ns the Panthers are averaging 37.6 points per game, third in the ACC.---AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, Nort
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ns the Panthers are averaging 37.6 points per game, third in the ACC.---AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, Nort
Players have good years, bad years and in-between years, and in 2016 Chris Davis had an in-between year. He was a productive major leaguer, worth a lineup spot on a good team. But he will most likely be named on no MVP ballots this week, after finishing 14th in voting a year ago and third two years before that. Taken together its all OK, except that Davis was playing the first year under a $161 million contract that will almost assuredly take him into that phase of his career where theyre eventually all bad (and expensive) years. The Baltimore Orioles needed this one to be good.As teams prepare this month to sign players to new $161 million contracts (or thereabouts), its worth looking at what makes for an in-between season. In one sense, Davis drop-off from 2015 to 2016 is remarkable: By OPS+, Davis (at 107) was more similar to Erick Aybar (at 69) than he was to the 2015 version of himself (147). In another sense, the margins between superstar and expensive, average player are slim enough to straddle.To appreciate this, dont think of a season as a single product, built in a factory somewhere and rolled out to the marketplace in its final form. It is a series of hundreds of individual events, each one with the potential to be good, bad or in-between. Consider it, in fact, like this:Thats what were calling Chris Daviss 2015 season, his good season. Thats the jar of dry black beans, unpopped popcorn, gummy fish, gummy half-fish, mini marshmallows, knockoff M&Ms, semi-sweetened chocolate chips and unshelled pistachios that were going to literally unpack today.Within that jar are the 47 gummy fish, 31 halved gummy fish, 66 knockoff M&Ms, 84 marshmallows and eight chocolate chips that Davis delivered in 2015. These are all delicious treats, and they are all excellent outcomes for a hitter. Within that jar are also 208 uncooked black beans, 214 unpopped corn kernels, and six pistachios. These are bad outcomes for a hitter, and no matter how many home runs a major leaguer can realistically hit, hes going to fill the spaces in between with outs. As Chris Davis did.So Davis went from a near-MVP season to a merely OK season, but not everything changed. For instance, he was hit by exactly as many pitches in both years, so the Orioles got just as many chocolate chips as they might have expected. He grounded into exactly as many double plays, so the Orioles got just as many of those as they have expected. If the Orioles were paying Davis to get hit by pitches, and avoid double plays -- and, in some fractional way, they were -- they would have considered him just as good in 2016 as in 2015. Since HBPs and GIDPs were a wash, lets remove those 14 outcomes from the season, because to the extent that Davis failed to repeat his excellent 2015 season, it happened in the other 650-plus outcomes.Our new jar, free of pistachios and chocolate chips:He drew four more walks in 2016, so to the extent the Orioles were paying him to walk (and they were) they got more than their moneys worth. He had six fewer singles, so to the extent they were paying him to single (and they were), they almost got their moneys worth. Davis repeated all of the walks and most of the singles, so remove all of the walks from the marshmallows, and all but six of the knockoff M&Ms.He hit 38 homers in 2016, down from 47 in 2015. He doubled 21 times, down from 31. So if the Orioles expected him to hit 78 extra-base hits, he lived up to that promise in 59 of 78 instances. Those 19 missing extra-base hits were, more or less, cleanly replaced by 11 extra strikeouts and five extra outs on balls in play. (He also batted five fewer times.)What got lost in the move remains in the jar; thats the 2015 production that Davis couldnt match. What he replaced it with is in the glass, on the right. Were talking about 20 plate appearances that shifted from positive outcomes to negative, fewer than one bad outcome per week. The overwhelming majority of his nearly 700 plate appearances stayed the same.This is not to diminish the value of those 20 plate appearances. Switching a home run to an out costs a team, on average, more than a run and a half. Switching a double to an out is roughly a run lost, and a single to an out is almost three-quarters of a run. The jar on the left is worth about 25 runs more to the Orioles, or about two and a half wins, which teams are willing to pay around $20 million or more for. This is why Davis wont sniff an MVP vote this year, and its why Davis gets lumped in with the regrettable signings from last winter.It does, though, stress how little has to actually change for a hitter to go from great to good, or good to bad, or valuable to albatross. That even in big samples, a small subsample can swing everything, for Davis or for any other hitter.You might wonder where