Religion of Sports New “Crushed” Podcast on Baseball’s Steroid Era

Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is set for April 1st, and Religion of Sports has baseball fans covered with a brand new podcast. “Crushed” takes a deep dive into the controversial steroid ERA, the infamous 1998 home run chase, and the lasting legacy.

Longtime sportswriter Joan Niesen hosts the seven-part narrative series. She was one of many people who became enamored with baseball as she watched Mark McGwire break records in her home city of St. Louis. Niesen’s experiences and expertise in baseball brings a very unique voice to a compelling topic. Niesen brings to life the high and lows of a period that changed the game forever.

“It’s been fascinating to dig in deeper to the steroid era and its enduring legacy,” Niesen said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I
think this podcast will help listeners separate the truth of that time from the myths.”

“Crushed” features plenty of notable guests and illustrious names from the era. Former MLB All-Stars Rick Honeycutt and Royce Clayton provide the unique perspective of players who live competed during this period. The chairman of the 2005 Congressional steroid hearings and former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich joins the series. Roger Maris Jr., of course, the son of former single-season home run record holder Roger Maris, are just a few of the tremendous guests for the series.

“Crushed” is free and available to all listeners on April 1st. Fans can stream all episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Stitcher. You can listen to a the trailer for the series here!

New York Mets: No Universal DH in Agreed Health and Safety Protocols

The New York Mets desperately needed the universal designated hitter for the 2021 season but will not get their wish. Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on health and safety protocols for 2021, including 7-inning doubleheaders and a runner starting on second during extra innings.

MLB did not want the universal DH and felt it was not important towards COVID-19 safety like the other rule changes. For the Union to get the DH, they have to agree on an expanded postseason. Ironically, playing extra innings is a health risk but asking players to add more games to the postseason is perfectly fine. This ongoing chess match between Rob Manfred and Tony Clark is a competition between two people in well over their heads.

Will The Rules Stay?

Anyone against the extra-inning or doubleheader changes can hope they do not remain past 2021. It will not be easy to agree upon a new collective bargaining agreement before 2022. The future Zoom meeting will feature arguments on these topics, along with much more. There is good reason to assume the two controversial rules are just for the pandemic. The universal DH is a higher priority to the Union than playing fewer doubleheader innings or shortening extra-inning games.

The Mets suffer the most without the universal DH as they are stuck with Brandon Nimmo’s defense in center field. Unless Nimmo is traded before spring training, Jackie Bradley Jr. is off their radar. In a perfect world, Bradley plays center, Nimmo in left, Dominic Smith plays first, and Pete Alonso becomes the DH.

Signing Albert Almora Jr. meant the Mets saw this as the likely outcome. Bradley would be an expensive fourth outfielder with a multi-year deal. Almora gives the Mets flexibility, a bat for left-handed pitching, and a defensive replacement.

Since each position is at least two players deep, the Mets seem finished with adding position players through free agency. They may add a free agent pitcher (Jake Arrieta/Rich Hill), but their next position player move is likely through trade.

Way Too Early MLB Award Predictions

With the MLB season less than a month away, there is a lot of buzz over who will be most successful in what is a most unusual season as it’s only going to be 60 games. This means a hot start out of the gate is crucial, and could screw up some numbers this year. Guys like Giancarlo Stanton have slugged over .800 in a 60 game stretch and while I don’t think we will see that, you never know when the game is so different this time around.

This definitely will play some factor in my choosing of awards but not too much, as I believe these guys were candidates for said awards even before this reduced size of games.

With that being said, let’s get to the awards:

AL MVP: Mike Trout

Why don’t people talk enough about Mike Trout being robbed of the MVP in 2012, 2013, and 2015? He had the better fWAR by nearly 3 wins in 2012 than Miggy with better defense AND a better wRC+. In 2013? The fWAR gap is still massive, and while the offense was pretty close, the defense was obviously in Trout’s favor, plus in both years Trout had baserunning value with 40 and then 33 stolen bases. Then in 2015 the same deal, better fWAR, better wRC+, better baserunning, but this time the defense was comparable.

