Todd's Takes: So Far, They're (Mostly) Right

Todd's Takes: So Far, They're (Mostly) Right

This article is part of our Todd's Takes series.

Would You Like that Crispy or Extra Crispy?

One of the many MLB-produced commercials touting the new rules changes talks about the game being played "crisper", with more action. Hits and runs are up, so OK, there's more action. What about crisper?

Statcast has a metric measuring meatballs, but I am unaware of anything calibrating crispness. It's not perfect, but what about fielding percentage? I mean, we know fielding percentage isn't a great litmus test for defense, but it's arguably a proxy for crispness.

SeasonTeamC1B2B3BSSOF
20190.9840.9930.9930.9820.9600.9710.984
20200.9830.9930.9920.9790.9550.9710.987
20210.9850.9940.9940.9820.9600.9720.987
20220.9850.9930.9940.9830.9640.9730.988
20230.9860.9910.9940.9860.9660.9730.990

Interesting. Overall, fielding percentage is up. In fact, it's up at every position except catcher. The reason(s) for the improvement aren't clear, but it's likely a combination of less time between pitches so fielders stay more focused and the lack of shifting keeping them from areas of the diamond in which they're not used to playing. For the sake of this discussion, fewer errors substantiates crisper play.

Another means of gauging crispness is the percentage of earned to overall runs. To eliminate skewing of the results via the zombie runner, who counts as an unearned run, only runs tallied in the first nine innings will count in the study.

SeasonER/R
201992.44%
202092.75%
202193.10%
2022

Would You Like that Crispy or Extra Crispy?

One of the many MLB-produced commercials touting the new rules changes talks about the game being played "crisper", with more action. Hits and runs are up, so OK, there's more action. What about crisper?

Statcast has a metric measuring meatballs, but I am unaware of anything calibrating crispness. It's not perfect, but what about fielding percentage? I mean, we know fielding percentage isn't a great litmus test for defense, but it's arguably a proxy for crispness.

SeasonTeamC1B2B3BSSOF
20190.9840.9930.9930.9820.9600.9710.984
20200.9830.9930.9920.9790.9550.9710.987
20210.9850.9940.9940.9820.9600.9720.987
20220.9850.9930.9940.9830.9640.9730.988
20230.9860.9910.9940.9860.9660.9730.990

Interesting. Overall, fielding percentage is up. In fact, it's up at every position except catcher. The reason(s) for the improvement aren't clear, but it's likely a combination of less time between pitches so fielders stay more focused and the lack of shifting keeping them from areas of the diamond in which they're not used to playing. For the sake of this discussion, fewer errors substantiates crisper play.

Another means of gauging crispness is the percentage of earned to overall runs. To eliminate skewing of the results via the zombie runner, who counts as an unearned run, only runs tallied in the first nine innings will count in the study.

SeasonER/R
201992.44%
202092.75%
202193.10%
202292.74%
202393.60%

It makes sense that fewer errors manifest a higher percentage of earned runs, but it's always nice when data corroborates intuition.

Today's attendance is...

What about attendance and TV ratings? I'll spare posting the numbers, but both are up. Early on, the TV ratings were setting records, but that was mostly about curiosity with respect to the new rules. 

Attendance is up compared to the same part of the season as last year. Of course, the talking heads are saying it's because going to the ballpark is now a more enjoyable experience. I don't know, maybe. It's not the same thing, but I hate it when I'm at a fast Arizona Fall League game, as there's less time to kibbutz with friends and colleagues.

The thing bugging me is that some act like the only reason for the increase is pace of play. Personally, I am more comfortable in public now than this time last year. I have seen some mention reduced fear of COVID as a reason for going to games. All I'm saying it shouldn't be ignored. There are multiple variables influencing attendance. I posted this poll to get a feel for how others gauge the uptick in attendance.

