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Morning Mound Visit: sabermetrics news - 8/17/18

The changing role of the leadoff hitter; the Rays’ innings/start record; Chris Sale’s best season; the Chris Archer return

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

FanGraphs | Craig Edwards: The leadoff spot is changing, and while those changes could swing back, the spot has seen some of the best offensive performances of the past 20 years. Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Francisco Lindor, and Matt Carpenter have all vaulted the leadoff spot to a “premier” spot as not imagined decades ago.

Baseball Prospectus | Rob Mains: The Rays are going to set the record for fewest innings per start, easily. With the advent of the Opener it’s a no-brainer, even though it’s unclear whether the unknown advantage will either continue or be adopted/adapted across the league.

The Ringer | Zach Kram: The Red Sox are having their best regular season ever, so it makes sense that Chris Sale is having his best season. With a 1.97 ERA and an absurdly low contact rate, he’s putting himself in the conversation with another legend, peak-Pedro Martinez.

ESPN Insider | Keith Law ($): Law is one of the evaluators who thought the haul for Chris Archer was a bit light, as both Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows have fallen stocks over the last couple of years. But the PTBNL Shane Baz is actually the centerpiece, and he is described as having the highest ceiling of any Rays pitcher in their system.