Thank god Trout won it last year, because he was definitely the best player in baseball last year (again), and yes he deserved it WAY more than DJ. There’s no indication besides his potential to opt-out that gives me any reason to believe anyone in the AL is on his level, especially since Betts just got traded to the NL. The only guy who’s going to give Trout a run for his money is Aaron Judge, but I have to hand the 3x MVP and arguably best CF of all time this one. He’s got the wRC+, the fWAR, the wOBA, the OBP, and he’s a solid defender, so this is a no-brainer (Unless the voters screw him over again, like they always do).

NL MVP: Mookie Betts

Look I love Christian Yelich but Betts can do one thing that will make him the MVP; he can field at an elite level. Yes Yelich is the better hitter but they are comparable in offense but Betts is an elite glove, being a top 10 defensive outfielder in the sport. Yelich could win his 2nd in 3 years but I have more faith in the recently acquired superstar who’s going to be the best player in the National League.

AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole

The BEST pitcher in baseball, with the best xFIP and best SIERA (excluding Chris Sale who’s hurt) and who will finally win the Cy Young. He was ROBBED last year by voters who clearly don’t know how to select award winners. Gerrit Cole will have to just come to NY and win the Cy Young in “deGrom’s town” and I can sit back and bask in the glory of having the best pitcher in the sport (until Chris Sale comes back, seriously that dude is special) and enjoy a nice Cy Young from our latest investment in talent.

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer

Let’s be VERY clear about this, Jacob deGrom is an elite pitcher and a future HOFer and was incredible in 2018 and 2019. That being said, the most important pitching stat is SIERA for showing sustainability of performance that we record in ERA and FIP, and Max Scherzer in 2019 had a better season with a better FIP, xFIP, and SIERA, and people will scream about ERA but if that was the case then Hyun-Jin Ryu should’ve won the NL Cy Young right? ERA is not a stat that shows sustainability rather it shows results, results that can vary and change depending on the peripheral stats I just mentioned.

Max Scherzer had a stronger 2019 and Jacob deGrom regressed enough from 2018 for me not to feel like I’m doing deGrom a disservice, as he can still win the award, but I just find Scherzer to be the better pitcher RIGHT NOW.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jesus Luzardo

This hard throwing lefty will get a lot of time out the gate to pitch for the A’s and I think he will flourish, as he is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. In his MiLB career, he has a 2.53 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 234 strikeouts in only 195.2 innings. He had a short 12 inning stint in the MLB last year and had a 1.50 ERA with a 3.37 xFIP and 2.77 SIERA and 16 strikeouts. I think he will log around 50 innings which will be enough for him to be in that ALROY race and, in my opinion, win it.

NL Rookie of the Year: Gavin Lux

I wanted to put Dylan Carlson out of St. Louis however I believe Lux is the more talented player. He had performed okay for the Dodgers in 2019 in his short stint but he underperfomed his .343 xwOBA, .288 xBA, and his .455 xSLG. The reason I not his xBA is because his BB% is around average and so with his batting average being around .288 it would give him an OBP around .350. I think he will have an even higher BB% as in the MiLB it’s always been pretty high. Lux also is a good defender at 2B with a 2 OAA in a small amount of attempts, so he will probably be the most complete rookie in the NL.

AL Reliever of the Year: Nick Anderson

I think Nick Anderson is a VERY underrated reliever, as in his first full season he had a 2.21 SIERA and a 2.44 xFIP while whiffing 110 batters in 65 innings. It was even better once he got to Tampa, as after being dealt there he pitched 21.1 innings, struck out 41 batters, had a 1.19 xFIP and 1.03 SIERA which is just INCREDIBLE. He also owned a 0.60 WHIP and will make a case for the best reliever in the sport after this season.

NL Reliever of the Year: Josh Hader

Josh Hader is a high usage reliever with great peripherals and results. He’s been the anchor of the Brewers bullpen and will be the best reliever in the NL again. Hader is a special arm talent and is probably the best strikeout reliever in the sport right now, and has a 1.73 SIERA since 2018, the best out of all relievers in the sport. He’s elite and will remain king of the NL bullpens.

AL Platnium Glove: Matt Chapman

I would give this to Andrelton Simmons but his health concerns have made him lose both the 2018 and 2019 Platnium Glove to the A’s star 3rd baseman Matt Chapman. With Chapman’s DRS being impeccable at 64 since 2019 and his 14 OAA shows his defensive dominance. He’s the best defensive 3rd baseman in the sport, and he’s going to win his 3rd straight Platnium Glove to show us why.

