JABO: Memories, Predictions, Baseball
Table Of Contents
Trivia Question of the Week
Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole
Thoughts On The Schedule
(unless stated otherwise, all statistics used are via baseball reference)
COLUMBUS (OH) - Welcome to the column named after a movie made in 1989, ten years before I was born. The movie I am referencing here is of course Major League, which I saw for the first time in the past few weeks.
“Just A Bit Outside” was said by Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker just one time in the movie, but that two-second soundbite is what this column is named after. Growing up throughout school, we were taught to “keep it simple”, so for simplicity’s sake, “Just A Bit Outside” will be referred to as JABO--unless otherwise noted.
A question you might have now is, what exactly will entail in the JABO columns? For one, it will be my reactions, opinions, facts, stats, or pretty much anything else about the game of baseball. It also will be the place to read when I need to update my Confibility Rankings or Hall of Fame Rankings.
So now that that is out of the way, let’s talk baseball, eh?
I could not think of what to name this other than it’s a bunch of categories about random topics.
1) Here are a group of players who will have a better season than most people think
(2019 stats in parentheses; via baseball reference)
Marcus Stroman, New York Mets, (10-13; 3.22 ERA)
Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants, (11-12; 3.52 ERA)
Jose Urena, Miami Marlins, (4-10; 5.21 ERA)
Trevor Rosenthal, Kansas City Royals, (0-1; 13.50 ERA--he pitched 15 total innings)
Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox, (2018--missed 2019 because of Tommy John Surgery; 1-1; 5.02 ERA, 14 innings pitched)
AJ Pollock, Los Angeles Dodgers, (15 HR, 47 RBI, .266 batting average)
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels, (23 HR, 93 RBI, .244 batting average)
Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox, (13 HR, 68 RBI, .266 batting average
2) Five Teams That People Will Talk Themselves Into Throughout the Season
New York Mets
3) Players Who Could Realistically Smash 20 or More Home Runs in 2020
Super dark horse: Eloy Jimenez
4) Players Who Could Realistically Hit .400 in 2020
5) Which Three Teams You Should Take the OVER On
Miami Marlins (24.5 wins)
Oakland Athletics (33.5 wins)
St. Louis Cardinals (32.5 wins)
6) Which Three Team You Should Take the UNDER on
Detroit Tigers (21.5 wins)
Houston Astros (35 wins)
Texas Rangers (29.5)
7) Three Players Who I Believe WILL be Traded
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (trade prediction: St. Louis Cardinals)
George Springer, Houston Astros (trade prediction: Chicago White Sox)
Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals (trade prediction: Chicago Cubs)
Darkhorse: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (trade prediction: Philadelphia Phillies)
8) Three Players I Wouldn’t Be Shocked if they were Traded, but not Shocked if they Stayed Put
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers (trade prediction: Philadelphia Phillies)
Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (trade prediction: Atlanta Braves)
Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres (trade prediction: Cincinnati Reds)
Darkhorse: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (trade prediction: Atlanta Braves)
Trivia Question of The Week
Since The 2010 Season, four players have won World Series MVP with a team they were not originally brought up with, who are they?
Look for the answer at the end!
Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole
The NBA announced their return to play a few weeks ago, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers being the opening game for the eight-game regular season before the playoffs ramp up.
Major League Baseball, in a report that first circulated on June 29 by the New York Post, is going to start their season on July 23 in a primetime matchup that features the New York Yankees traveling to the Nation’s Capital to face off against the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals. Just based on the pedigrees of both teams, the matchup is intriguing. However, you figure that the Yankees will start Gerrit Cole and the Nationals will counter with Max Scherzer, maybe the top two pitchers of this generation (other than Clayton Kershaw), it only adds more hype to the matchup.
In a past column, I wrote this about Gerrit Cole, who signed with the Yankees this offseason-
“I feel confident in claiming this as the single greatest power move by a player in sports HISTORY. This is the reason; Cole shellacked the Yankees (and many other teams) in the last postseason, it was 2014 Bumgarner-Esque-- although Bumgarner gets the nod here over the greatest postseason ever still because he pitched in Game 7, and won it, on the road. Not only did Cole dominate, he made the Yankees pay him $324 million over the length of nine years just so he would not do it AGAIN to them. Unbelievable.”
