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“He has been one of the best power hitters in the league, ranking among the league leaders in Isolated Power and hiking his home run rate to 6.1 percent (up from a homer in 3.6 percent of his at-bats last year). It’s easy to dismiss his .370 batting average on balls in play as a fluke, until you see that he is hitting more line drives this year, without a single infield popout all season. All told, Santana is hitting .325/.438/.605, making him the third-most productive hitter in the game (behind Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Gomez) on a park- and league-adjusted basis.
Any time you make predictions in baseball, there is a range of possibilities that could play out depending on how well things go for a certain player or team. Santana is one of several players performing at or near best-case scenario levels right now for Cleveland.” [Keri/Grantland]
Kanick unearths an INCREDIBLE resource for understanding the zone read offense. “Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Oregon’s success with IZR/OZR have led UCLA, Washington, Stanford, and Arizona State to get it in their playbooks. Add Utah and Oregon who have long run it and half the Pac-12 runs the zone read.
Does this apply to the NFL? Why shouldn’t it? The Niners, Seahawks, and Redskins has used it and, not for nothing, all made the playoffs. And now the godfather of the IZR is head coach of the Eagles. I think we can anticipate still more success with it and still more teams adopting it.” [Kanicki]
Yet another Tribe article on Grantland– “But now we’ve seen that one glimpse of the old Kazmir, it’s tough not to get excited. And that’s why former top prospects and former top-end starters will continue to get chances, no matter how ineffective they’ve been or how many surgeries they’ve undergone. Dontrelle Willis, Mark Prior, and Brandon Webb were all pitchers who, eight to 10 years ago, were among the best in the game, but because of injury or for some other reason, fell precipitously off the cliff. Prior, Willis, Webb, and Kazmir have all gotten more rope than one might expect, because no. 1 starter talent doesn’t come along that often. If they’re damaged goods, even a partial return to their old form makes them a significant asset for a team in search of pitching help.” [Baumann/Grantland] (Also on Grantland a good piece on catchers framing pitches)
“All right, so here we are again. We’re basically at the quarter-pole of the season, and the Indians are contending. Through 39 games, they are 22-17, a half-game back of Detroit. More to the point, they’ve won 14 of their last 18 and are “undefeated” in their last nine series (five wins, four splits). They are, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi put it the other day, “a much different club” than they were even a month ago.
“They’re swinging the bats really, really well,” Girardi said. “There’s balance in their lineup, and there’s speed.”
The pitching has come a long way in a short time, too. If you watched Masterson shut down Girardi’s Yanks for nine innings Monday afternoon, what you saw was a bona fide ace effort on a day when the Indians had to preserve their bullpen. If you were the most pessimistic of people when it comes to Jimenez (and my hand is raised), even you had to be intrigued by the way he tamed the Tigers in a ballpark where he has traditionally had nothing but trouble. I remain skeptical about a guy who had to, in his own words, “erase everything,” shortly after a seven-week Spring Training camp, but not defiantly so. Furthermore, Zach McAllister continues to defy expectations based off his Minor League career, Scott Kazmir continues a strong comeback effort and Trevor Bauer seems to get a little bit better with each spot start.” [Castrovince/MLB]
The Akron Aeros are one of 16 minor league teams with a signature dish you can vote on at MiLB.com. [FoodFight]