Keep the links coming folks, as I'm always interested to see what readers find. Remember to post them in the comments below.
Today's boxscore focuses on two great players, one player full of potential, and one player that continues to surprise over and over again.
If I really sat down and gave a sober, clear-headed opinion on who the best pitcher of all time was, I might not pick Greg Maddux. But I definitely think it's fun to make the argument. There should be plenty of chances to do that in the near future, as Atlanta retired his #31 jersey last night. The Mad Professor won four straight Cy Young awards (the only ever to do that), and compiled a 2.63 ERA and a 4.77 K/BB in 2526.2 IP with the Bravos. He's also accumulated 18 career Gold Gloves. Rally's WAR database says he's the eighth best pitcher of all time, with 96.8 career WAR.
Talking Chop found a Cubs scouting report on an 18 year-old Maddux. The scout noted his FB had a future potential of 7, but added:
Lacks overall control on all pitches [...]
A hard thrower from start to finish...doesn't give in to opposition, regardless of errors, wild pitches, etc.
Funny how prospects mature.
Albert Pujols is just tearing opposing pitchers apart. With two more (solo) home runs last night, he's at 34 for the season (just three shy of his 2008 season total), and has only two more strikeouts (36) than he does home runs. He's already been intentionally walked 33 times (meaning his K/IBB ratio is just over 1.0). Part of the reason he has so many intentional walks (and perhaps the same reason both home runs last night were of the solo variety) is that the other hitters on the Cardinals aren't nearly of his caliber. Better, many figure, to walk him and let whoever bats behind him do the damage.
Over at Viva El Birdos, chuckb makes the argument (based on data from The Book) that the Cardinals have fared better after a Pujols IBB than they would have otherwise:
It is just 82 PAs so we really cannot conclude too much from such a small sample. But it’s fair to state that the team has done pretty well and, in fact, better than we should have been expected to perform following a Pujols IBB. While I love to watch him hit as well, I’m going to hope that teams continue to walk him, unless there are runners on 2nd and 3rd w/ 2 out!
C'mon managers. He's on pace for 60 HR. We'd all like to see him top Maris' 61. Can you help us out please?
Top Padres prospect Mat Latos has been tapped to make his major league debut tomorrow afternoon at home against the Rockies. (If you live in the area and aren't planning on going, may I remind you that it's Hot Wheels giveaway night?) Harry told us he averaged 96.4 with his FB in the Futures Game. BPro's Kevin Goldstein was impressed:
Mat Latos might have been the most impressive pitcher out there. His scoreless inning doesn't look especially dominating, but if you were there, you certainly saw dominating, as the Padres' top prospect needed just eight pitches for a one-two-three frame, with his heat sitting in the mid-90s with plenty of sink and downright outstanding location.
The good news for those of us on the East Coast is that the game is scheduled for 1:05 PDT, rather than a late game that would start at 10PM in the East.
"What to do with Garrett Jones?" asks Raise the Jolly Roger. He's already hit seven home runs in just 52 PA since being called up in the wake of the Eric Hinske trade. However, he's 28, not really a prospect, and his .307/.348/.502 line at Triple-A Indianapolis has to be taken with a grain of salt, as this was his fifth season at that level. Not only that, the Bucco's are flush with outfielders (Milledge, McCutchen, Moss, Delwyn Young, as well as G. Hernandez and J. Tabata in the minors).
Even still, seven home runs is a lot, and with a pair last night, he's demanding to be taken seriously (take a look at the video of his second home run, an extra innings walkoff that landed in the drink if you don't believe me). Over at Hardball Cooperative, James Bailey is inspired by his perseverance:
He’s hung tough over the years and is finally reaping some reward for his perseverance. His current pace is impossible to maintain, but it’s nice to see him get his moment in the sun at last after all he did for Rochester the past four years.
Ever looked at the bottom of a player's FanGraphs page and wondered what O-Swing% was really telling you (other than the percentage of the time a player swung at a pitch outside the zone)? If you have, you're bound to find this piece by Mike Silver enlightening. He runs regressions of O-Swing% against various other statistics and gives their correlation. Most interesting:
Batted Balls (r value)
LD %: -0.14743
GB %: 0.064188
Finally, for some light humor, the things minor league teams do for ticket sales! The Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets Single-A affiliate) are celebrating Bellies and Baseball, which honors pregnant women. Festivities include "Water Break" ("Two expectant fathers will try to complete a race with water balloons attached to their bodies. The winner is the one who lasts the longest or finishes the race without his water breaking") and "Naming Rights" ("Any expectant mother who agrees to name her child "Brooklyn" or "Cy" gets free Season Tickets for life"). Cyclones GM Steve Cohen adds:
"If you want to be involved in Bellies & Baseball but you’re not pregnant yet, there’s still time!"