When I first started writing about the Bat-Flip Royale, detailing individual’s attempts to gain entry into a (fictional) season-ending bracket of Bat-Flips, the winner of which would be granted the 2014 belt, it was all in fun. Jayson Werth had just punctuated the Marlin’s decision to intentionally walk the batter ahead of him with a grand slam, and his emphatic bat-flip was the icing on the cake. The bat-flip bar was set, and several well-known contenders (offenders?) soon stepped up. Yasiel Puig in fact, took the competition very seriously indeed, adding quantity to his bat-flip quality.
But yesterday, well… to put it lightly, things turned sour, when Manny Machado took the name of my little contest a tad too literally. After his very real effort to start a rumble, Twitter blew up, and calls for him to be suspended for his childish actions abounded. Even as a lover of a good bat-flips, even I must admit this was a step too far. But like a good ol’ train wreck, Machado’s actions can’t be ignored.
Machado’s interesting weekend actually started on Friday night with a seemingly innocuous play. With the option to throw to first to end the third inning, A’s third baseman (and my AL MVP pick so far) Josh Donaldson instead chose to tag Machado, who was literally just in front of him. Unconventional, according to the unwritten rules of baseball, but altogether harmless. The 21-year-old Machado however, thought not, taking exception to what was essentially a love tap, and tumbling to the ground. Whether it stemmed from his recent knee injury, or something else entirely, his reaction was entirely unwarranted, so much so that even the umpires found it amusing. Anyhow, after a round of ‘hold me back’ posturing between the two benches, the game went on with no ejections. Wei-Yin Chen though, plunked Donaldson the next time he came up (Donaldson had earlier hit his 17th homer of the season off of Chen, but dude…). Things were officially on.
On Saturday, Machado teased us with his bat-flip promise. Just look at the frustration in that toss, it’s a thing of beauty. I count a 480° twist on that thing, which in combination with the petulant helmet spike and look of disbelief, really adds to the dramatic effect of it all. His matinee display however, not that we knew then, was just a precursor to the main event that would follow a day later.
Yikes. From whatever angle you look at it, that’s not a pretty sight. Sure Fernando Abad had thrown in on him twice in a long decided game (the Atletics had a 10-0 lead at the time), but Machado had already knocked Oakland’s catcher Derek Norris out of the game with two rather exaggerated backswings. He can’t exactly claim Abad’s retribution was unwarranted. But throwing the bat… jeese Manny. It’s not even Donaldson at third base – it’s Alberto Callaspo! Naturally the benches cleared once again, with Stephen Vogt (who had replaced Norris behind the dish) particularly upset it seemed. This time, crew chief Larry Vanover had the good sense to eject both Abad and Machado, later explaining “It was obvious the pitcher threw at him the second time… then [Machado] threw the bat. That wasn’t accidental. He threw the bat, so two ejections.”
Yeah, no matter what you say Manny, that wasn’t an accident. You are hereby suspended. For the remainder of the season, no theatrical action of yours at the plate will be considered for entry into the Bat-Flip Royale. I suggest you spend the time wisely, getting back into the so far elusive form you displayed during the first half of the 2013 season, where it seemed like every darn plate appearance ended in a double, and doing your best Brooks Robinson impersonation over at third.
And if you really want to get back at Josh Donaldson, taking his crown as the best third baseman in the American League would be a solid, responsible way to go about it.
Aided by Yordano Ventura‘s solid start in his return from elbow soreness, the 23-year-old allowing just two earned runs in six innings of work*, the Kansas City Royals yesterday snuck past Michael Wacha and the Cardinals 3-2. In doing so, they took the ‘Battle of Missouri’ 3 games to 1, and secured bragging rights in the I-70 area for the next 12 months, so congratulations to them. Naturally though, seeing as how nothing good can ever happen for the Royals without something equally bad, or just unintentionally hilarious, striking them back, this happened during the win:
Yep, that’s Nori Aoki getting drilled in the back of the head by Yadier Molina, who was simply throwing back to the pitcher from the crouch, as he often does. Not exactly a case of intentionally backing Aoki off the dish. Anyhow, after crumpling to the floor and taking a couple of minutes to
regain consciousness shake off the concussion he was hiding compose himself, Aoki would eventually resume his at-bat. Oh and by the way, this was the very first batter of the game for KC! I’d love to know, does not a single day pass without at least once instance of #RoyalsbeingRoyals?