NL Platnium Glove: Nick Ahmed

I think that Nick is the best defensive infielder in the NL (even better than Nolan Arenado), as he plays the hardest defensive position besides catcher in the infield which does affect how good I think he is AND his DRS, OAA, and his Success Rate metrics in the last two years make him a prime candidate for this award. I think Harrison Bader is another player with a great shot at this award but for now, I’ll go with Nick Ahmed.

AL Silver Sluggers

C: Mitch Garver
1B: Matt Olson
2B: DJ LeMahieu
3B: Anthony Rendon
SS: Carlos Correa
OF: Aaron Judge
OF: Mike Trout
OF: George Springer
DH: Yordan Alvarez

NL Silver Sluggers

C: JT Realmuto
1B: Max Muncy
2B: Ketel Marte
3B: Justin Turner
SS: Trevor Story
OF: Juan Soto
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Christian Yelich
DH: JD Davis (if he is the DH)

AL Gold Glove Picks

C: Yasmani Grandal
1B: Matt Olson
2B: DJ LeMahieu
3B: Matt Chapman
SS: Andrelton Simmons
OF: Aaron Judge
OF: Kevin Kiermaier
OF: Byron Buxton
P: Zack Grienke

NL Gold Glove Picks

C: JT Realmuto
1B: Christian Walker
2B: Kolten Wong
3B: Nolan Arenado
SS: Nick Ahmed
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Harrison Bader
OF: Cody Bellinger

Those are my picks for the 2020 MLB awards, let me know what you would change or if anyone was snubbed out of an award, this season’s going to be crazy, so I expect to get a lot wrong.

 

 

MLB All-Time Team: Rotation/Bullpen

New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera

As a Part 2 to my MLB All-Time Team, I will list my pitchers, which I am allowed 13 of. I will go with 5 starters and 8 relievers, and so it may not be the 13 best pitchers of all time as there wouldn’t be 8 relievers in that list, it’ll really be the 5 best starters and then 8 best relievers of all time. For reference to who the batters were click here, and with that being said, let’s get on with out historic squad.

#1: Pedro Martinez

Yes I’m a Yankees fan putting a Red Sox legend as the best pitcher of all time, and that’s because I think he simply is. Yes he’s 15th in fWAR but that’s in only 2720.2 innings pitched compared to the people ahead of him who all have at least 1,100 innings more on their career. In the steroid era he had a career 2.95 ERA and 2.91 FIP and is one of three pitchers (minimum 2,000 innings pitched) who had a 10 or higher K/9 in their career. He also has the 5th best WHIP of all time at 1.05 and the best FIP- of all time and second best ERA- of all time, two stats that compare a pitcher to the average of that stat in their playing time, meaning that when you adjust for the era you pitched in, no one was more dominant in their era than Pedro was in his. Disgaree with me if you want, but he’s my GOAT pitcher.

#2: Roger Clemens

Had it not been for PEDs, I would’ve put him at one, but you take his stats with a grain of salt because of his PED usage. 3rd all time in FIP- and 8th in ERA- and the best fWAR of all time amongst pitchers. I think Clemens is a shoe-in for a starting five and that having that rocket arm in this rotation will be able to give me some serious firepower. Analytically speaking he’s undoubtedly an all-time great, and he’s my second starter

#3: Randy Johnson

Our first southpaw, Johnson is one of the best strikeout pitchers per 9 of all time, with a 10.61 K/9 and a whopping 110.4 fWAR. His 3.29 ERA and 3.19 FIP in the over 4,000 innings is amazing especially since you consider that he pitched from the 1989 season to 2009 which puts him directly in the steroid era, so his FIP- and ERA- metrics give him more justice and show he was an absolute stud on the mound. He’s the best lefty of all time in my opinion, and he’s perfect for this squad.

#4: Walter Johnson

The Big Train is a premier pick for this squad, with a 2.17 career ERA and a 2.42 FIP, he’s elite by any metric you’d like to bring up. He has a 117.1 fWAR and a ERA- of 68 and FIP- of 76 along with a 1.06 WHIP and was one of the best right handers of his era. He does have the best ERA and FIP out of all starters but his era adjusted stats bring him a tick below our top 3, but he’s still going to be a monster on this squad.

#5: Sandy Koufax

The second southpaw on this list, there are few stretches of baseball more dominant than from 1962-1966 as he had a better than 1:1 strikeout to inning ratio, with a 1.95 ERA and 2.00 FIP  in that span. He won 3 Cy Youngs, 1 MVP, 5 ERA and FIP crowns, 4 WHIP crowns, 3 strikeout crowns, all while averaging 263 innings per SEASON. He’d be higher on this list had his health issues not derailed his career, but he’s more than deserving of a spot in this ultimate rotation.

Bullpen:

Aroldis Chapman: A present day reliever? This isn’t only one on the list but Chapman is going to be a HOFer one day, with a 2.23 ERA, 2.01 FIP, and a 2.36 xFIP with a 14.84 K/9 is insane, and I think he’s one of the 8 best relievers of all time, being a fire-baller and a historic strikeout machine. He’d be higher on this list but his limited body of work holds him back (for now)

Lee Smith: A Hall of Fame reliever, Lee Smith has a 3.03 ERA and a 2.93 FIP over 1289.1 innings and is one of baseball’s best relievers being a 6’6 225 hurler who was reliable as they get. He was able to toss multiple 100+ inning seasons as a reliever and was durable. He’s an electric reliever and a mainstay in the best relievers conversation, so I have to put him in this bullpen.

Trevor Hoffman: I know that I have him here at 6 and that’ll upset people, but saves aren’t the best metrics for a reliever. He has a 3.08 FIP and 2.87 ERA which is really good but the people ahead of him either had lower ERA and FIP metrics, or had longer careers and therefore had more overall value. Yes Hoffman is a great reliever but he’s not better than the 5 ahead of him.

Rich “Goose” Gossage: A staple in talks of some of baseball’s best relievers, Gossage pitched 1809 innings and had a 3.01 ERA and a 3.18 FIP. The reason I have him above Hoffman is because of his 500 innings more of relief work, I won’t count his innings as a starter but it’s just part of how Gossage was more durable and was as good as Hoffman arguably but for longer.

Craig Kimbrel: What? Above Gossage??? Above HOFFMAN? HE DOESN’T KNOW BASEBALL” Yes I know this is very upsetting for people who only look at names and not metrics. In his career Kimbrel already has a 2.08 ERA and a 2.19 FIP and 2.26 xFIP. That’s beyond elite, and while he doesn’t have the 600 saves, saves are a product of being up by 1-3 runs and finishing the job, things beyond the control of a pitcher as they can’t force a team to only be up by a score of 1-3 runs. Kimbrel had a rough 2019, and people will use that to say he’s washed but that’s without the context of how he didn’t have a healthy season or a spring training. He’s a top 4 reliever all time, to not have him top 8 is to ignore analytics in favor for bias.

Billy Wagner: Billy is so underrated, being one of the best fire-ballers of the reliever class and with his 2.31 ERA and 2.73 FIP he’s one of the most sound run preventer as well. He posted a n 11.92 K/9 and sported a 1.00 WHIP. He’s one of those pitchers that can do it all, with prevention of runs and base-runners, good velocity, great body of work to go off of, AND great strikeout metrics. He’s a shoe in at number 3.

Rollie Fingers: In over 1,500 innings of work, Fingers has a 2.84 ERA and 2.88 FIP, and while Wagner and Kimbrel have better numbers, I think the body of work argument truly does matter here as the gap between Hoffman and Kimbrel was 500 innings but here it’s 1000 so I won’t put Kimbrel higher on the list, and Wagner has 600 less innings with a similar FIP so I have to give Fingers the edge here. A deserving HOFer and a classic for relievers.

Mariano Rivera: My fellow Yankee fans you can breathe a sigh of relief (get it) now that I have Rivera at one. My little monologue on why saves don’t matter as much probably scared you guys into thinking Rivera wouldn’t be number one, but come on guys I wouldn’t do that. A 2.06 ERA and 2.67 FIP as a reliever (not using his starter stats), he was as dominant as they came. He had the best ERA- on this list (second all time behind…Zack Britton) and he’s 10th in FIP- and third on this list (Behind Kimbrel and Chapman.) I won’t even bring up saves, I’ll actually defer to his insane stats in the postseason that speak for themselves. He’s the best reliever of all time, and if I need to close out a game, even with all the talent in this bullpen, I’m bringing out the Sandman.

