Category Archives: GIF Palace

The First NFL Gif of the Season

An obligatory gif of Antonio Brown kicking Cleveland punter Spencer Lanning right in the face.

antonio

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Cool Sports Thing of the Day: 8/28/14

Chicago Cubs rookie outfielder Jorge Soler was mentioned in yesterday’s Cool Sports Thing, and he did not disappoint in his debut.

Soler took Mat Latos deep in his first career at-bat, and it was very fantastic to watch.

jorge

But how does it compare to Javier Baez’s first home run, which came in his first game less than a month ago?

javy 1

An Examination of Chris Davis

By Murphy Powell


A fair amount has been written about both Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles and his season. Put simply, Davis has been a train wreck combined with a tire fire. He was the third-best hitter in all of baseball last year, which is shocking for me to even write considering how bad he is right now. This is just a snapshot of his numbers between 2013 and 2014.

__ Batting Avg. On-base % ISO BABIP wOBA wRC+
2013 0.286 0.370 0.348 0.336 0.421 168
2014 0.191 0.296 0.202 0.241 0.302 89

So everything is worse, which – not surprisingly – leads to a worse season. While he’s still hitting for great power, it’s nothing close to what he was hitting in 2013. It woul be pretty easy to look at his BABIP, which often is an indicator of how lucky a hitter is, and say Davis has just been tremendously unlucky this year, and was super lucky last year.

And you wouldn’t be wrong, necessarily. He has been unlucky this year. But his career BABIP is .323, which isn’t too far off from the .336 he posted last year. So I guess a positive here is that if the season were, I don’t know, 250 games instead of 162, Davis would probably stop being so unlucky and get closer to normal. Unfortunately it’s not 250 games, so he might not turn it around so quickly.

When hitters have a major breakout year like Davis did in 2013, it probably shouldn’t be too surprising if they drop back a little in the following year. It often is a surprise, but pitchers scout those hitters a little harder, coaching staffs focus on them more, and so on and so on. So naturally, if a pitcher realizes a hitter totally crushes sliders and fastballs, that pitcher – if he’s not a dummy – will likely throw fewer sliders and fastballs, or at least fewer of those that are hittable.

Using pitch values from FanGraphs, we can see that, last season, Davis was that guy who crushed fastballs and sliders (and changeups, too).

Pitch Values Fastballs Sliders Cutters Curveballs Changeups
2013 1.7 3.4 1.98 0.94 5.71
2014 0.98 0.9 2.3 -3.07 -2.27

*These pitch values can be intimidating, but they aren’t too difficult to understand. The ones I used are weighted for every 100 pitches. Ranges for these for MLB hitters on any pitch are usually between -1.5 and +1.5, with anything higher than 0 as better than average, and anything lower than 0 as worse than average.*

So Davis was better than most at hitting fastballs in 2013, and he was even better at hitting sliders and changups. This year, though, he can’t seem to hit any of those three kinds of pitches as well, and he pretty much can’t hit a curveball or changeup at all.

Would you like to guess what non-fastball pitches he’s been getting more? Did you guess curveballs and changeups?  If you did, congratulations! You’re correct! Pitchers have adjusted to Davis hitting fastballs and sliders, and they’ve started to give him more curveballs and changeups, which, again, he can’t seem to hit this year. So part of Davis’ problem could simply be that he’s being pitched to differently.

And it’s not only that different kinds of pitches are coming to Davis. Pitchers are throwing low and away more often, and it’s hurting his numbers. Below is what I’m going to call an animation showing where pitches are coming to Davis. It’s from the catcher’s point of view, and it reads like a heatmap; white is neutral, red means more pitches are coming in that location and blue means fewer pitches are coming in that location.

pitch percent

So it’s pretty clear that 2014 pitchers are focusing on Davis low and away, which is a good idea since Davis is having trouble hitting those pitches, as shown in this second animation, or whatever it is.

avg

So pitchers are coming at him differently, and he’s hitting differently. In 2013, Davis could basically hit anything in the strike zone and even a little bit below the zone. This year, he seemingly can’t hit the ball unless it’s low in the zone, and even then it’s a little shaky.

