The MLB season lasts half the year, and it can be hard for the average fan to keep up. That’s where we come in. Every day during the 2017 regular season, Beyond the Box Score will be recapping all the biggest action from the previous day — with a sabermetric slant, of course — and looking ahead to what today will bring.
Yesterday’s biggest play
Scooter Gennett puts the Reds ahead with a grand slam — +.521 WPA
With two on and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Padres asked their stud left-handed reliever Brad Hand to face Joey Votto and preserve a 3-2 lead. Votto — to the surprise of no one — worked a walk to load the bases and bring the Reds’ win expectancy to 56.3 percent. Hand followed the walk to Votto with a strikeout of Adam Duvall and the Padres momentarily recaptured the favor of said win expectancy. Enter Scooter “Ryan” Gennett.
Wasting no time whatsoever, Gennett smashed a first-pitch, belt-high slider over the inner third of the plate deep to right-center field. The grand slam gave the Reds a 6-3 lead and catapulted their win expectancy to 93.1 percent. Hand is a lefty reliever, but he’s not a LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY). For the season he’s allowed a .228 wOBA to righties but a .266 wOBA to lefties, a small reverse platoon split that was on full display in the seventh inning on Thursday.
It’d be wrong if we didn’t we didn’t acknowledge two things from the above gif of Gennett’s grand slam; Hunter Renfroe’s effort and the fan who ultimately caught the ball. Check them both out again:
Renfroe had no chance of catching this ball, yet I can’t stop watching his wall-climbing spin jump. Who knew that Hunter Refroe was into parkour!? You learn something new every day.
As for the fan, for whatever reason there is a stigma that goes along with a grown man bringing a glove to a game. Personally, I say more power to you, but bringing a glove does add a lot of pressure should a ball come your way. This
guy hero, stared that stigma — and a fast, incoming baseball — right in the face and made a fantastic catch while falling back into the seats. Good for you, anonymous patron. That celebratory jump hug with your friend was well deserved.
Yesterday’s best game score
Jacob deGrom — 81
Game Score was developed by Bill James as a quick way to evaluate a starting pitcher’s performance, and recently updated by Tom Tango. The score begins at 40, with points added for outs and strikeouts, and subtracted for walks, hits, runs, and home runs. A score of 70 is very good; a score of 90 is outstanding.
After 6 2⁄3 scoreless innings, having allowed just four hits, Mets ace Jacob deGrom was struck with a line drive off the bat of Nick Williams and forced to come out of the game. He was already at 100 pitches, so it wasn’t likely that deGrom would have gone much further, but there’s still something very Mets about having to leave a dominant start in that fashion.
While he was in the game deGrom struck out nine Phillies hitters and induced six ground ball outs. He generated 11 total swinging strikes, with five of those whiffs coming on his curveball — impressive, since he only threw 12 total curves in the game.
It was a dominating but not unexpected performance from a pitcher of deGrom’s caliber against an offense like the Phillies (they own a 87 wRC+ as a team). More important than the outcome is that it appears the line drive that knocked deGrom out of the game will not prevent him from making his next start.
Jacob deGrom literally has the baseball's stitching imprint on his right triceps. He discusses the comebacker that struck him: pic.twitter.com/EEusi3EmpD— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 11, 2017
I’m not sure the well-earned crown will help ease the pain of deGrom’s bruised tricep, but it sure can’t hurt.
Yesterday’s biggest home run
Eugenio Suárez — 451 feet
As we’ve already discussed, Brad Hand allowed a go-ahead grand slam to Scooter Gennett that ended up being Thursday’s biggest play. Two pitches after that, he left a two-seam fastball over the middle of the plate and gave up the day’s biggest home run to Eugenio Suárez. It was not a great day for the Padres’ best reliever.
I’ll be honest, even though the home run meant little in a game that meant even less, it’s nice to have an unexpected player like Suárez capture this spot. Judge, Gallo, and Stanton are fantastic dinger-smashing goliaths, but they’re the front runners for this category every single day; an underdog is appreciated. Unfortunately, there’s nothing all that aesthetically interesting about this home run other than the fact that it was a no-doubter. It sailed over the bullpen — providing more screen time than usual for “Laura’s Lean Beef” — and bounced back onto the field. The only interesting thing about this dinger is that it was hit by Suárez.
This home run was the 20th in what has become the best season of Suárez’s young career. He’s slashing .256/.361/.469 with a 117 wRC+ and good defense at third base. With 2.7 fWAR and 3.0 bWAR already, it’s conceivable that he could end up a four win player this year. Suárez showed promise last year and has continued to develop at the plate, increasing his walk and home-run-to-fly-ball rates significantly in 2017.
He has flown under the radar mostly due to the team he plays for, but if the (still only) 26-year-old Suárez can maintain this production next season, his profile will rise. Especially if he can continue to deliver swings like this:
- Typically this section is for links to articles with at least a splash of sabermetric analysis, but over on the SB Nation main page, Grant Brisbee broke down the alternate hat that every team will wear for “Players Weekend.” It’s every bit as delightful as you’d expect.
- Outside of James Paxton the Mariners starting rotation has been horrible, and yet they remain one of the many teams in contention for the AL Wild Card. John Trupin of Lookout Landing took a look at how many teams throughout history have made the postseason with a rotation as bad as Seattle’s has been this year. (Hint: none.)
- The Tigers didn’t make any moves at the deadline, but the writing seems to be on the wall for at least a partial franchise rebuild. Finding young guys to build around is the key and as Beyond the Box Score contributor Ron Wolschleger details at Bless You Boys, Dixon Machado has a chance to be one of those players.
Tonight’s best pitching matchup
Jameson Taillon (3.64 projected ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (3.99 projected ERA)
The Pirates are in fourth place in the NL Central but just three games out of the division lead. The Blue Jays are last in the AL East but just four games back of a wild card spot. Those two sentences speak volumes of the NL Central and the American League as a whole, but regardless of any hot takes you or I might have on the matter, both of these teams are still in this thing. The problem is that each of them, while very much alive, are going to need to jump multiple teams in order to have a shot at the postseason. The time to make a run is now.
At 25 and 26 years old respectively, Jameson Taillon and Marcus Stroman are both excellent young starters. Taillon’s 4.60 ERA is tempered by a 3.36 FIP, while Stroman’s 3.17 ERA comes despite a 3.79 FIP. Taillon’s DRA is of 4.24 is more in line with his ERA and Stroman’s 3.75 DRA is closer to his FIP. You could make arguments in favor of either pitcher going forward and have plenty of ground to stand on, so instead of doing that, let’s just enjoy a head-to-head matchup between two of the game’s bright young talents as they try to help their teams hang on in the race for a playoff spot.
Chris Anders is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can find him on Twitter @MrChrisAnders.