor-league teams are not actually responsible for their players’ salaries — minor leaguers are instead paid by their respective major-league franchise — they still fear that a ruling in the players’ favor could be vitally injurious to their interests. As the argument goes, if major-league teams are forced to incur higher payroll costs, then they will likely cut back on other subsidies that they may currently provide to their minor-league partners.

Moreover, the minor leagues worry that, in some cases, MLB teams may potentially even decide to terminate their relationship with one or more of their minor-league affiliates in order to reduce costs. While most of the higher-level minor-league teams would likely survive such an scenario, the minor leagues fear that a victory for the players could spell doom for some of their lower-level franchises, especially those residing in particularly small metropolitan areas.

As a result, the minor leagues announced 18 months ago that they would petition Congress for relief, asking the legislature to pass a law protecting the industry from the federal minimum wage and maximum hour laws. A year and a half later, these efforts finally came to fruition, when a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week proposing to formally exclude minor-league baseball players from the federal minimum wage and overtime protections. Read the rest of this entry »


Picking the 2016 American League All-Stars

The All-Star Game is just a couple of weeks away, so it’s time for the annual tradition of deciding which really good players get acknowledged and which really good players get left out. The fact that there’s no shortage of ways to define who should make the All-Star team doesn’t help; is it about just gathering as many big namem players as possible every summer, about rewarding the players who have performed the best so far this year, or some combination of the two?

I tend to lean towards rewarding in-season performance, while using career track record as secondary variable to help make the decision when picking between multiple worthy players. Yes, some guys are going to have great half-seasons and end up on the team despite not truly being long-term stars, but I prefer that over jogging out the same 34 names every summer just because they’re the guys we’re used to recognizing as stars, regardless of what they’ve actually done that season. To me, the All-Star Game is a reward for the players who are playing at a high level, and what you’ve done this season is the most important variable in selecting the rosters.

For my selections, I’m adhering to the MLB rules, so we’re picking 22 position players and 12 pitchers, and every team has to have a representative. Yes, even the Twins. Because some positions are performing much better than others — I’m looking at you, sorry sack of 2016 AL catchers — I did take some liberties with how many players get carried as reserves at each spot, but overall, I tried to pick a team that would satisfy the requirements of how the game is managed and still rewards 34 guys who deserve to make the trip to San Diego this summer. And injured players aren’t eligible for my picks, as I’m just going with players who are healthy enough to play in the game in a couple of weeks.

On to the roster!

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Eno Sarris Baseball Chat — 6/30/16

12:49
Eno Sarris: Listen I heard this on Jason Schwarzman’s show and it’s some sort of Doobie Brother cover played on like a casio and I know that sentence is way up its own ass but I dunno I like it.
12:00
Bork: Hello, friend!
12:00
Eno Sarris: Hello!
12:00
Bob Dobolina: Worried about Samardzija? Dude’s getting knocked around.
12:00
Eno Sarris: here’s the weird thing, if you look at his peripherals, they are exactly the same as last year. The balls in play results are different.
12:01
Eno Sarris: I think he’s a highish ERA okay WHIP meh strikeouts guy basically. 3.75/1.25/7k9

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Who Will Hate Robot Umps the Most?

Ever since Eric Byrnes used a computer to help umpire an independent-league baseball game last year, and then Brian Kenny took up the mantle of #RobotUmpsNow on the MLB Network, I’ve been fascinated with the idea that robot umpires will soon call strike zones in baseball. The more I talk to players about it, though, the more I doubt that it’s an eventuality. Because the players, well, the players are going to hate it.

I can’t speak for all players, obviously. I haven’t talked to all of them. But I’ve talked to plenty on both sides, even ones I can’t quote here, and the biggest endorsement I could get was a tepid version of “It’s going to happen.”

So instead of asking each player what they thought about robot umpires, I changed the question a bit. Instead, I asked pitchers, catchers, and hitters, “Who will hate robot umps the most?”

The short answer? Everyone. The long answer? Much more interesting.

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