Pace of play? The Diamondbacks and Rockies hold the longest 9-inning game in National League history
You don’t hear about pace of play this season as much as you did when the new rules to speed up baseball games were instituted in 2015. But don’t be mistaken; it remains one of commissioner Rob Manfred’s top initiatives. And frankly, he’s fighting a losing battle right now.
Game times are up in 2016, surpassing the dreaded three-hour mark as of mid-May. The biggest culprit? There’s just more of stuff. More pitches, more walks, more strikeouts and more balls staying out of play. Those add up, and you had the perfect storm Friday night when the Rockies hosted the Diamondbacks.
It took 4 fours and 30 minutes for the D’Backs to pull off the 10-9 comeback victory. The game time bested a 15-year National League record for longest nine-inning game by 3 minutes. The previous record-holder was a Dodgers-Giants tilt from 2001.
This one had all the ingredients for a extraordinarily long game: 19 runs; 30 hits; 13 walks; 16 strikeouts (eh, that’s not too bad); six mid-inning pitching changes (serenity now!).
As pointed out by the Rockies’ SB Nation blog, Purple Row, the teams combined for 46 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That is pretty amazing to fathom but easy to understand when you see that there were 12 doubles (tied for the most in a game this year), six stolen bases, five errors, three wild pitches, two balks and all of those damn walks. There were actually 60 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, and imagine how much longer this game would have lasted if the teams had hit better than .196 in those RISP situations.
I never want to complain about game times; my life is always better at the ballpark. But it’s games like this one that make Manfred tear out what’s remaining of his hair. Moreover, there’s really nothing he can do to stop these types of games from occurring. For all of his rules and suggestions, he can’t force pitchers to throw strikes. He can’t stop fielders from booting balls. He can’t stop hitters from taking so many pitches. Like the fans, he just has to sit there and wait for the game to, at some point, end.
It’s not going to get better than this.
Trevor Story is on pace for 189 home runs this season. He is not going to hit 189 home runs this season. Nor is he going to score 189 runs, drive in 312, compile a .333 average or OPS 1.468. In that way, all fantasy owners who decide to trade Story following his historic first week in the bigs would be selling high.
But should they sell high? Because of that first week, Story is a safe bet to surpass 25 home runs. No shortstop has done that since Story’s idol, Troy Tulowitzki, knocked out 30 in 2011. Playing half of his games in Colorado’s thin air will help that cause. He should be a decent source of runs and continue to see pitches to hit as long as he is batting in front of Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado. Story even has the legs to steal double-digit bases.
The clear negatives are that Story will swing and miss a lot, and he probably won’t finish with a batting average above .275. But hey, a lot of valuable players pile up the Ks and don’t have a sparkling average. It’s the price you pay for Story’s all-or-nothing approach (he has just two hits that aren’t home runs), and shortstops with his ability with the stick and on the basepaths aren’t in plentiful supply.
But just take a look at whom Story is fetching in recent trades in Yahoo fantasy leagues.
On April 8, the day of Story’s multi-homer game versus San Diego, he was dealt straight up for the likes of Kris Bryant and Matt Harvey. The following day, Story was in one-for-one deals with Tulowitzki twice and Bryant. He was traded for Marcus Stroman, Jose Fernandez and Adam Jones each on April 10. Today, he’s been swapped straight up for Carlos Correa, Justin Upton and Felix Hernandez, to name a few.
In some notable two-for-one trades, Story was packaged with Roberto Osuna for each Miguel Cabrera and Nolan Arenado. Story and Justin Turner brought back Prince Fielder in one league. Story and Mark Trumbo brought back Nelson Cruz in another. He was traded along with Yoan Moncada (must have been a dynasty league) for Dallas Keuchel. Or how about Story and Billy Hamilton for Chris Sale?
As much as buy low, sell high is stressed, people often d0 the opposite because they are prone to panic. Over the past few days of tracking Story’s trade market, Tulowitzki and Bryant appeared to be the hitters most commonly involved in trades with the rookie. That’s not a shock since Tulowitzki and Bryant have combined for a .176 average and one home run. People are bailing on players they drafted in the first few rounds just a couple of weeks ago for a fresh rookie riding an unsustainable hot streak. They are panicking.
Should you sell high on Trevor Story? A definitive answer is difficult — barring a complete cratering, he’s got a good shot of finishing as a top-5 or top-6 shortstop — but you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least try. Explore what’s possible, especially while all of your league’s owners are engaged. That won’t always be the case.
Like they say in fantasy, if you’re not trading, you’re not trying. Seeing the return in some of these deals, Story’s owners should bring forth a high asking price and see if they can take advantage of an owner who’s nervous because his early-round stud is slow out of the gate. You might get your wish. And yes, I’d take either Kris Bryant or Troy Tulowitzki for Story.
But why stop there? Story was traded along with Craig Kimbrel for Giancarlo Stanton. He was traded with Dellin Betances for Josh Donaldson. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The 2016 MLB season is eight days old, and take a gander at just some of the crazy things that have happened so far:
— The player of the week was Trevor Story, a rookie barely included inside Baseball America’s or Baseball Prospectus’ preseason top 10 rankings of Rockies prospects who leads the world in home runs. I’m not sure which is the greater: the number of rookie, team, league and start-of-season records Story set this past week or the number of “Story” puns used by headline writers across the nation.
— Two games ended due to a violation by a runner coming into second base. One incident had everything to do with the new “Chase Utley rule.” One incident had nothing to do with Chase Utley and everything to do with a previously unenforced rule.
