Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.
Informative Preamble to the Observations
For the fourth consecutive March, a not insubstantial portion of Team FanGraphs descends upon Phoenix, Arizona, this weekend with a view towards (a) attending spring-training baseball games, (b) forging camaraderie nonpareil, and (c) tippling nonpareil.
The present author arrived in Phoenix yesterday (Wednesday) and immmediately set about doing the sorts of things an incompetent person typically does while traveling — i.e. wait impatiently beside the wrong baggage carousel for longer than is decent, misunderstand the procedure for utilizing his hotel’s shuttle service, and arrive at the rental car office a full day before the reservation actually begins.
Another thing the author did was to attend Wednesday’s Arizona State game against New Mexico with important SABR award-winner Jeff Zimmerman and frequently competent Jeff Sullivan.
What follows is a series of observations from the game in question.
Multiple Observations from an Arizona State Game
• When the author first identified the present contest as one of possible interest, it was because New Mexico and not Arizona State was the ranked team — 21st, specifically, on Baseball America’s preseason top-25 list. In the meantime, however, New Mexico had gone 6-8 to begin the season, while ASU entered play on Wednesday with a 10-2 record. As a result, it was Arizona State which appeared among the ranked schools after this most recent weekend, at 14th overall, while New Mexico dropped out of the top-25 almost immediately.
• A reason why New Mexico would have received attention nationally is because of junior third baseman D.J. Peterson. Peterson slashed .419/.490/.734 in 248 at-bats last season, with a 33:29 walk-to-strikeout ratio and 17 home runs. Does the University of New Mexico’s home field have quite a high park factor? Yes. Is the author going to translate Peterson’s numbers using said park factor? No. Instead, what he’ll say is this: according to people who think about this sort of thing, Peterson is a possible first-round pick this June.
• Like just a normal person, and not someone worth ca. $150 million, Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke waited in line for tickets at the box office behind the present author and both Jeffs. Like a normal person, and not someone who could theoretically just buy a Toyota Prius whenever he wanted, Zack Greinke checked his smart phone in the same line. Like just another mec, and not someone who will probably finish his life surrounded by the world’s most impressive collection of ancient artifacts in a castle on the California coast, Zack Greinke purchased his ticket and walked into the game.
• Also of note on the topic of celebrity sightings is how Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson tweeted this image of Arizona State’s Packard Stadium at almost the precise moment the author tweeted this image of Arizona State’s Packard Stadium. Rumors that we have become bosom friends… are entirely accurate!
• Arizona State third baseman Michael Benjamin had probably the two hardest-hit balls of the night — on consecutive pitches, in fact. Facing New Mexico starter Jonathan Cuellar in the fifth, he pulled a foul ball towards the third-base stands that definitely would have decapitated at least three or five onlookers had it not hit the fence there instead. On the next pitch (if memory serves) is when Benjamin hit the game’s lone home run, to left-center.
• Of Benjamin’s defense there are fewer positive remarks to be made. He has demonstrable trouble making the throw from third, requiring much in the way of winding up in order to produce the necessary velocity.
• Among the evening’s most impressive pitching performances was ASU reliever Ryan Burr‘s. The right-hander, a true freshman, entered the game with a 15:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12.0 innings, having sat at ca. 95 mph earlier in the month, according to Jason Cole. Whatever his velocity tonight, it was the hardest anyone threw during the course of the game, including all 10 (!) of New Mexico’s pitchers. Burr had less success with his breaking ball, leaving it high more than once. When he did throw it successfully, it was effective less on its own merits, probably, and more within the context of his big fastball.
• Whether he was the most impressive of New Mexico’s pitchers is a consideration left unplumbed here, but junior right-hander Josh Walker certainly entered the game with the best line of any of the school’s pitching corps — in this case, a 23:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18.0 innings. He used his slider rather heavily, it appeared, and featured a wind-up of some interest — which wind-up is captured in a barely useful video at the end of this post.
• If ever the reader were angling to incite rage within the breast of Jeff Sullivan, apparently the way to do that is wear this shirt — which middle-aged Floridian readers will recognize as a reference to a certain Jimmy Buffett song — in front of him at an Arizona State game: