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Shokokon SwStr - History

Shokokon SwStr - History

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(SwStr: t. 709; 1. 181'; b. 32'; dph. 13'; dr. 8'61/2''
s. 10 k.; cpl. 112; a. 2 30-par. r., 4 24-pdrs.)

Shokokon-a wooden-hulled ferry built as Clifton in 1862 at Greenpoint, N.Y.—was purchased by the Navy at New York City on 3 April 1863; altered for naval service there by J. Simonson; and commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 18 May 1863, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Samuel Huse in command.

The double-ender was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and arrived at Newport News Va., on the morning of 24 May 1863. Shokokon was first stationed in the outer blockade off New Inlet N.C.; but, late in June, she was recalled to Hampton Roads and ordered up the York to the Pamunkey River to threaten Richmond in the hope of diverting Southern reinforcements, munitions, and supplies from General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia which had invaded the North and was endangering Washington. On 4 July, as battered Confederate troops retreated from Gettysburg, she ascended the Pamunkey from White House, Va., and destroyed an unidentified schooner which had run aground some five miles upstream.

A week later, Shokokon was switched to the James River where, on the 14th, the former ferryboat joined seven other Union fighting ships in capturing Confederate stronghold, Fort Powhatan. The force destroyed two magazines and 20 gun platforms.

On 10 August, after repairs a,t the Norfolk Navy Yard, Shokokon returned to blockade duty off Wilmington and was stationed off Smith's Island. On the 18th she assisted Niphon in destroying steamer, Hebe, which Niphon had chased aground while that blockade runner was attempting to slip through the Union cordon of warships with drugs and provisions badly needed by the South. Four days later, two boats from Shokokon destroyed schooner, Alexander Cooper, in New Topsail Inlet, N.C., and demolished extensive salt works in the vicinity.

Late in August 1863, the ship was damaged in a hurricane and sent north for repairs which lasted through the end of the year. She returned to Newport News on the morning of 16 January 1864 and, for the remainder of the war, was active in supporting Union ground forces in the rivers of Virginia and North CaroIina. On 9 March, she joined Morse and General Putnam in escorting an Army expedition up the York and Mattapony rivers; covered the debarkation of troops at Sheppard's Landing, and returned to Yorktown three days later.

On 5 May, she was one of the warships which swept the river to clear away Confederate torpedoes and then supported the crossing of the landings at Bermuda Hundred and City Point which established a Union bridgehead on the southern shore of the James. During the ensuing months, she continued to shuttle between the York and James rivers to assist ground operations in General Grant's ever tightening stranglehold on Richmond.

In the autumn, Shokokon returned to North Carolina waters and spent the remainder of the war supporting Army efforts in that theatre.

When peace finally was restored, the double-ender returned north and W&S decommissioned at the New York Navy Yard. She was sold at public auction at New York City on 25 October 1865 and redocumented as Lone Star on 15 December 1865. She served for more than two decades before being abandoned in 1886.

Couple Executes Elevation Project in Combating Flood

HENDERSON COUNTY, IL - In June 2008, residents in 21 counties suffered flood-related losses. While some homeowners began tearing down their homes, vowing never to rebuild in a local retirement community, Bill and Karen Opel will continue to enjoy the quiet life, free from the hustle and bustle of the big city, due to mitigation measures employed during the construction process of their home for retirement.

“My wife and I did everything in this house except lay the carpet,” said Bill Opel, a retired carpenter. “We have made it through several floods, following the mitigation measures, without any major flood-related damages.”

Before deciding to make the river town of Shokokon a permanent residence, Bill and Karen Opel had leased several properties in the area as vacation spots, starting in 1975.The town, a retirement community located on the Mississippi River, had a history of flood events. The couple had witnessed the devastation caused by flooding. Following one flooding event, they returned to find their trailer and its contents destroyed. So when the Opels decided to build their 1,064-square-foot, wood-frame home, they knew that it would have to be elevated.

“We were just coming down here on weekends to get away from the city and all the traffic. We lived in Peoria, Illinois,” said Bill Opel. “A guy brought me here [Shokokon] to go duck hunting. That one time—that’s all it took. Karen and I knew the town’s flood history, but we got to liking it so much down here until we decided to move here permanently. We also knew that we had to be prepared.”

The Opels began construction on their new home in April 1995 and moved into it in November of that same year. The home sits on 15, 12-foot steel pilings that are embedded 4 feet into the ground. Each piling has 5-foot lengths of rebar, held together with a wire basket tie, in the center.

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Cody Bellinger ා

Appeared in 56 games, which was tied for second most on team, hitting ten doubles and 12 home runs. his 12 homers ranked 18th in the National League. Finished second on the team in walks (30) and fourth in on base percentage (.333)…was tied for 13th in the NL in walks. Went 14-for-66 (.212) in the postseason with two triples and four home runs…his four playoff homers were second-most on the team. Hit a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 7 of the NLCS against the Braves to propel the Dodgers to their third World Series in his first four seasons. Finished the season with a .996 fielding percentage, making one error in 255 total chances. tied for second on the team in outfield assists, while leading the squad with a .97 1 defensive zone rating. was a finalist for the National Gold Glove in Center Field, finishing behind Trent Grisham for the award.

Saw a career-year hallmarked by MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and All-Star recognition after ranking among NL leaders in batting average (.305, 9th), OBP (.406, 3rd), slugging percentage (.629, 2nd), OPS (1.035, 3rd), total bases (351, 1st), home runs (47, 3rd), runs (121, 2nd), RBI (115, 7th), walks (95, 6th) and extra-base hits (84, 2nd) . His 47 home runs on the season rank as the third highest single-season total in franchise history, trailing just Shawn Green (49, 2001) and Adrian Beltre (48, 2004) . Collected his first Gold Glove (right field) after turning in a National League-leading .990 fielding percentage for right fielders…led the league in defensive runs saved (19) for all right fielders (T-2nd overall, 22) and tied for fourth in the NL with 10 outfield assists, while ranking among the NL outfield leaderboard in fielding percentage (.988, 11th), range runs (6.2, 5th), Ultimate Zone Rating (10.3, 2nd), Ultimate Zone Rating/150 (13.7, 2nd) and innings played (1082.0, 16th) . Participated in his second All-Star game…received the most votes in the Starters Election during the Primary Round and started the game in center field…garnered his first NL Player of the Month honor for April after compiling a .416/.505/.843/1.347 slashline with a league-leading 10 homers, 29 RBI and 25 runs, accompanied with six doubles, a triple and 18 walks against 13 strikeouts…became the 12th Dodger to garner MVP honors and joined Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe as the only Dodgers to earn both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors…is the only Dodger to collect MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger accolades in the same season…on Aug. 2, launched his 100th career home run…according to Baseball Reference, he is the fastest player in Dodger franchise history to reach 100 career homers, taking just 401 games to surpass Mike Piazza's 422-game mark…over the past 10 seasons only Joey Gallo (377G) and Giancarlo Stanton (400G) have reached the milestone quicker…drove in a trio of runs for the 10th time this season on Aug. 20 to reach a career-high 100 RBI…he is the first Dodger to reach the century mark since Adrian Gonzalez accomplished the feat in 2014 (116 RBI)… surpassed Gil Hodges' and Duke Snider's 25 round trippers to own the most home homers in Dodger history after launching his 26th home run on Sept. 18, finished the season with 27 homers at Dodger Stadium…hit his 28th and 29th home runs of the season on July 3 to surpass Gil Hodges and Duke Snider (28) for most homers prior to the All-Star break…became the 38th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 30-homer plateau prior to the All-Star break…he is the 19th player in the NL to reach the mark and the only Dodger to reach 30…had a career-night on March 30, going 4-for-6 with two homers and six RBI…it was his eighth career multi-homer game and it matched a career-high with six RBI (last: Sept. 15, 2018 at St. Louis)…wrapped the regular season with seven extra-base hits over the last 10 games at a .314/.385/.686 clip and reached base in 28 of his last 31 games, including a 16-game on-base streak from Aug. 24 to Sept. 10, where slashed .231/.403/.442 with a trio of doubles, a triple, two homers and six RBI…named NL Player of the Week on April 8 after hitting .417 (10-for-24) with 10 runs, two doubles, a triple, three home runs, 10 RBI and two walks over six games.

Appeared in 162 games, slashing .260/.343/.470 with 84 runs, 28 doubles, seven triples, 25 home runs, 76 RBI and 14 stolen bases . Led the team in games played, hits (145) and multi-hit games (41) in 2018 and became the first Dodger since Matt Kemp in 2010 to play in 162 or more games in a season and is tied for the fourth most games played in a season in Dodger history . Showed his defensive versatility, appearing at first base (110 games, 85 starts), center field (78 games, 50 starts), right field (five games) and left field (one game) . Was one of 10 Major Leaguers with at least 25 homers and 14 stolen bases in 2018 . His seven triples ranked second on the team and ninth in the National League . Hit home runs in four consecutive games from June 5-8 for the first time in his career . Recorded his first longball of the season on April 1 vs. Giants, which was the 40th of his career, a milestone he reached in just 136 games. According to STATS, LLC., that is the third fewest number of contests needed to hit 40 all-time, trailing Rudy York (129) and Mark McGwire (110) . Blasted two grand slams, June 22 at NYM off of Zack Wheeler and August 2 vs. MIL off of Jhoulys Chacin . Appeared in all 12 of the Dodgers' Postseason games and was awarded the 2018 NLCS MVP after driving in the game-winning runs in Games 4 and 7…his 13th inning walk-off single in Game 4 was his first career walk-off hit…also blasted a go-ahead two-run home run in the second inning of Game 7.

Named National League Rookie of the Year unanimously and selected as an All-Star in his first Major League season. became the Dodgers 18th Rookie of the Year and the 22nd player overall to win the award by unanimous vote. Finished ninth in the NL MVP voting, was also honored with the 2017 Players Choice Award for Outstanding NL Rookie and recognized by the Sporting News as the publications' NL Rookie of the Year. After having his contract selected from Triple-A OKC on April 25, he posted a .267/.352/.581 slashline with 87 runs, 26 doubles, four triples, 39 home runs, 97 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 132 games in his first big league season. ranked among the NL leaders in home runs (2nd), home runs per at-bat (12.31, 2nd), game-winning RBI (17, 4th), slugging percentage (5th), extra-base hits (69, 8th), OPS (10th) and RBI (T-13th). His 39 home runs in 2017 established a National League rookie home run record, surpassing previous record holders Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956), who each belted 38 homers. also recorded six multi-home run games, which according to Stats, LLC, were the most ever by a rookie in Dodger history and the third most all-time, trailing just Mark McGwire (1987) and AL Rookie of the Year winner Aaron Judge (2017), who each collected seven multi-homer contests. Including his record breaking home run season, also set Los Angeles (since 1958) single-season rookie records in slugging percentage (.581) and OPS (.933), while ranking among the all-time club rookie leaders in runs (4th), doubles (T-4th), RBI (2nd), batting average (10th) and on-base percentage (4th). Ranked among Major League rookies in runs (2nd), home runs (2nd), RBI (2nd), extra-base hits (2nd), on-base percentage (2nd), slugging percentage (2nd), OPS (2nd), doubles (T-3rd), walks (64, 4th), triples (T-5th), stolen bases (T-5th) and hits (128, T-7th). His 12 home runs off of a left-handed pitcher was the most in the Majors by a left-handed hitter and the most by left-handed Los Angeles Dodger hitter since 1974. posted a .27 1/.335/.568 slashline against southpaws with six doubles, two triples and 42 RBI. Hit .297 (43-for-145) with 18 homers and 39 RBI from the seventh inning and later, while hitting .299 (20-for-67) with six homers and 15 RBI in close and late situations. Selected to the National League All-Star team and became the first position player in Dodger history to make the team in his first season in the Majors. also became the youngest position player to be honored as an All-Star in franchise history at 21 years, 354 days old and the third-youngest Dodger All-Star overall (at the time of their selection), behind only Fernando Valenzuela (20 years, 281 days in 1981) and Ralph Branca (21 years, 183 days in 1947). participated in the HR Derby, becoming the eighth Dodger and third LA rookie to partake in the event. On July 15 at Miami, completed the third cycle in Los Angeles Dodger history (Wes Parker-1970, Orlando Hudson-2009) with a triple in the seventh inning. became just the ninth Dodger in franchise history to accomplish the feat and the first rookie to do so. according to Elias, became the first rookie to hit as many as 20 homers and also have a cycle in one season. Homered on June 20, his 10th in 10 games, becoming just the second Dodger ever to accomplish that feat (Shawn Green, 2002). became first MLB player to hit 10 in 10 games since Troy Tulowitzki in 2010. recorded the most homers as a Dodger in a season at 21 or younger, besting Adrián Beltré, who slugged 20 homers at 21 in 2000. Named NL Rookie of the Month for May and June. established a new Dodgers rookie record for RBI in the month of May (27), and tied Dick Cox for the third-most RBI by a rookie in any calendar month, following James Loney (32, September 2007) and Del Bissonette (29, June 1928). hit an MLB-best 13 homers in 28 June games, which tied for third most all-time by a rookie in a single month with Jimmie Hall, who hit 13 in Aug. 1963 with Minnesota. was also named NL Player of the Week for the week ending in May 7 and June 25. According to Elias Sports Bureau, became the first player in Major League history with back-to-back multi-homer games at 21 years old or younger on June 11-13 and became the only player to have four multi-homer games in his first 45 career regular-season games in the big leagues. Had his contract selected on April 25, 2017 and made his Major League debut that day as the starting left fielder at San Francisco. picked up his first career hit in his fourth plate appearance of that game with an infield single off of Neil Ramirez. Belted his first two career home runs on April 29, 2017 against the Phillies, slugging a solo shot off of Zach Eflin in the seventh inning for his first big league homer. became the first Dodger since Yasiel Puig (2 HR, June 4, 2013 vs. SD) to hit multiple home runs in the first game in which he ever hit a homer. Started all 15 Postseason games and hit .219 (14-for-64) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs and nine RBI. became the all-time Dodger rookie Postseason record holder in hits, extra-base hits (8), home runs, RBI, runs (10) and total bases (29). Posted a .343/.429/.627 slashline with four doubles, five homers and 15 RBI in 18 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City. prior to his promotion, he ranked among the PCL leaders in runs (15, T-4th), home runs (T-4th), RBI (T-8th), total bases (42, T-6th), stolen bases (7, T-2nd), on-base percentage (11th), slugging percentage (9th) and OPS (1.055, 7th) 2016. Combined to post a .27 1/.365/.507 slashline with 17 doubles, 26 home runs and 7 1 RBI in 117 games with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. Spent majority of the season with the Drillers, hitting .263 with 23 homers and 65 RBI in 114 games and was selected as Double-A All-Star by Baseball America after ranking among the Texas League leaders in home runs (T-3rd), walks (59, T-3rd) slugging percentage (.484, T-3rd), OPS (.843, 3rd), on-base percentage (.359, T-5th), RBI (T-9th), and extra-base hits (41, T-10th). Promoted to Oklahoma City on Sept. 3 and hit .545 (6-for-11) with three home runs and six RBI in three games and also appeared in nine postseason games for the OKC Dodgers, hitting .250 (9-for-36) with a homer and five RBI. Following the season, played in the Arizona Fall League for the Glendale Desert Dogs, earning a selection to the league's All-Star Prospect Team and starting at first base in the league's Rising Stars Game.

