You Won't Believe Dusty Baker's Latest Beef With Chas McCormick

Chandler Rome of The Athletic released an article confirming even more disdain for Chas McCormick at the hands of his manager.

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers
Houston Astros v Texas Rangers / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

Chas McCormick has evolved into one of the best center fielders in baseball. He's hitting .289 with an .898 OPS this season. He just hit his 20th home run. He's been worth three defensive runs saved. He has continued to punish lefties and fastballs, and has simultaneously improved against righties and sliders.

Surely with the numbers he's posted, he's the Astros everyday center fielder, no?

Well, not as long as Dusty Baker is calling the shots.

In Chandler Rome's latest piece for the Athletic, he took a deep dive into why McCormick is being left on the bench, with quotes from both Baker and McCormick, as well as insight from four disgruntled employees speaking under anonymity.

"He ain’t a big boy yet. It’s hard to be a big boy right out the gate. What is this, Chas’ third or fourth year? The big boys are Altuve, Bregman, Tucker, those are the big boys. The other boys are approaching big boys."

Dusty Baker

Baker said this before Wednesday's game when McCormick again didn't start. Excuse me...what?

He's not a big boy? His OPS is higher than both Bregman and Tucker. He made the play of the World Series last year. He took AL Cy Young front runner Gerrit Cole deep in Yankee Stadium in the ALCS. What exactly would make him a big boy?

Is he not because he's only in his third year? Alex Bregman played 157 games in his third year. Altuve played in 152. Tucker played inn 58 of the 60 in his third year, and unlike Altuve and Bregman, did so under Dusty Baker.

Fine, you're arguing he wasn't a top prospect. Jeremy Peña was the full-time shortstop from day one as a rookie and still is in year two. J.P. France was an early season call-up and takes the ball every fifth-day. As were Cristian Javier and Luis Garcia who also came up under Baker's watch.

This quote is almost as clueless as when Baker said he doesn't have a Julio Rodriguez in center. Is Chas as generationally gifted as Julio? No. Does Chas have an OPS that is 68 points higher than Julio? Absolutely.

Dusty, stop benching your best center fielder, and on top of that, stop saying absolutely asinine things about why you are. Have you totally lost touch?

To McCormick's credit, his quotes were entirely professional and mature.

"I’ve been with (Baker) for a couple years now so I know his agenda. I know that he likes to play everyone. Obviously I want to be out there every night. But he does a good job — obviously you want Yainer Diaz to play all the time, he hits the crap out of the ball — but I think he does a good job of sporadically putting in the best matchups...He’s the manager. He does what he wants. I don’t think I have any right to ask what his deal is."

Chas McCormick

For not being a "big boy" and only in his third year, that's a very mature response from the same guy that was the starting center fielder on a World Series championship team that Dusty Baker didn't even have the decency to start on Opening Day.

As Rome pointed out, and others of you will as well, McCormick has played 42 of the last 50 games. Sure, but Baker had no choice with Michael Brantley rehabbing. Many of McCormick's starts came in left while Maurico Dubon and even Jake Meyers played center.

On the year, McCormick has 46 starts in center compared to 40 in left. With Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley both healthy, starts in left field are no longer available. Since Kyle Tucker posts almost every day, starts in right aren't there for the taking either.

That leaves one place to play McCormick--center field. Rather than looking at the last 50 games, let's look at the eight since Michael Brantley returned from injury.

McCormick has only started four times since Brantley came back. Two of the starts came in left, but that's only due to the horrible turf at Globe Life Park and Yordan Alvarez' awkward fall against the fence on Sunday. Baker did his best to ensure neither played the outfield over these three games, so McCormick did get two starts in left.

In one of the starts, Dusty Baker pinch hit Jon Singleton for him with two outs and the tying runner aboard. One of the games he didn't start came against a lefty. McCormick is hitting .365 with an 1.133 OPS against lefties.

He's started in center field only twice since Brantley came back. Meanwhile, Mauricio Dubón has five times. Yes, the same Dubón who made only one start in center field all season before the return of Justin Verlander.

Because Baker still has to save face over his absolutely ludicrous "personal center fielder" claim from last season, Dubón has played center 13 times since JV has been back.

Now, is Dubón hot at the plate right now? Of course. Over the last month, he's hitting .343 with a .953 OPS. Great numbers! But still 50 points lower than McCormick's 1.003 second half OPS.

One hot month for Dubón does not trump the last three seasons of performance. Chas was an above-average hitter his first two seasons in the league, and has been an All-Star level hitter this season. Mauricio Dubón for his career, and for the totality of this season, has been a below average hitter.

It is indefensible for McCormick to be losing reps to Dubón.

According to the four internal sources, Baker is upset at McCormick's weight. McCormick is listed at 208, but is playing at around 220. McCormick said he feels good at the weight, and it's hard to argue with the results.

Well, unless you're Dusty Baker.

McCormick's got a higher batting average than Dubón, his OPS is 191 points higher, his OPS+ is 51 points higher, he has twice as many stolen bases, his fWAR is 2.3 points higher, he's worth more defensive runs saved in center, has the same outs above average, and regardless of the "weight gain," has the same sprint speed.

At this point, Baker is just making up excuses on the fly. We said two days ago he was running out of excuses to not play Chas. Well, we didn't have "issues with weight" on our bingo board.

That's what we get for selling Baker's biases towards certain players short. Remember when he was upset at the Myles Straw trade because he was adamant Straw, one of the worst hitters in baseball, was a leadoff hitter? Come to think of it, maybe that trade is why he has such issues with Yainer.

How about giving Corey Julks, a below average big-league hitter, 19 starts at DH ahead of both Yainer Diaz and Chas.

Never forget when he said this of Trea Turner in 2016:

"Right now, Trea has to fit in where he get in. Right now, there’s no real place for Trea to take. This isn’t a tryout camp. This is try to play the best team overall to win the game and win the pennant. Hopefully Trea will be a part of that while he’s here.”"

Dusty Baker

Yep, Dusty Baker was trying to "fit" Trea Turner into the outfield when he only got two starts at shortstop for the 2016 Nationals. Turner never played the outfield in college or the minors, but he had to "fit in" while Danny Espinosa held down the fort at shortstop.

Espinosa hit .209 with a .684 OPS that year. Turner hit .342 with a .937 OPS. I don't need to remind you which shortstop signed a $300 million contract this offseason. Nor do I need to remind you which of Baker or Turner lasted longer and won a World Series in Washington.

Baker plays his favorites. Always has, always will. He didn't like Chas last year, and he still doesn't this year while Chas has excelled, so the weight gain excuse was invented. It is simply inexcusable to justify a player like McCormick losing time to a utility player.

And if your argument is he will start Chas in center in the playoffs like he did last year, just a few things to remember:

1) Jake Meyers was sent down and Dubón was one of the worst hitters in baseball last year. Do you really believe if Dubón is even close to league average, no matter how far above-average Chas may be, Dusty won't stick to his guns?

2) Even if he does commit to Chas as a starter, is it fair to expect him to just crush playoff pitching after having erratic playing time down the stretch of the season?

3) Even with injuries, would the Astros even be in a division race at this point in time if he'd just given at-bats to Chas, and Yainer Diaz for that matter, instead of names like Julks, Madris, Bannon, and a likely injured in hindsight José Abreu all season? Yes, Altuve and Alvarez lost time. But for all the talk of not having depth, if names like Diaz and McCormick would have gotten at-bats, based on their season performances, the losses of Altuve and Alvarez wouldn't have been nearly as jarring, no matter how good they may be.

This asinine experiment can't continue any longer. Chas McCormick is an all-star caliber center fielder. Start acting like it.