If you want to understand how Shane Bieber managed to rope his first major league hit into the alley, you’ve come to the wrong place. I can’t definitively tell you anything because I’m an idiot. What I can do is celebrate the double in an outrageous manner. I’m going to start doing that now.
Let it be known around the baseball world that there is a new Greg Maddux, and his name is Shane Bieber
I say that not just because of his pinpoint control, ability to create weak contact, and studious approach to the game. I say it because THE MAN CAN STRAIGHT UP RAKE.
Bieber went 1-for-3 last night, drilling a big double as his first career hit. It’s not a cheap one, either. Bieber picks out a pitch that he likes, finds a gap, and then hustles in to beat the throw.
While I’m kidding about the Maddux comparison (for now), we can all agree that Maddux hit well for a pitcher and understood that women might appreciate pitching more if only he could rake. We can only assume that Mr. Bieber adheres to the same school of thought. First, let’s take a look at the location of this pitch to Bieber.
It’s honestly not that bad an idea to challenge a rookie pitcher that hasn’t stepped up to the plate since high school with a fastball over the middle of the plate. I think it makes sense. I think that Flaherty and Yadi made a strong choice here. The problem is that Bieber obviously wants to one-up Shohei Ohtani and become the true pitcher-slugger. If the mantra for pitchers is to only swing at the first pitch if you know you can crush it, then Bieber definitely succeeds here. I also want to point out that Bieber’s swing is pretty short. For a guy who hasn’t hit in a game since he finished up AP exams, he seems well-practiced.
He zooms out of the box, keeping an eye on the ball as it lines into left-center. Once it hits, he turns on the jets and executes a textbook slide into second base. He pops up and takes a moment to stare back at the dugout, acknowledging the absurdity of what he just did.
For all we know this might be the only double that the kid ever hits in his Major League career. I think it’s a little bit interesting that players doing something really unusual is the loophole to the “Act Like You’ve Been There Before” clause of Major League Baseball’s Unwritten Rules, Code of Justinian Edition. This is a first hit, so of course the man is allowed to smile and celebrate a little bit. He’s given the full go-ahead because he’s a pitcher, and he just notched a double in his first batting game. I can easily imagine someone throwing at his head if he ever smiles again after getting a hit... especially if it happens in Busch Stadium.
As we know, players receive the ball after earning their first career hit. It won’t be any different for Shane Bieber. I’m sure he already has the thing in a nice little box, and it’s sitting on his — ...
Oh. Oh, no.
Trevor Bauer scooped up the ball after the Cardinals tossed it toward the Indians dugout. This leaves a few possible scenarios on the table.
- The ball is immediately pressed into a demanding life as part of Trevor Bauer’s plyometrics routine.
- Bauer and Carrasco ignite a new miniball campaign by turning the ball into a life-like replica of the rookie pitcher.
- He gets revenge for the treatment exacted upon him when he got his first hit, and pretends to not have any idea what happened to the ball for a week.
Knowing Bauer we can’t rule any of these out, but I think that the third is most likely. God forbid he feed it to a drone.
What can we expect from Shane Bieber in the future? His rapid ascent through the minor leagues and impeccable control suggest to me that we can’t assess his ceiling quite yet. While his control hasn’t been as good as advertised since he came up to Cleveland, that comes with some caveats. What he did in the minors is otherworldly, he’s still above average in his first four starts, and the man openly acknowledged that he needed to throw more balls in his exclusive interview with Let’s Go Tribe.
I think every fan of baseball should be excited to see what Bieber can become.