October 27, 2017

"It's World Series time! The LA Dodgers are playing the Houston Astros, and for the undecided, there are good reasons to root for each."

"For the Dodgers, I submit the ever-entertaining comparative veteran Yasiel Puig, whose bat-licking ways are memorialized with a colorful design shaved into his hair (with a matching one for his baby omg), and who's fun to watch even when he's declining to swing at a pitch. For the Astros, how about all-star hitter and fielder Jose Altuve, who's also super fun to watch and who might be the best hitter in baseball this season, despite being -- at 5'5" -- the shortest player in the game."

Writes LobsterMitten at Metafilter.

The links in the quote are copied from the original except for the one that I added, for bat-licking. 

39 comments:

Bad Lieutenant said...

Isn't being judged on your height and your hairstyle exactly precisely the kind of thing that a feminist like Althouse should be willing to throw herself on a grenade to prevent?

Kevin said...

He's not a good hitter despite being short. He's a good hitter in part because he is short. All things being equal, short people are harder to strike out given their smaller strike zone.

Any Little League pitcher can tell you this, so the people promoting the "shortest player in the majors" meme are clearly aiming for the non-fan.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I mean, to be judged as, say, a law professor, for which these qualifications would be equally appropriate.

Ralph L said...

Some of those beards need trimming.
Is this the first time since the 1880's that full beards are fashionable?

exiledonmainstreet said...

Puig seems like an asshole to me; Kershaw does not and I love watching him pitch. But since I have a certain fondness for expansion teams in flyover country who have never won a WS, I'm rooting for the Astros. I am very happy it is not a Yankees-Dodgers matchup.

Kevin said...
"He's not a good hitter despite being short. He's a good hitter in part because he is short. All things being equal, short people are harder to strike out given their smaller strike zone."

While that makes sense, you'd think you'd see more short players in the majors then.

Jeff Weimer said...

Altuve *is* the best hitter in the game, with a .346 batting average this past season.

Kevin said...

While that makes sense, you'd think you'd see more short players in the majors then.

That's why I said "all things being equal". There is much to being a good hitter: hand-eye coordination, above average vision, strike zone discipline, compactness of swing, for example. Of the people who have these traits small people are harder to strike out and because of that, some of the game best players have been smaller guys.

They don't hit as many home runs, because they can't generate as much power, but they hit for average and get on base more often due to their smaller size.

Pitchers are the opposite. Up to a point, taller is better. Almost every pitcher to enter the Hall of Fame in the modern era was over 6 feet.

Otto said...

Revenge of the nerds. Ann just can't shake that "short valedictorian" thing. She tries hard though.

surfed said...

Nothing against the sport of baseball itself. Wish I was still young enough to throw a hardball from third to first. Miss that. But at 64 I'm pretty much over "pro" sports anything.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

metro sexual sportswriters well, one team is from LA...but I wouldn't know because the lead TV announcer is the worst to ever speak into a microphone.

Bob Ellison said...

I wondered about Altuve's height! Man, that guy is short! And he swings a mean bat!

As a short guy, I gotta love him. It's a tribe thing.

Bob Ellison said...

I don't care how small your strike zone is. You hit one long, over the wall or away from the center fielder, and do that over and over again, you're a hitter, man.

Lance said...

Jose Altuve, who's also super fun to watch and who might be the best hitter in baseball this season, despite being -- at 5'5" -- the shortest player in the game.

Fox Butterfield, is that you?



(I miss Taranto's Best of the Web.)

Michael Boulos said...

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Curious George said...

"Kevin said...
While that makes sense, you'd think you'd see more short players in the majors then.

That's why I said "all things being equal". There is much to being a good hitter: hand-eye coordination, above average vision, strike zone discipline, compactness of swing, for example. Of the people who have these traits small people are harder to strike out and because of that, some of the game best players have been smaller guys."

That's crap. The best hitters have been taller. The last players to hit or challenge .400. Ted Williams (6'3") and George Brett (6').

ALL the AL Triple Crown winners, from Nap Lajoie in 1901 to Miguel Cabrerra in 2012 have been over 6' with the exception of Carl Yastrzemski, who was 5'11".

All the NL Triple Crown winners have been 5' 10" or above.

