How fun is fantasy baseball? Instead of bemoaning the struggles of certain players, why don’t we turn that frown upside down and see if there might be some players who have failed to live up to expectations to this point of the season that might be able to lend a boost to our fantasy squad moving forward. That’s a noble goal is it not? I’ll also talk about a former Cy Young winner who may have finally turned the corner, a reliever you’ve never probably heard of who leads baseball in wins, and a former fantasy superstar who is slowing improving physically in his attempt to come back from a mysterious knee injury.
Daniel Bard picked up his first win of the season Monday night, while pitching out of the bullpen, but he is still currently scheduled to make his start on Friday against the White Sox. The Red Sox though may have no other choice than to slot Bard in as their 9th inning arm (even though Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox manager, said that moving Bard back to the pen full time “doesn’t look like a great temptation.”). Bard has 13 Ks in 12.1 innings this season, but he’s also 1-2 with nine walks allowed an a 1.70 WHIP. Even if he had been successful as a starter, the Sox would still have to consider him for the 9th inning since they just can’t afford to give away games late. Alfredo Aceves, Vincente Padilla, Franklin Morales, Justin Thomas… boy do the Sox miss Andrew Bailey. If Bard is on waivers he’s worth adding in the hope that he’ll be asked to work the 9th greatly improving his fantasy value – even though the Red Sox are currently saying that isn’t going to happen.
Erik Bedard is 0-4 though he does have a 2.62 ERA after allowing three or fewer runs in each of his four starts. Wins may be tough to come by for the lefty in Pittsburgh, but I’ll continue to say it – when healthy he can be a mixed league option worthy of pretty much being an every game starter.
Chipper Jones didn’t start again on Monday. He continues to be a daily disaster, you never know when he’s going to be playing, but he also continues to be might successful when on the field. No only is he hitting .276 with two homers and eight RBI in nine games, but he has a .870 OPS. That’s a better number than guys like Miguel Cabrera (.857), Adrian Beltre (.826), Alex Rodriguez (.800) and Jose Bautista (.771).
Tim Lincecum was much better in his fourth start of the season Monday (5 IP, 1 ER, 8Ks, 5 BBs). I got a chance to watch nearly every pitch he tossed, an I liked what I saw. His pitches were darting all over the strike zone, but he wasn’t locked in as he missed the target on many of the pitches. Still, this was an improvement over the way that he opened up the season, so you have to be feeling pretty good if you didn’t panic and decided to hold on to him (or if you dealt to add him).
Kyle Lohse is up to 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA. I’m still not buying it. No way he continues to hold batters to a .170 batting average, and as impressive as his control was last year (2.01 BB per nine), the man isn’t going to continue to walk one batter every 13 innings. Now is the perfect time to sell high. If you don’t, just make sure you remember me when his performance tanks in relation to his current levels.
Vulture wins anyone? Robbie Ross has worked five games covering 5.1 innings. All he’s done is rack up three wins. Do you even know what team he is on? Try the Rangers. This is just another example of why it is virtually impossible to predict wins in the fantasy game – Robbie Fricken’ Ross is tied for the major league lead with three victories.
Chase Utley (knee) did some things Monday, and that included fielding grounders. Though he is said to be feeling stronger and making progress, he also admitted that while BP cause him no discomfort that fielding those grounders was still bothering him. There is no timetable in this continually vexing situation that the Phillies have not been able to clarify in the least (apparently Utley doesn’t want his medical information shared, which is his right of course, but it sure plays havoc with what reasonable expectations should be this year). There’s been some discussion of Utley possibly playing some first base when he comes back, though Jim Thome and Ryan Howard obviously can’t play anywhere else on the diamond. I’ll bet that Utley’s bat still has some juice left in it, but it’s growing harder and harder to hold on to him in 12 team mixed leagues unless you have a DL spot.
Miguel Bautista started Game 1 of the Mets/Giants doubleheader Monday. You remember back in 2005 when, a year after going 10-13 with a 4.85 ERA, that the Blue Jays asked Bautista to close leading to 31 saves? Since then he has four saves — in six years.
By Ray Flowers
When is one not one? No, I’m not operating in some alternative universe outside of the Matrix with Morpheus trying to wake me up to the truth (if you don’t get that pop culture reference you need to start seeing some movies), I’m simply asking when is one not necessarily equivalent to one? If you are interested in riddles, or just want to know what the hell I’m talking about, please read on.
