Sunday Notes: Cleveland’s Daniel Schneemann Has His Barrel in the Zone

Daniel Schneemann’s claim to fame is having played six positions in his first six MLB games — reportedly no player had done so in over 100 years — but a peculiar versatility record hasn’t been the 27-year-old infielder/outfielder’s only noteworthy accomplishment since he debuted on June 2nd. A surprise contributor to a surprisingly-stellar Cleveland Guardians club, Schneemann has slashed .297/.422/.568 with two home runs and a 182 wRC+ over 45 plate appearances.

To say that the Brigham Young University product has come out of nowhere may not be wholly accurate, but at the same time, he kind of has. A 33rd-round pick in the 2018 draft, Schneemann was an unranked prospect throughout his seven minor league seasons, and his numbers — at least prior to this year’s .294/.428/.556 with 10 home runs in Triple-A — were never anything to write home about.

Intrigued by his transformative emergence, I asked the San Diego native about the adjustments he’s made to get to where he is now.

“They were gradual,” Schneemann told me earlier this week prior to a game at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. “I started making the ones that are important to me in the offseason after 2022. I had some success in 2023 (a 102 wRC+ and 13 home runs at Triple-A Columbus), and built off of those adjustments prior to this season. I’ve seen better results this year, as well.”

That understatement aside, his having gotten bigger and stronger has helped; he’s gained roughly 15-20 pounds in recent years and is now a sturdier 200 pounds. Mechanical tweaks have played an even bigger role. Asked to explain them, he pointed to his bat path.

“I’m not cutting across the zone,” said Schneemann. “My barrel is staying in the zone better. Not cutting across gives me a bigger margin for error. I can catch the ball deeper. I can hit a line drive the opposite way, and also catch it out front and backspin it. When you’re cutting across, your barrel is in the zone for so little time that it’s a lot harder to be consistent.”

A bat-speed program has also contributed to his success. Schneemann began implementing it at the team’s Goodyear, Arizona facility this past October, then continued it into the offseason. Comprised largely of “rotating swings with heavier and lighter bats” — essentially the hitter’s equivalent of weighted-ball programs for pitchers — the goal is to “raise your ceiling so that your bat speed increases without you having to try to swing hard.”

Increased bat speed and staying through the zone longer —the latter being an often-heard phrase from hitters — is, on the surface, counterintuitive. According to Schneemann, that isn’t necessarily the case.

“It’s not staying in the zone longer, but rather having my barrel in the zone in a better place for a longer period of time,” he explained. “When I say ‘cut across the zone,’ I mean coming from out to in inefficiently. The time your barrel is in the zone is technically shorter if your bat speed is higher, so the difference would be the way that your bat is in the zone, if that makes sense.”

Baseball being baseball, the seeming conundrum does indeed make sense. As for an out-of-nowhere 27-year-old rookie contributing to a Guardians team that is unexpectedly 22 games over .500 in late June? That is something to write home about.

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Willie Mays went 46 for 129 with 10 home runs vs Harvey Haddix.

Willie Mays went 52 for 167 with 12 home runs vs Lew Burdette.

Willie Mays went 75 for 227 with 13 home runs vs Don Drysdale.

Willie Mays went 43 for 136 with 15 home runs vs Vern Law.

Willie Mays went 68 for 223 with 18 home runs vs Warren Spahn.

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Last month, I mentioned in a Sunday Notes column that Ryne Stanek has the most starts of two innings or less in MLB history, this due to the now-Seattle Mariners reliever having been utilized as an opener for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 and 2019. All told, Stanek served in that role 56 times.

This past week, I asked Stanek about his unique distinction.

“I think it’s fun, especially because I was successful when it happened,” the personable hurler told me. “If you had the record as a traditional starter, it would mean that you weren’t doing well. You know what I mean? It’s funny in that it’s a record most people would assume you didn’t want to have. But as someone who did it, and was good doing it — everything worked out well — I can look back at it in a positive light, as opposed to, ‘Well, I started 60 games and got shelled 60 times.’”

As people who read my May 26 column may recall, I noted that Early Wynn now ranks second all-time with 40 starts of two innings or less. With that in mind, I asked the erstwhile opener how surprised he’d be to learn that the previous record-holder is in the Hall of Fame.

“I would be shocked,” Stanek admitted. “You would have to go out there so many times over the course of your career. Like, how many starts would you have to have for that to even be a possibility?”

