MLBRT 7/6

Sitting around the old roundtable talking baseball once again…

This week’s questions…

1) Recently after pitcher NY Mets’ Robert Gsellman came up lame running to first base, Mets announcer Ron Darling said, “I honestly don’t know what to think because I’ve never seen anything like it … ever. It’s a joke to watch this each and every night. There has to be a different way to train these athletes!”

Mets’ announcer Ron Darling rips Mets trainers after yet another player goes down with an injury

He added… “You know, if baseball … and I’m not talking about (just) the Mets … if baseball at some point doesn’t get these newbie trainers and get them in a room with some of the old trainers and people that took care of baseball players and how to keep them healthy and get them in a room and try to tap into some of their knowledge of how you train baseball players … not weightlifters, not six-pack wearers (but) baseball players … they’re doing a disservice to their million-dollar athletes that they’re paying. It’s a joke to watch this each and every night.”

In your opinion, how valid is Ron Darling’s opinion and how much do you agree or disagree with Darling?

Archie: IMO, he is spot on. Baseball has become a sport where bigger and stronger is better but by design it was not meant to be that way. Quicker, faster and more limber was what aided baseball players in the past. I see these guys run to second on a double and most of them are “winded.” They are too busy building bulk and strength in muscle but hardly anything in endurance and stamina. I think it has become epidemic in nature and will hurt the sport in the long run.

Robert Gsellman being assisted off the field with a left hamstring strain

Joe: I think his statements are very valid.

I know the Mets have a ton of injuries on their team… not only the pitchers but every day players, too. In addition to the above named starting pitcher Gsellman,they also have starters Syndergaard and Harvey on the DL, along with 4 position players on the DL.  The Yankees have similar issues… two starters just came off the DL and five position players… including key starting second baseman Starlin Castro and outfielder Aaron Hicks…  still on the DL.

A quick perusal of the MLB DL shows there are another 6 teams… besides the Mets and Yanks… with at least 8 players on the DL and 2 other teams with at least 6. Almost all of these players are suffering from some form of muscle related injury… pulled or strained hamstrings, obliques, lats, or the all-encompassing malady called tendinitis. That’s almost one third of all MLB teams with what I consider to be an inordinate number of players on the DL due to muscle related injuries.

In  my opinion, without any real scientific data to back me up; just by a quick study of the MLB DL and the types of injuries listed, I think this is due to nothing else than over-training by the players and the MLB clubs…  either by design, some type of misguided need to overdevelop/over use certain types of weight training or negligence…. allowing them to do so.

Steve: Don’t blame the trainers here, blame the players. The players in all sports, not just baseball are just plain wimps, and they can’t take a few nagging injuries to keep them on the field. They don’t want to put in the effort that it takes to stay healthy. I mean what do they care, they are getting paid regardless if they play or not. This is not the old times, and players just don’t have the same drive as they did back in the day. They want to protect themselves and the franchise wants to protect their investments. I loved it back in the day that it was not all about money, it was about the love of the game. I’m not saying these guys don’t love baseball, but I think most of them, especially the veteran players, love money just a little bit more.

2) As of Thursday afternoon (6/29) four players were on track to hit at least 47 HRs or more, two of whom were rookies who were on track to demolish the rookie record for HRs… Rookies Cody Bellinger (60), Aaron Judge (59) and George Springer (52) and Logan Morrison (47). 

In your opinion, which of these players begins to fall off from their present season’s track and which will continue to keep on hitting HRs at a relatively prodigious rate. Then, finally, which player (or is there a dark horse not on this list) has the best chance to wind up as the HR king for 2017? 

Can two rookies… Aaron Judge (left) & Cody Bellinger… lead their respective leagues in HRs?

Archie: I think we will continue to watch these rookies blast dingers until pitchers find the “holes” in their swing. Eventually pitchers will adjust and then we will see which of these rookies will adjust and adapt as well. But let’s not forget there is a host of veterans that can make a run and snatch the title away at the last moment.