Cole has faced the Nationals five times in the regular season in his career, defeating them three times, accumulating an ERA of just 2.52. In the playoffs, Cole has only faced Washington twice (both occurring in the 2019 World Series), going 1-1, including the win in a crucial Game 5, posting an ERA of 2.50.
More on Cole, he has made four career starts in Nationals Park, including one in the World Series, going 1-4, with an ERA of 3.47. In his last two regular-season starts in D.C., Cole gave up seven combined runs in just nine-and-a-third innings. That is something to watch heading into this showdown.
Scherzer, meanwhile, has made seven starts against the Yankees, defeating them four times, while posting an ERA of 4.04. In the postseason, Scherzer has faced off against the Bronx Bombers twice, way back in 2011-2012, winning both starts, while boasting an ERA of 1.38.
One more interesting tidbit I found on Cole and Scherzer before we move on to the rest of the schedule:
Cole has had the most career success against the Chicago Cubs, posting a 10-3 record to go along with an ERA of 2.53. The opponent that has given him the most trouble is the Cincinnati Reds, he is 1-8 lifetime against Cincinnati with an ERA of 4.68.
Scherzer on the other hand dominated the White Sox before going to the National League, boasting a 13-5 record with an ERA of 2.43. Scherzer’s kryptonite? The Atlanta Braves. Scherzer has an excellent record of 10-8 with an ERA of 3.72--which is still impressive, and shows how good he is.
If the report is true, Major League Baseball got this one right and hit it out of the park (no pun intended).
What about the rest of the schedule?
Thoughts On The Schedule
In a year that has been unusual, out-of-the-ordinary, or whatever adjective you would like to use, Major League Baseball had to deal with a different way of thinking when it comes to curating the schedule for the 60-game season.
Due to the social distancing and other safety protocols, teams will play opponents who are closer in geographic locations--west, central, and east. There will not be any series such as Yankees/Dodgers, Indians/Giants, or Cubs/Angels on the schedule. Instead, we will see Yankees/Mets, A’s/Dodgers, and Twins/Cardinals, for instance.
Here is an example of the schedule for the Cleveland Indians,
10 games vs. the Twins, White Sox, Royals, Tigers (40 games)
4 games vs. the Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, and Brewers (20 games).
Due to a shortened season, most of the games will be played with more intensity and a higher volume than most regular-season games in the past, simply because each game will mean more. This might be the wackiest, funnest season of baseball that there has been in recent memory. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa’s home run chase saved baseball in the late ’90s. Could a shortened, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat season save baseball in 2020?
Not to say that baseball is dying, as many believe, but tensions are high between the fans towards both the players and owners, and many of those same fans have low expectations for this season.
Another thing to consider as Opening Day winds closer: teams will have to get off to a faster start because a slow start could spell doom. Wins and losses don’t discriminate, and certainly do not care what teams look like “on paper”, since games are played on the field, after all.
Take the Dodgers, for instance. In three of the past four seasons, the Dodgers have won 35 or more games just once through the first 60 games, when they went 41-19 through the first 60 games last season. Excluding 2019, the Dodgers average 60-game start the past three seasons is 32-28, which is just above average. Even if you include the 41-19 record, the average slightly increases to 34-26, which still is not the type of expectations a team like the Dodgers would and should have (their over/under for wins this season is 37.5).
Many will look at the 60 games, the rule changes, and the overall stigma around baseball after the failed negotiating tactics by both sides and think that the season is not authentic. I disagree. I believe whoever comes out of this unusual 2020 season as World Series Champion will go down as one of the greatest team accomplishments of all time.
That goes for the NBA, NHL, and MLS, too. They either had to shut down play when they were just a few games away from the postseason (NBA, NHL) or had shut it down just before revving up the season (in the case of the MLS and MLB).
For the NBA and NHL perspective, being able to fire on all cylinders, getting that big-game energy and being able to compete for a title after sitting for months speaks volumes to just how great these athletes are.
For the MLS and MLB, being able to adjust on the fly your daily routine to fit it into quarantine while also staying ready if and when a season were to take place speaks to the passion they have for their respective sports.
Memories of our Pastime
To end this week’s edition of JABO, I spent the last few days proposing one simple question in the spirit of Opening Day: What is your favorite baseball memory? Whether that was playing the game, watching it, or whatever, I just wanted to know--and the stories did not disappoint.
