Thursday, June 30, 2011

Two Disgusting Furries Bother Locals

NOTE: This is a week old, and recycled from my blog Myinternetdiary-secretdonotread, but I thought it would be appropriate over here, too. Cheers.

It's June in Pittsburgh, and that can only mean one thing.


And while the convention formally began today, the so-called "furries" are already into full-swing, bothering and disgusting local residents.

Take for instance this supposedly innocent "couple". Consisting of a "husband" penguin and a "wife" neon-green bird (her gender made clear by the thick, red lipstick on her "beak"), they have been spotted throughout Pittsburgh in the days leading up to the Anthrocon convention, pinching noses, twisting beaks, gyrating their pelvises, and placing the heads of children in their mouths.

I consider myself a tolerant person, but how much do we really need to tolerate as a society before we stop and say, "this is too much!" Consenting adults should be free to do as they like in private. But, when their bizarre sexual peccadilloes spill into our streets, our restaurants, and even our ballparks, I'm comfortable saying, "too much."

These furries may pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into our economy, but at what cost? Sure, they stay in our hotels, but is a weekend of no-vacancy worth defiled rooms, with "Mrs. Bird" defecating on a newspaper in the Westin? Is it worth "Mr. Penguin" and his open back-hatch wandering through the Marriott lobby? How does this reflect on our city? What does a legitimate traveling family think of Pittsburgh when a woman in a bird suit, as filthy as any street vagrant, places their child's head in it's foul, stained "beak"? I strongly doubt they will make another trip to our fair city.

Live and let live, I suppose. And I comfort myself in knowing this will all wrap-up by Sunday. But, in the meantime, I say, "No thank you, Mrs. Bird... I do NOT want a hot dog from your air-cannon."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ronny Cedeño: Frustratingly Acceptable

Within the past week, we've seen Ronny Cedeño bunt with the bases loaded and 1 out, get benched for it, then bunt again with runners at first and third with 1 out after supposedly learning his lesson. He bunted with runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs against the Reds April 17th. He's been caught stealing in 4 of 5 attempts this year. It seems like every time Ronny has an idea, it is so bad that it's not even within the realm of anything anyone could have possibly considered. His offensive numbers are also bad. He's hitting .238/.295/.333 and his OPS+ is a meager 78.

Despite his light bat and mental lapses, Ronny Cedeño, is helping the Pirates win because he has been one of the best defensive shortstops in the NL this year. Ronny's wins above replacement player (WAR) is 1.5, which puts him 5th best among NL shortstops behind José Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki, Alex González, and Stephen Drew. Not bad company, right? Broken down, his offensive WAR is 0.4 and his defensive WAR is 1.1. His dWAR ranks 2nd (tied with Tulowitzki) among NL shortstops and is tied for 4th among all NL players. His Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is 2.5, which is 3rd best among NL shortstops.

All of these acronyms and numbers are telling us something that's hard to notice with the naked eye: Ronny covers a lot of ground in the field at an important position, and his excellent defensive season is helping the Bucs prevent runs from scoring. The pitchers are getting a lot of (well deserved) credit this season, but the Pirate defense has played a large role in their success. The Pirate pitching staff is comprised of pitchers who require a good defense to succeed, and Ronny has been a key part of that defense.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A promise to our reader...

Dear GREG,

As you know, we on the Free Tank Carter editorial board are committed to outlandish promises and bets we usually can't win. Sometimes we're grossly incorrect about a thing, and that is when you, the subscriber win.

No. You're not getting a pro-rated refund, or even an apology for having to read this blog.

You are, however, invited to a happy hour, hosted by Nils, Matt and myself at a TBA location and at a TBD time. This, of course, is in honor of the Pirates being OVER the .500 mark, past mid June. To celebrate the occasion further, the three of us will be shaving 50.7% of our facial hairs.

Details to come. You may bring as many guests as you'd like.


Ff, on behalf of FTC

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fun With Run Expectancy Matricies Part 1: Stolen Bases

If you've read Moneyball, you already know that attempting to steal is usually is not worth the risk associated with being thrown out. Michael Lewis didn't go into a whole lot of detail regarding Billy Beane's analysis, so let's take a deeper look. Our key reference is the Run Expectancy Matrix. This bad boy is the result of countless hours of tedious, painstaking data collection. It looks at every game for the given time period and examines all different scenarios, then calculates the average number of runs scored. Every manager should have this information with him in the dugout, but I suspect many would rather trust their "gut" and their "instincts" rather than look at a bunch of numbers calculated by nerds who have never played in the big leagues.

