M's 6, Giants 4
morning quiz: what do you think of when you see the graph below?



It was what, about February 2010 when Chone Figgins grabbed his big contract from the Mariners and did a TV spot.  "Ichiro and I will be one of the best 1-2's in MAJOR LEAGUE HISTORY :: laughs :: .... Hopefully."

So then ... 700 or 800 painful M's losses later?, we just saw Dee Gordon and Jean Segura rack up 3 hits a-piece in the Giants game Tuesday.  The Denizens have run out of players, as far as asking "So what do you think this guy's upside is?"  :- )  Well, except for with Dee Gordon it's no upside to hit .300 and steal 60 bases.  It's what he does for a living.  

But!  Chone's .400 OBP was what he did, too, eh?  Before the free agent tour and then Safeco.  Four weeks ago we were watching between our fingers to see how the transition went; NL to AL is sketchy enough, forget a position switch.

It has taken Dee Gordon exactly 4 games to blow away those fears.  It's partly because he's the anti-Chone in terms of positive energy and selflessness.

Back to the "what is this guy's upside do ya think?" water cooler.  We haven't chatted Jean Segura.  What is Dr. D's take?  He thought that last year we never saw Jean Segura looking comfortable.  We almost forgot that in 2016 he hit .319/.368/.499 and this year he looks far more in rhythm.  His line drive rate is over 30% and if we checked it, we're guessing you'd see a better launch angle and more balls to RF.  Anyway, you can figure out your ownself the many reasons he might be adjusted and happy this year.  Don't forget the earlier career bumps because of tragedies in his family; this is a player you want to help stay in a happy state of mind.

He's had a few balls drop in, to fuel his .375/.412/.500 start.  Perhaps a hot April will push him back towards a 125 OPS+ rather than his 110 last year.  Bearing in mind that in Safeco you don't need to slug .500 to post a 120 OPS+.


Best 1-2 in MLB history, what would that take?  :- )  No idea; maybe you've got a pair in mind you like.  Rose and Griffey Sr you think Daddy-O?  heh  They won't make history, but Gordon and Segura are going to put a diamond lane onto Dipoto's "traffic" agenda.  

Intriguing that this glorrrrrious 1-2 is there because of Dipoto's two best concepts (not counting Diaz).  I guess Dipoto, consciously or subconsiously, REALLY wanted that "traffic;" he did not stop until he got it.  The M's are #2 in the AL in team OBP ... and consider all the reasons they shouldn't be.  Unless something changes from where we are here, the M's base carousel is going to out-do their Cheney carousel.  

You do what you want, amigo.  Dr. D is going to luxuriate in this 1-2 all year.



Judging by the Mainframe's review of the Slack chat, several Denizens noticed that Juan Nicasio's velocity started at 91, 91, 92 ... and then BAM he's back to 95 like magic. Better yet, check out Nicasio's inside/outside strike zone!  (The fastballs are the huge cluster on the outside corner, the "black" since home plates used to have rubber perimeters; the cluster at the knees-thighs are his sliders.)  

That, kiddies, is what Krueger means by Strike One on the black at high velo.  The at-bat is already over, now the batter's thinking "How many pitches is this going to take before I'm back in the dugout?"  Nicasio in 2015-16 threw hard and wild, a 10.0 K / 4.0 BB type guy like Altavilla.  Then in 2017 developed the skill of command, going to a 9.0 K / 2.5 BB / 0.6 homer guy who is the guy you want in front of your closer.

In other words, here you go to HQ's axiom:  once a player shows a skill he owns it.  There's no reason for Nicasio's 2.5 BB rate to regress.  But that 91-92 mph had us fretting.

Joyfully, on April 3, the Denizen's view of the 8th inning --- > took the same route that Nicaso's velocity graph (pictured above) did.  One more game at 95+ and we can all heave a sigh of, um, relief?



His changeup is still the 84 mph it has been, rather than the 79 we keep searching for.  Oddly, it had its intended effect Tuesday; Marco had 5 swings-and-misses off the changeup alone and 9 overall, which is at least as good as Jamie Moyer was going to do.  Marco went 20-for-26 throwing at a target 20 yards away, using his ring finger and pinky.  Ever tried it?  The change drew 17 lousy swings and ...

... he jammed people HIGH, above the hands, not down where they can angle the barrel to it.  (Here's his inside/outside zone chart should you foolishly doubt the Mainframe.)  So he's throwing the cutter up and in, he's floating the change down and away, he's throwing the fastball into a teacup.  He didn't have 93 mph, but he was doing everything a pitching coach tells guys to do.  

