Good morning all. It looked like the 2021 season was going to wrap up last night when Adam Duvall’s grand slam staked Atlanta to a first inning 4-0 lead. But, as Atlanta’s sports teams are wont to do, they coughed up an early advantage and lost Game 5 to the Astros. Atlanta still has two more chances to wrap this series up, but they’ll have to do it in Houston rather in their own friendly confines.
Today is mailbag day, and there are three questions to address this morning. As always, email your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com in order to be considered for future editions. Let’s jump in:
Regardless of what one does for a living, one’s career will be filled–almost always–with peaks and valleys. Before 2021, Jameson Taillon experienced a barrage of valleys: two Tommy John Surgeries and testicular cancer. That his baseball career is still intact after those is, at the very least, admirable. That the 2021 season was full and reasonably successful for him is impressive.
Taillon came to the Yankees by way of a January trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, exchanged for minor leaguers Maikol Escotto, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Rosany Contreras, and Miguel Yajure. The Yankees saw something of value in Taillon, which isn’t surprising given his former high draft status and pitching successes. They thought–as they often do–that they could unlock something in him that the Pirates could not. And, thus, Jameson Taillon, a 6’5”, 230 pound right handed pitcher from The Woodlands, Texas, changed not only organizations, but philosophies as well.
With the Yankees, Taillon switched from his 2-seamer to his 4-seamer and moved from working down in the zone to working up in the zone, all in addition to changing his mechanics.
This approach changed his 4-seamer into a true weapon. Pre-2021, Taillon surrendered a .263 average and a .329 wOBA against his 4-seamer with 108 strikeouts (20.8%). In 2021, those numbers fell to .201 and .286 and rose to 88 (in just one season; 28.9%). As he gets more used to this approach, these numbers–especially the home run numbers (13 this year) could get even better.
With his new approach, Taillon notched career highs in both K/9 and K%, but he also suffered career worst marks in HR/9 and FIP. These competing data sets, if frustrating, are logical. More 4-seamers up in the zone will produce way more strikeouts than 2-seamers down in the zone. The tradeoff, of course, is the home run ball. Given this new approach, some growing pains were to be expected. At times, he had it figured out–like when he won AL Pitcher of the Month in July. At other times, he didn’t.
But we’d be remiss, negligent even, if we did not acknowledge the great success Taillon had–mostly–in terms of health this year. Coming off his second TJS, he still managed to log 144.1 innings in 29 games. He will unfortunately miss Spring Training–and time in the 2022 season–with a surgically repaired ankle.
This changes the calculus for 2022 a bit.
When I originally outlined this piece, my closing was going to be about how, with the health question answered, 2022 would have to be results-focused, or Taillon would fall into the pile of previous pitching projects that didn’t prosper in pinstripes: Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Sonny Gray, James Paxton, Lance Lynn. Now, though, that changes partially. Whenever he starts his 2022 in the Majors, there will be a necessary grace period for Taillon. How long that does or should last is a question to be answered.
Considering the litany of changes and challenges faction Taillon, it’s safe to call 2021 a success for him. Resoundingly so? No. But something to build on, something to work from? Absolutely.
In this week’s episode Randy, Rohan & Jaime get together to talk about some Yankees & Baseball. They start by giving their quick thoughts about the developing World Series, before going to more important matters (The Yankees). The Yankees-talk starts by assessing which are the team’s biggest needs going into next season and how likely is the ownership to spend big and cover those needs. Then they end up assessing the market for the most pressing need (You can probably guess what that is), where three very familiar names that are entering Free Agency are discussed with of the podcaster’s preference.
The podcast is still a remote recording. We are operating over Skype, so we apologize in advance for any sound quality issues. We hope you continue to bear with us as internet connections can always be tricky during recording.
The podcast is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher, so please subscribe, drop a five-star rating, and spread the word. We hope this gives you some distraction from all the craziness in the world right now.
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With Houston’s 7-2 victory over Atlanta in Game 2 last night, the World Series is level at 1-1. I was hoping Atlanta would win, and not because it’s the Astros. Rather, because it would be fun to remind everyone what happened the last time they were up 2-0 in the Fall Classic and headed home for Games 3 through 5.
Ah, yes, that’s the stuff. But hey, at least we can remind everyone that the last time there were World Series games in the state of Georgia (1999), the Yankees also took care of business.
Anyway, I’ve come around to accepting the possibility of the Astros winning the title this year. Obviously, it was never my first choice coming into October, but I’ll be able to be happy for Dusty Baker if his club pulls this off. He absolutely deserves a ring with his body of work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m openly rooting for the Astros, but the world won’t end if they do win it all.
So, with that, allow me to share some of my Yankees-related thoughts. A lot of this is going to be about a certain article that you presumably read (or read snippets of) this week, so brace yourselves. I’m not going to link to it here, but if you really want to look for it, it’s not hard to find.
At this point, you know how you feel about Brett Gardner. You either believe the 38-year-old outfield staple has a place on the Yanks until he hangs up the cleats or you think it’s embarrassing that the Yanks keep bringing him back on what is ostensibly a title contender. Little will change anyone’s mind on this. I do want to offer a few fun facts about the longest-tenured Yankee, though:
Gardner’s 44.3 career bWAR as a Yankee is good for 17th in franchise history. It’s more than Don Mattingly (42.4) and Jorge Posada (42.7), while ranking just behind Robinson Canó (44.4).
If his career was spent entirely in Toronto instead of New York, he would be the best position player in Blue Jays history by bWAR, ranking ahead of Jose Bautista (38.3). That is also true in Arizona (Paul Goldschmidt, 39.9) and Miami (Giancarlo Stanton, 35.7). He’d even be close for the crosstown Mets (David Wright, 49.2).
With 1,688 games played in pinstripes, just 12 other people in history have played more games for the Yankees. (With one more season under his belt, he will be in the top 10 in this category.)
Gardner has 1,470 hits as a Yankee. Just 21 individuals have more in pinstripes.
That is just some context about Gardner, who is a much bigger part of Yankee history than you likely thought. Anyway, Gardy put up a .222/.327/.362 (93 wRC+) line in 140 games for New York as he was once again thrust into regular playing time. He often looked rough, particularly during the first half, but he rebounded in a serious way after the All-Star Break.
This is me, watching Gardner play during August and September:
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