Now that I've completed my obligatory (albeit truncated) rant about ignoring the data, let's move on to stolen bases. Let's look at a scenario:

Runner on 1st, no outs. Great! Your lead-off hitter just got on base. Referring to the matrix, a team with a runner on 1st and no outs averages 0.941 runs in that inning. (looking at the most recent years). Now let's say this player tries to steal second. We have two potential outcomes, and here's what they look like:

Successful steal - runner on 2nd, 0 outs. Run expectancy=1.170
Thrown out - bases empty, 1 out. Run expectancy = 0.291

Yes, I know that sometimes errors are made, and the runner could end up at 3rd, etc, but let's focus on these two outcomes. Base stealing is a risk, and the more likely you are to safely steal a base, the more it's worth attempting to steal.

How often should you be successful to make it worth attempting? Let's define p as the probability of a successful stolen base, and 1-p as the probability of being thrown out. Our run expectancy right now is 0.941, and we want that to go up. Therefore:

p*1.170 + (1-p)*0.291=0.941

This will tell us how successful we need to be to keep our run expectancy at 0.941. Solving for p yields p=0.739. Our success rate has to be greater than 74% to make it worthwhile.

We can do the same for a runner on 1st base with 1 out. Referring to the matrix and setting up the equation similarly we get:

p*0.721 + (1-p)*0.112=0.562

Here p=.740, and we have essentially the same result as the previous scenario.

What about a runner on 1st with 2 outs? This is where a lot of managers look to steal. They want to get that runner in scoring position and hope for a two out hit. Let's see:

p*0.348 + 0 = 0.245

p=0.704, so you need to be successful more than 70.4% of the time to make it worthwhile.

Here is a summary of some threshold success rates:

0 out 1 out 2 out
runner on 1st 73.9% 74.0% 70.4%
runner on 2nd 77.0% 69.4% 90.4%

Ok, great, we've determined the necessary success rates. Let's compare that to how teams actually perform. Here are the rates for teams in 2010:

Team Success Rate
Team Success Rate
PHI 0.837209
MIN 0.708333
OAK 0.804124
PIT 0.707317
BOS 0.8
COL 0.707143
TBR 0.785388
KCR 0.69697
SEA 0.78453
DET 0.69697
FLA 0.779661
BAL 0.690909
NYY 0.774436
ATL 0.684783
MIL 0.757009
CIN 0.683824
NYM 0.747126
CHW 0.683761
TOR 0.74359
ARI 0.677165
HOU 0.735294
LAA 0.666667
CLE 0.733871
STL 0.658333
WSN 0.728477
LAD 0.647887
LgAvg 0.722628
CHC 0.639535
TEX 0.719298
SFG 0.632184
SDP 0.712644

It looks like a few teams benefited from stealing bases, a number of teams didn't really gain or lose runs, and a bunch of teams should just stop. The teams with the highest success rates are some of the more analytical teams in the league. Billy Beane's Oakland A's are 2nd with an 80.4% success rate, and surprisingly, they had the 3rd most stolen base attempts in the league. But doesn't Beane hate stolen bases? Not so much. In a recent interview, he said, "We never had a problem with the stolen base; we always had a problem with the caught stealing. So as long as we avoid those, we're all fine with it."

Since most attempts occur when a runner is trying to steal 2nd base, I'd say your team success rate needs to be at least 75% to make stealing bases worth the risk. It should be closer to 80% to really be a weapon for your team. As you can see, only a few teams approach this level, and many teams are killing themselves by running into outs.

Of course, these are generalities, and each individual situation is different. For example, having a good base stealer combined with a bad catcher increases your chance of success. The key is knowing when to run, and knowing that getting caught is a big deal. It looks like only a few teams have figured this out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

J--L H-------N

is GOD.

Maybe he's not. Relief pitchers that aren't this guy, this guy (the guy in the foreground), or this guy, are almost always up-and-down projects, frauds, or very good players who die because they're human.

