A first in Major League Baseball will occur on Wednesday.
The Orioles and the White Sox will play at 2:05 P.M. Eastern tomorrow in Baltimore at Camden Yards.
There won't be a single soul in the crowd.
The attendance will be zero. The Orioles announced on Tuesday some schedule changes after prolonged protests in the city have caused havoc and are a threat to public safety.
The first schedule change? It was that the Orioles and White Sox game will be closed to the public tomorrow. There is no official word as to whether the game will be televised.
According to John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball, this will be the first Major League game with no attendance.
The previous low came in 1882, with six fans coming to the September 28 game between the host Worchester Ruby Legs and the Troy Trojans.
A minor league team known as the Charleston Riverdogs kept fans outside the stadium for five innings in 2002 to try to set the record.
In 2011, during Hurricane Irene, an unofficial headcount showed 347 fans in the crowd in the first game of a doubleheader between the Marlins and Reds in Miami, but the announced attendance was 22,505 as a combination for both games.
Other low attendance games include an April 17, 1979 Athletics-Brewers game with only 653 fans in attendance. That is considered one of the smallest games in baseball's common era.
The Orioles and White Sox will be playing in an historic game on Wednesday. I'm exited to see what happens.
With the Phillies up 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper unloaded off pitcher Aaron Harang.
His home run yesterday traveled 452 feet, the longest home run of his career and the fifth longest in the history of Nationals Park, which was opened in 2008.
Harper went 2-for-3 on the day with a run, hitting a single alongside his home run, while also walking.
Just 12 games into the season, Harper could not have started his 2015 campaign any better. He's slashing .279/.404/.581, while his .985 OPS is currently 71 percent better than league average.
Is this Harper's year to finally live up to superstar expectations that were handed upon him when drafted 1st overall in 2010?
You could argue both ways. For one, Harper's strikeout rate is at a whopping 32.7 percent, easily the highest mark of his career to date, and well above his average strikeout rate of 21.7 percent.
Secondly, Harper's batting average on balls in play (BABIP), usually used to determine how lucky (or unlucky) a player has been, is extremely high at .364, well above what is considered average for a big leaguer (.300) and his career average (.320).
On the contrary, Harper's high strikeout rate is likely to fall. He's making more contact this year on pitches inside the zone than ever before, making contact with 89.7 percent of pitches inside the zone. However, to bring his game to the next level, he needs to do a better job of making contact with pitches inside the zone, as his 89.7 percent, while a career high, ranks 87th in baseball.
Plus, he's not swinging outside the zone any more than he has done in the past, swinging at only 35.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, which is the 61st highest mark in baseball. He still makes contact with 50 percent of pitches outside the zone, ranking 166th in baseball.
While Harper's plate discipline is good as compared to numbers he has put up in the past, it still needs improvement in order for him to cut down on the strikeouts and put the bat on the ball more. Considering an improvement in his plate discipline is being shown early, the strikeout rate will definitely fall.
In terms of the BABIP, that has no explanation. Harper is in a hot streak, for sure, but if he can continue to put balls in play, he will continue to keep his statistics and performance strong. It's likely he won't end the season with a .360 BABIP, but if he is able to keep it around .320, his numbers will definitely be a lot better than they have been in the past.
Obviously, there is more than just stats.
Unquantifiable factors also come into play with Harper, including the fact that he continues to adjust to Major League pitching and the game overall. In 2013, Harper's best season, he started off hot as well, slashing .348/.400/.696 with five homers in his first 12 games. His BABIP was .355. Harper was scorching hot.
He cooled off drastically, hitting just .193/.319/.368 in May, letting his average drop to .287 overall. Harper finished the season hitting just .274/.368/.486, a huge falloff from his first numbers.
How do we know that won't happen again?
We don't. But we do know that Harper continues to develop, and as he becomes more experienced, he will have less up-and-down stretches, as he becomes a more consistent hitter. That's being shown here in the first two weeks of the season.
It's been 12 games, but it is exciting to see what the future holds for the 2015 Bryce Harper. Something seems a little different about him and that is something to like.
The 2014 World Series came to a close with Madison Bumgarner on the hill, after tossing five scoreless innings to defeat the Kansas City Royals.
On top of what had been an excellent season for Bumgarner, he tossed a Major League record 52.2 postseason innings. Overall, he threw 270 innings over the course of 2014, excluding his Spring Training starts. Bumgarner could have easily thrown 300 innings in 2014, combining Spring Training, the regular season, and the postseason.
That's a lot of innings.
Bumgarner's fastball has started a tick slower to begin 2015 than it was at the end of 2014. In October of last year, Bumgarner was pumping 93.65 mph. Now, he's throwing just 92.25.
That's 1.40 mph lost on his heater. While it doesn't seem like much, it does mean a lot in a big league setting, plus it could be an indication that Bumgarner isn't where he was and has overworked his arm.
Since 2000, five pitchers--Bumgarner, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Randy Johnson, and Cliff Lee--have thrown over 38 innings in a single postseason. None of those five pitchers showed a serious sense of fatigue, at least from their ERA, the following season.
Since Pitch F/X data wasn't implemented by Major League Baseball until 2006, of the pitchers listed above, Cliff Lee's 2009 postseason is on record. So, therefore, I looked at his velocity before and after his 40.1 inning 2009 playoffs.
In 2009, Cliff Lee worked an average 91.50 mph fastball. In 2010, his fastball speed actually took a slight increase to 91.90 mph. There was no serious sign of fatigue, as Lee went on to go 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA and 10.28 strikeout-to-walk ratio that year.