those nine homers, 10 doubles and two singles went, and here again we can see how little has to be different for a lot to be different.From the time that the ball was pitched to the moment it was hit, heres what changed for Davis; a bunch of other things stayed more or less the same, and wont be mentioned:Pitchers threw slightly more pitches in the strike zone -- about 45 out of every 100, up from 43 of 100.Davis was much more patient. He swung about five fewer times per 100 pitches seen, a patience that showed up both at pitches in the strike zone and out of the strike zone. He went from the top 40 percent of free-swingers, in 2015, to the bottom 20 percent in 2016. (This probably explains the modest uptick in both walks and strikeouts, as he worked deeper counts.)More teams shifted against him, though not that many more -- he was already shifted by almost everybody. Still, he hit 127 ground balls against an extreme shift in 2016, up from 113 in 2015 (and 96 the year before that). This cost him a single or so.Finally, the direction the ball went changed dramatically. Davis pulled 55 percent of the balls he put in play in 2015, which was the fourth-highest pull rate among all qualifying hitters. He pulled just under 42 percent of balls he put in play in 2016, which is the 62nd-highest pull rate. That was the biggest change in pull rate in the majors this year, by a lot:This last bit seems, at first glance, like a major change. And considering how much more power most hitters have when they pull the ball -- the league as a whole slugged .665 on pulled balls this year, .541 on balls hit to center, and just .495 on balls hit the other way -- it seems like the answer for the missing homers and doubles.But, in fact, it explains nothing for Davis, who has had extraordinary power to all fields in his career:His slugging percentage to the opposite field over the past five years is the best mark in baseball by more than 65 points. Hitting more balls to left or center isnt necessarily a bug for Davis, and in 2016 especially it worked to his benefit: He slugged .975 on balls hit the other way, more than 100 points better than any other hitter in baseball. He slugged .795 on balls hit to center, fifth best in baseball, two points behind Mike Trout.So it wasnt his inability to pull the ball that cost him power. However, it was his inability to pull the ball for power that cost him power. He slugged only .586 when he pulled the ball, his worst power performance on pulled baseballs since 2011, a season he began in Texas. In fact, here is where we find all the missing extra-base hits, and more:This despite the fact that his exit velocity on pulled baseballs was, at 91.3 mph, almost identical to his 2015 figure (91.6 mph). His exit velocity on pulled line drives went up, from 97.2 mph to 98.7 mph -- and yet his doubles on pulled liners dropped from 16 to five, and homers from five to two. His average exit velocity on pulled fly balls went up, from 95.7 mph to 99.1, and his average distance on pulled fly balls dropped only from 346 feet to 344; and yet his home runs on pulled fly balls dropped in half, from 22 to 11. Sometimes the park just holds you. Sometimes the defense is just a little bit better.One might still take all these facts and conclude that Davis is in serious and irrevocable decline. Most ballplayers older than 30 are in irrevocable decline, after all, and everything weve noted was different about Davis this year might be used to build in a circumstantial case against him: Pitchers threw him more strikes because they (and their advance scouts) already intuit that he isnt as dangerous as he used to be, maybe. He took more pitches because he realizes that, as he ages, he cant handle as many quality pitches on the edges of the zone, maybe. He pulled fewer pitches because his bat is slower, maybe. He did less damage when he did pull it because hes not as strong, maybe. He dealt with hand soreness throughout the season and said himself that I havent been myself all season. His hand kept him from turning the bat over, maybe, or from getting backspin, maybe. Anyway, he struck out more and he hit less. You dont need a jar full of gummy fish to understand that this is what happens to ballplayers sometime after they turn 30.But we, as analysts and baseball fans and GMs signing free agents, miss on veterans almost as often as we miss on young players, because the unknowns about player performance dont go away, they just shift a little. Almost everything Chris Davis did this year was as good as it had been the year before. In a small sliver of his outcomes, sent to just one sliver of the field, everything he hit turned into nothing -- and for no clear or convincing reason. This is one way that a season ends up in the in-between, and its one way that we are overeager to declare a contract sunk 14.3 percent of the way into it. Wholesale Belgium Jerseys . -- Charline Labonte couldnt have asked for a better homecoming. Stitched Belgium Jerseys . The 26-year-old Ireland striker, who has four goals this season, has signed a three-and-a-half year contract with his new club. http://www.cheapworldcupbelgiumjerseys.com/ . Detroit and Boston are deadlocked, 1-1, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland could be forgiven if he was caught rationalizing instead of dissecting how his club could blow a 5-1 lead late in Game 2. Cheap Belgium Jerseys 2018 . Vettel was 0.168 seconds faster than Red Bull teammate Mark Webber around the Suzuka circuit. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was two tenths of a second off Vettel. "The car balance is decent, but I think we can still improve," Vettel said. Cheap Youth Belgium Jerseys . LOUIS -- St. PITTSBURGH -- The giddiness faded quickly. Call it a byproduct of simple math. For all the euphoria that ensued after Pittsburgh kicker Chris Blewitts 48-yard field goal lifted the Panthers to a last-minute stunner against No. 2 Clemson last week, in the standings it counts the same as any other victory.It was a sweet moment to be sure, but it was just one. The Panthers (6-4, 3-3 ACC) understand it wont mean much if they cant back it up on Saturday against improving Duke (4-6, 1-5).This Duke win, if we are capable of going down (to Clemson) and getting it done and coming to Heinz Field and getting it done it will be just as big, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. Other people might not think it, but theyre a good football team and every win is a major win.The Panthers arent the only one coming off an emotional high. The Blue Devils rebounded from three narrow losses by a combined 16 points to edge rival North Carolina 28-27 , putting a severe crimp into the Tar Heels hopes of winning the ACC Coastal Division. It also kept alive their hopes of getting to six wins and securing a fifth straight bowl berth. It will take victories over the Panthers and Miami to get there without holding out hope theres not enough six-win teams to go around and the Blue Devils can get in thanks to their academic success.No offense, but its not the path coach David Cutcliffe would prefer to go.You want to play your way in and take doubt out of it, Cutcliffe said.Bowl eligibility is already out of the way for Pitt thanks to what Narduzzi hopes is a program-shifting moment. The quality of the Panthers destination is the only thing in question now. Beating Duke on Saturday and Syracuse next week would certainly make Pitts impressive resume -- wins over Clemson and Penn State and down-to-the-wire losses to Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and North Carolina -- plenty attractive.First things first though. The Panthers dropped their final two games of 2015, turning a special season into simply a promising one.One of goals was to finish season a lot better than we did last year, quarterback Nate Peterman said. Were going to focus these last two games and not let anything slip by. Every game is worth a lot.ddddddddddddSome things to look for as Duke tries for a little payback after the Panthers rolled by them 31-13 last fall.SHAUN IS ON: Duke RB Shaun Wilson is making the most of his opportunity to start. Wilson has 292 yards rushing in his last three games, including 100-yard outings against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, and has run for a touchdown in each game. The speedster who set the schools single-game record two years ago with 245 yards rushing against Kansas has been the featured back since starter and leading rusher Jela Duncan was lost for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon three weeks ago in the Georgia Tech loss.JAMES BEING JAMES: Nearly 12 months removed from a cancer diagnosis that threatened to derail his career, Pitt running back James Conner is thriving. Hes scored seven touchdowns over the last four games, including a highlight-reel 20-yard sprint against Clemson that put the Panthers within range to win it late.The best way to minimize the damage is to get more than one person to the ball, Cutcliffe said. When he gets rolling and he feels it, it gets increasingly harder to (stop him).RUNNING DEVILS: Wilsons success has made Dukes ground game that much more effective. The Blue Devils have rushed for at least 225 yards in each of their last three games after cracking the 200-yard mark in their first six games against FBS opponents. It helps that Daniel Jones has emerged as a threat to run, with the QB averaging 89 yards rushing during his last three games.PETERMANS PROGRESS: Pitt senior quarterback Nate Peterman began the season as a game manager. Hes become a difference maker in offensive coordinator Matt Canadas increasingly diverse offense. Peterman threw for a career-high five touchdowns against Clemson and his deft ball distribution is one of the main reasons the Panthers are averaging 37.6 points per game, third in the ACC.---AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.---AP College Football site: www.collegefootball.ap.org Cheap NFL Jerseys China Discount NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys 2019 Cheap Jerseys 2020 Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China ' ' '
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