Author Archive

NotScouting Report: Willians Astudillo

At 1:07 AM Eastern Time, friend of the site Yirmiyahu emailed us with this urgent query:

So, who the hell is Willians Astudillo? He’s lead the minors in lowest K rate for 3 consecutive years (0.9%, 1.8%, 4.8%). How are those numbers possible? Does he bunt every single time? Another fun fact: he’s played multiple games at 7 different positions.

Unfortunately, the internet doesn’t seem to know anything at all about this guy except for his stats pages. Seriously, I’m fascinated. If your sources cannot reveal any information about this guy, it’s your duty to make some shit up.

A quick look at Astudillo’s Fangraphs page reveals that he is indeed very good at not striking out. In three seasons with the Phillies Venezuelan Summer League team, Astudillo has struck out 16 times over 648 plate appearances. Better yet, after striking out 10 times in 2009 VSL play, he struck out just 4 times in 2010, and then 2 times last year. So, if the pattern holds this year, he is due to strike out between 0 and 1 times. That is indeed pretty remarkable.

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Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, and B.J. Ryan Go To The Amazon…

… for a fishing trip. 

Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter help a local fisherman who was bitten on the ass by an anaconda. They are celebrated as heroes. (In case you were wondering: anacondas don’t have venom, so there is no butt sucking.)

That’s a picture of the guy who got bit on his butt. 

Chris Carpenter breaks his toe, but he’ll be okay. He’s a tough guy.

B.J. Ryan, meanwhile, drops a couple hundred bucks on a sweet fishing rod but it breaks on the second day of the trip and he spends the rest of the time sulking and cursing his own profligacy.

On the bright side, at least he doesn’t pee in the river.

Better Reasons Not to Vote Jeff Bagwell for the HOF

Sportswriters, this nonsense really needs to stop. Refusing to vote Jeff Bagwell into the Hall of Fame because you believe he may have used performance enhancing drugs because a number of his contemporaries did so is shameful.

It’s shameful because there are literally 16 better reasons not to vote Jeff Bagwell into the Hall of Fame. During Bagwell’s lifetime, someone somewhere has been guilty of each of the things listed below, which means in turn that Bagwell cannot escape the umbra of guilt cast by other members of his species.

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Yu Headlines Yu Are Likely to See if Yu Plays in MLB

I have it. You have it. Yu has it. We all have it. “It” is Yu Fever. As you have likely heard already, yesterday it was revealed that the Texas Rangers won the right to negotiate with the Japanese-Persian phenom, Yu Darvish. If the Rangers are indeed successful in securing Darvish’s services, our collective Yu Fever will rise from a toasty but manageable 100.5 degrees all the way to an immediate-ice-bath-or-die 106 degrees.

Perhaps more importantly, punny headline writers at newspapers, websites, and other journalistic outfits will be beside themselves with excitement. For, the pitcher’s first name, “Yu,” is homophonous with the second person personal pronoun, “you,” which just creates all kinds of wonderful opportunities for them to work their lame, punny headline writing craft.

Below, please find a checklist of Yu headlines you are likely to see should Yu sign with the Texas Rangers.

Keep this post bookmarked for the 2012 season (and beyond) and be on the lookout for any of the these headlines. If you spot one, drop us a line. This post will be updated as the headlines appear.

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TLDR: Albert Pujols’s Consistency Problem

No, it’s not what you think. Albert Pujols is the very model of consistency as a baseball player. The man’s WAR has WAR. It’s not about Pujols deciding to spend the next decade in Anaheim either. He made the decision that he felt was best for him and his family and I wish him the best of luck.

Pujols has a different type of consistency problem, you see. The reader might recall that in 2006, when Ryan Howard won the NL MVP Award, Pujols responded like a petulant child in a press conference:

I see it this way: Someone who doesn’t take his team to the playoffs doesn’t deserve to win the MVP.

Howard’s Phillies, of course, missed the playoffs in 2006 while the Cardinals won the NL Central and, ultimately, the World Series.

Pujols probably deserved the MVP in 2006. Not, as he claimed, because his team made the playoffs, but because he was the best player in the league (his 8.5 WAR led the league and his .448 wOBA was best in the NL). Indeed, Pujols’s statement was colossally dumb for at least two reasons. First, although the Cardinals made the playoffs, they did so with an 83-78 record. The Phillies finished with a record of 85-77. Second, when in 2008 Albert Pujols won the MVP award in spite of his team missing the playoffs, he found himself in the awkward position of having to choose between (A) Rejecting the award on principle or (B) Accepting the award and admitting that he was wrong when he said what he said in 2006 lest he look like a hypocrite. But even this could be construed as a tacit admission that he was just being a sore loser in 2006.

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Jon Heyman: Birther?

Questions about Albert Pujols’s age should hardly be off-limits. With the baseball’s most feared hitter primed to receive perhaps the largest free agent contract in the game’s history, it would behoove any team that is bidding for his services to consider his age. Questions like “How smart would it be to give this player a contract that could pay him $25+ million into his forties?” should weigh heavily on any competent GM’s mind.