Combined to post a .27 1/.365/.507 slashline with 17 doubles, 26 home runs and 7 1 RBI in 117 games with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. Spent majority of the season with the Drillers, hitting .263 with 23 homers and 65 RBI in 114 games and was selected as Double-A All-Star by Baseball America after ranking among the Texas League leaders in home runs (T-3rd), walks (59, T-3rd) slugging percentage (.484, T-3rd), OPS (.843, 3rd), on-base percentage (.359, T-5th), RBI (T-9th), and extra-base hits (41, T-10th). Promoted to Oklahoma City on Sept. 3 and hit .545 (6-for-11) with three home runs and six RBI in three games and also appeared in nine postseason games for the OKC Dodgers, hitting .250 (9-for-36) with a homer and five RBI . Following the season, played in the Arizona Fall League for the Glendale Desert Dogs, earning a selection to the league's All-Star Prospect Team and starting at first base in the league's Rising Stars Game.

Spent the entire campaign with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and led the Single-A California League with 103 RBI and 97 runs scored, while placing second with 30 homers and batting .264 in 128 games. Selected as a mid- and post-season California League All-Star. Also tied for seventh with 33 doubles and ranked third with 257 total bases. Was honored as the MVP of the California League championship series, batting .324 with three homers and seven RBI in eight postseason games to lead the Quakes to a league title.

Combined to hit .312 with 14 doubles, six triples, three home runs and 34 RBI along with a .352 on-base percentage and .474 slugging percentage with Rookie-level AZL Dodgers and Rookie-level Ogden.

Made his professional debut with Rookie-level AZL Dodgers and batted .210 with a homer and 30 RBI in 47 games.

Asher Wojciechowski created a terrific breaking ball

The Baltimore Orioles are a very bad baseball team. With a few years of non-productive moves and lack of development in their farm system from a questionable front office, a historically bad product had been put on the field, which has been reflected through the win-loss record of the Orioles the past two seasons.

It was clearly time for a change. With the hiring of two pieces that played pivotal roles in building the Astros organization up from comparably bad standards in Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal, it looked like they had hired the right people to do the same for them.

With two of the smartest people in baseball inheriting a cesspool of a major league team, expecting immediate improvement would be unfair. The record was going to bad no matter what. Looking at individual improvement would be key, but looking for breakouts would be key. As it happened many times with the Astros with names like Dallas Keuchel , Colin McHugh, and Marwin Gonzalez turning from fringe major leaguers to valuable assets, the same happening with Orioles wouldn’t come as a surprise.

There have been individual improvements with the Orioles this season. Pedro Severino has turned into a serviceable catcher. Chance Sisco looks good at the plate. Trey Mancini and Renato Nunez look better. But perhaps the biggest surprise has come from journeyman pitcher Asher Wojciechowski . It may be too early to tell and this very well may be premature, but there have been clear strides in his production since entering the Orioles organization.

Looking at a four start sample size could be rather dangerous, but comparing Wojciechowski to the rest of the field might be the best way to gauge how good he’s been. Among 194 pitchers that have thrown at least 20 innings this season, only Mike Clevinger , Gerrit Cole , Chris Sale , Max Scherzer , Blake Snell , Matthew Boyd , and Justin Verlander have a higher strikeout percentage.

Only Snell and Scherzer have a higher swinging-strike percentage. Wojciechowski leads the way in outside-swing percentage at 40.5 percent, while having a large lead on second place Verlander (38.1 percent).

When the Orioles acquired Wojciechowski in a minor trade for the Indians, it looked rather small, a depth move at the most. He’d been pitching serviceably, not great, all year with the Indians Triple-A affiliate as a starter and it looked like he’d already received his fair-share of subpar major league innings. At 30 years old, the intrigue was little. But the Orioles needed someone to log innings in their rotation and he fit the bill.

Considering what Wojciechowski did in Triple-A (3.61 ERA, 5.82 FIP) and what he had done in previous major league innings (career 6.02 ERA, 4.72 FIP), expecting any positive production looked like it would be ill-advised. Yet somehow, looking at his four major league starts and 15 Triple-A starts, he’s had his most impressive games at the higher level. Looking at his four highest swinging-strike percentages in a start, three of them have been with the Orioles in the majors.

