The Vanishing .300 Hitter; Dunleavy's Impressive Debut; Lucky Man
As of this morning, there are exactly eight players in the major leagues hitting .300 or better. Eight. Out of the 300 or so men who play regularly across the leagues, only eight are hitting .300. They play on eight different teams, which that means 22 of the 30 teams in major league baseball don't have a .300 hitter. it wasn't that long ago--the year 2000 to be exact--that there were 63 .300 hitters in the majors. From 1993-2009, the leagues averaged 47 per year. A fellow named Ted Williams (below) hit .344 for his career!
The number has been decreasing since 2010, when there were 29 .300 hitters. Last year there were 11. The dropoff coincided with the end of the steroid era. Many baseball insiders point to MLB's tougher drug policies, the Mitchell Report, which named many top players as steroids users, and the whole PED fallout, for the decline. I'd hoped that the new rules outlawing shifts would result in more balls getting through the infields this year. But that hasn't been the case. Pitchers throwing 100 mph are commonplace now, where they used to be a rarity. Teams use four or five pitchers a game, bringing in fresh arms in the late innings. Coaches and analysts focus on spin rates and launch angles, rather than improving swings, stances, chase rates and opposite field hitting. All of which have made it harder to hit .300. So home runs and strikeouts continue to dominate the box scores. Batting averages and base hits are down. And I don't see it changing anytime soon.
Dunleavy's Debut: After an eventful and highly successful draft day for the Warriors', the same fans who once booed Mike Dunleavy Jr. as an under-achieving No. 3 overall draft pick were singing his praises as a--so far--very astute GM.
Dunleavy started the day by unloading guard Jordan Poole, and his $140 million, 4-year contract, and picking up future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul.
Poole, you'll recall, was seen as the future of the franchise after a superb 2021-22 season and a strong performance in the playoffs. But this year his weaknesses were exposed.
The Warriors put a premium on defense, and Poole is one of the worst defenders in the NBA. He also became a turnover machine, particularly late in the game. As a result, his playing time in this year's playoffs was reduced dramatically.
Paul, on the other hand, gives the Warriors a seasoned leader and proven backup for Stephen Curry, who can also play alongside Steph and Klay Thompson at times. I think it was a brilliant move.
In the draft, Dunleave chose Santa Clara's Brandin Podziemski with the 19th pick. To be honest, I wasn't familiar with him, as Santa Clara gets almost no coverage in the SF Chronicle and the Athletic. But he's a stud.
Podziemski was co-Player of the Year in the WCC with Gonzaga's Drew Timme. He averaged 20 points and just under 9 rebounds per game, leading the league in rebounding as a 6-5 shooting guard. Even more impressive is the fact that he hit 44% of his shots from 3-point range.
Finally, Dunleavy made a late "addendum" to his trade with the Wizards. In addition to giving the hapless Wizards Poole, Ryan Rollins and two future draft picks in 2027 and 2030 for Paul, he shipped them still raw, 20-year old Patrick Baldwin in exchange for their #57 pick, which he used to grab 6-9 power forward Trace-Jackson Davis from Indiana.
That was an incredible steal on the next-to-last pick of the draft.
The 23-year old Davis has been one of the most consistent players in the country the last three years, averaging 21, 19 and 18 points, and 11, 8 and 9 rebounds per game. I watched him destroy Purdue's 7-4 Zach Edey and was duly impressed. His inside presence and experience should make him an immediate contributor.
All in all, it was a banner day for the Warriors and Dunleavy.
52 and Counting: My wife, Christy, and I are celebrating our 52nd wedding anniversary today. She's a saint for putting up with me for 52 years.
And I'm the luckiest man on the planet. I feel like we're still on our honeymoon.
Happy Anniversary sweetheart. It's an honor to be your husband.