WAKE UP NFL

Making a case for Colin Kaepernick

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

THE CASE FOR COLIN KAEPERNICK

Over the weekend Colin Kaepernick had a workout. It was a circus and there was a lot to be said about it. Stephen A Smith and Max Kellerman could have done a whole special on the issues hovering over this one and I know there's plenty of people who say that alone is a good enough reason to not bring this guy back. If you're a fan of some teams right now though, you might need to be rethinking your position and honestly there's plenty of reasons to bring him back.

SO MANY BAD QUARTERBACKS ALREADY

If you're the Washington Redskins, you could easily absorb another controversy because as far as your front office is concerned, nothing is wrong in 1-9 Washington and maybe the O-Line won't laugh at this guy as he begs them to block. Tampa Bay keeps talking itself into giving $20 million dollars to Jameis Winston who has never shown he is worthy of this much patience. The Bengals could use anyone else at quarterback as Andy Dalton is having a meltdown on the field in real time and will this guy even be in the league next year? The Titans have already quit on Mariota and got nothing else to lose. The Chargers long time starter just threw four interceptions in a game they had to have against a division rival, so wouldn't it be nice to know there's someone behind him to look towards as they continue their LA transition? The Broncos still don't have a quarterback and just IR'ed Flacco after he said they are the problem (to be fair, he probably thinks Baltimore was the problem too). The Bears are a quarterback away from being a wild card team and the Lions are back to playing Lions football and Carolina has no clue if or when Cam Newton is coming back. That's nine teams that don't have a very good reason to not at least give a look at bringing Kaepernick onto the roster.

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER

A few years ago Teddy was the guy in Minnesota. They had him and Adrian Peterson and spent money on offensive players and really thought they were going to be the jewel of the NFC North and then Bridgewater suffers one of the most horrific knee injuries in recent major sports memory during a practice, with rampant speculation about whether or not he'd ever play again starting immediately. It takes all of the 2016 season and then in 2017 he plays in one game. He then signs in New Orleans and plays in five games and looks good and New Orleans loves him and paid him decent money to stick around and he passed up a chance to start in Miami to stay in New Orleans according to rumors. Then this year he steps in for Drew Brees and keeps the Saints season alive to hand back to Drew when he's healthy. I say all of this to say, the right team could manage the rust off of Colin like New Orleans did for Bridgewater. Kaepernick could come in on pitch counts and work his way back in if the issue is being in shape, and if he's in shape and playing then he buys a franchise a few years at starter so they can take their time in finding the next franchise quarterback.

MICHAEL VICK, TYREEK HILL AND KAREEM HUNT

There are guys who played in the league after going to prison (Michael Vick). There are guys in the league who are on video assaulting women (Kareem Hunt). There are guys in the league who have failed drug tests (Josh Gordon). There are guys in the league who have plead to DUIs and DWIs (numerous). There are guys who are accused of beating their children (Tyreek Hill). There are guys who have pled guilty to reckless assault after being charged with a felony for child abuse (Adrian Peterson). That guy recently admitted he still uses a belt to discipline his children. Greg Hardy played another year in the league after allegedly beating his then girlfriend and throwing her on a pile of assault rifles and threatening to kill her. I say all of that to say Colin Kaepernick hasn't had any of these kinds of issues, he made a political statement and it seems to say more about the people who don't want to see him come back but have been far quieter about the other guys who have come back over the years.

AND SO...

I know there's controversy to deciding to bring Colin Kaepernick back, but the reality is there are bad quarterbacks in the league now, there are bad teams in the league and there are worse guys in the league than him. So what hill exactly are we all trying to die on here? What's the point of the fight to keep him out? Because he disagreed with some people politically and chose a visible way to get their attention to show them as much? I won't get into the rights and wrongs of kneeling or not kneeling, the hypocrisy of the NFL making the US armed services pay them to recognize veterans while asking the fans to please stand and honor the troops. It's a disservice to us the tax payers and an insult to us as Americans the way the NFL has turned patriotism into ratings and therefore Kaepernick into a problem. Bring him back and prove him wrong or prove him right by how you react next time someone says something you disagree with.

