Knowledge Drop – May 10, 2018 – Frank Robinson Edition*
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*Frank Robinson registered 107.32 WAR in his Hall-of-Fame 21-year career. Robinson was the 1956 Rookie of the Year, was named MVP twice, and was named an All-Star 12 times.
TOP KNOWLEDGE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW
McCullough: Mets Trade of Harvey is Hardly Devin-e
The trade that send Matt Harvey to the Cincinnati Reds and Devin Mesoraco to the New York Mets may go down in history as one of the worst deals the NY club has ever made. Oh, I don’t doubt that the man formerly known as the Dark Knight had to go. It doesn’t matter how great he was at his (very short) peak. The Mets couldn’t let him throw tantrums and insist on being kept in the starting rotation, so getting him out of town was their only real play. But deliberately trading Harvey for Devin Mesoraco? The Mets would have been better off getting a box of baseballs.
Before I outline the disaster that is Devin Mesoraco, I’d like to address the question of whether the Mets were too hasty in demoting Harvey to the bullpen. After all, he only made four starts and pitched 21 starter innings before he was demoted to the ‘pen. He started off fine, pitching five innings of one-hit ball against the Phillies and striking out five with just one walk. It was a successful season debut by all accounts.
After that debut, things went sour for Harvey. Over his next three starts, a span of 16 innings, Harvey allowed 14 earned runs on 25 hits, including four home runs, for an ERA of 7.88 with a .362 BAA. There was nothing wrong with his velocity; Harvey was regularly hitting 93-94 mph with a peak velocity of 95 mph. The problem was that his pitches were coming in flat with little or no movement, especially his slider, which wasn’t moving at all.
A look at Harvey’s Statcast numbers for the last four seasons tells the story plain as day. I went back as far as 2015 because that was Harvey’s last healthy year. If you look closely, you’ll find the problem with each of Harvey’s pitches.
Selected Statcast Data for Matt Harvey 2015-2018
Statcast Data courtesy of BaseballSavant.com
Harvey’s four-seamer has dropped speed each season since 2014 for a total loss of almost four mph over the span. The spin rate of his four-seamer has also dropped significantly. The end result has been a major drop in strikeout percentage due to a catastrophic drop in swings and misses. The problem with Harvey’s slider has already been outlined as one of movement (or lack thereof) and it appears that his sinker follows a similar pattern. The Statcast data bears that out with much lower strikeout and whiff percentages despite consistent spin rates, although, there is a drop of velocity that contributes to the problem.
Harvey’s changeup was once one of his most effective strikeout pitches. Once again, there was a huge drop in strikeouts and whiffs that correlate with a loss of three miles per hour off his changeup. The curveball follows a similar pattern – a three mile per hour drop in velocity which resulted in major drops in strikeout and whiff rates. In fact, Harvey’s curveball is practically non-existent in 2018.
One could examine the offensive data for the three teams that Harvey pitched so poorly against and perhaps surmise that he was judged rather quickly. The Braves have one of the top offensive lineups in MLB currently and the Nationals are a Top 5 NL offensive team as well. However, only the Marlins have a worse offense than the Brewers, who also hit Harvey hard during the stretch in question. Therefore, the answer to whether the Mets were hasty in demoting Harvey to bullpen duty is a resounding no! The Mets made the right move (a rarity that is). Harvey belonged in the ‘pen and perhaps in the minors to work on his mechanics and delivery.
So, now we move on to the other side of the trade equation to ask whether the Mets made the right move in trading Harvey for (gulp!) Devin Mesoraco. To me, the answer is simple. No friggin’ way. Look, you have to go all the way back to 2014 to find a season in which Mesoraco didn’t suck. In fact, 2014 is the only season that Mesoraco made any kind of impact on the team’s bottom line. He triple-slashed .273/.359/.534 and bashed 25 home runs with 80 RBIs. He hasn’t come close to that in any major league season both before or after 2014.
So, the Mets will be paying Matt Harvey’s salary (just south of $6M) to get Devin Mesoraco’s production, and the Reds will pick up the rest of Mesoraco’s $13M salary. On paper and in reality, the Reds are getting the better end of the deal. Harvey may yet come out on the other side of the surgical procedures he’s endured to regain his form and pitch without pain. There is a chance he will at least become a viable bullpen pitcher, and it’s not out of the question that Harvey regains enough of his stuff to be an effective starter again. Mesoraco, on the other hand, is a lost cause. Over the past three-plus seasons he has done nothing to inspire confidence that he will ever be anything close to what he was (briefly) in 2014. In essence, he’s an expensive backstop with virtually no chance to be useful to the Mets or anyone else for that matter.
The final takeaway from all this is very simple. If you already own Harvey, perhaps in a dynasty league, and you are hoping for a revival in his new home, there is some reason to believe he can once again find the right mechanics to be an effective starter. However, he has to stay on your bench until further notice. If he shows some improvement over a couple of starts, you may be able to use him again later in the season. The same goes for those of you in deeper redraft formats. Just be aware that you may need to wait a long time – perhaps into next season – assuming he remains in MLB. Mesoraco, on the other hand, is a total lost cause. There is virtually no hope that he will ever be what he once was, and anything short of that simply isn’t worth the roster spot. Move on.
We warn you: This is entirely fake news – complete fiction — but we like to think you’d believe it if we didn’t tell you. Or at least laugh.
