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 the past week's top performers.
Stat Standouts and Anomalies
Brad Penny (LAD – SP) 5/7 @ Florida
7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 14 K (110 pitches, 76 strikes)
Penny is off to a phenomenal start in 2007, as he's currently second in the league with a 1.39 ERA in 45.1 innings, and he's pitched seven consecutive quality starts. Penny's 14 strikeouts against the Marlins were a career high, and nearly doubled his season total entering the game (15). Penny is also the lone pitcher in the majors who has made more than three starts but has yet to give up a home run – one reason for this success being that his fly-ball percentage is currently at 57 percent, while historically it has been around 45 percent. A few other stats of which to take note: Penny's BAA is currently .233, while his career BAA is .262; his walk rate is currently 3.4/9, while his career number is 2.8/9; and his left-on-base percentage is currently at 86 percent, among the highest in the majors, while his career number is 72 percent, roughly the league average. I'm not saying definitively that it will happen again, but the stars are aligning for another 2006-like campaign for Penny – he was fantastic in 108.1 innings before the All-Star break, posting a 10-2 record with a 2.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 1.21 BAA, but floundered post-break, with a 6-7 record with a 6.25 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, and .317 BAA in 80.2 innings. In his eight-year career, Penny has posted a 3.74 ERA before the break, and 4.30 after.
Bengie Molina (SF – C) 5/7 vs NY Mets
3 AB, 2 H, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB
Molina gets the nod for line of the week for a game in which he did all of his damage in a single inning. He hit a two-run home run with no outs in the fifth inning of the game off of Oliver Perez, then hit a three-run shot off Lino Urdaneta with two down – in all, the Giants scored nine runs in the inning. Molina has quietly put together a solid season thus far, posting a .333 average and 16 runs batted in during 27 games and 99 at bats. He's currently the fifth-ranked player with catcher eligibility for "Season (total)" stats, while being owned in 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Over the past four seasons, the 32-year-old Molina averaged 15 home runs and 63 runs batted in, while hitting .284.
Stat of the Week
Billy Butler's two hits (5/1 vs LAA), including a single in his first big-league at bat, marked what should become an auspicious season for another Royals rookie phenom. Alex Gordon got plenty of preseason publicity, and rightly so, although he's stumbled out of the gate. Butler has been a phenomenal hitter at every level of baseball thus far – his line in 260 at bats in rookie ball was .373/.488/.596; in 379 Single-A at bats, it was .348/.419/.636; in 589 Double-A at bats, the line was .328/.381/.504; and in 89 at bats in Triple-A before getting the call up this season, his line was .337/.445/.584. He's been named the Royals' regular left fielder, and had multiple hits in three of his first four games – his ability to hit is unquestioned, so he's got the potential to make a fantasy splash. The deeper the league, the more serious of a look he should get on fantasy rosters.