Feel free to check out my brand-new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Here's what the data tells us about Bregman. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Alex Bregman had a rough season in 2020 by his standards. He slashed .242/.350/.451 in 42 regular season games. His regular season included a trip to the 10-day IL for a hamstring strain he suffered in mid-August. His surface-level struggles continued in the postseason, where he slashed .220/.316/.300 in 13 games. However, that postseason sample size does include a tough luck game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he went 0-for-5 with five hard hit balls.

All-in-all, 2020 felt like a lost season for Bregman. He never really got going. He got off to a slow start, but he's always been a slow starter. Once he started to pick it up, he strained his hamstring, and he played poorly after returning from the hamstring strain. Then, he started to turn his batted ball quality around in the playoffs, but he hit into a lot of tough luck outs.

Hard Hit % - 33.6%

Barrel % - 3.9%

K% - 14.4%

BB% - 13.3%

Chase % - 18.1%

Bregman comes from the Michael Brantley school of hitters. He has elite plate discipline and elite bat-to-ball skills. This makes Bregman a fairly consistent hitter. That may sound odd considering his 2020 "struggles" but even an extended period of poor performance for him resulted in a .801 OPS and a 122 wRC+. If his valleys are still 22% better than the league average hitter, then that's a pretty reliable producer.

There aren't any alarming trends in Bregman's statistics. Yes, his K% was slightly up, his BB% is slightly down, but it isn't a massive difference in either category. His Chase % was up, but again, 18.1% is elite discipline. The biggest drop was in his Hard Hit%, where he fell from 38% to 33.6%. Even so, his average exit velocity only dropped .4 MPH, so there's not really a catastrophic trend here.

His .254 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was low, but he's never put up really high BABIP numbers. In fact, his BABIP has gotten worse every year of his career, from .317 to .311 to .289 to .281 to .254. While his BABIP will likely spike back up next year, it isn't enough to be the difference between the 2019 and 2020 versions of himself. His xBA and xSLG weren't out of whack either. His .256 xBA isn't much better than his .240 AVG, and his .400 xSLG is actually worse than his .451 SLG.

Bregman is as forthcoming with his hitting mechanics, approach, and mental cues as any big leaguer out there. Here is what he had to say about his swing this year. This was a Zoom press conference with the media following the Astros game on September 25th against the Rangers.

Bregman says he wants to hit balls in the air to the pull side and on a line to the opposite field, but in reality, he was hitting flares to the opposite field and hitting them on the ground to the pull side.

The data mostly backs up that claim. In 2019, on balls hit to the pull side, Bregman had an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH at an average launch angle of 16°, a 40% Hard Hit %, and a 16% HR%. Since Bregman has elite bat-to-ball skills, most of those metrics didn't change. In 2020, his average exit velocity was 90.6, essentially the same as 2019. His Hard Hit % was 42%, a touch better than in 2019. However, his average launch angle dipped from 16° to 11°, which contributed to his HR% dropping all the way to 9%. Bregman hit 47% of his pull side swings on the ground. In 2019, that number was 40%. He absolutely had less production to the pull side in 2020.

The data gets a little hazier going the opposite way when comparing 2019 to 2020, as Bregman actually performed slightly better to the opposite field in 2020 than 2019, but he also only had 20 batted balls to the opposite field all season. Considering the small sample size, it isn't worth diving too deep into the data.

He's right that most of the balls he hit that way were flares. He had an average exit velocity of 83.4 MPH with an average launch angle of 32°, but that's about the same as what he did in 2019. A lot of the statistical drop off comes from balls that were backspun rockets to the pull side in 2019 becoming top spinners or roll overs in 2020.

Bregman also performed horribly against breaking balls in 2020. He batted .150 with a .250 SLG against them in 2020. He had an 84 MPH Average Exit Velocity against them and whiffed 26.5% of the time against them.

It was a far cry from 2019, when he hit .265 with a .588 SLG, 87 MPH average exit velo, and whiffed 18% of the time.

Those numbers lend credence to his statement on his mechanics. It's tough for a hitter to have adjustability against breaking balls if he's blowing out his front side and pulling off of the baseball.

Bregman will spend the offseason working on these mechanical fixes and getting back to the hitter he used to be. If he's consistently hitting the ball in the air to the pull side next year, and he's performing better against breaking balls, then he should be right back in the mix for AL MVP.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome