They say you will always see something new at a baseball game, usually saying this right after the two occasions per year in which that actually occurs. :- ) As it applies to the SSI blog it occurs more frequently than that. This morning, Dr. D woke up to see something he never thought he would ...
... wait for it ...
... the Think Tank doing its best to look feebleminded. LOL. Just when Dr. D thought he couldn't get any more sappy about the praise he fired into the crowd like T-shirt cannon guns, he turns around and finds that the Denizens can indeed get weird on him.
The idea is "old player skills" vs "young player skills," gentlemen. It's the 23-year-olds who play like 33-year-olds who age poorly; think Alvin Davis. The guys like Kenny Lofton, they age like ... Kenny Lofton.
Secondly, does anybody here realize that Dee Gordon is 30 years old? If he were 35 maybe this discussion woulda happened. Dee Gordon is a young player! Pleasantly, this whole question about Gordon's arc is a non-starter.
The thing about his doing a Yuge Chone Figgins Pout, that was worth a paragraph, but: Chone Figgins was Chone Figgins. He was a head case from age 21, and (we're sure) from age 1. So don't sweat that either.
The M's got a feature CF, a 90%-Ichiro. Enjoy.
Has been running around the place triple-doubling like Magic Johnson in that rookie Finals game he played center. Don't have time to list a Top 10 Moments, but, consider yerself awarded at center court. :- ) Wow. What a week.
USSM has an interesting article up, "If no free agents, whence the stars?" Which is a nicely-stated response to Dipoto's aggravating FA philosophy.
After Zunino was called back up last year he hit .270/.349/.571, in LA International Airport. That's NOT a "hot streak." That is 4.5 UNBROKEN, UNINTERRUPTED months of batting exactly like Giancarlo Stanton. By "uninterrupted" we mean "without a break in continuity. That .571 SLG is who he was.
AL pitchers tried to adjust. They could not. He hit .281/.376/.568 in the second half. We are looking at the prospect of a Piazza-ish hitter behind the plate.
With "most-comparable players" you try to find irreducible complexity, like the 5 parts of a mousetrap. Holding bar, spring, catch, platform, hammer. You don't want any trivial parts in there, like comp'ing James Paxton based on his cutter or something, and you don't want anything fundamental left out, like Paxton's K rate.
What are Zunino's fundamental components? :: hmmmmmm :: It's not super easy to set these. But noodling now, thinking out loud as opposed to staking claims:
- "Cheat code" raw power, along the lines of Ichiro's original "BABIP breaking" speed
- Average contact ability. .25ish EYE, not burdensome, but definitely weed out the guys with gifted contact ability
- Very compact, short swing paths (the plus asset here is quite critical)
- Zunino has settled into oriented "stalking" here - "stalking" like an elk stalker, might find the elk might not, but we're not in visible confusion and humiliation
Over the last 20 years the "comps" here are few. Mark Trumbo is the LO comp. Edwin Encarnacion is the MID comp. Giancarlo Stanton (!) is the HI comp. Stanton also bases his game on the idea that if he gets his flight angle, he starts his HR trot. Zunino has a truly special tool, that being his raw power. I'm not sure how far short he falls of even Stanton there.
Where is Zunino going from here? Would be interested in your estimation, but --- > crazy estimations are in bounds here.
It ain't the horsepower you get at the camshaft. It's the torque you get at the back wheels. In baseball OPS+ we're talking about HP loss in terms of 62 OPS+'s from your back up catcher.
Take the M's 9 batters and you see some nice slash lines there. (Anybody want to post up Mitch Haniger?) The only reason they would not be 110 next year is the leak that occurs spots 10-16.
Which is why it's fascinating to see Dipoto going after OBP guys like Ford in those spots. Seems like a pretty sweet synergy, the 1B approach intersected with the "horsepower leak" issue.
A quick reminder that the M's "deep state" intel on Gamel, whatever that is, sells them hard on him. He had his adjustment periods in 2017, periods we all weren't sure, but: the Mariners just didn't waver. They say he can play, and I'm inclined to believe them. He's also got lots of ways to go forward from here, such as increased pull/air shots over time and such as improvement in defense. I don't think either of those are wild hopes; for me they are actual expectations.
Here's a fun little Sporting News read on him this week. Gamel may always job-share but there are some guys you just flat out love their makeup.