Splitsville: Keeping up with Jones

The numbers don’t lie. It’s an old adage that should be qualified with “but …” when dealing with baseball statistics. Home runs, ERA and stolen bases can certainly tell you some things about a player, but you’ve got to look a bit deeper than the standard 5x5 stats to get the entire picture. Splitsville is a weekly look at some of the numbers, but we’ll take a deeper look to make sure we’re getting the whole story, while also calling out some of the week’s notable pitching and batting lines.

2008 Sabermetrics tables: Batters | Pitchers | Glossary

2007 Sabermetrics tables: Batters | Pitchers

Stat Trends, Streaks, and Anomalies

While he’s yet to flash much power, big-time hitting prospect Adam Jones (minor league resume available here) is at least flashing some skills at the plate. He’s hit .350 (40 for 114) in 31 games since June 14, raising his season average from .249 to .282 in the process.

Edinson Volquez has fallen out of the running lately, but Rich Harden continues to strike out batters at an epic pace. He’s fanned 20 in 12.1 innings since joining the Cubs, bringing his season total to 112 punch outs in 89.1 innings. The season rate of 11.284 K/9 would place him 17th on the all-time leaderboard.

Elijah Dukes’ injury has given Willie Harris a shot at an everyday spot in the lineup, and he’s taking advantage. He’s hit .522 (12 for 23) over the past seven games – mostly batting leadoff – with nine runs, two home runs, nine runs batted in and a 7:0 BB:K ratio.

That which J.D. Drew giveth, he also taketh away. After some other-worldly numbers in early June (.435, 22 R, 9 HR, 21 RBI in 18 G from June 1-20), he’s come all the way back down the earth, batting just .195 in his past 22 games, with 10 runs, four home runs and 12 runs batted in.

Justin Duchscherer has made 17 starts in Oakland’s first 99 games, compiling a 1.87 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 115.2 innings. Assuming he keeps the same pace over the remainder of the season, he’ll finish with 28 starts and 189.1 innings pitched on the season. For his numbers to “fall” as far as last year’s leaders (2.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) by the time it’s all said and done, he’d need to compile a 3.61 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over his final 74.0 innings.

Dustin Pedroia has multiple hits in 10 of 16 July games and has hit .452 (57 for 126) in his past 29 games. His 57 hits and 27 runs are both good for the league lead over that stretch. He’s raised his average 60 points (from .260 to .320) and his OPS 151 points (from .676 to .827) since June 13.

Widely-available starters among the league leaders in opponent OPS over the past three weeks (minimum three starts): Oliver Perez (.541, fifth), Scott Baker (.544, sixth), Tim Wakefield (.546, seventh), Hiroki Kuroda (.557, eighth), Manny Parra (.557, eighth), John Lannan (.568, 13th), Mike Pelfrey (.585, 17th), Jamie Moyer (.592, 18th), and Nick Blackburn (.594, 19th).

Notable Pitching Game(s) of the Week

Ubaldo Jimenez (Col – SP) 7/17 vs Pit
7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 4 K (109 pitches, 66 strikes)
Jimenez beat the Pirates for his third win in four starts and his sixth quality start over his past eight appearances. He’s compiled a 2.50 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his past 50.1 innings, with 39 hits, 25 walks and 39 strikeouts. Obviously those walks (4.7/9, league-leading 63 BB on the season) have helped keep the WHIP from exceptional territory, but his outstanding ground ball rate (56.2%) has kept the damage to a minimum (0.5 HR/9, .361 OppSLG). He’s one of the hardest throwers in the bigs, as this leaderboard attests to. His BAA is just .229 since June 1. If he can continue his incremental improvements in K:BB (1.5 in April/May, 1.7 in June/July), then this 24-year-old will be a real fantasy difference-maker down the stretch.

Notable Batting Game(s) of the Week

Matt Holliday (Col – OF) 7/21 vs LAD
3 AB, 3 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB
What’s notable about this game, you ask? The fact that it – along with many of his other strong games during this and previous seasons – came at home. So far in 2008, Holliday has a .368/.442/.670 line at home and a .301/.400/.459 line on the road. His career splits tell the same story: .364/.428/.663 at home, .277/.341/.449 on the road. Still not with me? Holliday is on Colorado’s trade block, so what happens to those home numbers if/when he gets dealt? He’s a very good hitter, so I’m not suggesting that his stats would completely fall off regardless of where he ends up. But he’s the 12th-ranked player in the Yahoo! game on the season and is currently No.1 over the past month, and I am suggesting that he won’t maintain that ranking in a non-Rockies uniform. The kicker here is that there’s also a chance that he won’t be dealt until the offseason, so selling now is no guarantee that you are selling high, at least in re-draft leagues. It’s just some food for thought, as you aren’t likely to get the same return for Holliday in a post-trade (real life) scenario as you are right now.

John Baker (Fla – C) 7/19 vs Phi
3 AB, 2 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB
File this blurb under the “because we’re always looking for productive catchers” heading. The 27-year-old Baker, a life-long minor leaguer, got his first major league shot after starter Matt Treanor hit the DL in early July. He hasn’t exactly torn the cover off of the ball (.192/.241/.462 in 26 AB), but he was hitting .321/.398/.497 in Triple-A at the time of his promotion, and he already has as many home runs (two) as Treanor and backup Paul Hoover have combined to hit in 219 at bats. Momentum seems to already be building for Baker to stick around for good, and this money-ball product (he was drafted by the A’s in the fourth round in 2002) could end up gaining fantasy relevance as the season progresses.

Matt Buser is a Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert. Follow him on Twitter. Send Matt a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008