•   
  •   
  •   

Sport From two-way star Shohei Ohtani to soaring strikeout totals, MLB's wacky April has been full of 'anomaly stuff'

15:15  28 april  2021
15:15  28 april  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani hits the hardest ball this year at 119 MPH

  Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani hits the hardest ball this year at 119 MPH Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani scalded a double that left the bat at 119 mph, making it one of the hardest-hit balls since Statcast started.The Los Angeles Angels two-way player — sporting a 1.109 OPS through his first 41 plate appearances this year — scalded a double off reliever Kansas City Royals reliever Scott Barlow to right field that one-hopped the wall and left the bat at 119 mph, according to MLB's Statcast.

Baseball is incredible.

Where else can you find a two-way star like Shohei Ohtani, who leads the American League in home runs and also started and won a game Monday in which he drove in or scored a majority of the Los Angeles Angels’ runs?

a man wearing a baseball uniform standing on a stage: Shohei Ohtani warms up before a game against the Rangers. © Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports Shohei Ohtani warms up before a game against the Rangers.

Baseball is terrible.

From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.

Why bother with a sport whose hitters have collectively produced a .232 batting average, which would rank as the worst ever and mark the third time in four years that number has dropped?

'A movie waiting to happen': Braves infielder Sean Kazmar Jr. makes first MLB appearance since 2008

  'A movie waiting to happen': Braves infielder Sean Kazmar Jr. makes first MLB appearance since 2008 The 36-year-old infielder has been in the minor leagues since his last MLB game, but was called back up by the Braves on Saturday.Called up by the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, Kazmar Jr. entered the Braves' game against the Chicago Cubs in the 5th inning as a pinch hitter, grounding out into a double play.

Baseball is incredible.

We have never seen such precision from a starting pitcher like Corbin Burnes, who has started the season by striking out 49 batters and walking nobody, his adjusted ERA an otherworldly 265, his Fielding Independent Pitching a near-invisible 0.51.

Baseball is terrible.

We’re not yet to May 1 and already we’ve seen 14 position players pitch, a record pace for a once-whimsical rarity that’s now a far too common statement on the overall dearth of acceptable pitching around the major leagues.

Baseball is incredible.

Jacob deGrom is the game’s best pitcher and, amazingly, is getting better, striking out a career-high 15 in his last start, sporting a 0.31 ERA with 50 strikeouts, breaking Shane Bieber’s days-old mark (shared with Nolan Ryan) of 48 punchouts through four starts.

Shohei Ohtani inspires the masses to feel the angst of pitching in the majors

  Shohei Ohtani inspires the masses to feel the angst of pitching in the majors Shohei Ohtani’s 1.04 ERA through two starts this year belies the incredible angst that it’s taken to get there. You know that, of course, if you watched Tuesday night’s Los Angeles Angels game — Ohtani’s first on the mound in over two weeks. The results showed a scoreless outing — kept short by design — that helped the Angels to a victory. After the game, Ohtani rated his command “a zero out of 100,” via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. And you also know that if you’ve been paying attention to baseball since the captivating two-way talent came over from Japan ahead of the 2018 season.

Baseball is terrible.

Strikeouts now comprise 25% of all plate appearances, and 2021 almost assuredly will mark the 25th consecutive season the strikeout rate has risen and the fourth consecutive year there will be more strikeouts than hits.

Baseball is incredible.

Never has a player started his career like Fernando Tatis Jr., who despite an injured list stint is on track for 47 homers and 27 steals this year, a five-tool talent and the perfect bellwether for the next generation of stars.

Baseball is terrible.

Never has there been less action in the game, with a record 37% of plate appearances ending in one of three “true outcomes” – home run, strikeout, walk – and the average time of a nine-inning game now a record 3 hours, 8 minutes despite an onerous three-batter minimum rule for relief pitchers.

So. About this first month: It is a small sample size, of course.

Greatness and mediocrity don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout put on a show in Angels’ win over Rangers

  Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout put on a show in Angels’ win over Rangers Baseball in Southern California is better than ever right now. The defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers remain the MLB team to beat. The young-and-fun San Diego Padres may be right behind the Dodgers in that regard (and just took three of four from the Dodgers, capped off by an incredible comeback on Sunday Night Baseball). Read more The post Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout put on a show in Angels’ win over Rangers appeared first on The Comeback.

