According to Earl Wilson, the game of baseball is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings. Regardless of the team you root for, just about every fan can relate to that in some way.
While it takes a full nine innings – or, nine nervous breakdowns – for a game to be complete without suboptimal weather sabotaging it, there are countless moments within each inning that can alter the eventual outcome, whether it’s in the top of the first or bottom of the ninth.
With that in mind, I was interested in finding out which hitters mashed the most in each inning throughout the course of 2016. Thanks to FanGraphs’ Splits Leaderboard, it was pretty easy to do.
Using the very arbitrary benchmark of 80-plus plate appearances for the first through sixth innings, 50-plus plate appearances for the seventh through ninth innings and 20-plus plate appearances for extras, below are the top three hitters from every inning in 2016, based off wRC+.
Like most professional sports, Major League Baseball is a copycat league.
When the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals displayed how crucial a dominant bullpen can be en route to winning championships, other teams tried to duplicate their strategy in hopes of finding similar success.
Now, after seeing what it took for the Chicago Cubs to end their excruciating 108-year title drought, even their most bitter rivals are taking notes for the future.
Although they haven’t yet won a World Series, the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets have rebuilt their respective rosters in such a way that many opponents are likely jealous of. There aren’t many organizations around baseball with the type of top-flight and mostly homegrown starting pitching these two have.
That’s not where the similarities end, either.
In fact, Cleveland recently signing Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year deal on the eve of Christmas further strengthens the similarities between these two teams, and it’s much more than just reaching the Fall Classic one year apart.
It’s only the middle of November, but the New York Mets just gained a whole lot of clarity to their offseason plan. And while the fan base is still upset about Bartolo Colon heading to the Atlanta Braves, they have reason to be excited about what’s to come.
Second baseman Neil Walker was one of just two players out of a possible 10 to accept a qualifying offer on Monday, meaning he’ll be returning to the Mets on a one-year deal for $17.2 million. That’s a lot of money for a middle infielder, but Sandy Alderson is clearly confident in Walker making a full recovery for Opening Day.
Some may feel this could hamper New York’s ability to re-sign outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but it should actually have the opposite kind of impact. Call me overly optimistic here, but watching Walker accept the qualifying offer was exactly what the front office needed in order to operate under a “win now” mentality…even more than before.
Compared to previous years, the 2016-17 MLB free-agent market leaves a lot to be desired, but that doesn’t mean there still aren’t intriguing players to follow as they search for new homes.
Like everyone else, I knew this winter’s class of available players wasn’t great, but the reminder was an unpleasant one while looking at the list again this week. Seriously, just take a look at who is expected to hit the market at shortstop and third base this year and tell me that doesn’t make you shake your head.
With that in mind, it means the few MLB free agents who would’ve been rather intriguing during a normal winter get super intriguing this winter. The following six players have unique situations that will shape their trip into the market over the coming months, and here’s why it’s worth following them on their journey.
Between the regular season and the playoffs, there’s still about two months of baseball left to enjoy, but winter is approaching faster than we realize. It stinks to think about life without baseball (even for a relatively short period of time), but that also means the Hot Stove is coming to keep us occupied.
As we’ve been talking about for quite a while, this winter’s free agent class is less inspiring than others in recent memory. That doesn’t mean there still won’t be a bunch of players signing life-changing contracts along the way, though. Some impending free agents have hurt their stock this year, but the following six hitters have elevated theirs as much as possible over the past five months, especially with less competition than normal from others who will soon need a new home for 2017.
Since baseball is a game of failure, it’s imperative for players to remain confident when they’re not successful. It’s even more imperative for those playing in large media markets to not be fazed by the fans and reporters who monitor their every move.
Understandably so, playing in a big city isn’t for everybody, but New York Mets outfielderYoenis Cespedes appears to thrive on it more than anything else.
When he was acquired from the Detroit Tigers minutes before the non-waiver trade deadline last summer, he was expected to immediately become “the man” in New York’s lineup. Mets fans know how often players live up to those kinds of expectations upon landing in Flushing.
So, the fact that he’s lived up to them by hitting .290/.353/.584 with 42 home runs and 108 RBI in 154 games since joining the Mets is shocking. It’s also why fans hope Cespedes either decides against using his opt-out clause after this season, or New York finds a way to keep him with the organization via another contract.
Now that All-Star Week festivities in San Diego are finished, we’re forced with the task of getting through the next few days without any baseball. To pass the time, we’ll do what any self-respecting fan or analyst would do – look back at the first 80-90 games played and see who had the biggest impact.
Below are my first-half MVPs for each of the 30 MLB squads, with some facts to back up why they should be admiring some brand-new, imaginary hardware on their mantle before embarking on the second half of play.
Manager Terry Collins and his New York Mets had to deal with what many viewed as a potentially season-defining 11-game homestand prior to the All Star break. On the surface, they succeeded by going 7-4 against the Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals.
However, it was likely one of the most frustrating 7-4 homestands fans will ever experience because New York missed a golden opportunity.
The importance of this stretch prior to baseball’s midseason break was only magnified because the Mets arrived at Citi Field fresh off losing five of seven to the Nats and Atlanta Braves. The pitching staff continued to do their job for the most part, but it was the offense that resembled the 2015 squad before acquiring Yoenis Cespedes, not after.
This group then came alive by sweeping a four-game set against the Cubs, followed by taking two of three from the Marlins. Things continued looking up on Thursday, as New York battled back with the help of Wilmer Flores to win the series opener against Washington.
Those good feelings faded quickly as Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Daniel Murphy displayed why they’re All-Stars this year en route to the Nats winning three straight, building their NL East lead to six games.
Finishing the first half with a 47-41 record isn’t bad considering what New York has dealt with since April, but they must improve in these areas if they want to return to the playoffs this October:
DraftKings Daily Fantasy Baseball Lineup Picks (7/3/16): MLB DFS Advice
Fanduel Daily Fantasy Baseball Lineup Picks (7/3/16): MLB DFS Advice
Fanpicks Daily Fantasy Baseball Lineup Picks (7/3/16): MLB DFS Advice
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Daily Matchups for 7/3/2016
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P- Justin Verlander (vs. Los Angeles Angels): $10,900
P- Carlos Martinez (vs. Milwaukee Brewers): $7,400
To see the rest of the picks, click the link below: