It’s just nacho day

Welcome to Notes on Baseball, a Sunday list of the baseball writing and surprises I found interesting over the past week.

Panic or patience?

The Sporting News’ Ryan Fagan looks at which teams and players should hit the panic button after 20 games.

The Yankees? Patience.

It feels unlikely that Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier all finish the season with batting averages of .186 or lower and OPSes of .571, which is where all four currently reside. And rotation projects Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon were always just that, projects. Plus, there are young arms that will be up at some point. Upgrades and/or changes might need to be made, but there is time for that, too. 

Meanwhile, much-maligned Gleyber Torres continues to lose friends and gain enemies:

Joe Rivera:

Needless to say, every baserunner counts in the late stages of a three-run game, and Torres is slashing .186/.294/.220 early in the season. Consider this a teachable moment.

He is only 24, after all.

Talk about patience

Twelve. Years.

The Review-Journal has a long profile on Kazmar, almost as long as his wait to return to the Major Leagues:

Kazmar was born in Valdosta, Georgia, and grew up a Braves fan even after moving to Las Vegas as a 5-year-old.

Maybe he will coach in that organization one day as well. For now, Kazmar said the Braves have encouraged him to play as long as he can.

“I’m trying to enjoy this as much as I can,” he said.

And I get impatient when someone brings twelve items to the ten-item Publix checkout line.

It’s just nacho day

In contrast to Gleyber Torres, this fan gave his all in an ultimately-unsuccessful home run ball pursuit:

Stars dimmed

Baseball has a ton of young talent, but three of its brightest stars are already hampered by injuries.

“A couple days ago he started complaining about his triceps a little bit,” Martinez explained. 

“Just that he was sore. He said it again, and [Director of Athletic Training Paul Lessard] decided that the right thing to do was have him go get an MRI, and make sure there’s nothing really wrong with him. 

“So we did that, and it showed a slight strain in the shoulder. So for me and [GM Mike Rizzo] it was a no-brainer to put him on the IL to get him right and get him ready when he’s ready.”

  • And Ronald Acuna, Jr., who leads MLB in batting average and home runs, has been out with an abdominal strain but returned Friday.

Three of the game’s brightest young stars, all injured in April.

The A’s-train on track

No one can accuse the Oakland A’s of being dull:

It’s a 13 game winning streak now, which includes an insane 13-12 comeback/ten-inning/walk-off victory over the Twins thanks to two consecutive Twins errors:

The A’s are winning with power from unlikely sources, says SI’s Will Laws:

Despite trotting out a lineup whose biggest star, Matt Chapman, has yet to heat up, the A’s rank second in the American League in both home runs (25) and walks (71) while ranking sixth in strikeouts (170). The A’s are 9–0 when they outhomer their opponents, and just 1–7 when they’re outhomered. The result is MLB’s sixth highest-scoring offense, featuring an underappreciated cast of characters.

Guys like second baseman Jed Lowrie are fueling the power surge:

Second baseman Jed Lowrie, 37, accumulated just seven at-bats for the Mets over the last two seasons due to injuries. But he’s enjoying a brilliant comeback season with the team he made his only All-Star team with in 2018, boasting a career-high .916 OPS. 

Can they keep it up? The schedule gets tougher, so we will see.

Out of hibernation?

After a dreadful start at the plate, the Cub bats have awakened, and they were back to .500 on Friday after a Jason Hayward tenth-inning walk-off single:

Kris Bryant, bouncing back from a lousy 2020 season, is leading the resurgence:

For this team and the Cubs offense to be what manager David Ross thinks it can be, or at least what he needs it to be, Bryant has to produce. When Bryant is right, he’s the best player on the Cubs. It’s been a while since fans have really seen him at his peak, but for the first time since perhaps the middle of 2019, Bryant is starting to once again look like that guy.

Javier Baez leads the league in strikeout rate but also has six homers, one off the National League lead.

Through Thursday’s walk-off win against the New York Mets, Baez’s 51.7 percent contact rate was the worst in the majors, nearly five percentage points lower than second-worst Joey Gallo.

Not coincidentally, that’s lead to Baez having the worst strikeout and walk rates of his career so far – 46.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. If his current 0.03 BB/K ratio were to hold out over the entire season, it would be the worst mark since at least the turn of the century.

All this talk of the Cub’s offensive resurgence may be for naught, though. It’s the starting rotation, with Yu Darvish shipped to San Diego in the offseason, that may ultimately seal the team’s fate.

Thanks for reading! See you next Sunday.