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  • Lincoln Mitchell

Mid-Season Baseball Notes

by Lincoln Mitchell

July 1, 2023

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NOTE - This article comes from Lincoln Mitchell's Substack page, Kibitzing with Lincoln . Please click HERE to follow Lincoln on Substack.

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The 2023 season is now about halfway over. Here are some very subjectively chosen thoughts about what we have seen so far.


Like many curmudgeonly baseball fans of my generation, I pay less attention to the baseball season than I did decades ago. Instead, I focus much of my passion on the game’s history. However, the 2023 season is now halfway over, so I thought I would share some observations.


Shohei Ohtani and Elly De La Cruz are both extraordinarily exciting players. There are many things to criticize about MLB, but it seems like the game now has as many supremely talented and athletic players as any time in the past. Even in this context, Ohtani and De La Cruz stand out. Ohtani is the best two-way player since, well ever, as the Babe was more of a pitcher turned hitter than a true two way player. De La Cruz is young and extremely talented at so many aspects of the game. The combination of power, speed, arm strength and tangible excitement is something I have rarely seen in baseball.


Anthony Volpe is why the Yankees cannot have nice things. Full disclosure, I have followed Volpe’s career, and rooted for him, since he was in high school, and wish him the best. However, the Yankees don’t seem to know how to help him as he is struggling to hit at the big league level. Volpe could be the next great Yankees player, or he could be a useful big leaguer for five or ten years, but he still needs some coaching and to work on some aspects of his game. The Yankees seem unable or unwilling to provide that. It is not hard to imagine the team swapping him for a middle reliever a year from now and then by 2025 or so Volpe reemerging as a very solid player somewhere else.


Speaking of the Yankees, Domingo German’s perfect game was, like all perfect games, extraordinary, but I can’t help but compare the most recent Yankees perfect game with the first Yankees perfect game. Don Larsen did it in a hitter’s park against a team with five future Hall of Famers in the lineup. German did it in a cavernous ballpark against an anemic offense. Interestingly, German took a perfect game into the 6th inning earlier in the season, but was suspected of using too much sticky substance that day.


Living in New York, it is hard not to notice what a strange season this has been for both New York teams. The Mets feel like a Yankees team circa 2005, a lot of excellent players who are a little on the old side and constitute a whole that is much less valuable than the sum of its parts. The Yankees, for their part, particularly without a healthy Aaron Judge, are a group of role players in search of a core, but the Yankees management insists on believing the opposite.


The Rays are on their way to their fifth straight playoff appearance. It is never smart to underestimate the Rays because there is nothing in baseball less surprising than how the Rays are surprisingly good every year, but I did not expect them to be this good. However, in that division, the Orioles might be the better story. The O’s have a good shot at their first .500 season and first playoff appearance since 2016. Building a strong young nucleus is much tougher than it seems, but this core of Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Austin Hays could be around for a while. After being kicked around by the Yankees for years, the O’s have split the six games they have played with the Bronx Bombers and lead them by several games in the standings. The insult the Orioles have added to that injury is turning Aaron Hicks back into a very good ballplayer after his release from the Yankees

9 Comments


fuster
Jul 01, 2023

Aaron Hicks has always been a very talented baseball player who plays extremely well

in spurts.

I was favorably impressed by his talent back when he was competing with Aaron Judge to see which would become the Yankee's RFer.

if Hicks ends the year doing as well for Baltimore as he's thus far done, I will be pleasantly surprised

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Alan B.
Alan B.
Jul 01, 2023

The Yankees organization does everything based on analytics, including their coaching. For Volpe to have a friend/former minor league teammate to help him is crazy. For Schmidt to have struggled through his first 7 starts was ridiculous. Too many pitches on the same plane. Again, simple video would bare that out. Flirial mashes and sith all the injuries he still cant get a real chance! Willie Calhoun, Jake Bauers, & Billy McKinney have all gotten more of a chance than Florial ever has.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jul 01, 2023
Replying to

K/PA ratios at Scranton-Wilkes Barre 2023"

Bauers, 16/87, 18.4%

Calhoun, 3/22, 13.6%; at MLB, 20/149, 13.4%

McKinney, 32/160, 20.0%

Florial, 85/292, 29.1%; for 2022, 140/461, 30.1%


Florial is a strikeout machine. Heck, Nolan Ryan had a strikeout rate of only 25.3%! That's why Florial's not in Majors or even on the 40-man. You think that if anyone wanted him, the Yankees wouldn't have dealt him when they DFA'd him at the beginning of the season?

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yankeesblog
Jul 01, 2023

Yes German pitched his perfecto against a weak hitting team in a pitchers' park but consider that there have been many weak hitting teams and many pitchers parks yet there have been only 24 perfect games pitched in the last 143 years of major league baseball. Only 3 have been tossed in the Oakland Coliseum, and only 1 against the A's. So its still a pretty extraordinary event.

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yankeesblog
Jul 01, 2023
Replying to

Not so bad here. Try the comments on The Athletic following German's perfect game.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jul 01, 2023

Volpe since June 13 (14 games): .349/.440/.535/.975. Not exactly struggling these days. Now, if the complaint is that Austin Wells and chicken parm on June 12 fixed Volpe's swing and not the ML hitting coaches, that's a different issue. The Yankees may well need the Matt Blake of hitting coaches. But Volpe seems to have found himself and fixed a hole in his swing. The League will catch up to him again eventually, and then he'll to adjust back, like every Major League hitter does. Good thing there's a supply of poultry and cheese.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jul 01, 2023
Replying to

"He still doesn't know what a mound visit for a SP is."


To discuss wedding presents, obviously.

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