The Bill Chuck Files of August 18, 2019

Each Sunday, in remembrance of my friend Nick Cafardo, I post “the Bill Chuck Files” (named by Nick in his Sunday Baseball Notes column)

After the ball is deflated, which rookie do you want?

A lot of rookies have arrived this season hitting homers, lots and lots of homers. But the question we all have is it their inordinate amount of skill or the helium-inflated MLB baseball? What will happen when the ball (hopefully) returns to normal? Here are the 10 rookies with 15+ homers already this season:

Player HR Age Tm G PA AB SO BA
Pete Alonso 39 24 NYM 122 521 443 133 .266
Fernando Tatis Jr. 22 20 SDP 84 372 334 110 .317
Christian Walker 22 28 ARI 116 463 407 122 .260
Eloy Jimenez 21 22 CHW 87 352 325 95 .240
Yordan Alvarez 19 22 HOU 52 223 192 52 .344
Michael Chavis 18 23 BOS 95 382 347 127 .254
Austin Riley 17 22 ATL 66 255 236 90 .242
Brandon Lowe 16 24 TBR 76 307 279 104 .276
Mike Yastrzemski 16 28 SFG 71 269 245 65 .278
Victor Robles 15 22 WSN 117 459 404 111 .250

All of last season, there were 11 rookies with 15+ homers. The record are the 15 who hit 15+ in 2017. With around a quarter of the season remaining, there are 11 other rookies who have hit between 10-14 homers.

One rookie not on this list, or on the precipice, is Luis Arraez of the Twins who just appears to be a really good hitter. Arraez has only hit three homers. Take a look:

Age Tm G PA AB HR SO BA
22 MIN 57 221 195 3 15 .349

Please stop looking at his home run total and pay attention to the fact that he has only struck out 15 times. Of all batters with at least 200 PA this season (not just rookies), Arraez leads the majors with .349 BA and has the lowest strikeout rate at 6.8%. Pay attention to this guy.

Nine to KnowHyun-Jin Ryu and Mike Leake lead the majors with nine starts of 6.0+ IP with no walks.

Give me fiveGerrit Cole leads the majors with five starts of 6.0+ IP with no walks and 10+ strikeouts.

Four SaleChris Sale leads the majors with four starts of 6.0+ IP with at least 10 strikeouts and no runs allowed.

Three Card Monte – Chris Sale leads the majors with three starts of 6.0+ IP with at least 10 strikeouts and at least four runs allowed.

Sox with a hole for Sale

Chris Sale is now on the Red Sox IL with elbow inflammation, never a good ailment for a pitcher and particularly bad news for the Sox whose slim chances to make the postseason just got a little slimmer (I wish I could go on a diet like that). And yes, the most dreaded words in baseball were uttered, “the club will seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews.” Right now, Sale has faced just about the same number of batters as he did last season, but with very different results. Last season, Sale was 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, a 0.861 WHIP, and a BAA of .181. His WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.com, last season was 6.8. This season, Sale is 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA, a 1.086 WHIP, and a BAA of .221. His WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.com, this season is 2.3. This season, as everybody was raving about his strikeouts (he leads the league with 13.3 whiffs per nine innings) they were ignoring the fact that 46% of the hits he has allowed have been for extra-bases (35% last season) and 14.0% of the flyballs he has allowed have gone for homers (7.3% last season). It has been very difficult for the Sox to have confidence in Sale when last season he held batters to a .151 BAA with RISP and this season batters have hit .266 against him. Then there is the 3.97 ERA against the Astros, 4.05 against the Indians, 9.64 against the Dodgers, and 9.90 against the Yankees after allowing 22 runs in 20.0 IP. Sale’s salary jumps from $15 million this season to $30 million 2020-22 and down to $27.5 million in 2023 and 2024 and then in 2025 he has has a $20 million vesting option. Best of luck to Sale, but the signs do not bode a positive outcome here.

YearGPAABRH2B3BHRBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTB
201827617565391022231134237.181.243.288.532163
201925612556801233022437218.221.284.412.695229

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/17/2019.

Happy Anniversary – Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the Astros last intentional pass by a pitcher. On August 17, 2018, Hector Rondon intentionally walked Jed Lowrie of the A’s in the 9th inning. It worked as Rondon got out the inning, but Oakland won in the 10th. The Astros are the only team this season not to intentionally walk a batter.

Bergey – On Tuesday, Bay Area sportswriter Ron Bergman will be the first journalist inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame. Bergman joins Baseball Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson, Catfish Hunter, and Reggie Jackson; 1989 World Series MVP Dave Stewart; and former A’s owner Charlie Finley in the Athletics Hall of Fame. I love this and it seems to me that there should be places in the Red Sox Hall of Fame for the late Nick Cafardo and one of the greats, Peter Gammons, while he is around to cherish the moment.

Like grandfather like grandson – on May 19, 1976, Carl Yastrzemski hit three homers as his Red Sox topped the Tigers. It was the only three-homer game of his career. On August 16, 2019, Mike Yastrzemski hit three home runs as his Giants topped the Diamondbacks. Each Yaz now has one three-homer game.

Road worriers – In each of the last two seasons, the Cubs went 44-37 (.543) while playing on the road. Going into action on Saturday, the Cubs were 23-39 (.371) while abroad this season meaning that to equal the record from the last two years, the Cubbies need to go 21-8 (.724) the rest of the way.

The Golden Guys – Charley Manuel at 75 is back coaching with the Phillies. Phil Regan at 82 is back coaching with the Mets. I presume, Roger Craig, at 89, is waiting by the phone.

Death by Taco – A man collapsed and died shortly after competing in an amateur taco-eating contest during a game between the Fresno Grizzlies — the Washington Nationals’ Class AAA affiliate — and Memphis Redbirds at Chukchansi Park in Fresno. Although the sheriff’s department said in a statement that “we have an idea” about the cause of death, no official cause of death was announced but another fan told the Fresno Bee that the victim was “eating so fast compared to the other two [competitors]. It was like he’d never eaten before. He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing.”

Spreading the wealth – The Yankees have eight pitchers: Nestor Cortes Jr. / Domingo German / J.A. Happ / Jonathan Holder / Adam Ottavino / James Paxton / CC Sabathia / Masahiro Tanaka with at least five wins, the most in the majors. The record is held by the 1984 Cubs who had 11 pitchers with at least five wins. The Yankees record is 10 held by the 2015 squad.

So explain the balk rule again – The Twins are the only team who have not balked this season.

You can’t make this stuff up – According to the New York Post, Taja Cone, the real-estate agent wife of former Yankee player David Cone, has interviewed for a spot on the “Real Housewives of New York” four times. Coney, who is now an outstanding commentator for the Yankees on the YES Network did not comment on this development.

Can I call him Wojo? – Pitcher Asher Wojciechowski now has the longest last name in Orioles history. If you are playing Scrabble, Asher’s last name would be worth 37 points (= 4 + 1 + 8 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 4 + 1 + 5 + 1=37)

And this happened this week- The Red Sox honored Nick Cafardo