He’s also changed his approach a little bit. While Davis is chasing fewer pitches out of the zone, he’s also swinging less in general, even at strikes, and that’s a trend that’s been going on since 2012. And not swinging at strikes isn’t always a bad thing; Joey Votto swings less than almost anyone, and he’s a pretty good hitter. What’s a little troubling is that Davis is making less contact when he does swing, and that’s also a trend two years in the making. Of course, when a guy is hitting .286 and blasting 53 home runs, who cares if he’s making less contact? But when those 53 dingers turn into 21 and that .286 average drops below .200, we can start to be concerned.

So it’s all kind of going against Davis right now. He’s trying to be more patient, but pitchers are recognizing that and throwing him more strikes. And when he gets behind in the count, it makes things a little more difficult. Plus those mean old pitchers are throwing him pitches he doesn’t hit so well. It’s been an off year for Davis, and he’s still hitting for really good power. Not as much as 2013, but still a lot. If he can do that, and maybe turn things on for the last 35 or so games and into the playoffs, his team could make some kind of run. Maybe not a great run, but some kind of run.


Murphy Powell is a creator of Scouts Alley. You can follow him on Twitter @MurphyPowell.

Cool Sports Thing of the Day: 8/4/14

The San Francisco Giants DFA’d former Atlanta Braves legend Dan Uggla on Friday. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Uggla’s time for the Giants, we’d like to have a short remembrance of his time there, because one of our creators had this idea and he doesn’t want it to go to waste.

To start things, here is Uggla’s first hit with the organization.

uggla 1

Wow. A beautiful swing.

And now some fine defensive plays from Uggla, because he didn’t get a hit in any of the four games he played with the big club.

uggla catch

Ok… that was fine. Maybe tricky because of the wind.

dan

Ok, that was a good play. Good one to end on. Good luck, Dan.

Introducing the GIF Palace

By Murphy Powell


We enjoy making gifs here. We do so too often, probably. And because we make them so often, it’s only appropriate to have a special place for them. That’s where the GIF Palace comes in. The GIF Palace is a place readers can come to see every post we make that features a gif somewhere in it.

The posts here will often be posts that are elsewhere. For instance, if we have a post about LeBron James, but it just features a gif at the end, it’s here.

Or, if a post is like this one, and just has Mike Trout hitting a ball to another Mike Trout, and that Mike Trout throws a third Mike Trout out at home with no context, it comes here as well.

Enjoy.

Trouty


Murphy Powell is a creator of Scouts Alley. You can follow him on Twitter @MurphyPowell.

Andrelton, a GIF

By Murphy Powell


Andrelton Simmons of the Braves just made a tremendous play, which isn’t surprising. I have to imagine this new “Andrelton, a GIF” series will take off. First, the GIF, then the video – in case that’s what you prefer.

andy1

http://m.braves.mlb.com/atl/video/v34881149/sdatl-simmons-barehands-a-grounder-retires-venable/?partnerId=as_mlb_20140728_28621246


Murphy Powell is a creator of Scouts Alley. You can follow him on Twitter @MurphyPowell.

A GIF Celebration of the Home Run Derby

By Murphy Powell


With the Home Run Derby, we see several strong, scary, talented baseball players hit baseballs to extreme distances. Here are five gifs of last night’s derby, which is especially useful if you missed it. If you see these five, you essentially saw the whole thing.

1) Yoenis Cespedes won the derby. Here is one of his 30 dingers from last night.

yoenis 1

2) Jose Bautista also did very well. Not as well, however, as Cespedes. But Joey Bats can hit it.

joe bats

3) Let us shift now into black-and-white, old monster movie mode. Giancarlo Stanton hit a ball more than 500 feet last night, and here is that home run. I present to you “Stanton: The Beast.”

stanton the beast

4) See the public watch The Beast with both tremendous fear and inspiring awe.

fans

5) And, finally, Yoenis again. The King.

yo 2


 

Murphy Powell is a creator of Scouts Alley. Follow him on Twitter @MurphyPowell.

Evan Gattis in the Form of GIFs

By Murphy Powell


Evan Gattis. Janitor, ski lift operator, pizza maker, valet, national park worker, son, brother, catcher, occasional outfielder, catcher and – most importantly for this post – home run hitter.

We – America, that is – have been robbed of a potentially great performance. Evan Gattis is hurt and, thus, will not be able to participate in tonight’s home run derby.

