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Good morning baseball fans!
Here’s what’s happening in the AL East.
Nolan Arenado is a different kind of hitter now.
Nolan Arenado – at just 25 years old – is the cornerstone player of the Rockies franchise and already one of the better players in the franchise’s young history. If you surveyed a bevy of baseball professionals to find with whom they would start their franchise, he would surely be one of the first players selected. So, I’m not going to shock anyone by saying that he’s getting better. After all, that’s what star quality, 25-year-old players do. They progress. But, Arenado has made an interesting change and has turned from a bit of a free swinger into a mature, patient hitter.
Arenado’s offensive profile has evolved every year of his career. After establishing himself as a defensive wunderkind in 2013, Arenado took a huge step forward in his sophomore campaign. His wOBA climbed from .308 to .359, and his wRC+, which heavily penalizes him for playing in Coors, jumped from 77 to 112. On top of that, he knocked out 18 home runs in only 467 plate appearances. Essentially, he went from an all-glove third baseman to a fairly good threat with the bat.
Then, last year, the power came in a big way. Arenado’s home run total jumped to a league-leading 42. However, over this period, Arenado had one lingering issue. His walk rate was abysmally low, floating around 5 percent. In 2016, things have changed. He’s nearly doubled that rate and now sits at 10.1 percent. Along with that, the continual rise of his wOBA and wRC+ has not skipped a beat with those jumping to career highs as well. Also, he still leads the NL in home runs, along with Kris Bryant.
Arenado’s approach versus offspeed pitches has been the huge change that’s spurred his advancement with both walks and better contact. In previous seasons, he has been susceptible to them low, outside the zone. Pitchers were getting him to swing at them frequently and generating the highest percentage of whiffs out of anywhere on his profile by a wide margin.
Here’s a look at the teams that have been most impacted by injuries this season.
Let’s travel back to this time in 2013. Breaking Bad was coming to an end. Ben Affleck was just announced as Batman. “Roar” by Katy Perry was first being unleashed upon us, and we still haven’t escaped its grasp. Xander Bogaerts was being called up to the majors for the first time. The similarities between that and the Moncada situation is uncanny. Sure, Bogaerts got the call a couple weeks earlier than Moncada, but that’s the biggest difference. Both entered their respective seasons as one of the premiere prospects in the league. Both moved over to the hot corner after spending most of their professional career in the middle infield. Both did so because the incumbent at third was struggling.
The early role for Moncada figures to also share some similarities with that of 2013 Bogaerts, though with one key difference. It’s hard to believe now (or at least it was for me), but Bogaerts played in just 18 games in the regular season that year. Will Middlebrooks still got the vast majority of the starts at third base, as the then-20-year-old Bogaerts split time between third, shortstop and the bench. However, as the month went on, it became clearer and clearer that Middlebrooks was not the caliber of player that should be playing for a team with World Series aspirations, particularly when someone as talented as Bogaerts is waiting in the wings. Middlebrooks did start the month on a tear, but he put up just a .411 OPS in his last 15 games. This opened the door for Bogaerts to play the role he did in October and the one we will always remember him for.
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Today in Baseball History: In 1901, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Joe McGinnity threw two complete games against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Orioles won 10-0 and lost 6-1.