What do you guys think about this list? Would you change this team at all?

MLB All-Time Team: Lineup and Bench

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

With the world of baseball being in shambles, taking a moment to try to remember the history of our sport can cope with these rougher times. The NFL recently did an All-Time team with the 100-year anniversary squad, and while the MLB isn’t celebrating its centennial season, it doesn’t make trying to construct an All-Time team any less fun. I’ll be using a lot of advanced metrics to fill in the team, and I will use PED users, but only guys who had shown to be great even without juicing.

The team will have 8 position players in the starting lineup, with a DH included as well. There will be 4 bench players, and a total of 13 pitchers, 5 starters, 8 relievers to have a total of 26 players. This team is going to be loaded, but this article will cover the lineup and the bench, with the next being about the pitching.

Catcher: Johnny Bench

Starting at catcher is the GOAT of catchers, with a career 125 wRC+, the highest fWAR of all-time amongst catchers at 74.8, 389 home runs (2nd), and whopping 97 Total Zone in Runs Above Average, one of the only defensive stats around at the time. He is often regarded as one of the greatest of all time, and in my opinion, he belongs on this squad at Catcher.

First Base: Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig’s 173 wRC+, .447 OBP, 477 wOBA, and .632 SLG are the best marks for any first baseman of all time. While he’s second in fWAR amongst 1st baseman (as Fangraphs considers Musial a 1st baseman AND outfielder), Musial had 22 seasons of play compared to Gehrig’s 17, so per 150 games Gehrig had a better fWAR. While defensively he was never truly highly regarded statistically, I will take great offense at 1st and take the defensive hit as a defense at first is less valuable than offense at 1st.

Second Base: Rogers Hornsby

The sweet-swinging righty from Texas Rogers Hornsby is offensively unrivaled at the second base position, as a 173 wRC+ trumps any of his competitors at the 2nd base position. He leads all second basemen in OBP, SLG, and wOBA, and has the 4th most home runs as well. His 2 MVPs and 1038 walks simply add on to the greatness that is Hornsby. The icing on the cake? A 130.3 fWAR leads all 2nd basemen, and the person behind him (Eddie Collins) is behind him by 9.8 but has nearly 800 more games played.  Defensively he had a 54 total TZ, as he had played well at multiple defensive positions, definitely belonging on this list.

Third Base: Mike Schmidt

The greatest Phillie of all time is also the greatest 3rd baseman of all time, and while A-Rod was a close 2nd, due to fWAR/150, wRC+, and Total Zone and Defensive Rating showing Mike Schmidt was the better defensive 3rd baseman, I had to give it to Schmidt. Also with A-Rod’s use of PEDs, I had to peg his stats down a bit, but that won’t be the last mention of PEDs on this list.

Shortstop: Honus Wagner

Now again, A-Rod came in second for me, but I’ll get to him later (epic foreshadowing), Honus Wagner’s 147 wRC+ and insane 138.1 fWAR is incredible, and because of it there’s no denying that this is Wagner’s spot. He has to be one of the most explosive players of the deadball era, with 722 stolen bases and a great ability to play defense at this critical position. Defensively Wagner is hard to gauge over A-Rod because we only have Total Zone, but TZ does give Honus Wagner a great defensive rating, and so I’m inclined to put Wagner’s defense at short, as SS is a crucial position defensively.

Left Field: Barry Bonds

Arguably the most controversial player in MLB history, Bonds is probably the greatest hitter of all time. Yes, PEDs helped his numbers, but he’s rumored to have begun juicing in 1998, but in the years prior? Gold Gloves, MVPs, and a whopping 90.7 fWAR in only 11 seasons of play. He averaged an 8.2 fWAR for his pre-PED years and was a great baserunner and defender in those years along with great offense. He played a lot of left fields and was great defensively out there, so we’re going to get a great speed, great defense, and great power out of our left-field position.

Center Field: Mike Trout

“B-b-b-but he’s not as good as ______” Sorry, I don’t speak wrong when it comes to GOAT players, and there’s no doubting Mike Trout’s GOAT level of play. He has the best wRC+ out of all Center Fielders, best SLG, is 5th in OBP, and has the best fWAR per 150 games out of any of his Center Field competition. To give you context, his only competitor here Willie Mays has a 7.5 fWAR per 150, Trout? Just chilling at a whopping 9.1 fWAR/150. He’s just that great, and there’s no denying his spot on this team, STARTING.

Right Field: Babe Ruth

With the highest fWAR of all time despite having the least amount of games played in the top five of fWAR, the greatest wRC+ of all time, the greatest SLG% of all time, the second-best OBP of all time, and the greatest wOBA of all time. He also had an 80 TZ in Right Field, which is surprising for most to believe that he was actually a good defensive outfielder for the most part, and so I put him in the outfield instead of the DH of this squad, as the DH isn’t great defensively in the outfield. Speaking of the DH…

Designated Hitter: Ted Williams

For DH, I need the best hitter possible, and that is Ted Williams. He has the second-best wRC+, the best OBP, the second-best SLG, second-best wOBA, and a 130.4 fWAR, which is 8th all-time. He is incredible with the bat, and while his defense is poor, it doesn’t matter as he’s going to DH. It’s why I had Bonds, Trout, and Ruth in the outfield and neither of them at DH because they were the better defensive outfielders. Now with the lineup set, we need depth.

Bench

  1. Willie Mays: Willie is the best player not on the starting lineup, and he would’ve been my 4th outfielder of choice, and the DH, if it wasn’t for Williams, is the better hitter. He has a 154 wRC+ and a 149.9 fWAR, and his defense is well documented. His 338 stolen bases also show his speed that accompanies his 660 Home Runs, and had it not been for Mike Trout existing, he’d have been in the lineup. His reason for not starting boiled down to is he the better than Trout, Bonds, or Ruth? No, and is he a better hitter than Ted Williams? No, but he is a better player than Williams, however at DH only your bat matters. Willie Mays is a top 4 player all time, the issue is the 3 guys ahead of him are outfielders.
  2. Mickey Mantle: The power-hitting outfielder is a great bat off the bench if they need to go to him for some late-inning heroics. With a 170 wRC+ as a switch hitter, he’s going to be able to handle any matchup that he’s put into unless he faces a switch-pitcher, which would be hilarious.
  3. Alex Rodriguez: I can’t have a 3rd outfielder off the bench, so instead I’ll take a player who offensively has both speed and power and can play very well defensively at shortstop. He can also play 3rd, and in the case that Mike Schmidt needs to be pinch ran for or Honus’ power doesn’t suffice for the job, A-Rod will be ready off of the bench.
  4. Mike Piazza: Johnny Bench is the GOAT catcher but Piazza is the GOAT catcher offensively. If I need to upgrade my bat at the catcher position mid-game, I can throw Piazza as the bat or have him come in to catch after subbing Bench out for either Mantle, Mays, or A-Rod. Piazza gives me a ton of options with the lineup during a game, and there’s nothing wrong with having options

That covers the lineup and bench of this squad, with the pitching being next, let me know what you’d do differently with this team!

MLB: How players around the league are responding to concerns about 2020 season

Could the New York Yankees pursue Max Scherzer in a trade?

Major League Baseball is one of the only professional sports leagues that cannot seem to come to terms for putting together a season. Due to these disagreements between MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLBPA, there are concerns that a season may not happen at all.

Rob Manfred told ESPN on Monday that he’s “not confident” there will be a 2020 season and that “as long as there’s no dialogue” with the MLBPA, “that risk is going to continue.” This is a complete turnaround of Manfred’s comments from last week when he said he was “100% confident” that there would be a 2020 season.

Manfred has also said, “The owners are 100 percent committed to getting baseball back on the field. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100 percent certain that’s gonna happen.”

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark responded to Manfred’s comments, “Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told Players and fans that there would ‘100%’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season. Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob has recently acknowledged the parties are ‘very, very close.”

Although there are some players that have come out publicly and said that they are not interested in playing a modified season with reduced pay, there are a lot of players that have expressed their willingness to play under any circumstances.