Bumgarner's season hasn't been pretty this year, as he has gone 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA and a 5.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 innings. His FIP, however, suggests that he has been subject to some bad luck thus far. His FIP is over a run lower than his ERA, at 4.09.
Bumgarner may have started the season off on the wrong foot, but there is absolutely no reason to be worried about his status longterm. Everything will be just fine.
Major League Baseball has recently been investigating an interesting case, one that includes the Cubs possibly tampering with a manager who was still technically under contract in the Rays' Joe Maddon.
The Cubs hired Maddon at the beginning of last offseason after he used a special opt-out clause in his deal with Tampa. The opt-out became active when former general manager Andrew Friedman left to become the Dodgers' president of baseball operations.
Maddon was quickly hired by the Cubs after opting-out on October 23 on a five-year, $25 million deal. MLB rules state that a team can not have contract discussions with team personal, whether it would be a player, coach, or front office person, while they are under contract with another team.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said yesterday that a verdict on the case should come "fairly quickly," according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The whole situation in Chicago was a bit uneasy. The Cubs had to fire manager Rick Renteria, who signed a three-year deal, after just one year, even though the Cubs showed signs of improvement in wins and competitiveness.
If the Cubs are found guilty, they may have to provide some compensation to the Rays, which may include cash or a player.
I can't make a fair judgement on whether the Cubs truly "tampered" with Maddon, but at the time of his opt-out, just the Twins had a managerial opening. Maddon or his agent Alan Nero likely had some knowledge that the Cubs would show interest in hiring him, but will there be enough evidence to prove that?
Maddon did say publicly that he was happy in his position with the Rays and wanted to stay there longterm. Then how did something just spur within him that he would quickly want to opt-out, especially without someone telling him he should have?
The business side of this deal may not be the cleanest, and when Major League Baseball makes its decision soon, the Cubs may have to pay the price. It definitely looks like they could have tampered, but without concrete evidence, I really don't know either way. All I know, however, is that Maddon is looking to take the Cubs back to the World Series for the first time since 1908.
Over the past five days or so, many teams have been focused on locking up their players with little service time, in hopes that they would buy out their pre-arbitration and arbitration seasons, while also gaining control of some of their free agent years.
Rick Porcello, Josh Harrison, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Yordano Ventura were recently extended by their respective teams. Here are my thoughts on each deal.
The Red Sox overpaid Rick Porcello
Since 2007, there have been 52 years of contract extensions given out to 14 starting pitchers between five and six years of MLB service time, worth $826.1 million. That's an average of a 3.7 year deal for $15.89 million per year, which would buy out two free agent years. Porcello got a four-year, $82.5 million deal from the Red Sox, which would come out to a $20.625 million annual average value. Porcello is not worth $20.625 million per season. If he made that figure this year, he would be the 23rd-highest paid player in the Majors, ahead of Adam Wainwright, Jon Lester, David Price, and Max Scherzer. I rest my case.
Josh Harrison still hasn't proved himself...though that doesn't mean that deal with Pirates is spoiled
The Pirates signed Harrison to a four-year, $27.3 million deal. Harrison still hasn't proved to me that he can be a viable option in the lineup at the same level as he did in 2014. Regardless, this doesn't mean that he signed a bad deal. If and only if Harrison hits well again does this deal become a real steal for Pittsburgh. Harrison makes at most $10.25 million before becoming a free agent barring options. If he continued to play at the same level he did last season, he would easily make more than that as a third-year arbitration player. It all depends on how he continues to play.
Corey Kluber's deal is fantastic for both sides
Corey Kluber had pitched in 15 career big league games coming into the 2013 season, boasting a 5.35 ERA. Coming into that 2013 season, Kluber was a 27-year-old, practically career minor leaguer, pitcher with not many expectations. Since, he has captured an AL Cy Young award and has established himself amongst the best in the business. I personally like Kluber's deal for both sides, due to the fact that it is only guaranteed $38.5 million, but with escalators can go to $77 million. It's great security for him, especially since he's only had a good couple of years (even though he appears here to stay dominant), but could also be a very good deal compensation-wise, especially if the escalators are met. This deal is good for Cleveland as well; they're locking up one of the best pitchers in baseball for years to come.
The Indians took a calculated risk with Carlos Carrasco
Like his rotation counterpart, Carrasco is a late-bloomer, not really taking shape as a solid pitcher until the last 10 starts of last season. Granted, he went 5-3 with a 1.30 ERA and a 78 to 11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 69 2/3 innings. Carrasco's career has had a ton of ups and downs, including a designation for assignment in 2013. With a four-year, $22 million pact, obviously the Indians hope that Carrasco is the one that looked brilliant at the end of last year. If he does continue his successes, this deal will be considered a huge win for them. If he doesn't, the Indians will just have to eat the cash, which never exceeds $8 million per season. Carrasco's deal only buys out his arbitration years with options to control his free agent years. It's a good sum for a pitcher who had a career 5.29 ERA coming into 2015, but could also be a good deal for a team looking to stay in contention for many years to come.
Yordano Ventura's deal is an absolute steal for the Royals
The Kansas City Royals locked up one of the best young pitchers in baseball for all of his pre-arbitration and arbitration years, none for an overly extravagant price. With his new five-year, $23 million pact, Ventura makes just $9.95 million as a projected third-year arbitration player, when he could continue to make much more than that if he continues to improve. Ventura will make a guaranteed figure just over what Carlos Carrasco made. I'm sure most of you would agree; I'd rather have Ventura on my squad than Carrasco. (If I could only have one, of course.) Sure, Ventura gets some security if 2014 somehow is a fluke, but overall this looks like a huge win for Kansas City.