— Those replay reviews led to some understandably upset ballplayers and managers. But it seemed like an inordinate number of people were feeling crusty during the opening week. John Gibbons, in response to the Blue Jays’ loss following Jose Bautista’s interference, suggested that his team would wear dresses for their next game. Mariners manager Scott Servais and Rangers manager Jeff Banister exchanged some heated words. Thom Brennaman didn’t hide his disdain for Odubel Herrera’s home plate routine. If people are this ornery in April, what are we going to have when the summer heat starts aggravating everyone?
— The Dodgers didn’t allow a run in their season-opening series against the Padres. In a related story, the Padres didn’t score a run in their season-opening series against the Dodgers. It was the first three-game shutout series to begin a season since 1963. The Dodgers then allowed 12 runs in their next game, and the Padres scored 29 run in their next two games.
— It was a big week for pitchers hitting homers, because chicks dig the long ball. Madison Bumgarner homered off of Clayton Kershaw for the second time in his career. Kenta Maeda sent one deep in his first MLB game. And none of Trevor Story’s seven home runs traveled as far as this 440-foot shot from Jake Arrieta.
— More fun with pitchers batting: Francisco Liriano picked up the season’s first RBI.
Hey, don’t be so quick to bash that 75-pitch limit that the Rockies have placed on their starters. Today, it worked! And it helped complete a four-game sweep of the Mets. Only, of course, the Mets.
Somehow, someway, the Rockies shut out the Mets at Citi Field this afternoon, 1-0.
Yes, the Rockies scored one run. And won. Miracles do happen. Tyler Chatwood, Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, Will Harris and Matt Belisle split the duty and kept the Mets scoreless. It helped that New York left 12 runners on base and had another man thrown out trying to steal, but don’t let the details get in front of a good story. ROCKIES PITCHERS DOMINATED, OVERPOWERING ALL WHO OPPOSED THEM WITH THE FURY OF A RUSHING AVALANCHE.
It was the Rockies’ first 1-0 win since 2010 in Arizona. The Mets hadn’t been shut out at home since 2008 against the Nationals.
Barring an all-but-impossible hot streak over these final six weeks, the Rockies will finish the year with a team ERA of more than 5.00. Today’s sterling performance brought it down from 5.31 to 5.27. The 2009 Orioles were the last team to record a 1-0 win during a season in which they had the league’s worst ERA. That game came on June 1 in Seattle, and the O’s finished up that season with a 5.15 ERA — the Rockies will be fortunate to even reach that mark.
Finally, what terrible luck for Collin McHugh. He makes his MLB debut for the Mets, pitches really well — seven innings, zero runs, nine Ks — and it just so happens to come on one of the finest days Colorado pitching has experienced in more than two years. According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Sports and Info), McHugh is the first pitcher since 1900 to throw at least seven innings with at least nine strikeouts and no runs in his major league debut and not get the win.
Get’em next time, kid.
I still disagree that this moon shot from Adam Dunn on Monday traveled only 460 feet. If those pesky facades hadn’t been in the way, that’s 480 or more, easy.
In any event, that doesn’t matter now, because Friday night brought us the longest home run of the year, and there’s no debating it.
I bet you can guess who hit it and in what park it occurred.
That’s right, Giancarlo Stanton in Coors Field with the boomstick. He murdered a pitch from Josh Roenicke and sent it 494 feet into the night.
This shouldn’t come as much of a shock to anyone because besides being a baseball monster in general, Stanton really takes his frustrations out on Colorado. One year ago today, the formally known Mike Stanton did this to an Aaron Cook spinner.
Then this happened two days before that to Kevin Millwood, who was not all that pleased.
Giancarlo Stanton becomes a serial killer in Denver.
That’s four Stanton home runs that each traveled more than 450 feet over his last five games in Colorado.
Obviously, the flight of the ball leaves you in awe, but I especially adore the sound coming off his bat. My rule of thumb: You know a ball is hit well when contact with the bat sounds like a bite into a really fresh, crisp apple. And Stanton’s contact sounds mighty crisp.
Tonight’s 494-foot shot took the crown away from Cameron Maybin’s 485-foot home run in May as the longest of this season. Since I know you are sick of opening annoying MLB.com video clips, I’ll just tell you that Maybin got all of it.
Stanton’s latest homer is the longest in MLB since 2009 when the Reds’ Wladimir Balentien hit a 495-foot HR. It occurred on the final day of that regular season, and Balentien hasn’t played in the majors since.
I don’t think Stanton will have that problem. I’m pretty sure he’ll be in the Marlins’ lineup Saturday, ready to launch some helpless offering from Tyler Chatwood.
Aug. 18 UPDATE: And sure enough, Stanton freakin’ did it again! He came up with two on in the first inning against Chatwood and sent a 94-MPH fastball up past the bleachers and on to the concourse in straight-away left field. But official measurement yet, but I don’t think it tops 494. However, Giancarlo probably just hit his fifth 450-footer at Coors Field in the past 370 days.
Including today’s totals through two at-bats, Stanton is 8-for-20 in his career at Coors with a home run in each of his first six games there. Just spectacular. Stanton should request a trade from one last-place team to another right now. According to history, he would hit (let’s see … carry the one) … 162 home runs per season.
Aug. 18 UPDATE #2: It’s official now: This latest homer was measured at 465 feet. Here’s the video. Holy Jebus.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Stanton is the first major leaguer to homer in each of his first six games at any ballpark.