A related concern, which has haunted Pujols for much of his career, is that he may be a few years older than he says he is. After all, it is not without precedent for young Latin American players to fudge their DOBs by a few years in order to make themselves more appealing on the US market. Just this September, it was revealed that Marlins reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo (Leo Nunez) had assumed a false identity and is a year older than he had previously claimed. As Edward Mujica explained, just a year can make a world of difference in how much a Latin American player is paid, creating an incentive to fudge:

“At 17 years old, you maybe lose $100,000 or $150,000 when you sign [compared to a 16-year-old with the same skills]. And if you’re like 18, you might sign for $5,000 and maybe they give you an opportunity.”

But as Dave Cameron writes over at Fangraphs, the case for believing that Pujols fudged his age has numerous holes.

Baseball scribe Jon Heyman is having none of it, however. You can count Heyman among the Pujols Birthers:

(It is not unfair to wonder whether Heyman would be calling for Pujols to produce his birth certificate if Pujols was a client of Scott Boras.)

Below I present Jon Heyman’s twitter timeline from the future.

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Tommy Lasorda Cares Not For Your Effing Incompetence

This video — apparently taken circa 1990 — of Tommy Lasorda being irascible and flipping out on a camera crew was posted to YouTube yesterday and shared by

Here is a transcription of Lasorda’s tirade — in verse form, of course:

Hey, tell them son of a bitches up there
that if I go one more fucking time
and this thing don’t work,
I’m gonna grab their fucking asses.

I’m fucking tired of this shit.

(We’re ready).

I gotta get ready now.
I gotta get
in the right fucking frame ‘a mind.

(Think good thoughts).

Fuckin’ assholes.

A few disjointed thoughts about this clip:

1. It needs to be noted in Lasorda’s defense that he is from Philadelphia (well, Norristown, more specifically), where we are shocked that only one out of every ten words he uttered in this tirade was “fuck.”

2. Tommy Lasorda has looked the same age for the last 30 years, at least. It wasn’t so great for him when he looked 75 at the age of 60, but now that he’s 84, I guess it’s not half bad.

3. I think this has some meme potential:

Is It Spring Training Yet?

Every real baseball fan has a well-tuned internal clock that tells them exactly when Major League Baseball is set to begin another season. We all know that early January itch. After being distracted by the winter holidays, we start to yearn for the first sign of a pitcher or a catcher. And then, in the dead of winter, just when you’ve gotten that itch, time seems to stop.

Still, we know we will be rewarded for our patience and the end of February will finally arrive.

With all that said, though, despite knowing full well when baseball is scheduled to return, how many times will you go to the simple yet useful website and press “refresh” hoping, praying, that the next time it loads it will say something different?

53. I’ve done it 53 times.

Thank you to NotGraphs reader Dave Yeager who created this website and sent it along to us, with this note:

A couple years ago my buddy Dan kept bothering me during work about whether or not it was spring training yet as we pined for baseball. In the interest of getting him to leave me alone I created this helpful website for him.

Perhaps it can help you as well.

Indeed, Dave.

A Brief Interview With 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun

In what was perhaps a moderately surprising result, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun beat out Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp by a comfortable 56 point margin. The award was not undeserved; Braun’s .433 wOBA and 179 wRC+ just edged out those of Kemp, making him the most productive offensive player in the NL. Braun also becomes the first Jew since Sandy Koufax in 1963 to take home the prize. 

Today, I caught up with Braun over the phone.

Ryan Braun: Hello?

Eric Augenbraun: Hi there, is this Ryan Braun?

RB: Yes it is. Who’s this?

EA: Hi, this is Eric Augenbraun of the baseball website NotGraphs. I was hoping I could ask you a few questions.

RB: Yeah…Wait, how did you get this number?

EA: Well, it’s a long story, but the short version is that I paid off someone at your restaurant.

RB: Wow bro. That seems…unethical.

EA: Maybe. But it’s a cutthroat business I’m in. You do what you gotta do to get the scoop. Anyways, now that I have you, do you think maybe you could answer a few questions?

RB: I guess. Try to make it quick though. It’s been a crazy day.

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Joe West Ejected the UC Davis Pepper Spray Cop

By now the reader is likely to have seen photos or video of this riot cop who last week attempted to disperse a group of #Occupy protesters at the University of California, Davis by nonchalantly pepper spraying them in their faces.

Since footage of the incident hit the web, there has been a mad dash to learn more about the “UC Davis Pepper Spray Cop.”

I am pleased to say that I have unearthed more details about this man’s past. Photographic evidence I have received by way of an anonymous tipster appears to show that as recently as five months ago, the UC Davis Pepper Spray Cop was an employee of the Vancouver Police Department. On the night of June 15, 2011, this officer was deployed to downtown Vancouver to assist in containing the riot that had broken out following the Canucks’ loss in the Stanley Cup Finals. Sure enough, he helped a rioter who had surrendered himself for arrest to a face full of pepper spray on this night as well.

Fortunately, baseball’s preeminent authoritarian personality, Joe West, was there to eject the Vancouver Police Department’s preeminent authoritarian personality on the spot:

The disgraced Vancouver Pepper Spray Cop then assumed the name “John Pike” and fled Canada for the United States using falsified documents. He settled in Davis, California and took a job on the UC Davis police force and the rest is history.

When reached for comment about this cop somehow being allowed to spray again, West said “It’s a sad day for me, and a sad day for our country. Maybe some good can come of this, though. Maybe the gosh darn government will finally listen to my recommendations on who should be allowed entry into our country.”

“Oh, and buy my country western album, Blue Cowboy!” he added.