June 29, 2010
Each week, Big League Stew stat doctor Alex Remington will bring you
a few baseball numbers you need to know.
Adam Jones's(notes) strikeout-to-walk ratio, the worst in the big leagues. He has 64 strikeouts and just eight walks, good for a terrible .296 OBP. Jones provides good defense and good power — he's tied for fifth among all centerfielders with 12 homers — and he's still just 24. But he's really going in the wrong direction after an All-Star season in 2009. Jones' strikeouts have increased since 2009, and his anemic walk rate has nearly gone to nil. (His abhorrent 2.6 percent walk rate is worst in the majors, too.) The Orioles need Jones to be among their best players and he's a big reason why their season has flatlined. This is a lost season for everyone in Baltimore, but Jones needs to rediscover the strike zone.
The Oakland Athletics' intentional walk total, the least in MLB. Team intentional walks aren't the best proxy for a weak offense — the second-worst team is the Tampa Bay Rays, who have been issued just nine intentional walks, but have scored 376 runs, tied for fourth in baseball — but in the A's case, it's pretty apt. Their best hitter, Daric Barton(notes), struggles to maintain a slugging percentage above .400, and has the second-most sacrifice bunts among position players in baseball while their second-best hitter, Kurt Suzuki(notes), has a career OBP of .328. There's a reason that no one is intentionally walking the Oakland Athletics: the team can't hit strikes. Why throw them four free balls?
The number of plate appearances Josh Hamilton(notes) has amassed this year without grounding into a double play once. He has never been an easy man to double up as he's only grounded in 19 double plays in his 1,721 career plate appearances. (Billy Butler(notes), meanwhile, has grounded into 21 double plays this year alone). But Hamilton is really outdoing himself this year. Zero DPs in that many PAs is an incredible stat.
The Kansas City Royals' team batting average, tied with the Texas Rangers for best in the majors. They also have the most hits in baseball, 754. It hasn't made for a world-class offense, though. Despite KC's lofty batting average, they're 26th in homers and 28th in walks, so their .743 OPS (12th in the majors) will likely drop if the singles stop falling.
The Arizona Diamondbacks' mind-blowingly bad bullpen ERA. D-Backs relievers this year are 8-18 with 15 saves in 29 opportunities; opposing batters are hitting .304 with an .884 OPS against them. Chad Qualls(notes) opened the year as closer but lost the job two weeks ago; he has an 8.88 ERA with runs allowed in 14 of his 31 appearances. But his replacement, Aaron Heilman(notes), has blown saves in two of his last five appearances. They're not getting much help from retreads Dontrelle Willis(notes) (4.67 ERA), Kris Benson(notes) (5.14 ERA) or Bob Howry(notes) (10.67 ERA), either.
The San Diego Padres' major league-best road ERA. You might think that the Padres' success this year has a lot to do with their home record, and you wouldn't be wrong: they're 23-17 at Petco Park, with a 2.90 ERA, fifth-best in the majors. But they're even better on the road, where they're 22-14. It's even more remarkable considering that Jon Garland(notes) has an ERA nearly two times higher on the road: 2.34 at home compared to 3.97 on the road. Everyone expected the Padres to mop up at home, where their collection of pitchers can rule the roost — including Mike Adams(notes), Heath Bell(notes) and Luke Gregerson(notes), likely the best 7th-8th-9th inning combination in baseball. Their road play has taken the National League by surprise, and that's why they're one of the best teams in the league.
The number of pinch homers the Cincinnati Reds have gotten this year, by far the most in the majors. Scott Rolen(notes) has two pinch homers in three pinch at-bats, and the remarkable Chris Heisey(notes) has three pinch homers in 10 pinch at-bats. The Reds have been one of the most surprising first-place teams in baseball, along with the Padres themselves, and these late-inning runs — and Heisey's booming bat off the bench — are a big reason why.