AVERAGE BASES ALLOWED
Average Bases Allowed, henceforth ABA, is an innovative way to look at pitcher’s effectiveness and is designed to replace WHIP (Walks + Hits / IP), though I would settle for it to be used alongside WHIP until it catches on (I’m so amenable aren’t I?). What spawned the idea of ABA? Consider the following simple comparison.
Pitcher A allows one hit and one walk in two innings. Therefore his WHIP is 1.00 (two base runners in two innings).
Pitcher B allows one hit and one walk in two innings. Therefore his WHIP is 1.00 (two base runners in two innings).
So, according to WHIP, both pitchers have performed the same. However, does that mean that they were equally effective? What if we added a bit more depth to our example?
Pitcher A: Allowed a walk an a single in his two innings.
Pitcher B: Allowed a walk an a home run in his two innings.
It is reasonable to posit that Pitcher A had an ERA of zero. After all he gave up only two bases in his two innings. However, Pitcher B’s ERA was at least 4.50. Why? If Pitcher B walked a guy and then gave up a home run to the next batter he would have allowed two runs in two innings – hence his ERA would be 9.00, an even if it was a solo shot it would have still plated a run leading to a 4.50 ERA. So as you can plainly see, while the hurlers may have the same WHIP, the actual result of their performances in the real world would have been drastically different. Because of this simple yet often overlooked fact, I went about trying to set up a way in which I could analyze a pitcher’s performances in a more equitable way. Instead of using hits and walks as does WHIP, I decided to use total bases allowed and walks (because WHIP leaves out things like hit by pitch, I made the decision to do the same with ABA). Why replace hits with total bases?
Is it more important to know how many batters are allowed to reach base or is it more important to know how many bases they received when they reached base?
Here is the formula for ABA.
ABA = (TBA + BB) / IP
Does it not stand to reason that the pitcher who allows fewer bases to those batters who do reach base would have a better chance of limiting the amount of runs that score? Let’s take a look at a concrete example to illustrate.
In 2011 Tim Lincecum and Colby Lewis had identical WHIP’s of 1.21. Does this fact mean that they were equally effective hurlers in 2011 at limiting hitters ability to produce bases and runs? Let’s use ABA to investigate to see if we can form a more nuanced opinion between the two hurlers who had the the same WHIP last season.
Lincecum: 111 singles, 48 doubles, two triples,15 homers, 86 BBs in 217 IP
Lewis: 112 singles, 35 doubles, five triples, 35 home runs and 56 BBs in 200.1 IP
Remember, according to WHIP both pitchers were equal with a 1.21 mark. This is not the case according to ABA.
Lincecum: 273 total bases + 86 BB in 217 IP = 1.65 ABA
Lewis: 337 total bases + 56 BB in 200.1 IP = 1.96 ABA
As you can see, if you were only looking at each pitchers WHIP columns last season, you might miss the fact that Lincecum did a much better job at limiting baseball runners last season (this is also reflected in the ERA – 2.74 for Lincecum and 3.38 for Lewis). Thanks to ABA we can state that, despite equal WHIP marks, Lincecum was easily the more effective pitcher last season. All told there were five pitchers who threw at least 160-innings and posted a WHIP of 1.21. Here are the ABA mark for all five.
1.61 – Madison Bumgarner
1.65 – Tim Lincecum
1.80 – Jeff Karstens
1.83 – Hiroki Kuroda
1.96 – Colby Lewis
As you can tell, WHIP really doesn’t tell the whole story. ABA may not either, but it certainly is a much more accurate gauge of how a pitcher has performed.
Speaking of that, how in the heck to read ABA? Glad you asked. The lower ones ABA the better, but it doesn’t read the same was as WHIP. Whereas the average WHIP last season was 1.32, the league average ABA of all pitchers in 2011 was 1.86.
Here is a rough key you can employ for ABA.
Below 1.50: elite level performance
1.50-1.70: All-Star level
1.71-1.89: Solid major leaguer worthy of counting on in fantasy
1.91-2.10: Barley holding on to an role as a fantasy starter.
2.11 and up: Might as well line up a pitching machine
So there is my brief explanation of Average Bases Allowed, or ABA. Now that you know what it is, you’ll have to read PART II where I will take a look at the hurlers who threw at least 40-innings in 2011.
To sign up for your baseball league this year make sure you check out Fleaflicker.
By Ray Flowers
Following the simple methodology of WHIP (walks + hits divided by innings pitched), I invented a new measure of a pitchers dominance called SWIP (it must be the mad scientist in me), in order to better understand which pitchers may possess the skills necessary to have success on a big league hill. Never heard of SWIP you say? Well I’m about to change that.