I called into Extra Innings tonight and spoke with the always knowledgeable and long-over-due-for-a-plug-on-this-blog, David Todd; he mentioned (and distanced himself from) the trade philosophy that "any relief arm is worth dealing for a starting bat." He went on to say that it'll be interesting how rich of an offer we'll be able to command for Hanny.

What I want answered is this (and it's unanswerable by anything but the future): how much longer can Joel Hanrahan throw a 96-99 mph fastball anywhere he wants, and compliment it with the best 12-6, 86 mph slider of all time? Please, understand exactly what I'm saying here: this guy has proven himself to be supernaturally good at throwing a baseball. Not supernaturally lucky. Good. ...But in a small-ish sample size.

I say we're coming up to the point where we don't deal a piece like him. If we trade him this July, we're looking at pulling the rug out from under Cutch, Neil, Charlie and some overperforming low-ceiling guys we desperately need to buy into this system. This isn't the same thing as upsetting 2009 Jack Wilson by trading Nyjer Morgan.

This would be trading a guy who isn't just "hot" but also stupidly great at using a baseball to make people look stupid for trying to use a bat.

Yes, Joel Hanrahan plays a position that is flukey, year to year. He is also the absolute best person on the planet at his job, as of right now. Should we trade away? or are you willing to leave creepy car comments in regards to this post?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Best players as of yesterday morning...

Pretty sure there's no change whatsoever in the junior circuit...

American League
C- Alex Avila (still?)
1B- Adrian Gonzalez
2B- Maicer Izturis
3B- Kevin Youkilis
SS- Asdrubal Cabrera
OF- Jose Bautista
OF- Matt Joyce
OF- Denard Span

And in the NL... a bit of a seachange...

National League
C- Ramon Hernandez
1B- Joey Votto
2B- Rickie Weeks
3B- Ryan Roberts (who?)
SS- Troy Tulowitzki
OF- Matt Kemp
OF- Andrew McCutchen
OF- Ryan Braun

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bill Simmons launches billsimmons [dot] billsimmons

Grantland is up and live today. It's about time, considering ESPN announced the project in late April and has been not so subtly promoting it ever since. Five weeks is an eternity on the Internet. The sports news cycle on the Internet has to last something like 26 minutes. If you're going to hype a project as a modern-day Algonquin Round Table of sports, and you have the hubris to dig up Grantland Rice's skeletal remains and run them across your masthead, you have to think a lot of planning and money went into this. And god dammit, it had better be good.

When launched Page 2 in 2001, Simmons was the young gun in a crowd of established writers. The original Page 2 roster included Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Wiley. Jason Whitlock contributed. The content was great. And so was Simmons. His was a totally fresh voice in a profession whose voices had, for the most part, gone stale. His mix of sports and pop culture was light and entertaining. His early pieces on Roger Clemens as the Antichrist and a revisiting of the death of Len Bias were well-executed and interesting.

But it was gimmicky, and gimmicky has a limited shelf-life. By 2006, his 6 trillion-word, jock-sniffing manifestos of Boston homerism simply weren't worth reading. Is there a less interesting issue to the national sports audience than comparing the merits of Larry Bird and David Ortiz? Oh, what about a two months' worth of columns in which you lay out your entire logical process for determining which English soccer team to follow in order to maximize the appearance that you're of the most diverse and refined sports taste? Hey, you know what people love? The exact same column. With the exact same jokes. Every. Single. Goddamn. Fucking. Year. Pile on cockamamie theories about how teams are actually better without their best players, ridiculous gambling axioms and amendments to insure you'll never be wrong about anything, and the need to continually remind us that some people are crazy, and just like that, you're the most popular thing on the Internet.

In 2007, FTC's contributor emeritus, Kill Your Face 5000, wrote in a letter to the ESPN ombudsman that Simmons, "has become another voice for the perpetual addiction to cross-promotion of ABC properties, cheerleading for big-market sports teams, over-the-top hype of multimedia-friendly superstar athletes and blithe micronization of issues surrounding sports culture that ESPN and its mindless drones have become icons of in the past decade. Page 2 was the last stalwart of quality writing and integrity that once were the hallmark of, and now it's just another deck chair on the sinking ship of artful sports journalism in Bristol."

This was undoubtedly the case. But in October of 2009, ESPN began airing the "30 for 30" series. A Simmons creation, "30 for 30" is a series of hour-long sports documentaries by notable filmmakers, each of which focuses on some oft-forgotten or untold sports story from the last three decades. At their very least, these films are interesting and informative. At their best, they're shockingly emotional, beautifully crafted stories that remind us of what sports journalism was and can be again. Hell, that's what the whole Page 2 exercise was initially about anyway.

A lot of people, the FTC brain trust included, despise what ESPN has become. Sing along. You know the words:
  • the constant cross-promoting of other Disney properties every ten seconds
  • having celebrities on SportsCenter and Monday Night Football to cross-promote their new Disney movies
  • talking about rookies as if they're hall-of-famers
  • anything that presents Colin Cowherd as if he has a shred of integrity or knowledge
  • keeping Rachel Nichols in a lean-to shelter on Brett Favre's farm
  • blurry-filtered pieces about Brett Favre featuring somber music and voice over narration that talks about him like he's Jesus H. Christ, only better
You get the idea.
Oh, what the hell, have a few more:
  • blurry-filtered pieces made to fill time and make me think that Athlete X is such a good guy for spending an afternoon with a critically sick child so ESPN can exploit it
  • "Cold Pizza" or "First Take" or "First & Ten" or whatever the hell you're calling "Skip Bayless vs. Black America" this week
  • Chris Berman inserting a nickname into every player's name on Every. Single. Reference.
  • Chris Berman dropping '70s references into every block of every broadcast, despite the fact that the '70s ended more than 30 years ago, and nobody who watches ESPN was cognizant of the outside world at the time
  • The blackballing of the NHL
  • Stuart Scott
I think Simmons gets this. His past feuds with ESPN over content and censorship of his work showed that he's a principled guy, not a total sellout. And he's hinted having a more than healthy disdain for this kind of corporate fuckery in the past. Even though he's still a boring, self-important name-dropper of a writer, I really think this guy's heart is in the right place. I'm going to give Grantland a chance. At the very least, it will give us something new to talk about.

Sometimes, people besides us are right

And that's why today, Bob Smizik gets a gold star.

Quite a day for the Pirates.

In descending order, they:

Rescinded the scholarship of Jose Ascanio, sending a message to players and fans alike that they are completely serious about winning.

I don't necessarily think this is what the Pirates had in mind when they made the move. I think it was more along the lines of, "Wow, does this guy ever suck? Let's try someone else." But, since The Smize seems to have discovered an entirely new side of the bed to wake up on, I'm going to give this one.

Yesterday, June 6, 2011, a date which will be undoubtedly seared into Pittsburgh's consciousness, the Pirates organization declared to itself and to the world that nearly two full decades of ineptitude was enough. The organization sent a clear message to players and fans alike that the losing over when it designated awful, seldom-used reliever Jose Ascanio for assignment.

"We think we've finally figured out what was wrong this whole time," Pirates GM Neal Huntington said. "Someone forgot to convert from metric back to English. The updated numbers suggest that with this one dude out of the picture, we may not lose again this season."

Upon filing the transaction's necessary paperwork with the league, Huntington immediately advanced to GO, collected $200, and acquired Boardwalk from the Dodgers in exchange for Ventnor and Baltic Avenues.

Sent shock waves through the MLB draft by selecting Josh Bell, a high school hitter of considerable talent who had told every team not to draft him because he was committed to going to college.

Anyone who says they're committed to playing college ball, yet retains Scott Boras as a personal adviser can't be terribly committed to anything. As an aside, allow this to serve as example #4,890 of why baseball is so messed up. A high school player can retain the services of the sport's most powerful player agent on a pro bono basis to gain earning leverage, yet compete in college as an amateur. This one's on the NCAA, though, and not Major League Baseball.

I'm also not sure it's accurate to say that drafting Bell sent shock waves through the draft. This kid was going to get drafted, simply because it makes more sense to secure his draft rights than not to. The surprising part is how high he went, given either how serious he is about going to college, or how serious he is about commanding upwards of $6.5 million in bonus money. A lot of teams would have waited until the later rounds to take a flyer on Bell. That the Pirates used their second-round pick to draft him suggests that they're probably serious about making an attempt at signing him. And even if they don't or are not able to, they'll receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in next year's draft, as was the case when they failed to sign Tanner Scheppers.

