Ichiro is one of the most bizarre players of the past 20 seasons. While many hitters have come over from Japan to the MLB, Ichiro has stuck in North America like no one else. The NPB is famous for its ground-ball-heavy approach—per Deltagraphs, the NPB ran a GB% of 48 percent compared to 44 percent for the MLB last season—but that approach usually doesn't work that well across the pond. That wasn't the case for Ichiro. He made it work, and he made it work all the way to capturing the single-season hit record. And he did it in a really, really weird way.
In the process of writing an article, one of the more frustrating things to do is generate comparisons to a given player. Whether I am trying to figure out who most closely aligns with Rougned Odor or Miguel Sano, it is a time-consuming and inexact process to find good comparisons. So, I tried to simplify the process and make it more exact—using similarity scores.
On the surface, Rougned Odor had a pretty decent 2017. He got paid $1.3 million, was healthy the whole season, and on top of it all, he hit 30+ home runs for the second straight season. That is about as far as good things go; Odor posted the single worst wRC+ and OBP of 2017 among qualifiers, and barely hit above the Mendoza line. Yes, someone who hit 30 home runs was worse at the plate than Alciedes "What's an extra-base hit?" Escobar.
The off-season is officially upon us, and the ups and downs of the playoffs have been replaced with hushed whispers of trade rumors and the frantic refreshing of Ken Rosenthal's Twitter feed. Free agents officially filed this Monday, and nine players were tagged with qualifying offers — one-year contracts for a league-set salary from a player's former team that, if declined, entitle the former team to a draft pick between the first and second round of the 2018 MLB Amateur draft. Of all of the players who have received qualifying offers, only five have ever accepted them for various reasons. How has each player who took the QO fared after taking the offer?
I'm going to save you the trouble of every other take on the Gurriel suspension that you've already read, and skip over the general talking points. Yes, Gurriel has no excuse for that behavior and his actions, he played in Japan and he should know better, racism is bad, yadda yadda. You've heard it all ad infinitum before. Glad we can all agree that racism is bad. It's far more important to address the MLB's response to Gurriel's actions, because we'll all forget about Gurriel come next spring (hell, Houston fans have already forgotten), but the precedent of the MLB's ruling will linger on for years and possibly decades.
Thanks to years of complaints by fans and media alike, for the first time since 2002, home-field advantage for the World Series was determined not by the All-Star game results, but instead by regular season record. I'm sure everyone out there who lobbied for this change is patting themselves on the back for getting a change that, in their minds, fixed the All-Star game. I'm hesitant about the new CBA, however, because I fear that in fixing the All-Star game, the MLB broke the World Series.