PART I – WHAT IS SWIP?
S- Strikeouts (abbreviated as K)
W- Walks (abbreviated as BB)
IP- Innings Pitched
Numerically speaking, the formula for SWIP works along the same lines as WHIP. SWIP is determined by the following equation:
Strikeouts minus Walks divided by Innings Pitched equals SWIP.
SWIP = (K – BB) / IP
Another way to look at this is to say that for each positive result, the recording of an out in the form of a strikeout, the pitcher receives a (+1). For each negative encounter, in the form of a walk, he receives a (-1). Simple enough right? Here is an example of how you can figure out SWIP so you can see what I’m talking about (and yes, it really is as simple as it sounds).
Mike Leake had 118 Ks and 38 BBs in 167.2 IP in 2011.
(118-38) / 167.2
80 / 167.2
Leake’s SWIP for the 2011 season was therefore 0.48.
Though SWIP is recorded in the same manner as WHIP, the way to read the results is slightly different. Whereas the lower the WHIP the better one has performed, SWIP works in the opposite direction: the higher the SWIP the better (it should also be pointed out that there are some limitations to SWIP).
Here is a rough estimate of what the results mean to help you to put things in perspective, a key if you will.
.90 and Up: Excellent season. Hall of Fame level.
.70 to .89: An all-star performance. Worthy of Cy Young consideration.
.50 to .69: Borderline all-star to decent starting pitcher. A guy you’d like to have on your staff.
.35 to .50: A guy who should be nothing more than the 3rd or 4th starter with his club.
.20 to .34: His major league days are likely numbered.
Below .20: Minor leaguer in training.
Let’s take a look at how all major league hurlers performed in 2011.
So in order to find out the major league average for SWIP during the 2011 season we simply plug the numbers into our simple equation.
SWIP = (K – BB) / IP
(34448-15018) / 43527.1
19470 / 43527.1
SWIP = 0.45
Last year’s 0.45 mark is a major league best in the 21st century as the rate keeps inching upward.
2011: 0.45 SWIP
2010: 0.43 SWIP
2009: 0.39 SWIP
2008: 0.38 SWIP
2007: 0.37 SWIP
2006: 0.37 SWIP
2005: 0.36 SWIP
2004: 0.36 SWIP
2003: 0.34 SWIP
2002: 0.35 SWIP
2001: 0.38 SWIP
2000: 0.30 SWIP
Here are some notes on the pitchers who tossed at least 160-innings last year.
Here are the leaders for the 2011 season (minimum 162 innings)
0.91 – Zack Greinke
An elite K-arm last season, Greinke led all starting pitchers with a 10.54 K/9 mark, and he walked about a batter fewer, per nine innings, than the average big league arm (2.36 BB/9).
0.84 – Cliff Lee
When you strikeout more than a batter per inning (9.12 per nine), and walk only 1.62 per nine, you are an elite performer.
0.83 – Clayton Kershaw
Massive Ks are his calling card, and last season he walked a mere 2.08 batters per nine.
0.79 – Roy Halladay
Concerns about his velocity in spring notwithstanding, the guy just doesn’t beat himself (1.35 walks per nine).
0.75 – Justin Verlander
Huge arm, huge K totals and a better than expected walk rate (2.04 per nine).
0.71 – Yovani Gallardo, CC Sabathia, Madison Bumgarner
A young K artist, the most consistent lefty in the game, and a young lefty from the NL West.
Some names that stood out, for good or bad.
0.62 – Tim Lincecum
A four year low in K/9 coupled with a four year high in BB/9 has his SWIP headed in the wrong direction.
0.56 – Ted Lilly
Always overlooked on draft day. Lilly simply goes out, doesn’t beat himself, and always seems to strike out more batter than people realize.
0.52 – Gio Gonzalez, Matt Cain
Two young arms who ply their trade in the Bay Area. Gio G is the higher upside K artist, but Cain’s ability to walk fewer batters has them tied in this measure.
0.43 – Edwin Jackson
What a shock. Edwin Jackson being average at something (recall that the big league average was 0.45 in 2011).
0.25 – Ivan Nova
I wrote about Nova in this Player Profile. SWIP speaks to the concern I expressed there.
0.24 – Jeremy Hellickson
I wrote about Hellickson in this Player Profile. SWIP speaks to the concern I expressed there.
Tomorrow I’ll discuss those pitchers who didn’t throw than 160 innings in 2011, and I’ll also have the entire list of hurlers who threw at least 40 innings ranked by their SWIP marks.
