Tag Archives: strikeouts

MLB16: Troutonics and the Return of Hamiltonianism

14 Mar

In a time when numerology has become the method by which every editor and marketing director in the land shapes their sport media product, a use that borders on the obsessive and snoozerific, this primordial statistic has somehow become the Rodney Dangerfield (“I don’t get no respect”) of all mathematical rods by which batsmen are measured in 2016: Runs scored.

This, even as runs account for one-half of that most basic of baseball equations: Runs scored in excess (>) of your opponent’s tally = victory. Sport simple.

But simple just won’t cut it today, so the sellers would have us believe.

.......Trout.wc.7.24.11.thm.MD.K.AllisonSuccinctness will neither get your sportswriter résumé read nor keep you in that job that requires a wherewithal for the number schemes. The more complicated the better appears the mandate.

A selling strategy that seems to prefer keeping fans mentally-barefoot and in the kitchen-of-confusion, so to speak. Tsk-tsk.

Convoluted calculations will serve the sportician – mortician by separating themselves from we of the unwashed masses, serving as a sort of secret, cliquy code. A club as it were. Whether it truly helps or not in appreciation of players and strategy or prognostication of contests is beside the point. A niche has been carved out. So the consumer overlords see it.

Do sabrmetrics actually help one to master the fantasy game? They certainly haven’t made much of an impact in the general managing profession, not if you aim for pennants (See; B.Beane (OAK ‘98-present))?

They may help one believe they’re an aid and that’s all that matters to make the register ring, cha-ching! Kind of like the philosophy of that great New Yorker, “George Costanza” of Seinfeld lore: “If you believe it’s true then it’s not a lie.”

......Beane&DePodesta.090911.GabboT.thumbWhere the deep delve into digits can assist the fantasy fan in tangible result lies in simple fact that in crunching all of the calculations it’s just as likely that helpful patterns gleaned from performance stats will have been gotten from elementary totals (runs scored, ERA, etc.) and breakdowns (home / away, lefty v. righty) as from the trendy new acronyms. Unless you sequester your survey from the primes, who’s to say it wasn’t the traditionals that didn’t shape the mind?

And try telling that to a sabrhead. Oh, brother.

Because of this modern numbers myth, the easily discernable, key figures that served box-score connoisseurs and graced the backs of cards for decades in W-L, ERA, home runs, OB%, hits, RBIs, BA, steals, etcetera, are today relegated to the nether regions of TV graphics and sporting prose or neglected altogether, to make room for the new brood of cryptic acronyms (WAR, OPS%, QBR (NFL)) that befall & befuddle most fans every spring and pompously portend to’ve finally quantified the best calculations. Sure, Simon, whatever you say.

One exception where an elementary element is still accorded respect: The home run. Think of it as the Vin Scully of statistics: Resilient and revered.

......Trout.7.22.11.thm.K.Allison.wcSince the Bambino began knocking ‘em out with a passion (1919) the round-tripper, the dinger or in former Brewers’ batsman George Scott lexicon, the “tater,” has continued to capture the national attention. And Bud Selig’s Family Fun Show & All-Star Home Run Derby Jamboree week in July has made sure it stays captured.

But there’s a new style of play on the ball diamond.

A man who upon making the major league scene in 2011 showed himself to be a throwback who knows the equation and keeps his eye on the prize: Score runs on the base-path and prevent them with the glove. His name: Mike Trout, centerfielder for the California Angels. I’m a throwback, too.

Trout is what’s known as a Hamiltonian, a rare breed in 2016.

That’s not to be confused with that early American political party named after it’s chief proponent in Alexander Hamilton, born of British West Indies who would become an aid-de-camp to General George Washington, a co-author of the Federalist Papers, our fledgling nation’s first Treasury Secretary and dueling casualty (d.1804) of then Vice President, Aaron Burr.

.....Hamilton.LoC.Goodwin.B.Edwards.1887.wc.thmAlternatively known as Federalism, a view which promoted strong central government in opposition to the Jeffersonians who were anti-elitist, pro-States and individual rights. Oh yeah, tomatoes, too. Tom also touted that lycopene-rich fruit that changed the world (See; cooking & “Michael Dorsey”).