Box Score Blitz: Wednesday, May 24

  • TEX 3, PIT 2: Martin Perez's home run issues have returned, though he managed to keep the Pirates in the yard as he won for the sixth time in seven decisions. His strikeouts are way down, but so is his walk rate. Even so, low strikeouts not only hurt in fantasy since they count in scoring, but they subject the pitcher to more variance... After Jose Leclerc loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, Will Smith was summoned and retired five Pirates to record his ninth save... Marcus Semien led off the game with his eighth homer. The underlying metrics indicate he's been lucky in the power department, but he's fanning less and walking more, so his elevated batting average is more likely subsist, and he's 7-for-8 collecting steals... Josh Jung's three-game homer streak was snapped, but 2-for-4 with an RBI works... Ji Hwan Bae remains stuck on 14 steals as he hasn't swiped a bag since May 5.
  • PHI 6, ARI 5 (F/10): Zac Gallen wasn't sharp, leaving the game after 5.2 innings with runners on first and second. However, the Diamondbacks were winning 5-0. That is, until Kevin Ginkel allowed both of inherited runners to score, along with yielding a run of his own... The Phillies completed the comeback by virtue of a two-run ninth homer by Trea Turner... Alec Bohm walked it off in the bottom of the 10th with his second hit of the afternoon... Craig Kimbrel collected his ninth save. Over his last six appearances, Kimbrel has registered two wins and two saves, fanning 13 with just one walk in six frames... With his 2-for-5 effort, Ketel Marte extended his on-base streak to 24 games.
  • CHW 6, CLE 0: Given, the opponents were the Royals and Guardians, but after Wednesday's gem, Michael Kopech has fanned 19 with only walk over his last two outings, spanning 15 frames. Make those 15 scoreless frames... Clint Frazier enjoyed his best game since being called up by the White Sox, going 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs while stealing a bag for the second straight game... Luis Robert was held out, though he anticipates returning on Thursday night... Cal Quantrill yielded at least five runs for the second time in 10 starts this season. He did it twice in 32 starts last year.
  • MIL 4, HOU 0: Adrian Houser has quietly given the Brewers a shot in the arm with consecutive scoreless outings against solid teams. After shutting out the Rays over six stanzas, Houser kept the Astros off the scoreboard over 5.1 frames. He's only fanned seven in those 11.1 innings, but he's only walked one in each game. American Family Field is not the ideal venue for a spot start, but Houser has entered the streaming realm... Willy Adames went deep for the second time in four games, but he's also fanned five times in that span, so it's premature to say, "he's back!"... Brian Anderson cranked his eighth long ball, matching last season's total for the season in Miami... Jose Altuve was absent due to an illness. He is expected back on Friday.
  • MIN 7, SF 1: Who do you prefer the rest of the season, Joe Ryan, Aaron Nola or Sandy Alcantara? This is part of this week's Tout Table. A weekend Z Files will also address the question. Ryan continued to make his case with another solid effort, limiting the Giants to one run over five frames, though he did scatter six hits and two walks while fanning just four... Rookie Edouard Julien set the tone with a homer off Anthony DeSclafani to lead off the bottom of the first. With Royce Lewis closer to returning, Julien's playing time may wane, but if he continues to produce, Minnesota will keep his bat in the lineup with Kyle Farmer's playing time in jeopardy... DeSclafani was bit by the long ball, but six punchouts with two walks over five frames is palatable. Not to mention, San Francisco committed four errors.
  • CIN 10, STL 3: The Reds scored double-digit runs for the third time this season as every starter but Jose Barrero contributed at least one knock... Spencer Steer paced the offense with four hits. He's been quietly productive as he extended his hitting streak to seven games. (Spoiler alert: it's now eight after hitting safely in Thursday's matinee)... Matt McLain fanned as he's done in every game he's played, but also went yard for the second straight game... Lars Nootbaar is slashing just .239/.308/.370 since returning to the leadoff spot on May 14, but he's collected hits in the last three games, including his fourth homer on Wednesday.
  • TB 7, TOR 3: Shane McClanahan registered his second straight seven-inning, seven-strikeout effort, allowing just one run to the Blue Jays... Manuel Margot has fallen into the soft side of a platoon, but with lefty Yusei Kikuchi on the hill, Margot led off, going 2-for-5 with a run, RBI and his sixth steal... Wander Franco contributed three hits and his 15th pilfer... The bottom of the order chipped in with a pair of blasts, including Luke Raley's 10th and Jose Siri's eighth. Much has been made of the power surges from Yandy Diaz, Josh Lowe and Taylor Walls, but in just 98 plate appearances, Siri has already bested last season's seven long balls, accrued in 325 plate appearances... Toronto catcher Danny Jansen left the game in the fifth with a groin injury and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.
  • BAL 9, NYY 6: Despite a subpar outing from Tyler Wells, the Orioles hitters continued to produce with Adam Frazier and Ryan Mountcastle each taking Yankees starter Nestor Cortes out of the stadium... Austin Hays' 2-for-4 effort brings his May line to .333/.365/.450... Gleyber Torres has also enjoyed a solid month. His two-homer game raised his May slash to .264/.351/.467. With an 11.1 percent strikeout rate in that span, Torres has been shortchanged a few hits.
