First base: Mark Trumbo is good. Although he made the All-Star team, Trumbo's big season for the Angels has been somewhat ignored due to the emergence of super rookie Mike Trout. Trumbo had another big day on Sunday, going 3-for-5 including a low screamer of a home run in the Angels' 10-8 victory over the Yankees (which ended with Alex Rodriguez popping out to Albert Pujols with the bases loaded). There are a lot of different ways you can break down Trumbo's improvement from his rookie season. His plate discipline has improved -- his walk rate has increased from 4.4 percent to 7.2 percent. But he's done a better of job recognizing offspeed stuff. A year ago, he hit 10 home runs against "soft" pitches. This year, he has already hit 12. Here are his heat maps showing his batting average against soft pitches in 2011 and 2012:
Second base: Break up the A's! The A's swept the Twins, have won nine of 10 and sit just a half-game out of the wild-card lead (currently shared by the Angels and Orioles). Not a bad place to be for a team that lost nine in a row in late May/early June. Yoenis Cespedes was the big gun on Sunday, going 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. The A's scored 24 runs in the three games against Minnesota but the pitching staff allowed three or fewer runs in eight of the nine victories during this stretch. Can the A's actually hang in this thing? Their next 25 games are against teams currently above .500. Most of those games are against the AL East, two are against the Rangers and three against the Angels.
Third base: Stephen Strasburg rolls on. In his first post-All-Star start, Strasburg threw 105 pitches over six scoreless innings as the Nationals blanked the Marlins 4-0. The Marlins loaded the bases in the third with one out but Strasburg fanned Logan Morrison and induced Hanley Ramirez to ground out. The Marlins also loaded the bases with no outs against Tyler Clippard in the ninth but failed to score. There was also a little exchange of words between Bryce Harper and Ozzie Guillen concerning the amount of pine tar and Harper's bat.
For those keeping track, Strasburg is now at 105 innings. If he starts every fifth game (or sixth game, since the Nationals have two doubleheaders) and averages six innings per start, that puts his drop-dead date of 160 innings on Sept. 7, the Nationals' 138th game (or Sept. 2, if he gets an extra inning in there somewhere). If you're keeping track, that is.
Home plate: Tweet of the day. Billy Hamilton is fast. Billy Hamilton has 109 stolen bases. Billy Hamilton hit an inside-the-park home run today. And there's video!
We're going to a ball diamond, and filming us run around the bases tomorrow. I want to see how we compare to Billy Hamilton. It will be sad.
-- Dustin Parkes (@dustinparkes) July 16, 2012