Asher Wojciechowski SwStr% by start

Date Level Team SwStr%
Date Level Team SwStr%
2019-07-07 MLB-AL Baltimore Orioles 22.5%
2019-07-21 MLB-AL Baltimore Orioles 21.9%
2019-05-25 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 17.6%
2019-07-16 MLB-AL Baltimore Orioles 14.7%
2019-04-20 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 14.4%
2019-06-15 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 12.5%
2019-05-19 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 10.9%
2019-05-02 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 10.8%
2019-04-25 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 10.6%
2019-06-09 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 10.6%
2019-05-30 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 10.4%
2019-06-26 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 10.3%
2019-05-14 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 9.6%
2019-04-14 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 9.4%
2019-06-21 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 8.9%
2019-04-08 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 8.8%
2019-07-02 MLB-AL Baltimore Orioles 8.3%
2019-06-04 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 7.6%
2019-05-08 AAA-IL Columbus Clippers 4.1%
AAA with the Indians, MLB with the Orioles Baseball-Reference

Contrary to logical thinking, Wojciechowski’s strikeout percentage has actually increased going from Triple-A to the majors. Though one could look at it as his strikeout percentage increasing once he changed organizations also.

Looking at what changed with Wojciechowski since his last major league stint, a change in pitch distribution is the first thing that catches the eye, but there is some disagreement as into what he’s actually doing. Baseball Savant says he’s throwing his slider and a new curveball more. Brooks Baseball thinks he’s started to throw a cutter. Pitch Info thinks he’s abandoned his changeup for a cutter.

Through examining velocity and movement data, it looks like there’s a three-way classification mix up between his slider, cutter, and curveball. His slider is getting confused with his cutter and curveball. This signals a clear change, it’s just harder to compare what he’s currently doing to what he did in the past.

The pitch that’s driving is his low-eighties slider/curveball (depending on who you ask). This slurvy breaking ball has been the driving force behind his strikeouts. Baseball Savant, who has it pinned as a curveball, has the pitch with a staggering 50 percent strikeout-rate and a .175 xwOBA against.

This pitch moves like crazy. It’s in the top five percent of the league in vertical rise and the top 15 percent in horizontal break. Using this high-movement pitch late in counts is what’s holding the strikeout surge.

Time will tell if Wojciechowski will develop into anything noteworthy, but again, this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a journeyman pitcher come out of nowhere and turn into an asset. With the new Orioles front office, it was just a matter of time before we saw it happen with them. Wojciecould be the first.

Patrick Brennan loves to research pitchers and minor leaguers with data. You can find additional work of his at Royals Review and Royals Farm Report. You can also find him on Twitter @paintingcorner.

Justus Sheffield Is Leaning Into It

[Editor’s note: please welcome Michael “Mikey” Ajeto to the site! We are hoping very much that there will be baseball for him to talk about, because he’s pretty, pretty good at it. Shoot him a follow on Twitter (@mikeyajetoPL) and make sure to look out for the podcast episode introducing him later this week!]

It wasn’t all that long ago that Justus Sheffield was a highly touted prospect. After the 2018 season, Baseball America ranked Sheffield as the 27th prospect in baseball, and he was, of course, the headliner in the James Paxton trade. Since the trade, I’ve become increasingly pessimistic that Sheffield will end up being a good starter. And for good reason! He struggled in Triple-A, got shuttled down to Double-A, and then put up shaky numbers during his major league cup of coffee. More recently, though, I’ve been coming around on Sheffield.

For the most part, I’ve been down on Sheffield for the past year because he has a bad fastball. He has some other flaws — he has historically had issues commanding it — and then the pitch itself isn’t good. That’s the main thing. We’re limited to a 321 pitch sample in the major leagues in 2019, but his fastball returned an anemic 4.4% swinging-strike percentage. Given his average 92.8 mph velocity and 1835 rpm spin rate, there’s no reason to think that it should be better, either.

A chart from Jeff Zimmerman, detailing swinging-strike percentage based on fastball spin and velocity:

Real cool from @jeffwzimmerman: SwStr% on FB, spin v velo. For Ks, high everything is good.

— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) September 12, 2016

There’s a lot of information to take in here, but using Sheffield’s fastball spin rate and velocity, the chart shows that fastballs like Sheffield’s put up a 4.1% swinging-strike percentage. That’s because, despite workable fastball velocity, Sheffield’s fastball ranks in the 0th(!) percentile in spin rate, and in the fifth percentile in active spin rate (64.1%). That means that not only does his fastball not spin well, but also, just 64.1% percentage of his fastball spin contributes to movement. The result is a bowling ball fastball with sink it acts more like a sinker than a four-seam fastball.

I should note that it’s not all bad. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Sheffield is his ground ball percentage (52.3%), which is the 11th highest number in the league of starting pitchers with 30 or more innings. That’s not an accident. That’s because of his fastball, as well as his ground ball-inducing changeup. So on one hand, his pitches allow him the ability to keep the ball on the ground. But on the other hand, the very nature of sinking fastballs is that they are put into play more often. That means two things: (a) fewer strikeouts, and (b) reliance on factors outside of one’s control (e.g., fielding, park, weather).

So what did Sheffield do? He made the most pragmatic tweak he could have. He’s leaning into it.

Justus Sheffield debuted a two-seam sinking fastball that he starting throwing in bullpens leading up to this outing. He was pleased with the easy, natural sink to the pitch. It's something he plans to keep using to compliment the four-seam fastball.

— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 8, 2020

Theoretically, Sheffield could have tried to work on the spin efficiency of his fastball, but the gap is just too wide to close. Instead, he shifted his fastball axis even further with a new grip, and so we should see more sink and run on his fastball once we have access to his numbers.

Here he is last Sunday, throwing an 0-0 sinker to Yolmer Sanchez:

Taken for a strike, Sheffield comes back with another sinker:

In an 0-2 count, that sets up Sheffield to go for the kill. He judiciously moves away from his sinker and comes back with a secondary offering:

Sanchez is by no means a world beater. In fact, he’s a pretty poor hitter. But he’s ever so slightly above-average by strikeout percentage, swinging-strike percentage, and contact percentage, so this isn’t nothing either. In any case, Sheffield dispatches Sanchez in just three pitches, and it was the sinker that set it all up.

Again, it’s important to note the subtle changes in approach. Throughout the game, Murphy consistently sets up on his sinker down in the zone on Sheffield’s glove-side, while occasionally setting up to his arm-side. This isn’t necessarily a huge departure from what Sheffield did last year, but in general, Sheffield’s four-seamers in 2019 generally ended up around in the middle of the zone. On Sunday, he peppered the bottom corners of the zone throughout his outing with sinkers, which is precisely what we want to see him do, and what he should have been doing all along. Perhaps this all has to do with feel for his new sinker.

If you ask me, this is a good change. Right now, Sheffield is in fastball purgatory, in that his fastball sinks more than a typical four-seamer, but doesn’t get the arm-side movement or sink of a sinker. Really, there’s no reason not to do this if his fastball isn’t going to garner more whiffs. He didn’t strike anyone out with his sinker (although he did so with both his changeup and slider) but he did use it to set everything else up.

It comes with an added bonus, too. Sheffield throws his changeup with a two-seam grip, and so it stands to reason that his changeup would benefit from a stronger pitch tunnel with his sinker. He’s been in search of a changeup for about five or six years — he’s said so much himself — and it seems like he’s found one. He really leaned on it in his last few games in 2019. Given that it’s a pitch with a lot of drop, I think switching out the fastball for a sinker will prove to be symbiotic for both his sinker and changeup, and if Sunday was any indication, it sounds like his new sinker will be his main offering. That’s great news, especially considering that he plans to keep the four-seam around to throw at the top of the zone.

Here’s where he’s generally thrown his fastball over his career:

Lots of plate! Too much plate!

Here’s how his fastball has induced whiffs over his career:

It’s not amazing, and the sample is small, but it’s clear that if his fastball is going to play anywhere, it’ll be at the top of the zone rather than the bottom, even despite its lousy spin rate. With that in mind, Sheffield has transformed his approach. Instead of middle-middle fastballs, we should see him use sinkers at the bottom of the zone, four-seamers up in the zone, and then use his changeup and slider to draw whiffs. Before, he had three kinds of offerings, but now he has a collection of four pitches that he’s going to use to do different things, in different areas of the zone.

Now that Sheffield has a sinker, I think Patrick Corbin vaguely resembles the formula that Sheffield should be after. The bulk of what we’re looking at is Corbin has one of the best sliders in baseball, and he throws it a lot. In terms of starters, Sheffield ranks eighth in the league in slider swinging-strike percentage, and he throws it as much as Corbin. And now, he’s got a sinker and four-seamer, just like Corbin.

We can compare them by repertoire:

Sheffield vs. Corbin, pitch mix

47.80% --- 35.70% 16.30% ---
19.40% 34.30% 37.10% 5.70% 3.50%
(Sheffield, top. Corbin, bottom.) Source: Baseball Savant

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a comp, per se, as there are enough dissimilarities that it’s not super clean. But Sheffield is a unique pitcher. What I’m mostly after here is Corbin’s repertoire, as I think Corbin serves as a precedent for what’s to come for Sheffield. Whenever Sheffield finally pitches in the regular season, I think there’s a strong possibility that Sheffield’s repertoire looks more like Corbin’s in 2019 than his own in 2019, just with more changeups and no curveballs. It’s a shame that Bundy hasn’t implemented his changes yet (i.e., switch out the four-seamer for a sinker and throw more secondaries), because I think he is perhaps the strongest comp for Sheffield. That might sound bad — he’s been pretty mediocre these past four years — but I’m quite fond of Bundy.

The command woes aren’t completely gone. He still missed his spots more than a few times — sometimes by inches, sometimes by feet (which is okay, all pitchers do), but he certainly seemed more locked in than he often did in 2019. It’s too early to make too many assumptions at this point, but it’s safe to say that Sheffield is moving in the right direction.

Little by little, Sheffield is addressing his blemishes. He already started leaning on his secondary pitches more toward the end of last year, and now he’s made the obvious tweak of switching out his sinking fastball for a sinker. I’m not convinced this solves all of his problems, but it solves a problem — and a significant one, at that. Sheffield was misusing his last fastball, but now he has a new fastball that he’s using well. At least so far. This opens up the opportunity for a significant domino effect to take place. There’s a strong chance that, in leaning into the movement of his fastball, Sheffield has just accelerated his development.

April 8th - Large Hail Event

Severe thunderstorms developed along a cold front that dropped south across southeastern Iowa and northwest Illinois during the afternoon hours of Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Very large hail was reported with some of the severe storms.

The hardest hit areas were parts of southeast Iowa and west central Illinois where hail stones of golf ball to soft ball sized were reported.

Other areas that got storms saw copious amounts of small hail which covered the ground.

  • Storm Reports
  • Hail Photos
  • Radar
  • Environment

Denmark, IA
Courtesy: EMA
Denmark, IA
Courtesy: EMA

Interactive Radar Loop

755 PM CDT WED APR 8 2020


0454 PM HAIL GALVA 41.17N 90.04W


0450 PM HAIL COLONA 41.49N 90.35W


0436 PM HAIL 1 WSW SHERRARD 41.31N 90.53W

0435 PM HAIL 2 NNW CLINTON 41.87N 90.25W


0434 PM HAIL 2 SSE DAVENPORT 41.54N 90.59W

0432 PM HAIL 1 ENE BODEN 41.27N 90.57W
04/08/2020 M0.88 INCH MERCER IL PUBLIC

0425 PM HAIL AUGUSTA 40.23N 90.95W

0415 PM TSTM WND GST 3 W ADAIR 40.42N 90.56W

0415 PM HAIL 3 W ADAIR 40.42N 90.56W

0415 PM HAIL 5 NNW ELIZA 41.36N 91.01W


0412 PM HAIL 2 ENE BARDOLPH 40.51N 90.53W


0411 PM HAIL GOOD HOPE 40.56N 90.68W


0410 PM HAIL 2 SSE MACOMB 40.44N 90.67W

0409 PM HAIL COLCHESTER 40.43N 90.79W

0405 PM HAIL 2 SW MACOMB 40.45N 90.71W




0359 PM HAIL 2 WNW LETTS 41.34N 91.27W



0357 PM HAIL CONESVILLE 41.38N 91.35W

0355 PM HAIL MACOMB 40.47N 90.68W

0344 PM HAIL 2 SE CARMAN 40.71N 91.05W

0338 PM HAIL SAINT PAUL 40.77N 91.51W

0331 PM HAIL 1 ESE SHOKOKON 40.75N 91.04W


0328 PM HAIL 2 NNE NAUVOO 40.57N 91.38W


0325 PM HAIL NAUVOO 40.55N 91.38W

0324 PM HAIL 1 E NAUVOO 40.55N 91.38W

0322 PM HAIL 1 W DENMARK 40.75N 91.35W


0315 PM HAIL 3 N WEST POINT 40.76N 91.45W

0307 PM HAIL LOWELL 40.82N 91.44W


0300 PM HAIL 1 S SALEM 40.83N 91.62W

0257 PM HAIL 1 S SALEM 40.84N 91.62W


0214 PM HAIL WINTHROP 42.47N 91.73W

0202 PM HAIL 1 N INDEPENDENCE 42.48N 91.89W

Hanser Alberto ෝ

In his final season with Baltimore, led the Orioles in multi-hit games (18), which included 14 in his first 30 contests. Appeared on his third Opening Day roster (2016, 2019, 2020) and made a team-high 48 starts at second base, four at third base and one as the DH. Batted .375 (24-for-64) with 15 runs scored in the seventh inning or later, which was the highest average in the American League and the second-most runs scored. Also ranked tied for fourth in the AL, with a .375 average (18-for-48) against left-handed pitching. ranked ninth in the league hitting .324 (35-for-108) in road contests. Slashed .318/.342/.437 (48-for-151) through his first 36 games, ranking fourth in the AL batting race through Sept. 6…however, hit just .206 (14-for-68) from Sept. 7 to the end of the season. Saw his season average dip below .300 after completion of the game on Sept. 13, snapping a 132-game stretch (June 7, 2019-Sept. 12, 2020) in which it was .300-or-above. Homered in consecutive games (July 30 vs. the Yankees July 31 vs. Tampa Bay) for the second time in his career, also turning the trick Aug. 20-21, 2019 vs. Kansas City. Matched a career-high with a 10-game hitting streak (Aug. 22-Sept. 6), batting .350 (14-for-40).