To sign up for your baseball league this year make sure you check out Fleaflicker.
By Ray Flowers
Today I’m just going to fly all over the place and randomly hit on some numbers that speak to me from the 2011 season. You know me, I’m random as all hell anyway, so this may not be any different than normal despite the intro warning you of the impending zaniness. Special thanks goes to the 2012 Bill James Handbook where a fair amount of the information you are about to read about comes from (I would highly recommend the book for those of you looking for a nice reference tool. Looking at my shelf I’ve got copies dating all the way back to 2001).
0 – The number of NL hurlers who received six runs of support per nine innings (the NL leader amongst qualifiers, 162 innings pitched, was Jaime Garcia at 5.92). Over in the Junior Circuit there were five guys who received at least six runs of support – Jon Lester (6.86), Ivan Nova (6.70), Max Scherzer (6.42), Rick Porcello (6.38) and Colby Lewis (6.15) . There was even one guy, Derek Holland, who was over seven runs of support per nine innings. My goodness, he was over seven and a half at 7.64 runs per nine innings, an ungodly number. Wins may not be so easy to come by for Holland in 2012, so keep that in mind on draft day.
.086 – The best batting average in baseball with Runners In Scoring Position (RISP) for a pitcher. Nationals’ reliever extraordinaire Tyler Clippard was the owner of that mark. No other reliever had a mark under .125.
.228 – The OBP of leadoff batters last season against Justin Verlander, the lowest in baseball amongst hurlers who tossed at least 150 innings. Two others allowed less than a quarter of leadoff hitters to reach base in Cole Hamels (.247) and Jordan Zimmerman (.249).
6.1 – The major league leading inherited runner strand rate of the Royals’ Greg Holland. Only one other pitcher in baseball was able to post a mark in the single digits and that was Al Alburquerque’s mark of 9.7 percent. The NL leader was George Sherrill at 10.8 percent.
8 – The number of “tough loses” – defined as a Game Score above 50 when a loss was picked up – by Hiroki Kuroda, David Price and James Shields (there will be more on Game Scores below). That was the highest mark in baseball. At the other end of the spectrum we have “cheap wins,” those outings with a Game Score under 50 while a win was picked up. The leader in that dubious category was Brad Penny with six, one more than the mark of five by John Lackey.
53.1 – The percentage of pitches that were in the strike zone from Cliff Lee, the highest mark in baseball. The only other pitcher who hit the mark more than 50 percent of the time was an unlikely source – knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Mets at 51.0 percent.
96 – The best pitched game in baseball last year was Chris Capuano’s effort on the 26th of August if you believe in Game Scores (an invention of Bill James that takes into account everything that a pitcher does on the hill). In that effort Capuano pitched nine shutout innings, allowed just two hits, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out 13 (for more on Capuano see his Player Profile). Ervin Santana’s no-hitter on July 27th gave him a score of 94 while Justin Verlander’s no-hitter from May 7th resulted in a score of 90.
98.0 – The average fastball speed last season of the major league leader (minimum 50 innings pitched). If I gave you 37 guesses I doubt you’d settle on the right name. The most obvious name is Aroldis Chapman, but he came in second at 97.9 mph. The leader was actually the Nationals’ Henry Rodriguez. Chapman did lead baseball with 158 pitches of at least 100 mph, 31 more than Rodriguez.
133 – The most pitches thrown in a game last season by Tim Lincecum. There were two other games over 130-pitches as team continue to monitor pitch counts very closely – Chris Carpenter (132), Roy Halladay (130).
By Ray Flowers
There are other pitchers who make more money, who have more fame, and who reach greater heights than Matt Cain (it’s pretty tough for Cain to get a footing in the national conscience when one of the five biggest stories in baseball on the hill happens to be his teammate, Tim Lincecum). At the same time, there my be no hurler in baseball who is more consistent than the Giants #2 starter who will be looking for one more big season as he heads into free agency after the 2012 season.
Cain has never won 15 games in a season, basically the bare minimum for one to be considered an ace. In fact, he’s only won in double-digit’s in four of the last six years which might lead you to think that he isn’t anything to write home about. However, if you’ve followed Cain closely over the years, you know the story – the Giants simply have an aversion to scoring runs when he is on the hill. Just take a look at his earned run averages over the past five years:
3.65, 3.76, 2.89, 3.14, 2.88
The last three years his ERA has been borderline elite, an in fact his 2.97 mark in that time frame is the sixth best mark in baseball for hurlers who have thrown at least 480-innings as he bested arms like Jered Weaver (3.03), Justin Verlander (3.06) and CC Sabathia (3.18). Unfortunately Cain has won 14, 13 and 12 games the past three years as the Giants anemic offense simply hasn’t supported him sufficiently leaving him on the outskirts looking in when talk roles around to the games greats. Still, consistency is his hallmark.