In off the field news concerning Kansas City, the organization made Brandon Finnegan, a left-handed pitcher from TCU, their first round (no.17 overall) pick in the 2014 amateur draft, a move which didn’t exactly go down well on Twitter:
Finnegan is shortish (5-11), has history of shoulder issues, lacks great 3rd pitch, projects as possible closer in the big leagues. #royals
— Jeff Rosen (@jeff_rosen88) June 6, 2014
I have no opinion on Finnegan personally, but the medical reports I’m hearing on him are positively scary.
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) June 6, 2014
Hey, in a draft supposedly loaded in pitching, anytime you can grab a guy with a potential shoulder injury lurking (and then double down with another lefty, Foster Griffin, at no. 28 overall), you have to do it! Thursday truly was a masterclass in #Royaling.
* Though he only struck out one, his velocity, which had so worryingly dipped in his last outing, was back to its usual ridiculous level; his four seam fastball averaged 98.15mph, his sinker 97.81, and slider 89.43. Sure looks like the ‘Father of Dragons’ is back.
As the season progresses (and sadly, as more and more starters succumb to Tommy John surgery), many a young pitcher will be called up to make his ML debut. To introduce some of the more intriguing first-time starters then, I’ve a priming segment: On The Bump. Consider these posts your cliff notes, a cheat sheet if you will, for looking good at the local sports bar in front of your friends, annoying your significant other at home, or purely for feeling smug whilst sneakily watching MLB.tv on your iPhone at work. Whatever floats your boat, you’ll be prepared at least.
Who is this guy? Timothy Edward Butler, that’s who! No wonder he goes by Eddie… Anyhow, Butler is a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher who grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia, and attended Greenbrier Christian Academy. The Texas Rangers selected him in the 35th round of the 2009 draft straight out of high school, but Butler opted instead to take his talents to Radford University. Three years later, he was a (supplemental) first round pick, this time drafted 46th overall by the Colorado Rockies, and received a $1 million signing bonus. Probably the right choice to stay in school then.
What has he done? Immediately sent to the Pioneer League after signing in 2012, Butler promptly went 7–1 with a 2.13 earned run average (ERA) and 55 strikeouts, leading the league in ERA, WHIP (1.06) and opponents’ average (.230) in his short pro debut. Not a bad start. His 2013 campaign though, would be even more impressive. Beginning the season with the Low-A Asheville Tourists, Butler would make only 9 dominant starts (1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) in the South Atlantic League before being moved up to the Modesto Nuts of the California League. There we would again impress, posting a 2.39 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. After pitching one inning of scoreless ball in the All-Star Futures Game, the then 22-year-old was promoted once again, this time to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, where he would make six starts to conclude the season. Allowing just two runs in his time at Double-A, Butler would finish the season with a cumulative 1.80 ERA, and strike out 143 batters in 149.2 innings (28 starts), and land on Top 100 rankings released by Baseball America (#24), Baseball Prospectus (#26), and MLB.com (#41). So far in 2014, he’s made 11 starts at Tulsa, throwing 68.2 IP with a 2.49 ERA and 1.180 WHIP, whilst forming one of the scariest one-two combinations in the minor leagues with Jon Gray.
How has he done it? Well, according to Fangraphs writer Marc Hulet’s scouting report when he ranked Butler as the rockies’ no. 1 prospect prior to the 2014 season, “Butler made huge strides with his secondary stuff in 2013 and projects to now have three solid weapons with his mid-to-upper-90s fastball, changeup and slider — all of which feature a lot of movement. He also has a curveball that lags behind his other offerings. Along with swing-and-miss stuff, Butler’s ground-ball tendencies make him an ideal pitcher for Colorado.” Here’s his changeup making Xander Bogaerts, you know, the guy currently hitting .297 with a 133 OPS+ who won a World Series ring with the Boston ‘freakin Red Sox last year and is a whole year younger than me, look particularly foolish during the Futures Game last summer:
With a pretty low arm slot (which helps him get so much late break on his secondary stuff, particularly that upper 80s slider), you’d have thought Butler would be susceptible to large platoon splits. Not the case; left-handed hitters hit just .202/.278/.300 against Butler in 355 plate appearances last year, compared to a .192/.250/.262 line in 512 plate appearances for righties. Though his K/9 rate has dropped off significantly so far in 2014 to just 5.24, it’s not too much of a worry at this point. Just re-watch the gif a few times – he’ll be fine. (For a more complete breakdown of his stuff, I’d recommend Baseball Prospectus’ ‘The Call-Up’ feature, though it’s available to subscribers only).