Finished the season ranked eighth in the AL and 16th in the majors in batting average was the 44th time in Orioles history (since 1954) in which a player finished the season with a .300 average-or-better, and first since 2008 (Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff). Batted .398 (88-for-221) against left-handed pitching the most hits against lefties in the majors and the second-highest average (J.D. Martinez, BOS - .404) . His 88 hits against lefties were the most in a single-season in Orioles history. Marked the 17th time in Major League history (14th different player) in which a player recorded at least 88 hits against left-handed pitching the most in the majors since 1987 (Tony Gwynn - 90). Hit .345 (88-for-255) in 65 road games tied for the highest road average in the AL (Tim Anderson, CWS) and tied for the second-highest in the majors. His 11.00 plate appearances/strikeout (550 PA/50 K) led the majors. Became the first Oriole since Deivi Cruz in 2003, and only second since 1992, with at least 500 at-bats and 50 strikeouts-or-less the 18th such season in Orioles history (eighth different player). His 34.38 plate appearances/walk (550 PA/16 BB) was the third-highest in the majors his 16 walks ranked second-lowest among qualifiers. Made his first career pitching appearance on 4/7 vs. NYY (1.0 IP, 2 ER, H, HR, 2 BB, HB). Had the second-highest O-Swing% (47.6%) in the majors, was fourth in the majors in O-Contact% (78.7%), and his SwStr% was the lowest on the Orioles (7.9%), according to FanGraphs. Batted .309 (84-for-272) in 73 games prior to the All-Star Break, and hit .302 (76-for-252) in 66 games after the All-Star Break. Batted .354/.387/.576 (35-for-99) with 13 extra-base hits, four home runs, 19 runs, and 15 RBI in August (27 games) all four were monthly highs for the season. Hit .354/.379/.434 (35-for-99) with 11 multi-hit games in June (24 G) his 35 hits were tied for the fourth-most and his average ranked fifth-highest in the AL during the month. Made four total appearances (two starts) in the outfield, his first career appearance in the outfield (LF) on 4/20 vs. MIN and his first career start (RF) on 4/29 at CWS. Had a career-long 10-game hitting streak from 8/11-21 entered the season with a career-high hitting streak of six games. Set a career-high with five hits on 8/30 at KC (5-for-6, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI). Hit his first career home run on 4/20 vs. MIN (G2) off of LHP Martin Pérez. Scored a career-high three runs three different times (5/20 vs. NYY, 8/12 at NYY, and 8/24 vs. TB) and drove in a career-high three runs three different times (8/12 at NYY, 8/20 vs. KC, and 8/21 vs. KC). Batted .343 (69-for-201) with no outs and .369 (58-for-157) when leading off an inning. Hit .400 (26-for-65) the third time facing the same pitcher in a game was the fifth-highest average in the majors (min. 65 at-bats). Batted .390 (23-for-59) in 17 games against NYY tied for the most hits against the Yankees by an opponent (J.D. Martinez, BOS) during the season and the fourth-highest average. Hit .339 (21-for-62) with 10 runs scored in 18 Interleague games.

Led Triple-A Round Rock in hitting (.330), ranked second in RBI (58), and fourth in hits (119). Finished fourth in the Pacific Coast League in hitting. A non-roster invitee to Texas Rangers Spring Training. Had his contract selected by the Rangers on 5/15 was optioned and recalled two other times during the season. Tied a career-high with three hits on 9/27 at SEA. Batted .398/.396/.583 (41-for-103) with six doubles, two triples, three home runs, 12 runs, and 27 RBI in 27 games in July for Round Rock.

Spent the entire season on the disabled list with right shoulder problems and had right rotator cuff debridement surgery on 6/19…the procedure was performed by Rangers Team Physician Dr. Keith Meister…only regular season action came in the form of 5 games on injury rehabilitation assignment at Frisco (6/1-4) and Round Rock (6/5-6)…also played in 11 spring training games, the last on 3/12 at CWS, before opening the year on the 10-day DL with right shoulder tightness…transferred to 60-day DL on 5/16 for duration of the season…reinstated from 60-day DL on 11/6 and was not tendered a major league contract offer prior to the deadline on 12/1, making him a free agent…re-signed to a minor league contract on 12/14.

Despite making his 1st career Opening Day roster, Alberto still saw less action with Texas than in his rookie 2015 campaign…saw three stints with Texas (Opening Day-6/3, 7/20-8/2, 9/2-end of season) and spent 2 1/2 months with Triple-A Round Rock…made 14 starts at SS (6), 3B (4), 2B (3), and 1B (1)…joined Jurickson Profar as the only Rangers to make starts at all 4 infield positions, including his 1st career action at 1st base…played just 2 games with Texas from June through August…lone extra-base hit was a double on 7/31 vs. KC, and had no multi-hit games…had game-tying single in 9th inning in last PA of season finale on 10/2 vs. TB, snapping 0-for-15 drought𔆀 of his 8 hits came with RISP…went 0-for-2 as a pinch-hitter.

Was not on the Rangers' roster for the 2016 ALDS, but saw action as replacement for injured third baseman Adrian Beltre in the 2015 ALDS against Toronto, going 2-for-10 in 3 games/2 starts…entered Game 1 after Beltre's exit and went 1-for-2…started at 3B in Games 2-3, with first postseason hit being tie-breaking 2-R, 2-out single off Liam Hendriks in 14th inning of Game 2…became just 2nd rookie in MLB history with GW RBI in 14th-or-later, joining HOU's Chris Burke (18th inning of ALDS G4 vs. ATL on 10/9/05)…doubled in Game 3 and did not play in Games 4-5 following Beltre's return.

