Mostly MLB Notes: Striking Goldschmidt

I wasn’t necessarily down on Paul Goldschmidt entering the year, but he came nowhere near any of my teams, as he was being drafted aggressively, and he played in what I perceived as a loaded first base position. Not only has first base been a huge disappointment in general, but Goldschmidt has quickly developed into a true star I certainly didn’t expect, as he’s on pace to finish the season with this line: .329-43-108-130-14. That’s a monster no matter what position you play. While Chase Field is a huge advantage on his side, Goldschmidt has actually posted a 1.242 OPS on the road compared to .812 at home, so while the former is bound to drop, the latter is certain to rise as well. Goldschmidt’s 23.0 K% suggests his current batting average should drop a decent amount, but the power is for real, and he’s the favorite to lead first basemen in steals. Even if it’s obviously unsustainable, it’s worth pointing out just how terrific he’s been this year when batting with runners in scoring position, as he’s hitting .421/.457/.895 with five homers and 24 RBI over 38 at-bats. He also has 10 home runs over 81 at-bats with runners on base. One final Goldschmidt quirky small sample stat – he’s hit .529/.550/1.471 with five homers over 17 at-bats against Tim Lincecum in his career. That’s right, he has a 1.417 slugging percentage against the former two-time Cy Young award winner. I regret missing the boat with Goldschmidt in 2013, and come next year, he might very well be a unanimous first round fantasy pick.

This “home run” trot is among the best ever.

This Ian Kinsler slide wasn’t ideal.

I almost never do this nor recommend it, but I added Justin Masterson in the beginning of the year because I was impressed by his stuff watching him on TV. The obligatory I’m not a scout, but I did stay at a Holliday Inn Express last night comment needs to be said (the thing that jumped out to me was not only above average velocity with his fastball and slider, but the movement of his pitches). And of course, it’s convenient of me to bring this up after a complete game shutout against the Yankees followed by seven more scoreless innings during his last start, a span in which he’s totaled 20 strikeouts. While Masterson remains more effective against right-handers than he does lefties, he’s made huge strides against the latter so far in 2013. Here are his FIPs against LHB from 2008-2012, respectively: 5.93, 4.57, 4.78, 3.65 and 4.95. This year it’s 3.19, as lefties have hit just .225/.319/.302 against him. What’s even more remarkable about this is that Masterson has faced far more left-handed batters (182) than right-handed ones (104) in the early going. And he’s absolutely dominated righties, holding them to an anemic .181/.262/.269 line with a 33.7 K% and 6.7 BB%.

It’s worth acknowledging Masterson has a low .278 BABIP (the Indians have fielded a strong defense this season, but that number looks even luckier when you consider he’s such an extreme groundball pitcher) as well as a low 5.2 HR/FB%. His 3.34 BB/9 rate also is hardly elite. Still, there’s a lot to like here, especially if Masterson’s newfound improvement against southpaws is legitimate. The Indians’ offense leads MLB in wRC+ (118), which should theoretically lead to more wins, and his slider has been the best in all of baseball (a pitch he’s throwing more often than ever). There are only four starters in MLB who rank in the top-20 both in K% and GB%, and Masterson is one of them (the others are Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright and A.J. Burnett). He has a tough upcoming matchup in Fenway Park, but overall, I’m buying Masterson’s transformation.

Here’s “The Baby Bachelor.”

This arm wrestler is intense.

This new local ad is pure genius. But how does it stack up against this recent nominee and this classic?

I’ve always been a big Derek Holland fan, so it drives me crazy I don’t have him on any of my fantasy teams this year, as he finally looks like he’s going to truly break out. He’s actually struggled recently, allowing eight runs over 10.1 innings over his last two starts, and it becomes tougher to pitch in Texas once the summer months start heating up. But even after his latest slump (against two very strong Tigers and A’s lineups), Holland has a 3.30 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with an impressive 54:14 K:BB ratio over 60.0 innings on the year. His average fastball velocity of 93.5 mph is the fastest among all left-handed starters in baseball. Holland also has a healthy (and easily a career best) 10.3 SwStr%, and he’s yet to benefit from a start against the Astros. He also plays on the best team in a division that currently has the second worst run differential in baseball. Coming off a couple of poor outings and with upcoming starts in Seattle and at home against the Royals, now appears to be a good time to pounce if possible. Holland could easily finish the year as a top-30 starter.

Headlines of the Week: Big Rig Carrying Fruit Crashes on 210 Freeway, Creates JamCat-Hating Man Divorces Wife When Surprised With 550 CatsSuspects Butt Dial 911 During Alleged BurglaryDrunk Man Severs Own Genitals With Pair of Scissors, Regrets it the Day After.

The genre is normally not really my thing, but I really liked “Star Trek Into Darkness.” I recommend it. The series finale of “The Office” was really good as well.

Here are firefighters rescuing a cheating man escaping from an apartment window after the husband returned home.