Why is he pitching in the majors? How about this? Because Franklin Morales is stinking up the joint. Pressed into starting duty after, surprise surprise, Brett Anderson of all people, was injured (who saw that coming?!), Morales has posted a 6.03 ERA in 62.2 innings of work, which is somehow the third-most innings anyone on the Rockies staff has pitched this year. Furthermore, those numbers are not simply bad luck, as evidence by his nauseating 5.77 FIP.
Meanwhile, after starting the season ridiculously hot, the Rockies have cooled significantly of late; since May 20, Colorado has won just two games and lost ten (including being drubbed 16-8 by Arizona last night) to fall two games below .500 and 9 1/2 games behind the division-leading Giants. In that stretch their staff has a 5.58 ERA, the second-worst such mark in the majors, and seen their offense further diminished by the losses of Nolan Arenado (broken finger, May 24th) and Carlos Gonzalez (finger, sent to the 15-day DL today). Throw in Jordan Lyles breaking his glove hand last night, and the Rockies are in addition to suddenly swooning, banged up too, and in need of some help to stay in the NL West race.
What they’re saying: “The time is right… Eddie has been very dominant at times over the last couple of seasons. We knew he was a big-leaguer, it was just a matter of time. We feel like we could use some help in the rotation and he’s a very talented young pitcher.” Thanks for making my job easy Walt Weiss. Much better than Troy Tulowitzi’s offering anyway – “I hope he comes in and pitches well enough to give us a chance to win.” Great insight there Troy.
Worth a follow on Twitter? Err, maybe? Here are a few samples:
8am class.. this sucks…
Blake shelton !!!! Whoooo! Awsome.
— Eddie Butler (@Butler4Life) June 25, 2012
On the bus to Rome. New bus driver. Working bus. Gonna be a good road trip
— Eddie Butler (@Butler4Life) May 16, 2013
Perhaps not actually.
Anything else? He’ll be going up against Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers when he makes his debut at Coors Field on Friday, so perhaps don’t rush out to add him in your fantasy leagues just yet. Keep an eye out for his Double-A running mate Gray too; with Lyles’ injury, he could soon be arriving in Colorado to partner Butler once again in the very near future.
Widely predicted to challenge for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs prior to the 2013/4 NBA season tipping off, the Cavaliers instead endured a year from hell. The grand Andrew Bynum gamble was an irrevocable disaster, the bowling enthusiast turning practice into a spectacle worse than even his hair. Dion Waiters and the team’s star point guard Kyrie Irving allegedly fought. No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett was an unmitigated flop. The coach they re-hired, and gave a five-year contract too in the process, was duly fired after one.
Naturally then, the Cavs landed the No.1 pick for the 2014 draft, and thus the right to presumably choose between Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid.
There weren’t so many high hopes for the Cleveland Browns last season – the AFC North always looked to tough for them to truly challenge – but still, not much went according to plan. Jimmy Haslam, the team’s new owner, was (and still is) under federal investigation. Just as Brian Hoyer was starting to look good at the QB position, he tore up his knee. Coach Rob Chudzinski was fired after one year, as was Mike Lombardi – even after acquiring a first round pick for Trent Richardson.
Of course, they not only landed Justin Gilbert in the draft, but some kid called Johnny Football? With Manziel in tow, along with a ton of merchandise money, there’s now hope for the Browns.
The Cleveland Indians meanwhile, have so far been nothing but disappointing. After going to the Wild-Card game last year, they currently stand at 22-25, last in the AL Central. Danny Salazar is in the minors. Carlos Santana is batting .146. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, the team’s big free agent additions a year ago, have alternately been battling injury and ineffectiveness. All-Star second baseman, Jason Kipnis is currently sidelined with a strained oblique. 2013 pitching ace Scott Kazmir is thriving, except he’s in Oakland now.