  • WSH 5, SD 3: The Nationals put a four-spot on Ryan Weathers in the second innings which was enough for the win. Weathers otherwise pitched well, but the Padres' offense remains in a malaise... Given, batting average isn't the best measure, but Fernando Tatis' .258 average is the highest among the regulars, though Juan Soto's .409 on-base percentage is fine, as is Xander Bogaerts' .351 mark, That said, most of Bogaerts' production came early as he's put up a .178/.277/.260 line this month... It's good to see CJ Abrams and Luis Garcia each steal a base as both are talented and could be stealthily productive the rest of the way.
  • ATL 4, LAD 3: If you had Bryce Elder as Atlanta's stopper, congratulations. Elder didn't figure in the decision, but he limited the Dodgers to one run over six frames, fanning six. Nick Anderson cost Elder the win after allowing two runs in the eighth, but an Ozzie Albies sacrifice fly in the ninth walked things off for the Braves, giving the win to Raisel Iglesias... Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna gave Atlanta the early lead with long balls off Tony Gonsolin... Gonsolin is again sporting sparkling ratios despite mediocre peripherals. Over 29.2 innings, he's posted a 1.82 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. However, his xFIP is 5.05 while his SIERA is 4.89. Gonsolin has benefited from a .154 BABIP and 84.8 percent left on base mark. Some may contend since Gonsolin posted similar marks last season that he possesses the skill to outpitch his pedestrian 10.3 percent K-BB%, but it's mostly Lady Luck.
  • DET 6, KC 4: Matthew Boyd was one out away from possibly qualifying for a win, but he was lifted from a 1-1 tie with runners on third and Bobby Witt due up. The decision proved prescient as Will Vest retired Witt, then threw a clean sixth. In between, pinch-hitter Zack Short hit a three-run blast off Josh Taylor, giving Vest and Detroit a win for which only fantasy players and gamblers care... Riley Greene continues to thwart a sophomore slump with a 2-for-4 day, including his fifth homer. Greene won't turn 23 years old until September 28, rendering his 121 wRC+ even more impressive.
  • CHC 4, NYM 2: Marcus Stroman posted his ninth quality start in 11 outings, this being his first eight-inning effort of the season, which lowered his ERA to 2.95. His 4.05 SIERA and 3.69 temper enthusiasm, but they're both well below league average (remember that scoring is up). That said, a 12.2 percent K-BB% is nothing special and renders Stroman vulnerable to more variance than a more dominant hurler... After issuing five free passes to the Cubs, Kodai Senga has now walked 31 in 48 frames. He's also fanned 61, but Senga needs to hone his control to maximize effectiveness... Christopher Morel did not hit a homer, which is bigger news than when he does... Nico Hoerner, on the other hand, did leave the yard. Hoerner is only 5-for-21 since coming off the IL, but three of the hits have been of the extra-base variety.
  • MIA 10, COL 2: The Marlins may have to give Jorge Soler the Mr. T treatment to get him out of Coors Field. That said, assuming Soler gets on the team plane, a pair of southpaws (Reid Detmers and Patrick Sandoval) await in Anaheim over the weekend...Along with Soler, Jonathan Davis also went deep. Davis is a 31-year-old journeyman who was acquired from the Tigers a few days ago. He's ostensibly around to provide depth with Avisail Garcia, Jesus Sanchez and Jazz Chisholm out. Davis started again on Thursday, collecting hits in his first two at-bats (game still in progress). A mediocre career is more telling than a couple of good games a mile above sea level... Normally, a six-inning, three-run outing with three punchouts from Sandy Alcantara would be a disappointment, but considering the circumstances, it's a welcome relief... Small sample alert: After clubbing his fifth home run, Elias Diaz is slashing .343/.396/.517. However, he's a goofy .397/.424/.667 with all five homers in Coors Field. Sure, if you can use him only in home games, go for it, but wasn't that the case heading into the season?
  • LAA 7, BOS 3: Red Sox bats remained dormant as the Angels completed the three-game sweep in Anaheim... That's not to say the Angels pitching didn't do their part, including Tyler Anderson's quality start Wednesday night... Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani both went yard, but Zach Neto provided the big blow with a three-run blast off James Paxton... After starting his career 3-for-23, Neto has posted a productive .297/.345/.455 line with two steals, along with recording an even more impressive five defensive runs saved.
  • SEA 6, OAK 1: Bryce Miller continued to roll with six shutout stanzas against the Athletics, punching out six with just one walk. Miller threw 73 fastballs in 90 pitches, so some may see him as a sell-high since the league may catch up, but with the new schedule, he'll face the same team less frequently. More importantly, he's still developing his secondaries, and when you possess his pinpoint command, those 73 fastballs are effectively multiple pitches, distinguished by different locations... Ty France missed the game since his hand was still swollen after being hit in the palm by a pitch on Tuesday... Ken Waldichuk was used as the primary pitcher, following opener Austin Pruitt. The shake-up didn't help as Waldichuk continued to struggle with control, though he did whiff seven in 2.2 innings.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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