Mostly MLB Notes: Buying Jason Heyward, examining Domonic Brown and praising Anibal Sanchez

For all the talk about how bad B.J. Upton has been, and believe me, it’s been warranted, Jason Heyward entered Monday sporting a .142/.283/.236 line. It’s come in a smaller sample thanks to an appendectomy, but Heyward also cost a higher pick at draft tables in March. He’s fast developing into one of the more confounding players in baseball, as after Heyward posted an .849 OPS (with a .393 OBP) as a 21-year-old rookie, he followed that with a .227/.319/.389 campaign. He bounced back last season, helping fantasy owners by hitting 27 homers, stealing 21 bases, recording 82 RBI and scoring 93 runs. With the sky seemingly the limit entering 2013, it appears he’s hell bent on continuing his every other season trend. Things have gotten so bad, he was even pinch hit for by Reed Johnson in a tie game in the ninth inning Saturday, although to be fair this was a platoon issue (Heyward has batted .218/.299/.348 during his career against left-handers). He’s even been caught on two of his three stolen base attempts. However, digging deeper, there are actually some encouraging signs. Heyward’s 12.5 BB% is above his career rate (11.6), and his K% (18.8) is below his career mark (21.4). Moreover, here are his GB/FB ratios over the first four seasons of his career, respectively: 2.03, 1.63, 1.20 and 0.91. That type of development suggests bigger power numbers will follow, especially when you consider his current HR/FB% is 5.7, which is well below his career rate (15.1%). Still just 23 years old, Heyward looks like a prime buy-low candidate. On a side note, it’s pretty remarkable the Braves have a 6.5-game lead in the NL East and look like one of the best teams in baseball with Heyward, B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla combining to hit .161.

Here’s a crazy good fake pick-off play.

Shane Victorino has always been one of the funnier interviews in baseball, and while unfortunately his infamous “No questions asked” interview has apparently been scraped from the Internet, here he is saying “you know” 72 times during one three-minute interview. And he’s a good sport about it!

Robert Coello currently possesses one of the sickest pitches I’ve ever seen.

Allow me to be the latest to write about Domonic Brown, who’s homered eight times over the past eight games (and nine in his last 10). He has a 41:11 K:BB ratio over 206 at-bats, and even after his latest hot streak, still possesses just a .329 OBP on the season. However, that also comes with a .592 SLG, and it’s hard not to like the 42 RBI (he even has four steals to boot). Brown hit 12 homers in May, a month in which he also posted a 21:0 K:BB ratio, which is pretty incredible. He’s on pace to hit 48 home runs this season, but on the other hand, there are some not so encouraging signs, even outside of the scary plate discipline. He currently has an unsustainable 30.2 HR/FB% with a 1.42 GB/FB ratio (and even a 11.3 IFFB%). In other words, not only will fewer of his fly balls leave the fence moving forward, but he’s also hitting far more groundballs (and popups) than a typical slugger with 35+ homer ability. Among the top-18 home run leaders in baseball right now, only one player (Robinson Cano) has a lower FB%. Brown was once a top prospect and is still just 25 years old, so there’s plenty of room for further growth, so I’m not going to concentrate on the negatives and demand you try to sell him high (as usual, the truth likely lands somewhere in the middle) but just realize the underlying stats suggest his remarkable hot streak is all the more remarkable because of how he’s doing it (in May, he walked zero times, struck out in nearly 20.0% of his at-bats, had a .276 BABIP and yet hit .303).

Here’s the Hands Free Whopper. Finally!

Here’s a Black Bear getting hit hard by a car, and then getting up as if nothing happened.

