Here is an open thread for the night. Texans vs. Ravens is the Monday Night Football Game, plus the Knicks, Nets, and Devils are all in action. And there’s some college basketball on as well. Talk about anything and everything here. Just not religion or politics.
How much is losing Game Seven of the ALCS worth? The answer is $10,140,051.86, apparently.
MLB announced 2017 postseason shares earlier today and the Yankees, as well as the NLCS losing Cubs, were awarded $10,140,051.86 in postseason pool money. The Yankees issued 57 full shares at $138,897.63 a pop, plus 15.01 partial shares. I wonder who got the 0.01? Probably Tyler Clippard.
Here are the details on the postseason shares, via MLB’s press release:
The players’ pool is formed from 50 percent of the gate receipts from the Wild Card Games; 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first three games of the Division Series; 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the League Championship Series; and 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the World Series. The players’ pool was divided among the 10 Postseason Clubs: the two World Series participants, the two League Championship Series runners-up, the four Division Series runners-up and the two runners-up in the Wild Card Games. The 2017 players’ pool was a record total of $84,500,432.15, eclipsing last year’s $76,627,827.09.
The Astros will split a record $30,420,155.57 in pool money — the Cubs split $27,586,017.75 last year — which works out $438,901.57 per share. That’s also a record. The Dodgers split a $20,280,103.72 postseason pool. Winning Game Seven (or Game Six) of the ALCS would have, at worst, doubled New York’s postseason pool money. Here’s all the postseason shares information.
Keep in mind the postseason pool money is not limited to players. Coaches and other team personnel are included as well. CC Sabathia probably won’t even notice that $138,897.63 direct deposit hit his bank account. But for other members of the staff, like clubhouse personnel and equipment people, even a partial postseason share makes for a massive holiday bonus.
Three offseasons ago the Yankees swung a five-player trade with the Marlins that, very clearly, they lost. David Phelps out-pitched Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Prado out-position playered Garrett Jones (by a lot). In extremely oversimplified terms, the Yankees traded away +6.4 WAR and received +3.2 WAR. It happens. You win some and you lose some.
The fifth player in that five-player trade was right-hander Domingo German, a then borderline top 100 prospect and a 2014 Futures Gamer who needed Tommy John surgery in his very first Spring Training with the Yankees. He missed the entire 2015 season and the first half of the 2016 season. Not great. Phelps and Prado outplayed Eovaldi and Jones, and the prospect the Yankees received blew out his elbow immediately.
German, now 25, returned with his new elbow last June and threw 49.2 minor league innings with a 3.08 ERA (3.43 FIP). The Yankees saw enough to re-add German to the 40-man roster last offseason — they pulled the non-tender/re-sign trick with him two offseasons ago to clear a 40-man spot while he rehabbed — and this season he threw 109.1 minor league innings with a 2.88 ERA (3.29 FIP). New elbow test: passed.
The Yankees shuttled German in and out of the bullpen several times this year — he also spent a lot of time on the roster as the seldom used eighth reliever, so much so that he accrued 71 days of service time while making only seven appearances — and in those stints he allowed six runs (five earned) in 14 innings. German threw 2.2 scoreless innings in his big league debut on June 11th …
The 29.0% strikeout rate and 54.5% ground ball rate come in a super small sample size, of course, though they do fit German’s profile. He was touted as a potential strikeout/ground ball guy while in the minors thanks to a lively fastball, a quality changeup, and an improving curveball. From Baseball America’s pre-2015 scouting report (subs. req’d):
He has an easy delivery he repeats well to go with a loose, live arm that produces above average life on a heavy sinking fastball that sits in the 91-96 mph range and touches 97. He got his share of ground balls with his fastball and with his low-80s changeup, a pitch he’s shown he knows how to use and that flashes average potential. German throws his slurvy curveball with low-80s power and 10-to-4 break.
That is more or less what we saw this summer, except German’s fastball averaged 95.9 mph and topped out at 99.5 mph, so he’s throwing harder now than he did prior to Tommy John surgery. That’s not that uncommon. The Tommy John rehab is often more intense than the pitcher’s usual workout routine, so they come back throwing harder. Also, the Yankees have a thing for getting guys to add velocity.
