Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Sox 2 – Astros 6

Game 2: Sox 4 – Astros 1

Game 3: Sox 13 – Astros 9

 

 

Raise your hand if you thought the Sox would win the season series against the best team in baseball by taking 4 out of the 7 games and scoring 33 total runs against them. Bullshit, put your arm back down and go sit in the back. Well, if nothing else the Sox like to make me look stupid (not a hard thing to do, but still) after I fretted about the Astros raining death down upon them this series. Granted the Sox got a little lucky with Gerrit Cole exploding his hammy in the bullpen before game 2, and Alex Bregman not being able to go at all on Tuesday night, but you know what? Credit where it’s due, the Sox took advantage of all of that and came away with a pretty solid series win all told.  Sometimes baseball is weird, sometimes it’s stupid, and sometimes it’s pretty damn fun. Then sometimes it’s all 3 of those things and the Sox take the season series from the AL’s best team.

LET ME IN

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-Let’s start with the Sox pitching, shall we? Dylan Cease went game one and took the only loss of all the starters, which includes Ross Detwiler (remember when I said baseball was stupid?). Despite getting hung with the L and walking more people than he struck out, this might have been his best outing in awhile. He gave up a leadoff bomb to George Springer, then a single to Altuve and a double to Michael Brantley (remember when the Sox didn’t want him in the off season?) to bring up Yordan Alvarez. Renteria got all galaxy-brained and issued the intentional pass to him, bringing up Yuli Gurriel, who bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. He gave up another solo shot in the 3rd to Altuve, then proceeded to retire 11 Astros in a row before Wellington Castillo did his best Benny Hill impersonation behind the plate, allowing 12 passed balls and letting the game get out of hand. I don’t mind the 5 walks Cease issued (2 of which were of the intentional variety), as nobody works the zone better or strikes out less than the Astros. This was a building block start for Cease, no doubt about it. I’m excited to see where he goes from here.

-Ivan Nova went the distance and gave up 1 unearned run to the best offense in baseball (remember when I said baseball was weird sometimes?). He kept the ball down all night, threw first pitch strikes, and kept the Astros hitters on their heels. This will probably last long enough for Hahn to give him an extension, then he’ll turn back into a pumpkin. For now though, I’m gonna enjoy the ride in the new Chevy Nova.

-Tim Anderson had a Tuesday night to forget, going 0-8 and committing 2 errors in the field, one of which was the only run the Astros scored in the second game. Tim tried using his athletic ability instead of setting his feet and threw the ball about 8 rows deep over Matt Skole’s head. He didn’t let it get him down today, however. He went 4 for 5 with 2 doubles and a triple. More please!

-Eloy hit a ball 6,000 feet today and knocked a dude unconscious who was drinking a Modelo on the fan deck. The best part was Jake Marisnick going back to the wall and making a jump at the ball, only to have it land about 40 feet past and 20 feet up from him. Smooth.

-Don’t look now, but Jose Abreu may be heating up again, going 6-11 with 4 RBI and more importantly 2 walks. Just in time for Yoan Moncada to come back and give him some space. It also helps when…

-James McCann decides to drop it like its May again, going 4-9 with the series clinching grand slam on an 0-2 count from a hanging slider off legit shutdown reliever Ryan Pressly. He doesn’t make mistakes to right handed hitters very often, and McCann made him pay dearly for it. Awesome stuff.

-Ryan Goins can stay when Nick Madrigal and Luis Robert finally get called up. I’m kinda done with Yolmer.

-Next up is a 4 hour plane ride out to sunny California to visit Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Disneyland. Bastards will probably get to ride all the new Star Wars rides before I do. Let’s see if the Sox can build on this great series or if they slide right back into the Sarlacc Pit.

ONWARD

 

 

Baseball

The Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers are the league model from building their teams from within, there’s just no way around it. Even when they have players going down with week to week or month to month injuries there’s a seemingly endless pile of high end prospects clamoring over each other to get playing time at the big league level. The most recent of these for the Astros is Yordan Alvarez, who has been nothing short of astounding for them since they called him up in mid-May of this season. Through 170 at bats so far this season, he’s slashing a gaudy .355/.431/1.164(!!!) with 17 dingers and 41 RBI.

Alvarez was traded to the Astros at the 2016 deadline from (SURPRISE!) the Dodgers for Josh Fields. The Dodgers had signed Alvarez to a $2 million signing bonus when he defected from Cuba, but had yet to play a single game for LA at any level. At the time, the Dodgers were looking to shore up their bullpen for an extended postseason run, and Fields fit the bill. Alvarez was an unknown quantity at the time, and the need was immediate. Now, Fields is a journeyman AAA pitcher, and Alvarez seems destined for Rookie of the Year honors.

So far, Alvarez has scored rookie of the month honors in June and July with these nutty numbers. The question everyone who didn’t pick him up off the waiver wire in their fantasy leagues wants to know is: are they sustainable? Looking at the advanced stats as they sit now Alvarez has has an ISO of .378, BABIP of .407, wRC+ of 204, and a wOBA of .469. Just at a very quick glance, every single one of those seem completely unsustainable were it not for the small sample size. His wRC alone would be one of the best in the history of the stat. So we can assume that some regression is due for young Mr. Alvarez, the question being just how much?

Taking a peek at some of the other stats available to us that might give a hint at how much regression is due shows that Alvarez has an excellent eye for the strike zone. His current 11% walk rate is above average, and his K rate is what you would expect from a rookie (24.4%) seeing MLB pitching for the first time. Looking at his whiff rate, it’s about what you would expect from a rookie as well, vulnerable to low and away and the high and outside pitches:

Nothing too crazy here. What about his slugging percentage vs the whiffs?

Oh my. Well what about just his batting average?

Yeesh. So apparently Yordan has the ability to cover the entire plate with pretty impressive power. He has to have a weakness somewhere, every Death Star has an exhaust port. Well his 33% fly ball to HR ratio isn’t gonna last. His .400 BABIP is pretty unsustainable, though even if he regresses .050 that still would probably project out to a 40 HR/100 RBI season in that juggernaut of a lineup. The kid has a good feel for the zone, and can get to pitches out of the zone with power and frequency. All this says to the Sox pitching for this series is they need to tread very lightly when Alvarez is up. Nova and Cease in particular need to work the top of their zone with the hard stuff, away if able. If they aren’t going to be precise with that stuff and leave some over the plate, Alvarez is going to hurt them. Though to be fair, that goes for pretty much the entire Astros lineup.