Baseball Prospectus | Russell A. Carleton: #GoryMath is abound as he takes on The Shift and its statistical implications. What it reveals is that for very pull-heavy shifts it does indeed take away singles. For non-obvious candidates, though, it can be kind of a wash, and the bigger point is that players are just taking more walks in response and just redistributing how they get the first base. This means that shifts should only be used in obvious scenarios, and not at all in others. It’s fascinating stuff, and it could lead to changes in defensive strategy moving forward.
The Athletic | Eno Sarris: The Rays have had among the worst Command+ marks in baseball, and could it be because... of their strength of schedule? It’s very possible that because of facing Boston and New York so often the staff has actually located their pitches more poorly in response to patient and powerful lineups. It definitely gives us a window into how command is dependent on so many factors not necessarily in the team’s control.
FanGraphs | Jay Jaffe: So we’re only in Mike Trout’s seventh full season, and he is already, by WAR or JAWS or however you calculate it, an average Hall of Fame inductee. He still has to wait until 2020 before he gets official, ten-year eligibility, but by that point we’ll be debating if he’ll surpass the likes of Mickey Mantle by then.
The Ringer | Zach Kram: The Rays have sparked a lot of debate over their use of an “Opener,” a reliever to start a game. Even though there are obvious places this can’t be used, like with a fully-stocked rotation with an ace or two, teams with middling rotations could use this to effect considering team wRC+ is highest in the first inning. I’m personally skeptical, for a few reasons—arbitration effects, the use of good relievers in low leverage situations, and some others—but you can’t deny that this won’t change the way we think about pitcher roles.