Big time, big money, big TV sports have progressed. The majors are now packed with dazzling talent. Nobody knows whether Ken Griffey Jr. had more talent than Willie Mays, but you can be sure that a decent player like Adam Lind than a decent player like Willard Marshall did two generations ago.
That ball that spun madly out of control, that he had to bare-hand as a reflex action ... on TV the ball looked like medium velocity. We can assure you that at field level it had some hair on it. It took a boxer's reflexes for Lind to get his hand to it.
But! How does the spin on that ball not take it out of Lind's hand? Does anybody have any suggestions on that?
Personally I thought that his changeup / dry spitter had the spit back on it. He threw it with impunity, drawing whiff after whiff even when the Angels seemed to be looking for it. And this gave Felix back his royal swagger. He was back to architecture on his pitch sequences.
Also, he used the overhand yakker a ton, which creates separation in velocity. The result? He got back some real dominance.
Dr's prognosis is for sunny skies and brisk winds. From the hitters' swings, that is.
KYLE SEAGER'S HOMER TAKEN AWAY
Calhoun made a nice play, and it's always dramatic to see a ball taken out of the seats. But the same catch in the gap is fairly routine, and I thought there was a little hot dog with mustard at the finish.
Point is, the M's out-hit the Angels 9-4 and that is not including Seager's mortar shot, which became an out. The M's played into bad luck tonight and still won. That's when you feel like you are overpowering your opponents, winning by force. The M's are now 9-1 into our goal of 15-8 against weak opposition in August. The result: they're the next place Wild Card team, already.
THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT I GOTTA WEAR SHADES, Dept.
Over the last two weeks, during which the Mariners have gone 11-2, the Mariners' ERA is 2.83. But it's 3.75 in the rotation and 1.06 (!!) in the bullpen, miles ahead of #2 Toronto at 2.63 over that span. The offense has an OPS+ of only since the break -- the hitters have NOT been hot, as a group, during this 11-of-13 run:
- Robinson Cano has an OBP of .226
- Seth Smith has a SLG of .214
- Dae-Ho Lee has been ice cold, hitting .059 and slugging .059
- King Leondyas has an OPS+ of 11
- Ketel Marte has an OPS+ of -43
Nelson Cruz and Mike Zunino have been the two guys carrying the ballclub. (The M's staff appears to have coached up Edwin Diaz' slider, Mike Zunino's HIT tool, and James Paxton's thermonuclear armament. What's next, Nori Aoki hitting .300?)
It's cool to imagine what the M's could do in a stretch with their batters hitting 115, and with Paxton and Taijuan back. Statistically they've been in cruise mode.
Three or four games into Diaz' promotion, we were a bit puzzled as to whether we had a 100 MPH reliever or a 95 MPH reliever who threw blizzards of strikes. Guess we know how that one turned out. Best 'a both worlds.
The starting rotation has been average-solid, with plenty of room for improvement there too. It is the bullpen straw has stirred the drink. And the bullpen dominoes have fallen into position after a single major change.
You could make a pretty good argument that Edwin Diaz is the (effective) MVP of this team. And don't forget to thank Jerry DiPoto, who conjured this spell effect out of thin air. Credit where credit's due.
Bill James' latest article is a brilliant little piece demonstrating that since 2011, when the Cy Young ballots went to 5 names rather than 3, relief pitchers disappeared from voting almost entirely. Baseball writers use four slots to write in starting pitchers for WAR, ERA, and strikeouts, and they save one down-ballot slot for a nominal relief pitcher. It is now impossible for a reliever to win the Cy Young, much less the MVP.
As baseball writers value elite relievers less and less (perhaps because of an overreliance on WAR?), General Managers value them more and more. Having watched Seattle baseball the last month, where are you on the issue? Would you rather lose Nelson Cruz to injury tomorrow, or Edwin Diaz?