Moreso than the velocity, German stood out for his spin rates this season, particularly with his fastball. Nearly 600 pitchers (576, to be exact) threw at least 50 fastballs in 2017. Here is the average fastball spin rate leaderboard:
- Carl Edwards Jr., Cubs: 2,677 rpm
- Jose Leclerc, Rangers: 2,629 rpm
- Nik Turley, Twins: 2,614 rpm
- Mike Minor, Royals: 2,604 rpm
- Domingo German, Yankees: 2,590 rpm
(MLB average: 2,255 rpm)
Now, spin rate is not everything. It’s not the secret to getting outs. It’s one tool in the shed. It’s like velocity. You can’t succeed on it alone, but having it sure helps. And you know whether someone has it relatively quickly. You know whether someone has big time velocity after only a few innings. Same with spin rate. You don’t need a big sample to know it’s in there.
German showed great velocity and elite spin with his fastball during his brief MLB cameo, and that’s a good thing. A great fastball can take you a long way. Just look at Chad Green. If nothing else, the fastball is a reason to give German a longer look going forward. Add in the promising curveball and changeup — German had the highest average changeup spin rate in baseball this season (2,447 rpm), which is theoretically a bad thing because it means less sink — and minor league performance, and you’ve got an interesting pitching prospect.
The Yankees only have one open bullpen spot as things stand. Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, and Green are the late inning guys. Tommy Kahnle is the fourth option, Adam Warren fills the Adam Warren role, and Dellin Betances is the reclamation project. There is nearly an entire offseason to go, so of course things can change, but I get the sense the bullpen will not be a priority this winter. The Yankees are set with their primary relief crew.
That final bullpen spot figures to be up for grabs in Spring Training, and, truth be told, it’ll be up for grabs all season. Guys will shuttle in and out as necessary, and if someone pitches well enough to keep that spot, great! Having lots of options and lots of internal competition is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. German figures to be in the mix for that bullpen spot, though he could also get a look in the rotation at some point, if necessary. The ability to start could work against him, in fact. The Yankees could decide to leave him in Triple-A as a rotation option rather than pitch him in relief, though they tend to take the best arms and figure out the rest later.
When the Yankees traded for German, I imagine they were hoping he’d emerge as a big league option at some point in 2016 considering he’d spent the entire 2014 season in Low-A. That didn’t happen. Tommy John surgery threw a wrench into things. German now appears poised to help next season though, mostly because he dominated in the minors this year and flashed quality stuff during his big league cameo, especially with his fastball. While it would be unfair to expect German to be the next Chad Green, the tools are there for him to have success and be an out-of-nowhere contributor in 2018.
In pure baseball terms, the sequence of Aroldis Chapman deals was brilliant. For the Yankees, that is. The Yankees bought low on Chapman two offseasons ago, getting him from the Reds for four prospects they don’t miss. They then traded him to the desperate to end their World Series drought Cubs for a player who is now arguably baseball’s best prospect (plus others!). Then the Yankees re-signed Chapman last offseason as a free agent. Didn’t even have to give up a draft pick.
Chapman’s second stint in pinstripes started when he signed a five-year contract worth $86M, the largest reliever contract in history in terms of both total dollars and average annual salary. A contract that large is always a risk, that’s just the way it is, though the case could be made Chapman was riskier than most. He endured a large workload last postseason and so one really knows how effective he’ll be when he inevitably starts to lose some velocity.
Year one of that five-year contract was very much a mixed bag. Okay in the beginning, legitimately terrible in the middle, and excellent late. Ultimately, Chapman did what the Yankees signed him to do. He helped get them to the postseason and he was a monster in October, closing out big games against great teams. Let’s review the first season of Chapman’s second stint in pinstripes.
An Early Season Injury
The first few weeks of the 2017 season were fairly routine for Chapman. He allowed one run on six hits and four walks in his first 12 games and 11.1 innings, striking out 18. Opponents hit .150/.227/.200 against him and he went 7-for-7 in save chances. One of those save chances was pretty adventurous — Chapman was called on to protect a three-run lead at Fenway Park on April 26th, and the inning went:
- Andrew Benintendi six-pitch walk
- Mookie Betts six-pitch double
- Chris Young two-pitch run-scoring ground out
- Hanley Ramirez seven-pitch walk (wild pitch moved Betts to third)
- Jackie Bradley Jr. four-pitch strikeout
- Josh Rutledge eight-pitch strikeout
There were a lot of long at-bats — eight pitches to strike out Josh Rutledge? really? — and loud contact that game, though considering Chapman’s next four outings were basically flawless, the game at Fenway appeared to be a blip. Even the very best closers have a bad game now and then.
Chapman’s midseason troubles started on May 7th, against his former team. Remember that 18-inning game against the Cubs on Sunday Night Baseball? That game went to 18 innings because Chapman blew a three-run lead in the ninth. He allowed three hits, walked two, and plunked Anthony Rizzo to force in the tying run. Annoying! At least the Yankees came back to win, I guess.