Seriously, what’s going on with B.J. Upton? He’s currently batting .143 with an NL-worst 33.1 K% that’s the fifth worst in baseball. His LD% (13.6) is a career-low, and his IFFB% is a staggering 29.4%. Put differently, Upton has hit nearly as many infield flies (10) as he has line drives (12) this season. In comparison, Joey Votto has hit 11 pop ups in his entire career! So while Upton’s hit rate has been a bit unfortunate so far, his excruciatingly slow start doesn’t have as much to do with poor luck as it does playing terrible baseball. He was even dropped to the eighth spot in the lineup Monday. Still, even with Evan Gattis looking for at-bats with Brian McCann back, Upton’s defense has been strong this season, and his contract pretty much guarantees regular playing time, at least for now. But he’s certainly pushing those limits. Thanks to an almost unbelievable .100 slugging percentage with 21 strikeouts over 50 at-bats with runners on base, he’s driven in three players all season other than himself. And after posting an 83.8% stolen base success rate last season (31-for-37), he’s been caught on half of his attempts this year, as he’s recording outs even on the rare occasion he reaches base. Upton is in the prime of his career at age 28 and even while being a batting average liability, he’s averaged 18.8 homers and 37.2 steals over the past six seasons (while averaging just 145.1 games played over that span). After starting last year injured, Upton hit 19 home runs with 38 runs scored, 40 RBI and 12 steals over the final two months. He then left Tropicana Field, which has been the third-worst hitter’s parks when it comes to suppressing runs scored in all of baseball over the past three years, according to The Bill James Handbook and joined the easier league during the offseason, so the sluggish start has been surprising. I’m personally not dropping him, but Upton’s start to the year has been about as bad as it gets.

Song(s) of the week: Holy crap, Kanye West is not messing around. Here are his two performances from last week’s SNL: “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves.”

Animal Antics: Graphic footage of turtles performing some serious foreplay…Here’s a bald headed eagle taking a fish literally right off a fly line...This sea lion was extremely worried about a little girl falling down…Here’s a deer crashing through a bus window.

Seriously, what’s going on with Ike Davis? After clubbing 19 home runs during his rookie season, he hit a sneaky .302/.383/.543 over 129 at-bats before a fluky ankle injury ended his sophomore campaign prematurely. He then got off to a horrible start last year, as he entered June 12 with a .167/.248/.285 line. But he was dealing with a case of Valley Fever, and Davis then proceeded to hit 27 homers over his final 331 at-bats. Seemingly entering 2013 at full strength at age 26, Davis is currently sporting a hideous .152/.234/.254 line. A trip to the minors is supposedly not imminent, but the mere fact it’s being discussed on a team with few alternatives and certainly not playing for 2013 speaks volumes in and of itself. Davis’ 31.2 K% ranks in the bottom-10 in MLB while his .195 BABIP ranks in the bottom-five. That’s not exactly an ideal combination, although at least his LD% and FB% are both mostly in line with his career levels. I’m stubbornly remaining patient, but I can certainly understand if Davis is currently on waivers in shallow leagues. It’s been ugly.

Ronald Roundup: Man stuck in McDonald’s baby high chair freed by policeMcDonald’s may finally start serving breakfast all dayGospel singer suing McDonald’s, claims chicken sandwich ruined her careerAnd here’s a McDonald’s employee spotting her stolen car in a drive-thru.

Have you guys seen what Keanu Reeves looks like these days? “Whoa.”

Quick hits: Ryan Zimmerman’s bat has heated up recently, but his defense has been brutal. It started as a physical issue with his surgically repaired shoulder but has now apparently become a mental one as well. Zimmerman’s nine errors are easily the most in MLB, and that’s with him having spent time on the DL. His UZR/150 is the second worst in baseball at -33.4 (Matt Kemp is last with an astonishing -40.4)…Jason Grilli is on pace to finish with 63 saves this year…I keep stashing Drew Storen in my home league thinking Rafael Soriano has been injury prone in the past, and the Nationals will hit better from here on out (seriously, how does this team have a collective .289 OBP? Only the Marlins are worse. Against left-handers, Washington has somehow produced a .190/.262/.286 line over 357 ABs. I suppose this might be useful streaming information, although regression is obviously due to hit here at some point), but the former keeps giving up runs (4.67 ERA) despite a pretty 16:3 K:BB ratio. There’s no guarantee he’d be pegged to close over Tyler Clippard should Soriano go down…Speaking of underachieving, despite recording six shutouts (the third most in MLB), the Giants’ starting pitchers have a combined 4.78 ERA, which is the second worst in the National League. Pretty surprising, especially considering the AT&T Park factor.

Here’s a man hit by a truck asking for help while on top of the hood.

Pat Robertson’s opinion on adultery is pretty enlightening.

Longread of the week: An entertaining Q&A with Ricky Gervais.

Quick Hits Part Deux: In one of the most bizarre sequences of the year, after Cliff Lee was picked off after entering the game as a pinch runner, Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis then proceeded to hit back-to-back homers off Aroldis Chapman to win Sunday’s game. If that’s not crazy enough, it appears Cuban pastries are to blame…Since April 29, Marco Scutaro has raised his batting average from .215 to .333…I get that Elvis Andrus is 24 years old and plays the far shallower position, but I think I’d rather own Lance Berkman in fantasy leagues right now…Jacoby Ellsbury hit 32 homers in 2011, a HR/AB rate of 20.6. He has 25 homers over 1,866 at-bats otherwise during his career, a HR/AB rate of 74.6…Eric Chavez is batting .360/.418/.629 with five homers over 89 at-bats against right-handers this season. He’s shockingly valuable in daily leagues. And Patrick Corbin suddenly looks like an ace. As a Giants fan, I’m glad Arizona dealt Justin Upton, as this team is scary enough as is…If I were in a draft today, I’d treat Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish as top-10 players…You obviously don’t need me to tell you Miguel Cabrera is good at baseball, but coming off a season in which he won the Triple Crown, he’s currently sporting a career high in batting average (.387), OBP (.457) and SLG (.659). In roto terms, Miggy is on pace to finish with 42 homers, 131 runs scored and 169 RBI. That’s not bad.

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