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
Roger Clemens is expected to join the Yankees rotation sometime around the beginning of June, a timeframe that should provide him in the neighborhood of 20 starts over the remainder of the season, barring injury. Clemens' career numbers per 20 starts: 10-5, 139.1 innings, 118 hits, 45 walks, and 133 strikeouts. His numbers per 20 starts during his last stint as a Yankee (1999-2003): 10-5, 128.0 innings, 120 hits, 47 walks, and 121 strikeouts.
Shane Victorino went from middling fantasy outfielder to front-line contributor in a matter of four games – from May 3-6, Victorino batted .588 (10 for 17) with seven runs scored and six stolen bases. In the process, he went from being owned in just 8 percent of Yahoo! leagues to a current mark of (just) 48 percent.
If such a thing as a "buy-low" period for Albert Pujols exists, then it may be extended for the next few weeks, as well. In terms of monthly splits over the course of his career, Pujols has posted his lowest batting average (.314), on-base percentage (.391), and slugging percentage (.594) during the month of May.
Joe Smith leads the majors with the most innings pitched without having allowed an earned run (15.1) – the 23-year-old Mets rookie, a third-round selection in the 2006 draft, had a 5.68 ERA in 12.2 Double-A innings last season after posting a 0.98 ERA in 55.0 innings for Wright State.
Over his first four starts, Daniel Cabrera walked just seven batters and struck out 26 in 26.1 innings pitched; he also did not give up a home run, despite 28 hits allowed, and had a 4.10 ERA and 1.33 WHIP during those games. Over his past three starts, Cabrera has walked 15 and struck out 16 in 18.2 innings pitched; while he allowed just 12 hits, three were home runs, but his ERA still was improved (3.86) while his WHIP regressed (1.45). Something's got to give.
J.J. Hardy's line during his current 18-game hit streak is .413/.493/.893. Take away a five-game stretch from April 14-18 in which he had just two hits in 22 at bats, and his season line in the remaining 26 games is .385/.486/.771.
Current H/9 leaders among pitchers with at least 25 innings pitched (131 qualifiers): Mark Hendrickson (4.6), Matt Cain (4.7), John Maine (5.5), Rich Hill (5.6), and Jake Peavy (5.8). Leaders among pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (328 qualifiers): Francisco Cordero (1.2), Al Reyes (3.0), Heath Bell (3.0), Felix Hernandez (3.1), and Chin-hui Tsao (3.2).
Current K/9 leaders among pitchers with at least 25 innings pitched: Brett Myers (11.9), Jake Peavy (10.9), Claudio Vargas (10.6), Erik Bedard (10.4), and C.C. Sabathia (10.1). Leaders among pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched: Derrick Turnbow (14.9), Francisco Rodriguez (14.7), Francisco Cordero (12.9), David Aardsma (12.7), and Fernando Cabrera (12.6).
Matt Cain is the only pitcher in the league with at least one start who has more walks issued (21) than hits allowed (20).
Randy Winn batted .192 (10 for 52) with just two runs scored during the first 16 games of the season; over the past 14 games, Winn has batted .390 (23 for 59) and scored 12 runs.
Pitching Game of the Week
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.
Batting Game of the Week
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.