Sunday, September 17, 2023

Sunday Morning Hot Links

The Astros continue to insist on not being a serious team, losing yet again - this time 10-8 - to the 48-101 Royals. 4.2% of the 2023 Royals season wins have come in the last two days against the so-called "defending World Series champion Astros." Seems to me like the Astros aren't defending anything. 

*AL Playoff Picture, dumb as it is:

1. Baltimore (92-56)

2. Houston (83-66)

3. Minnesota (78-71)

4. Tampa (92-58)

5. Rockwall (82-66)

6. Toronto (82-67)

7. Seattle (81-67)

*AL West Division Odds


Houston: 60.3%

Seattle: 20.2%

Rockwall: 19.4%


Houston: 57.0%

Rockwall: 25.3%

Seattle: 17.7%

*For the second day in a row every single AL West team lost, so I guess there's no harm no foul? Sure would have been nice to, you know, beat one of the two worst teams in the league and extend this lead. Houston has lost four of their last five, and five of their last eight games.

*The Astros are now 1-4 against the A's and Royals in September, two teams who are a combined 94-203, getting outscored 26-18 in the process. 

*The Royals came into the night with the 2nd-fewest walks of any American League team, and the 3rd-worst OBP in the AL. So of course the Astros walked them six times - just the 10th time the Royals have taken six walks in a single game this season. 

*Houston pitchers managed to only strike out one Royal (and it was by Joel Kuhnel, who did it with two outs in the 9th. The last time Houston only struck out one batter in a game was September 10, 2020.

*Kansas City is now 6-30 when they give up eight runs in a game. The Astros are now 29-3 when scoring eight runs in a game. 

*Pitching was freaking terrible. 

J.P. France: 4.1IP, 5H/5ER, 0K:4BB. 

Bullpen: 4.2IP, 5H/5R (2ER), 1K:2BB.

There were three unearned runs thanks to errors from Pena and Bregman - the 14th error of the season for each of them, and Rafael Montero walked in a run. Just a cursed game from start to finish. Bregman:

We've got a small lead in the division but we need to play better baseball. It starts with me. I need to make that play today. We need to execute better.


The leadoff walks really hurt us. And with a team that has speed and runs as much as they do, when you walk them, you're asking for trouble. We had some real big hits, but it was the leadoff walks and a couple of errors, and we opened the gates for them, and they walked through.

The Astros walked the leadoff batter in three of the nine innings, and each leadoff walk came around to score. Again, the Royals have drawn the second-fewest walks in Major League Baseball and have the 5th-worst OPS among the 30 teams

*France's last three starts: 15.1IP, 15H/11ER, 10K:12BB, 4HR, a 6.46 ERA (7.69 FIP). He had walked 12 batters in his previous seven starts dating back to July 25. France:

Yeah, they were frustrating. But I mean, the word I keep using for that outing was just 'unbelievable.' They didn't chase a whole lot. But the stuff they did chase somehow found grass. I had one hit that was three balls off the plate, I had one that was three balls down. So yeah, I just couldn't get swings and misses for some reason.

I guess France didn't allow a home run, so that's nice. It was the first time since August 12 that France hadn't allowed a dinger. 

*Having tied the game at 6-6 thanks to Jose Altuve's welcome arrival to this week, Hector Neris: 1IP, 2H/3R (1ER), 0K:1BB - the first runs he'd allowed since August 19. His three runs allowed (though two were unearned) are a season-high, at the worst possible time. Neris has a 1.93 ERA but a 4.05 FIP. 

*The run that Joel Kuhnel allowed in the 9th snapped a little four-outing scoreless streak he had working in September.

*Shoutout to the top of the lineup, who remembered that the Astros need to win these games. Altuve-Bregman-Alvarez went a combined 7x14 with 6RBI - three of them came on Jose Altuve's 17th home run of the year. 

Number of seasons with 20+ HR, playing 90% of their games at 2B:

Jeff Kent: 11

Robinson Cano: 8

Craig Biggio/Rogers Hornsby/Dan Uggla: 7

Bret Boone/Brian Dozier/Joe Gordon/Ryne Sandberg: 6

Jose Altuve/Ian Kinsler/Chase Utley: 5

*The 5-6 hitters (Abreu-McCormick) were the only batters in the lineup without a hit, combining to "go" 0x8 with 4K:2BB. I have no idea why Jose Abreu is hitting 5th. 108 batters have received 500+ Plate Appearances. Abreu's -1.0 fWAR ranks 108th. There are only two other batters with that many PAs and a negative fWAR and guess fking what: they play for the gd Kansas City Royals (MJ Melendez and Sal Parez...who combined to go 2x6 with 3RBI last night). 