It's also worth noting that a component of the next collective bargaining agreement likely to change between now and next year could do away with suggested slotting for draft picks and institute mandatory slotting, meaning teams wouldn't be able to pay way over the league-suggested dollar figure for draft picks. The Pirates have taken outrageous advantage of this the last three years by giving huge bonuses to later-round picks like Robbie Grossman and Zach Von Rosenberg to lure them away from college commitments. If this is to be the last year teams can throw huge bonuses at draft picks, the Pirates could certainly go out with a bang.

Rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to win a game that seemed lost, 8-5, over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Big win for the program. Huge win. And you know what made it all possible, right? Jose Ascanio? Gone.

Tune in tonight, when the Paul Maholm-Zach Duke match up opens up a black hole that swallows the world.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Et tu, Dejan?

In a pair of tweets issued roughly 40 minutes ago, Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh's baseball writer of record since 2004, announced he is leaving the Post-Gazette to become a columnist at the Tribune-Reivew.

"Very proud to announce here that I have accepted an offer from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to be sports columnist. Spent 26 amazing years at Post-Gazette with tremendous people, journalists. Looking forward to the new challenge."

We at FTC wish Dejan well in his new endeavor, and sincerely hope that his new employer won't mandate him labeling Neal Huntington an Islamo-fascist on a weekly basis.

Fuck you, Clint

"We just played a weekend series here that's about as good as you ever want to get. We won two out of three, and we made them play all day to beat us the third game. We're growing up."
—Manager Clint Hurdle, on the Pirates taking the series from Philadelphia.

Nils, Matt and I were at that game on Sunday. If by "we made them play all day" Clint means, "we kept everyone at the ballpark for four hours by walking seven and hitting two," then he's spot on.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Let's revisit this idea again...

I wrote this post about fixing baseball about a year ago. Baseball still isn't fixed.

Real quickly, I'd like to summarize a point a made back then, largely in response to the latest Jeff Passan 10 Degrees column.

The rebirth of the draft within the last decade altered baseball, and so much for the better. After salaries exploded and payroll disparities spread during the 1990s, the chasm threatened to ruin lower-revenue markets.

How could they possibly compete with free-agency behemoths? Easy, we now know: The Rule 4 draft, held every June, this year a week from today. It is why five of the eight teams with the lowest payrolls this season sit above .500 right now, and why the other three – Kansas City, Pittsburgh and San Diego – could join them by next season. The smartest teams realized there is no greater (or cheaper) place to find talent than in the draft and Latin America. And those who treat amateurs as a priority will rebuild faster and with a foundation far more stable.

This is a fine column, but that opening idea is a total crock. The draft isn't some equalizer that is designed to give low-payroll teams a leg up. In fact, if anything, it's rigged against those small market losers.

Passan goes on to talk about the 2005 draft as being one of the best in history. It unquestionably was, as even Dave Littlefield could find a franchise player at the 11th pick. But here's the thing to note: Boston... WINNERS OF THE WORLD SERIES IN 2004 ... had five picks in the first round. FIVE. We had one, the (Devil) Rays had one, the Royals had one.

So far McCutchen has been worth slightly more than anyone the Red Sox picked up. But what would you rather have:

CF - 9.9 WAR


OF - 8.7 WAR
LHP - 8.3 WAR
SS - 4.2 WAR
+ two picks to mess up on.

I'll also remind you, that one of the junk picks they messed up on was Craig Hansen, a guy they packaged to us in exchange for Jason Bay. Upon letting Bay go to free agency, the Red Sox were comped yet another first round pick.

Whoever the Pirates do pick, he should help. And that, after all, was the point of the draft in the first place: lift up the afflicted.

Not even close, Jeff.

Friday, June 3, 2011

This guy has almost definitely played Assassin's Creed II

I'm not saying that Jose Bautista has been injecting stem cells into his eyelids, but...

Jose Bautista doesn't look like a one-year wonder, and the Pirates fans are grumbling.
Certainly, Bautista's post-Pittsburgh productions is jarring, but it doesn't make sense. Even if he's not juicing -- and I don't really care whether he is or not -- his current rate of production so far this season is not sustainable. His .344 BABIP is outrageously high right now, and that's going to have to regress, so you'll see that .360 batting average drop 80-90 points from where it is right now, maybe more. Even if starting his swing quicker -- supposedly the one big adjustment he made last year -- holds up, then he profiles as someone who is going to hit a wall within the next two years. Quite simply, nobody blooms this late, and your big, thumping power hitters -- even the ones who walk a respectable amount like Jim Thome, Travis Hafner and Adam Dunn -- can't get it done past their early-to-mid 30s.

