Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sporting News: MLB leadoff hitters have evolved into reliable power source

Leadoff hitters have been the spark plugs for baseball teams since the game began, but these days there isn’t a solitary mold for hitters who sit atop the batting order.

Some of today’s table-setters ignite their club’s offense in a different way, hitting for more power and running less than ever before. In speaking with a few of the more prolific leadoff hitters in terms of slugging from the No. 1 hole this season, Sporting News found there is little difference in how they approach the role.

While the players do not believe they make wholesale changes to their game when leading off, there is clear evidence that the performance of leadoff hitters has been completely transformed in the past few seasons.

Teams are more willing than ever to sacrifice speed for power at the top of the order, and lineups across the game reflect the shift. Here's a look at how it's playing out.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sporting News: Five ways the All-Star Game can inspire more fun in baseball

Bryce Harper once uttered a simple phrase: "Make baseball fun again."

That simple phrase — uttered by one of the game’s most popular and polarizing players — was on full display in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

We witnessed wonderfully amusing impulse moments like Nelson Cruz’s photo op with umpiring legend "Country" Joe West and awkward ones such as Alex Rodriguez traipsing through the infield during warmups, asking questions of the fielders.

These particular circumstances might not fly in a major league game that counts, however there were some exceptionally fun aspects to the All-Star festivities that should inspire how MLB works to create an improved fan experience.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sporting News: MLB's worst bangs for the buck

We recently set out to determine the best contract values in MLB, turning up some very interesting players who are outperforming their respective deals.

Of course, organizations don’t always get contracts right. In fact, sometimes the teams get them completely wrong.

Using FanGraphs' WAR values (fWAR) and the average annual value (AAV) of contracts for each player, we’ve zeroed in on which players have provided the worst bang for the buck at each position, designated hitter, starting pitcher and reliever through games played July 5.

Our investigation again turned up some surprises.

One team has four — FOUR! — players making the list, while two other clubs have two players soaking them dry. There are six former All-Stars among the group. One of those players was an All-Star last season AND owns the worst fWAR measure in the game in 2017. All but one of the 11 players produced positive fWAR values in 2016. Finally, there is one no-doubt Hall of Famer creating a financial mess.

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