Dylan Bundy’s career has hardly flown under the radar. He was arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball when he debuted, and his subsequent injury troubles made the next part of his career a well-known cautionary tale. When he returned to effectiveness in the second half of 2019, then broke out in 2020, it was a story arc we’ve all seen before: the post-hype prospect makes good.
While you might know that, you probably don’t know the secret skill that’s powering Bundy’s resurgence. It’s not a high-octane fastball — he’s lost that since his prospect days. It’s not a gaudy swinging strike total — he’s no slouch in that department, but nor does he excel. What Bundy does best is loop breaking balls through the strike zone and coax batters into taking them. He might be baseball’s best at it, and the piles of free strikes he racks up power the rest of his game.
Want a quick visual before we dig into the numbers? Tim Anderson is a free swinger, but even on 0-1, he couldn’t unlock his bat against this slider:
Want it with a curveball? Watch Bundy demonstrate the low and away boundary of the strike zone to Adam Eaton:
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Joey Gallo is a walking archetype. You know the rough outlines: strikeouts like you wouldn’t believe, gobsmacking power, and the walks that accompany those two. When he’s good, he’s blasting his way to success; the park almost doesn’t matter when he gets into one, so titanic is his power.
If you knew only that about Gallo — and to be clear, it’s the most important thing — what would you think about his BABIP? It could be sky-high; he whiffs quite a lot, but that doesn’t matter for BABIP, and when he makes contact, it’s the loudest contact there is. He’s barreled up a fifth of his batted balls, and hit 50% of them 95 mph or harder. That makes it easier to find a hole — or make one.
It could be low, though! Many of those hard hit balls leave the park. What might be doubles in the gap or smoked line drive singles for another player might be home runs for Gallo, and singles and doubles are the bedrock of BABIP. Grounders and pop ups are no good; the real juice is in line drives and low fly balls, and he might simply hit his too hard to keep them in the field of play.
The answer is depressingly pedestrian. Gallo’s career BABIP stood at .270 entering this year, below average but not atrocious. That’s 40th-worst in baseball over that time period, in the same general area as many homer-happy sluggers. Mike Moustakas, Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins, Chris Davis — basically, hitters who get a disproportionate amount of their value by putting the ball in the air and over the fence. Read the rest of this entry »
Spring games are a blast, a return to baseball after a starved winter of boring transaction rumors. They’re the first chance to see major league players in their natural environment, and the pinnacle of baseball talent facing off against each other (and, inevitably, against some overmatched minor leaguers getting their first taste of the big time). One thing they are most assuredly not, however, are tactical masterpieces. The highest-leverage decision a manager makes is whether to bat their veterans at the top of the lineup so that they can duck out early. In the majors, though, tactical decision-making started when the regular season began. Almost immediately, a neat situation came up, and I’m excited enough to talk tactics that I’m going to give it far more coverage than it deserves.
In the second game of the season, the White Sox were in a pickle. After busting out to a 7–1 lead over the Angels, they’d frittered most of it away. A three-run shot from Albert Pujols here, an Adam Eaton three-base error there, and it was 7–6. A laugher had turned into a struggle for survival.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Angels were again threatening. After Mike Trout led the inning off with a walk, manager Tony LaRussa went to Evan Marshall. Marshall started strong, inducing a pop up from Anthony Rendon and a groundout from Justin Upton. But wait! LaRussa intentionally walked Pujols, putting the go-ahead run on base. What the!?
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In January, we at FanGraphs put out a call for radio broadcast ratings. Over the past few days, we’ve released a compilation of those rankings, as well as selected commentary from each team’s responses. This is the last installment of that compilation.
As a refresher, our survey asked for scores in four areas. If you’d like a thorough explanation of them, you can read the introductory article, but I’ll also recap them briefly here. If you’d like to see the rest of our results, those can be found here and here.
The “Analysis” score covers the frequency and quality of a broadcast team’s discussion of baseball. This isn’t limited to statistical analysis, and many of the booths that scored best excelled at explaining technical details of playing. This score represents how much listeners feel they learn about baseball by listening.
“Charisma” covers the amount of enjoyment voters derive from listening to the broadcasters fill space, which takes on many forms. The booths that scored best on charisma varied wildly, from former players recounting stories of their glory days to unintentional comedy and playful banter between long-term broadcast partners. Read the rest of this entry »
In January, we at FanGraphs put out a call for radio broadcast ratings. The votes are now all in, and this week, we are releasing a compilation of those rankings, as well as selected commentary from each team’s responses.
As a refresher, our survey asked for scores in four areas. If you’d like a thorough explanation of them, you can read the introductory article, but I’ll also recap them briefly here. If you’d like to see the first chunk of ratings, those can be found here.
When the Mets traded for Francisco Lindor earlier this offseason, an extension felt likely, even certain. As the season rolled inexorably closer with no deal in place, however, that likelihood (certitude?) ebbed: The Mets seemed tied to their offer, Lindor had a March 31 negotiation deadline, and no one was budging. Last night, the impasse ended: The two parties agreed to a 10-year, $341 million extension that will make him the highest-paid shortstop in history, as Jon Heyman first reported.
Lindor’s brilliance hardly needs recapitulation, but for giddy Mets fans drinking in every piece of marginalia about this deal, I’ll offer a quick one. If Andrelton Simmons didn’t exist, Lindor would be the best defensive shortstop of the 21st century. He boasts a rare combination of mobility, sure hands, a strong arm, and defensive instincts. If those sound like everything you could ask for in a shortstop, you’re not wrong. There’s really no way of overstating it, because this isn’t a place where eye tests and various wonky metrics disagree. Every advanced defensive metric places him among the top handful of defenders since he entered the league, with only Simmons and Nick Ahmed as peers. The eye test will tell you that his mere presence stabilizes an infield and calms the pitchers in front of him. The talent and panache on display nightly is simply irrefutable.
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In January, we at FanGraphs put out a call for radio broadcast ratings. The votes are now all in, and over the following days, we’ll be releasing a compilation of those rankings, as well as selected commentary from each team’s responses.
As a refresher, our survey asked for scores in four areas. If you’d like a thorough explanation of them, you can read the introductory article, but I’ll also recap them briefly here before starting off with the bottom third of the league.
Earlier today, Paul Sporer assessed the game’s weaker rotations. Now, Ben Clemens turns his attention to the aces.
The top of the NL West is also the top of our starting pitching rankings. The Padres lost deadline acquisition Mike Clevinger before the postseason even ended, but they recovered by adding three marquee pitchers via trade. The Dodgers countered by adding Trevor Bauer in free agency, and it’s no surprise that those two teams sit atop this list. The New York teams have their aces, the Nationals have their big three, and plenty of other squads mix depth with upside, but none of them could quite match the two California teams’ projections.
That’s not to say that no one else can run out a string of aces. The Yankees have injury issues, but they’ll be able to line up Cy Young winners on consecutive nights. The Mets have Noah Syndergaard waiting in the wings, and the Nationals won a World Series in exactly that manner only two years ago. Pitchers are nastier than ever, and this list is a testament to that fact: there are interesting arms and potential aces on every team in the top 15. That makes it harder than ever to reach the top of our list, but it’s no shade to the teams further down; they’re good, but the Padres and Dodgers are better. Read the rest of this entry »