Phil Hughes’ 55:15 K:BB ratio over 58.2 innings is impressive. His 5.37 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, however, are not. Like last year, home runs have been the biggest problem. In fact, since last season, he’s served up 47 long balls over 250.0 innings – the second most in baseball (Ervin Santana has allowed 52). Hughes’ 12.6 HR/FB% over that span is on the high side, but it’s not egregiously unlucky, as this is more of a skill set issue than anything else. Hughes’ 0.60 GB/FB ratio this season is the lowest among all starters, and that looks even worse combined with his lack of popups (5.5 IFFB%). Since Yankee Stadium has boosted home runs for LHB more than any park other than Coors Field over the past three seasons, a right-handed extreme fly ball pitcher like Hughes is essentially in the worst situation possible. He has good velocity (his average fastball has been 92.3 mph this year), and any pitcher with a 21.6 K% paired with a 5.9 BB% is intriguing, but it appears Hughes will need a change in environment in order to reach his potential (and become fantasy relevant).

Nathan Fielder is the man.

Song of the Week: The National’s new album is easily my favorite of the year so far. But I wasn't happy with the YouTube links, and their songs require multiple listens anyway. So having given them my biggest praise possible, let's instead go with a couple of new Daft Punk's songs here: "Get Lucky" and "Doin It Right."

GIFs of the week: This kid was slightly frightened by a foul ball…Your essential Adrian Beltre collection. Be sure to check out No. 9…Here’s the worst call of the week, delivered in the ninth inning of a one-run game with one out and a runner in scoring position…Well, that didn’t go as planned.

Carlos Beltran currently sports a career-low 5.8 BB% and no longer steals bases, but he’s also on pace to finish with 37 homers and 105 RBI while batting .308. The 36-year-old remains one of the more productive hitters in baseball and has stayed relatively healthy since joining the Cardinals. On a two-year, $26 million contract, he’s been a steal for St. Louis, although his defense continues to decline. Although eight of his 12 homers have come with the bases empty, Beltran is hitting .475/.533/.650 with RISP this season. With RISP and two outs, that line jumps to a ridiculous .571/.591/.762. Meanwhile, as a Giants fan and with Zack Wheeler’s impending major league debut, Beltran’s productivity is all the more frustrating, a state of mind in which his fantasy owners surely cannot relate.

Headlines of the Week: Kettle That Looks Like Hitler Brews Trouble For JCPennyWoman is Jailed For Six Months After Her Boyfriend Catches Her Having Sex With His Son on a Camcorder He Set Up To Film GhostsDrunk Driver Was Having Sex Before CrashCustom Time Machine For SaleMissing Man Found After He Walks Up To News Crew Reporting On The Search.

Introducing the Domino’s Drone.

Anibal Sanchez has a 2.79 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with an 89:18 K:BB ratio over 71.0 innings this year, as he’s transformed from a tantalizing young arm with a bunch of potential to one of the very best pitchers in the game. His 5.5 HR/FB% has been a bit lucky, but he prevents fly balls (31.6 FB%), and his 30.8 K% is the third-best in baseball. For what it’s worth, Sanchez’s 1.87 FIP is the lowest in the American League, while his 2.43 xFIP is the lowest in MLB. His average fastball velocity of 92.2 mph is a career-high, but his slider and changeup have been his most effective pitches. The former has made him absolutely unhittable against right-handed batters, whom he’s posted a 48:6 K:BB ratio against. Over 147 total RHBs faced, Sanchez has held them to a .199/.233/.268 line, which equates to a 1.07 FIP. That’s pretty good. Detroit doesn’t have the greatest bullpen or defense, but Comerica Park generally plays neutral, and the Tigers have scored the third-most runs in baseball, so more wins should follow. Once considered fragile, Sanchez has averaged 195.2 innings over the past three seasons, and his 13.0 SwStr% is second only to Yu Darvish among all starters. He’s legit.

Here’s a crazy unlikely result for a Wheel of Fortune contestant. Seriously, how did she solve that?

Police Blotter: Man steals $35 worth of ribs, gets 50-year jail sentence ("How much for just one rib? I sure am hungry")...Drug-taking Mum Dies to Stop Kids’ ArrestOverly long test drive gets man arrested. Kramer is that you?