In Wynn’s case, the answer is 611 starts over 23 big-league seasons. The pitchers with the next-highest two-and-under totals — Tommy John, Johnny Podres, and Nolan Ryan — were likewise workhorses with long careers.

How does Stanek feel about being on a list — regardless of the circumstances that landed him there — that includes such luminaries?

“That’s pretty cool,” Stanek said when apprised of Ryan’s and John’s inclusion. “Those are names that, in today’s game, you don’t quite look at as real people. They’re not normal players, they’re legends of the game.”

Stanek is now serving as an occasional closer — seven of his 11 career saves have come this season — so what are his chances of one day seeing his name on a list that includes the likes of Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman?

“Not too good,” the 32-year-old right-hander said with a smile. “I’d have to play for another 50 years to make a dent at this point.”

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A quiz:

Seven players in MLB history have hit 2,500 or more singles, and only two of them batted exclusively right-handed. One is Cap Anson. Who is the other?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

Mike Brumley, an infielder for six teams during an MLB career that spanned the 1987-1995 seasons. was killed in a car crash last weekend at age 61. A big-league coach and minor-league manager following his playing days, Anthony Michael Brumley was the son of former Washington Senators catcher Tony Mike Brumley.

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The answer to the quiz is Derek Jeter, who ranks fifth all-time with 2,595 singles.

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Scott Servais was asked about Steven Kwan’s nearly-.400 batting average when Seattle played in Cleveland earlier this week. Not surprisingly, the Mariners manager was complimentary of the Guardians outfielder.

“It speaks to his skillset,” Servais said prior to Wednesday’s game. “He just doesn’t swing and miss. It’s a 1% whiff rate on fastballs and 5% on breaking balls. It’s really unbelievable hand-eye coordination. He’s very gifted in that way. We need to make [him] hit the ball at us [and] we’ll do the best we can to make that happen. There is really only him and Luis Arraez with those kind of contact skills.”

Kwan preceded to go 2-for-3 with a home run later that night, then doubled his first time up on Thursday, giving him — at least for the moment — a .400 batting average. Kwan currently sits at a comparably modest .390.

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Ben Rice merits a mention in this week’s column. An under-the-radar prospect yet to play above Double-A when he was featured here in Sunday Notes last November, the now-25-year-old first baseman/catcher was called up by the New York Yankees this past Tuesday. A 12th round pick in 2021 out of Dartmouth, Rice recorded his first big-league hit — single off of Baltimore’s Albert Suárez — in his second-ever plate appearance. He is now 3-for-14 on the season.

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Jackson Merrill also merits mention. Over his last 10 games, the 21-year-old San Diego Padres outfielder is 13-for-34 with seven home runs. On the year, he is slashing .290/.327/.444 with 10 home runs, a 122 wRC+, and 2.21 WAR. As did three of my FanGraphs colleagues, I predicted prior to the season that Merrill would go on to win NL Rookie of the Year. It could very well happen.

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

NC Dinos outfielder Ah-Seop Son recorded his 2,505th career hit on Thursday and is now the KBO’s all-time leader in that category. A .321 hitter over 18 seasons, Ah-Seop is slashing .297/.322/.417 in the current campaign.

Seunghwan Oh has a KBO-best 22 saves to go with a 2.14 ERA over 33-and-two-thirds innings for Samsung Lions. The 41-year-old right-hander has 544 career saves: 422 in the KBO, 80 in NPB, and 42 in MLB.

Hyun Jin Ryu is 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA over 80 innings with the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles. The 37-year-old left-hander has 184 career wins: 103 in the KBO, 78 in MLB, and three in the minors.

Daichi Ohsera is 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA over 72-and-two-thirds innings for NPB’s Hiroshima Carp. The 33-year-old right-hander went seven scoreless yesterday and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 29 innings..

Hiroto Saiki is 8-1 with a 1.20 ERA over 82-and-a-third innings for NPB’s Hanshin Tigers. The 25-year-old right-hander has a 1.56 ERA over 248 innings since the start of the 2022 season.

Natsuki Takeuchi is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA over 49-and-two-thirds innings in his rookie season with the Seibu Lions. The 22-year-old right-hander was of the top two picks in NPB’s 2023 draft lottery.