There it was on your screen Tuesday, a PITCHER.  I think Ray Miller somewhere is about to cry.


As you know, we talk to the newbies also at SSI.  A "cut fastball" is released like a football, and it swerves gloveside instead of armside.  For a lefty pitcher, this means a hard pitch inside to "scare" a hitter who is ---- > inching to the plate, leaning out, hoping to turn an outside-edge pitch into a center-cut pitch.

If a pitcher isn't "establishing both sides," it can be the picture of simplicity for an ML hitter to just step in 8" and whack every pitch like playing tennis.  This is the death that Jack Zduriencik thought Hisashi Iwakuma was facing in WBC-san's first spring training here, which is why Iwakuma didn't see any action for months.

As TJM and others have noted, 92 MPH and a cut fastball were what turned Cliff Lee into a guy who "murdered souls" as ESPN put it.  Lee was always able to PITCH and the moment he had the tools, it was Game Over.

The cutter is also very tough on the elbow ligament.  Servais said, direct quote, he wanted 7-8 cutters per game and he didn't like the 16-17 that Marc-O was throwing.  :: pink floyd get on with it :: said all that to say this:  Brooks counted 22 (!) cutters Tuesday.  Interpret that as (1) our new star #4 pitcher will blow his arm out by the All-Star Break or (2) the Tommy John surgery went great, and Marc-O's feeling it.

In either case, Servais said that Marco Gonzales is the key to the M's 2018 season.  That'll do for us too.  This offense is going to take advantage of Quality Starts.



As usual, Ryan Divish has the most on-point M's recap ... outside the Think Tank, naturally.  ;- )  There are intriguing quotes from Marc-O and other stuff.  I had forgotten to note that the M's got 12 hits, and somebody said that 4 runs in the first inning had never been done to the Giants in San Francisco?!  Could that be true?

Seager gets a smile from you:

“I don’t know if I can ever hope to ever get Mitch hot,” said Seager, who had two hits on the day. “He looks really good in there. He’s swinging the bat really well. He’s been really doing a good job. Nelson is a hard void to fill and he’s jumped in there really well.”

Mitch Hot.  Somebody make some stadium signs?



Dr D




Rose/Griffey Sr.? Certainly gotta be in the upper tier all time. If I get a chance I'll do some hunt and peck research on alternatives from my era. Nobody knows more than you that before Griffey established himself in the two hole, and before Morgan started hitting more home runs, the Reds had Rose/Morgan going. Not too shabby. There's gotta be a few comparables, but like I say, I'll have to dig. This ol' mem'ry be lettin' me down too much to go by that.


as well.  

Anyone thought of Ichiro and McLemore?  2001?  Ichiro, .350/.381/.457, 50 XBH, 56-14 in SB 38/53 BB/K in 734 PA...McLemore only hit second in 83 games, overall the Ms hit .278/.382/.420 in the second spot going 54-6 in SB (no typo, I swear) with 50 XBH.  There's quite a bit of Javier and Cameron in those numbers as well.  Cheating a bit, but 110-20 in SB adding Ichiro to all #2 PA production. 


I'm with DaddyO in remembering Rose/Morgan more than Griffey Sr.  That was intimidating...even before the power stepped to the plate.  Maury Wills and Willie Davis were real burners for the Dodgers...but most years there was no lineup behind them anything close to the Big Red Machine.  

Usually the leadoff guy gets all the ink, but I think the second guy makes the deal work, whether he's recognized, or not.  For example, Rickey Henderson is obviously the best top of the order guy ever...but at Oakland, Hendu never got enough credit for the years they were together, nor did Willie Randolph in New York.  There were some years where both Ricky and Randolph were pushing .400 OBP.  Think that helped Mattingly any?  :)

Back in the day, Luis Aparicio was the top of the "Go-Go" White Sox...so named becase their only offensive skill was running a little.  But the #2 hitter, Nellie Fox. was much better.  They were 1-2 in MVP voting in 1959.  Fox won it--with 2 homers and 5 stolen bases.  Think that would work today?  LOL

Lou Brock never had anything established behind him in St. Louis, nor did Willie Wilson in KC.  

Anyway, I think the real key to Dee is how Segura does behind him.  


GREAT one.  Exactly the kind of pair I was hoping somebody would suggest.   They went 1-2 in the MVP?  Totally awesome.  Great find.


Did Morgan ever hit #2?  ... ?   I'm a lifelong Machine crazyfan and I've got a blank spot on that.  It's like you told me Willie Mays led off for a while.  When was that?  LOL.

