Jeff Passan

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Jeff Passan is an award-winning columnist who has covered baseball since 2004. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in journalism. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October.

  • Everyone hates Bryce Harper? Here's why they shouldn't

    Here is an opinion, from a group of anonymous players surveyed this spring: Bryce Harper, 21 years old, left fielder for the Washington Nationals, is the most overrated player in baseball.

    Here is a fact, from a seemingly mythical place where truth supersedes opinion: In baseball history, 11 players have finished their age-20 season with an on-base percentage of .350 or better and a slugging percentage of .475 and up. The first six are in the Hall of Fame. Vada Pinson sustained a long, underrated career. Ken Griffey Jr. is a first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famer. Alex Rodriguez, for his many warts, remains an all-time brilliant ballplayer. Mike Trout is the best player alive. Bryce Harper is the 11th.

    Here is another fact, from a land in which perception takes a backseat to reality: Three players have logged more than 1,000 plate appearances through age 20 and put up that same .350-plus OBP and .475-plus slugging percentage. The first was Mel Ott. The second was Mickey Mantle. The third

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  • Miguel Cabrera's $292 million deal could be the biggest contract mistake in MLB history

    The bloated, excessive, unnecessary, history-ignoring, common-sense-disregarding 10-year, $292 million contract given to Miguel Cabrera by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday evening may well be the greatest debacle in the desolate baseball wasteland filled with bad-contract carcasses. There are mistakes. There are messes. And there is this.

    This is irresponsible. Detroit is sitting on two years and $44 million – a bargain for the best hitter in baseball – and tacked on another eight years and $248 million, plus a pair of vesting options worth $30 million apiece, according to CBSSports.com, because … well, there really is no good rationale. Miguel Cabrera is now the highest-paid athlete in professional sports history, his $292 million surpassing Alex Rodriguez's $275 million deal and the $31 million-a-year extension beating Clayton Kershaw's average value of $30.7 million, and for that he can thank the benevolence of an organization happy to continue a league-wide trend of profligate

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  • Inside look at MLB's new instant-replay bunker

    NEW YORK – At some point, whether it's the first game of the season or deep into the September pennant push, Major League Baseball's new instant-replay system will unleash a disaster of a call, one that leaves fans caterwauling into the night. Baseball understands this. With thousands of reviewable plays and a fallible technology – yes, even with the tens of millions spent on replay, it's not perfect – expecting any different is expecting too much.

    To understand that crucial point is to understand what MLB hopes to accomplish in this first year of replay: progress above perfection. A presentation to about a dozen reporters Wednesday at the MLB.com offices that serve as replay's nerve center was full of detail and technology and enough glistening HD monitors to trigger a seizure. The league outlined its plan, emphasizing transparency and hopeful that spreading the word on replay buys it some goodwill when the inevitable problems occur.

    Now, this is not to cast replay in a bad light; on

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  • Why the A's went a different route regarding relievers

    Because they had a book written about them, and because they remain darlings of the sabermetric world, and, yes, because Brad Pitt portrayed their general manager in a movie, a certain perception chases the Oakland A's: Whatever they are doing, they're ahead of the curve.

    It brings a small sense of delight to the men who run the organization that has won back-to-back American League West championships with a meager payroll and a roster full of Q-rating-deficient players. Sometimes it's true. Sometimes their small baseball-operations staff does unearth the little inefficiencies that persist in an increasingly intelligent game.

    In this case – the one in which the low-revenue, small-budget A's commit $15 million to two relief pitchers and guarantee two years to another coming off surgery – there was no algorithm, no flaw in the logic of teams that spit at the excessive price of bullpen help, no situation in which the A's pulled a fast one. The great Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus

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  • Why Max Scherzer turning down insane money makes perfect sense

    Max Scherzer is meticulous, the sort of person who sees baseball as a game of centimeters, because inches are too big. Every so often, in the middle of a long season, Scherzer will pore over video of his last start, pause it mid-delivery and vow to change things. A centimeter can mean that much.

    His right arm is his gift and his treasure, and if ever he notices his elbow above his shoulder line – even a hint of the dreaded Inverted W, which is correlated with though not scientifically proven to cause arm injuries – he corrects it. Little gets past Scherzer.

    "You've seen in history guys blow out that way," he told Yahoo Sports last September. "I've never been a guy who does it, but every now and again, it'll creep higher than that plane, and I'm very cognizant of it."

    Every little detail matters to Scherzer, the reigning American League Cy Young winner – every pitch a series of cues he must hit, every season an anthology of his accomplishments, every word rich with meaning. Which made

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  • Glut of recent arm injuries highlights baseball's struggle to find answers

    Four out of 1,200. Daniel Hudson sat in Dr. James Andrews' office in Pensacola, Fla., his elbow having failed him again, his baseball career in flux, his greatest nightmare choking rational thought, and amid the fear of a doctor cutting open his arm for the second time within a year, he could process only those numbers: four out of 1,200.

