Biggest Takeaways from Week 3's MLB Action
Each week of baseball's regular season brings any number of fascinating news, noteworthy developments and/or curious behavior.
The week that is about to conclude, Week 3, has been no different—and there's still part of the weekend left for something else to happen.
In the meantime, here are a handful of the biggest takeaways from the goings-on of the past seven days.
Statcast Is Here to Stay—and It's Pretty Darn Neat
In a way, Tuesday, April 21 ushered in something of a new era in baseball and sabermetrics.
That day, the Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 in dramatic fashion on a walk-off homer by Yunel Escobar in the 10th inning. The premiere of Statcast during a live televised broadcast of that game was pretty dramatic, too.
In case you haven't heard by now, here's how Paul Casella of MLB.com describes the sport's new tech toy:
Statcast, a state-of-the-art tracking technology, is capable of gathering and displaying previously immeasurable aspects of the game.
Statcast collects the data using a series of high-resolution optical cameras along with radar equipment that has been installed in all 30 Major League ballparks. The technology precisely tracks the location and movements of the ball and every player on the field at any given time.
Essentially, Statcast enables us to measure and, thus, know all sorts of fun elements of baseball—like how quick Jon Jay's first step was on a diving catch (watch the video up top!), or how far Andrelton Simmons actually ranged to grab a grounder in the hole, or how fast a pitch from Michael Pineda appears to be to the batter as opposed to its actual velocity.
Even cooler? Once enough data has been collected, we'll be able to compare and contrast via leaderboards to see which players' seemingly physics-defying feats are most impressive—based on the science and numbers.
The Brewers Are Finished—Already
Just 17 games in, the Milwaukee Brewers' 2015 season is over.
At 3-14 and losers of nine of their last 10, the Brewers have the worst record in baseball, and things don't look like they're going to get much better, either.
Over the past week, the club that has managed the second-fewest runs scored and is tied for fewest homers. Further, All-Star center fielder Carlos Gomez went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, and All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy suffered a fractured toe that could keep him out until mid-June.
Oh, then there's the embarrassing case of Scooter Gennett, who required five stitches after he sliced open his hand while—get this—reaching for the body wash in the shower. (Yes, really.)
"It was definitely a freakish thing," Gennett said to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I tried to grab some body wash, like I would normally grab body wash, and scraped it on the bottom (of the rack). I didn't feel anything, then it started bleeding everywhere. At a certain angle, (racks) are sharp. I found the right angle and sliced it open."
For the Brewers, who were last year's surprise team until fading late, this awful start to 2015 actually began at the end of 2014. Here's a shield-your-eyes-and-look-away stat: Since Aug. 20, the Brewers have gone 14-39.
That, folks, is a .264 winning percentage.
The Royals Have Become a Target
Coming off winning the American League pennant and nearly capturing the World Series last October, the Kansas City Royals had a bull's-eye on their backs. After all, teams always want a piece of last season's winner.
Well, it seems the Royals want a piece of their opponents, too.
Kansas City is off to a great start at 12-4, giving them the best record in the AL, but their stellar play on the field has been overshadowed recently by their antics, including multiple incidents involving unnecessary trash talking, benches clearing and thrown punches.
And that's just in three of their past five series.
Everything came to a head in Thursday's brawl when Yordano Ventura—who has been involved in a number of these incidents—snared a comebacker from Adam Eaton of the AL Central rival Chicago White Sox and proceeded to hurl an obscenity at him before hurling the ball to first for the out.
That resulted in a wild melee in which haymakers were thrown and five players were ejected. This, only days after Ventura, Kelvin Herrera and the rest of the Royals mixed it up more than once with the Oakland Athletics, the two teams who met in last October's AL Wild Card Game.
And don't forget that odd, and heated, exchange between Ventura and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout from earlier in April.
Are the Royals suddenly becoming the bad boys of MLB? Or are they merely reacting as if everyone is out to get them?
Because, hey, after what Kansas City achieved last year, that's kind of the point.
Apparently, There's Still a Market for the Embattled Josh Hamilton
With all the drama and controversy surrounding Josh Hamilton and the Los Angeles Angels over the past few months, it's for the best that the former MVP and the club both appear to be moving on.
The Texas Rangers—Hamilton's previous team and the one for whom he starred from 2008-12—are "close to" trading for the embattled outfielder, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports.
The dynamic between the Angels and Hamilton, who struggled with both injuries and his performance after inking a five-year, $125 million deal in December 2012, went from bad to worse when the outfielder—who has had addiction problems for more than a decade—admitted to the league during the offseason that he had another relapse.
In early April, an arbitrator ruled that Hamilton had not violated the terms of his treatment program and thus would receive no further suspension. That did not sit well with the Angels, who had included language in his contract that would cover them in the event of just such an incident, given Hamilton's history.
The Angels have been looking for a way out, and apparently they have found one. Hamilton, 33, will reportedly be traded back to the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations and no players, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.
Still owed about $90 million through 2017, Hamilton currently is working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery and likely remains several weeks away.
"It's not the first time something happened with him outside the field," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said, according to Sullivan. "We all did a great job here having his back and supporting him. As long as he shows up and plays hard, I will always have his back."
For the Cubs, the Future Is Now
In case it wasn't clear when the Chicago Cubs unveiled Kris Bryant just over a week ago, the longtime woebegone franchise with five straight losing seasons is going for it in 2015.
Off to a promising 9-7 start that has them in second place in the competitive NL Central entering play Saturday, the Cubs followed up Bryant's promotion by debuting fellow stud prospect Addison Russell, who played his first MLB game on Tuesday, April 21.
To that duo, add youngsters like first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Starlin Castro and right fielder Jorge Soler—all of whom are 25 or younger—as well as new $155 million ace Jon Lester and just the right skipper in Joe Maddon, and the Cubs' push to contend starts now.
With such a young and inexperienced club, there will be highs and lows, ups and downs. Mistakes will be made, but so will adjustments and improvements. The potential is there—now it's a matter of turning it into production at the big league level.
Expecting a playoff berth in 2015 might be a bit much, especially in a challenging division that also houses the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. However, if the majority of the players mentioned above prove to be worthy of all the hype, then Chicago should have a shot at meaningful games in late September—and maybe even, for the first time since 2008, in October, too.