Financial advisors often disclaim their proposals with the statement “past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.” That’s true in baseball also. But while we hear and understand that disclaimer, we don’t exactly believe it—we expect baseball players to perform the way they have in the past.
By this past week’s numbers, the Sacramento River Cats’ Shane Peterson looks like he will be a star in the majors. He was 10 for 22 (.455) with 2 home runs, 4 rbis and 7 runs scored. And those numbers just topped off a great season so far; Peterson’s average for the season is .316 and he leads the PCL with 95 runs scored and 156 hits and is second in RBIs (82) and 4th in walks (59). While those numbers will no doubt drop off when he reaches the majors, we all believe that he will do well.
But, “past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.” We’ll see.
The Washington National’s Bryce Harper found a groove last week, hitting 2 home runs and earning 7 rbis in 21 at bats. After an injury-diminished and less-productive season than might be expected from Harper, last week had to be very welcome; his 2 home runs last week are a third of his total for the year so far and his 7 rbis raised his season total to 23. No doubt Harper hopes that he is back to his expected form.
Politics is said to make strange bedfellows. While that is certainly true in a sense, I’m not sure what the following excerpt from the LDS Church’s Improvement Era of 1949 is exactly. Its not politics, but it certainly is somewhat strange. Often today our perception of Mormonism before 1978 is that African-Americans were ignored or dismissed because of the priesthood ban and the minuscule representation of African-Americans in Utah.
However, when the Improvement Era wanted to make a point, they apparently weren’t above using Jackie Robinson’s fame to help. And in this case, Robinson had said what the LDS Church wanted to hear.
It was Jaycob Brugman’s week. In the past 5 games, he has hit 6 home runs out of 9 times that he has connected in 20 at bats (.450). His home run streak (which could continue today) accounted for all of the 6 runs and 8 rbis he earned and raised his season totals to 16 home runs and a .275 batting average. Good luck keeping up that pace!
After a few weeks of getting to the plate in dribs and drabs, the Texas Rangers’ backup infielder Adam Rosales finally saw some regular plate appearances, and responded with an exceptional week. Rosales was 7 for 14 (.500) last week, with 5 runs scored and 5 rbis on 2 home runs and 4 walks. And this past week’s performance boosted Rosales’ season average to .350, although on a mere 40 at bats.
Rosales was far from the only Mormon player who performed well last week. Jacoby Ellsbury was hot, going 10 for 24 (.417) while the backup shortstop for the As, Eric Sogard, was 7 for 16 (.438) with 4 runs scored, 3 rbis and 7 walks.
One by one the Mormon players drafted two years ago have been promoted this year from class A to A+. The lone holdout among the position players is Marcus Littlewood, who again made the case for his promotion this week. Littlewood, a catcher, was 8 for 19 (.421) last week with 7 runs scored, 5 rbis, 6 walks and 2 home runs–and in the process he pushed himself onto the Midwest League leader board with a .348 OBP (tied for 21st in the league).
His performance for the season aren’t that bad either. He is hitting .251 with 41 rbis and 38 walks and a .348/.398/.745 slash line. But as a catcher Littlewood’s performance must also be judged on how he called the games. Unfortunately, his progress in that area isn’t available as a statistic and isn’t something I can judge.
It was the best game of his year. Jeremy Guthrie blanked the Oakland As over 6 innings, striking out 6 and giving up just 3 hits and two walks. This performance marked the first time this season he shut out his opponents.
Unfortunately, Guthrie has otherwise not been that good. His season era is now 4.50—which represents on average a run every other inning pitched. His strength remains in his durability; Guthrie has started 22 games for the Royals this year and has accumulated a total of 138 innings.
Often when minor league players are promoted from one class to another their performance falls off as they adjust to the new league. But occasionally that doesn’t happen, such as happened recently with Jacob Hannemann. The Cubs’ top-20 prospect arrived in the Florida State League this past week and promptly made a mark. Hitting 7 for 22 (.318), Hannemann also had 5 runs scored, 2 rbis, 2 walks and 3 stolen bases. And it is in stolen bases that Hannemann excels—an analysis at Fangraphs places him 5th in all the minor leagues, despite the fact that he is only now reaching the A+ level.
Hannemann’s performance last week is slightly behind that of Brett Pill, who plays in the Korean League. Pill, who once played for the Giants, was 8 for 23 (.348) last week with 5 runs scored, 3 rbis, 2 home runs and a stolen base. And his season record remains great; he is hitting .322 over 205 at bats, with 15 home runs.
Despite his weeks on the disabled list earlier in the year, Doug Fister’s record this year is fantastic. Last week he pitched twice, earning a 1.42 era over 12.2 innings, giving up just 3 walks and 12 hits in the process (1.18 WHIP). For the season his era is just 2.69 — among the best in the majors this year. His strike out to walk ratio is 5:1, and he earned his 10th win of the season this year—putting him on the leader board for the first time this year (he hasn’t pitched enough innings to qualify in most other categories).
There is a long-standing and often bizarre connection between athletics and vice, as if smoking and drinking and the like are somehow a natural part of viewing and participating in sports. While advertising might seem like a natural source of this connection, I doubt that advertising alone accounts for this long-standing cultural connection.
But given this connection, much of LDS writing and thinking about baseball has focused on showing the problems from disobeying the word of wisdom. Non-fiction articles often cited baseball managers and stars who decried vices like smoke and drink. And even the fiction in LDS magazines that featured baseball frequently tried to persuade readers against these vices. But in doing so they often made other assumptions also, such as what happens in the following story.