Todd's Takes: Boomer and Lucky Lefties

Todd's Takes: Boomer and Lucky Lefties

This article is part of our Todd's Takes series.

Slip, Sliding Away

I'm not sure if injuries are up, but they sure seem to be happening in some odd ways. There have been a couple on collisions during a rundown, like Tim Anderson. 

It wasn't a rundown, but Byron Buxton had a nasty collision while hustling into second base. 

Fortunately, he is supposed to play Friday.

It seems like there have been more injuries during slides. Maybe it's just perception, but here are a few:

I've also seen a few runners thrown out sliding feet first with their cleats literally above the base when tagged. What has happened to the fundamental skill of sliding?

I wasn't a very good hardball player, but man, could I slide. I didn't get on much. I didn't have than many chances to take the extra base. I was usually out on the base paths well before it was time to slide. However, this husky teenager could slide up storm.

My town (Framingham, Massachusetts) was one of the first to offer an alternative

Slip, Sliding Away

I'm not sure if injuries are up, but they sure seem to be happening in some odd ways. There have been a couple on collisions during a rundown, like Tim Anderson. 

It wasn't a rundown, but Byron Buxton had a nasty collision while hustling into second base. 

Fortunately, he is supposed to play Friday.

It seems like there have been more injuries during slides. Maybe it's just perception, but here are a few:

I've also seen a few runners thrown out sliding feet first with their cleats literally above the base when tagged. What has happened to the fundamental skill of sliding?

I wasn't a very good hardball player, but man, could I slide. I didn't get on much. I didn't have than many chances to take the extra base. I was usually out on the base paths well before it was time to slide. However, this husky teenager could slide up storm.

My town (Framingham, Massachusetts) was one of the first to offer an alternative to Babe Ruth League. It was called Colt League, with the primary difference being Babe Ruth was for ages 13 to 15, while Colt Leagues was broken into 13 and 14, then 15 and 16. Not only could I play another year in Colt League, but my uncle was one of the coaches, so the choice was easy.

I remember the day like it was yesterday, but it was almost 47 years ago. It was a rainy Saturday, but instead of cancelling practice, we held it indoors in a local gym. We played catch for a bit, then Coach White gathered us together at the free throw line. At the other free throw line was a base. He said today we were going to learn how to slide and asked his son (about five years older than the rest of us) to demonstrate. He started running towards the base but stopped around midcourt. My cousin looked back, coyly smiled, then jogged over to the equipment bag. He took out a blanket and placed it in front of the base.

This time, he didn't stop at half court, continuing towards the base and sliding on the blanket. I think he was safe, but it's a good thing replay wouldn't be used for around 40 years, since he lost contact with the bag.

The team then took turns sliding on the blanket into the base. Another "less than in shape" teammate (aka my platoon partner in right field) sort of slowed down before sliding, catching more gym floor than blanket. His nickname became Strawberry, years before Darryl hit the scene.

I may have been chubby, but even back then I was rather analytical, so I figured the best plan was to run as hard as I could and hit the blanket in the middle. I may have been scared to ride a roller coaster, but I was more scared of having my fat ass double-dribble at the foul line, so I nailed it. In fact, my uncle was so impressed, he had the team gather around the blanket to get a closer look at my technique.

OK, now the pressure is on. I was alone at the far foul line. I glanced at Strawberry, who gave me the thumbs up. Paradise by the Dashboard Light wouldn't come out til the following year, but in my recollection of the event, I always think:

Batter steps up to the plate, here's the pitch-he's going
And what a jump he's got, he's trying for third
Here's the throw, it's in the dirt-safe at third
Holy cow, stolen base

I nailed the second slide too. 

Years later, as my uncle was driving me to the hospital when I had what was diagnosed as bronchitis, he said, "In case you don't make it, I have something to tell you." After I assured him I would be OK, he still asked me, "Remember that sliding drill in the Keefe Gym?"

Yup, like it was yesterday.

"Well, I know you felt you were a pretty lousy ballplayer, but you were better than you thought, or at least you could be. You lacked confidence, and it showed. I knew you could slide, so after you hit the first one, I put you on the spot to do it again, to build up your confidence."

I'm not sure if it worked, but soon thereafter, I went from platoon right fielder to regular first baseman, earning the nickname "Boomer" after George Scott. I mean, the nickname wasn't perfect, but we were both hefty targets who could scoop.

Descriptive, Not Predictive

In the comments of my recent The Z Files: Dissecting the First Three Series, I was asked to look at platoon splits to embellish the research presented on early season differences from last season. By means of reminder, here is the data from the first three series this year and last.

What follows is platoon data over the same time frame (the first three series of each season).

Wow, southpaws have been crazy unlucky to both sides of the plate. The data helps explain the totals from the first table (descriptive), but if you expect lefty swingers to maintain a .329 BABIP against their lefty-throwing brethren, I have an out-of-business, 2005 fantasy baseball website to sell you. (I really don't; thankfully mine is still going strong.)

Here is how last season ended.

For years, the numbers with the platoon advantages were superior to those without, but the shift put the kibosh on that, at least in terms of BABIP. The wOBA with the platoon advantage was still better than those without.

The main point is the same as in The Z Files. All this data is descriptive, with no actionable conclusions to be gleaned — other than the fact that wackiness ensues in small samples, so it's best to stay calm and let water find its level.

Box Score Blitz: Wednesday, April 12

  • HOU 7, PIT 0: Neither starter was dominant, but both were credited with quality starts. Rich Hill didn't fan any Astros, but he kept them in check, allowing just two runs... Jose Urquidy blanked the Pirates, fanning just two... Chas McCormick seems to be cementing the majority of playing time in center, as the leadoff batter was 2-for-4 with two runs and his fourth steal of the season... Corey Julks continued his solid play with his first career homer. He has pop, but he's fanned at a 25.7 percent clip while failing to draw a walk in 35 plate appearances... Houston extended the lead, but it would have been interesting if it remained a save situation. Ryan Pressly blew the save the night before, throwing 21 pitches in the process, so he was likely getting the night off. Rafael Montero threw 12 pitches the previous game, but he likely could have given Dusty Baker an inning. Hector Neris was well rested and came in for the seventh with a 5-0 lead, followed by Bryan Abreu in the eighth. Perhaps Dusty wanted to get Neris some work and figured he wanted a shutdown inning after the Astros scored three in the top of the sixth, but it also indicates Montero probably would have been asked to save the game, if necessary. This is clearly a scenario to watch.
  • MIN 3, CHW 1: Hopefully Sonny Gray isn't superstitious, since he reportedly vomited Wednesday morning, presumably a reaction to treatment for an upper respiratory virus infecting the Twins clubhouse. He shook it off, fanning five in five scoreless frames... Jhoan Duran locked down his third save, though he did yield a homer to Lenyn Sosa who was called up to help fill in for Tim Anderson. Sosa played second while Elvis Andrus shifted to shortstop... The good news is Lucas Giolito threw six innings with seven punchouts. However, he hit Kyle Farmer in the face in a scary scenario. Farmer needed oral surgery to realign four teeth and take care of a cut around his jaw... Carlos Correa (back) missed his fourth straight game but is expected to play Thursday... Byron Buxton collided with Sosa but appears to be okay, but it's Buxton, so... Yoan Moncada (back) missed his third straight game for the White Sox but hopes to return on Friday... The Twins promoted Edouard Julien, James Anderson's third-ranked Minnesota prospect and No. 58 overall. Julien will likely play a lot at the keystone with Nick Gordon needed to help an outfield missing Joey Gallo and Max Kepler while Rocco Baldelli is still hesitant to use Buxton in the field.
  • NYY 4, CLE 3: With manager Aaron Boone watching most of the game in the clubhouse (yeah, right) after a first inning ejection, the Yankees rallied against a tough Guardians bullpen, scoring the game winner off Emmanuel Clase in the top of the ninth... Clay Holmes logged his fourth save, but he needed 20 pitches as his count was pushed up with two walks. Michael King threw 25 pitches over two frames, while Ron Marinaccio needed 32 tosses to get through his frame. This leaves Wandy Peralta as the most-rested reliever, even though he compiled 12 pitches getting the win in the eighth. Still, Peralta is the most likely candidate for a Thursday save... Franchy Cordero stayed hot with his fourth homer while it was an Oswaldo Cabrera knock off Clase that proved to be the game-winner.
