Overrated: End of Story

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Let me preface this by saying Trevor Story is a very good shortstop. I thought trading All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki last year was a great move on Colorado’s part because Story was Major League ready. However, they took in washed up shortstop Jose Reyes and his almost expired contract and gave him the starting position for the remainder of the 2015 season. However, Story won the starting job this year in part to two things, 1) his strong spring 2) Reyes was indefinitely suspended before Opening Day for throwing his wife into a glass door.

Earlier this year I named Story one of the future stars in baseball and it’s looking like he’ll hold up on that promise. But a lot of people are proclaiming him the best shortstop in baseball and those people really need to cool their jets.

Story made Major League history earlier this season by hitting a record 7 home runs in the first 6 games of the season and his 10 total home runs surpassed Albert Pujols‘ National League record for most home runs in April by a rookie (was 9) and tied Jose Abreu‘s Major League record for the same stat. Impressive. Most impressive. But when you really dive in you find that it’s just a fluke.

Since his torrid start, Story has cooled off drastically. In his last 70 at-bats he has only 15 hits, good for a .214 average, 3 home runs, and lowered his on-base percentage to a poor .308. He has displayed terrible plate discipline, walking 9 times while striking out in 21 of 23 games, 39 times total, which is good for the league lead.

Expect to see more play like this the rest of the season. In 537 minor league games, Story found a way to strikeout 630 times while drawing only 242 walks. He hit 20 home runs in the minors last year, 10 in AA and 10 in AAA, and he should hit close to that number due to his torrid start and Colorado’s hitter-friendly park. If it weren’t for his 7 home runs in 6 games, Trevor would likely only hit 10-12 dingers in a full-season and I fully expect to see a sharp drop in homers next season. Expect his batting average to finish around .245 and his on-base to fall to .290, well below league average.

Despite the drop in production, his historic month will likely make him the starting shortstop for the NL All-Star team and will effectively end Jose Reyes’ brief stay in Colorado. The Rockies have a future star on their team in Trevor Story, it’s just going to take a few years until he becomes the player people seem to think he is.

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Universal DH? Schwarber’s injury brings debate back to the forefront

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One of the more heated debates in recent baseball history is that of a universal designated hitter. American League fans are all for it. National League lovers hate it. So what should really happen?

On Thursday night, Chicago Cubs phenom Kyle Schwarber fully tore his ACL and MCL in a collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler and will now miss the rest of the season. The 23-year-old, playing in just his 43rd career game in left, also spends time at catcher. Let’s be honest here, Schwarber isn’t a guy you want in the field, whether it be in left or behind the plate. He’s a big boy (6-foot, 235 lbs.) and resembles David Ortiz on defense. He made 4 errors in 21 games behind the plate, threw out 3 of 17 would-be base stealers, and was embarrassingly terrible in left during the NLCS sweep by the Mets (example 1example 2example 3).

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However, the National League does not use a DH, thus forcing the Cubs to accept his atrocious defense in return for his light-tower power. Unfortunately, injuries like this sometimes happen when you put a terrible defensive player on the field. Not only does it hurt the team, but it puts multiple players in danger. There was no reason for Schwarber to be going after that ball. Anyone who has ever played baseball knows that is Fowler’s ball and that Schwarber should be backing him up. Instead, Schwarber went for it and is now paying the price for his poor decision.

Had he been in the American League, he would be slotted in at DH everyday and this disaster would have been avoided. However, the NL and AL ridiculously play by a different set of rules. One gets to use 9 full-time hitters every game, the other uses 8 and a pitcher (obviously not counting interleague play). This brings up my final point.