Batted .222 (22-99) with 2 doubles, a triple, and 4 RBI in 41 games over 2 stints with the Rangers last season (5/28-7/4 and 8/19-end of season) in his first major league action…was 1-for-3 in 3 PA's as a pinch-hitter…club had 18-8 (.692) record in his 26 starts. Hit safely in 6 straight (5/29-6/4) and 7 of 1st 8 ML games at .344 (11-32), with Rangers going 7-1 in those contests…beginning 6/7, batted .164 (11-67) over final 33 games/18 starts with Texas to finish at .222…just 8 G after 9/1 (0-for-2 in 2 PA's), last start was 8/30 vs. BAL (2nd base)… his career-opening 6-game hit streak was longest for a Texas batter since Chris Davis in 2008 (6 G, 6/26-7/2/08)…became 5th Ranger in history to record hits and RBI in 1st 2 ML games, joining Roy Howell (1974), Chad Kreuter (1988), Rusty Greer (1994), and Fernando Tatis (1997).

Rated statistically as the best defender among Texas League shortstops with at least 50 games played. appeared at shortstop in 114 of 120 games played. posted career-best .979 fielding percentage, including a .980 mark at shortstop. combined to bat .273 (120-440) with 21 doubles, 4 triples, 7 home runs, and 58 RBI in 120 games with Myrtle Beach (A+) and Frisco (AA). hit .284 (101-356) vs. right-handed pitching and .226 (19-84) vs. southpaws. batted .349 (45-129) with RISP. returned to Myrtle Beach for the start of the campaign and was promoted back to Frisco on 7/4 after hitting .313 with 12 extra-base hits in June. compiled a career-best 13-game hit streak from May 25-June 14. was chosen as the Rangers Minor League Defender of the Month for July. batted .330 (30-91) over final 25 games.

Batted .390 (30-77) with 7 doubles, a home run, 14 runs scored, 5 walks, and 5 stolen bases in 26 games with Cibao in the Dominican Winter League. saw action at second, shortstop, and third. played in 14 postseason games for the DWL Champion Gigantes and participated in the Caribbean Series.

Played in 129 games between Frisco and Myrtle Beach. combined to bat .223 (101-453) with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs, and 47 RBI. hit .235 (85-361) against right-handers and .174 (16-92) versus southpaws. opened the season with Frisco and batted .288 (34-118) over his first 31 games. hit .176 (42-238) over next 69 contests and was transferred to Myrtle Beach on 8/1. batted .183 (11-60) with a double, 4 RBI, and 6 runs over 20 games with Cibao in the Dominican Winter League.

Split the campaign between Hickory (A) and Myrtle Beach. combined to bat .299 (157-525) with 28 doubles, 3 triples, 8 home runs, 72 RBI, and 24 stolen bases in 128 games. posted the 2nd-highest average among Texas prospects on full-season clubs and collected the 5th-most RBI. selected to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game. named the 12th-best prospect in the Carolina League by Baseball America. opened season with Hickory and posted the 2nd-highest first half average in the league at .339 (83-245). was the 2nd-youngest regular in the CL following a promotion to the Pelicans on June 22. batted .303 (37-122) over final 30 games with Myrtle Beach. hit .397 (25-63) with 2 doubles, 2 triples, and 7 RBI in 17 games with the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. posted the 3rd-highest batting average on the circuit.

Spent first season stateside with Spokane (SS). batted .301 (44-146) against right-handed pitching and .146 (6-41) versus southpaws.

Spent first professional season with DSL Rangers. claimed the Dominican Summer League batting title and was a mid-season All-Star. tallied 4 different hit streaks of 5-or-more games, including a season-high 6 games twice.

ORN Series 1, Vol. X: Report of Acting Master William B. Sheldon, U. S. S. Shokokon, May 28-June 23, 1864

[Report of Acting Master William B. Sheldon, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Shokokon, of cooperative engagements in Pamunkey River, June 21, 1864, including Summary of Shokokon‘s Movements from May 28 to June 23, 1864]

Cumberland, Va., June 21, 1864.

Civilian Steamer Eliza Hancox was fired into by Confederate Cavalry on June 21, 1864, causing USS Shokokon to respond. (James Bard Painting)

Sir: I would respectfully submit the following report: This morning, 8:30 a.m., just after a thick fog had cleared away, the transport steamer Eliza Hancox passed up. When abreast of Cumberland Point, 1 mile above where this vessel was lying, she was fired on by a party of rebels, who were concealed on the bank of the river. I immediately opened fire with our forward battery, and slipped the chain, steamed up to the point where the fire proceeded from, the most of our shell exploding near and among them. They soon fell back under cover of the woods out of sight. Shelled the woods, but could not get any reply. Kept in the position near the point until 12 o’clock m. I learned from a man whom I called down to the beach that the enemy were a party of dismounted cavalry, numbering about 150 that they had fallen back toward New Kent Court-House. He reported that they had some wounded, but could not tell whether there were any killed. I also learned from him that they dismounted about a mile back and came down to the river during the fog. Nothing more has been seen or heard from them up to this, 6 p. m. Enclosed I will send report of ammunition expended.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

W[illiam]. B. Sheldon,
Acting Master, Commanding.

Lieutenant-Commander Cha[rle]s. A. Babcock,
Senior Officer, Commanding U. S. S. Morse, White House, Va.

Expenditure of ammunition, U. S. S. Shokokon, June 21, 1864.

10-second 30-pound Parrott shell……………………………………………………………5

5-second 30-pound Parrott case shot……………………………………………………𔅽

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S[amuel]. P. Crafts,
Executive Officer.

U. S. S. Shokokon,
Off Yorktown, June 24, 1864.

Sir. In obedience to orders from Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee, May 28, 1864, to report to you at Yorktown, or wherever you might be, I reported to you at White House, May 31, 5 o’clock a. m. was ordered by you to proceed down the Pamunkey and take position off Cumberland, to protect the transports passing up and down. In compliance with your orders, I took position where I could command Cumberland Point and an old earthwork formerly held by the enemy, on the right bank of the river. Nothing occurred of note until the 6th of June, when a small force of the One hundred and seventy-ninth New York Volunteers came down to occupy the heights. I gave all assistance they required in landing and getting their stores ashore. Everything remained quiet until the morning of the 21st instant, when a party of about 150 rebel cavalry (dismounted) came down to Cumberland Point— during a thick fog—and fired from the bank of the river at one of the transports passing that point—details as per report of that day. On the evening of the 22d the force occupying the heights evacuated and passed down the river. I rendered them all assistance possible in getting on board the transport.

On the 23d instant, 2:45 p. m., was ordered by you to proceed down the river in company with the other gunboats, arriving off Yorktown at 11:15 p. m., June 23, 1864.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

W[illiam]. B. Sheldon,
Acting Master, Commanding.

Lieutenant-Commander Cha[rle]s. A. Babcook,
Senior Officer, Commanding U. S. S. Morse, Off Yorktown, Va. 1

A dive into Luis Robert's September slump

After the White Sox victory over the Twins on August 31, Luis Robert was hitting .298/.348/.612, with a .398 wOBA and a 157 wRC+. In that 8-5 victory, Robert was 2-for-4, with a mammoth, 449-foot (111 mph exit velocity) home run to tie the game in the seventh and later, hit the go-ahead double in the ninth. 