The last ten years batting average leaders:
NL
Charlie Blackmon/Height 6′ 3″
DJ LeMahieu/Height 6′ 4″
Dee Gordon/Height 5′ 11″
Justin Morneau/Height 6′ 4″
Michael Cuddyer/Height 6′ 2″
Buster Posey/Height 6′ 1″
José Reyes/Height 6′ 1″
Carlos González/Height 6′ 1″
Hanley Ramírez/Height 6′ 2″
Chipper Jones/Height 6′ 4″

AL
Miguel Cabrera/Height 6′ 4″
Josh Hamilton/Height 6′ 4″
Joe Mauer/Height 6′ 5″

Altuve is an outlier. He is great because he is great, and great enough to overcome his physical handicap. Being short.

Curious George said...

Joe DiMaggio, who hit in 56 straight games: 6'2"
Mickey Mantle 6' 0"
Willie Mays 5' 11"
Hank Aaron 6′ 0″


Of the 31 Players with more than 3,000 hits, only three were shorter then 5'11", the shortest being 5' 8", and more than half have been over 6".



Birches said...

I was so bored when I realized there wasn't a game last night. That football game last night was a bust.

Bruce Gee said...

The just completed second game of this World Series was one of the best I’ve ever seen, comparable (although just a game, not a series, of course) to the great 1991 series between the Twinks and the Braves, or that Arizona/Yankees series where Counsell’s Diamondbacks finally, finally, at the final moment, solved Rivera’s cutter.

I love Puig. His dugout foolings with the batting coach are hilarious. He’s different. And he was almost a Brewer, I’ve read.

I have a feeling this series will become a classic.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Bill Veeck had a midget - excuse me, a vertically challenged person - play for the St. Louis Browns once as a publicity stunt, a guy who was 3'7" and was walked on 4 straight pitches. Imagine that strike zone.

Kevin said...

Curious, you're missing what I'm saying.

Take Ted Williams. He's 6'3". He also the greatest all-around hitter probably to play the game.

Hold all of his talent steady. Now make him 6'5". Is he a better hitter, or does he struggle more? Now make him 6'7". Do his stats go up, or down?

He has the same eyes, hands, and power, but he has more strike zone to cover and more area for a pitcher to get him out.

Now make him 6'1", or 5'10". Same eyes, hands, and power, but a smaller area to defend. Is he better, or worse? He can be even more selective in what he swings at because his strike zone just got smaller. I would expect his walks to go up and his power numbers to increase.

When you scale people up and down without holding things constant - without all things being equal - you're increasing their ability to generate power from their height. The reason there aren't more small people playing baseball is in part because the ability of a larger player to generate more leverage, thus bat speed, thus power - and the increasing reliance of MLB clubs on the home run - means teams put a premium on larger players.

Greater power from greater height is an asset. But if they could put all that power into a smaller hitter, they'd be even better.

Kevin said...

Bill Veeck had a midget - excuse me, a vertically challenged person - play for the St. Louis Browns once as a publicity stunt, a guy who was 3'7" and was walked on 4 straight pitches. Imagine that strike zone.

Barry Bonds bulked up, dared pitchers to hit him, and crowded the plate to cut his effective strike zone in half. He got both the benefits of a larger player's body and a smaller player's strike zone.

mccullough said...

Votto is 6'2". He had more than twice as many walks as Altuve. Altuve is a very good contact hitter with some pop. He also leads the league in infield singles because he is fast and quick out of the box. That's why his average is almost .350. Not because he is short.

MountainMan said...

I've just recently gotten back into watching baseball, after 20 years of only intermittently watching on TV or attending a game in person. Watched most of the playoff games and now the first two games of the Series. I have been very pleased by the quality of play, these are two really good teams with some intriguing players. I have also been very pleased by the quality of the broadcasts, both by TBS and Fox. The first two Fox broadcasts of the Series have been superb and they have a great lineup of analysts - John Smoltz, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Keith Hernandez, and Frank Thomas. I have even tuned in for the pre-game show, which I rarely do, and also watch the post-game commentary, because it has been so entertaining. Best thing: It is all about baseball. No fluff, no politics, just good commentary about the game, what to look for, etc. I hope the Series goes to seven games.

Kevin said...

He also leads the league in infield singles because he is fast and quick out of the box.

And he is quick out of the box because...

mccullough said...

He's quick out of the box because he has more quick twitch muscle fibers. He's not as quick as Trout, who is 6'2"

mccullough said...

Smoltz is the best analyst of anyone in the 4 major sports

Kevin said...

