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
• Erik Bedard's season ended with 221 K in 182.0 IP, good for a 10.929/9 clip. That mark places him 21st all-time, coming in between Curt Schilling's 2002 season (10.967/9) and Randy Johnson's 1993 season (10.856/9).
• Curtis Granderson entered the extremely select 30 2B/20 3B/20 HR club when he hit his 20th HR on September 7. Jimmy Rollins' two 3B since September 1 have brought him within three 3B of the same select company, as he vies to become the sixth player to join the club. On the season, Rollins has 35 2B, 17 3B, and 26 HR in 143 games.
• Alex Rodriguez has been destroying the ball in September. He's totaled 7 HR in the past five games and batted .533 and slugged 1.367 in eight games during the month, with 10 R, 8 HR, and 15 RBI. His 272 R-plus-RBI on the season (132 R, 140 RBI) is already the fifth-best number since 2000 and the most since the 2001 season. The top four: Sammy Sosa (306 – 2001 – 146 R, 160 RBI), Todd Helton (285 – 2000 – 138 R, 147 RBI), Jeff Bagwell (284 – 2000 – 152 R, 132 RBI), and Helton again (278 – 2001 – 132 R, 146 RBI).
• Mental note for next season: trade for Adam LaRoche a few days before the All-Star break. LaRoche has raised his average almost 90 points this season, hitting .239 at the break and .325 after. Over the past two seasons combined, LaRoche has hit .244 with 26 HR in 168 games before the break and .324 with 27 HR in 117 games after.
• Widely available starting pitchers among the league leaders in opponent OPS over the past three weeks (minimum three starts): Dustin McGowan (fourth, 0.523), Kevin Correia (sixth, 0.534), Andy Sonnanstine (12th, 0.627), Ubaldo Jimenez (15th, 0.632), Jon Garland (16th, 0.634), and Esteban Loaiza (18th, 0.645).
Scott Kazmir (TB – SP) 9/10 at Boston
7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K (118 pitches, 80 strikes)
Kazmir was dealing versus the Red Sox, and he has been for the most part since the All-Star break. He's 7-2 in 12 starts since the break, with a 2.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and .233 BAA in 77.1 IP. Those numbers are a stark contrast to his pre-break numbers of a 4.41 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, and .274 BAA in 112.1 IP over 19 starts. He's dramatically improved many of his ancillary numbers, including: H/9 (9.5 pre, 7.8 post), HR/9 (1.0 pre, 0.7 post), BB/9 (4.6 pre, 2.9 post), and K/9 (9.2 pre, 10.9 post). His BABIP, despite some correction, still stands at .340, which is fifth-highest among qualifying pitchers. This marks the third straight season in which Kazmir's numbers have improved after the break, as well – in 330.0 pre-break innings, he's compiled a 4.06 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and .256 BAA, while he's put together a 3.18 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and .241 BAA in 223.2 IP post-break. Late-season improvements aren't really what you would expect from a pitcher whose major concern is durability, but these surges just whet fantasy owners' appetites for the following seasons. The 23-year-old Kazmir is undoubtedly a supreme talent, as his 9.9 K/9 (third among qualifiers) can attest to, but until his walk rate starts low and ends low, he'll remain outside the realm of fantasy baseball's elite pitchers.
Josh Hamilton (Cin – OF) 9/7 vs Milwaukee
5 AB, 4 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Hamilton had one of his better performances of the season as the Reds trounced Dave Bush and the Brewers, but Hamilton hasn't exactly been short on good games this season. Hamilton's stats compare favorably with some of the other breakout rookies in the NL this season – he's got a higher slugging percentage (.564) than Hunter Pence (.545) and a higher on-base percentage (.373) than Ryan Braun (.369) – but he's dealt with multiple injuries over the course of the season, including gastroenteritis, a sprained wrist, and current issues with hamstring tightness. In 88 G and 291 AB on the season, Hamilton has hit .296 with 51 R, 38 XBH (19 HR), and 47 RBI. In 24 games since returning from his wrist injury in early August, Hamilton has batted .337 (28 for 83) with 14 R, 5 HR, and 17 RBI.
The Reds will have some interesting roster decisions to make at 1B and in the OF next season, and they will directly affect Hamilton's playing time. Ken Griffey Jr. is signed through the 2008 season, with a club option for 2009, and the Reds have team options for both Adam Dunn ($13M) and Scott Hatteberg ($1.85M) for the 2008 season. Then there is the matter of the youngsters – they have Baseball America's newly-crowned Minor League Player of the Year OF Jay Bruce (.319/26/89 between three levels) and this year's September call-up 1B Joey Votto (.294/22/92 in Triple-A) ready to contribute at the big-league level. It's unlikely that Hatteberg will figure into their plans, but Dunn's option presents them with an interesting quandary, as does the possibility of shopping Griffey during the offseason. Hamilton has shown that he didn't lose much, if any, of his five-tool abilities during his battles with injuries and substance abuse in the years immediately following his No. 1 overall selection in the 1999 draft. If he will be a full-time player for the Reds from the outset next season remains to be seen.
Stat(s) of the Week
This week's stat is saves available on the waiver wire after draft day. Of the 36 pitchers who have recorded at least 10 saves so far this season, just over 30 percent (11) did not compile an ADP below 200 overall in drafts – you can read that as most not being drafted at all. That includes four players with at least 24 saves (David Weathers, Kevin Gregg, Jeremy Accardo, and Al Reyes), another five with between 14 and 19 (Brad Hennessey, Alan Embree, Matt Capps, and Manny Corpas), and two with 11 (Dan Wheeler and C.J. Wilson). Be careful not to overspend in drafts next season when trying to "lock up saves," as you are using draft-day resources on a single stat that can be supplemented consistently by shrewd waiver wire additions over the course of the season.