Cain owns a 1.20 career WHIP, and the last three seasons his WHIP has been 1.18, 1.08 and 1.08. Moreover, his base runner per nine mark of 10.25 is the 8th best mark in baseball the past three seasons and better than Felix Hernandez (10.51), Cole Hamels (10.55) and Tim Lincecum (10.79). He’s obviously been extremely consistent the past three years.
Cain has struck out at least 163 batters each of the past six years. Only three others hurlers are in that group (CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez and Dan Haren). In his last four years Cain has been over 170 Ks, and the last three years his totals have been 171, 177 and 179. Yet again, he’s obviously been extremely consistent the past three years.
One aspect of Cain’s game that is elite is his ability to take the ball every five games. In his first full season he tossed “only” 190.2 innings, but in each of his last five seasons he has thrown at least 200-innings. In this day and age, the ability to throw 200-innings year after year is a rare trait (only six others have thrown 200-innings each of the past six years: Roy Halladay, James Shields, Justin Verlander, Mark Buehrle, Dan Haren and CC Sabathia).
I could go on and on with Cain, highlighting things like his remarkable 3-year run in BABIP (.263, .252 and .260), but I think the point is clear: Cain is a borderline elite arm who will throw a lot of innings, pile up strong strikeout totals, and provide you with top of the heap ratios. He may not rack up wins with the elite, his total of 39 is tied for 12th in the game the past three years, but all of his other fantasy numbers will help you to win a championship. I must admit to some trepidation given that his GB/FB is just 0.84 for his career, and that his HR/F ratio is just 6.5 percent, but for now, pitching half his games in the pitcher’s ball yard in San Francisco will minimize those concerns. Cain shouldn’t be your #1 starter in mixed leagues, but if he is your #2 arm, you’ll be sitting in a nice spot.
By Ray Flowers
It’s Labor Day, so I hope all of you are pulling back on a beer, sitting poolside, and just enjoying life while I soldier on at the keyboard (I know, I’m, such a martyr aren’t I?).
Franklin Gutierrez is likely done for the year with a strained oblique muscle. He’s been bad for so long that you may have forgotten that he avereged 16 homers, 67 RBI, 73 runs and 21 steals the past two years. Well, he hit one homer, knocked in 19 runners, scored 26 times and stole 13 bases in 92 games for the Mariners this season. Yeah, that qualifies as a massive letdown. Don’t get me started on his teammate Chone Figgins (.188-1-15-24-11).
Remeber that story about Josh Hamilton not being able to see during the day time because he had light colored eyes (What’s on Tap)? Well, Hamilton has apparently settled on a routine of drops and sunglasses to help cure his woes, and it’s showing as he has hit .342 in day games since the All-Star break. I still find this story so fascinating. Is he really the only player in baseball with light colored eyes? I’m no optomitrist, but still.
I bet you might be unware of this fact but Aaron Hill is finally hitting. I know, shocking to think isn’t it? Not only has he hit .381 since he joined the surging D’backs he’s also been smoking hot of late going 11-for-22. That’s a .500 average folks. It’s not time to put behind him all the all struggles he’s shown the past two years, but he’s finally starting to perform like the All-Star level second baseman that he has shown himself to be previously.
Speaking of hot bats, have you been keeping an eye on Carlos Lee? Of course you haven’t, and why would you since he plays for the Astros. However, if you haven’t checked lately you will have missed the fact that he’s hit, get this, .457 the past two weeks. His current hot streak has pushed him up to a pace that would nedt hit a line of .277-16-89. That’s not great production by any means, but it’s a usuable line in deep mixed leagues.
Cliff Pennington the last two weeks – .359 with 15 RBI. One word for that – wow.
Grady Sizemore has been activated from the DL. He’s hitting .237 without a single steal in 61 games this season. Remember back when he was a 30/30 performer in 2008 as he was finishing up a 4-year run of at least 22 homers, 76 RBI, 101 runs and 22 steals?