He’s not that kind of Hamiltonian, at least not to my knowledge.

Having led the Junior Circuit in runs for three of his four full seasons in the majors, Trout is on pace to be in league with that greatest of all plate-crossers, the incomparable Billy “Sliding” Hamilton (1888 – 1901) who finished with 1697 total in just 14 seasons, bested the 140 mark six times and still holds the single-season tally of 198 runs scored.

The great Rickey Henderson (1979 – 03) bested Billy by 600 runs, compiling that figure in 25 seasons with his highest season total being 146 (‘85 (143g)).

The percheron-necked slugger from the Garden State, winner of the 2014 AL – MVP, has scored 477 runs in just four full campaigns in Anaheim and the cup of coffee (20g) he had in his first taste. That consistently high run production is even more impressive alongside a strong RBI output (397 (4y)) and nice power stroke where Mike has averaged 33 homers per and topped at 41 in 2015.

.....Trout.wc.7.23.11.K.Allison.thmTrout’s Achilles heel is lack of bat control in the S-zone.

Attitude today on batter strikeouts is essentially ‘pay no mind,’ even as opportunities are forsaken, as long as RBIs and BA run respectable. On that trend the New Jersey juggernaut runs with the pack, averaging 150+ whiffs per season. He’s in good company as Senior Circuit’s 2015 MVP and runs champ Bryce Harper (131 (118r)) and ROY Kris Bryant (199! (87r)) are free-swingers alike.

Trout: 5yrs: 2448 AB; 647 SO; .304 BA
Hamilton: 14yrs: 6283 AB; 362 SO; .344 BA

You might say, ‘It’s too different a game today to fairly compare.’ Not on making contact, it isn’t. Teams in 2016 who put the ball in play with greater regularity are more likely to win games and titles just as they were in 1894.

The world champion Kansas City Royals were ranked AL tops in fewest team SOs (973 (#1)), 2d in hits (1497 (#2)) and sixth in runs scored (724 (#6)). You need to satisfy other half of that equation (pitch) but KC computed fine there too.

....Pujols_041412_LAA_M.O'Leary.thmMike’s anchoring a Los Angeles Angels’ batting lineup short on big names, one of the few being a game but aging superstar in Albert Pujols (36). But Trout is looking to keep his season strikeout trend on downward direction (158 (‘15) / 184 (‘14)), slugging percentage strong (.590 (#1 AL)) and a fielding display that at times is downright thrilling and nearly flawless in routine (428 PO / 7A / 0E (1.000)).

If Mr. Rock Steady can avoid those career-altering injuries and keep his nose pointed to home-plate, when all is said & done he may get fans to take notice of runs again and then find himself in amongst the best of company, the GAT in career runs-scored, including Misters Henderson, Cobb, Aaron, Rose, Hamilton and his teenage sports idol, Derek Jeter. Not ♫ bad company ♫ at all.

...canned cornSteven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: M.Trout-cap, wc.cca, 7.23.11, MD, K.Allison; Trout-fan, wc, K.Allison, 7.24.11, MD; B.Beane-DePodesta, wc, 9.9.11, GabboT; Trout, 7.22.11, wc, MD, K.Allison; B.Hamilton, LoC, B.Edwards, Goodwin, 1887, wc; Trout-gloves, 7.23.11, wc, Allison, MD; A.Pujols, wc, 4.14.12, M.O’Leary; Canned-corn.
Posted: 3.14.16 @ 2:35pm, edit 6:50 Eastern Standard Time; Copyright © 2016


Chin Music: Cubs’ Bryant Call-up Coming to Roost?

9 Jun

Just to pose the idea would send shockwaves throughout the sport fantasy world and probably elicit more than a few bellows of ‘bonehead’ directed at the poser, had they a megaphone of any sizable make.

‘(No) hell a fury like a (groupie) scorned,’ eh (Congreve)?

