Here’s some stuff I read this week that you might enjoy:
- Tyson Ross on His Walk Rate (FanGraphs) – Eno Sarris chatted with Ross, who notes that “hitters are just a little more patient with me. The slider maybe isn’t as enticing for guys to chase, or maybe they’re just more aware of it, and they’re just trying to lay off it.” Sarris also talked to Justin Upton and Will Venable about the challenges of hitting at whatever the ballpark in San Francisco is called these days. Good stuff, as always.
- Stock Watch: Padres’ Giron breaking out (MiLB.com) – With A.J. Preller having sold the farm in an attempt to make the big club relevant again, there hasn’t been a lot of good news on the minor-league front. As Jake Seiner notes, Fort Wayne shortstop Ruddy Giron might be the exception. Just 18 years old, Giron has lit up the Midwest League and drawn praise from TinCaps hitting coach Morgan Burkhart, who says, “He doesn’t look like a power hitter, but the bat path is so good and he has so much bat speed.” Hopefully Preller hasn’t traded him for Chase Utley by the time you read this. [h/t reader LynchMob]. Also on the farm, right-hander Colin Rea is opening some eyes at Double-A San Antonio. In sadder news, Civic Stadium, former home of the then-Padres affiliate Eugene Emeralds, burned down on Monday. Venable has fond memories of the place.
- We’re Seeing More Strikeouts, But It Takes Many More Pitches To Get Them (FiveThirtyEight) – Rob Arthur examines rising strikeout rates. Among his many findings: “With the revelation that pitchers gradually decline every time they go through the order, there has been a shift toward pulling starters before their performance begins to tumble.” So yeah, the 12-man pitching staff that we’ve all grown to despise ain’t going away any time soon. [h/t reader Keith]
- Sunday Notes: SABR 45 Snapshots, Spray Charts, Roe (FanGraphs) – David Laurila’s recap of the recently concluded SABR convention in Chicago is filled with goodies. There’s even more fun stuff at the SABR web site. I’m particularly jealous that Cecila Tan got to hang out with REM’s Mike Mills.
- Murphy learning on the fly at helm of Padres (MLB.com) – Interim manager Pat Murphy shares some thoughts on the latest chapter in his illustrious baseball career: “I think as you get more comfortable, you learn a little more. I don’t know how these things are supposed to go. But I have had an open mind and have tried to learn everything I can. But it still comes down to playing winning baseball.” Winning would be good since according to Dave Cameron (and it’s hard to argue the point), “this might be their only chance for quite a while,” which makes staying positive a challenge for fans.
This past Saturday, the San Diego Central Library once again hosted the San Diego-Ted Williams SABR Chapter‘s Winter Meeting on the 8th floor amongst the Baseball Research Center collection. The Society for American Baseball Research meets twice a year to discuss baseball and baseball history. While I’m not a SABR member (yet), all of their meetings are open to the public, so I went.
This time the special guest speaker were Wells Oliver and Brian McBurney from the Padres front office, Padres Social Hour host Jesse Agler, and UT San Diego reporter and native San Diegan Kirk Kenney.
Geoff Miller is the author of Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game – In Baseball and in Life. He has worked with the Pirates and Nationals, and is currently the mental skills coach for the Atlanta Braves. A San Diego resident, Miller will be at Barnes & Noble in Grossmont Center on Sunday, October 12, at 2 p.m. to discuss his book. Find him online at WinningMind.com or on Twitter at @WinningMindGEM.
Recently I had the chance to ask Miller a few questions via the magic of email. Here they are, along with his informative responses:
Son of a Duck: When people see “mental skills coach,” they may think you’re a psychologist, but that’s not quite right. What exactly does your job entail?
Geoff Miller: Yes, there is a difference between being a psychologist and employing methods of sport psychology. I prefer the term “mental skills coach,” as it’s important for me to make a distinction between the two fields. I work exclusively with athletes on understanding how to perform under pressure and learning what it takes to use all of their physical talents on a consistent basis in their sports. I don’t do any work involving clinical issues like depression, drug or alcohol addiction, relationship issues, or general mental health counseling. My role is educational and strategic rather than medical in nature and, in fact, a good deal of the work we do at my company is executive coaching. Mental skills coaching could be seen as “executive coaching” for athletes. There’s a big misconception that my work is usually about helping athletes when they have “problems,” but even if that misconception is about helping athletes when they are slumping, much more of my work is helping athletes understand how to be their best and teaching them ways to get to the top or stay at the top of their professions.
The best pitch in baseball is strike one. This is especially true when facing the Padres, whose hitters self-destruct after a first-pitch strike.