Example 1,873,279 of why being a major league pitcher isn’t always fair. Ian Kennedy leads the NL with an 18-4 record while teammate Daniel Hudson is 15-9. Those two D’back hurlers have ERAs of 2.96 and 3.53, while their WHIPs are 1.12 and 1.22. Tim Lincecum is 12-12 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while Matt Cain is 11-9 with a 2.85 ERA an a 1.07 WHIP. Speaking of poor records, Lincecum, Cain, Ryan Vogelsong (2.62) and Madison Bumgarner (3.43) are all in the top-16 in the NL in ERA (if you remove MadBum the other trio of Giants hurlers are all in the top-8). That foursome has combined to go 42-39 for the sinking Giants.
by Ray Flowers
Am I talking about Roy Halladay? Nope, but I did write about him yesterday in Is It Safe? Today I’m going to discuss the history making run that Cliff Lee has provided, and if you think I’m using hyperbole, which I have to admit I do fall into on occasion, your wrong. Lee threw 8.2 scoreless innings against the Reds Wednesday night, and with the victory in that outing he moved to 5-0 on the month. That’s not historic you say? You’d be right there. However, he also posted a 0.45 ERA for the month. I’ve got your attention now don’t I? When you combine that effort with his work in June (5-0 with a 0.21 ERA) – now we’re cooking you might be thinking. In fact, Lee’s two months of near perfection have enabled him to become just the third pitcher in the history of baseball to have two separate months in one season in which a pitcher has won at least five games (without a loss) while producing an ERA under 1.00. How amazing is that? Oh, in case you were wondering who the other two men were, here you go.
Bob Gibson (1968): 6-0 with a 0.50 ERA in June and July. Yeah, he went 12-0 with a 0.50 during that stretch. Talk about amazing.
Walter Johnson (1913): 5-0 with a 0.24 ERA (April) and 6-0 with a 0.81 ERA (July).
Now you see why I led off the piece with this news.
Since the All-Star Break Ryan Braun is hitting .357 with nine homers, 27 RBI, 35 runs and 12 steals in 42 games. Yeah, he’s good.
For those of you in NL-only leagues, Chris Heisey was activated from the DL today (he had been out with an oblique issue). I’m not sold that the Reds will play him every day, but with 12 homers, 38 RBI and 36 runs in 217 at-bats he is on a pace that would net him 28 homers, 88 RBI and 83 runs scored over 500 at-bats.
How unlucky has Felix Hernandez been this year? Last year he went 13-12, and this season he is currently 13-11 with the month of September to go. Still, in his 11 losses he permitted three or fewer earned runs six times. However, that likely wouldn’t faze Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum of the Giants who have been criminally supported by their offense. I hope you’re sitting down before you read this – it’s pretty amazing
Zero ER Allowed
MadBum 2-1 in 3 outings
M. Cain 4-0 in 5 outings
Lincecum 5-1 in 7 outings
How do you lose games when you don’t give up an earned run. Giants’ hitters should be especially proud of themselves.
One ER Allowed
MadBum 4-3 in 10 outings
M. Cain 3-1 in 6 outings
Lincecum 6-0 in 9 outings
Two ER Allowed
MadBum 2-1 in 4 outings
M. Cain 1-2 in 6 outings
Lincecum 0-2 in two outings
What are the trio’s records in those games in which they’ve allowed two or fewer earned runs? How about 27-11. What that means though is that if they allow more than two runs the trio is just 4-21 on the year.
Jesus Montero is finally up with the Yankees. A prodigious hitter with a luminous future, scouts predict that Montero will be a middle of the order bat for years to come. The 21 year old catcher likely won’t see much time behind the plate, his defense lags well behind his bat, but he should see a fair amount of work in the DH spot, at least against left-handed pitching. He’s a must start at this point in AL-only leagues, and if you are desperate from some offense at your second catcher spot in mixed leagues you can take a flier on Montero and probably not end up looking too stupid.
By Ray Flowers
Bryce Harper walks on water, saves babies from sunburn with a glance that causes the sun to recede, and never makes an out. Never. Well, at least that’s what some people seem to think. The uber-prospect, judged by many to be the best talent in baseball in the minors despite being just 18 years old, simply killed it at Single-A ball this year. He may have made some outs, in fact he made a ton, but overall he was a dynamic option hitting .318 with 14 homers, 46 RBI, 49 runs and 19 steals in just 72 games. The groundswell was that he was going to ascend all the way to the majors this season (I for one have remained steadfast in my belief that he won’t be a full-time player for the Nationals until at least June of next season. At least.). In nine games at Double-A it’s all gone wrong for Harper (he skipped High-A). It’s only been nine games so there is zero reason to panic, but he has hit .194 with two runs and two RBI’s. The game just isn’t that easy folks. Harper will figure it out in due time and start mashing again, nothing will stop him from doing that, but be realistic with the kid and his progress. Nothing happens overnight.
