At times, last season felt particularly rough for young hitters just getting their feet wet. There were problems in Boston, where, for example, neither Jackie Bradley nor Xander Bogaerts performed anywhere near the level of expectation. In St. Louis, the late Oscar Taveras had trouble getting into a groove and earning a regular job. Javier Baez mostly looked like a mess for Chicago, and for all the hype, Gregory Polanco eventually came up to join Pittsburgh and underwhelmed. Nick Castellanos was fine, but nothing revelatory. Billy Hamilton had a terrible second half. Jake Marisnick didn’t hit, and Jon Singleton didn’t hit, and so on and so forth. There’s nothing quite like top prospect hype, and there’s nothing quite like watching a top prospect struggle to hit at the highest level, after all the anticipation.
In each case, there was just anecdotal evidence, but put enough anecdotal evidence together, and you have a story. For at least several months, people have been discussing the theory that there’s a widening gap between the major leagues and everywhere else. Alex Speier is currently writing about this at the Boston Globe. There are reasons to believe this to be true; there are elements to playing in the majors that haven’t always been present. Most importantly, there’s more information than ever, so young players don’t show up as unknowns. Reports get generated, and reports get spread, and, faster than ever before, opponents are able to zone in on a given hitter’s weaknesses.
The feeling is that the majors have never been this hard for rookies. The feeling is that rookie hitters are facing an uphill battle, and hitting a baseball is no walk in the park even at the best of times, where you’re facing Kyle Davies in Colorado. There are feelings, and then there’s information. Let’s see what we can do with this. How have the majors lately been treating rookie bats?
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.