By Matt Buser
July 17, 2007
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.
Streaks, Stat Standouts and Anomalies This just in: Ryan Braun is really good. He's led the Majors in both HR and RBI as the top-ranked player in the Yahoo! game over the past month. The 23-year-old rookie now has 14 HR and 38 RBI in 176 at bats – among players with at least 100 AB, his AB/HR of 12.6 is seventh in the league, and his AB/RBI of 4.6 is good for 16th. The top 10 for each stat:
AB/HR: Alex Rodriguez (10.6), Carlos Pena (11.1), Prince Fielder (11.3), Victor Diaz (11.6), Ryan Howard (12.3), Ken Griffey Jr. (12.5), Braun, Tony Clark (12.8), Adam Dunn (12.8), and Jack Cust (12.9).
AB/RBI: Ryan Spilborghs (3.5), Alex Rodriguez (3.8), Ryan Howard (4.0), Victor Diaz (4.2), Vladimir Guerrero (4.2), Carlos Pena (4.2), Carlos Guillen (4.3), Magglio Ordonez (4.4), Justin Morneau (4.4), and Tony Clark (4.4).
Despite ranking 12th in the league with 128.2 IP, Erik Bedard has a league-leading 156 K, 23 more than second-place Johan Santana's 133. On the season, Bedard's strikeout rate is 10.9/9, which would place him 21st on the all-time leaderboard, just behind Oliver Perez's 2004 and Curt Schilling's 2002 season numbers. He's been improving as the season has progressed, however – Bedard has struck out 68 batters over his past 52.2 IP, or 11.6/9.
Widely available starting pitchers who are among the league leaders in opponent OPS over the past three weeks (minimum three starts): Buddy Carlyle (seventh, 0.546), Tim Lincecum (eighth, 0.552), Kevin Millwood (ninth, 0.556), Chuck James (11th, 0.565), Kyle Lohse (13th, 0.586), Paul Maholm (16th, 0.609), Kason Gabbard (18th, 0.616), Paul Byrd (20th, 0.630), Jamey Wright (22nd, 0.635), and Sergio Mitre (23rd, 0.645).
Perhaps you are feeling the urge to pick up Julio Lugo now that he's hit safely in six straight games, batting .500 (11 for 22) during the streak. I've been trying to fight the urge myself, and my resolve has come from the fact that Lugo hit .187 during a span of 109 games and 384 at bats between August 23 of last season and July 7 of the current season.
Notable Pitching Game of the Week
Felix Hernandez (Sea – SP) 7/12 vs Detroit
6.1 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (102 pitches, 64 strikes)
Hernandez's performance in the 3-2 win over the Tigers wasn't exactly the stuff of legend, but the game, despite the 12 walks-plus-hits, was a positive sign for his fantasy owners. He held the Majors' highest scoring offense to two runs, despite the 10 hits allowed, the third consecutive start in which he has allowed two or fewer runs. Hernandez is 2-0 in three July starts, with a 1.61 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and .213 BAA, striking out 13 batters in 22.1 IP.
Fantasy owners who invested heavily in King Felix for the 2007 season are likely less-than-thrilled with his current season numbers – he's gone 6-4 in 15 starts with a 3.66 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and .284 BAA in 91.0 innings, striking out 86 batters. A deeper look at the numbers might lead to a bit of optimism for the rest of the season, however.
Despite missing time early in the season with a right elbow strain, Hernandez has improved his walk rate (from 2.8 to 2.6), strikeout rate (from 8.3 to 8.5), and home run rate (from 1.1 to 0.8) from last season. And it's very likely that his high BABIP – at .353, it's second only to Zach Duke's .363 among qualifying pitchers – is bound for a correction in the season's final months. Despite his relatively high .284 BAA, Hernandez's opponent slugging percentage is .419, in the same neighborhood as C.C. Sabathia, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and James Shields. I'm anticipating a very strong second half from Hernandez, with the wild card, of course, being his health.
Notable Batting Game of the Week
Brian McCann (Atl – C) 7/13 vs Pittsburgh
4 AB, 3 H, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB
McCann had the second two home run game of his career against Ian Snell and the Buccos, and in the games immediately before and after the All-Star Break, McCann has a combined 5 H, 3 HR, and 8 RBI. Like Hernandez, McCann to this point hasn't exactly thrilled fantasy owners who made him, on average, a fourth round pick in this season's drafts. He hit .333 last season, including an NL-leading .351 against RHP, but those averages have plummeted to .266 and .267, respectively, this season. He's also scored just 28 runs in 78 games, thanks to horrific production from the bottom-third of the Braves' lineup.
Despite the disappointment overall, McCann is currently the sixth-ranked catcher in the Yahoo! game and ranks third at the position in RBI and fourth in HR. McCann's bat has been showing serious signs of life lately – he's hit .333 (17 for 51) over his past 15 games, with 6 HR and 18 RBI. These could be the early signs of a serious second-half surge, as McCann hit 18 of his 24 HR after the All-Star break last season. Fantasy owners who waited out McCann's sluggish start, as well as those who shrewdly bought low at some point along the way, should see solid return on investment in the second half.
Stat(s) of the Week
Now that we've got just over half of a season's worth of hindsight to work with, let's use it to take a look back at this season's draft results and see which positions fantasy owners most had right. The criteria will be how many players were in the top 10 in ADP at their position, while also being among the current top 10-ranked players at their position.
1B (6) – Albert Pujols (1st in ADP, 6th in season rank), Ryan Howard (2,6), David Ortiz (3, 4), Lance Berkman (4,10), Justin Morneau (7,3), Victor Martinez (9,5)
C (6) – Joe Mauer (1,4), Victor Martinez (2,2), Brian McCann (3,6), Ivan Rodriguez (4,5), Kenji Johjima (5,8), Jorge Posada (7,3)
RP (5) – Francisco Rodriguez (2,4), Billy Wagner (4,3), Trevor Hoffman (7,5), J.J. Putz (8,1), Jonathan Papelbon (9,1)
3B (4) – Alex Rodriguez (1,1), Miguel Cabrera (2,2), David Wright (3,3), Aramis Ramirez (4,6)
2B (4) – Chase Utley (1,1), Brian Roberts (4,3), Dan Uggla (5, 4), Jeff Kent (9,7)
SS (3) – Jose Reyes (1,3), Jimmy Rollins (3,2), Hanley Ramirez (5,1), Carlos Guillen (9,4)
OF (2) – Carlos Lee (7,10), Grady Sizemore (9,4)
SP (2) – Johan Santana (1,1), Jake Peavy (6,3)
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 on Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 5:19 pm, EDT
Email to a Friend | View Popular