What troubles me about this:
1) This guy has turned into the prospect that Dave Littlefield's guys -- back then it was Mickey White who was scouting director -- thought he could be, and why they went so far out of their way to get him back after losing him to the Rule 5 draft. Even when Huntington gave him away for a third-string catcher, there was nothing about his previous big league performance to indicate that he was going to pan out at all, and he'd have plenty of time to do so.

2) Since being traded, Bautista is actually walking MORE, and by no small margin. They say you can't teach plate discipline, and I believe that. It's instinctive, and whatever you can learn about it, you learn at a very young age. In his best year with the Bucs, Joey Bats walked in 11.1% of his plate appearances. In his first full year with Toronto, his walk rate went up to 14.9%. Three full percentage points, and he still hit a pedestrian 13 home runs. His career walk-rate before Toronto was an even 10%. Since becoming a Blue Jay, it's 14.9%.

Eric Seidman over at FanGraphs did a brief and interesting piece last month about where Bautista's transformation ranks among the all-time breakouts, and it's worth checking out. One thing I would take issue with from Seidman's piece:
Everything about his turnaround defies logic. This isn’t the case of an upper echelon prospect like Brandon Wood figuring something out. Bautista was always patient at the plate and played decent defense, but he was the epitome of a player whose value was linked directly to his team-controlled status. He was a stopgap solution, a non-tender candidate, not a stud in the making.
Certainly, he was patient at the plate, but who goes from a career 10% walk rate to a 15% rate at age 28? And this started before the power even developed.

What encourages me:
Whether he's on the stuff or not, nothing about his career with Pittsburgh makes any sense from a statistical standpoint when thrown up against what he's done in Toronto.

Pittsburgh (age 23-27): .241/.329/.403 = .733 OPS, 91 OPS+ (making him 4.5% worse than the league average bat)
Toronto (age 27-30): .266/.384/.568 = .952 OPS, 153 OPS+ (making him 26.5% better than the league average bat)

No discussion of absurd transformations in baseball is complete without a Brady Anderson comparison and his absurd 50 home runs out of the leadoff spot for the 1996 Orioles. But look at how Brady Anderson's number stack up against what Bautista is doing:

Brady Anderson, 89-95 (age 25-31): .261/.364/.443, .806 OPS
Brady Anderson, 96 (age 32): .297/.396/.637, 1.034 OPS
Brady Anderson, 97-2001 (age 33-37): .257/.372/.424, .796 OPS

Let's forget for a second that Brady Anderson never hit more than 24 home runs in any season before or after his 50-homer campaign of '96. His slugging numbers were always respectable because the dude hit so many doubles and triples. From age 25-37, Anderson averaged 30 doubles and 6 triples per 162 games played, and those numbers are pretty consistent over the course of his career.

Second, let's keep in mind how critically flawed slugging percentage is. In slugging, triples are weighted more than doubles, which is absurd. A triple is a double that either a) took a fortunate bounce off a wall, b) was misplayed by a fielder, but only to an extent that the official scorer didn't see sufficient evidence to award an error to the fielder because he never actually touched the ball, or c) one of the above types of doubles off the bat of a player who can flat-out fly. Having good power means you're going to hit a lot of doubles, but it doesn't mean you're going to hit a lot of triples. And if you've got the power to hit a lot of doubles -- balls that either find the gap or bounce off an outfield wall -- you're going to poke a few out of the yard. It just stands to reason. When you stack Anderson's 1996, long considered the definitive outlier season in Major League Baseball, against what Bautista has done since going to Toronto, it's not even close.

So yeah, it stings that this guy busted out in a big way after the Pirates dumped him. But with that said, the transformation he's made since being traded is borderline supernatural. I don't know if Bautista has anything to do with steroids, hormone therapy, stem cell injections, or if he was bitten by the radioactive corpse of Jimmie Foxx. But what it's important to note about this if you're a Pirates fan is that this is an outlier of the highest proportion. This doesn't happen, and there's certainly no way anyone could have predicted it.