Rays 3, Jays 7: Are We Almost To Minnesota Yet?

Jose Bautista is scarier than this. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

Understanding sample size is important. According to Pizza Cutter’s iconic study, it takes 300 PAs for HR/FB to stabilize. It takes 200 PAs for BB% to stabilize. Good analysts understand this concept and stick to it, plying their trade on meaningful data. They also know that they aren’t scouts, and don’t attach undue weight to what they think they see.

But sometimes one video really is worth a thousand plate appearances.

One PA (I'll embed it when I can.)

I’m pretty sure that if I found a lonely Pacific island, never before contacted by the outside world, and showed them this swing, their elders would be able to wisely tell me, "That man will lead the American League in home runs." If their elders were as old as ours is here on DRaysBay, they’d probably also point out that he was likely to lead the league in walks, as his swing is "scarier than the burp of the Volcano God."

And then their elders would mercilessly troll me about how our third baseman can’t field his position (three errors) and should be DFA’d.

Bullets below the jump.

  • When I saw the Blue Jays’ lineup, I cringed. They’re a really good offensive team, without real weaknesses at any position (except maybe catcher, but that’s a weakness for almost every lineup). As a fake twitter account might say if we were a slightly more well-read publication, "GUYS, the AL East is pretty good at baseball, and DRaysBay is ON IT."
  • Maddon elected to Danks Theory Rickey Romero. It makes sense as, Romero’s best pitch is his changeup, and he’s posted reverse splits throughout his career. Interestingly, there’s a much larger split in his FIP (4.62 vs. LHB, 3.82 vs. RHB) than there is in his xFIP (3.94 vs. LHB, 3.78 vs. RHB) meaning that the difference is largely due to home run rate. Eric will have an in depth look at Maddon’s decision tomorrow, so I’ll leave it at that.
  • For the second game in a row, the Rays got 14 base runners, but they only scored three runs.
  • As I alluded to above, Evan Longoria made three errors. The first one was a very hard hit grounder that took a big hop and hit him in the throwing hand. By the time he collected himself, the runner was safe at first. The second one came on the very next at bat, when he had a chance to erase the base runner and start a double play, but he botched the scoop. Longo was mad. For the rest of the game, he took Bautistian swings, but didn’t connect with any of them.
  • Jeff Niemann really didn’t pitch a bad game. He only lasted 5 innings, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out five (with a nice swinging strike rate of 11.6%), but was pulled with 87 pitches after walking Bautista to start the 6th. I rarely question Maddon, and I get that Niemann doesn’t have the best of stamina, but he had been utterly dominant in the 5th inning, and walking Bautista isn’t all that damning.
  • Speaking of questioning Maddon, in the top of the 5th, with the score 4-2, runners on first and second base, and one out, Desmond Jennings bunted. Maybe he was bunting for a hit, but if he wasn’t, I hate the decision. I get that you want to make sure Carlos Pena bats this inning, but come on, this is Desmond Jennings, leadoff batter, future of the franchise, and sprayer of line drives. As if to prove the point, Jennings drilled a line drive directly to Colby Rasmus in center field in his next at bat. BABIP’d.
  • Down by more than a run and leading off the inning, Carlos Pena bunted against the shift for an easy base hit twice. If teams are going to continue to play him like that, I love those bunts.
  • In the bottom of the 7th, Adam Lind hit a line drive to Stephen Vogt in left field, and Yunel Escobar was able to score from second due to a very weak throw. Vogt had previously pinch hit for Brignac, pushing Sean Rodriguez to short, Ben Zobrist to second, and Matt Joyce to RF. If Joyce is still in left for that play, Escobar would have been out by a mile. I’m actually glad the Rays weren’t able to make it interesting enough for that run to matter, because Vogt looked absolutely heartbroken after the play.
  • In the same inning, McGee looked very good, overpowering Kelly Johnson on three pitches, and getting Bautista to ground into the shift. Later, he threw three fastballs up, and then struck out out Ben Francisco on a slider down. But wait. Was it a slider? If I didn't know any better, I would say that the orange swinging strike (clocked at 84 mph) had about 6 inches of rise and two inches of arm-side horizontal movement. If I didn't know that McGee doesn't throw a changeup, I would say that was a changeup. Is it just a bad slider? More bad sliders for strikeouts, please.

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via www.brooksbaseball.net

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