Now in his sixth season in the big leagues, the 27-year-old Brantley has been the lone bright star in what has otherwise been a gloomy quarter-season for the Indians. Case in point, the left fielder leads the team in darn near all offensive categories; batting average (.302), on base percentage (.370), slugging percentage (.523), home runs (9), RBI(zzzzzz) (36), hits (52), oWAR (1.6) – you name it, Brantley probably leads it. In fact, if it weren’t for Asdrubal Cabrera having one measly run scored more than him, Brantley’s name would head every offensive leaderboard for the team. With little help coming from elsewhere in the lineup, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the left-handed Brantley has almost single-handedly kept the Cleveland offense afloat amidst their early season struggles.
It hasn’t exactly been a fluke either. A career .277 hitter prior to the season, his 2014 success in hitting for average hasn’t been BABIP fueled; his current batted ball mark of .277 is actually 25 points below his career average. After being considerably limited by fellow southpaws in the past too (his average fell .30 against portsiders, whereas his slugging percentage dropped .80), Brantley has this year been an equal opportunities hitter, battering lefties (.288 average, .887 OPS) at a clip almost identical with his mark against right-handers (.292 and .872 respectively). Sure you can point to his 2013 Will Venable impersonation in regards to his HR/FB rate – which currently sits at a round 20.0% – and thus scream regression at his power totals, but having just turned 27 (and apparently, having carried his newborn baby around everywhere all winter too), is it totally unreasonable that Brantley is hitting for more power than ever? His approach at the plate certainly can’t be argued with – only marveled at; having struck out just 16 times in 192 plate appearances, ‘Dr. Smooth’ ranks fifth-lowest among AL qualifiers in K% with a mark of 8.3%. Thanks in part to his elite contact rate (91.2% for his career) and decent patience, he’s actually drawn ball four (17) more often than fallen victim to the K.
All signs then, point to Brantley continuing to enjoy his ‘breakout’. The Cleveland front office will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of him doing so – prior to the season, they locked him up to a four-year contract extension worth a total of $25 million which will see Brantley in an Indians uniform through his age-30 season (a club option for a fifth year for $11 million could extend that to through 2018).
God might still hate Cleveland, but there’s always room for optimism. He might not be a Wiggins-esque franchise savior, and is nowhere close to becoming a Manziel-level cash cow, but Michael Brantley is darn good.
Do I even need an excuse to ‘write’ a post about baseball’s best bat-flippers anymore? There are so many fantastic pimp-jobs every week that it’s becoming a regular feature. Throw in the absolutely devastating Jose Fernandez news though, a loss that will take everyone, not just his fantasy owners (like me), a long time to get over, and my lack of care to celebrate baseball seriously today is a little more understandable. Without further ado then, the fourth installment detailing the contenders for the 2014 Bat-Flip Championship Belt:
How better to start than with an emphatic cut and bat-flip combination on the very first pitch of your team’s turn on offense? Obviously, we’re talking about Carlos Gomez here, Milwaukee’s leadoff irritant, who last Monday (literally hours after I posted the last Bat-Flip Royale update), swung nearly out of his shoes at Mike Bolsinger‘s opening pitch. Despite nearly losing his balance, he still managed to pump the ball deep over the fence, putting the Brewers on the board before the broadcast’s score graphic had time to finish unfurling. The violent swing ensured the inevitable bat-flip wasn’t ever going to be one of Gomez’s most artful efforts, but the 28-year-old adjusted marvelously to turn his hack into a stupendously aggressive bat-slam, missing pulverizing Miguel Montero‘s left foot all the way to China with his backswing by mere millimeters. Way to set the tone Carlos.
Now if you missed the usual embellishment from Gomez, don’t worry, because Junior Lake has your flourish-fixation covered this week. Batting with the bases loaded in the top of the third inning against Scott Carroll on Thursday night, Lake drew a 3-2 RBI walk, and promptly unveiled this baby:
That looks like at least a 720° back-flip of the bat, a one-handed effort too no less. Style points are taken back for Lake’s artistry occurring in the third freakin’ inning, but given the situation – full count, two outs, and the Cubs trying to stave off a four-game sweep at the hands of their crosstown rivals – you can’t especially blame him.
Neil Walker on the other hand, has a far better sense of timing when it comes to egregious showboating.