What follows is a collection of gifs. Glorious, magnificent gifs that feature Evan Gattis hitting a bunch of home runs. One could call it an “una feria de cañonazos de cuatro esquinas” – or, a carnival of four-corner cannon blasts.

(Note: these gifs might take a minute to get up to full speed. Be patient and you shall reap the rewards.)

Wow.

gat man 2

A genius. An artist.

gat man 3

A hero. A national treasure.

gat man 4

A walk-off.

gat man 5

Gattis breaks hearts. Gattis breaks spirits. Gattis is a hero. Gattis is a legend.

shame


Murphy Powell is a creator of Scouts Alley. You can follow him on Twitter @MurphyPowell.

Why Heat Fans Shouldn’t Be Mad at LeBron James

By John Stoeter


 

Photo Credit: By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Dwyane Wade an LeBron James) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Dwyane Wade an LeBron James) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

While it is understandable for any Miami Heat fan to be upset with LeBron James for leaving the  Heat, they should first look at everything he brought to the organization during his tenure in Miami.

Dwyane Wade and his 26.6 PPG led the 2009-2010 Miami Heat team to a 47-35 record, which qualified for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. However their playoff run was short-lived as they were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round.

According to Basketball Reference, Jermaine O’Neal was the highest paid player with a whopping salary of $23,010,000. Udonis Haslem was second on the team in Win Shares with 6, followed closely behind Quentin Richardson with 5.8. And they ranked 15th in attendance with 726,935.

Now let’s take a look at the 2010-2011 Miami Heat team which included the emergence of LeBron James and Chris Bosh alongside Dwyane Wade. The Miami Heat improved to a 61-21 record and found themselves in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. They improved their attendance to 5th in the NBA with 810,930. In the 2011-2012 NBA season they were 4th in the league with an attendance of 657,855. (Keep in mind that the 2011-2012 NBA season was shortened to 66 games due to a NBA lockout.) The Miami Heat attendance rate increased to 3rd in the league during the 2012-2013 NBA season with 819,290. And even though the Heat didn’t see an increase in attendance during the 2013-2014 season, it still qualified for 4th-best in the NBA.

During the four seasons LeBron James played for the Miami Heat, they had a top-five attendance rate. Not only did LeBron James bring an influx of money to Heat organization, he also brought championships back along with him. The Miami Heat won two consecutive NBA titles from 2012-2013. LeBron James won the MVP award and the Finals MVP award during both of those seasons. James brought a much needed excitement back to the city of Miami. He brought resilience and recognition back to an organization in need of it. But most importantly he brought back two banners that now hang proudly in AmericanAirlines Arena.

For instance, fellow Scouts Alley creator Murphy Powell and I attended Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals. We went to the NBA Finals strictly just to see LeBron James, the greatest player in the NBA. And while the both of us have always liked the Miami Heat because they were in Florida, we never truly cared for them. We never truly cared until LeBron James joined the team that is. And the high increase in attendance shows that many other NBA fans felt the same way as we did.

So to any bitter Miami Heat fans, you should be thankful for everything LeBron James has done for the Miami Heat organization. The recognition and relevance in which the Miami Heat have received these past four seasons are all thanks to LeBron James. Unless you are a die-hard Miami Heat fan, the average fan would not even remember Quentin Richardson. Yet, he was the Miami Heat’s third most productive player from the 2009-2010 season. Would y’all have rather seen more consecutive seasons such as the 2009-2010 season, or the four amazing and energizing seasons LeBron James provided? So be happy for the many wonderful memories that LeBron James shared with Miami.

The Miami Heat will see a decrease in attendance this year and the fans can clamor it’s because of “bandwagon” fans. But once the bitterness and heartbreak subsides, they’ll truly see how lucky they were to witness the King James dynasty in Miami. Heat fans will remember the shoe-less Mike Miller, LeBron losing his headband, the infamous Ray Allen shot, and all the excitement Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals brought. They’ll look into those rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena and thank LeBron James for his 2012 and 2013 NBA Championships, and truly realize the legacy he created for the Miami Heat organization.

  • LeBron’s left-handed game winner in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013

Lebron James

  • LeBron’s career-ending dunk on Jason Terry

Lebron James

  • LeBron’s clutch shot to ice Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

Lebron James

  • LeBron’s monsterous block on Tiago Splitter

Lebron James