Trevor Bauer is 9-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 11 starts with the Mexican League’s Diablos Rojos del Mexico. The 33-year-old former MLB right-hander has 102 strikeouts and has allowed 52 hits in 69-and-a-third innings.

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A recent Twitter poll posted by @MLBcathedrals asked, “Should MLB All-Stars wear a unique AL and NL uniform or just represent their team in their team’s home and away uniforms?” More than 4,600 people cast votes, and the result was a landslide favoring tradition over an apparel behemoth’s revenue stream. Teams’ traditional uniforms polled at 86.9% while AL/NL uniform(s) received just 13.1%,

I’m on board with the majority here. Moreover — based on feedback I’ve seen elsewhere in recent years — you probably are as well. Not that MLB particularly cares what we think.

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A random obscure former player snapshot:

Bob Skube is arguably the most obscure position player to have seen action with the 1982 “Harvey’s Wallbangers” Milwaukee Brewers. A left-handed-hitting outfielder, Skube appeared in four games and came to the plate just three times for that season’s American League champions. Skube stroked singles in each of his first two plate appearances, turning around pitches by New York’s Lynn McGlothen and Baltimore’s Dennis Martinez. His remaining five career knocks came with the Brewers the following year. One was his lone extra-base hit, a three-run triple off of Texas’s Mike Smithson. All told, Skube went 7-for-28 in his brief time as a big-leaguer, and long-forgotten Brewer.

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FARM NOTES

Chandler Simpson is slashing .375/.424/.427 — all but nine of his 87 hits are singles — in 258 plate appearances between High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery. The 23-year-old outfielder in the Tampa Bay Rays organization lead the minors with 51 stolen bases. He has been caught nine times.

Deyvison De Los Santos leads the minors with 21 home runs. The newly-turned 22-year-old corner infielder in the Arizona Diamondbacks system is slashing .349/.401/.667 in 282 plate appearances between Double-A Amarillo and Triple-A Reno. De La Santos was taken by in the Rule-5 draft by the Cleveland Guardians last winter but subsequently returned to the Snakes in the spring.

Lazaro Montes leads the minors with 72 RBIs. A native of La Habana, Cuba, the 19-year-old outfielder in the Seattle Mariners system is slashing .310/.413/.532 with 13 home runs in 305 plate appearances with Low-A Modesto.

Max Lazar has 10 saves to go with a 0.34 ERA, a 1.24 FIP, and 36 strikeouts in 26-and-two-thirds innings between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Previously in the Milwaukee Brewers system, the 25-year-old right-hander was signed as a minor league free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies last December.

Brad Lord is 8-1 with a 1.40 ERA, a 3.12 FIP, and 75 strikeouts in 70-and-two-thirds innings for Double-A Harrisburg. The 24-year-old right-hander was taken in the 18th round of the 2022 draft out of the University of South Florida by the Washington Nationals.

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Left on the cutting-room floor from last month’s Broadcaster’s View: Tales From the Minors was the an anecdote from Milwaukee Brewers TV analyst Tim Dillard. The erstwhile reliever told of how he once had to don the tools of ignorance while with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

“A catcher we had up in Milwaukee, Jett Bandy, got hurt,” recalled Dillard, whose playing career included 17 seasons down on the farm. “I think he broke a rib on a swing. The only catcher we had in Triple-A that was on the 40-man roster was pulled from the game and our other catcher went out there. We didn’t have a bullpen catcher, so I had to put on the gear and catch our guys in the bullpen that day. And I was active at the time. You don’t see that very often, even in the minors.”

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Roman Anthony is one of the game’s most-promising prospects. Top-rated in the Red Sox system and No. 15 on The Board, the 20-year-old Portland Sea Dogs outfielder is more than holding his own against almost exclusively older opponents in the Double-A Eastern League. Along with playing solid defense in center, Anthony boasts a 143 wRC+.

Prior to the start of the season, I learned that he enjoys wielding two different kinds of clubs.

“People are always just curious about baseball,” Boston’s second-round pick in the 2022 draft told me. “They never really ask me about what I do on my off time. One thing I’ve been getting into is golf. It’s a good way to get away from baseball a little bit. I enjoy being out on the golf course.”

Which is harder, hitting a golf ball perfectly or squaring up a thrown baseball?

“Right now, it would have to be hitting a golf ball, because I’m still pretty new to it,” replied Anthony, who golfs right-handed and swings a bat left-handed. “I only started toward the end of [the 2022-2023] offseason and didn’t get to do a lot of it during the season. But I think anyone who plays either sport could tell you how hard it is to do well.”

