Short Analysis: How Many Players of Tony Renda’s Height (5’8″) Make It?

[Note: I’m just under Renda’s height, so I have in-group privilege to make all the short jokes in this post.] Tony Renda seems mildly promising, from what I’m reading: a second-round pick who’s a solid contact hitter with a great eye; defense that’s not only solid, but improving, at a position of need; and someone who could earn promotion in short order, as a 24 year-old playing pretty well at AA. Conceivably he’ll grow into a AAA job when Refsnyder is promoted, and then who knows, he could be a utilityman after Ryan and Drew leave, or even a potential full-time 2B if Refsnyder stagnates. But Renda is 5’8″, so you fear his utter lack of power (4 HR in 1640 PA in A-AA) is a real sign, not something he’ll grow out of with better contact.

Yesterday I happened to be reading opinions about whether women will ever play in MLB, and I take this side: (1) yes; (2) the biggest barrier is how softball diverts girls away, but some girls do play little league through high school baseball; (3) fewer women are 6′ or musclebound, but some are, and you see plenty below 6′ in positions where agility and talent can thrive without raw strength and size – 2B, SS, LF, CF, and to an extent P.…

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The Underrated Brett Gardner

Gardner vs LAA

That home run swing is getting real pretty too. Courtesy of Getty Images

All things considered, the Yankees are humming right along this season.  They’ve been healthier and more productive than expected in some areas and less so in others, they’ve successfully dealt with their injury problems, and the overall mediocrity of their division has helped to keep them in first place.  There has been no shortage of important stories to follow as well, be it the surprising turnarounds of A-Rod and Teix, the unfortunate injuries to Tanaka and Ellsbury, the emergence of Big Mike, or the decline of CC.  All of those stories and players have helped get the Yankees to where they are in some way.

And underneath all those big stories and big names and beneath the big, bold headlines being written about them sits Brett Gardner.  Starting left fielder and #2 hitter for most of the year, starting center fielder and leadoff hitter lately, Gardner is once again putting together a very good season.  …

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Dellin Betances and Must See Baseball

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I had a brief conversation on Twitter with Katie Sharp last night. I asked her (since she is so good at such things) if the Royals had been struck out in order in any inning this season. Her reply was, “You mean, how many times have they been Betances’d?” I laughed and said exactly. She later came back and said that it did not appear to have happened to them before Dellin Betances put them away in order last night on fourteen pitches. Betances has become must see TV.

There are several players that I would pay more to watch play baseball. Mike Trout comes to mind, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw. Dellin Betances has become in that company for me. As soon as he comes in the game, adrenalin kicks in, the heart rate rises, anticipation becomes overwhelming and then awe once the inning (or two) is over. His outings are mesmerizing.

I am not sure even those of us who watch baseball every day understand what we are seeing.…

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Slade Heathcott’s Long and Winding Road to the Majors

sladeAs you likely know by now, Slade Heathcott made his major league debut Wednesday night when he pinch ran for Mark Teixeira in the eighth and then played center. This is not just notable because arguably the Yankees’ most important offensive piece, Jacoby Ellsbury, hit the DL, causing the Yankees to call up their first round pick from the 2009 Draft. Hopefully, Heathcott gets an opportunity to pick up his first hit sometime soon, but as we wait for that I thought I’d look back on Heathcott’s long road to the Bronx.

If you have followed the Yankees’ farm system at all the last five or six years, you know the name Slade Heathcott and why I am so excited to see him finally break into the majors. Granted, his stay may be a short one for any number of reasons, but considering how miniscule the percentage of minor league players to ever make an appearance in the majors is, this is no small feat.…

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Quick Hit: Slade Heathcott’s Big Chance

By now everybody knows the bad news.  Jacoby Ellsbury is on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury and it’s still not exactly clear how serious it is.  Given how quickly he went from leaving the game to getting MRI’d to getting put on the DL, it stands to reason that it might be more severe than just a 15-day DL trip.  Ellsbury is a key part of the Yankee offense, maybe THE key part, and he’s the team leader in fWAR.  Losing him for any amount of time is a blow.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that Ellsbury’s injury created an opportunity for one of the farm system’s more interesting stories.  Roughly 6 months from being non-tendered, removed from the 40-man roster, and then re-signed in January, Slade Heathcott will come up to the show and get his chance to be a Major League ballplayer.

