2015 Fantasy Baseball: Fun with the Number Four
American citizens will be celebrating our Nation’s Independence this coming Saturday, otherwise known as National Fireworks and Roadside Sobriety Check Day. For those of you reading this in a far off foreign land, or for people who never passed the third grade, here’s a quick history lesson:
The United States broke free of Great Britain’s rule on August 2, 1776…HOLD UP, STOP RIGHT THERE! Did you say August 2? So what’s this Fourth of Jooo-lie we’ve all been hearing about? According to scholars, the signing the the Declaration of Independence didn’t actually conclude until August 2, but we celebrate the holiday on July 4 (*shreds every U.S. History text book I’ve ever owned*).
Nonetheless, America is free from tyranny (you hear that, ISIS!?), and what better way to celebrate freedom than to discuss our National Pastime — baseball.
In keeping up with the spirit of the holiday, let’s talk about the number “four” — as in July 4, Fantastic Four (opening in theaters August 7) and four-baggers.
The number of career home runs Ben Revere will have the next time he goes yard:
Open any baseball almanac and you’ll find Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron atop the list of baseball’s best home run hitters. And Ben Revere? Well, he’d be at the very bottom. The Phillies outfielder has three — yes, three — home runs to his name. And no, not just this year — in his career! In his five-plus years in the league, Revere has amassed 2,336 plate appearances and hit only three big flies. Since 1970, there are only seven ballplayers with at least 1,500 plate appearances who have hit fewer home runs in their careers.
The good thing about Revere is that he doesn’t need to pack a lot of power to help out his fantasy owners. Over his last 27 games, the speedster has hit .333 with six RBI, nine stolen bases and 19 runs scored. He even launched his first dinger of the season on Saturday, which was hit off of Max Scherzer of all people. His current streak has upped his batting average to a season-high .294, and his 18 stolen bases rank him fifth in baseball.
There had been talk earlier in the season of a potential trade to the Angels, which would boost his value even more. Nothing would be better than swapping Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Ryan Howard for Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Even if he doesn’t end up in Anaheim, he will almost assuredly be traded, and anywhere is better than playing in Philly.
The number of in-season managerial changes in 2015:
It’s only the first week of July, but there are already four managers in the MLB unemployment line. Ron Roenicke (Brewers), Mike Redmond (Marlins), Bud Black (Padres) and Ryne Sandberg (Phillies) have been replaced by Craig Counsell, Dan Jennings, Pat Murphy and Pete Mackanin, respectively.
Black’s firing may have been the most shocking, as the big-spending Padres barely had a chance for their new players to mesh. But I guess a .477 career winning percentage is bound to catch up to you at some point. The Brewers had enough of Roenicke after last year’s epic collapse; the Marlins, like the Padres, spent a bunch of dough and Redmond was the fall guy for their poor start; and Sandberg just flat out resigned because, well, the Phillies were gonna cut his life expectancy about 10 years short.
So, how have these changes affected their teams?
Counsell has led the Brewers to a respectable 22-29 record since taking over. They were 7-18 with Roenicke as manager. Jennings, the former GM, has gone 14-24 in the post-Mike Redmond Era — slightly worse than the 16-22 mark the latter accomplished before his ousting. Murphy has been victorious in only four of 11 contents since getting the gig in San Diego. Sandberg was just replaced by Mackanin on Friday, so there’s no real data to go on.
If there’s anything we can conclude from these numbers, it’s that these teams are bad no matter who their manager is. It will be interesting to see which manager will be cast away next. My money is on Red Sox’ skipper John Farrell, but the Reds’ Bryan Price, the White Sox’ Robin Ventura and the Rockies’ Walt Weiss aren’t far behind.
The number of National League batters with 24+ home runs:
Remember all the DH “talk” from earlier in the year when Adam Wainwright tore his Achilles? Pitchers getting hurt running out grounders, not enough offense, etc., etc. What’s the best way to silence all that mumbo jumbo? Just hit the crap out of the ball.
The American League has the designated hitter, and the National League doesn’t. For years, people have clamored for the NL to adopt the DH. But for years, the same people have been met with opposition from baseball purists who love the intricacies that are created by having pitchers bat. I am one of these purists. I love watching managers take out their lineup cards and simultaneously motion for the left-handed reliever while calling for the double-switch. And besides, how else would we get to witness the splendor that is Bartolo Colon stepping into a batter’s box?
As a baseball purist (don’t get me started on instant replay!), I want to see the National League do well, and that’s coming from a Yankees’ fan. If there’s anything that can keep the DH supporters at bay, it’s hitting lots and lots of homers.
As of Sunday, National League batters accounted for five of the top six home run hitters in baseball: Giancarlo Stanton (27 HR), Todd Frazier (25), Bryce Harper (24), Nolan Arenado (24), Paul Goldschmidt (20). Albert Pujols, who should be the topic of a whole other article, is the lone American League slugger among that top six.
Overall, the AL has produced more long balls — 1,125 to 1,001 — but it’s nice to see that adding an additional batter to the lineup has only afforded them 124 more homers.
Stanton is now out until at least August, but with youngsters like Joc Pederson and Anthony Rizzo not far behind, the National League has a lot of excitement to look forward to in the years to come — DH or not.