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

At Sportico, Barry Bloom wrote about how Willie Mays, in life and death, bridged the gaps in MLB history.

At North Side Baseball, Matthew Trueblood wrote about how the Cubs are the face of an alarming new injury trend in MLB.

The Score’s Travis Sawchik looked at a weekend in the life of the Dodgers’ Japanese press corps.

Will Charlotte ever land an MLB team… and do they even want one? Ryan Fagan explored that question at Charlotte Magazine.

Andscape’s Clinton Yates wrote of how Reggie Jackson reminded us that MLB’s Rickwood Field game wasn’t a kumbaya moment

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Over his first nine starts, Chicago Cubs southpaw Shota Imanaga allowed seven runs in 53-and-two-thirds innings. Over his last five starts, Imanaga has allowed 25 runs in 25-and-a-third innings.

Matty Alou had a four-year stretch (1966-1969) in which he won a batting title and finished second, third, and fourth in the other three seasons. In 1971, he logged the leagues’s eighth-highest average, and in 1973 he had the 10th-highest. The middle of the three Alou brothers finished his career with a .307 average but just a 106 wRC+ and 20.4 WAR.

Pete Runnels won two American League batting titles with the Boston Red Sox, the first in 1960 with a .320 average, the second in 1962 with a .326 average. Stealing bases wasn’t one of his strong suits. Not only was Runnels just 37-for-88 in his career, he was caught in each of his first 13 attempts. Then with the Washington Senators, he went 0-for-3 in 1951 and 0-or-10 in 1962.

In 1984, the three top winners on the Red Sox pitching staff (Bruce Hurst, Bob Ojeda, Oil Can Boyd) all finished with a record of 12-12. Their respective earned runs allowed were 95, 96, 96, and their strikeout totals were 136, 137, 134. They each had one balk.

In 1963, the Houston Colt .45s had an eight-game stretch from June 19-25 in which they were outscored 39-2. The second-year expansion team was shut out 23 times that season. On 32 other occasions they scored just one run.

On today’s date in 1930, the Brooklyn Robins strung together 10 consecutive hits against Heine Meine in an eight-run sixth inning on their way to a 19-6 thrashing of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wally Gilbert — a three-run, inside-the-parker — and Babe Herman hit back-to-back home runs. Herman then went deep again in the seventh,

On today’s date in 1990, Dwight Evans hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the Boston Red Sox a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Evans — a 65.2-WAR player for his career — had earlier tied the game with an eighth-inning home run. Mickey Tettleton homered for the Orioles in the top of the tenth.

Players born on today’s date include Tom Haller, a catcher who made All-Star teams with both the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers — he also played for the Detroit Tigers — in a career that spanned the 1961-1972 seasons. Later the Giants’ general manager, Haller homered a total of 134 times and was 14-for-44 in stolen base attempts.

Also born on today’s date was Tony Johnson, an outfielder whose relatively brief MLB career comprised two games with the Montreal Expos in 1981 and 70 games with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982. A native of Memphis, Johnson logged 23 hits, including three home runs, and was 3-for-16 in stolen base attempts.

Teams in the 1906 Class-D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League (aka The KITTY League) included the Danville Old Soldiers, the Mattoon-Charleston Canaries, and the Vincennes Alices.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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sadtrombonemember
1 month ago

I was really hoping the answer to the quiz would be some random guy like Nick Markakis but since Markakis hit lefty he wasn’t even eligible.

MikeSmember
1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I couldn’t think of right handed singles hitters. The names that kept popping into my head were guys like Gwynn, Carew, Ichiro, and Boggs and I knew they were all left handed.

PC1970
1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Took me a minute, but, I eventually came up with Jeter after realizing guys like Mays, Aaron, Pujols, Miggy, etc all had way too many extra base hits.

Left of Centerfield
1 month ago
Reply to  PC1970

Only players with 2500+ singles are Rose, Jeter, Cobb, Ichiro, Wee Willie Keeler, Eddie Collins, and Anson.

synco
1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I went with Rogers Hornsby bc I remembered he was right handed, but did not remember that he didn’t reach 3,000 hits (2,930). I thought he was in the 3,500-600 range for some reason. Jeter is obvious in retrospect.