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HumpLinks: AL Stars star in All Star starfest.

Kansas City Royals ruin ex Kansas City Royal for AL All-Star win, and Mets players were forced to sit and watch. Again. But after Trout's 1st inning base hit, the important stuff was over.

Harry How/Getty Images

Mike Trout and his Magic Shoes played real baseball down in San Diego last night. With a 1st inning single, Trout now has more All Star hits than any other player in franchise history. He didn't win another MVP, but nobody was watching after the 3rd inning anyway.

So, for those counting, here are Mike Trout's first at-bat for each of the last 5 All-Star Games, where he is 6 for 13 overall:

2012: Top of the 6th. Trout replaces Josh Hamilton. Single to CF off of R.A. Dickey

2013: Top of the 1st. Double to RF off of Matt Harvey

2014: Bottom of the 1st. Triple to CF off of Adam Wainwright, scores Derek Jeter

2015: Top of 1st. Solo home run off of Zack Greinke

2016: Bottom of 1st. Single to CF off of Johnny Cueto.

If you are paying attention, and noticing at what has happened to all those prior pitchers that Trout de-flowered in past ASG's, Johnny Cueto is doomed.

Have some mojo-powered Links:


Everywhere In Baseball

Everything is Awesome!: The MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, and the MLBPA Union boss, Tony Clark, came together before the All-Star Game for a "town hall meeting". For the uninitiated, "town hall" translates to: Disney-esque press conference where the Q&A process is controlled and played out as a very special Lifetime Movie Channel episode. Shorten the schedule to ease the burden on the schedule? Sure, as long as we are all in this together! Kumbaya!! PEDs? Testing is awesome and the poor athletes are victims of not being careful enough. Pace of Play is not shortening up games? No worries, because it's a work in progress! Home run spike? testing is awesome, so it's not PEDs. And we don't juice baseballs. We know because we prove it to ourselves. Diversity issues? Look how awesomely far we've just come! Now, if only we could get the taxpayers of Oakland and Tampa to buy us new places to conduct our private business. Once that gets done, we have perfection! Aren't we fabulous?...........

No good deed goes unpunished: All Star players need a break from the All-Star Break. Because, like, why the hell does a Cole Hamels need to be waking up at 5 a.m. in the first place? All it does it lead to him busting up his own chin..........Hey, wait a second. This wasn't Hamels WAKING UP at 5 a.m. This was Hamels finally GETTING BACK TO HIS ROOM at 5 a.m. Yeah. All-Stars truly do need a break from the All-Star Break............

Proper Farming: It pays to be a Top Prospect. Forecasters generally get those right. Maybe because Top Prospects are self-identifying, but those players are still more accurately predicted. As such, 16 of the 20 starters yesterday were Top 20 Prospects when they were mere farmhands..............Now, about those All-Stars that were NOT Top 20 Prospects. Yeah, well, forecasting talent is like forecasting the weather. This is why there is always hope..........

Robot Voting: Yesterday we did FanGraphs covering The Worst Called Ball of the First Half and it involved skunking the Angels. At that time, I expressed hope for Worst Called Strike of the First Half and worried that it would involve skunking the Angels again. Well, almost. The call itself was a horror show, indeed, but Max Scherzer of the Nationals was the pitcher and Alex Presley of the Brewers was the victim, with catcher Wilson Ramos and his pitch-framing voodoo being the culprit. However, to fully make the point about how bad of a pitch that was from Scherzer to be called a strike, Jeff Sullivan does return to the Angels, showing a still of Cam Bedrosian failing miserably to find the zone while pitching to Nick Franklin of the Rays (just last week, on July 6th)...........

Baseball Adoration: A father tragically loses his young son and dedicates his legacy to baseball by scattering his ashes at every MLB park. Tragic tale, lovely tale. But illegal as hell and the idea of scattering ashes "near their seats" evokes images of being swept up along with peanut shells and half used mustard packets. Surely there might have been a legal option with more assurance of dignity?...........

Happy Points?: Hmmm. Reading this Baseball Prospectus feature about how teams spend versus the return they enjoy in terms of wins, and how payroll disparity creates an inherent unfairness throughout the leagues, I am reminded of a discovery I posted here long, long ago. 2010, to be precise. What I appeared to have found was that teams needed to remain within the top 14 payrolls to realize value out of their commitments, and about the 15th and 16th ranked payroll a teams will begin to see diminished returns. teams spending less will tend to have lesser wins, but they are saving lots of money so they know what they are getting into. Teams spending more will tens to have more wins, in almost a straight line fashion, but they also know what they are getting into. It's those teams right there at 15th/16th that think they are spending enough money to win, and see too few wins to justify their payroll.  Now go read that BP feature and tell me that I wasn't on to something. "If an owner is willing to spend enough, he or she can basically guarantee a successful team. Over that same period, 2001–2015, there have been 14 teams with payrolls more than double the league average: the Yankees, every season from 2003–2013, and the Dodgers, from 2013–2015. They averaged a cool 95 wins each season, and broke the 100-win threshold three times. These super-rich teams win 100 games at nearly the same rate the teams with the three lowest salaries win 85 games. They never won fewer than 85 games, and only won less than 89 once."....and also this: "The real problems of balance arise almost entirely with the super-spenders described above. Teams in a more moderate spending range, with payrolls between 130 percent and 170 percent of league average, don’t enjoy the same guarantees of success that those from 170 percent and up do."


The Duffle Bag

The Padres came within one decision of having the coolest uniforms in baseball back in the 80's, but didn't fess up to the miss until yesterday...........Something to think about as the Next Big Thing this year is the Trade Deadline: sometimes a losing team cannot even afford to be a seller............The key message here, about women playing true pro baseball with the men, is that all it took was for someone to not say no...........San Diego fans are the bestest...........In yet another first half recap, the biggest surprise listed for the AL West is Ian Desmond. That's true, but Desmond is essentially playing in yet another contract year, proving he is worth that Big Splash contract after all, the one that he failed to get last Winter..............Yeah, why NOT these three cities for an ASG, long over-due?...........High school pitch limits. One good step towards long-term player health. Next step: travel ball...........Mike trout is baseball's Greatest Living Thing, but the National League is ruling the day in terms of fan love...........What? Is it really that hard to spell "Noah"????........The target of the Rangers pitching affection might be Drew Pomeranz of the Padres. This would not be good............Oops. The Marlins underestimated the power of Giancarlo Stanton, and are looking to cheat their fans out of the discounts they promised.............Wil Myers, born in North Carolina and, therefore, having no clue about REAL Mexican food, prefers the east coast version of Americanized Mexican food over the west coast version of Americanized Mexican food. The Internet goes bonkers. By the way, note to San Diego: you ain't real Mexican food, either..............Jake Peavy gets the credit for this no-look catch. But it's Buster Posey who sunk the three-pointer............


Mystery Graph

(Yesterday was the cumulative career bWAR, ages 19 through 24, for Mike Trout (blue), Bryce Harper (red) and Miguel Cabrera (green). That one took you people a while, and crowd sourcing the work sure helped. . What would happen if I gave you one that more than enough info to decipher, but so much data as to obscure what you are looking at, and no other clue except how topical the data is?)