From 1st round draft pick to top organizational prospect to injury-prone bust, it’s been a long road through the Yankee system for Heathcott since he was drafted.  …

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Can CC – or Any Starter – Survive at 1.6 HR/9? A Look at High-K/Low-BB/High-HR Comps

Last month I noted how pitchers usually don’t recover after a CC-like decline from top-of-rotation starter to 80ish ERA+, but the outcomes varied widely: about a third of the comps did recover, half stayed lousy, and a fifth recovered underwhelmingly minimally. Given that range of variation, I wanted to look for comps a different way. Staring at CC Sabathia‘s stats since 2013, you see not just a gradual ERA worsening, but a real consistency in his HR, BB, and K rates – the defense-independent pitching components that may be more telling of true talent level than ERA, the noisy bottom-line stat.

2013: 1.2 HR/9; 2.8 BB/9; 7.5 K/9; 4.78 ERA
2014: 2.0 HR/9; 2.0 BB/9; 9.4 K/9; 5.28 ERA
2015: 1.6 HR/9; 2.0 BB/9; 7.6 K/9; 5.45 ERA

The ERA decline jumps out at you, but you’re actually seeing a guy who’s evolved into a pretty consistent profile: high-control, high-strikeout, high-homer. While the K and BB rates are strong, the big question is: can you remain a major-league starter giving up more than a home run every 5.2 IP?…

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About Brian McCann’s Strange April

Courtesy: Boston Globe

Courtesy: Boston Globe

Brian McCann has kind of gone under the radar in terms of storylines for the Yankees so far this season. He hasn’t been one of the Yankees’ better hitters like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez, and he hasn’t been awful like Carlos Beltran or Didi Gregorius. However, I think his start has been pretty interesting.

McCann is hitting .266/.319/.453/.773 with a .335 wOBA and a 110 wRC+. This is a big improvement from his overall line last year when he hit .232/.286/.406/.692 with a .306 wOBA and a 92 wRC+. When looking into McCann’s peripherals, however, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense how he has improved his numbers.

His walk rate is an abysmal 2.8 percent and last year he rarely walked too with a 5.9 percent rate. I don’t know what happened to his plate discipline from his Atlanta days when he was consistently around 10 percent.…

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One Positive Thing About The Early Yankee Offense

The 2015 New York Yankees offense looked a lot like the 2014 and 2013 versions before yesterday’s 14-run outburst.

However, there was one thing they did well on Sunday that they were actually doing well during their previous games last week — drawing walks.

According to Sweeny Murti, the Yankees have only swung at 40.8 percent of pitches this season (before last night’s game), which is the fewest in the AL. The Yankees are fifth in MLB with a 9.7% walk rate so far this season. This is a far cry from the last two years when they were 17th last year (7.4%) and 16th in 2013 (7.7%).

Looking at the Yankees individual on-base percentages and walk rates were not pretty last year. Carlos Beltran (.301 and 8.2%), Mark Teixeira, (.313 and 11.4%), Brian McCann (.286 and 5.9%), Jacoby Ellsbury (.328 and 7.7%) and Brett Gardner (.327 and 8.8%) all simply did not get on base enough and were below their career averages.…

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What To Look For From Pineda Tonight

Yankees Spring Training

Courtesy of Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

Masahiro Tanaka‘s start wasn’t that great on Monday, and Yankeeland went into near meltdown mode as a result.  After the pesky off-day yesterday, we move from that injury concern storyline to a less serious one tonight in the form of Michael Pineda.  He’ll make his 2015 debut after a very strong spring campaign, one that, even in the context of watered-down ST competition, has built some of the excitement back up that he can be the upper-tier pitcher the team expected him to be when they acquired him.

With Pineda looking and pitching better this spring and with him being further removed from the shoulder surgery, I wanted to touch on a few things worth following in his start tonight.  While it’s equally silly to predict a monster year for him based on 1 start while fretting over Tanaka after 1 start, there are a few factors that could suggest good things to come for a guy who I still think didn’t get enough credit for how good he was last year.  …

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