Next time out — it was five days after the blown save at Wrigley, so Chapman had plenty of rest — Chapman allowed a run and got only two outs in a loss to the Astros. He needed 24 pitches to face five batters, retiring only two. Worst of all, the hitters looked mighty comfortable in the box against Chapman. Both the Cubs and Astros. They weren’t overwhelmed by his fastball. They seemingly fouled it off at will.
On May 14th, two days after the rough outing against the Astros, the Yankees placed Chapman on the disabled list with left rotator cuff tendinitis. He would miss at least a month. “I was trying to work through it. I was getting treatment. I believed it was going to go away with the treatment that I was getting,” said Chapman, acknowledging he’d been pitching at something less than 100% for a few weeks. Not great!
Chapman returned to the Yankees on June 18th after one rehab appearance, and Joe Girardi eased him back into things after the shoulder injury. That Dellin Betances was nails as the interim closer helped matters. Chapman’s first outing back came in the eighth inning of a game the Yankees were losing in Oakland. Next time out he pitched with a four-run lead in the ninth. The Yankees didn’t seem to be in much of a rush to return Aroldis to important innings.
July featured a few hiccups for Chapman, including allowing two runs in a win over the Blue Jays on July 3rd and two more runs in a walk-off loss to the Red Sox on July 14th. He walked Benintendi on five pitches to force in the winning run. Pretty much the yuckiest way to lose a game.
On August 1st, Chapman was sitting on a 2.97 ERA (1.64 FIP) in 30.1 innings, though it sure didn’t feel like he was pitching all that well. Most notably, his 33.6% strikeout rate and 13.4% swing-and-miss rate were well below his career norms (41.4% and 17.2%, respectively). They were great numbers for most pitchers! But for Chapman, they were down noticeably.
The wheels came off in August. Chapman walked three, allowed a run, and struck out none in a save against the Red Sox on August 11th. The was the game in which Aaron Hicks threw Eduardo Nunez out at third base when he tried to advance on Benintendi’s sacrifice fly. Remember that?
Two days later Chapman allowed two runs and blew a save against the Red Sox. Rafael Devers took him deep to tie the game in the ninth, then Chapman stayed in to allow the game-losing run in the tenth. Two days after that, Chapman allowed another two runs in a save against the Mets. And three days after that, he allowed two runs in a loss to the Red Sox.
For the first time in his career, Chapman allowed a run in four straight outings and multiple runs in three straight outings. He also gave up home runs to two left-handed batters (Devers, Yonder Alonso) in the span of two weeks after allowing one homer to a left-handed batter from 2011-16. On August 19th, with his ERA sitting at 4.29 and his opponent’s batting line sitting at .235/.331/.338 through 35.2 innings, Chapman was demoted out of the closer’s role.
“I just thought for us to get him on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going,” said Girardi while making no promises Chapman would eventually return to closer. “We might find something that works so well in certain situations we might keep it.”
The day after being demoted, Chapman entered a game against the Red Sox with the Yankees down two runs in the sixth inning, and he recorded four outs without incident. He got one out in the sixth inning with the Yankees down three runs to the Tigers on August 24th, in the brawl game. Chapman took the loss on August 25th when he allowed that home run to Alonso, an extra innings blast that gave the Mariners the win.
From August 26th through September 4th, a span of ten team games, Chapman pitched only once, and that was a scoreless inning against the Red Sox on September 1st. The Yankees were down three runs at the time. (Aroldis against the Red Sox in 2017: 8.2 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 11 BB, 12 K.) The Yankees played several lopsided games in that ten-game span, yet Chapman didn’t pitch. I thought that was odd. Girardi said he was trying to get Chapman back on track, yet he weren’t using him in the sort of games in which you usually try to get a reliever back on track. Huh.
Better Late Than Never
When Chapman returned to the closer’s role, it was almost out of necessity more than anything. Betances allowed a walk-off homer to Manny Machado on September 5th and his control problems were becoming extreme. Chad Green and David Robertson were too important in the middle innings, and Tommy Kahnle had not yet given Girardi a reason to use him in high-leverage spots. So, in mid-September, Chapman took over as closer again.
As it turned out, Chapman returned to the ninth inning with a new fastball grip. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild tweaked Chapman’s grip and got him to use more of a true four-seam grip rather than the slightly offset fastball grip he’d been using basically his entire career. “It’s been an improvement. The fastball is cutting less and I’m able to get more strikes with it right now,” said Chapman to Brendan Kuty.
