Jeff Passan

  • 10 Degrees: The next baseball revolution is here, and spin is in

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    Already, thanks to MLB’s At-Bat app and the enterprising Daren Willman of BaseballSavant.com, we’ve seen a smattering of information on the speed of batted balls. The data has been illuminating in a vacuum – the idea that Giancarlo Stanton has hit two balls 120 mph this year and they’ve gone for a single and double is just fun to know – but there’s not enough there to establish patterns and understand what, exactly, we can glean from exit velocity.

    Coming in June, MLB Advanced Media hopes, are leaderboards that include batted-ball data as well as numbers that haven’t been leaked for public consumption: the spin rate on pitches. For years, a Danish company called Trackman has used its radar system to measure the angle, velocity, trajectory, location and, yes, spin on balls thrown and batted. MLBAM folded Trackman into Statcast this year, and in addition to the deluge of fielding numbers that the league expects to make public, the pitching data is on its way.

    When looking for the next Richards …

    At least, that’s what we presume. With spin, we don’t necessarily know yet, even though the Houston Astros acquired …

  • Baseball teams making a mockery of Selig Rule

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    The Selig Rule is a sham, a mandatory decree to promote minority hiring that conveniently ignores the mandate part, and the active disregard of it by Major League Baseball teams reached its nadir Monday when the Miami Marlins followed the path of their brethren and hired another white guy with zero managerial experience without bothering to interview another candidate.

    That the Marlins were involved in a farce of one variety or another came as no surprise. By naming general manager Dan Jennings their field manager, they copied the trend pervading baseball: handing important jobs to novice candidates while the commissioner’s office continues to rubber-stamp a systemic snuffing-out of minorities.

    That’s the dirty way teams get around this: by hiring someone on the inside, as if that’s a compelling enough reason to look past an institutional flaw. Baseball should know better than to trot that cockamamie excuse out like it’s rightful. Familiarity does not absolve you from doing what’s right.

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  • 10 Degrees: Breaking down MLB's upcoming free-agent class – the greatest, and most expensive, ever

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    In less than six months, the greatest free-agent class in baseball history will hit the open market and obliterate spending records. More than $2 billion in guaranteed money will be lavished on players, crossing that particular ceiling for the first time because of a group with unprecedented depth and top-heaviness.

    There is a chance that the 18 players listed below will crack $2 billion by themselves. It's a safe bet that together they'll exceed $1.5 billion. And considering the record spending for a free-agent class came two years ago around $1.9 billion – and that the names below do not include Wei-Yin Chen, Yovani Gallardo, Hisashi Iwakuma, Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, John Lackey, Mat Latos, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Daniel Murphy, Mike Napoli, or a single relief pitcher in a market where relief pitchers make bank – the amount by which the record is smashed could be substantial.

    1. David Price and Johnny Cueto making a stronger-by-the-start case that each is worthy of a $200 million-plus deal. Let's go to the numbers

    Pitcher B ranks second on the list: CC Sabathia, who signed with the New York Yankees seven years ago for $161 million.

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  • Georgia asst. coach apologizes for criticizing former recruits after MLB backlash

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    A University of Georgia baseball coach apologized Saturday for an email sent to recruits in which he demeaned players who had forgone college for professional baseball, underscoring the fight for top talent as the June draft approaches.

    Scott Daeley, an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Georgia, sent multiple emails to the parents of recruits committed to the school starting next season laying out the case against signing with a pro team if drafted. In the most recent email, one of two obtained by Yahoo Sports, Daeley focused on six former Georgia recruits who instead signed with major league teams and had struggled or not yet made the big leagues.

    The email, sent April 21 and first reported by Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs, reached the scouting community this week and inspired a significant backlash, angering scouts whose jobs often conflict with college coaches. While both sides acknowledge significant lobbying exists, baseball executives down to rank-and-file scouts were livid with Daeley’s tone – a sentiment Daeley said he understands.

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  • Prospect Heat Check: Astros have a crown jewel

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago

    The countdown for Carlos Correa is on, the excitement palpable for the Houston Astros to deploy the game’s best middle infield. That’s not being presumptuous. It’s the truth in 2015, when offense has degraded to the point Zack Cozart has the best OPS among qualified shortstops by nearly 100 points.

    Correa is a marvel, an almost-unfair complement to Jose Altuve, two anchors around whom the Astros can continue to build their grand experiment. By this time next month, Correa may not be in the minor leagues anymore, so allow us the opportunity to lead off the season’s first Prospect Heat Check with him. It’s a look around the minor leagues at who’s hot, who’s not and, in Correa’s case, who’s next.

    1. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros, Triple-A: The Astros spared the Texas League any further indignity after Correa torched it for a month to the tune of .385/.459/.726 with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 15 tries. His promotion to Triple-A sets the stage for his arrival at 20 years old, a latter-day Alex Rodriguez as a 6-foot-4 shortstop with a chance to stay there. Once he comes, he’s not going back.

