Watching Chris Sale cruise along to his second consecutive complete game on Thursday night, I kept thinking of the FanGraphs post Tony Blengino wrote about his new approach. Mainly, this part:
So is this version of Chris Sale an improved one? I would say no. With a very low liner rate, he’s basically the same guy he was last year. As that liner rate regresses upward, his "tru" ERA will likely rise into the upper twos, unless he can push his K rate upward, back into familiar territory.
It's easy to smirk at the idea that Sale, who has won all nine of his starts -- and completed three of them -- with a 1.58 ERA hasn't improved. That's also a little disingenuous, since it's attempting to answer what Sale might do after he's 8-0 or 9-0.
The biggest problem with the analysis is Sale, because he's not cooperating with Blengino's exercise. The basis of the post is, "What will happen to Chris Sale once he needs strikeouts?" And Sale keeps responding, "Why do I have to work any harder than I need to?" He entered Thursday with the fewest pitches per inning of his career, and he lowered that with just 107 pitches over his nine innings against Houston.
We know Sale had a stubborn streak. It used to manifest itself with Pissed Sale fastballs and visible/audible disagreements with his superiors. Now he's using it to foil at-a-distance component-stat analysis ...
... unless he isn't. After all, he's still allowing a run every so often, which means he technically has room for improvement. I'd be all for that.
In the March 9 edition of the Tribune, I suggested Eaton's ideal role on a contending Sox team was as a fourth outfielder if they traded for Reds slugger Jay Bruce. The words look sillier by the day given that it's hard to find three outfielders in the American League having better seasons than Eaton. In a story Wednesday titled, "Adam Eaton Has Been Baseball's Quietest Superstar,'' FanGraphs praised Eaton for having the eighth-highest WAR in baseball the past calendar year (6.3).
... but this reads like Eaton is the one who required growth (emphasis mine):
Look, I also once thought Rex Grossman was going to win a Super Bowl for the Bears and, after two straight Blackhawks first-round exits, publicly debated the merits of trading Duncan Keith. Sports commentators swing and miss too. Express your opinion for a living and it happens. By the end of a civil but spirited off-the-record discussion to clear the air, Eaton demonstrated a mature, professional understanding of the realities that come with playing in the Chicago market.
What made the original column so jarring is not that it was wrong, but wrongheaded. The flaws in his analysis were immediately apparent, and it also implied that Eaton was disingenuous about his willingness to move to right, giving it the disastrous combo of a faulty premise and a catty tone. Past being prelude, I'm inclined to think that last line is unnecessarily condescending ("He's grown up and accepted responsibility for ... something"), although it might be self-deprecating ("He now knows to disregard us")?
Among the outfielders potentially available on this summer's rental market, Josh Reddick was a fan favorite. He still might be, but after breaking his thumb on a slide into second on Thursday, the calculus surrounding his situation could change somewhat.
The initial estimate has him missing four to six weeks, which is significant enough to sink the A's chances if they can't absorb his absence, but short enough to embolden the A's if they remain in contention by the time he returns. Not to mention a hand injury could affect how they previous evaluated a guy who hit .322/.394/.466 before going to the DL.