The latest from around MLB...
- That Josh Hamilton is good is not news. Still, anytime a guy hits four homers in a game - something done just 15 times before in big league history - it's big news. That's what Hamilton did last night against the Orioles (he added a double for good measure), which would have made for a nice story even if Hamilton hadn't had a tough offseason. You can watch his four homers here, and FanGraphs digs into some of the numbers behind the numbers. The performance raised Hamilton's slugging percentage from .703 to .840, an astonishingly robust leap, even in early May. Hamilton is a free agent after the season, and his remains one of the more interesting subplots to the 2012 season to follow. The talent is undeniable, but there's a lot that comes along with it.
- Cole Hamels plunking Bryce Harper the other night led to a nice avalanche of sound bytes from folks around baseball. The most interesting, of course, came from Hamels, himself, who conceded that he'd done it on purpose (which yielded a lame five-game suspension (his start will be pushed back one day - OH NO!)).
- But Nationals GM Mike Rizzo followed with some blistering comments of his own. "Players take care of themselves," Rizzo said, according to the Washington Post. "I've never seen a more classless, gutless chicken [bleep] act in my 30 years in baseball .... Cole Hamels says he's old school? He's the polar opposite of old school. He's fake tough. He thinks he's going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who's eight games into the big leagues? He doesn't know who he's dealing with .... He thinks he's sending a message to us of being a tough guy. He's sending the polar opposite message. He says he's being honest; well, I'm being honest. It was a gutless chicken [bleep] [bleeping] act." Yowsa. Rizzo was fined for his comments.
- SB Nation's Jon Bois takes a hilarious - and informative - look at the correlation between your team's slogan and its expected competitiveness. One short lesson: if your team is talking about pride, heart, or tradition before the season even starts, it's gonna be a long year.
- SB Nation's Rob Neyer takes a look (mostly just informative this time) at the Tampa Bay Rays' defensive shifts, and analyzes how many runs they're actually saving. Using that backdrop, Neyer talks about the evolution and prevalence of defensive shifts, and wonders how far this will go before hitters adjust well enough to stop the shifts.
- Cleveland Indians infirmary resident Grady Sizemore is shooting for a June return after Spring back surgery. I reckon the Indians will keep his DL seat warm thereafter - nothing worse than a cold DL seat on a July morning.