Baseball is a really easy game to master, analytically, if you just pay attention. At least that’s what I’ve been told by articles I read on my phone during the games. But Thursday’s season opener was full of teachings, including but not limited to the following...
- There are two good ways to catch a difficult fly ball: Either get a great jump, take a perfect route, and use blazing speed, or do everything wrong and then blindly throw your glove up somewhere and hope for the best.
- Pitching to Mike Trout is easier than previously believed. Just let him scorch the ball and let luck, your defense, and the marine layer do the rest.
- Predicting baseball outcomes is easy. For example, if a batter is a career .231/.332/.322 against LHP and a LHP holds LH batters to a career .227/.298/.308 line, in all likelihood the batter will cream a double to the wall.
- The best way to build a baseball team is to get two players whose combined WAR is 73 and then surround them with 24 0 WAR players. Just make sure one of those 0 WAR players is also a hothead who tries to assault the opposing team’s fans.
Well enough of that. We have game 2 to worry about now in our quest for an undefeated season, with Shintaro “No hits for you! Just a lot of walks” Fujinami making his big league debut against lefty Patrick Sandoval.
With lefties Sandoval and Tyler Anderson going over the weekend, it appears Jesus Aguilar will get all 3 starts at 1B in the series. So it may take a while before the “Ryan Noda era” commences.
But that’s ok because as a Rule 5 pick, all Noda has to do this season is sit on the roster and he is Oakland’s for the next 5 seasons. This is how the A’s could have treated Cristian Pache in 2022 instead of burning his last option year in the midst of a 102 loss season and then explaining, this week, that “We just ran out time with Pache.” Hopefully Esteury Ruiz soon makes us forget how faulty this argument is. (Because in all likelihood, Conner Capel and Brent Rooker won’t.)
Speaking of the bullpen (we weren’t), can we get a little love for Domingo Acevedo as a possible closer until someone emerges to seize the job? He didn’t even make the string of mentions the other day, when Mark Kotsay named Dany Jimenez, Trevor May, and Zach Jackson as possible candidates for now.
That would be a guy who is supposed to throw mid-90s but is hitting just 91 MPH on the radar gun right now, a guy with a 5.04 ERA last season who spent spring training doing his best Fuji imitation of “suddenly walking everyone,” and a guy who has spent his entire major and minor league career issuing walks like they’re going out of style.
Meanwhile, Acevedo is carving up hitters with his solid 93 MPH fastball, plus changeup. and a slider whose strikingly little movement consistently confounds batters. He walked just 2.26 batters per 9 IP last season, and allowed just 1 ER in his 9.1 IP this spring. Seems like as good a choice right now as anyone.
So there’s some food for thought on this Saturday, following that most irritating of things: a Friday off day on the season’s second day. Really, MLB? Really? Yes, really.