Here is what some of the MLB players in the league have said about what is happening:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBeTuccDQ02/

Why Advanced Metrics Are the Future of Baseball

The MLB is constantly evolving and growing, we started off with home runs being a rarity in the deadball era, to everyone hitting longballs. Sports are constantly changing as humanity does. With new innovations come new technology, and with new tech comes new stats in baseball. These stats can seem complex and full of crap, with these stats starting to replace the traditional batting average, home run, and RBI format we’ve been accustomed to our whole life. I remember my ways of projecting players were through by estimating how many home runs they’d hit, their batting average, and their RBIs because for me those seemed like the best stat. This philosophy is flawed though, and by studying the beautiful game that is baseball, I’ve thrown away batting average, win-loss record, RBIs, and other traditional stats in favor of advanced metrics: and you should too.

Which Stats Are Outdated?

Stats Win-Loss records used to matter a ton, but why exactly should they matter?  Can you as a pitcher control how well your team’s hitters can do? These should be seen as team stats, not stats to determine how good a player is. An example is in 2019 with Domingo German winning 18 games, which is better than Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Charlie Morton, and Clayton Kershaw, despite all of them performing much better. Wins don’t always equal good, and if you want to measure their contribution to winning, use Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) as a value system for players.

RBIs and Batting Average are also stats that are really outdated. Runs Batted In can fluctuate depending on how often runners are on base, which is a factor outside of a batter’s control. Batting Average is a stat that doesn’t even factor walks or hit by pitches and doesn’t differentiate between a dinger and single. For people interested in easier stats to understand, OBP is better than Batting Average, and SLG is better than using just home runs and RBIs. wRC+ is also a fantastic stat that’s easy to understand, with 100 being average and anything above being something like 110, meaning 10% above average or 90, meaning 10% below average.

Letting Go of the Past

Yes, you grew up on these stats, and they look like things that you should value because of the clutch or counting hits, but ask yourself this: If you gave Mike Trout 100 PAs in October, do you think anything would change? Studies show that given enough opportunities a player will succeed in the postseason, so they won’t perform too high or low from their norm barring a hot streak in October. Getting RBIs isn’t impressive, Albert Pujols drove in 101 runs with a 77 wRC+, meaning he was 23% below average.

These are relics of our past, and we should let go of them, just like we should let go of things like the Triple Crown. Don’t believe me? Well let’s look at why it’s overrated:

Player A:
.326/.399/.564, 30 HR, 49 SB, 167 wRC+, .409 wOBA, 21 DRS, 13.1 UZR/150, 10.1 fWAR

Player B:
.330/.393/.606, 44 HR, 4 SB, 166 wRC+, .417 wOBA, -4 DRS, -1.8 UZR/150, 7.3 fWAR

Out of the 10 stats listed there, Player A won 6 of those 10 stats and was arguably on par offensively with similar wOBA and wRC+ totals, but much better speed and insane defensive abilities. Player A was Mike Trout, and Player B was Triple Crown-winning Miguel Cabrera, both in 2012. Somehow Trout didn’t win MVP, and it was because of the triple crown. See how it doesn’t reflect a player’s overall abilities though? See how it was outdated and flat out deceiving? Traditional stats are outdated and most of them have lost their place in baseball.

What About the “Eye test”?

Let me quote Aristotle for how I feel about the Eye Test that is often referred to by people who are faced with advanced metrics that they don’t like: “our senses can be trusted but they can be easily fooled”. This means that while yes Derek Jeter did make that flip play, it doesn’t mean he was as great of a defender as it seems. One of the worst DRS totals ever belongs to the captain, but your eyes would tell you he looked great defensively. that’s because looks are deceiving and while advanced metrics aren’t a substitution for watching baseball, it’s a way of quantifying objectively what you’re seeing.

Advanced Metrics aren’t ruining baseball, they’re what GMs use to not give Manny Machado $30 million a year for 10 years but instead give DJ LeMahieu $12 million for 2. I’m pretty sure Yankee fans are quite happy they saved $18 million dollars on a 3rd baseman with worse numbers offensively than Gio Urshela (even a lower fWAR per 150 games). It’s what helps the Rays win 96 games, with low payrolls.

Do you know what traditional stats get you? It gets you trading Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows for Chris Archer, forcing Sonny Gray to throw pitches he doesn’t want to throw (thanks a lot Rothschild), and it gets you Chris Davis’ and Jacoby Ellsbury’s nightmare deals.