Before I share the answers, here is mine, in brief:
Being able to see the likes of David Ortiz, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds (just to name a few) play was incredible--even though Johnson and Bonds were on the back nine of their career. Personally, I think that seeing those legends, and many others, play at such a young age inspired my love for sports.
Fun fact: I have the box score for the first game I ever attended saved on my computer.
Now, enough about me. Here were the answers (names will be kept on a first name basis):
Ericka, Indians fan, future sideline reporter extraordinaire--“My favorite memory would definitely have to be when I was at Game 1 of the  ALDS against the Red Sox. The Indians hit 3 home runs in an inning with one being [Roberto] Perez and then [Francisco] Lindor and [Jason] Kipnis going back-to-back. That was the loudest I have heard Progressive Field and it was really cool to experience.”
Mark, Best Dad Ever--“My favorite memory is when you were seven years old and you and I were at the park by your elementary school and you were practicing hitting. I was pitching. You were pretending you were Barry Bonds and were also pretending you were narrating the game on TV.”
--The only time I will interrupt these awesome stories: It’s true. When I was younger, I was fascinated by the broadcasting team of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan (back when they did Sunday Night Baseball). Pretty much everyday I would narrate what I was doing when batting. I would practice my home run call, my strikeout call, and everything in between. One could say that is where I found my love of sports media. I have more stories about younger me that were like that, and will be shared at a later date, but back to baseball memories.
Zak, President of the Joe Mauer fan club--“I would say my favorite memory was at one of the final home games of last season. They [Minnesota] were already guaranteed the playoffs at that point, and although they lost, I thought it was crazy how the whole stadium eventually got into a big wave and it kept going around the ballpark. An entire park making a wave all because one dude a couple rows in front of me decided it would be a good way to show support. Blew my mind.”
Adam, Indians/Reds fan--“Watching Chris Heisey hit three home runs against the Yankees as the Reds smoked em at GABP.”
Logan, Reds fan-- “My favorite baseball memory, I’m not sure I could pick one. For years it was watching Ken Griffey, Jr. battle injuries and slug his way to 600 home runs. Now it’s watching Joey Votto work an at bat like only [he] can. With baseball, I’ll always love the little things. It’s the smell, it’s the sounds of the game. That’s the bright side of this year. I’ll hear everything. It’s the grass. It’s the pop of the mitt. It’s a loud umpire. It’s a manager protecting his player. My favorite memory of baseball is just baseball. I love it all.”
Ty, Braves Fan--“My favorite baseball moment came when I was a little kid. I went to watch the Columbus Clippers play the Toledo Mud Hens at the old Cooper Stadium on a Monday night. It was also Dime-A-Dog night, so of course as a kid I had to have hot dogs. It wasn’t the hot dogs or the family time that became my favorite. During the game, a Mud Hen player hit a foul ball. As I looked up it seemed to almost come down on a sensitive part to a man. So I got up and ran, but the ball decided to come down and hit me in the head. I stumbled down the stairs, as fans started to fight over the foul ball just a few rows up. After being attended to by medical personnel, an usher came to the row my family and I were sitting with a baseball.
That ball, just so happened to be the foul ball that hit me in the head. Word got around in the Clippers dugout about the incident, and the entire team signed the ball that eventually found its way back to me.
I chose this moment as my favorite because not only did I get a signed baseball, but it also showed that humanity isn’t dead. The individual that got the ball, was the one that got the entire team to sign it, and that’s what made it special. That someone decided to think of someone else, before them.“
---Like I said, I loved all of these stories, with everybody seeming to have a different experience is what makes not only baseball, but sports great. Let us here at Score On Air know your favorite baseball memory!
I was super stoked when baseball announced their return, and I remain cautiously optimistic that a season will happen, but let me be the first one to say PLAY BALL!
Post Column Notes
Earlier, I asked the four players that have won World Series MVP with a team they were not originally brought up with (since 2010). The answer:
Edgar Renteria, 2010
David Ortiz, 2013
Ben Zobrist, 2016
Steve Pearce, 2018
One more thing. Researching this question, I found that all four of these players were out of the league no more than three years after winning World Series MVP.
Sure, old age, retirement, and early flameouts contribute to this, but when you consider that every other World Series MVP from this decade is still in the league, it is quite unusual.