Why do pitchers hit? When you sign a pitcher, you’re paying him to pitch, not hit. It’s really that simple. We’ve seen multiple pitchers face serious injuries the past few years because they’re forced to step-up to the plate. Add in the fact that almost all pitchers in the DH era are terrible hitters, there’s really no reason why we shouldn’t have a universal DH. The best hitting pitcher in baseball today is Zack Greinke who is a .223 career hitter. The only players who can hit that low and stick in the MLB probably hit 25+ homers or are defensive wizards. Sure we’d miss the blessing that is Bartolo Colon swinging a bat, but the game would vastly improve. Offense would be up and Kyle Schwarber would still be in the Cubs lineup this season.

Sorry National League fans, the universal DH is long overdue, and it could be here sooner than you think.

This reminds me, why was Dontrelle Willis never converted to first base? Imagine having this in the lineup everyday.

Boston’s $90 Million Mistake

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Look at this picture.  Does this man look like an athlete to you?  More importantly, does this man look like a $90 million athlete?  Well, somehow, he is.  Before we talk about that, let’s go back a few years.

Pablo Sandoval, affectionately known as “Kung Fu Panda”, has always been big.  Standing at 5-foot-11 and weighing 267 pounds, Sandoval burst onto the scene in 2009 with the San Francisco Giants.  That season he provided an incredible .330/.387/.556 slash line with 25 homers and 44 doubles while finishing 7th in the National League MVP voting, making him a Bay Area fan favorite.

In 2010, the Giants would go on to win the World Series (their first of 3 in a 5 year stretch), however, it was largely without the help of Sandoval.  The Panda produced a pedestrian .268/.323/.409 with only 13 long-balls, 63 RBI and 34 doubles while upping his weight to 278 pounds.

Worried about his health, the Giants implemented an offseason weight-loss program entitled “Operation Panda”.  The goal was to get him into better playing shape in hopes that it would increase his production for the 2011 season.  It worked. Pablo lost 30 pounds and hit .315/.357/.552 with 23 homers and made his first All-Star Game.  He would have set career highs in almost every category, however, he was forced to miss 41 games to a broken hamate bone in his right hand.

Picking up where he left off, Sandoval was on an absolute tear to start the 2012 campaign.  In the first month of the season he broke the Giants’ franchise record for consecutive games with a hit to start a season (20).  His luck ran out there.  He broke his left hamate bone in May which forced him to sit out for a month.  In late July, he injured his left hamstring, forcing him out another month.  At the end of the season, Sandoval ultimately proved he was healthy by hitting 3 home runs in Game 1 of the World Series, helping him to become the 2012 World Series MVP.

“Operation Panda” was then thrown away.  Towards the end of a mediocre 2013 season, Sandoval’s weight became an issue yet again.  Encouraged by the front office, Sandoval shed a few pounds before the 2014 season, although it didn’t really help.  He hit an ice-cold .165 to start off the season and proceeded to ask the Giants for a 5 year, $100 million extension.  Thus, starting the end of his career with the Giants.

Despite playing in 16 more games, Sandoval’s 2014 numbers were nearly identical to 2013.  16 homers, 73 RBI and a .279 average, Sandoval was your middle-of-the-road third baseman.  Refusing to take a hometown discount, the Giants did not put up much of a fight to resign the now free agent (and no one else did either).  Due to a weak free agent market for third baseman (Chase Headley was the next best available), Sandoval was able to secure a $90 million deal over 5 years with the Boston Red Sox.

Unlike the Giants, Boston said they did not care what Sandoval did with his body as long as he produced great numbers.  Well, he didn’t.  Panda started the season overweight and was an absolute disaster, both at the plate and on the field.  Hitting a terrible .245/.292/.366 with only 10 home runs and drawing a measly 25 walks, Sandoval quickly fell out of favor with the Boston loyal (checking Instagram while using the bathroom during a game didn’t help…) and he found himself benched.

We have finally made it to the incredible picture posted up top.  Weighing in at what looks to be 300 pounds, Pablo has started off the season on a terrible note.  The man is obviously in the worst shape of his career and is now causing friction within the organization.

It is going to be a fun year following this, unless, of course, you’re a Boston fan.  If only the Red Sox had taken my advice.