Quick Hits: Adam Wainwright’s 14.0 K:BB ratio is downright silly. Only two starters in the history of baseball have ever finished a season in double digits and none higher than 11.0:1…Matt Cain was perfect in five of six innings Saturday. Unfortunately, he gave up seven runs (on zero homers) in his other. It’s pretty crazy that he has a 5.45 ERA with a career-best 22.6 K%...J.J. Hardy is quietly on pace to finish with 34 home runs and 97 RBI this season, while Jacoby Ellsbury is on pace to finish with three homers and 59 steals…Luke Gregerson is an obvious must-add with Huston Street making his yearly appearance on the DL. Not that he can’t get lefties out, but Gregerson has one of the best sliders in the game. He has held right-handed batters to a .100/.120/.163 line this season and should be an elite fantasy closer as long as Street is sidelined…If you combine Evan Gattis’ stats with Brian McCann’s while they have been catching, you get 13 home runs and 36 RBI over 159 at-bats. Not bad production from the backstop position…Edward Mujica recorded a save four straight days last week, and when another opportunity presented itself on the fifth day, he was rested, only to see Mitchell Boggs blow the game, costing Michael Wacha a win during his MLB debut…The Pirates’ 21.6 K% is the second highest in the National League, and that’s with Francisco Liriano only recently joining the rotation. Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon and Justin Wilson have combined to record a 1.09 ERA and 0.81 WHIP with 106 strikeouts over 90.2 innings…Miguel Cabrera is the first player in baseball history to enter June with at least a .340 BA, 15+ HR and 60+ RBI.

Animal Antics: Blood Slugs and Cannibal Snails Found in a Remote Mountain Region of Australia...Here’s a deer trying its act at a horse race...Meet Cody, the screaming dog...Duck family interrupts an Indy Car practice...Here’s someone saving a dog from death via an elevator.

Longread of the Week: How Human Evolution Prepared Us to Survive Future Disasters. An extremely worthwhile read.

Bonus pick: Here’s a horribly depressing story about a drunken driving incident that took place in my hometown.

Quick Hits Part Deux: Matt Harvey has a higher WHIP (2.03) against the Marlins (who have scored by far the fewest runs in MLB) this season than he does ERA (1.86) against the rest of the league…I turned on the Nats game Friday only to immediately see Stephen Strasburg look extremely uncomfortable on the mound and constantly shaking his arm after every pitch, which was not very fun. His health remains frustrating, but if it truly is a minor lat issue, then a possible disaster has been averted. Strasburg entered Friday having posted a 0.96 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over his previous four starts…Cliff Lee’s fastball has averaged a modest 90.5 mph this season, but Fangraphs has graded it as the single most valuable pitch in MLBJeff Samardzija has been dominant this year, posting a 2.96 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. His 28.4 K% is the fifth-best in baseball. He has three wins to show for it…Adam Lind has just 14 RBI on the season, but he quietly has a .323/.410/.526 line with a 25:21 K:BB ratio over 133 at-bats…Gerardo Parra is on pace to finish with a .314-15-105-15 line. Just imagine if he wasn’t caught on a whopping seven of his 12 SB attempts...While Yasiel Puig might very well prove to be too raw for major league pitching right now, it’s hard not to get excited about someone who hit .313 with eight homers and 13 steals over 40 games in Double-A this season. He’s clearly worth a flier in all formats. The Dodgers even immediately inserted him into the leadoff spot…Speaking of interesting prospects, Kevin Gausman turned in a strong performance Sunday against a Tigers offense that leads MLB in OBP after opening his career with back-to-back stinkers. Gausman has averaged 96.3 mph with his fastball over his first three starts with Baltimore, which is 0.9 mph faster than the current qualified leader. He’s also combined that with a 1.38 GB/FB rate. Hold onto him.

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