  • NYM 5, SD 2: Tylor Megill wasn't particularly effective, but he managed to run his record to 3-0 with five innings of two-run ball, fanning three with three walks. Megill owes David Robertson a nice dinner as Robertson was summoned with two outs in the seventh with runners at the corners and Juan Soto at the dish. Soto had already powered a 453-foot, two-run shot earlier, but Robertson induced Soto to fly out to left field. Robertson then worked the eighth before Adam Ottavino notched his first save. This was a clear case of using Robertson when the game was on the line. He should continue to garner, most, but not all of the Mets' save chances... Blake Snell looked out of sorts, walking five while surrendering six hits in five innings... Despite being a southpaw, Snell along with catcher Austin Nola were victimized for three steals, one each from Tommy Pham, Mark Canha and Jeff McNeil. The bags were more off Nola than Snell, which may accelerate the transition to Luis Campusano as the Padres' regular backstop, especially if Nola remains punchless at the plate.
  • SEA 5, CHC 2: There are 482 reasons to be optimistic Jarred Kelenic has finally figured it out. Coincidentally, that's as many feet his eighth-inning blast traveled, giving him a homer in three straight games. Kelenic has fanned a more manageable 26.8 percent of the time while walking at a solid 9.8 percent clip... Logan Gilbert rebounded from a subpar effort in Cleveland with 6.2 frames, whiffing seven with just one base on balls... Dansby Swanson played in 382 of his previous 384 games (including the prior 192), but he sat this one out with side soreness. Swanson expects to be ready on Friday... Marcus Stroman threw six stanzas for the third straight game to open the season. The first dozen were scoreless, but the veteran righty yielded two runs to end the streak.
  • STL 7, COL 4: It may be hard for the Cardinals to get Nolan Gorman to board the team plane after he hit a game-winning homer for the second straight game. Gorman also doubled in the series opener at Coors Field. He now has four homers on the season, playing mostly designated hitter but also sneaking in three games at second (where he should easily retain eligibility for next season) and an appearance at the hot corner...  Nolan Arenado and Tyler O'Neill also took advantage of the altitude with their second blast of the season... Heading into the contest, Jack Flaherty sported a tidy 1.80 ERA, but he had walked 13 in 10 innings, so it was good to see him record six strikeouts with only one free pass in 5.1 frames... Ryan Helsley logged a save in the second straight game, but he's worked on three of the past four days so he'll likely need Thursday off. With Giovanny Gallegos also needing a day, Jordan Hicks is the likely fill-in... Dylan Carlson missed his second consecutive game with a stiff neck, but he hopes to avoid the IL. Meanwhile, Lars Nootbaar (thumb) is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield on Thursday.
  • ARI 7, MIL 3: The first-place Diamondbacks finished a 5-2 homestand entertaining the Dodgers and Brewers with a win over Milwaukee (which is Algonquin for "the good land")... Arizona starter Drey Jameson was on a pitch limit after beginning the season in the bullpen. He tossed 54 pitches over four scoreless frames, whiffing four with no walks... Janson Junk did not fare as well in his first start of the season. Pressed into action with Brandon Woodruff (shoulder) on the IL, Junk let in five runs (four earned) in 4.2 innings, yielding seven hits including a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. three-run shot in the third... Corbin Carroll added his third dinger in the seventh, to go along with five early swipes.
  • MIA 3, PHI 2 (F/10): A Bryan De La Cruz game-winning single in the 10th propelled the Marlins to their second straight win over the Phillies... Jorge Soler tied the game in the eighth with his fourth blast of the young campaign... Jon Berti is beginning to rack up steals with his third swipe. Joey Wendle won't be ready when he's first eligible to return, so expect Berti to continue to cover shortstop at least through the weekend... A.J. Puk is emerging as a bullpen force, collecting the win with a two-inning effort... After a pair of sub-par efforts to open the season, Zack Wheeler hurled six frames with six punchouts, though he did issue three free passes... Trea Turner and Bryson Stott each collected third third steal. Turner is supposed to run, but Stott could prove to be someone who benefits from the new landscape... Edward Cabrera gave up seven hits in five stanzas, but he only walked one after yielding 13 bases on balls in his first two outings, which spanned 6.2 innings.
