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Splitsville: Threats of San Francisco

Matt Buser
Yahoo Sports

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

Brian McCann is currently the top-ranked catcher in the Yahoo! game at 67th overall, thanks in part to huge numbers versus LHP (.365/.434/.554 in 74 AB). Of course, his numbers versus RHP aren't bad, either (.274/.361/.593 in 135 AB). What makes the splits of particular note is that it's almost a complete reversal from his breakout 2006 campaign, during which he hit .266/.352/.457 versus LHP and .351/.398/.603 versus RHP. To add to the confusion, during a 2007 campaign which was considered a disappointment overall, he hit both similarly (.264/.296/.460 vs LHP, .273/.332/.448 vs RHP).

As the trio of Randy Winn, Bengie Molina and Aaron Rowand go, so goes the Giants offense. The three have combined to hit .321 in 655 at bats, while the rest of the team has hit a combined .237 in 1,554 at bats. The typical run-scoring scenario for the Giants: No. 3 hitter Winn gets on base (batting .324/.384/.524 in 145 AB with the bases empty), and either cleanup hitter Molina (.361/.387/.528 in 108 AB with runners on) or No. 5 hitter Rowand (.356/.427/.455 in 101 AB with runners on) drives him in. Something the Giants really need to work on is putting a legitimate hitter between Fred Lewis (.286/.365/.481 in 46 games at leadoff) and their 3-4-5 hitters. To that end they've tried Eugenio Velez (.205/.225/.359 in 19 G batting second) and Jose Castillo (.274/.312/.411 in 16 G batting second) with little success.

It looks like the closer role is fitting Kerry Wood just fine. He's allowed just 11 hits and two earned runs over his past 20.1 innings (0.89 ERA, 0.74 WHIP), while walking four batters and striking out 27. On the season his 0.82 WHIP is second to teammate Carlos Marmol among pitchers with at least 30.0 IP, while his opponent OPS of .529 is sixth among the same qualifiers.

Scott Kazmir and John Lackey have been significant shots in the arm for their fantasy teams since their respective returns from injury. Since May 10, the two have combined to compile an 8-1 record in 11 starts, with a 1.27 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 78.0 innings, allowing 51 hits, issuing 16 walks and striking out 64 batters.

Mark Reynolds is streaky. This we know. Let's take a look at the specifics of his ups and downs over the past 1.5 seasons:

2007: May 16 – May 30 (15 G) .426, 12 R, 11 XBH, 4 HR, 15 RBI

June 1 – August 1 (49 G) .181, 18 R, 14 XBH, 4 HR, 16 RBI

August 4 – September 30 (47 G) .319, 32 R, 16 XBH, 9 HR, 31 RBI

2008: March 31 – April 8 (8 G) .344, 9 R, 6 XBH, 5 HR, 12 RBI

April 9 – May 26 (39 G) .199, 24 R, 8 XBH, 3 HR, 17 RBI

May 28 – June 9 (12 G) .410, 9 R, 9 XBH, 6 HR, 11 RBI

Widely-available starters among the league leaders in opponent OPS over the past three weeks (minimum three starts): Brian Moehler (.562, seventh), Wandy Rodriguez (.572, ninth), Greg Maddux (.577, 10th), Phil Dumatrait (.595, 13th), Claudio Vargas (.596, 14th), Jeremy Guthrie (.611, 18th), Randy Wolf (.618, 19th), Kyle Lohse (.621, 21st), Jonathan Sanchez (.622, 22nd) and Armando Galarraga (.634, 25th).

Notable Pitching Game(s) of the Week

Matt Cain (SF – SP) 6/9 at Washington

6.1 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 6 K (107 pitches, 78 strikes)

Granted it came against the woeful Nationals offense, but Cain pitched well and his exemplary control was of particular interest. He was a serious disappointment in April (4.41 ERA, 1.62 WHIP in 32.2 IP) thanks in large part to 6.3 BB/9. In his past eight starts (52.2 IP), he's reigned in the walks (2.9 BB/9) and the WHIP has dipped significantly as well (1.27). He's still getting hit with some regularity and his four home runs allowed on May 18 stands out as a black mark on his game log, but the signs are there for Cain's numbers to continue to improve moving forward. We may be at or near the end of the buy low period for this talented 23-year-old.

Manny Parra (Mil - SP, RP) 6/4 vs Arizona

7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 8 K (101 pitches, 67 strikes)

Speaking of signs of a pitcher turning things around, Parra had his best outing of the season versus the D-Backs and now has allowed one or fewer earned runs in four of his past five starts. Granted his one bad start was a doozy (4.2 IP, 6 ER on May 25), but even with those numbers factored in he's posted a 2.73 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over his past 29.2 innings, with 26 hits, 12 walks and 27 strikeouts. At the very least, add him to your Watch List and keep an eye on his next scheduled start, at Houston on Wednesday. If he posts another good line, you need to make a move for this talented lefty.

Notable Batting Game(s) of the Week

Alexei Ramirez (CWS – 2B, OF) 6/3 vs Kansas City

4 AB, 3 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB

Ramirez continues to swing a hot bat, rebounding from a horrific start to the season. There was some buzz surrounding the talented Cuban native after a solid spring (.358/.375/.582 in 67 AB), but he stumbled out of the gate and was hitting just .194/.225/.299 as of May 24. In 15 games since, he's hit .400 (24 for 60) with 10 runs, three home runs and 10 runs batted in – numbers that are of particular use at 2B, where he's the eighth-ranked player at the position over the past month (69th overall). His starting position is safe unless he goes into a dramatic slide. Former starter Juan Uribe has yet to see an at bat since being activated from the DL on May 31 and is hitting just .198/.262/.328 on the season.

Alex Rios (Tor – OF) 6/9 vs Seattle

4 AB, 3 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 SB

What is of the most significance for Rios is that Monday was the second consecutive game in which he batted leadoff, a trend that should continue for at least as long as Shannon Stewart is on the DL. Rios is hitting .333 (14 for 42) during his current 10-game hitting streak, and fantasy owners can only hope that the leadoff spot can spark his bat even further, particularly in the power department. His .272/.333/.375 line in 64 games on the season includes .277/.304/.431 in 15 games at leadoff and .272/.346/.346 in 47 games batting third. During his studly 2007 season, he hit .282/.341/.494 in 58 games at leadoff, .364/.381/.662 in 18 games batting second, and .289/.361/.450 in 72 games batting third. While the 27-year-old needs only two stolen bases to tie his career high of 17, he's also on pace to hit just seven home runs over 155 games.