I have several extremely important points to make today, but I'm going to make these ones instead:
Is hitting contagious?
I have a theory about this and it dates back to my middle school basketball coaching days, and one of our 8th grade students who came to the games to root on his classmates. Our team that year was not a great shooting team, which is to say that the hoop always seemed awfully high and generally appeared to have a diameter slightly less than a basketball has. What I'm trying to say is that we missed a lot, and when the team had missed five or six shots in a row this 8th grade voice, presumably trying to be helpful, would call out, "In the hoop!"
I suspect that the way hitting a baseball works is that once a batter lines a clean single to left, his teammates look at one another with great wonder and exchange insights:
"Hit the ball!"
"Hit it hard!"
"Someone make sure to tell Bobby!"
Again, it's just a theory.
Should Carlos Gonzalez be more patient at the plate?
I thought I'd mix things up and make a serious point. I'm not sold that the A's should put much emphasis on getting Gonzalez to be more patient at the plate. Gonzalez is extraordinarily gifted, has a swing that could soon produce average, slugging, HRs, and RBIs, and yet even at his most successful he has never been a very patient hitter.
I'm not sure that trying to change him is as wise a strategy as just trying to harness, and maximize, his existing strengths. I would sooner see the A's surround Gonzalez with high OBP guys than ask him to change his skill set, and I would much rather see the A's focus on his approach against LHP, which I do think needs adjustment and growth.
It's always a bit scary when a player you plan to depend on offensively does not look like he will have even an above average OBP, though it's also worth noting that if Gonzalez hits enough balls hard and far - and when he hits a ball hard, he really hits it hard - he'll get pitched a lot more carefully and he may naturally walk more than he does now. But to try to take such a talented and promising hitter and try to force him to become a type of hitter he isn't naturally? Well, I could probably make an analogy about "putting lipstick on a pig," but I'm not going there. Sorry.
In summary, if the A's leave Gonzalez alone in regards to OBP, and focus instead on helping him stay back and use the whole field against LHP, I think he can develop to be a hitter like this, maybe minus 20 points of batting average but same OBP:
.294/.325/.455 (.780 OPS), 15 HR, 79 RBI
.303/.336/.469 (.806 OPS), 21 HR, 80 RBI
.286/.307/.519 (.827 OPS), 35 HR, 117 RBI
.289/.314/.478 (.792 OPS), 28 HR, 123 RBI
.306/.332/.539 (.871 OPS), 29 HR, 123 RBI
.315/.345/.541 (.885 OPS), 29 HR, 116 RBI
Those are Garret Anderson's stats from 1998-2003, and while a Beltran comp is a nice fantasy I think Anderson is actually the best comparison for what Gonzalez could look like as an accomplished hitter. And I'll take those numbers every day of the week from my plus CFer.
Lincecum's Most Impressive Stat Of All
Though Webb and Sabathia will get consideration, to me the Cy Young award winner in the NL unquestionably has to be Tim Lincecum. If he makes two more starts, Lincecum will finish the season with 17-19 wins. His ERA is currently 2.43, and he leads the league with 237 strikeouts. Yet these are not the stats that awe me the most. After his 30th start (Saturday), the Giants were 66-81 and were running neck and neck with San Diego for last in the league in runs scored. And yet Tim Lincecum has only 3 losses. That's unbelievable.
Pressure's on - rumor has it that if the A's don't win tonight, heads are going to roll. Well actually just Stomper's, but still...See you at 7:00pm.