Thursday, May 24, 2012
Can these guys do it with line drives?
"Commie Ball" is the title of a delightful little piece that Clarion Content fave, Grantland author, Jonah Keri steered us to at the 619 Sports.net. The article could be subtitled, "How to win at Petco Park on a budget."
Herein a creative and learned Padres fan dissects the possibilities of building a batting order around small, speedy, line drive hitters; switch hitters, if possible. He calls it "Commie Ball." Petco Park may have fences that are hard to clear, but it has wide grassy gaps and plenty of space to dump the ball over the infield, and in front of the outfielders.
This is the kind of solutions based analysis that the Clarion Content loves. It does no good to whine about what you don't have, it is rather, about how to make use of what you do have. The author, Craig, does note that good defenders are essential for this kind of low power, high average, aggressive base-running style offense, "plus defense being a necessity in center and right field and all infield positions..."
Will Padres general manager Josh Byrnes continue to pivot in that direction? Or will the franchise simply attempt to move the fences in and sign aging, immobile big boppers? The last successful "Commie Ball" teams were the early 80's Astros1 and the early/mid 80's Cardinals.2
We have entered an era where pitching is back, is it so far back, that a team can win playing "Commie Ball?"
Saw one other interesting baseball note tonight, Justin Verlander pitched at least six innings for the 52nd straight start, the longest such streak since Hall of Famer, Steve Carlton, pitched at least six innings for sixty-nine consecutive starts from Sept. 13, 1979 to April 13, 1982.
1The 1980 Astros finished first in their division and were lead by Terry Puhl with thirteen home runs, five players topped twenty stolen bases. In addition to Puhl they featured line drive hitters such as Jose Cruz, Cesar Cedeno and Enos Cabell.
2The Cards won the World Series in 1982 with George Hendrick leading the team with a mere nineteen dingers, while featuring such notable line drive, high average, speed and defense guys as Tommy Herr, Willie McGee, Lonnie Smith and Keith Hernandez.