The last few Wednesdays we’ve been counting down to pitchers and catchers reporting with some of the best that baseball has to offer. In the first installment, we looked at Clayton Kershaw, baseball’s best ballparks, debating WAR and more. In the second installment, we looked at Dee Gordon honoring Jose Fernandez, Max Scherzer’s eyes, Fangraphs and more. We continue on our trek towards that ever-approaching February 12th date with another seven days of the best that best baseball has to offer.
The defensive output of Kevins in the American League East
If you have a son and name him Kevin, pray that he ends up in the American League East. There’s almost certainly something in the water in that division (yes, I know that is not how water works), as Kevin Kiermaier and Kevin Pillar are currently the two most electric defenders in the sport of baseball. (Andrelton Simmons is doing the Lord’s work in L.A., but outfielder highlights are just a bit flashier – unless you’re Javier Baez.)
The two Kevins have both ranked in the top six in Baseball-Reference dWAR each of the last two seasons, with Kiermaier leading the league in dWAR each of those two seasons. Fangraphs defensive value metrics has the two as the second and third most valuable defenders over the last two seasons combined, with only Jason Heyward topping the dueling Kevins.
The two Kevins laugh in the face of your metrics, however. They merely need moving images to show you their divine talent.
The Red Sox should really think about signing Kevin Jepsen (the only Kevin remaining on the free agent market) and forcing him to abandon pitching in favor of patrolling the outfield. It’s the only logical response to these two Kevins.
Waiting for Ginny Baker to become a reality
For those who didn’t watch Season 1 of Fox’s Pitch, first of all shame on you. The show was an incredibly entertaining baseball-themed hour of TV once a week. We all know how precise those can be. Second of all, it gave a (fictionalized) look at what it might look like if one of professional sports biggest barriers – gender – was broken down. And it was glorious.
Once again, this was a fictionalized show, but it is pretty awe-inspiring to think about the reaction from women young and old across the country should a real-live Ginny Baker take the mound in an MLB game. It’s not too too far of a stretch to imagine something like this happening, as our very own Sonoma Stompers rostered three female players just this past season. Now we all know how far of a cry it is from the Stompers to the major leagues, but it’s not unreasonable to think of a Ginny Baker-esque scenario in which a female pitcher with a crafty repertoire is able to climb the ladder and make it all the way to the big leagues, bringing millions of fans with her along the way.
This is being posted on a website born out of the fans of Effectively Wild, so I don’t think I have to give you folks the pitch on Effectively Wild. We can all just agree it’s one of the very best things about baseball and although there are episodes year-round, it gets a little easier for Ben and Jeff to think up topics once there is actual baseball to be discussed.
There’s a very solid chance that we are currently watching the best baseball player of all time. That sentiment felt blasphemous when it first started bubbling to the surface a couple seasons ago but with each passing season, it feels more and more like an accurate statement.
Trout’s rookie season saw the New Jersey native rack up more “first player to ever [fill in the blank]” than any player since Barry Bonds, and Trout hasn’t slowed down since then.
There are billions of fun Mike Trout stats out there – heck Ben and Sam did an entire episode dedicated to some of them – but easily the best is that no player has ever had more career WAR through their age-20 season. Or their age-21 season. Or their age-22 season. Or their age-23 season. Or their age-24 season.
Simply put, Trout is a once-in-a-lifetime and possibly once-in-anyone’s-lifetime talent that we get to watch night-in and night-out if we want to bear watching the rest of the Angels roster. (And have the MLB At Bat package.)
Players who look bad but are good
Did this man: A) Win back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2008-2009, or B) Take over for Flea at the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers concert?
That man above is currently second among active pitchers in wins… to this guy.
Players who look good but are bad
The guy on the left is a career .236 hitter.
And this handsome, baseball-looking fellah had a career ERA of 5.84 career ERA.
The young pitching talent in the league right now
Luckily for baseball, there are a lot of pitchers better than handsome Mr. Willoughby pictured above. Two weeks ago we noted some of the outstanding young hitting talent in the league, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t also note the pitching side of the young talent in the league right now. In the past four seasons, there have been ten instances (and nine different pitchers) who topped 5.0 bWAR in a season in which they were 25 years old or younger. Some of the young talent that didn’t even make that cut: Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Odorizzi, Danny Duffy, Stephen Strasburg, Chris Archer, Aaron Sanchez, and Michael Fulmer. This doesn’t even begin to touch on all the electric arms currently plying their trade in bullpens across the league.
Let’s end on that nasty filth from Edwin Diaz and pick up next week when there will only be four (four!) days until the first of pitchers and catchers reporting.Next post: Card Chronicle: O-Pee-Chee Premier – 132 Cards That Captured an Era
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