  • LAA 3, WSH 2: Do you remember what you were doing on June 2, 2021? Griffin Canning probably does, as previous to Wednesday night, that was the last time he toed a major-league rubber. Twenty-two months later, he hurled five frames of two-run ball, fanning four Nationals while walking no one... Canning left with the game tied 2-2, then Logan O'Hoppe singled home Brandon Drury, who led off the bottom of the sixth with a double... The run proved to be the game-winner as four Angels relievers each threw a scoreless stanza with Matt Moore picking up the win, while Jose Quijada recorded his second save... After missing four games with a hamstring issue, Luis Garcia returned for the Nationals.
  • OAK 8, BAL 4: A three-spot in the top of the eighth snapped a 4-4 tie, ending the Athletics' six-game losing streak. Oakland starter Ken Waldichuk wasn't around for the decision, but he was credited with a quality start with 6.1 innings of three-run ball, albeit with five hits and three walks, fanning just four... Carlos Perez and Brent Rooker took Orioles starter Dean Kremer deep, each garnering their first homer of the season... Jorge Mateo continues to crush, going 2-for-4 with a double.
  • TB 9, BOS 7: Rookie hurler Taj Bradley won his MLB debut, helping the Rays extend their season-opening win streak to a dozen games. Bradley threw five frames, punching out eight with just one walk. Initially, it was unclear if Bradley would remain in the Rays rotation, but after Jeffrey Springs left Thursday's game early with what was later diagnosed as ulnar neuritis, Bradley should stick around until the end of the month, perhaps longer... Randy Arozarena got things started early with a three-run jack off Chris Sale in the first inning... Wander Franco continues to show why has was MLB's top prospect a couple of years ago with a 3-for-5 effort, scoring twice with a pair of RBI and his third steal.
  • TOR 4, DET 3 (F/10): Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez both pitched well, but neither collected a decision in this extra-inning affair. Gausman racked up 11 strikeouts in eight innings, walking none, but he did yield a pair of homers, one to Nick Maton and the other off the bat of Kerry Carpenter... Rodriguez collected a quality start with six frames of one-run ball, allowing seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts... Jordan Romano pitched the 10th for his first win... The Tigers placed Matt Manning on the IL with a fractured foot, suffered in Tuesday's game. His rotation spot will likely be claimed by Michael Lorenzen, who is returning from a groin strain.
  • ATL 5, CIN 4: In a battle of two of the Senior Circuit's young flamethrowers, Hunter Greene's line was a little better than that of Spencer Strider, but it was Atlanta who prevailed in the end. Greene recorded a quality start with 10 punchouts in six innings, walking no one while yielding three runs. Strider fanned nine in five frames, but he walked a pair while also surrendering three runs... A.J. Minter shook off a blown save on Monday for his second save of the season... Eddie Rosario provided the difference with an eighth-inning homer, his first of the season... Orlando Arcia took a 97-mph Greene fastball off the wrist, but he hopes to avoid the injured list. If he can avoid a 10-day visit, Ehire Adrianza will fill in, but if Arcia needs an IL stint, brace for the #FreeGrissom hashtags.
  • KC 10, TEX 1: This is by no means a victory lap, but I have expressed optimism for the Royals arms under new pitching coach Brian Sweeney. Sweeney was the Guardians bullpen coach, and the hope is he brings some of their Midas Touch with pitching to Kansas City. Kris Bubic is getting most of the fantasy adoration, but don't ignore Brad Keller. The righty limited Texas to just one run in 6.2 innings, fanning seven with a sole walk in Arlington... It was one of these games for Nathan Eovaldi as the veteran righty fanned seven with no walks in five innings, but he yielded 10 knocks, including Vinnie Pasquantino's second of the season... Pasquantino's barrel rate is down, but he's hitting the ball hard, so his power is due for an uptick... MJ Melendez fanned twice for the third straight game, but he went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Melendez will never be confused with Luis Arraez, but his 39 percent strikeout rate will come down, with production going up.
  • LAD 10, SF 5: Clayton Kershaw is now win from 200, after posting a quality start for his 199th victory... Alex Cobb was hit hard, surrendering eight hits over just 3.2 frames, fanning just one... Max Muncy will go down as the hero with a pair of long balls, accounting for four runs, but don't ignore Freddie Freeman's bases loaded walk as he fouled off nine consecutive offerings before Taylor Rogers missed with the 15th pitch of the plate appearance... After playing in his second game since returning from a groin injury, shortstop Miguel Rojas left early with a hamstring cramp. The club hopes Rojas can play on Friday, with Chris Taylor serving as Plan B.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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