As I mentioned during our bloggers roundtable discussion at last weekend’s SABR meeting, my research into the Padres’ offensive struggles this season has uncovered a few problems. One is the hitters’ extreme groundball tendencies that we examined back in June.
Another is their .175/.212/.270 line after an 0-1 count (all stats are through August 13, 2014). That’s a little worse than Jason Marquis’ career line of .196/.214/.278.
You may have seen several posts around the internet about Andy Strasberg’s new book, San Diego Fantography. It’s been discussed briefly here, by RJs Fro over at Lobshots, and tangentially by jbox at Gaslamp Ball. The book went on sale 5 May, and although Amazon is ridiculously prompt delivering orders you may yearn for a more personal interaction as part of your book-browsing experience.
Some news, then, you may enjoy reading. There are two upcoming opportunities to meet the author and peruse the book.
- Next Tuesday (5/27) Andy will be at RJ’s Grill in Hazard Center from 6-8 pm. @SDSABR tweeted out yesterday Randy Jones will also be there, and will sign copies of Andy’s book upon request.
- On Saturday 6/14 Andy will host an afternoon of baseball chat at the San Diego Central Library. From 12:30 to 2pm, in the Sullivan Family Baseball Research Center (the 8th floor of the library), he’ll relay the back story on many of the photographs included in San Diego Fantography. The San Diego Chicken will be there as a special guest. I’ve never been up close and personal with the Chicken; if this classic Padres and Pints episode is any indication, 6/14 presents an opportunity not to be passed up.
I believe some of the proceeds from any books sold at either event will be donated to the Baseball Research Center. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Research Center, you should; it’s the pre-emminent collection west of the Mississippi River, and will include the Bill Weiss Minor League Collection, which is still being cataloged prior to allowing public access.
Follow @SDSABR for San Diego Ted Williams Chapter information, events, and updates.
Last week, Padres Trail wrote a preview of the San Diego SABR Winter Meeting that took place on Saturday. Unfortunately, he was unable to make it, because he was busy on the Eastern seaboard getting flights canceled and driving between airports to try and make connections.
Lucky for you, I was able to go, as all San Diego SABR meetings are free to the general public.
It was held in the auditorium at the new Central Library downtown. I’ve been to the new library once before and visited the SABR collection off of the 8th floor reading room. If you haven’t been yet, I recommend it. It’s quite impressive. And is only going to get more impressive.
From the morning’s SABR meeting, Mrs. Ducksnorts and I walked a few blocks to The Mission (coincidentally the name of a favorite San Diego restaurant). Our server recommended the street tacos, and they did not disappoint. Mrs. D’s pork shoulder tacos were smoky, 55+. My skirt steak tacos were an easy 70.
After a brief rest, I bid farewell to Mrs. D and piled with my fellow conference attendees into a bus to Surprise for the Fall Stars Game. We sat just to the first-base side behind home plate. I spent the evening with my usual companions, Brian and Drew, as well as BaseballHQ writer Jock Thompson in front of me and the parents of Austin Hedges to my left. Read More…
One hazard of writing for a living is that people sometimes compliment (or criticize) articles you’d forgotten you ever wrote. Once you file something, it’s onto the next project. Always looking forward, never back.
This came up at Don and Charlie’s on the first night of the SABR Arizona Fall League conference, but it also applies to baseball. The second day brought with it two games, one back at HoHoKam and another at Salt River.
Teams rested their best players in preparation for the following evening’s All-Star Game, recently rebranded as the Fall Stars Game. That’s not what I would call it (seems better to catch a rising star than a falling star), but nobody asked me. The games were uneventful, allowing me to reconnect with industry friends that I see once or twice a year if I’m lucky. Read More…
Last month I made my annual trek to the Arizona Fall League for a much-needed dose of good baseball and good friends. Each year, SABR’s Flame Delhi Chapter hosts a conference that has become a must for me.
Baseball Prospectus subscribers can read about my experience at the 2012 conference here and here. For everyone else, a quick summary: It was awesome.
This year’s event? Same story. Organizer Rodney Johnson, the Diamondbacks’ official scorer, puts on a great show. He knows everyone in town and gets many of them to participate.
Guests included legendary baseball executive and AFL founder Roland Hemond; retired big-leaguers Ron Davis, Lou Klimchock, and Ken Phelps; former Padres first-round pick Dave Hilton; and former Padres Cy Young Award winner Mark Davis.
Beyond famous people, the conference was filled with folks who can watch and talk baseball all day. It’s my kind of place.
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