Altuve is a very good contact hitter with some pop.

MLB is actually changing the way they want their players to hit. Rather than line drives, they are looking for a slight uppercut, which means more fly balls and more home runs.

They have decided there is no difference between a ground out and a fly out, but with a fly out you get the chance at a home run.

Shorter players can do this as effectively as larger players. It's probably why Altuve's HR's have gone up so dramatically.

Kevin said...

He's quick out of the box because he has more quick twitch muscle fibers. He's not as quick as Trout, who is 6'2"

Trout is an otherworldly athlete. Given the same number of quick twitch fibers, does the taller or shorter guy get out of the box faster?

Hint: an ant beats a horse if the race is short enough.

Kevin said...

It's amazing that Altuve is the best hitter in baseball this year given that his height does nothing but disadvantage him.

Isn't it?

My God, if he were 6'2" he'd bat .750!

Curious George said...

"Kevin said...
Curious, you're missing what I'm saying."

No, I get it. It's just crap. Your theory, and that's all it is because we can't make a person taller or shorter, goes against the reality that year after year after year, the best hitters are tall. As I have shown. And even though they are a minority of males overall.

"Kevin said...
Barry Bonds bulked up, dared pitchers to hit him, and crowded the plate to cut his effective strike zone in half. He got both the benefits of a larger player's body and a smaller player's strike zone."

This is also crap. If it was as simple as you say, everyone would be on the plate. The problem is being quick enough to to get the bat around to get to that inside pitch. Bonds used PED's to do it. So he could pull the ball inside, and pitches on the outside corner would be "down the middle." Anthony RIzzo on the Cubs sets up inside, and gets hit alot, but is also able to pull that inside pitch, or at least fight it off. Part of his success is choking up with two strikes.

Earnest Prole said...

Game 2 statistic (found somewhere at the link): 22.7% of all extra-inning homers in 115 years of World Series history were hit in this game.

mccullough said...

A line drive is a slight uppercut. Some players, including Altuve, have increased their attack angles slightly over the past few years. Altuve, like Trout, is about 11 degrees at contact. No one in MLB has a negative attack angle or even a 0 degree attack angle. Fastballs come down at 6.5 degrees and curves at 10 degrees. Hitting down on the ball, even hitting the bottom half of the ball, doesn't work at the MLB level. As Ted Williams pointed out almost 50 years ago, MLB hitters barrels are going up at contact. The question these days is which attack angle works best for the hitter. Chris Davis has a high attack angle because he can hit a lot of home runs (to go with his 200 a year strikeouts). That wouldn't work for Altuve.

Line drives come off the bat (launch angle) at 10-25 degrees. The batting average on those is over .600. Fly balls and grounders have an average of .220. If you're fast, then the ground ball percentage is higher. If you're strong, some of those fly balls will be homers.

The best hitters in MLB go for line drives. Which is why Trout and Altuve have attack angles around 11 degrees.

Birches said...

Agree with Mountain Man. The Fox guys are great, right up there with the NBA on TNT crew.

Yancey Ward said...

Sorry, there aren't good reasons to root for both teams if you are fan of neither one. It is literally evil to root for the Dodgers over the Astros. If it had been the Yankees vs The Cubs, the same would apply even though Chicago won it last year. That quote sounds like something a Dodger fan would write.

Bruce Gee said...

"Smoltz is the best analyst of anyone in the 4 major sports”

I agree. I am also impressed (and surprised; he seems like an ass) with ARod’s commentary before and after games. He somewhat overwhelms Papi and Big Frank, but says some great stuff. Like, “I’ve never seen a pitcher before where every single ball looks like a strike, and every single strike look like a ball.” Referring to the pitcher Keuchel.

mockturtle said...

While that makes sense, you'd think you'd see more short players in the majors then.

Well, there is fielding to consider. Of course, Altuve does that beautifully as well. My favorite player since Miguel Tejada.

Smotz is good but I get so sick of Buck's droning that I sometimes mute the commentary.

JaimeRoberto said...

There is no good reason to root for the Dodgers. Ever. Not even if they are playing the Yankees.

Sebastian said...

Yes, Smoltz is good. He made me think about baseball differently, by seeing the game accurately from the pitcher's perspective.

Jim Baird said...

I'm from Boston. If the devil organized his demons into a baseball team, I would root for them if they played the Yankees.