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
No. 2 – Mark Loretta, .395, and Kevin Youkilis, 1.000
No. 3 – Matt Holliday, .352, and Mark Teixeira, 1.135
No. 4 – Magglio Ordonez, .372, and Prince Fielder, 1.216
No. 5 – Matt Holliday, .392 and 1.035
No. 6 – Hideki Matsui, .340 and .935
No. 7 – Shawn Green, .333 and .864
No. 8 – Yuniesky Betancourt, .321, and Mike Napoli, .801
No. 9 – Dustin Pedroia, .328 and .882
Justin Verlander (Det - SP) 6/12 vs Mil
9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 12 K (112 pitches, 73 strikes)
Verlander threw the season's second no-hitter, a masterful performance in which he struck out a career-high 12 batters and was still bringing it at or near 100 MPH in the game's final frame. Verlander's ERA and WHIP in 14 starts thus far in 2007 (2.90, 1.16) are right in line with his pre-break numbers from 2006 (3.01, 1.17 in 17 starts). The 24-year-old has been a more effective pitcher overall in 2007, as he's lowered his BAA (from .241 to .217) and home run rate (from 0.9 to 0.7), while raising his strikeout rate (from 5.6/9 to 7.4/9). He's currently the 12th-ranked starting pitcher in the Yahoo! game, at No. 64 overall.
The question that should be weighing heavily on Verlander's fantasy owners' minds is when and if the similarities to last season will end. Verlander's effectiveness declined sharply in 2006's latter stages, and the biggest reasons were arm and shoulder fatigue. In 14 starts from August through the World Series in October, Verlander was 5-7 with a 5.82 ERA and 1.76 WHIP. He totaled 207.2 innings during the course of the season (186.0 during the regular season), after pitching 130.0 during his first pro season in 2005. I was in the camp that was wary of drafting Verlander for fear of a repeat of his issues with his "tired arm." As of now those concerns appear to be unfounded (or at least premature), but as you might guess, that type of malady tends to creep up in the season's second half. I often err on the side of caution in cases like this – sometimes to a fault – so take the following advice with that context in mind: if Verlander can net you a proven stud without the later-season concerns (Johan Santana in a "buy low" deal seems like a perfect scenario), then it's definitely something that I would pursue at this point.
Mike Cameron (SD - OF) 6/17 at ChC
4 AB, 3 H, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB
Cameron got the Padres on the board early with his two-run home run in the first, and it proved to be the catalyst for an 11-3 drubbing of Rich Hill and the Cubs. Fantasy owners have had a love/hate relationship with the 34-year-old Cameron over much of his career – the love is due in large part to his five-time membership in the 20/20 club, but his inconsistencies and .252 career average can take a bit of the shine off of his positive contributions. Take a look at some of his splits, and you'll see that now is the time to bank on Cameron being a plus contributor overall.
Over his past three full seasons (2003-04, 2006), Cameron's production has spiked in June, July, and August. He hit a combined .237 in April, May, and September of those seasons, with a home run rate of one every 35.6 at bats and a steal rate of one every 7.7 games. In June through August, he hit a combined .264, with a home rune rate of one every 17.5 at bats and a steal rate of one every 5.9 games. Staying true to form, Cameron had a .240 average as of June 1 of the current season (he offset a horrific April with a productive May), and has a .288/.309/.500 line in 14 June games thus far. Cameron's ownership level is at just under 60 percent in the Yahoo! game, so those of you in the other 40 percent should seriously consider adding Cameron for what should amount to four-category production through the summer months.
Stat(s) of the Week
Jonny Gomes has caught the eye of many fantasy owners, as a player who hits four home runs in five games tends to do. The 26-year-old was hitting just .184/.322/.286 when he was sent to Triple-A in late May. In 13 games with Durham, Gomes had a .302/.464/.419 line, and he's gone on a 10-for-19 tear since being recalled. One of Brad Evans' personal favorites, Gomes plays with great energy and enthusiasm, but can be a defensive liability in the outfield. Gomes hit 41 home runs in 733 combined at bats in 2005-06, but he also struck out a combined 229 times while .247 over the same stretch. He's got a bit of Jack Cust in him, as he also drew 100 walks total over the past two seasons. Much of his struggles last season, including a .216 average, were attributed to his playing through a right shoulder injury that eventually required season-ending surgery.
The real question mark at this point is where can he find regular playing time moving forward – he's been presented with his current opportunity because Elijah Dukes has floundered, and Rocco Baldelli and B.J. Upton are on the disabled list. Much as was with the case with Cust, fantasy owners should enjoy the ride while it lasts, and a roster move should certainly be considered, in case he continues to produce – Baldelli was due to be activated from the DL this week, but reports are that he aggravated his hamstring strain and is likely to spend more time on the DL. Perhaps it will give Gomes enough time to play his way back into the Devil Rays' plans.