The improvement was immediate. Velocity was never really a problem for Chapman, even when he was struggling, but his location was awful and there didn’t seem to be much life on the pitch. Hitters fouled off lots of fastballs. Check out the swing-and-miss rate on Chapman’s heater this season. This is whiffs-per-swing, not whiffs-per-total pitches.
- April: 24.2%
- May: 44.1% (3.1 innings before injury)
- June: 17.8% (4.2 innings after injury)
- July: 22.7%
- August: 16.1%
- September: 39.1%
Considering Chapman’s fastball whiffs-per-swing never dipped below 29.3% in any single month from 2013-16 — it never dipped below 32.8% in any full season from 2013-16 — seeing four months well below that mark in the first five months of 2017 was pretty darn scary. Then it bounced back in September. Could a new grip really explain the sudden improvement? I don’t see why not. Change the grip and the pitch will behave differently.
Chapman closed out his 2017 regular season with a scoreless September, allowing only three hits and two walks in 12 innings. He went 6-for-6 in save chances, struck out 17 in those 12 innings, and held opposing batters to a .077/.122/.133 line. All told, Chapman went 22-for-26 in save chances this year and finished with 3.22 ERA (2.56 FIP) and a 32.9% strikeout rate in 50.1 innings. The ERA, FIP, and strikeout rate were his worst marks since his rookie season in 2011.
The strong September carried over into October. Chapman allowed one run in six appearances and eight innings in the postseason — the one run was a big run, it was the walk-off run in ALCS Game Two, though Gary Sanchez deserves much of the blame for failing to catch the relay throw that would’ve cut Jose Altuve down at the plate by a mile — and there were some big outings in there:
- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K in the Wild Card Game (technically not a save situation since the Yankees had a four-run lead, but the season was on the line, so yeah)
- 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K in ALDS Game Three (another elimination game)
- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K in ALDS Game Five (yet another elimination game)
- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K in ALCS Game Four
Two shutout innings against the Indians, the AL’s best team during the regular season, in Game Five to complete the comeback from down 0-2 in the ALDS is no joke. Even with a three-run lead in the ninth (it was a one-run lead in the eighth). That’s a Grown Ass Man save. That’s why the Yankees gave Chapman that record contract. To close out games like that.
And yet, I think Chapman’s most impressive postseason outing was Game Three of the ALDS, when he recorded five outs in an elimination game two days after throwing two innings in Game Two. Chapman was clearly fatigued but he gutted out the save in the 1-0 win to keep the season alive. His final postseason line: 8 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 16 K. The regular season was a bit of a slog at times, but Aroldis was great in October.
In all likelihood the downs in Chapman’s up and down season were the result of many things. A hangover effect from last season’s workload, the shoulder issue, mechanical (and grip) issues, so on and so forth. Very rarely is one thing to blame. Chapman again pitched a lot of intense innings this October, and the Yankees did play pretty deep into the year, so the hangover effect is something to watch again next season.
The fact Chapman rebounded late and finished very strong is comforting. If he’d struggled right through the end of the season, it would’ve been a red flag and he’d be a bit of a concern going into 2018. Now that he’s shown he can still dominate, I feel much better about things going forward. There are still four years on Chapman’s contract — he can opt out following the 2019 season — and any red flags in year one are more scary than usual. I’m glad he finished strong.
The Yankees signed Chapman to that five-year contract because they wanted a dominant closer in place when the team was ready to contend again. As it turns out, they were ready to contend in 2017. I don’t think many expected that. The Yankees are ahead of schedule. Chapman’s role doesn’t change though. He’s the closer and the guy the next manager will count on to close out big games. He did it late this year, and as long as he stays healthy, Chapman should be able to do it again next year.
Regular Season Record: 91-71 (858 RS, 660 RA, 100-62 pythag. record), second in ALE
Postseason Record: 7-6 (51 RS, 42 RA), won AL WC Game, won ALDS, lost ALCS
Top stories from last week:
- MLB and NPB agreed to a new posting system with the MLBPA, paving the way for Shohei Ohtani to be posted this offseason. He hasn’t been posted yet, but it is expected to happen fairly soon.
- The Yankees added six players to the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 Draft protection deadline: Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, Gleyber Torres, Thairo Estrada, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Billy McKinney. Torres will have a chance to win a roster spot in Spring Training.
- To clear 40-man space, the Yankees traded Ronald Herrera to the Rangers (for a pitching prospect) and both Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith to the Marlins (for a pitching prospect and international bonus money).
- Aaron Judge underwent arthroscopic left shoulder surgery that “involved a loose-body removal and cartilage clean-up.” He is expected to be ready in time for Spring Training.
