13 Jun MLB Mail Bag: Fan Questions Answered: Week 11
By: Lou Landers – @RealSportsCrew
Welcome to another edition of MLB Mail Bag. This week I’ll be answering 4 questions submitted by fans and these questions are also analyzed and debated on The Sports Buffet Radio show every week, along with an assortment of other fun topics. The show can be listened to as a time stamped podcast and can be listened to anytime right here. For easy access to all our radio shows or to submit a question of your own, follow me on Facebook at “Lou Landers”.
1) Masahiro Tanaka Struggles:
There is no secret that the Yankees and their fans are concerned with Tanaka’s shaky start to the 2017 season. Throughout his MLB career, Tanaka has been as consistent as they come, the ace of this Yankees pitching staff and the one guy in the rotation that when he takes the mound, you expect the team to win. This year, Tanaka is striking out less hitters, allowing much more hard contact and his having issues keeping the ball in the ball park. He only has the relatively high win total because the Yankees are the best offensive team in baseball right now.
The most interesting stat about the Yankees SP right now is that if you take Tanaka out of the rotation, they’d have the best ERA and WHIP among any rotation in the majors. If Tanaka can find his groove again, this Yankees team is positioned to do some great things in 2017, two years ahead of schedule. To help Tanaka regain his form, the Yankees scratched him from his scheduled start on Sunday against the Orioles. He instead pitched on Monday night against the Angels. Tanaka was solid on the extra day of rest and will pitch again this weekend against the Oakland A’s.
2) What’s more impressive: 4 Homers in a game or a Perfect Game?
Both feats are incredible in their own right. It’s difficult to say which is more impressive because if you asked a pitcher, they’d say the perfect game; yet if you asked a hitter they’d say 4 homers in a game.
When a pitcher is perfect throughout an entire ball game it’s an incredible accomplishment. Everything has to go right for them, including keeping their pitch count low, no mistakes on defense and of course they have to baffle hitters enough to the point where they cannot make adjustments against them throughout the game.
When a hitter hits 4 homers in a game they are obviously locked in. It’s one thing for someone to go 4 for 4 or not make an out in a ball game, but 4 homers is an entirely different animal. You have to square up the ball every time, and you’re likely doing so against 3 or more pitchers as well, making it all the more difficult.
With all that being said, I’m more impressed by a 4 home run game. As rare as a perfect game is, there is a much longer list of players who have thrown one than players who have hit 4 home runs in one game. If you think about it further, hitters play every day and there is more of an opportunity for them to do it, so the fact that they haven’t leads me to believe that it’s not only more rare but also more impressive.
3) Is David Price a media disaster in Boston and does it affect his performance?
This has been an issue in Boston dating back to last season. Price signed a massive free agent deal with the Red Sox after the 2015 season, knowing full well that it’s a media frenzy in that town. Price had to have known this, seeing that he pitched in the AL East for many years, mostly with Tampa but also in Toronto for their playoff run in 2015. The way Price has handled the media thus far is not going to fly in a large market. The more he pushes them away, the more shit they’re going to give him. I don’t believe that his performance on the field is affected by the media giving him a hard time, however, the more he struggles, the harder they are going to be on him.
The Red Sox organization is definitely not happy about what has recently transpired between Price and the media. Last week, Price made a point of saying that he will only be available to the media on the day that he pitches. He will not have personal interviews, answer personal questions or talk to any media members on his off day. Statements like that do not sit well with anyone, but in a massive market like Boston, it only adds fuel to the fire. To complicate matters more, the Red Sox own the Boston Globe, so in no way do they want to “Bite the hand that feeds them”.
Price’s recent struggles should be attributed to him missing the first 8 weeks of the season and nothing else. His conflict with the Boston media is a separate problem entirely.
4) Should a big power hitter bat second?
This of course depends on the team, how deep their lineup is and whether or not they’re a small ball oriented team. If a team only has one major power bat, you will likely see them hit in the middle of the lineup because that player is the team’s main run producer. However, when you have a number of big power bats in your lineup, not all of them can hit in the middle of the order and placing them 2nd in the lineup gets the hitter more AB’s, not only in each game but throughout the entire season. It makes sense to have your best hitter getting more at bats.
Prime examples of this would be the Blue Jays batting Josh Donaldson 2nd or when the Yankees use Gary Sanchez in that spot. Teams that have a quality 9 hitter also like to deploy this strategy because they want a run producer coming up with guys on base. If the 9 and 1 hitters get on base, the 2 hitter will be given plenty of RBI chances. There is no negative to this strategy unless you lack power in the middle of your lineup as I explained earlier. I wouldn’t be surprised if more teams around MLB started to do this, simply because of the success that teams have had in doing it.