The Best Baseball Writing of the Week: April 23

1) Long and data-heavy, but Jeff Zimmerman’s recent piece at The Hardball Times is about as good a primer on the link between velocity to pitcher arm injuries as you can find. Ironically, the attribute most likely to fast-track a prospect to the majors might often be their downfall as well.

“If two pitchers are going get the same production, but one throws significantly slower, a team may want take the soft tosser for health reasons. For example, Matt Shoemaker and Yordano Ventura both factored into the AL Rookie of the Year race last season, but with markedly different average fastball velocities. Ventura set the world on fire with his 97 mph fastball while Shoemaker lulled batters to sleep with a 90.5 mph fastball. They had similar results, but this season Ventura is more likely to be DL-bound.”

2) At Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan writes an early, possibly-premature obituary for the Miami Marlins 2015 season, which has gotten off to a rocky start and swiftly descended into rumors about Mike Redmond on the hot seat. I went in on the Marlins hard this season, picking them to win the Wild Card and the World Series again, as they always do when they make the playoffs. The early returns are not encouraging.

“But we can step back from manager speculation. The Marlins will make whatever decisions they make, and as easy as it is to pin these things on Loria, maybe there’s more of a consensus. Maybe Redmond deserves to be fired; I have no idea. Analysts can seldom add value to the subject of managerial job security. I have one point, though, that I feel like ought to matter: these Marlins probably weren’t going to be very good. While the start has been disappointing, it needs to be compared against what would’ve been a reasonable expectation.”

3) And, though this is very nerdy, I had to include it. Ben Lindbergh at Grantland wrote a great piece about the online modding community keeping MVP Baseball 2005 alive, EA Sport’s last baseball title released on the PC. Full disclosure, I played MVP 2005 until at least 2010 and am pretty familiar with all the mods discussed and even some of the people involved; reading this has me thinking about digging out my old disc again, if I can find it.

“MVP ’05 was the product of almost a decade of baseball development by EA, beginning with the Triple Play series from 1997 to 2002 and continuing with the first two MVP titles from 2003 to 2004. “From a gameplay standpoint, from a tuning standpoint, from really getting rid of any critical bugs and then really rounding out the game in terms of depth and breadth of modes, 2005 was the perfect storm for us,” Nielsen says now. “It’s a culmination of many, many years of trying to deliver the perfect baseball game that balances elements of sim, but [is] also a fun, engaging, challenging game to play.” MVP 2005 got glowing reviews to go with strong sales following its February 2005 release, and the years haven’t hurt its reputation: The game finished fourth on ESPN’s 2013 ranking of the best sports video games of all time.”


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