Jeff Keppinger was dealt from the Astros to the Giants. For my thoughts on the deal see Giants Deal for Keppinger.
Speaking of the Giants, Pablo Sandoval is out of the lineup Wednesday after tweaking his quad on Tuesday. The issue doesn’t appear to be serious, but the club is just playing it safe with their most important hitter. And hit Sandoval has done lately. Since returning from surgery on his wrist, Sandoval has appeared in 32 games. He’s had a hit in 30 of those contests on his way to racking up a .316 average. Guess what he’s hitting on the year? How about .315. For his career, four at-bats short of 1,500, Sandoval is hitting .306.
Placido Polanco will have an epidural on Thursday as he continues to waste away on the DL because of a bugling disk in his back. After being an MVP in April (.398 with 19 RBI) Polanco has resembled a washed up middle infielder who is barely hanging on hitting just .216 with 20 RBI over 57 games.
If you’re looking for a good matchup on the hill, it will be tough to beat Tim Lincecum vs. Clayton Kershaw today. Lincecum enters the day with a 2.99 ERA and 9.67 K/9 rate while Kershaw has a 2.88 ERA and 10.13 K/9 mark. There may not be a better lefty-rigthty matchup at any point this season, so watch these two NL West aces face-off today if you get the chance.
The last 28 days did you know…
Aramis Ramirez has hit 12 homers with 25 RBI and 23 runs scored. He’s been the best hitter in baseball in that time. Jose Bautista isn’t far behind with 10 homers, 20 RBI and 19 runs scored.
Emilio Bonifacio has hit .357 with 13 steals. You do know he has no chance of sustaining even 80 percent of that level of production moving forward, right?
Nick Markakis has hit .381. Moreover, the Orioles’ outfielder has hit a robust .347 over his last 41 games to raise his season long average to .293.
Curtis Granderson has hit only .240 but he leads the AL with 22 runs in that time. Granderson also has 19 walks, tied with Ben Zobrist for the most in baseball. Zobrist has a .429 OBP, Granderson .396. Both those numbers are wonderful, but amongst every day players those totals pale in comparison to the .477 mark of Yunel Escobar.
Jose Reyes has only 48 at-bats because of his leg injury, but he hasn’t picked up a single strikeout. Reyes also has an amazing .519 OBP.
I’m doing something today that I never do. I’m going to address two the questions from the COMMENTS section in an article today because I thought the conversation would be beneficial to all. I’ll directly quote the response of the readers, and then give my thoughts.
Yesterday in the July 5th Mailbag, I gave a less than glowing review of my outlook with Alexi Ogando. Reader Tom gave a differing viewpoint.
“As always, loved the piece. I just wanted to play devil’s advocate with Ogando for a moment with you, though. There are 2 main areas of worry: durability and performance.
With durability, we wonder about the huge jump in innings and getting tired as the season progresses. We’ve seen him tire lately, but the staff is aware and will rest him until July 19th (missing one start). Considering he’s a RP conversion, it might help to look at his teammate C.J. Wilson, with whom they did the same thing last year. Wilson’s previous high in innings was 73.2, but they had him finish with 228 last year (including playoffs). Did C.J. tire? Actually, he got better as the year progressed until September hit. Was it tiring or just regression from his really good numbers? Also, with C.J. (a RP convert), his K-rate was only mid 6′s through July, but then saw a large uptick into the end of year. We could be seeing the same thing with Ogando as well. He started throwing his slider more and bam…season high K’s. He could keep the K-rate at or above 8 as long as he throws the slider approximately 30 percent of the time or more.
Ogando’s innings [high was] about 71 (including minors), so about the same as Wilson had. A big difference between them is that Ogando has much better control. Because of that, he has many less stressful innings and likewise receives less wear and tear on the arm. It isn’t so much about innings as it is a) total pitches and more importantly b) innings with stressful pitch numbers (the innings where 30+ pitches are thrown). As far as performance goes, yes he will see a correction in BABIP. The reason why it is lower at the moment is because of the contact he induces (weak off the bat). That is why his BABIP against line drives and flies is better than league avg and that his HR/9 is better. Will it stay at .247 (present), no. But it is possible for it to remain in the .280′s (Wilson career .289). Also consider that the league-wide BABIP is about .290 this year vs historically always being .300. Also consider that since the beginning of June, Ogando has carried a .310 BABIP and 57 LOB percent…while his ERA/WHIP have been 3.95/1.28. This includes arguably the roughest stretch in performance of his career.
