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.

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TO BE THE MAN, YOU GOTTA BEAT THE MAN!

The answers in the outfield are becoming clearer than the Astros hoped

*Note: Some Advanced Statistics, courtesy of Baseball Savant, do not include Thursday night's game against the Diamondbacks. Others, courtesy of Fangraphs, do include Thursday night's game*

The Corpus Christi Hooks Twitter account confirmed that Yordan Alvarez is alive and able to take swings, meaning the slugger's return to the Astros lineup is getting closer. Alvarez will get a bulk of the DH at-bats. With Springer being the primary center fielder, and Brantley being the primary left fielder, Dusty Baker will have to choose between Josh Reddick and Kyle Tucker for his primary right fielder. Who should he choose?

How do you boil down picking between two players to one question? What is the most important thing to judge a hitter on? The answer

The better player is the player that does the most damage consistently.

Sounds easy, right? But how do you judge that?

  1. Hard Hit %
  2. BB:K
  3. Contact %

Why these three? Well, hitting the ball hard usually leads to damage, so it is good to hit the ball hard. A player that walks and strikes out roughly the same amount is generally pretty consistent, so BB:K ratios closer to 1:1 (this is extremely rare, and a vast majority of MLB hitters are worse than 1:2) are good. Lastly, players that make contact a lot not only can generally do more of the little things like moving runners over, lifting a ball with a runner on third, or executing a hit & run, but also they generally don't swing and miss at their pitch when they get it. Action happens.

Kyle Tucker has a hard hit % of 38.5% so far in 2020. That is 55th in MLB amongst players with at least 25 batted balls (Tucker has 26). For context, Padres star third baseman Manny Machado is ranked 54th with 38.9%, thorn-in-the-Astros-side Kole Calhoun is t-58th at 37.9%, and Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis leads the big leagues at 66.7% (wow).

So, more than 1/3rd of the time Tucker makes contact, he hits it hard. That's pretty good...But how often does he make contact?

Tucker has a contact % of 75.6%, meaning he makes contact with the baseball three out of every four times he swings the bat. That is 88th amongst qualified hitters. He is 1% worse than the slumping Jose Altuve, tied with that guy Kole Calhoun again, and about 1% better than the also-slumping George Springer. Tucker is far from elite at putting the bat on the ball, but he isn't terrible either.

However, despite hitting baseball's hard one-third of the time and making contact three-thirds of the time, Tucker strikes out entirely too much. His 29.3% K-rate is the 35th worst in baseball, and he doesn't offset the strikeouts with a lot of walks either. Tucker walks just 7.3% of the time, which is the 62nd lowest. Ultimately, Tucker has a BB:K ratio of 0.25, which is 49th in MLB right now.

Lastly, while it isn't part of the criteria above, Tucker doesn't have a very diverse batted ball portfolio. Tucker hits the ball to the pull side 65% of the time, and he's hit it on the ground 50% of the time. Eventually, teams will start placing heavy shifts on him, and those balls that have snuck through holes in the early parts of the year won't anymore.

But, is Josh Reddick any better? While none of Tucker's numbers blow you away, they aren't terrible, and he's a young prospect that needs playing time to develop.

Reddick has a 31.3% hard hit % so far in 2020, about seven percentage points below Tucker. 31.3% places Reddick in 96th place, between players like Marcus Semien and Yuli Gurriel. So, Tucker has Reddick beat here, but it isn't by a landslide.

Reddick has a contact % of 80.5%, which is 50th in MLB right now. He's better than Tucker by 5%, and he's in the top quartile in baseball. Reddick also sprays the ball around when he makes contact, hitting the ball to center field 43.8% of the time, right field 37.5% of the time, and left field 18.8% of the time. His ground ball rate is also 31%, almost 20% lower than Tucker's. That would explain why Reddick and Tucker's Barrel % (hard hit baseballs hit in the most desired exit velocity) are within a percentage point of one another despite Tucker having a seven point hard hit advantage.

Lastly, Reddick doesn't strike out very much. He strikes out 14% of the time, which is the 34th best K% in baseball (funny enough, Gurriel and Brantley are 33rd and 32nd). While Reddick doesn't walk a ton either, he walks more than Tucker, clocking in four percentage points better at 11.6%. That results in a BB:K ratio of 0.83, which is tied with Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman for the 30th best in MLB.

Throw in the fact that Reddick plays significantly better defense, and it's really a no-brainer who should play. Astros fans might want the sexier and newer model in Tucker, but it isn't time to trade in old reliable just yet. When Yordan Alvarez returns, Josh Reddick is the right answer in right field.

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