Joe: I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and watch Aaron Judge go into a horrendous tailspin but so far it seems he is staying the course and as the other team’s pitchers adapt to him he in turn adapts to them. What I keep seeing wit Judge… even when he isn’t slugging a tape measure HR he still gets hits that either allow him to eventually score runs or drive in runs… makes me begin to believe he is the real deal and therefore I don’t see him cooling off for any  length of time… I say he ends the season with at least 55 HRs.

As for the other players mentioned… I think their power numbers will fall off a tad and most will wind up in the mid-forty range.

Coming back to Judge … the only hole I see right now is that he is on pace for about 200 strikeouts. So, while he is hitting around .330, it appears if he makes contact he tends to gets hits and he makes a majority of his outs by swinging and missing. If. he manages to cut down on those strikeouts? Hmmmm…

Steve: I love the HR derby, and I cannot wait to see Aaron Judge participate in the Derby. It is a shame though that Bryce Harper won’t partake in the event. But, with Stanton, Judge, Bellinger, Springer, Morrison, and who else knows who may come in to play, this may be one of the most exciting HR Derbys we will ever see.

That being said, as far as the last part to this question. I think that history will play a toll here, and I think all of the aforementioned players will slow down. I don’t think anyone will surpass 50 HR this year. They have a great shot to get to 40, but they will not keep up this pace. Not to say they will start to struggle, but history has shown, that players seem to settle down a bit after the All Star Break.

3) Anything can happen as there is about half of the 2017 season yet to play, but, as of right now most would probably agree that the AL MVP “leader” at this moment is Aaron Judge. However, it was recently announced that Mike Trout is headed to a LA Angels Class A team to participate in full workouts and sometime within the week will begin rehab games. If, Trout does return after the All-Star break does he have a better than decent chance to seriously challenge Judge (or anybody else) for the AL MVP title?

Mike Trout

Archie: I think he is too late and I do believe part of the criteria is having enough ABs to qualify. I might be wrong. However, even if he were to get enough ABs the quality of work that would have to be turned in to knock out the Judge would be tremendous and that is asking a lot for someone coming off the DL.

The short answer: No. I don’t think so.

Joe: As great as I believe Trout is, for him to win the MVP in the AL, two things would need to happen… Judge and the other top contenders… Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano…  for the MVP  would have to almost tank for the rest of the year and Trout would have to put up some unbelievable second half numbers.

I just got finished stating the case for the Judge, so I doubt he falls off by that much but even if he does, the other players I named are all on track to hit .275 or better, drive in over 110 runs… some maybe even 120-plus… and most will hit 30 to 40-plus HRs. The chances of all of these players tanking in the second half… sorry…  I just don’t see it.

That means Trout would have to have a superlative second half, where he never tails off into a slump even once, to add to his presently not exactly bad numbers ( .337/.461/.742 slash line with 14 doubles, 16 HRs and 41 RBIs) to even be in the MVP discussion. Him being Mike Trout…  I wouldn’t bet against him, but, somehow, I still don’t see it happening.

Steve: Any time that Mike Trout is on a ballot for MVP, his numbers are going to be good enough for consideration for the award. While he is injured, he should bounce back and have a tremendous season. That being said, this award right now is Aaron Judge’s to lose. He is putting up monster numbers, and I would not be too surprised, if, for the first time, we saw two Rookies win the MVP awards in their respective leagues in Bellinger and Judge.

4) Recently, CBS.com’s Jonah Keri wrote that on June 14, 1974 the Boston Red Sox and California Angels hooked up in an extra inning game that went 15 innings which was won by the Angels 4-3.   Keri then points out that “Nolan Ryan fired 13 innings and 235 pitches(!!!) for the Angels (striking out 19 and walking 10), while Luis Tiant hurled 14 1/3 innings and what historians believe was about 180 pitches.” He adds, “… anyone currently affiliated with Major League Baseball would recoil in horror at that kind of pitcher workload, even in Game 7 of the World Series. Today, the guardians of the game go to great lengths to count pitches, scrutinize pitch mechanics, and do everything in their power to keep pitchers healthy. When dealing with a top pitching prospect in his teens or early 20s, that vigilance goes up 100-fold.”

He then makes the case that despite MLB’s vigilance, pitchers still suffer devastating injuries because “… pitching is an unnatural act, (and) young pitchers are particularly at risk, and no one has cracked the code on how to keep pitchers healthy and successful.”

