Happy Friday, Gabbers!
Busy one for me today...on the road for training at work so a couple quick hits. Besides, for someone who can accused of being emotionally distant, I sure dug deep the past two weeks for my Don Zimmer tribute and my Father’s Day and sports. Heck, I’m spent.
My (Twitter) buddy Steve Palazzolo at ProFootballFocus.com (OK, I doubt he knows who I am, but I enjoy his analytical articles) but he had a great piece this week examining where quarterbacks in the NFL throw the ball as far as distribution to receivers, backs, and tight ends (Link is here: https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2014/06/18/qbs-in-focus-pass-distribution/ - not sure if it is free content or subscription only).
Anyway, a couple of key points:
First while discussing throwing the ball to wide receivers:
“Tom Brady led the league with 473 passes to receivers detached from the formation”
“Ryan Tannehill with the highest percentage of his attempts in this area at 81.9%”.
Surprising considering how maligned the New England wide receivers were last season. That said, with tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiving running back Shane Vereen injured the ball had to go somewhere.
Also, is this an indication of how underrated Tannehill is leading the Dolphins attack or an indictment of Tannehill in recognition he throws short passes and has no help out of the backfield and at tight end?
When throwing to outside the numbers/sideline wide receivers:
“Tannehill led the way with 274 attempts to outside receivers.”
“Peyton Manning’s...29 touchdowns to outside receivers led the league.”
With age increasing and no Eric Decker in Denver, is Manning going to replicate those numbers? I doubt it, but Denver does need to save some money for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Remember, it was former head coach Josh McDaniels who wisely picked Thomas over Dez Bryant in the 2010 NFL Draft. Denver is still reaping the rewards of that decision.
When it came to throwing to slot receivers, Palazzolo wrote:
“Most would probably expect Brady to lead the way in attempts to the slot, but it was Drew Brees’ 214 attempts that paced the league while Sam Bradford and Andrew Luck led with 37.3% of their passes targeting the slot (includes all players lined up in slot).”
I think this is more about having limited production out of Danny Amendola and having to move wide receiver Julian Edelman all over the field to get favorable match-ups with such limited options after injuries wracked the squad in the second half of the season. Ditto for Andrew Luck in Indianapolis with Reggie Wayne injured and T.Y. Hilton moved all over the formation.
With throwing passes to running backs, obviously having Darren Sproles helped this and the Saints will have a hard time replacing Sproles this season:
“Brees leads this group as well with a league-high 197 attempts and 1243 yards on throws to running backs.”
“16 of Matthew Stafford’s league-leading 58 drops came from running backs.”
“Cam Newton benefitted from a league-high 11.3 YAC per completion on passes to running backs out of the backfield.”
“Tannehill threw to running backs out of the backfield on only 10.4% of his passes, the lowest percentage in the league.”
For Tannehill, the running backs were terrible runners and worse receivers, so he cannot be blamed there. For Stafford, Reggie Bush was supposed to be the remedy to the passing game, so seeing the backs averaging a drop per game is hideous. Cam Newton had better find his running backs in 2014 in the passing game, because he has no receivers to throw the ball to in the passing game.
Is there a more fun team to watch in 2014 than the Kansas City Royals? (OK, not for the gabbers with much love for the Detroit ballclub). Kansas City has streaked to first place on a winning streak and seem balanced and consistent on offense and in the rotation.
Kansas City took two games against the Yankees, two more against Terry Francona and the Indians, and then three more against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. For a team that was four games below .500 (26-30) on June 1, the Royals are are hot while the Tigers got cold. Detroit enjoyed a season-high seven-game lead on May 18, then dropped seven of eight to allow its American League Central challengers—the Royals included—to tread water or catch up.
A huge key to the Royals’ rise has been the apparent return of Eric Hosmer’s power. Hosmer slugged 17 homers in 159 games last year, pretty bad for a “power-hitting” first baseman. At the end of the day on June 6, Hosmer was hitting .260 BA/.300 OBP/.352 SLUGGING. Hosmer began to turn his season around on June 7, when he slugged a homer in an 8-4 win over the Yankees. He went deep again two days later and again on Sunday.
The Royals won the first two games of their four-game tilt with the Tigers by shelling Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. On Wednesday, left-hander Drew Smyly limited the visitors to two runs in seven innings of work. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Jeremy Guthrie outpitched him.
Kansas City gave its starter a quick 1-0 edge in the top of the first, when Eric Hosmer continued his hot hitting and picked up a one-out single, stole second, and scored on an infield hit from second base on an errant throw.
Smyly settled in after that, but Guthrie was in a groove. By the time the Tigers figured Guthrie out in the seventh, the Royals were up by two. The win was the Royals’ 10th in a row. That’s a sentence no one’s been able to type in two decades!
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When play began on Wednesday, the Dodgers—thanks to Red Sox Beer and Chicken washout Josh Beckett—were the only major-league team that could boast about a no-hitter this year. That’s still true. Only now they have two of them, after the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, ripped through the Rockies in L.A..
The left-hander was perfect through the first six innings, retiring all 18 batters he faced. Ten of those 18 went down via the strikeout. And Kershaw had accomplished all of that on less than 80 pitches. With the Dodgers ahead 8-0 Kershaw took the mound in the seventh poised to keep on rolling. Moments later, two ground balls to the left side of the infield would define the game’s place in baseball history.
Corey Dickerson led off the top of the seventh with a slow chopper to short, soft enough that Hanley Ramirez needed to hurry, but hard enough to give him ample time to make the play. Ramirez fielded the ball cleanly, but his off-balance throw bounced wide of first base, beyond the reach of Adrian Gonzalez. The game was no longer perfect, but the no-hitter remained intact.
Two batters later, Troy Tulowitzki put it in jeopardy. Tulo hit a rocket down the third-base line where rookie Miguel Rojas was up to the task. Rojas preserved the no-no, and Kershaw took it the rest of the way. He struck out the next three batters he faced and did the same to Dickerson with two away in the last of the ninth. His final strikeout out was Kershaw’s 15th of the evening—a new career high—and it came on his 107th pitch.
Per BaseballProspectus.com, the slider that ended the game striking out Dickerson was the 31st throw by Kershaw, the 27th that went for a strike, and the 12th at which the Rockies swung and missed. Yes, the curve is his best pitch and his fastball is nasty. When he has all three working, Kershaw is...well, unhittable!
Most important from that win is that the Dodgers, now just four games behind the scuffling Giants, may still have ample time to repeat as National League West champs.
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I will have “my” Father’s Day this weekend after a busy weekend last week that saw us visiting the parental units and my wife busy, busy with work. I figured I already had my Father’s Day with our trip to Pawtucket, RI for the PawSox on Sunday June 8th when we got to see Joey Votto on rehab, former Yankees starter Chien Ming Wang, and former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol for the Louisville Bats (Reds minor league team). Great game. Saw prospect Mookie Betts, ate a hot dog (reasonably priced), had a few beers, and four box seats behind first base cost less than $50. God bless minor league baseball!
Carlos Marmol, wild as ever!:
Mookie Betts, soon to be starting in centerfield in Boston:
Justin Henry, 2007 9th round pick by the Tigers now at Pawtucket. At 29 years old, the second baseman/outfielder/utility fielder is not likely to see the show, but these are the kind of players I root for the most: he is playing on pure love of the game at this point and a dream to one day make it--even for a cup of coffee--in the show. Not much power, some speed, versatility, and over 800 minor league games and counting without an MLB at bat...but I'm rooting hard for him. Good luck, Justin.
OK, that’s all I have this week so thanks as always for stopping by to read--yes, I still miss DVT over here too on Fridays -------> but glad for his update last month and hope he stops by again soon. Glad he’s doing well. Stormin’Norman and Sully have been killing it next door at 2.0 so be sure to swing over and visit them as well today.
Have a great weekend, all!