-Taylor Ballinger, Matt Korte, Jeff Gangloff

Good morning, Nation. We’re back with our weekly installment of “This Week in Baseball”, where Taylor, Matt, and Jeff will highlight interesting and/or important stories happening throughout baseball. As always, hope you enjoy – and let us know what you’ve been reading by posting in the comment section below.


New Way to Judge Hitters? It’s Rocket Science, Sort Of

Tim Rohan, New York Times



Not too long ago, analytics took a strong foothold in baseball front offices as the “Moneyball” approach swept through baseball; and ever since then, baseball executives have been looking for more advanced ways of determining how successful players can and will be.  When it comes to grading and studying hitters and projecting performance a new tactic has come to the forefront; exit velocity.  Teams now measure how fast the ball leaves the bat and have used this measuring stick in making several critical personnel decisions.  The article highlights several key benchmarks when measuring exit velocity and highlights how baseball personnel executives, both from the “old school” and “new school” have taken note of the importance of this new variable in determining a player’s value. (Korte)


The Current State of Bullpen Usage in 2015

Craig Edwards, YardBarker via Fangraphs



Tell me something I don’t know…as a Reds Fan, heck, as a fan of Cincinnati sports, I feel like I live in this constant state of self-torture and frustration.  Is it the pessimist in me?  Maybe…or maybe it’s just the Reds bullpen.  The article highlights an early-season snapshot of all MLB bullpens, zeroing in on several key areas; ERA, FIP, total innings pitched by bullpens, multiple inning relief appearances and bullpen appearances on zero days of rest.  Surprise, surprise…the Reds bullpen is bad…coming in dead last or next to last in several of these categories.  But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the article is that it really brings to light how the roles of bullpens have changed.  Gone is the time when bullpens were filled with guys who just weren’t good enough to start…now, when constructed properly (cough, choke) a bullpen can be a team’s best weapon (see KC Royals).  You dont have to look hard to see how a dominant bullpen directly correlates to the success of the team in Win column. (Korte)

How Much Does Your Baseball Team Cost?

Armand Emamdjomeh and Lily Mihalik, LA Times



This is a neat page that’s updated throughout the season highlighting team payroll and wins, as well as noting the highest paid players in baseball. It’s hard to believe that Justin Verlander will earn more this year than the 2013 Astros combined payroll. Also, the Dodgers payroll is almost four times (!!!) that of the Marlins. No wonder South Floridians don’t really support their baseball team. If Jeffrey Loria isn’t investing in his own team, why should the average fan? (Ballinger)


The Most Unloved Team in Baseball

Bruce McCall, The New Yorker



This was a fun, short read on the author’s life-long infatuation with the St. Louis Browns. I love this line, in particular: “Other than a freak World Series appearance in 1944, amid a wartime talent drought so dire that a one-armed outfielder eventually made the starting lineup, the Browns were as universally unloved a baseball team as ever existed.” That’s the ultimate backhanded compliment. Congratulations, you made the World Series! But only because the talent level is so bad around the league that you can regularly field a position player with only 3 limbs and still compete at a high level. Something about this piece speaks to me. There’s some comfort in rooting for a perennial loser. Not that I consider the Reds that, by any means. Our fair club has won a World Series in my lifetime. But there’s something honorable in consistently cheering for an unsuccessful franchise. It shows the world that you’re not a bandwagoner, you’re not a follower. You’re your own person. Or, at least that’s what Cubs fans tell themselves. (Ballinger)


Chase Utley Is The Unluckiest Man In Baseball

Rob Arthurd, FiveThirtyEightSports



How many times have you seen Joey Votto sting a ball off the bat only for it to be caught on a line drive by the center fielder? Pretty unlucky, right? Statcast, the new camera tracking technology put in by MLB this year, is now able to track the velocity of a baseball coming off of a player’s bat and provide analysis based on this measurement. The technology can provide details about which players are hitting the ball hardest compared to their OPS and vice versa. So that begs the question, who are the luckiest and unluckiest hitters in baseball? (Gangloff)


The Curious World Of Baseball Re-Enactors

Linton Weeks, NPR History Dept.



Yes, baseball re-enactment is a thing. If you, like me, have never heard of it or know nothing about it then you will find Linton Weeks’ interview with John “Lefty” Coray of the Dirigo, Maine, Vintage Base Ball Club either very entertaining or downright weird. (Gangloff)