MLB Speculates on Price’s Numb Hand
Earlier this week the Red Sox pulled David Price from his start, which is more than Price himself could do since he couldn’t pull or throw or God knows what else due to a numb hand. Price experienced numbness last month but he didn’t miss a start. He has posted an 8.47 ERA over his last three starts, so there is widespread speculation about the nature of the injury and how long he has truly suffered from this condition.
The Red Sox said he has a minor condition of carpal tunnel syndrome (CPS), though fans and media alike are skeptical. The Big Mac News Department has copiously interviewed people in and around MLB as well as people throughout Price’s life to discuss the possible roots of the strange ailment, since we assume Price isn’t blogging about the subtleties of quiddich to contract a nasty condition of CPS. Here’s what people around the game had to say about the “injury.”
Dr. Larry Ronin, Red Sox Medical Director and Team Internist: We believe the cause of the condition – note I said condition and not injury – is due to a unique spin David places on his curveball. He tries to reduce to top spin on the pitch to fool hitters as the ball leaves his hand and drops late on its way to the plate. The way his fingers interact with the ball may be interfering with nerve endings in his index finger and spreading to other parts of his hand. We are cautiously optimistic he can return for his next start.
Alex Cora, Red Sox manager. Having just started the job and only knowing D-Price since spring training I’m just getting to know what makes him tick but we’re studying film, his arm slot, release point, all that and we think we’re getting close to an answer. Dude is 6’5” and, clearly, I’m not, so I’ve spent a ton of time at eye level with his hand. I’m just thankful I don’t have to look up his nose on this one.
Dr. Harold Bornstein, President Trump’s physician. “David Price is as fine a physical specimen as I’ve seen in baseball and it is my medical opinion that a numb hand gives him an advantage by preventing him from over-thinking on the mound. …. Oh wait, that’s what David dictated to me – I don’t do that anymore. Look I been to one baseball game in my life and that’s because I thought the Grateful Dead concert was at Yankee Stadium but it was over at Shea, way back in 1978. I’m not your guy here.”
Dr. Ronny Jackson, Trump’s White House Doctor: “Having not examined the patient I can not speculate on the nature or severity of the potential injury. But if he needs uppers, downers, oxy, or even blow, I’m the doc for him. Excuse me while I personally elevate the nation’s opioid crisis to the next level.”
Tiffany Price, David’s wife: I’ve heard about men temporarily losing sensation in their hands after using lawn mowers, weed trimmers or leaf blowers, that kind of thing. But we have helpers for that. My best guess is that his hand is numb from playing The Show, Madden and that NBA video game. That runt Pedroia keeps him up til sunrise playing that shit. I told Dustin to limit his cocaine intake to the wintertime. Boys will be boys.
Ginger Medallion, NYC stripper and Price “companion” for away games at the Yankees: “Honey, I can think of a dozen ways we coulda killed that hand. You ever dance on a stripper pole? Makes everything stronger. My pink flamingo could beat all the Germans in the World’s Strongest Man competitions. And I tase him sometimes. What? He’s a freak, especially when the Yankees show him Who’s Ya Daddy.”
Kevin Millar, former Red Sox star and co-hose of Intentional Talk: I ain’t never seen this shit in baseball so I’m at a loss. If you tell me it’s a ghost taking his feeling from his hand, that would be just as likely as anything else, if you ask me. I’m stumped. Ask Rose, he’s the smart one around here.”
Kevin Pillar, Blue Jay outfielder: “I hate when people mistake me for Kevin Millar. That guy truly is an idiot.”
Joey Doherty, sixth generation Red Sox season ticket holder and fourteenth generation Boston firefighter: “Ah, that’s some ahhhkwahhhd shit there. Fucking guy’s hand goes numb out of the blue,” he says before looking over both shoulders before continuing. “I don’t wanna offend no one or nothin’ but we should look at the breedin’. I mean that may have strongah legs and ah fastah like cheetahs, but we got the strongah hands. We could lift a cah with one hand and Rosie fuckin’ O’Donnell with the other one. That’s why we fiahhfightahhs, we strong and fearless.”
Fr. Patrick O’Donlan, former pastor at St. Augustine Church: “Well, my son, it’s like this. I can’t give you the specifics of his early confessions as a boy, but many young ones admit to what we’ll call self-love. We used to tell them they’d go blind, but we realized telling them they’d go numb was a better tactic. They’ll grow up and get drunk, or use a weed wacker, and lose some feeling in their extremities and we look brilliant. We did absolve those who came for what we’ll call, private altar boy lessons in the rectory. David never attended, so possibly that’s why he’s numb, but his next door neighbor Dennis Cunningham loved altar boy lessons. Let’s just say he loved to come in my rectory.”
Matt Garza: “I don’t care why he’s numb, but I can make his next start.”
A THOUSAND WORDS
Today @BatFlipCrazy looks at Matt Olson’s woeful contact rate:
Matt Olson currently sits last in MLB in in-zone contact rate (z-contact %). It’s not particularly close: His 65.2% z-contact trails second worst Giancarlo Stanton by 7.9% (73.1%). That is … a lot
Follow @BatFlipCrazy on Twitter and read more in-depth data analysis at batflipcrazy.com
RIDDLE ME THIS
How can you throw a ball as hard as you can and have it come back to you, even if it doesn’t bounce off anything? There is nothing attached to it, and no one else catches or throws it back to you.
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DAD JOKE OF THE DAY
Because bad jokes fuel our world.
What time did the man go to the dentist?
WHAT WE ARE LISTENING TO
The Record Company is one of our favorite bands. “Off the Ground” is the first track from their debut album “Give It Back To You.” They have some new music out and they are on the road this month and throughout the summer. Check ’em out.