Bob Molinaro had this commentary in a recent column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“With home-run totals up significantly in both MLB and Triple-A, baseball mavens are discussing the aerodynamics of the ball and how the lower stitches contribute to less drag, leading to increased distances off the bat. The ball is juiced. It’s uncanny, though, how the juiciest end up in the hands of Baltimore Orioles pitchers. The Birds surrendered 73 home runs in April, obliterating the previous MLB mark of 50. In 13 games at Camden Yards, O’s pitchers gave up an average of 3.2 home runs. The Orioles’ staff would be less of a danger to itself if it worked with live hand grenades.”
Those are some rather staggering stats – even considering that the members of the current pitching staff for the Orioles are not likely to storm the doors at Cooperstown once their careers are ended. So, I decided to do some research – – and a bit of extrapolation:
- Christian Yelich has 15 HRs in 38 games. That extrapolates to 64 HRs for a season.
- Cody Bellinger has 14 HRs in 38 games. That extrapolates to 60 HRs for a season.
- Nine different players have 11 HRs in something close to 38 games and all of them extrapolate to 47 HRs for a season.
While those extrapolated numbers are not comparable to the season where Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were pounding them out, it does raise some legitimate questions about “juiced baseballs” in 2019. Consider:
- In 2018, only 3 players hit more than 40 HRs for the year (Khris Davis, JD Martinez and Joey Gallo)
- In 2018, Nolan Arenado led the NL in HRs with 38.
- In 2018, Christian Yelich hit 36 HRs for the season.
- In 2018, Cody Bellinger hit 25 HRs for the season.
If the baseballs are not juiced – as MLB will surely aver – then maybe players are juicing once again?
Another interesting item from the world of MLB with almost 25% of the season in the books is the performance of the Tampa Bay Rays. The team surprised a lot of folks last year winning 90 games. They were never serious threats to win the AL East then because both the Red Sox and the Yankees were tearing things up there, but the Rays were a very good club. Nevertheless, the Rays are a “bargain basement club” when it comes to payroll. Here are some of the Opening Day payrolls for MLB clubs and their records so far this year:
- Red Sox $213M 18-19
- Cubs $208M 20-13
- Yankees $206M 21-14
- Nationals $181M 14-21
- Mets $162M 17-19
- Dodgers $153M 24-14
- Brewers $130M 22-16
- Rays $69M 23-12 [Best record in MLB as of this morning]
- Orioles $67M 13-23
- Blue Jays $67M 15-21
- Marlins $63M 10-25
I am not saying – because I am not expecting – that the Rays will end the season with the best record in MLB, but they have put together a very competitive team on a shoestring budget. Too bad that the fans in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties in Florida are not showing up to see the Rays in action. As of this morning, the Rays are averaging 13,351 fans per home game. Only the hapless Miami Marlins are drawing fewer folks to the ballpark.
Another comment by Bob Molinaro caught my attention recently:
“Wondering: If you were a 31-year-old Triple-A rookie hitting .149 with no power and 25 strikeouts and only six bases on balls in 67 at-bats, how fast would you be released or demoted if your name wasn’t Tim Tebow?”
Obviously, the answer here is that the release or the demotion would be as fast as an axe fight in a phone booth. Tim Tebow’s charisma/likeability/congeniality is such that the Mets are more than willing to overlook the fact that he is not a prospect for the “big club” and they just hope that he can put together a few stats that will allow the Mets to call him up to the “big club” once September rolls around.
Finally, here are two closely related observations from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“The trigger-happy Phoenix Suns are looking for their seventh head coach in eight years.
“In keeping with the theme, arena workers just installed a turnstile in front of the coaches’ bench.”
“The Phoenix Suns fired coach Igor Kokoskov after just one feckless season.
“NBA fans there are already partying like it was 19-63.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………