Walker’s extended pose and subsequent wrist action came in a far more high-leverage circumstance: down 3-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning of a Pittsburgh home game against NL Central foes St. Louis, and with the flame-throwing Carlos Martinez on the mound, the 28-year-old second baseman crushed a curveball to deep right, driving in not simply himself but Jordy Mercer and Gaby Sanchez too, and giving the Pirates a 6-4 lead they wouldn’t squander. If Pittsburgh weren’t looking terrible so far, or this occurred later in the season, I swear Walker’s flip would have been bigger news. As it was, it was somewhat obscured by the ‘what’s wrong with the Cardinals?’ narrative – a real shame considering his fine performance. We recognize you Neil!
Still, his grandstanding still falls way short of last week’s best bat-flip effort (my apologies for the lack of GIF):
That’s Nyjer Morgan of the Cleveland Indians going on full-on Tony Plush, his fantastically outspoken alter-ego which was so well documented recently by Michael Baumann. And my goodness was it terrific. After ensuring his first homer in the big leagues since July 30, 2012 landed safely in the right field seats, first Morgan displayed the delayed bat flip, then proceeded to jog around the bases with his left arm curiously tucked to his side. When he finally reached the plate, he put his hands in the air and formed a T – referring to his alter ego Plush. In his words, it was “Just a little one. I kind of short-armed it,” but considering how his leadoff shot proved to be the winning run in the Indians’ 6-5 victory over the Rays, he probably should have been a little more emphatic. Good job he made sure to atone for his under-exuberance in his instant-classic postgame interview with WTAM of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.
T-Plush earns the weekly Bat-Flip award then, and thus entry into the end of year Royale, but that’s not the end of this week’s BFR segment. Quite simply, it wouldn’t be a recap without mentioning the 2013 champion, Yasiel Puig.
Puig has already secured his seeding for the ultimate bat-tle (he’s a no. 1, obviously), but judging by his numerous flips, the wild Cuban horse seems intent on repeating by crushing his challengers with sheer quantity. First, there was his pulling off the Carlos Gomez staple move – a solid toss away on a routine fly-ball against the Washington Nationals. No big deal, Puig does that all the time, nor was it against a divisional opponent. No controversy there. Puig’s disposing of his offensive weaponry only got more, well, offensive as the week went on though, as the Dodgers took on San Francisco.
The already-heated NL West rivalry most notably took on another edge thanks to the young right fielder’s post-jack antics on Friday. Down 3-0, Puig first irritated Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner by declining to call time because of something in his eye, and taking a called strike instead. When he took Bumgarner deep two pitches later then, issued his now customary bat-flip, and then proceeded around the bases in an extremely leisurely fashion, the pitcher was less than impressed.
The whole incident was so #PuigbeingPuig it was comical, not that it seemed to affect the man at the center of it all in any way. Only two games later, he was inflicting the same embarrassment on Tim Hudson (though rather than remaining down, this time he tied the game at one apiece). Later on too, he’d get to Sergio Romo. Hudson, thankfully, had a far more relaxed approach to it than Bumgarner:
Tim Hudson has a different opinion of Yasiel Puig’s bat flip: “He hit the piss out of it, so I probably would’ve flipped it too.” — Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) May 12, 2014
Hudson knows. This is a guy with a 28.99-second homer trot on his résumé after all. Puig only took 29.04 seconds, discussion and all, to round the bases against Bumgarner. Bumgarner’s anger in fact, disqualifies any consideration he earned for his post-grand slam showboating earlier in the season.
There’s no room for hypocrites in the Bat-Flip Royale.
I am a daily listener to ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast. Along with the B.S. Report, Freakonomics Radio, and good ol’ Kanye West, it’s my regular soundtrack at the rec center while I rehab my knee. Too much information about me, you’re not here for that – anyhow, the point is, that a standard segment of the FFB podcast involves Eric Karabell and Tristan Cockcroft playing what’s fondly known as America’s Favorite Game – ‘Bona fide, or Bonifacio’ (Olé!). Though it’s been a tad confused this season by a change in show hosts, the premise is basically thus; Player X gets off to an unexpectedly hot start. If Eric and Tristan believe his performance is legitimate, i.e. something has clicked, he’s going to enjoy a breakout, this is not just a fluke – Player X is bona fide. If they believe his play will regress on the other hand, or just generally don’t believe for some other reason (injury, opportunity etc.) – Player X is Bonifacio*.
Which (finally) brings me to Melky Cabrera.
