Upton casually rounded first and jogged toward second with Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira following up the line to meet left fielder Rivera’s throw to an uncovered base. Teixeira fielded the ball on a bounce and made the tag just before a surprised Upton touched the bag.
I guess he might have still been jogging because he didn’t see anyone covering second?
(Irritatingly, their video summary shows three or four home runs, and that’s all. The most interesting play in the game, the one they lead the story with, and they can’t put it into their video summary??)
Of course, Tony Phillips was a pretty valuable player. Not a star, but still a guy who helped win plenty of games.
Comment by Detroit Michael — August 19, 2008 @ 9:31 am
Upton’s power numbers are way down this year, but in my opinion, he is more likely closer to the player he is now than the player he was last year. So far in his short career, he has been a pretty extreme groundball hitter every year outside of last, and although 2004 and 2006 offer up very small sample sizes, they still show something. His HR/FB ratio isn’t terribly low this year, so if he would tweak his swing a bit he might get a nice power boost. This season is also strange for Upton in that he has walked much more and struck out much less, yet the increase in production you would expect of a player with those improvements haven’t come. Perhaps that can be attributed to the fact that he was so lucky last year that even in increase in skills wouldn’t be able to combat the inevitable regression he was due for this year. Either way, it’s just a bit weird.
No one was covering 2nd because in this instance with a ball off the wall it is a “sure double.” When this happens both middle infielders go out for the cut in case the throw from the outfielder is high or can’t be handled by the first middle infielder. The first basemen trails the runner in case the runner overturns 2nd.
Following up on something Isaac said, I think his HR/FB rate is low this year. According to The Hardball Times, his HR/FB rate is 8 percent this year after being 19.5 percent last year. My gut suggests that last year he was a little lucky and this year he’s been a lot unlucky. But I don’t really know.
I guess the question for Dave or others is: is this a repeatable skill? Is there a way to calculate expected HR/FB?
Tim, I believe that HR/FB for a hitter can not be projected(accurately) using anything but that player’s track record in that department. As Upton is young and hasn’t played in all that many games, it’s tough to tell where his ratio should be; but as long as he keeps hitting as many ground balls as he is now, he’s gonna need a huge boost in his HR/FB to rack up high home run totals.
Isaac, thanks. Yeah, it makes sense that we would need more data to figure out Upton’s “true” HR/FB rate.
My attempts to find more answers on teh Interwebs led me back to The Hardball Times glossary, which at least offers the following insight: “Research has shown that about 11% to 12% of outfield flies are hit for home runs. For pitchers, significant variations from 11% are probably the result of “luck,” but for hitters this stat is more indicative of a true skill (hitting the ball hard!).”
So there is that reason to consider HR/FB a skill. Given the quality of Upton’s scouting reports, it seems to me fairly likely that he would produce an average HR/FB rate, or better. So I still think he’s been unlucky this year (and lucky last year) but I agree it’s difficult to say how much in either case.
I thought one of the strangest things was this: about 10 feet from second base, Upton glanced left and saw Teixeira coming up on his left. Instead of thinking “Oh crap, here comes a throw” and sprinting to second, he just looked confused and continued jogging to second.
When Tex caught the ball, and tried to tag him Upton tried a dodgeball move to avoid it.
Weird. I think when he realized it wasn’t a home run, he thought “They’ll never get me” even after he saw Tex.
No one has talked about this, but what a play by Tex! That’s heads up play that would rival Jeter if Jeter hadn’t done his in a playoff situation.
Comment by ChapelHeel66 — August 20, 2008 @ 6:15 pm
And let’s not forget last night (Tuesday) on the bizarro call after Upton overran 1st base and was tagged out. The ump said he made a move to second, which is ridiculous, because he actually turned more into foul territory.
But if you watch the vid, he wasn’t hustling out of the box on that hit. It didn’t affect the outcome, but how many clues does he need.
I’ve seen his brother Justin play a few times in the Southern League, and he had the same sort of thing going on. He never appeared popular with his teammates. Carried himself as a star even in Double A. Not sure if that’s linked or not.
Comment by ChapelHeel66 — August 20, 2008 @ 6:17 pm