Abreu's ranks among 108 batters with 500 PAs:

fWar: -1.0 (108th)

BA: .235 (T-94th)

OBP: .295 (103rd)

SLG: .365 (104th)

wRC+: 82 (105th)

Abreu hitting 5th is about five spots too high. 

*Chas McCormick's last eight games: 3x23, 8K:1BB, .130/.167/.130.

*Kyle Tucker, September: .200/.305/.380.

*The Astros are auctioning off items from last night's salute to the Negro Leagues, all benefiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

*Framber Valdez takes on Former Astros Great Jordan Lyles today. 111 pitchers have thrown at least 100IP, and Lyles' 6.44 ERA is 110th. So I'm assuming a CGSHO is on the cards. Lyles has faced the Astros eight times in his career and is 2-2 with a career 3.98 ERA. 

*McTaggart has a cool season-ending profile on 2023 1st Round pick Brice Matthews.

*The Astros had conversations this summer with the Red Sox about the availability of Alex Verdugo.

*And so Shohei Ohtani's season - and likely his tenure with the cursed Angels - is done. In six seasons (including 2020) with the Angels, Ohtani hit .274/.366/.556 with 171 homers, three All-Star selections, a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP award (and a 2nd place finish, as well), and a Top 5 Cy Young nod. As a pitcher, he went 38-19 with a 3.01 ERA. Ohtani was worth 19.9 fWAR as a hitter and 11.8 fWAR as a pitcher, for 31.7 fWAR. They paid him $39.7m. In the same time span, Mike Trout posted a 31.5 fWAR, meaning the Angels got 63.2 fWAR from two players since 2018. 

Yet in those six seasons (well, five seasons and a Mickey Mouse season with a Mickey Mouse World Series) the Angels have gone 368-461 (a .444 winning percentage). They never had a winning season. They never finished higher than 3rd in the AL West. Just a completely criminally mismanaged franchise, and I hope it continues forever and ever. 

*Longest streak of winning their respective division, team history, 1961-present (to weed out all those New York years where the commissioner(s) operated in franchise mode to help the Yankees win):

11: Atlanta (1995-2005)

9: New York Yankees (1998-2006)

8: Los Angeles (2013-2020)

5: Philadelphia (2007-2011); Cleveland (1995-1999); Oakland (1971-1975)

4: Detroit (2011-2014)

3: Boston (2016-2018); Houston (2017-2019; 1997-1999); St. Louis (2013-2015; 2004-2006); Anaheim (2007-2009); Minnesota (2002-2004); Toronto (1991-1993); Pittsburgh (1990-1992; 1970-1972); Kansas City (1976-1978); Baltimore (1969-1971)

2: Tampa (2020-2021); Washington (2016-2017); Rockwall (2015-2016; 2010-2011; 1998-1999); Chicago Cubs (2016-2017; 2007-2008); San Diego (2005-2006); Arizona (2001-2002); Chicago White Sox (1993-1994); Milwaukee (1981-1982); Cincinnati (1975-1976; 1972-1973)

1: San Francisco (2021, 2012, 2010, 2003, 2000, 1997, 1989, 1987, 1971, 1962); Seattle (1995, 1997, 2001); New York Mets (1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 2006, 2015)

0: Miami; Colorado.

*Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel suffered a stroke.

*Bob Odenkirk talked to NME about his time on SNL.

*The Ringer: The Deion Sanders Experience Is Unlike Anything College Football Has Ever Seen.

*American Sepp Kuss is set to win the Vuelta a Espana today, the second American to ever do it and the first since Chris Horner in 2013. 

*What To Watch, September 17:

Leeds @ Millwall: 6:00am Central

Colts @ Texans: 12:00pm

Rays @ Orioles: 12:35pm

Boston @ Toronto: 12:37pm

Rangers @ Guardians: 12:40pm

Astros @ Royals: 1:10pm

49ers @ Rams: 3:05pm

Dodgers @ Mariners: 3:10pm

The regular season ends two weeks from today.

*A Musical Selection: