May 25, 2024

Yankees, Astros hit some long home runs; Ohtani-Mizuhara saga getting Hollywood treatment

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There were a LOT of monster home runs hit in the Yankees/Astros series, Ken has notes on the trade market for Mason Miller and they are making a TV show about Ippei Mizuhara (no, really). I’m Levi Weaver, here with Ken Rosenthal — welcome to The Windup!

Big-time home runs

At first glance, the Astros’ 4-3 win over the Yankees yesterday might seem slightly interesting for one reason only: with the win, the Astros avoided a season sweep at the hands of the team they bounced from the playoffs in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2022. Vengeance is always a little noteworthy.

But for any stat nerds who might be reading, this game (and series) featured some huge home runs that warrant a second look.

Let’s start with Yordan Alvarez’s blast in the first inning. It only went 395 feet because it was hit at a launch angle of 23 degrees, but make no mistake: It was scorched.

If Alvarez had hit it in the first inning of Tuesday’s game, it would have been the second-highest exit velocity of any home run hit this year, at 116.8 mph, trailing only Shohei Ohtani’s 118.7.

But it registered fourth, thanks to Giancarlo Stanton’s week — he hit one 118.8 on Tuesday, and followed it with 119.9 on Wednesday.

There was more: Jon Singleton’s upper-deck-clanking home run later in yesterday’s first inning still cracked the top five hardest-hit homers this year, at 115.4 mph. Four of the top five! In one series!

Actually, make that five of the top six, because Singleton was bumped from the five spot just a couple of hours later. In the eighth inning, Aaron Judge unleashed one at 115.7 mph. It sailed 473 feet, which tied Mike Trout for the longest home run hit in the big leagues this year.

There was one other home run yesterday, and it’s funny to me because it was the polar opposite of the laser-fest. There have only been two home runs hit this year on balls hit under 99 mph with a launch angle of at least 43 degrees. One was yesterday’s third-inning, uhhh … blast? by Anthony Volpe. The other? Kyle Tucker of the (who else) Astros, who did it on April 27 against the Rockies.

Ken’s Notebook: Steep asking price for A’s Mason Miller

From my latest story on the possibility of the A’s trading Mason Miller:

Naturally, teams are calling the Oakland Athletics with trade interest in their 100-mph-throwing closer, right-hander Mason Miller. And naturally, the A’s are asking for a ton in return.

No team has come close to meeting the A’s price, according to a team source. Perhaps no team will. Miller, 25, is not only Oakland’s best young player but also their best player, period. To acquire him, a team likely would need to give up a young player of comparable ability, or a substantial package of multiple youngsters who could be part of the A’s future.

Thus, if the Padres wanted Miller at this early stage, the A’s likely would ask for rookie center fielder Jackson Merrill. Other teams would be hit with similar requests. Baseball Trade Values estimates a fair deal with the Baltimore Orioles would involve two of Keith Law’s top 100 prospects: corner infielder Coby Mayo (No. 27) and outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. (No. 64).

Miller, earning $740,000 this season, is not eligible for arbitration until 2026 and is under club control through 2029.

The A’s, though, will not rule out trading him. Teams entertain discussions on virtually all players. The performance of most relievers is volatile. And Miller missed almost four months last season with a mild UCL sprain in his right elbow.

On the other hand, the A’s say they are planning to ramp up their payroll and improve their roster as they prepare for their scheduled move to Las Vegas in 2028. Miller could play an important role in that process, giving the franchise credibility and identity during the three seasons it plans to spend in Sacramento.

His value, at the moment, is extremely high. Miller has helped fuel the A’s surprising 18-21 start, going a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities. He gives the team not only its best chance of remaining competitive but also its most compelling figure since 2021, when the Oakland roster included Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Sean Murphy, along with Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt.

In 16 1/3 innings, Miller has struck out 33 while allowing only seven hits and four walks. His 55 percent strikeout rate is by far the highest among major-league relievers. His ERA is 1.10. His opponents’ batting average is .125. And his expected numbers in both categories — 0.76 ERA, .087 batting average — are even better.

Ohtani-Mizuhara saga in TV show form

Who asked for this?

Maybe I’m hypocritical. After all, I’m three episodes deep on HBO’s “Love & Death,” which is based on a true story. But that miniseries is set in 1980. Do we already need a TV show for a gambling scandal that came to light less than two months ago?

Need it or not, it looks like we’re getting it. Lionsgate Television is developing a scripted television series about Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter. From our story:

“The show will follow Ohtani’s rise, including his record-setting 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers in December and the news months later that Ohtani’s then-interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, allegedly stole $17 million from the baseball icon to pay off gambling debts.”

I had so many questions when I first heard about this. After a little digging, I was able to find answers to a couple of them — they are in parentheses.

• Does Lionsgate need a life rights agreement from Mizuhara or Ohtani to make this show? (Technically, no! Though if they want to portray Ohtani in an Angels or Dodgers uniform, they’ll have to secure those rights from MLB.)

• Speaking of which, how much of this will be focused on Ohtani’s baseball career? (Some! That part is covered in our story.)

• Why are they doing this now? (I don’t have any additional info here, beyond a guess that it makes business sense to strike while the iron is hot.)

• Does Lionsgate plan to recast Ohtani, or will they stick with the guy who played him last time? (Jokes aside, the cast has not been announced yet.)

If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m skeptical (or perhaps cynical) about this. But if I might offer one casting suggestion: Get this guy on board to play Mike Trout.

Baseball Card(s) of the Week

Notice anything about these 1969-1971 cards of Mr. Fryman?

I noticed it for the first time today while I was flipping through a box of old cards. On the 1969 version, his first name is spelled “Woody” but by 1971, it was “Woodie” (which is how it remained for the rest of his 18-year career).

I never did find an official explanation (the unofficial one: Topps just didn’t know), but I did learn that Fryman once struck out 32 batters in a 13-inning perfect game at 19 years old, and was diagnosed with an arthritic elbow … in the late 1960s (his career lasted through 1983).

Handshakes and High Fives

We had a lot on Paul Skenes in yesterday’s newsletter, but we have a lot more today! Stephen Nesbitt gives you a full run-down/intro to the Pirates mega-prospect, and Rustin Dodd tells us a bit more about Skenes’ time at Air Force before he transferred to LSU.

Tyler Kepner’s “Sliders” column focuses on William Contreras, who has been hitting like a maniac for the Brewers.

Trade carousel time: The Angels acquired infielder Luis Guillorme from the Braves (and placed Anthony Rendon on the 60-day IL). The Braves then turned around and nabbed Zack Short from the Red Sox.

Mike Trout spoke to the media for the first time since his surgery, revealing that he had the option to play through the pain at DH, but chose to get fully healthy by opting for surgery.

Huh. So Chadwick Tromp didn’t pick that number on purpose, after all. Sam Blum investigates.

Grant Brisbee informs us that this is the deepest the Giants have gotten into a season without at least one three-game winning streak since 1977.

Zack Meisel and Jason Lloyd go back and forth on the sustainability of this Guardians team — they’re 24-14 despite a lot of things going wrong.

Chris Kirschner digs in (pun intentional) on Clarke Schmidt’s success and how the length of his fingernails is a factor. No, really!

Aaron Gleeman has a great profile on the Twins’ Willi Castro today. Not included: This bonkers tip-drill catch from yesterday:

You can buy tickets to every MLB game here.

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(Top photo of Giancarlo Stanton: Brad Penner / USA Today)