Is it crazy to think this is just a little regression to the mean and nothing more (considering Ogando carries a career 2.39 ERA and 1.06 WHIP)? And if this is the rough stretch (and still a decent pitcher), I wonder how he’ll be with some rest, more sliders, and a better idea of how to pitch as he gains experience. I’m not willing to say he is elite, but he is certainly up there. And just think, Tim Lincecum is going through a rough stretch as well. Over the last 30 days, he is 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. But we’re not going to write him off. Considering that Ogando’s rough patch isn’t that bad and other than those few games, he was amazing…maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt. There is precedent with his own teammate as recent as last year that this could hold up over a full season. Maybe lightning does strike twice.”
Tom – No one ever brings it more in their analysis here than you do. I applaud the effort you put in, must have taken you a good half hour or more to break down everything with Ogando. Great work – you’re a model for everyone that just writes ‘nuh uh’ in their responses.
I will not dispute the main factual arguments you presented, but I will question the comparison that you drew. It’s easy to compare Ogando to Wilson in that both are converted relievers for the Rangers, but it’s pretty darn hard to directly compare the two. First, Wilson had trained for years in America and had been a big league pitcher for years. Even if his innings total was low, you have to think he was better trained, or shall we say prepared, than Ogando. Second, they are different types of pitchers. Ogando’s GB/FB rate is 0.95 over his two seasons while Wilson’s mark is 1.67. That’s a massive difference that clearly swings things in Wilson’s favor. Third, let’s take a look at your pitch contention. This season Ogando has thrown an average of 3.93 pitches per plate appearances and 15.9 pitches per inning. Last season, during Wilson’s big innings pitched bump, he tossed 4.05 pitches per plate appearance and 16.9 pitches per inning. I’m not measuring “stress” at all with those numbers, but those numbers are pretty close (Wilson’s been better this year at 3.85 and 15.8). Fourth, you can’t really compare two pitchers to one another. You can look at historical averages and draw come basic conclusions (.290-300 BABIP for a league average for example), but that doesn’t mean that Ogando will be in that range (as you already know) – he could end up setting a baseline above, or more likely, below it.
The problem with Ogando is that we simply do not know what to expect. Given traditional measures of analysis and historical trends, the pendulum would have to favor me in this argument. Does this mean I will be “right” about Ogando? I wouldn’t have written what I did if I didn’t believe it, but that doesn’t mean I’m always going to be right.
“Ray, is Glen Perkins a save candidate now with another save Tuesday for the Twins? Need to pick up a pitcher, either the injury prone Rich Harden or Perkins? Thanks.”
Jim – The Twins closing situation is up in the air. Matt Capps is struggling, he will not be given a saves chance today if one arises, and even if he rights the ship he could be traded at some point (I touched on this situation yesterday in the Mailbag piece referenced above).
Joe Nathan is improving as he’s looked good since he returned from the DL with four straight scoreless outings in which he hasn’t allowed a single batter to reach base via a walk while allowing only one hit. The Twins obviously are looking at returning him to the 9th inning, but is he ready to assume that role right now?
Perkins has two saves in 112 career games. He’s also left handed, and many managers prefer to avoid port siders in the 9th because of matchups, but here’s the biggest issue – he’s never been this good before.(1) His K/9 is up over four full batters. I know he is working out of the bullpen right now versus spending all his time starting, but can he really go from a five per nine type of hurler to a guy with more than a K per inning? Count me doubtful there. (2) He has a 4 year low in his walk rate (nearly a full batter above his normal rate). (3) In 30.1 innings he hasn’t allowed a single home run (his career rate is 1.16 per nine). There’s just no way that I can look at him and trust him to be a closer, and I don’t think the Twins will see is differently. I’m not saying he wont get a few looks in the short term, I think he might, but he’s not likely to have long term success in that role with his skill set and current level of performance which is so drastically out of line with his previous five seasons in the big leagues.
Do I suggest adding Perkins or Harden? Depends on your need (does your team lack for relief or starting pitching?). Harden has great skills, but he has played this game with us all before. Just when we buy that he is “back,” injury strikes. If you need save help add Perkins. Even if he picks up only a few it might help you move up the standings a spot or two. I just don’t trust Harden’s being able to take the ball every five days the rest of the way. If it doesn’t work out with Perkins, you should still be able to find starting help on the waiver-wire.
By Ray Flowers