To that point, Robert was tied for the third-highest fWAR in baseball (1.8). He was arguably the most valuable player on the team when considering his defensive performance in center field. 

Since then, Robert is hitting .103/.185/.155 with a .163 wOBA and a wRC+ of -4, contributing to a -0.2 fWAR. 

What happened? Did pitchers suddenly figure him out? Are pitchers attacking him differently? Is this just a three-week slump that virtually every major-leaguer runs into eventually? Should we be worried?

We know about Robert&aposs propensity to swing. There aren&apost many pitches that don&apost appeal to the phenom. His O-Swing% is almost 18% above average, his SwStr% is 14% above average and he is swinging at an astonishingly-high 60% of pitches. His SwStr% is the highest in baseball while his O-Swing% and overall Swing% trails only Baltimore&aposs Hanser Alberto and Oakland&aposs Stephen Piscotty. 

What mitigated this through August was the fact that Robert was still a 57% above-average hitter. His approach, as drastic as it was, was working. 

But here we go, right? It clearly was not sustainable, and Robert must be seeing the results of pitchers exposing tendencies that have seemingly gotten worse. 

Not so fast. Robert&aposs O-Swing% has remained constant, along with his Swing%, Z-Contact% and SwStr%. What&aposs most surprising is that he&aposs actually seen pitches in the zone 5% more, from 35% up to 40%. I previously theorized that pitchers would just stop throwing Robert any strike,s and let him get himself out chasing pitches. More pitches to hit for Robert seems ideal, and it should be. The problem is that he&aposs stopped hitting them. Robert isn&apost chasing more pitches, yet his K% is 5% higher in the month of September. 

In July and August, Robert had a 91 mph average exit velocity, with a 12.8 degree launch angle and .411 xwOBA. That&aposll play. 

What won&apost is what he&aposs done since — an 80 mph average exit velocity, with a 22.8 degree launch angle and a .210 xwOBA. The pitches are there he just not hitting them with the same authority. From just watching the games, we&aposve noticed that Robert has started fouling off a lot of hittable pitches — oftentimes in good counts, where he seems to be right on the pitch, but he&aposs just under it. The data backs this up.

When you isolate pitches that are in the heart of the plate, as defined by Baseball Savant&aposs "attack zones," Robert has the sixth-highest foul ball percentage in baseball this September, at 48.3% in these zones. Almost half of the pitches that he has the best chance to do damage on are being fouled off. The only players with more foul balls per pitch in these zones are Omar Narvพz, Michael A. Taylor, Miguel Sanó, Austin Romine and Derek Dietrich. In July and August, Robert was only fouling off 32.1% of these pitches, which ranked 78th in baseball. 

What&aposs also important to note is Robert&aposs Whiff% on these pitches. In July and August, it was 24%. In September, it has actually dropped to 21%. Combining these rates with foul ball rates, Robert&aposs total Whiff% plus foul ball rate was 56% though August 31 (ninth in baseball) and 69% since then (second in baseball to Taylor). 

A whiff is never good, but a foul ball can be good on a two-strike pitch, especially a good pitch, to extend the at-bat. But remember, these are pitches in the heart of the zone, pitches that Robert can&apost afford to miss given his approach. When these are missed, Robert finds himself in more two-strike counts where the odds are overwhelming that he won&apost see another pitch as good. This is how you strike out more without chasing more pitches. Robert&aposs򠅗 wRC+ was largely a product of mashing mistakes. When he&aposs not doing that, we see the hitter he&aposs been over the last three weeks — a hitter that&aposs 161% worse.

The question is, how can Robert just stop hitting the pitches he was before? What gives with these foul balls? As I previously mentioned, he&aposs been under a lot of them. This can be seen in games with foul balls up and back towards the press box, but also on the balls he is putting in play. His IFFB% (infield fly ball) is up, from 6% to 35%. Think about that — more than a third of the balls he&aposs put in play have been pop-ups on the infield during this stretch.

If you have paid attention to key subjects of baseball analytics through the past three to five years, spin rate has a targeted metric for analytically-inclined teams. Without getting too much into the detail of it, what spin on a baseball does is help it fight against the forces of gravity that are pulling it down. A fastball with a higher rate of backspin is going to not drop as quickly as one with less spin. Therefore, it can trick the eyes and brains of hitters. A human set of eyes physically cannot track a 90+ mph pitch fully from release to contact point. It&aposs impossible. Luckily, our brains make predictions for us as the ball disappears — allowing hitters to hit. However, if the brain predicts where a typical pitch will end up, and the pitch has a higher spin rate, hitters are going to swing under it, resulting in a lot of whiffs, foul balls and pop-ups. The brain sends a signal to the rest of the body to position the hitter&aposs hands, hips, etc. at a certain point, only to be tricked by the physics of that particular pitch. It&aposs why a high spin rate is so desirable for a pitcher&aposs fastball. 

This relates to Robert&aposs slump because many of these pitches he is fouling off are higher-spin fastballs. In July and August, he had a 95 mph average exit velocity and a 15.2 degree launch angle against fastballs with a spin rate of 2300 rpms or higher. In September, he has an 81.4 mph average exit velocity and a 35.6 degree launch angle against these pitches he&aposs not staying on top of them, which is what he needs to do. Overall, Robert has a .219 xwOBA on fastballs in September, while in August, he was at .424. It&aposs virtually impossible to succeed without hitting hittable fastballs.

Here&aposs a good example from August. Robert was able to tattoo this pitch off of a really good pitcher in Brandon Woodruff. Even though it was an 0-2 mistake, it was still a 97 mph fastball with a 2398 rpm spin rate that was turned around at 106.1 mph.

Robert smash vs. Woodruff on August 4.

Here&aposs another a pitch up and out of the zone with two strikes, but Robert is able to get on top of it for a knock. This pitch had a 2329 rpm spin rate and was hit 104.9 mph, against another good pitcher in Aaron Civale.

Robert base hit vs. Civale on August 7.

Contrast these results with what we&aposve seen more recently: pop-ups and foul balls galore. Robert has one hit against a fastball with at least a 2300 rpm spin rate this month, and that was a broken-bat, infield single.


  1. Carthage

    cool .. took almost everything))

  2. Christofor

    Bravo, your opinion is useful

  3. Chrysostom

    I think you are not right. I'm sure. We will discuss. Write in PM, we will talk.

  4. Ban

    Sorry to interfere, but could you please give a little more information.

  5. Pin

    We see, not fate.

  6. Rowan

    In my opinion, mistakes are made. Write to me in PM, discuss it.

  7. R?

    Certainly. So happens. We can communicate on this theme. Here or in PM.

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