I, Claudia’s: Long Weekend Notebook

The observant reader will notice that, though purporting to cover the entire weekend, what follows only actually mentions two of the previous four days. This has everything to do with the fact that, as previously stated, I’m not half-machine.

Friday, April 09
I was surprised to find that Major League Baseball scheduled other games on this, the day that All-Joyer Colby Lewis made his stateside return. “Sacre bleu!” is undoubtedly what you’re saying to yourself in utter disbelief. Indeed, that’s what I shouted, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, at the very public space where I first made the discovery. In any case, Marc Hulet and I both had thoughts (here and here, specifically) on Lewis’s start and were foolish enough to write them down for posterity yesterday.

Against all odds, two other pitchers distinguished themselves for other reasons, as follows.

Exhibit One: Homer Bailey

The top of the third inning of today’s Cubs-Reds game is probably the kind that Cincinnati’s front officers envisioned when they took righty Homer Bailey with the seventh overall pick in the 2004 draft.

It was during that inning when Bailey recorded whiffs on 6 of 17 pitches — all but one of which (i.e. the whiffs) came on Bailey’s four-seamer, a pitch he threw at about 93 mph for the game. Three of the aforementioned whiffs came on an excellent sequence of progerssively higher and outside-er (though always within the zone) fastballs to Aramis Ramirez*, a player who, according to our Pitch Type Values, has posted above-average run values against fastballs every year since 2004.

*You can see the third of these at about the 22-second mark in this video.

It deserves to be said that the inning wasn’t all flowers and a piece of cake for Bailey. He hit the first batter of the inning, Derrek Lee, with a first-pitch fastball; allowed Lee to take second on a wild pitch in the dirt; and conceded a run when Xavier Nady hit a wall-ball single. Still, the run aside, the life on Bailey’s fastball, and the way he managed to put it so ably by a fastball hitter, proved to make good viewing.

Exhibit Dos: Kris Medlen

With one out in the bottom of the 12th inning of Atlanta’s game at San Francisco, Kris Medlen threw a sort of pitch to Travis Ishikawa that’ always a pleasure to witness — namely, a sort of two-seamer that starts inside and off the plate to a lefty but tails back in over the corner of the plate for a called strike.

The pitch — and three more, very similar ones, to righty Eli Whiteside — sent me to Medlen’s Pitchf/x profile. Here’s something interesting: 15 of the 27 pitches Medlen threw today were classified as two-seamers by Pitchf/x. This is unsurprising, as the sort of pitch that he threw to Ishikawa — with all that arm-side run — is almost always of the two-seam variety. And across three appearances this season, 42% of Medlen’s pitches have been two-seamers. Yet, a glance at last season’s numbers reveals that only 6.2% of his pitches were classified as two-seamers. Of course, this could simply be the product of a change in the GameDay algorithm — if that’s the case, so be it. It could also be sign that Medlen is making a concerted effort to feature the pitch this year. More on this story as it develops!

Sunday, April 11
If you’re all up on the Twitters, you might already know that I spent a good portion of this Pacific Northwest afternoon at PGE Park, home (at least for the remainder of the season) to the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. In the more likely event that you’re not hanging on my every 140 characters, well, it’s still the case: today, San Diego’s Triple-A Beavers played host to Oakland affiliate the Sacramento River Cats.

These last three years or so, the Beavers — like many Triple-A clubs, frankly — have been less a magnet for high-end prospects and more a sort of purgatory for fringe ballplayers of all descriptions. The early returns on this year’s club are a little more interesting, as center fielder Luis Durango, shortstop Lance Zawadski, corner guy Craig Cooper, other corner guy Aaron Cunningham, other other corner guy Mike Baxter, catcher Dusty Ryan, and starter Will Inman — i.e. 70% of today’s starting lineup for the Beavs — are all, if not necessarily prospects, at least reasonably interesting minor leaguers on the right side of 27.

The River Cats, meanwhile, featured a lineup that included big-time prospect Chris Carter, masher Jack Cust, and giant man Michael Taylor in the 3-4-5 spots. None of them did much of anything, as Sacramento managed only two hits on the afternoon. Of note, however, was this: over his first three plate appearances, Cust saw fourteen pitches and swung at exactly zero of them. The news prompted Ken Arneson to tweet: “A’s team yawns/PA is already way lower this year.”

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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I, Claudius.

danny woytek
danny woytek

I really hope this turns into a similar comment phenomenon to the question about the 2009 draftees on Hulet’s top prospects lists from the off season!

Steven Ellingson
Steven Ellingson

It took a few times, but this time I cracked a smile. If I see it again, I might even chuckle.