I try to highlight a number of articles in each Rays Tank, but today, I want to really shine the spotlight on one piece: R.J. Anderson's recent post on David Price. If you read one article today, be sure to make it that one. It's one of the best pieces I've seen on Price's early season success, and it delves into the process behind why he's seeing so much success, especially with his changeup.
R.J. noticed that Price has changed his spot on the rubber this season -- just like Fernando Rodney -- and he's moved from the extreme third base side of the rubber to the first base side. This may not seem like a large change, but as R.J. points out, it does change the angle that Price is attacking hitters from, and that location could potentially make his changeup more effective (by giving him a better angle to attack the outside against righties). And the same can be said for Price's new cutter.
But anyway, there are numerous pictures in the articles that illustrate the point, so I'd be sure to drop by BPro and check it out. It's darn good research.
Rob Neyer and the New York Times both tackled the Rays and their defensive shifts recently, and I generally agree with Rob's point about Joe Maddon and the Rays changing the game. I think his questions the effectiveness of the shifts are a bit much, though; I can't claim to have the data to back it up, but from the games I've seen, it seems clear to me that the Rays' defense is weaker than last season. They're still solid overall, but Rodriguez has his moments, Pena's range isn't what it used to be, and Longoria was a defensive "mess" (for him) early on.
Yet despite these weaknesses, the Rays are still putting up great defensive numbers, making me think that maybe the shifts are helping the Rays more than we even imagine. And could it be possible that proper shifting has inflated defensive scores for certain players on the Rays over the past few years? Maybe Zobrist is really more of a +5 fielder, but the shifts make him look more like a +10? I'm just spitballing here.
- Jason Collette posted a quick recap of the Baseball Prospectus event at the Trop this past weekend, and it sounds like the event was quite the success. I'm disappointed I couldn't go, and I wish I'd heard some of the things that Neader and Metzler had to say. Anyone care to share?
- Teams try to exploit loopholes in order to sign amateur talent for cheap? Color me shocked!
- In case you didn't hear, Josh Hamilton is a monster. He slugged four homeruns against the Orioles last night, and he came quite close to hitting a fifth one as well. Ridiculous, simply ridiculous.