Heading into 2014, there was little certainty surrounding Cabrera. After being a .280/.360/.391 hitter, and 2.7 WAR player in his first full season as a Yankee in 2006, he mixed underwhelming performance with injury for the next four years (3 of which he spent in New York, the other as an Atlanta Brave), accumulating just 1.8 WAR along the way. Suddenly though, in 2011 the Melk-man was good again; with the Kansas City Royals that year, the Dominican Republic native appeared in 155 games and hit .305/.339/.470, good for a 4.1 WAR value. Things would start even better the next year, this time in San Francisco. Cabrera would rake .346/.390/.516, win the All-Star MVP trophy, and garner 4.6 WAR before his season was abruptly ended after just 113 games. The reason for his shortened campaign – a 50-game PED suspension (and hilariously awful attempt to mask it with a fake website).
Left off of the Giants’ 2012 World Series team, Melky was controversially awarded a two-year, $16 million contract by a Toronto Blue Jays organization desperately hoping to rebound from a woeful 73-89 season (he signed just a week after the Jays pulled off the blockbuster trade with Miami that netted them Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and the then-valuable Josh Johnson). A putrid season followed, during which Cabrera played just 88 games, hit .279/.322/.360, and was a disaster defensively. His struggles were further amplified by a raging narrative – off the juice, Melky was nothing but an average ballplayer.
Subsequently, little was expected of 29-year-old both in terms of on-field and fantasy value this year; even with a spot in the Jays outfield alongside Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista pretty much guaranteed, as put by Chris Cwik of Fangraphs way back in February, “Unless Cabrera gets back to hitting for ridiculous averages, or rediscovers his power, he’s nothing more than a late-round flyer at a deep position.” Well, as it turns out, the leftie so far has hit for ridiculous average, .338 in fact. He has rediscovered his power, having hit 6 home runs already. That “late-round flyer at a deep position” is currently the 22nd ranked player in all of fantasy baseball per ESPN’s Player Rater. His 7.98 rating makes him the 8th best outfielder, and is tied with Mike Trout. By all measures, he’s been excellent for the Jays thus far, and a big part of the team’s early offensive success.**
Given his history however – the fluctuating performance, the drug suspension, the injuries – in combination with the small sample size, it seems more than fair to ask the question – is Melky Cabrera bona fide, or Bonifacio?
I’m inclined to lean bona fide, and mainly because of one factor: his health. Lost in the gruesome horror show that was the Blue Jays’ injury-marred 2014, Cabrera had perhaps the most serious ailment of all. As first written by Mike Petriello, “In Cabrera’s case, he didn’t injure a shoulder or a knee or a foot. He had a tumor in his back, and as unbelievable as it seems to say, somehow that seemed to fly completely under the radar.” Doctors legitimately wondered how he had been able to play at all, let alone appear in 88 games, and the subsequent coverage of his recovery illustrated just how affected Cabrera was. Robbed of all power in his lower half, Cabrera was not only a stiff in the field, but at the dish. Just look how painfully inflexible Cabrera looks batting here:
Ouch. Now compare that to a cut from earlier this season:
That’s Masahiro Tanaka pitching there, and that’s also a home run.
The difference in Cabrera’s approach when healthy is remarkable then. Able to turn on and drive the ball once again, it looks like he’s back in his 2011/2 form – and at just 29, is feasibly at his peak. Now, the power will almost certainly regress – his current HR/FB rate of 17.6 % is far above his career average of 7.3% – but thanks to his quick start, he’ll likely end up with around 16 (his previous career high is 18). His ability to hit for average however, isn’t going anywhere. Though he has a BABIP of .372, Cabrera is roping line drives 24.4 % of the time he puts the ball in play, and popping up just 5.9% of the time – good signs that he’ll be able to maintain such a high BABIP. Additionally, he’s done it before, back in 2012, when he had a .379 mark. Even with such an abbreviated season, that year Melky finished 15th among all outfielders on the Player Rater.
All of which is to say, that yes, you should believe. With an average draft position of 220.5, Cabrera looks set to become one of the biggest steals of the 2014 fantasy season, and will also present a conundrum for the Jays this offseason. In the last year of that original two-year pact, Cabrera’s current output is steadily increasing his winter price tag. He’ll be 30 then, and as detailed, not without baggage. His 2014 though, will have been bona fide.