Checking it.... let's see, in 1975 he did hit #2 in about half of the April games, and then jelled at #3 fairly soon.  Another confirmation that Sparky was a terrible, terrible manager, perhaps history's most overrated manager (the 70's Reds won about half the pennants they should have).  

Yep, in 1973 he hit #2 all season long, as Sparky tritely ignored his 154 OPS+ in favor of his 67 SB's.  Who in the world could have been hitting #3?  Oh.  Bobby Tolan, 500 AB's with a 57 OPS+.  I have no words.

Ironically, Sparky was accidentally 40 years ahead of his time, as sabermetricians debate the merit of batting the team's MVP hitter in 1-2 spot.


With his 100 walks, his 60 steals and his .320 averages with 17-27 homers and gold gloves at second, Morgan racked up 9-11 WAR for five years and towered over the NL like the statues in Lord of the Rings.  Virtually the *ideal* baseball player for five years.

Quite amazing that baseball did not understand his contributions and he won only 1 or 2 MVP's.  Should the M's move Robinson Cano to leadoff to get him more AB's, if his OPS+ is 20 points higher than Gordon and Segura?


Yep. Little Joe grew up. And I'm not talking about the Ponderosa. Unless my memory is messing with me, he was called "Little Joe" in his days with the Astros.

Morgan went from being an all-too-frequent nuisance to being a guy I feared as much as anybody in that fabled Reds' lineup. 

Re: Sparky, I always wondered what it was like for Walter Alston as he looked across to the other dugout and compared his pretty good lineup to the distributed awesomeness that was the Cincinnati Reds. Granted LA was a pitching-first team, but at a certain point you gotta be thinking, "How are we going to survive this game today?"

What would Alston have been called if he managed THAT lineup? Teddy. Yeah, Teddy. As in "speak softly but carry a big stick."


1980 Oak Rickey hit .303/.420/.399 and Dwayne Murphy hit .274/.384/.380, combining for 126-41 in SB attempts.  In '82 they went 156-50 in SB.

1985 Yankees had Rickey then Mattingly or Griffey or Randolph.  Rickey was .314/.419/.516 and they got .286/.340/.486 from #2 or Mattingly hit .324/.371/.567 on the year, if you prefer, though his 274 PA in the second spot produced a 1.087 OPS.

'89 Oak Henderson and Lansford is pretty good, both over .800 OPS, 148 and 131 OPS+s, 89-21 in SB, 121 BB between them.  Lansford begat Dave Henderson who's 126 OPS+ rivaled Lansfords 131 behind Rickey the year before. 

'85 St Louis, Coleman and McGhee?  That's the best I've found, in SB anyway.  166-41 between them.

Looking through Raines' leadoff mates I find him hitting 3rd fairly often of course.  The same scenario made the Ty Cobb search go quicker as well.  But in 1986 Raines had 70G leadoff, 75 batting 3rd.  That would be the year he led the league in BA and OBP.  .334/.413/.476, 54 XBH, 78BB/60K, going 70-9 in steals.   Mitch Webster took over the 2 hole that year with a .290/.355/.431 line,  League Leading 13 3B, 52 total XBH, 36-15 in SB to combine for 106-24.  57-78 BB/K so they combined for 135/138 BB/K.  How about that? 


It's like the night Elgin Baylor and I combined for 64 points.  ... Elgin had 62 of them.  (old joke) 

I guess I was thinking of 1-2's where both players were about the same, neither player a HOF'er, thinking of slightly under-the-radar leadoff pairs like maybe Willie McGee and Vince Coleman, where Coleman swiped 100 SB's and McGee hit for a 147 OPS+ behind him with 50 SB's.  But yeah.  Rickey of course would be 1/2 or 3/4 of a lot of great 1-2 punches.  :- )


Sparky went with Rose and Morgan 1-2, and moved Griffey down a few spots. Personally, I always consider this the best 1-2 ever, and Sparky went to it to win the

World Series that was eluding him until then.

Off topic, but how do you like my LIMA lineup, Doc? (All AL): Marc-O (!), Felix, Sabathia, Liriano, Tomlin, Junis. Allowed me to pay for Machado, Dozier, Guriel, Kris Davis, Choo, T. Anderson, McCann, Duda. Got Edwin closing and Altavilla setting up. 


Great work, guys. You are obviously (1) faster, and (2) better at research than I am! Good!

Now, where was I. Oh yeah, sweetie where's that strawberry daiquiri?

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