On Sunday, Rangers warrior-poet used his fist of hardened maple to make a polite suggestion to the Blue Jays. You probably heard about this already. Anyhow, in celebration of this sky-scraping moment of infield vigilantism, we present a brief, looping montage of some of the most memorable straight rights/right hooks/overhand rights in baseball history. Come with us, won’t you?
Captured above and expertly rendered for your viewing pleasure: Very many right-handed business decisions — i.e., punches, mostly, plus a four-seam beer heave. Exhaustive list? Of course not!
Now, people of baseball, go forth and demonstrate to those who afflict you that you’re not going to take it any more, in which “it” is almost anything, really.
There is still plenty of season remaining — 124 games left after Monday — but obviously the Tigers must improve their play sooner rather than later if they want to contend in the AL Central. Heck, they need to start playing better just to stay in the Wild Card race. The competition for postseason spots will be fierce in the AL.
There are three specific areas of the team that have to get better for the Tigers to have a realistic chance to contend for a playoff spot this year.
1. Justin Upton has to be the difference-maker
The Tigers gave Upton a six-year contract worth $132.75 million because they expected him to be an impact player. That was far-fetched at all. Upton hit .251/.336/.454 with 26 home runs and 19 steals for the Padres last season. Adjusted for ballpark and other factors, he was 21 percent better than the league average hitter offensively.
So far this season Upton has been anything but an impact hitter. He went 1 for 4 in Monday’s game and is now hitting .217/.255/.316 with only two home runs this season. Upton leads all of baseball with 62 strikeouts in only 161 plate appearances, so 38.5 percent of his trips to the plate have resulted in strike three. Yikes. As you’d expect, that is the highest strikeout rate in baseball.
Thanks to that historically hot start, the Cubs can post a losing record the rest of the way and still win 90 games. Indeed, they can go 63-64 over the rest of 2016 and wind up at 90-72. Given the apparent compression elsewhere in baseball, that will probably be good enough for a postseason berth.
To get to 100 wins for the first time since 1935, the Cubs will need to win at “just” a .575 clip — room for substantial regression, in other words.
How about the franchise record for wins? The 1906 Cubs hold that mark with 116 victories. To get there, the Cubs would need to play .701 ball, which would exceed any of the post-35 game winning percentages of those other teams noted above. Not likely! The ’06 Cubs of course share the all-time record for wins in a season with the 2001 Mariners. The ’06 Cubs, though, racked up those 116 wins in just 152 games.
So, how is the new-and-improved Altuve doing it? Well, at the risk of oversimplifying, Altuve is hitting the ball a lot harder a lot more consistently. Altuve showed some burgeoning power last season when he clubbed 15 homers but sported just a 25.9 percent hard-hit average, per FanGraphs.com. Among 375 players with at least 100 batted balls tracked by Statcast at BaseballSavant.com, Altuve ranked just 318th in average batted-ball velocity, at 86.2 MPH.
Even those 15 homers didn’t exactly rocket out of the park; his average home run distance was just 386 feet, good for just 279th in the majors. Altuve was a tremendous hitter, but he wasn’t driving the ball consistently.
All that has changed so far in 2016. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, each of Altuve’s nine homers has been classified as either “Plenty” or “No Doubt”; that means they have cleared the fence by at least 10 vertical feet. His average homer has traveled 401 feet, a 15-foot increase from last season, and his other indicators are up as well. One of his homers traveled 443 feet, his longest home run by 15 feet.