These numbers are for the best, and if you want to love baseball and truly understand it then open up to new stats and knowledge and don’t push it away because it does not always agree with you.

How are MLB players spending their free time during season halt?

Amid the pandemic due to the COVID-19 virus, all major sports have been shut down indefinitely. Major League Baseball was set to open March 26 but the starting date now is unknown. As easy as it is to be lazy and sit on the couch all day, these Major Leaguers still have a season to be prepared for.

Despite everything going on, MLBers are remaining positive during this time. Take a look at how the players are still getting ready for a season that has an unknown beginning:

Marcus Stroman, New York Mets

Marcus Stroman is known for his tremendous athleticism and is seen on social media always working to perfect his craft. He also knows how important it is that pitchers continue to throw on a regular basis.

Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers

Everyone knows that sweet left-handed swing Gallo obtains and seen here he works on it in his home while showing off the beautiful view.

Javier Baez and Jose Berrios

A classic family vs. family competition! Javier Baez from the Chicago Cubs steps in the box versus his brother-in-law Jose Berrios from the Minnesota twins.

Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins

The big man himself seen here working out to keep the strength and mobility up for the pending season. Perhaps these behind the scenes workouts is why Nelson Cruz is able to blast 35+ home runs each season.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

The best player in baseball still has to get his work in! Here’s Mike Trout keeping his arm ready with some long toss throwing.

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#QuarantineFam @kohnman58!! 🎥: @jesstaratrout

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Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

Five straight Gold Glove seasons don’t come from slacking off! Seen here is Nolan Arendo working on fielding.

Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

Third basemen Alex Bregman takes swings off a machine to keep his hands and eyes at game speed.

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Machine for Breakfast #WashYourHands

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Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Known for his high heater, Aroldis Chapman works to get his gas! Seen here is Chapman working out in his home gym.

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Wilson Contreras, Chicago Cubs

Probably the best one we’ve seen yet, Wilson Contreras and his brother got fancy with a gun that shot out ping pong balls. The baseball is going to look pretty big when he steps back onto the diamond.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B99t1g_HrLp/?utm_source=ig_embed

Major League Baseball Operations Suspended Indefinitely

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The Coronavirus has been a national pandemic that has forced the NBA and NCAA to halt their seasons severely. Major League Baseball is the next domino to fall as the growing concern for the safety of players, fans, and other members working in baseball.

The decision comes with the harsh reality of the virus, not slowing down anytime soon. There is no word on when baseball will resume again and will all but guarantee the delay of the regular season. Large public gatherings have been canceled or severely restricted, which has been another reason for MLB to close the doors on baseball.

More Than Baseball

Sports have always been the one place people can fall back to when America has suffered through tough times, but there is no haven from the Coronavirus. The concern is that players can also bring the disease home to their families and other loved ones. The choice comes at a no-brainer during a time where the health concerns have rapidly increased across the nation.

The NHL is the last in-season professional sports league still standing. With all likelihood, they will have to suspend their season as the cases on the virus continue to grow worldwide. This pandemic has swept the nation in a way that nothing has during our lifetimes. Hopefully, the strict measures taken now could allow baseball and other sports to restart sooner rather than later.

MLB: Dallas Keuchel apologies, other players should follow

Dallas Keuchel spoke to the media Friday about the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal from the 2017 season and was apologetic about what happened during that year.

“I think first and foremost, apologies should be in order … for everyone on the team,” said Keuchel. “When the stuff was going on, it was never intended to be what it’s made to be right now.”

Keuchel is the first player from that team that was apologetic publicly and also said that his teammates from that season should do the same thing.

I think that everyone on the Astros team that year that was apart of the cheating should publicly apologize to their fans and the rest of Major League Baseball. I don’t think that people realize how bad this makes the MLB look and in the time of trying to raise fan numbers, this scandal was the opposite of what the league needed.

Not only should the position players be apologizing, but the pitchers should as well. Anyone who was apart of the cheating and/or knew about it had the opportunity to stop it and play the game correctly, but it continued and the players are responsible.

Dallas Keuchel obviously wasn’t gaining any advantage during the cheating because he’s a pitcher, but he’s setting a great example for his teammates from that year.

This will always look bad for the players on the Astros and definitely won’t be forgotten anytime soon, but a public apology from all of them will definitely help a ton.