Is Keri’s appraisal valid or not and while there will probably never come a time when pitchers throw as many innings or pitches as Tiant and Ryan did in that 1974 game, will MLB’s grand poohbahs ever slack off on pitch counts and the so-called babying of young prospects?

CBS.com’s Jonah Keri says no one has the magic formula to stop pitching injuries

Archie: It has become apparent to me, and most baseball nuts, that babying pitchers does NOT work. This goes back to the first question; when are teams going to quit worrying so much about strength training and concentrate more on flexibility, and endurance. The stronger the muscle the more apt the tendon is to snap. If the muscle overworks the tendon, it’s going to give.

If a pitcher is Never allowed to pitch more than XX pitches in his first 30+ games; then when will his body get conditioned to do so?

Joe: Straight off, let me say that unless something extraordinary happens, we will never see pitching lines like what Tiant and Ryan had in 1974. The days of a pitcher having anywhere near double digit complete games and/or near 300 inning pitched in a season are far, far, far in the past. Just ain’t ever gonna happen again.

That being said… Keri’s  words hold a hell of a lot of water. In fact, this goes back (1) to the first question about over training  and (2) to another column where we had a question that dealt with HOF pitcher Tom Seaver’s  idea that today’s pitchers need to learn how to pitch instead of being these strong armed monsters who throw pitches 100 MPH.

Added to all of this is that sometimes certain players… and pitchers in particular… just get hurt. Stuff happens.

Steve: We will NEVER see this again. Pitchers may have the stamina to go the distance, but even complete games are few and far between. There is too much of a financial investment with these players, that most teams would not even think about taking a risk like that unless he has some sort of perfect game, or no-hitter going. I just don’t ever seeing the game being played like it was in 1994, not to say 1974.

5) If MLB continues to allow the fans to cast up to 35 votes per person for the All-Star players there will be very arguable discontent as to who gets picked and who doesn’t get picked to be a starter in the All-Star game. With that disclaimer, out of the way… who was the biggest All-Star snub by the fans?

Is Josh Reddick biggest All-Star snub?

Archie: The first one I see is that Mike Trout might not even make it off the DL and he has only played about half the games this year but yet he is voted as a starter. While he may be the best CF in the AL, I don’t see where this is right. There should be a “projected” cut-off date for a player to be available for the ASG prior to announcing he is a starter.

That being said, I think Josh Reddick from Houston got screwed. Reddick has the third highest BA and OPS in the AL and he did not make it.

Joe: MLB needs to teak away the fans being able to vote for the All-Star starters. But, that ain’t gonna happen. So, if they won’t do that ,then the next best thing is to find a way to limit each fans ability to v te more than once. People being able to vote 35 times is just stupid.

Having just said that… overall I thought the fans got the starting All-Star lineups mostly right. But, in my opinion, the biggest snub is Paul Goldschmidt not being voted in as the NL’s starting first baseman. Yeah, he got picked as a sub  but he should have been picked as the starter at first. Right now he is my leading candidate for the NL’s MVP and that means he should be the NL’s starting first baseman.

Hell, he got my 35 votes.

Steve: For the most part the lineups are correct, but I think the biggest snub is Adam Duvall of Cincinnati. .287, 19 HR and he gets left off the roster. He, along side Joey Votto are the reasons that the Reds are staying afloat in the NL Central. I don’t know how this guy got left out.

Aaron Hicks in the American League of the Yankees at least should have gotten consideration, however he is on the DL right now, so that could have played a factor.

I think surprisingly, Kris Bryant was on the final fan vote, which while his numbers are not up to par, he is one of the most popular players in baseball, and I would have bet the farm that the fans would have voted him in over Arenado.

Extra Innings… 

Mike Schmidt retired before the 1989 All-Star game, but fans still voted him in as a starter. Here’s his 1990 Topps All-Star card

On July 6th, 1989, Mike Schmidt became the first, and only, retired, player to be elected to start an All-Star Game.

The Phillies third baseman, who had announced his retirement on May 29, was only hitting .203 with 6 Hrs for the season.

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