Karpin’s Korner: No-Hits, Still a Hit. Mercedes Bends Rules

Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire

It’s a strange phenomenon that has sparked some debate, but it hasn’t dulled the excitement of witnessing a no-hit game.

Last night, Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber became the latest to take advantage of this “no hit wave” that has engulfed baseball this season.

Kluber was “off the charts” brilliant last night as he dominated the Rangers in tossing the Yankees 12th (including Larsen’s WS perfect game in 1956) no hitter in franchise history. Stating the obvious, Kluber had no-hit stuff. He also had the luck factor because there were some hard hit balls that didn’t elude the fielders. (BTW: Where are all those who ridiculed the Kluber signing)

So why this rash of no-hit games?

There’s no question that the pitching is ahead of the hitting, and by a large margin. The craft has benefited from the studies that have been conducted, along with the new theories and new data, but the hitters have also contributed to this run reduction.

How many teams are having trouble hitting with runners in scoring position or plating a runner from third with less than two outs. RISP may become “runners in standing position.” I’ve always felt that many times the hitters get themselves out when there is a scoring opportunity. It feels like that trend has reached an apex in 2021.

Hitters get themselves out when they become undisciplined, don’t swing at strikes and simply swing and miss or foul off pitches that should be hit. How many times do you see a hitter missing a hittable pitch these days. Too many. A hitter fouls it back, steps out of the box and thinks to himself, “How could I miss that?”

The advent of launch angle factors in.

Launch angle is essentially an uppercut swing, so now pitchers are taking advantage of the top of the strike zone. With so many hard throwers, hitters are having trouble hitting and laying off the high strike if they’re using an uppercut swing. I remember a few years back when Keith Hernandez was one of the first to recognize how launch angle would be exploited by the pitchers.

The great pitchers will get hitters out more so than the hitters getting themselves out.

I categorize pitchers in four different levels: great, very good, average, and below average. Great pitchers induce hitters to make out, more so than a very good, average or certainly, below average pitcher would. With each lower level, a percentage of hitters would be more successful but the percentage of hitters getting themselves out would also increase.

Let’s say a great pitcher will create 75% of his outs, meaning he gets the hitter out, not vice versa. For a very good pitcher, that percentage will be lower, say 60%. For an average pitcher, the percentage would be 45% and a below average pitcher would create 30% of his outs.

Pitchers have adjusted, hitters need to catch up.
White Sox rookie Yermin Mercedes didn’t break any mythical “unwritten rules,” but he was disrespectful to the opponent and his manager.

White Sox Mgr. Tony LaRussa has taken some heat for his post game comments after Mercedes homered on a 3-0 pitch from Minnesota’s Willians Astudillo, a position player who was pitching for the Twins in the ninth inning of a 15-4 blowout. Astudillo was pitching to save their bullpen but that should not give license to Mercedes to be subordinate. LaRussa claims Mercedes ignored a “take” sign from third base coach Joe McEwing.If that’s the case, the manager has to let the team know that’s not acceptable, but the way he went about it was where he went wrong.

LaRussa told the media that Mercedes “made a big mistake.” He went on to add that it was “about sportsmanship, respect for your opponent and respect for the game.”

Unwritten rule or common baseball courtesy.

I wanted to see how the Twins were reacting while Mercedes ran around the bases so I went back and watched the at-bat. Suffice it to say, the Twins were not happy.

Astudillo eyed Mercedes as he ran around the bases. Twins third-baseman Luis Arraez had his head down and did not look at Mercedes as he headed towards third. He then picked his head up as Mercedes headed home. Twins catcher Ben Rortvedt stared into the White Sox dugout as Mercedes came home.

LaRussa saw how the Twins reacted and how they would reciprocate, so he tried to quell that by criticizing the rook, but he went too far when he “encouraged” a retaliation.

That came Wednesday when Twins’ pitcher Tyler Duffey was ejected for throwing behind Mercedes in the seventh inning. At the time, the Twins were trailing 4-2, so the maneuver was a risky one considering the game was still within reach. (Minnesota rallied to win, 5-4) You may not like what the Twins did, but Duffey threw at Mercedes not someone else and, at least he didn’t throw at Mercedes’ head.

It was a little surprising that the 76-year old was so forthright with the media. That was not part of his M-O in the past. He shouldn’t have called the kid, “clueless.” Maybe LaRussa should’ve put it this way. “It’s something that we’ll handle in-house.”

From personal experience, I hated being in a game where my team was getting its “ass kicked.” I also never appreciated being shown up in that game because I never disrespected the other team, no matter the score.

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