All-Star break…time to reflect

The 3 day All-Star break provides a chance to sit back, take notice of the entire MLB & reflect & speculate on the current sports world. Some thinking, some speculation…jump on board…

…I watched my 1st MLB Home Run Derby this week. I found it enjoyable…probably only because Albert was involved. It did move rather quickly. Clearly, the younger players had the advantage of youth in their 3 minutes of non-stop swinging from the heels. Albert did well but…being the cynic now….it just didn’t look like his opponent, Kyle Schwarber, had good pitches to hit or the deep desire to beat Albert.

…According to Jayson Stark (national writer), Paul Goldschmidt is the 1st half NL-Player of the Year. If he continues to hit at the same rate for the rest of 2022, his numbers for the year would be astronomical. He’d hold a .343 avg/ ob% of.427/Slug-.620/OPS of 1.047 with 37 HR, 125 RBI, 89 XBH, 118 RUNS! WOW. The only other 2 first-basemen to approach those yearly numbers are Lou Gehrig & Jimmy Foxx!!

…Some national writers think that the 2 Cy Young 1st half winners to be in the AL- Shane McClanahan-Rays  & NL Sandy Alcantara of Miami in the NL. McClanahan is probably off most of our radar screens since we don’t see Tamp Bay too often. But, his numbers speak for themselves.  McClanahan’s average fastball travels at 96.9 mph. Only 1 starting pitcher in the AL (Gerrit Cole) throws faster. But here’s the scary part: the fastball isn’t his primary pitch! In fact, it’s his 4th-best pitch. Of McClanahan’s league-leading 133 strikeouts, only 32 of them have come against his fastball.  In addition to leading the league in strikeouts, he leads them in WHIP (0.81), opponent AVG (.179), opponent OPS (.510), ERA (1.74), strikeout percentage (35.9 percent) and strikeout/walk ratio (7.8 Ks per BB). This is practically unheard of for a  pitcher to have given up 63 hits with 133 strikeouts(more than 2x as many K’s as hits) . Only a few pitchers have struck out twice as many batters as hits. It’s a premier list—in 2000 Pedro Martinez – 284-k; 128-hits; 2001 Randy Johnson-372-K’s 181-hits; 16 years later in 2017-Randy Johnson again- 372-k &       181 hits. Sidenote….think about that… 16 years apart… doing that same exceptional feat!! WOW!  In 2017 & 2018 it was Max Scherzer 268k & 126 hits in’17 & 300k’s with 150 hits in ’18. In 2019, there were 3 pitchers with this ratio. Chris Sale had 237 k’s with 102 hits. Also in ’19 Justin Verlander posted 300 k’s with 137 hits.  The 3rd hurler with those amazing stats was Gerrit Cole-326 k’s with 142 hits. Of course, we remember Alcantara who we traded for Marcell Ozuna along with Zac Gallen (now ace of D-back staff). Recently, I had the chance to see Alcantara pitch “live” @ Busch. He threw a complete game against the Cards and seemed to get better as the game progressed. He was terrific.. a true ACE for the team.

….Speaking of Mikolas, he was miffed with the umpires in his last outing. No…not about the strike zone. The Braves batters continually asked for “time” to step out of the batters box. The umpires never turned down the request for time. More than likely is was to get Mikolas out of rhythm. Two things… next year, those “stepping out” requests should NOT be allowed by the umpires (in fact, why are they doing it now?). 2nd, in the HR Derby these premier sluggers didn’t need time to step out. No…their gloves didn’t need any tightening! They stayed glued in the batters box & swung for 2-3 straight minutes. I think that the MLB Batters should be severely limited as to the # of times that they are granted time in the batters box. I’d say once per inning for the entire team!!

… With Matthew Tkachuk becoming a free agent maybe the Blues could be blessed with a friendship assisting them to procure the “power” forward.  My hopes were raised recently when I learned that Robert Thomas had stayed with the Tkachuks for some time. In the NHL 6 years already but still only 25 years old, Tkachuk has plenty of quality years ahead.  Thomas spent time playing Matthew when they played with the Knights, and the two clicked well. The Thomas and Tkachuk families have grown very close over the years. The Tkachuk brothers spent one summer with at the Thomas family home.  I’m just keeping my fingers crossed. He’d be in the $10m/yr range. I don’t know if its “in the works”…but it is a possibility. I think that the Blues should wait a year when Tkachuk becomes a free agent—don’t give away the house..or the arena… for just 1 additional year.

…Cards fans (me included) are frustrated with all the strikeouts. The Cards are averaging a strikeout every 4.86 plate appearance (not official AB) in 2022. We can easily find their batting averages, what about the strikeout rate? How about the Cards individual players? I’m going provide you with the K/Plate app….Goldschmidt is 1 k/4.87 plate app; Arenado is 1 every 7.7 ab; once every 5.5 ab for Tommy Edman; O’Neill 1 k every 3.0 AB!! Bader 1k/5.6 AB; Carlson 1k/5.3ab; Albert has 1k/ 5.6 ab; Yadi 1 k/6 ab. Remember, the smaller the ratio, the more often that you are striking out. The sad part is the Cardinals are 9th best in the MLB in fewest strikeouts!! The point is clear… the entire league better change the stroke, get on base or at least put the ball in play. Players would benefit from putting the ball in play. Fans would find the game more entertaining AND faster!

…With all the talk about Juan Soto coming to the Lou….I think its all poppycock…probably instigated by Washington!  Our weakness isn’t our Outfielders (if they could only stay healthy), its our pitching.

Further, the Cards don’t usually deal away their very best minor league players. They deal their 2nd tier players or players blocked by current Cardinals.

…I think that the Cards road to the division title has just been made easier. What did the Cardinals do?  NOTHING!  Josh Hader, the star closer for the Brewers for the last 5 seasons, seems to suddenly have “lost it”.  In his last 6 outings, he has given up runs in 5 of those games. In his last outing, July 15, the Giants pounded him for 3 HR & 6 runs in a 1/3 of an inning. 2 days earlier, the lowly Twinkies scored 3 runs (1 HR) without Hader getting any outs! Unless Hader regains his “automatic close out” touch, the Brewers will really face a real hill to climb. I hear your heart cracking 😊 Devin Williams(from StL) had been the shut-down man in the 8th & Hader in the 9th. So, Milwaukee was basically playing to get ahead & stay ahead anytime before the 8th. I think that if Hader continues to struggle, the Cards should easily coast by the Brewers in the standings.

…Without  much ado, the A-10  admitted Loyola-Chicago recently.  One has to think that this could become the real “rival” for the Billikens in conference play. The Billikens REALLY need a real “rivals” to insert some emotion into their games. Actually, I wish that SLU could find 5 more schools to join SLU, Loyola-Chi & Dayton and form their own league. Lindenwood & So. Indiana have just moved up to D-1 and both could become likely competitors in most sports.

…I’ve done enough “thinking” for 1 day 😊 Thanks for the read!  If you’ve missed any blogs, you can find all of them on YOUR thoughts are invited—just put them on Bob Ryan Facebook page.  Have a good week!  Bob