- The Yankees announced their 2018 Spring Training schedule. Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Tampa on Tuesday, February 13th.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
I love the smell of rehashed arguments in the morning. Welcome, folks, to another season of Hall of Fame voting. It’s that most wonderfully awful time of year again that I swear I’m going to quite every year. But, like Michael Corleone, every time I’m out, they pull me back in (that’s pretty much the only thing I know about The Godfather Part III). I think this happens because when I was first truly active about baseball on the internet, my first “cause” was the candidacy of Bert Blyleven. From there, it moved on to Mike Mussina and I can’t help but be drawn into this stuff year in and year out.
Some general thoughts, given the Joe Morgan letter and what not…First, the idea of purity in any generation or at any tie of baseball is complete and total garbage. Segregation, gambling, juiced balls, amphetamines, steroids, you name it–there has never been any sort of “pure” competition in baseball. To say that steroids are any worse than these things is specious at best. The Steroid Era, or whatever you want to call it, happened and we can’t ignore that, and neither can a museum about baseball. Not including players from that era is irresponsible at best and damaging to the history of the game at worst.
I’ll never have a real Hall of Fame ballot, but if I didn’t do this next part, this post wouldn’t be worth much, would it? First, I’m just gonna list the ten players on the above ballot I feel are most deserving of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, regardless of circumstance.
Three locks: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Chipper Jones. Bonds and Clemens are two of the best player’s in the game’s history, hands down. Their numbers and accomplishments speak for themselves and don’t need input from me. Chipper was incredible, probably a bit underrated, even. There aren’t a lot of guys, let alone third basemen, who went .300/.400/.500 for their career and he’s one of them.
Two pitchers: Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling. Though I dislike the latter player off the field, it’s hard to deny he was one of the best pitchers in baseball during his career. Mussina, as I’m sure you all know, was a fantastic pitcher as well, and criminally underrated. These two deserve to be in.
Two first timers: Jim Thome and Scott Rolen. Scott Rolen was Adrian Beltre before Adrian Beltre became what we all know him as today. An incredible fielder and a great hitter. Rare would be a situation in which two third basemen were inducted at once, but if anyone deserves to be alongside Chipper Jones, it’s Rolen. They were the two best at their position in the game. Thome as a tater-mashing (612 career) OBP (.402 career) machine whom everyone liked. He’s in.
A lefty and two righties: It took a bit of convincing for me over the years–and I don’t know why–but I’m on board with the Larry Walker thing. He was an absolutely great hitter and it wasn’t just Coors. Even with spending a ton of time there, his career OPS+ is still 141 and his career wRC+ is 140. He was not just a product of his environment. Remember the .300/.400/.500 thing? It applies to Walker, as well as Edgar Martinez, one of the best right handed hitters of his time and the best ever at his position. Another one of those? Manny Ramirez. Love him, hate him, whatever, he’s another .300/.400/.500 guy and he’s on the shortlist for best righty hitters ever.
If I could add players to this ballot and supersede the arbitrary ten person limit, I’d also add Vladimir Guerrero, Andruw Jones, and Gary Sheffield. And, despite my hands off stance regarding steroids, I can see the argument in not voting for Manny since he was caught and suspended twice. The one guy I really want to see in but I’m not sure if he should be in is Johan Santana. There were few–if any–pitchers better than him from 2004-2010, but I just can’t fully convince myself that it was a long enough time for him to play, regardless of his absolute dominance. One thing in his favor is that he actually compares very favorably to Sandy Koufax, another pitcher who was all peak and little longevity. In fact, Johan even beats him in ERA+, 136-131. Something I’ll have to hypothetically wrestle with for my hypothetical ballot.
Regardless of what people may think, given their various positions and interests, the Hall of Fame is a great museum to the history of baseball. To tell the history of baseball, all the best players need to be included or else the Hall is lying to its patrons and customers. We can’t ignore an era or the accomplishments of certain players because we don’t like them or don’t like what they did. Doing so is intellectually dishonest and ignores the complexity of both baseball and life.
I’ve got one link to pass along and it’s kinda old, but I wasn’t able to read it until this week, and it’s really great. Ben Lindbergh wrote about the Salina Stockade, the worst pro baseball team in the country this season. The ragtag independent league team, which featured former Yankees farmhands Daniel Aldrich and Sam Agnew-Wieland, went 18-82 this year. The story about how they got there is pretty amazing. Make sure you check it out.
Otherwise use this open thread to talk about anything and everything the next few days, as long as it’s not religion or politics. Get that outta here. Enjoy Thanksgiving, folks.