And it could very well be that the game is in this strange transitional stage – perhaps you’ve heard the home office is pondering significant changes to shake it out of it – where one group of players, the pitchers, exhibit too much control.

Heck, just a few moments after the more casual fan knew Burnes' name, he was dealt his first loss by yet another relative unknown.

Next flamethrower up.

“It’s as hard as ever to score runs,” says Craig Counsell, manager of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers and the guy fortunate enough to trot Burnes out there every fifth day. “And as much as anything, it’s about velocity – the velocity of the game just continues. The Marlins pitcher yesterday was really darn good – he was throwing 97 mph in the sixth inning last night. A starter, throwing 97 in the sixth inning and we don’t even talk about that, almost.

“You just don’t see that but it feels like it’s becoming – from a player who isn’t necessarily a household name – a statement about where pitching’s at in the game, where a guy like Trevor Rogers, a really darn good young pitcher, is doing special things with big velocity.

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. blasts three home runs vs. Washington Nationals

  Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. blasts three home runs vs. Washington Nationals Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 22, does something his Hall of Fame father never did with his three-homer game vs. Washington Nationals.Just 42 days after celebrating his 22nd birthday, Guerrero became the youngest player since at least 1901 to record three homers and seven RBI in the same game. And he hit two of them against one of the best pitchers in the majors, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals.

“There’s velocity all over the game. And it’s made hitting very difficult.”

Fair enough, and nothing new under the sun – velocity has been rising for decades, pitch design and execution only get nastier, the hitting environment more perilous.

At the same time, the league average ERA has not moved in a linear fashion. Sure, it’s down to 3.91 this year, but figures to tick up with the weather, per usual. The largest spikes were seen in publicly-acknowledged juiced-ball seasons of 2017 and 2019, yet it dropped in the seasons that followed.

And to be clear, there are plenty of subpar to terrible pitching staffs out there. The top three all hail from the pitching-friendly and star-studded NL West – the Padres, Dodgers and Giants all entered Tuesday sporting staff ERAs of 3.00 or better.

A majority of the clubs are north of 4.00, and it's telling that the two worst staffs  Atlanta (4.89) and the Angels (5.16) have not been penalized, both hovering near .500 and well in contention.

Both should normalize – we think – but also, it may just be one of those haywire years, an unprecedented 162-game slog coming off a 60-game, pandemic-shortened season.

"Playing 60 games after a very long interlude and then coming back and competing again, you’re set up for some anomaly stuff going on. And it’s happening right now," Angels manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday.

Athletics pitcher Jesus Luzardo fractures pinkie while playing video game

  Athletics pitcher Jesus Luzardo fractures pinkie while playing video game Oakland A's left-hander Jesus Luzardo suffered a hairline fracture when he hit his pitching hand on a table before his start Saturday vs. Baltimore.A's manager Bob Melvin said Luzardo hit his left hand on a table while playing the game before Saturday's start against the Baltimore Orioles.

The leap from 60 to 162 was an industry concern, not just for pitchers' workloads but regulars needing off days. Maddon's Angels opted for hyper-protecting the staff and Ohtani  a six-man rotation, a nine-man bullpen and, in essence, a two-man bench.

So the everyday guys have had to battle through it, and normalcy may have to wait until 2022.

"I want to believe that as guys get back into the groove of 162 – which may mean next year, I’m not sure – you might see more normal patterns settling in," says Maddon.

"But for right now, guys are being pushed a little bit more than their bodies experienced based on what happened last year."

And in this small 2021 sample, modern trends are super-sized. Not until 2018 was there a season with more strikeouts than hits, but just barely - 8.48 strikeouts per game to 8.44 hits.

Now, the whiffs are overwhelming the barrels, 9.13 per game to 7.65.

That may not normalize over 162 games. But it may take a more normal year to determine if that change will be permanent.

Until then, enjoy 2021, in all its guts and glory. Never has a year looked so different based on the eye of the beholder.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: From two-way star Shohei Ohtani to soaring strikeout totals, MLB's wacky April has been full of 'anomaly stuff'

Fantasy Baseball: Trying to better understand rankings in a league dominated by pitching .
The Fantasy Baseball landscape has changedAs it turns out … maybe we were both right? 

usr: 0
This is interesting!