But when you’re a blogger, bonafide variety (unpaid), the reads are measurable, i.e., small in number. The tremors I make would barely wake a mouse.


Chicago Cubs top prospect, outfielder – 3rd baseman Kris Bryant was given call-up to the parent club about two weeks into MLB 2015 after a massive campaign by young fans and media in what looked to be a cave to pressure by Northsider‘s well-credentialed wheeler-dealer, General Manager, Theo Epstein.

Now, after 45+ days of getting a look-see at the 6’5” Las Vegas native, it’s appearing that Bryant and Cubs might be best served if he were sent back down, that’s right, back down to Triple A Iowa for some re-calibration to find better command of the strike zone.

Nobody likes to admit they’re wrong, a sign of weakness to some.

But stubbornly staying a course that’s not moving forward as was hoped, an assumption on this writer’s part, is more anemic and just may run that ship aground if some steps aren’t undertaken forthwith.

As of this posting, Bryant’s at 62 strikeouts, double+ his walks and it’s early June. The OB% is fine (.389) and he’s shown a little pop in his bat (7hr) which we knew he had but is displayed by nearly everyone who swings for fences.

Kris will likely make it in the ‘show,’ even if he stays put (CHI), but remaining in majors to work out the kinks may not be the most prudent course.

Some lose their confidence, make mal-adjustments and alter the natural minor-league course of things, so to speak. The last thing Cubs want is a whiff king, the All-or-Nothing kind of batsman (See; Kingman (‘86), Dunn, Carter (HOU, also Vegan), Souza (TB)).


The free-swingers are fine for those clubs who’re bottom-feeders or treading water, but for any team with serious championship aspirations, that kinda’ guy is not a playoff enhancer. Why? Because in the clutch, with big arms on the mound and clever cabezas in the dugout, the AON invariably comes up short. Big surprise.

And contrary to what sabrmaticians would have you believe, sometimes the issue is real simple. On the Kris Bryant question (and there should be a question), it’s contact, not the movie (terrific flick), but ball & bat variety.

You can’t press GMs too hard. They must be allowed to groom their prospects their own way, at their own pace or the kiddie krowd of klammer is gonna’ mess…it…up. The suits and field scouts generally know what they’re doing. Missteps? Surely, but start second-guessing and you’re just a mounted weather-vane.

A GM must also have the wherewithal to withstand criticism, even waves of it and even it flows in force from the most-favored marketing sector, fantasy fans.

Case in point: Epstein & Co seemingly caving to pressure and calling up KB when they did, as they did, letting an atypical topicality on what’s normally SOP on team-player contract dictate dialogue, appeared to push the brass to bring up Bryant earlier than initially planned, before their ready.

Now it looks like the top prospect is having a contact issue.

But he wouldn’t be the first young hopeful to experience growing pains. Other greats have and been sent back down to the minor leagues for some readjusting.

Mickey Mantle made the big club after Yankees’ spring “exhibition” in 1951.


He played 96 games with the New York City club, then in July was “shifted” to their AAA Kansas City affiliate for some fine tuning rest of the regular season, only to be retrieved for a few plate appearances in the Yankees’ post-season which back then consisted of one playoff, the World Series.

The numbers in comparison:

Mantle: 96g, 341ab, 61r, 13hr, 65rbi, 8sb-15a, 43w, 74so, .349ob%, .267ba
Bryant: 46g, 170ab, 29r, 7hr, 34rbi, 5sb, 28w, 62so, .379ob%, .271ba

Kris’ performance is not dissimilar to the Mick’s. In some notable regards the Nevada native is trending better, as in on-base % and stolen bases (4-5a). But in the all-important contact department (SOs) the ‘tall drink of water’ is out-pacing the Oklahoma kid who was no stranger himself to the swing & miss.

Following are some quotes from a 1951 November edition of Sport Stars magazine which featured Jackie Robinson on its post-Series cover and highlighted the “Yankees New Golden Boy (66-68)).”

