Welcome to "today in headlines I thought I'd never write."
Jokes aside, earlier this week, Darren Willman, the Director of Baseball Research and Development for MLB, tweeted out a pretty cool chart:
As you can see, in each portion of the strike zone, a pitcher's face represents who threw the most fastballs in that zone. And if you zoom in on the very center of the strike zone, you see a bearded man in a Texas Rangers cap appear rather frequently:
That, my friends, is Lance Lynn. Not just any Lance Lynn, but a Lance Lynn who somehow was the third most-valuable pitcher in baseball last year. A Lance Lynn who put up a 66 FIP- in 208.1 innings, striking out 28% of batters faced and walking just 7%. And he seemingly did this by just putting his mid-90s fastball in the middle of the strike zone.
Is Yoan Moncada actually good?
What a loaded question. On the surface, the former No. 1 overall prospect finally broke out in a big way last year at the age of 24. He slashed .315/.367/.548 with 25 home runs and a 141 wRC+ over 559 plate appearances. He was worth 5.7 WAR, making him the league's 16th-most valuable position player. There's no doubt about it -- Yoan Moncada had a good year.
But is he actually good? There's certainly a distinction here. Over the offseason, I've seen some try to make the argument that he's better than Kris Bryant. And I've seen others try to put him in a similar class as Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, and Francisco Lindor. Yes, Moncada's 2019 gave him that much helium, though perhaps that's really only been among White Sox fans. And while I'm all for defending your favorite team, I'm not sold on Moncada specifically.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've bothered my Twitter followers by asking them the same question every three days: Will MLB come back this year?
Unfortunately, that's the biggest question facing baseball -- and really, all sports -- right now. Though, it's far from the largest concern worldwide. The horrifying COVID-19 case numbers and deaths tolls make it, at least to me, feel like a major luxury to be able to think about sports.
As I wrote a little over a week ago, MLB is going to have some tough decisions to make. Should there be a season? And, if so, when is the appropriate time to start? As timing would have it, President Trump held a phone conversation with the commissioners of major American sports today, and he seemed to think that fans could be back in the seats of stadiums as soon as August. I have no idea whether that's actually possible, but I do know that at least California Governor Gavin Newsom seemed to downplay Trump's comments, saying that he "does not anticipate" that being a reality, at least within his state. Like with most of the fallout from the coronavirus, we're still in a wait-and-see pattern.
Either way, my followers have become significantly less optimistic in there being a baseball season in 2020. Here are the results.
Like all of you, over the last few weeks, I've had plenty of time to think. Between the TV watching, the news reading, the board game playing, the many hours of FaceTime talking, and the sleeping, I've been thinking. Put that way, it certainly seems like I've had a lot more to do than what it has felt like in actuality. But even with all of these engaging "activities," I've had plenty of time to think.
Of course, my mind often drifts to baseball. As COVID-19 has seemingly shut the entire world down (as it should, stay home!), baseball was no exception. Major League Baseball shuttered operations indefinitely in the middle of spring training, with the initial hope being that the league could return just a couple weeks following the scheduled Opening Day, which, unfortunately, was today.
In the time since, the CDC announced recommendations to halt all gatherings of more than 50 people since mid-May, with the current counsel being no more than 10. Almost every college and university has moved online for the remainder of the academic year, and Virginia became the second state to shutter public schools until September earlier this week. This is certainly something that is much bigger than baseball, but baseball is impacted all the same.
Here's a link to all of the articles that I have published at FanGraphs.