* eponymously named after Emilio Bonifacio years ago after previous hosts Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz first debated the legitimacy of his April showing.
** Though the Jays stand fourth in the AL East at 16-17, they are only 1.5 games back for the division lead, and are the only team with a positive run differential (+4).
It’s only May 5th, but believe it or not, this post marks the third installment already in which I’m having to detail the contenders vying for a coveted spot in the end-of-year Bat-Flip Royale – there’s just been that many early season efforts worthy of attention. Don’t get me wrong, the sheer quantity is certainly appreciated, but for all you MLB players out there, don’t forget a single instance of quality can get you a shot at the belt. You don’t have to do all your outrageous pimping before Memorial Day. That said, you can do some – I’m looking at you in particular Bartolo Colon…
I understand that you’re new to this whole ‘pitchers have to bat too in the National League’ lark, but Bartolo: generally you drop the bat even if you’re just running out a routine grounder. You don’t need any extra weight to be carrying down the first base line, nor will you running off with the lumber mean you won’t have to bat again. Teams have plenty of bats to share.
I’d like to use this opportunity to throw some further shade too, and call out the otherwise-sensational Jose Abreu. As I detailed last week, the Cuban rookie has got off to a tremendous start at the dish, setting records left, right, and center by virtue off his blasting home runs, well, to left, right, and center field. But despite having 11 jacks and considerable reason for some swagger, this is the best flip we’ve seen from Chicago’s new first baseman:
Step it up already Jose – some guys are putting in work when they don’t even hit it out after all.
It seems every time Tampa Bay and the Yankees meet, old bat-flip hand Alfonso Soriano gets jealous of the glorious, youthful peacocking of Wil Myers. In the last Bat-Flip Royale update, he responded nicely to Myers’ first two outrageously languid tosses of the bat of the year, cranking out one of his own like he was back in his noughties heyday. But flipping so brazenly, when all you’ve done really is fly out to Desmond Jennings in center, missing even scraping the wall by a full five feet – what was that Sori?!
Lost respect is what – the same of which can’t be said for Myers. Like Soriano, the Rays sophomore didn’t hit C.C. Sabathia‘s offering (far from a terrible pitch by the way) out into the Yankee Stadium cheap seats (because such things don’t exist -ha!), but boy did he make up for it with his peripheral showboating stats; After the customarily bored-looking flip – Myers has just about mastered the ‘been there, done that’ disdain already – he proceed to cruise down to first, thinking it was gone.
Not so much. The ball hit off both the wall and Jacoby Ellsbury in center, Carlos Beltran simply stood watching in right field, and Myers turned on the jets to bag himself an inside the park home run. Unlike with most inside the parkers, Myers made it round so easily in fact, that he pretty much strolled into home, thus finishing his afternoon jaunt in the same graceful ease with which he started his trot.
It’s a pleasure to see Myers’ laid-back style leading the next generation of bat-flippers, but he does sometimes lack a certain aggressive obnoxiousness. For that reason then, Starling Marte‘s walk-off shot and subsequent showboating vaults the fellow second year player ahead of Myers in this installment of BFR consideration. Sure, his jack was a legitimate game winner, capping off a Sergio Santos-centric Blue Jays bullpen implosion (the Jays were up two heading into the bottom of the ninth before a Pedro Alvarez homer tied it, and Marte finished the job), but the throwdown work was the real show stopper – a solid 65 on the scouting 20-80 scale according to Jonah Keri. Thrown in some solid preening at the plate too though, and I’m forced to bump it to a 70 grade (75 future).
Unfortunately for Marte’s celebration party however, the 2013 champion answered back with a grand riposte only the day after – a three-run, 452-foot monster of a shot off Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner that was a no-doubter from the moment it left the bat. And then there was the flip.
I have little idea what must be running through Yasiel Puig‘s brain when he steps up to bat. Maybe he ponders what I imagine the rich and famous do often – what sort of fast car he will buy (and not recklessly speed) next. Sometimes perhaps his thoughts wander back to being smuggled into America by a Mexican drug cartel, and the subsequent death threats. Who knows, occasionally he might even think back to a scouting report that was passed to him before the game. But when he makes juicy contact with a hanging breaking ball, straightens up, and unleashes that amazing flip, I can only assume Yasiel Puig has one song playing in his head.