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Category Archives: The Sports Daily

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The best MLB player at each position in 2018

If you could put together a starting lineup full of baseball’s best players, who would be included?
The answer to that question will vary depending on who is asked, and there’s no right or wrong here. There are tons of terrific players in today’s game, and there are a countless number of permutations that could lead to a dominant squad.
Although fWAR is far from perfect, it’s the only stat that considers all of a player’s contributions while packing it neatly into one number. Who accumulated the most fWAR at their respective positions in 2018? To be considered for this list, players had to be qualified for the batting title, along with playing the majority of their games at the specific position in question.
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
2018 fWAR: 4.8
He didn’t want to be playing for Miami in 2018, but Realmuto did a good job of not letting those desires impact his actual performance. The 27-year-old set new single-season career highs in home runs (21), runs scored (74), RBI (74), walk rate (7.2%), OPS (.825), wRC+ (126), and fWAR (4.8).
Outside of wRC+, this is the third consecutive year in which his numbers in each of the other categories improved. Realmuto’s batted-ball profile underwent a change, too. Entering 2018, his ground-ball rate had never been lower than 47.0%, but it dropped all the way down to 39.8% this past year. His line-drive rate (22.8%) and fly-ball rate (37.4%) both increased as a result.
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An inside pitch on Doug White

Category : Angels , Featured , MLB , The Sports Daily

By Rob MacDonald, AngelsWin.com Contributor
We learned that Doug White, the Astros bullpen coach in 2018, will replace Charles Nagy as pitching coach on Brad Ausmus staff.   I had mixed emotions about the news.  I liked Nagy’s knack for rehabilitating pitchers that other teams gave up on and I really liked the fact that a visit to the mound wasn’t going to pour gas on the fire like in the Butcher era.  Besides the note from Jeff Fletcher that Doug White may be a surf bro’ of Ausmus, a possible reason given for his selection was to find a way to keep the staff healthy.
LA Times’ Maria Torres tweeted about White’s expertise in Z-Health.   Per bengreenfitness.com, Z-Health is a training method that strengthens the nervous system through efficient movement patterns which in turn maximizes the body’s efficiency.   My optimism on White’s selection was the fact that he was coming from the Astros organization.
For the past four years, I was an assistant coach at Catalina High School (Tucson, AZ), where my son played.   Our program made arm health a priority using a mix of the Driveline’s weighted baseball and Jaeger Sports J band and long toss programs to protect our players’ arms.
In 2017, Ben Fife joined the Catalina coaching staff and gave our program something invaluable, access to a major league resource from the Astros organization.  Catalina baseball benefited from the insights and approaches taken by the Astros and it was an education for all the coaches.   (For the record, Ben did not have time to ask permission and out of respect for that friendship, I am not including the name of his friend in the Astros organization.)
The Astros resource is someone well versed in their pitching philosophy.  Based on the tips shared with Ben over the past two years, I think I can provide some insights on what Doug White may bring to the Angels in 2019.    First there will likely be an increased focus on mechanics.  The Z-Health method will likely be used to help pitchers maintain control of their body throughout their delivery. I expect a renewed focus on core strength and flexibility in support of that goal.  Another clue this may happen comes from Brandon Sneed’s article “How Kate Upton Saved Justin Verlander’s Career.” Beside the relationship between Verlander and Upton, the article covers how Justin Verlander regained his flexibility to use his whole body correctly.  The adjustments he made reduced the strain on his shoulder allowing Verlander to regain his form – damn it.  We were advised to use short, twenty pitch bullpens that focus just on mechanics.   Points of emphasis we received were hand separation, alignment, and using full arm rotation in the delivery.   Separate bullpen sessions focused on pitch control and spin rate.   The Astros are big on maximizing spin rate to add movement to pitches.  Good movement on pitches reduces the need to go maximum effort on every pitch while still getting swings and misses.   Fewer max effort pitches will likely prolong the life span of the UCL.  Our use of the Driveline program was encouraged and Ben was told to track pitch movement and speed in the bullpens to ensure the program was effective.
The tips received from our source, helped Catalina to a 24-6 record.  We made a run in the state championship tournament losing to the eventual champion.  Most important, all of our players made it through the season without arm issues.  With any luck, Doug White will be able to keep the Angels staff healthy and all the noise about Mike Trout not being the playoffs will go away.

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Justin Verlander's domination in October shows no signs of stopping

Where would the Houston Astros be without Justin Verlander leading the pitching staff? They’d probably still be pretty good, but not nearly as good as they have been since acquiring him just over a year ago.
Houston took a 1-0 series lead Saturday night in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park with their ace taking the reigns like usual. It wasn’t your typical dominant start from the right-hander — he did walk four hitters and recorded two wild pitches — but he allowed just two runs on two hits and six strikeouts in six innings.
Thanks to his earlier days with the Detroit Tigers and now the last two Octobers with the Astros, Verlander has accumulated 24 appearances (23 starts) in postseason play, leading to 146.1 innings. That’s basically a season’s worth of work, and he’s taken advantage of all the opportunity by posting a 13-6 record with a 3.08 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 28.1% strikeout rate, and 7.8% walk rate.
That’s not too shabby on the surface, but it gets more impressive when realizing the historical significance.

[email protected] gets his 13th #postseason win.
That is the 2nd most EVER by an AL pitcher (Andy Pettitte, 19). pic.twitter.com/JJ6KHa83Zu
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) October 14, 2018

Is this mostly because he’s playing in an era with plenty of chances to register wins during the postseason? Well, yes, but this is also the seventh year of playoff baseball in his career.
Of those 13 career wins, though, six have come with Houston. While he’s only 2-1 in his last four postseason starts, Verlander has allowed just nine hits in 23.1 frames. This particular streak has him being mentioned in the same breath as Don Larsen, so that’s pretty cool.

The @astros' Justin Verlander has now allowed a total of 9 hits over his last 4 postseason starts. That ties the fewest hits ever allowed over a span of 4 postseason starts; the other to do it was Don Larsen from 1955-57 – a stretch that included his perfect game. #NeverSettle
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) October 14, 2018

As mentioned earlier, Saturday’s start was far from Verlander’s best work. He still found a way to limit base hits, which has been the theme of his playoff career.

The Astros win Game 1 of the #ALCS, 7-2, behind Justin Verlander’s strong start.
After tonight, Verlander has a .195 career opp BA in postseason play. That's the lowest in MLB postseason history by any pitcher with at least 10 postseason starts. pic.twitter.com/6XFKYAQCAF
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 14, 2018

It’s safe to say that Houston has gotten everything they were hoping from Verlander, and then some. Not only has he gone 21-9 with a 2.32 ERA and 0.87 WHIP through his first 248 regular-season innings, but he’s been as close to automatic as you can get when it counts the most.

About Matt Musico

Matt currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.
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