May has begun and there is a trickle of MLB hope in the air within a few months. Last season I tackled 30 thoughts each week, and many weeks it was thematic but not always. This season, in an attempt to get more specific, I will instead go with 10 thoughts but in a deeper dive.
1. Colorado Rockies Assistant General Manger of Player Development Zach Wilson says when he is evaluating players at the beginning of their careers, he doesn’t look at stats at all. That is interesting. I get the sentiment but I’m not sure if I believe that 100%. It is tricky to track the numbers between parks, quality of opponents and different coaches, all of which can really swing stats one way or another.
2. It sounds like July 1st start date is not a sure thing as recent rumblings suggest.
3. Prospect Jose Garcia (SS, Cin) looks like someone primed to crack a top 50 prospect in the coming year, if you can – pick him up now. He is fast, and it looks like he is working on increasing his power.
4. The Washington Nationals, the WORLD SERIES CHAMPION Washington Nationals, have built their current team on some quality pitching. They had 13 shutouts (4th in MLB last year), additionally they are top 10 in runs against and strikeouts. Over their 15 years of opening days in Washington, they have just six pitchers who have participated and among those 15 opening days, Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer account for over half of them.
5. ESPN surveyed just over 1,000 fans and 65% are okay with sports returning if it does not include fans.
6. Clayton Kershaw has the best Wins Above Replacement over the last 10 years in Fangraphs. I’ve mentioned before, even if Kershaw is slipping slightly, if he can stay healthy, I think he’s a top five pitcher in the league. The ‘if he stays healthy’ is the tricky part.
7. Every other year for the last 4 – Arizona Diamondbacks have had a save total in the 43-45 range. If you see below, their successful seasons really eclipse in that north of 40 saves territory and I imagine it has a connection. The higher the save total, the better the bullpen and more capable you are at pulling through wins in clutch situations. Their closing bullpen last season of Archie Bradley and Greg Holland worked well. Beyond that, Kevin Ginkel and Yoan Lopez had strong seasons. Can Archie keep his pace and can the team hold with Hector Rondon in place of Greg Holland?
2019: Saves 45; Record 85-77
2018: Saves 39; Record 82-80
2017: Saves 43; Record 93-69
2016: Saves 31; Record 69-93
8. The Texas Rangers left Globe Life Park and were supposed to open the season at Globe Life Field in late March this year but that was postponed. The players got a chance to hit at it recently and Joey Gallo is concerned it is more pitcher-friendly then the previous park. When one of the most powerful hitters in the league mentions this, that is concerning.
9. Albert Almora Jr worked on a new swing at the start of this season and after Spring Training has had time to look into how it fared in detail. I imagine that is a positive for his prospects this season.
10. Great piece by David Phillips that breaks out teams who can’t compete over a full season having a better chance at making the playoffs over a shortened season, very much the opposite of the Nationals who made the most of the long season to make it last year.