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  • 10 Degrees: The reckoning of Bryce Harper is upon us

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 19 days ago

    This is Bryce Harper, the one so many of us have breathlessly touted as the next big thing for years, to much chuckling and consternation. It started when he was a teenaged cover boy, continued as he blew through the minor leagues like a kiss, hastened when he became the youngest player to debut in nearly 15 years, grew with his All-Star-level talent, shriveled as his performance didn’t quite match it and left him here, 22 years old, grown up and ready to dominate like his destiny foretold.

    It doesn’t always work out that way, of course, so to see Harper doing everything Harper was supposed to do (hit monster home runs) and even more (take walks like he’s Barry Bonds) is the story of this baseball season. As Mike Trout does Mike Trout in his inimitable fashion, Harper’s game of catch-up is going rather well, thank you very much.

    Before the proceedings start, one final announcement: There are only a few seats left on the …

    1. Bryce Harper bandwagon, so sign up fast. It will look awfully smart, because Harper’s transformation looks very real and is trending positively in every fashion.

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  • How Mike Moustakas learned to stop worrying and beat the shift

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 22 days ago

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The reinvention of Mike Moustakas started over the winter, when he sidled up to a tee or stood in for a soft-toss session. Every ball he hit went to the left side. Moustakas always relied on his hands, quick as a mousetrap, to help him punish baseballs, and in this case they were of particular importance, because without their cooperation he was bound to be the same ineffective hitter of a year earlier.

    What drove the Kansas City Royals' third baseman to this place was an abdication of pride, a grand survival instinct and a realization that he loves playing baseball enough to change. Forever a pull-happy left-handed power hitter, Moustakas no longer could be that if he wanted to be an effective major leaguer, because the widespread defensive shifting he saw last season defeated him, and doubling down wasn't the answer.

    "Last year, I was really stubborn," Moustakas said. "I didn't think I could get beat by the shift. I felt like I could hit through it. I realized I can't."

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  • The new Miguel Cabrera is just like the old one: hitting and having way too much fun

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago

    In a hotel lobby last week, David Price was chatting with his parents when Miguel Cabrera came over to say hello. He was on his way to grab a car to the ballpark. First he needed to fetch a package, so he meandered over to the bellhop desk, acquired the box and opened it. Inside was a royal-blue boxing robe. Cabrera slipped it over his shoulders, modeled it for Price, scampered out to the car and wore it to the ballpark.

    Price didn't ask whether he got it because of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight or to needle their opponent that night, the scuffle-happy Kansas City Royals. It didn't really matter. This was just another story for Price to add to his running list of how his trade to the Detroit Tigers turned into an opportunity to watch one of the best right-handed hitters ever do things with a bat few can do – and in the clubhouse, too.

    "It's been the coolest thing about being here: seeing Miggy every day," Price said. "I'll always have the utmost respect for him, but seeing what he is every day. It's greatness on the field and in the clubhouse. The way he treats all the young guys, everyone in here. That's how he does it."

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  • 10 Degrees: Jered Weaver's fastball can't even break a Texas speed limit, and what it means for his future

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 26 days ago

    The radar gun never lies. It is baseball's ultimate arbitrator, impartial by nature and honest to the point of brutality. It has rendered every Jered Weaver start this season a festival of incredulity, as if there's no way he really could be throwing this slowly.

    Only here we are, in May, four full weeks of the baseball season past, and Weaver – 20-game winner and Cy Young runner-up within the past half-decade – is averaging around 83 miles per hour with his fastball. Considering the biggest in-season leap from April to the end of the year last year was 1.2 mph, the prospect of the 32-year-old Weaver regaining his velocity grows unlikelier by the day.

    In certain parts of Texas, Weaver's fastball could travel along the interstate at its regular speed and not even draw an eye-blink from a state trooper, let alone a ticket. Of the 101 regular starting pitchers this season who throw changeups, 63 have intentionally slow pitches that move faster on average than a Weaver fastball. Since baseball installed pitch-tracking systems in its stadiums a decade ago, no right-handed non-knuckleball pitcher has thrown a fastball slower than Weaver this season.

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  • 10 Degrees: Cubs are contenders as rookies thrive amid standout class

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Mark Prior was viral before viral existed, appointment viewing before the DVR, the proto-prospect. Certainly there were next big things before Prior, but his arrival with the Chicago Cubs hailed a shift in baseball, and especially baseball fandom, toward a culture in which fetishizing players before they've taken a single at-bat or thrown a single pitch in the major leagues is not just validated but expected.

    With the Chicago Cubs' cadre of prospects causing -gasms of all manner and variety at Wrigley Field, it's amazing to think Prior prompted the same sort of frenzy in a world without social media and hashtags. May 22, 2002, wasn't #PriorDay; it was the arrival of the No. 2 pick in the draft from the year before, one of the most polished college pitchers in memory, a 21-year-old who struck out 79 over the 51 minor league innings he needed before arriving. Chicago teemed with excitement and expectation that night and showed why it's every bit the equal of New York and San Francisco when the Cubs are relevant.

    If Seager can stick at shortstop – scouts think he's less equipped to do so than Correa – it's even better for the Dodgers, because in ...