Ask Hal: A .300 average? Nobody cares any more



Q: If a player has a 15-year career with only one MVP award, would he be labeled a one-hit wonder? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Hardly. Derek Jeter didn’t even win one MVP. Nor did Tony Perez, Tony Gwynn, Ron Santo, Lou Brock, Wade Boggs, Al Kaline, Duke Snider, Kirby Puckett, David Ortiz nor Ralph Kiner. And all of them are in the Hall of Fame. Would you call them no-hit wonders?

Q: Why are there so few .300 hitters in the Major Leagues these days? — DICK, Centerville.

A: Analytics tell them that .300 isn’t ‘the thing’ anymore. It is on-base average and OPS (on-bae, plus slugging) and, of course, the home run. It is why you see guys hitting .235 with 35 home runs. It is the True Outcome — home run, walk or strikeout. Batting average isn’t part of that equation, and it is why players are no longer embarrassed to strikeout three times if they mix in a three-run homer. Me? I still loved seeing Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, Ted Williams, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs and guys like that hitting over .300

Q: When relief pitchers blow a lead for the starter, have you ever known them to apologize to the starter, or does everyone just put it in the rearview mirror? — SKIP, Englewood.

A: Yes, there have been a lot of, “I’m sorry,” words spoken. Usually, the starting pitcher tells him to forget it, it happens, that’s baseball. Every pitcher knows what it is like to fail and empathizes, even if the relief pitcher owes the starting pitcher some money.

Q: What do you think of the possibility of the Reds trading Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Tyler Naquin, Kyle Farmer, Brandon Drury, Tommy Pham and Mike Minor? —JOHN, Indianapolis.

A: You’ve pretty much named all the guys who shouldn’t purchase homes in Cincinnati. Judging by what the front office did before the season and what the team is doing during the season, nobody should feel comfortable. It takes two sides to make a trade so you can’t always trade who you want to trade. Certainly, Castillo and Mahle, young pitchers, are the most desirable and this time the Reds should be able to get more than sore-shouldered pitchers and over-the-hill outfielders.

Q: Why don’t the Reds use Hunter Greene the way the Angels use Shohei Ohtani as a pitcher and a position player after the success Greene had as a pitcher/shortstop in high school? —BILL, Kettering.

A: The Reds are not a team that thinks outside the box, which is why Greene is stuck in the pitcher’s box. After they drafted him, the Reds considered using him as either a shortstop or a pitcher, but not both. The early decision was to use that 101 miles per hour arm on the pitcher’s mound. And it is too late now. It has been about six years since Greene hit in a game. Too bad the National League adopted the designated hitter rule, or we would have seen how he could hit major league pitching.

Q: When an umpire goes to the mound to break up a conference, what does he say and what is the penalty if the coach/manager doesn’t comply? — KEITH, Centerville.

A: They don’t ask how the family is doing or where they might eat that night, it is something like, “OK, men, let’s break it up. Time to play ball.” I have never seen a meeting not break up when the umpire appears on the mound. The coach/manager is permitted 30 seconds to visit their troubled pitcher, then he is on his own. If they disregard the umpire, ejection is possible, but I’ve never seen that happen.

Q: Name something unbelievable that happened in baseball that you will never forget? — DIANE, Mountain View, Calif.

A: I read something recently that refreshed my mind on this one. On April 22, 1999, Fernando Tatis (Sr.) of the St. Louis Cardinals hit two grand slam home runs in one inning, a feat never done before nor since. To me, that’s not even the unusual part. The unusual part was that the two grand slams were hit off the same pitcher, Chan Ho Park of the Los Angeles Dodgers. There is no evidence of LA manager Davey Johnson snoozing in the dugout. Why else would he leave Park in the game to give up 11 runs and two grand slams in less than an inning?

Q: What about MLB promoting gambling on baseball while Pete Rose sits outside the game and outside the Hall of Fame? — LARRY, Piqua.

A: As we all know, money not only talks, but it also screams, especially from the gaming industry. Yes, it shouts hypocrisy from MLB. They get around it (they think) by still forbidding players from betting on baseball. Wonder how many wives and friends bet on games for some of the players? You know it happens. MLB-TV even has a show that gives viewers odds on games and advice on how to bet. The whole mess stinks.

Q: With 13 pitchers on the roster, why don’t the Reds use one pitcher for each inning of a game because in this era of hard throwing young pitchers this would be a better use of the resources available? — JIM, Oakwood.

A: That isn’t a new concept. Although they don’t do it every game, the Tampa Bay Rays came up with it and use it now and then. Instead of calling the first pitcher the starter, he is the opener, followed by a stream of bullpen pitchers. Doing it every game would have some pitchers working nearly every game. Even though it is only one inning, that’s putting a big strain on arms. Reds’ manager David Bell comes close to it, though. The starter goes four or five innings, followed by a parade of relief pitchers working one inning at a time.

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