Tommy Heinrich: “Don’t have any worries about Mickey, he has a great baseball instinct. You tell him something once and that’s it. Just remember, he never played the outfield before (SS). It’s quite a rough deal for anybody to break into the majors and master a new position at the same time.”

Mantle’s rapid rise in the pros was nearly unprecedented.

Having played briefly in “Ban Johnson” league while in high school, after graduation in 1950 he’d begun in Class D ball (Independence, MO (KOM)), quickly moved up to C level for New York’s “Western Association” team in Joplin, MO and then impressed with the parent club the next spring. At the time, only “three other players had advanced so rapidly,” a trio which included “peerless Rogers Hornsby (Cards ‘15) (“(NAPBL)”).


All this meaning, the Yankees were very high on Mantle (“brightest prospect in a decade (SS)”) and the expected short-lived demotion of Mickey to KC was simply a small detour that afforded the budding star the necessary time in the proper place to bring his game up to the high major league standards of what was baseball’s standard-bearer ball-club.

Should the Cubs be planning on a similar re-designation of Kris Bryant in 2015? Did brass make the wrong call on Kris, timing wise?

Bryant has a tad more pro-play under his belt than did Mickey before the big call-up, with three stops in single A ball (‘13) and moved up to AA – AAA in 2014. In a Sunday win over the Nationals, Bryant went 3-4 with 2 runs, a walk and a solo strikeout (62), raising his BA ten pts (.282).

Fielding, base-running, a smart arm, they all matter, but the hit tally, or better yet, the contact points, i.e., command of the strike zone, is a maker or a breaker. And strikeouts are a key indicator of your future. The good news is that a high rate of whiff can be corrected, if someone seeks to do so.

Were Bryant hitting .243 with half the SOs he’s tallied he’d look the better. But in today’s baseball, a rookie who bats above .260, and with Minor stats and build-up of Mr. Bryant, is likely to stay in the show for season’s duration.

The importance of batter’s making contact is not lost on the Northsiders (See; J.Baez (Iowa ‘15)), but don’t expect the salt & savvy that Casey Stengel and general manager George Weiss exhibited in ‘51’s mid-season Mantle demotion to duplicate w/Bryant at Wrigley.

Yes, the ’51 Yankees were loaded with talent & trophies and could afford to farm Mantle’s might for a spell, but then the Series starved Cubs who hope to turn the corner onto championship row can ill afford to stall or even retard development of what they hope is a key piece to that pennant puzzle in Bryant.

In hindsight, the value of the Mick’s brief sojourn in Kansas City is debatable.

In a near-full season with the Yankees in 1952 (142g), Mantle scored 94 runs, stroked 171 hits, clouted 23 ‘tatters (See; George Scott (d.2013)), knocked in 87 RBIs and lead the AL in SOs with 111 and would do so four more times in his career. A high strikeout total in that era, for sure, but imagine the free-swingin’ pathway Mickey might’ve embarked upon had he not been demoted in ‘51.

......canned corn

Maybe Sunday’s fine showing is harbinger of better things to come for Kris, sign of a plate adjustment that’s been in the works and is starting to pay dividends. We’ll see (6.9, CHI (Lester) @ DET (Sanchez) 7:08 EST).

There’s no disputing his popularity has generated great expectations which may bring on him a degree of over-scrutiny, if that’s possible in this ditzy for digits era.

And maybe it was an aberration, a temporary respite that changes the narrative from ‘strike-outs’ to star-in-the-making. If so, Cubs should remember this, that if designing demotion was good enough for Mr. Mantle, it can be good enough for Kris Bryant, too. FFT.

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credits: K.Bryant, wc.cca, 7.9.14, M.Haas; K.Bryant, wc, 7.9.14, M.Haas, thmb; T.Epstein, wc, S.Slingsby, 8.9.10; M.Mantle, wc, Bowman, 1953; M.Mantle, wc, Gem-ASR, 1953; K.Bryant, wc, M.Haas, 7.9.14; canned-corn.
Posted: 6.9.15 @ 6:14pm; edit 6.10 @ 12:45am, 6.11 @ 5:23pm EST