    Andrews is the preeminent sports orthopedist of his generation, a master surgeon whose name alone makes the ulnar nerve of every pitcher tingle. A visit to Andrews is like a tête-à-tête with the Reaper. So when Andrews told Hudson a study showed that his sort of injuries – back-to-back blowouts of the ulnar collateral ligament, leading to two Tommy John surgeries – occurred just four times in 1,200 cases, his body went as numb as his arm.

    "I honestly thought I was outside the norm," Hudson said. "At the time, I was."

    Today, he wonders. All of baseball wonders. Over the last week, as the sport's reality slugged it square in the face – whatever it's

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  • Why the trade to Texas suits Prince Fielder just fine

    SURPRISE, Ariz. – He'd say it again. He'd say it a million times again. If Prince Fielder learned anything in his first 29 years, it is that the truth beats all other avenues. "It's over, bro" was the three-word match that set aflame a combustible Detroit fan base following the Tigers' 2013 American League Championship Series loss. It wasn't flippant; it was true, an ugly truth, yes, particularly in light of Fielder's awful showing, but his truth. It was over, and he wasn't going to lament the loss or the sentiment that accompanied it, and he certainly wasn't going to take it back.

    "I don't regret it," Fielder said. "I don't think it mattered what I said, to be honest. If I was upset about it, I would've been a crybaby. There was nothing I could've said, so I just said the truth. I like to stick to the truth. It works for me."

    [Also: Patrick Corbin next likely candidate for Tommy John surgery ]

    There are certain truths vital to Fielder, none more pressing heading into the 2014 season

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  • Red Sox prospect arrested in curious incident

    Boston Red Sox prospect Jon Denney was arrested for driving with a suspended license early Thursday morning and responded by allegedly telling police he "made more money than we could ever see," according to a Lee County Sheriff's Office arrest report obtained by Yahoo Sports.

    Denney, 19, was arrested at 2:22 a.m., at least his second run-in with law enforcement in the last three months. Police had pulled him over at 11:57 p.m. Wednesday night after he "accelerated quickly," causing his Ford F-150 Raptor to fishtail, according to the report. Denney furnished a license that was restricted for business and emergency purposes after an alleged DUI in Arkansas, the report said.

    Jon Denney (Lee County Sheriff's Office)When asked by police why he was in the Fort Myers Beach area, Denney, according to police, replied: "Partying and looking to get some [expletive]."

    Police issued a citation, according to the report, and Denney called a friend to drive him home.

    About two hours later, the report said, police saw Denney enter his truck

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  • How two elite prospects could help rescue the Cubs from misery

    MESA, Ariz. – The graveyard of Chicago Cubs prospect careers brims with tombstones, each a unique homage to two decades of player-development disappointment.

    PIE: PECAN > FELIX
    PATTERSON: DIED OF ALLERGY TO WALKS
    CHOI: WORST HR DERBY PARTICIPANT EVER

    It would be unbecoming to blaspheme more expired careers. So a list of names shall suffice and give poor, suffering Cubs fans a bit of acid reflux: Mark Pawelek, Brooks Kieschnick, Brian Dopirak, Kevin Orie, Gary Scott, Lance Dickson, Earl Cunningham, Ty Griffin. This is the detritus of past youth movements. This is the gravamen of Chicago baseball misery.

    So it is with understandable skepticism that people see what's happening this spring at the gorgeous new Cubs Park and wonder whether it's too good to be true. Javier Baez's swing can't be that fast. Kris Bryant's power can't be that natural. If the last 105 years have taught us anything, it's that good things don't happen to the Cubs.

    [Also: Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball today ]

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  • How Tim Lincecum reinvented himself to stay ahead of the game

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Slowly, the tuft of hair on Tim Lincecum's top lip is beginning to resemble a proper mustache. A couple wisps jut to the left and a few more to the right, like a GPS sent them the wrong way. This is understandable. Never has Lincecum allowed his facial hair to progress much past stubble, because never, he figured, was it capable of doing so.

    "I'm gonna stick with it," he says. "It's never a plan. It's not like a girl planning a study-abroad trip. I'm just gonna see where it takes me. I could see myself in one of those old vans with a ladder on the back and a bubble window."

    He chuckles, aware that the line between dreadful porn 'stache and legitimate, honest moustache – the O gives it legitimacy and honesty, you know – is indeed fine. Time and grooming have pushed it into the acceptable territory, like an old-timey '70s rocker look, which Lincecum pulls off with style because he's Tim Lincecum and ever since he arrived in the major leagues seven years ago, he

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