Splitsville: Early returns

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.

2007 Sabermetrics tables: Batters | Pitchers | Glossary

(Note: Splitsville will be on a hiatus next week but will return on Tuesday, April 22. Not only is the 22nd Earth Day, but it will also mark the debut of sabermetrics tables for the 2008 season, which will then be updated each week for the remainder of the season.)

Stat Trends, Streaks, and Anomalies

It's a bit early to be reading too much into too many stats, so let's just take a peek at some current leaderboards for some notable sabermetric stats. Qualifiers are 20 plate appearances for hitters and 25 batters faced for pitchers.

BABIP top 10Rafael Furcal (.550), Justin Upton (.533), Bobby Abreu (.500), Ryan Doumit (.500), Jason Kendall (.500), Nate McLouth (.483), Chone Figgins (.478), Carlos Gomez (.478), Brandon Phillips (.474), Pat Burrell (.467)

BABIP bottom 10Travis Buck (.000), Jose Vidro (.050), Mark Ellis (.053), Ben Broussard (.071), Miguel Cabrera (.071), Alfonso Soriano (.077), Edwin Encarnacion (.080), Jason Michaels (.083), Placido Polanco (.091), Brad Wilkerson (.091)

LD% top 10Ryan Ludwick (.600), Ramon Hernandez (.444), Jack Hannahan (.429), Hanley Ramirez (.412), Ryan Church (.390), Carlos Delgado (.375), Jermaine Dye (.375), Josh Bard (.368), Daric Barton (.368), Nick Johnson (.364)

LD% bottom 10Conor Jackson (.000), Jeff Francoeur (.037), Jhonny Peralta (.042), Jose Vidro (.046), Kenji Johjima (.050), Josh Hamilton (.050), Rickie Weeks (.050), Frank Thomas (.056), Corey Hart (.056), Luis Castillo (.058)

BABIP top 10Daisuke Matsuzaka (.095), John Danks (.100), Jake Peavy (.125), Shaun Marcum (.133), Greg Maddux (.162), Joe Saunders (.167), Jake Westbrook (.174), Aaron Cook (.175), Rich Hill (.176), Ben Sheets (.189)

BABIP bottom 10 &ndahs; Rick VandenHurk (.600), Andrew Miller (.577), Jose Contreras (.476), Carlos Villanueva (.444), John Bale (.435), Roy Oswalt (.426), Andy Pettitte (.412), Ubaldo Jimenez (.412), Tom Gorzelanny (.407), Brad Thompson (.389)

GB% top 10Fausto Carmona (.811), Kason Gabbard (.762), Braden Looper (.714), Tim Hudson (.683), Jose Contreras (.667), Brad Thompson (.667), John Bale (.652), Greg Maddux (.650), Ubaldo Jimenez (.647), Felix Hernandez (.628)

GB% bottom 10Chris Young (.139), Rich Harden (.217), Gavin Floyd (.238), Javier Vazquez (.250), Mark Redman (.250), Nate Robertson (.294), Brett Myers (.297), Jon Lester (.300), Dana Eveland (.300), Edwin Jackson (.300)

Other random numbers:
Cristian Guzman has the most plate appearances in the league (39) but has yet to draw a walk. Chase Utley and Orlando Hudson currently have the most plate appearances without a strikeout (32).

Magglio Ordonez, who finished the 2007 season with 117 runs and 139 runs batted in, has the most plate appearances to date among players who have yet to record at least one of either stat (25).

Brad Penny and Fausto Carmona have yet to allow an extra base hit after two starts. Penny (.292/.327/.292 opponent line) has allowed 14 singles in 48 opponent at bats, while Carmona (.182/.321/.182) has yielded eight singles in 44 at bats.

Boof Bonser has faced the most batters without issuing a base on balls (54), while Paul Byrd has faced the most batters without recording a strikeout (27).

Notable Pitching Game(s) of the Week

Brian Bannister (KC – SP) 4/2 @ DET
7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (85 pitches, 53 strikes)
Two things are true: the Detroit offense hasn't been what we thought it was in the early going, and Bannister isn't going to strike out a lot of batters (77 Ks in 165.0 IP in 2007). But he was an asset in ERA and WHIP in 2007 and figures to be again in 2008, thanks to above-average command (2.4 BB/9 in 2007). And there's hope for an improved strikeout rate as well. He struck out 365 batters in 418.0 innings in the minors (7.9/9).

Nick Blackburn (MIN – SP) 4/2 vs LAA
7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (86 pitches, 63 strikes)
Blackburn was a hard-luck loser in his first career start, as the Twins lost 1-0. He threw 73 percent of his pitches for strikes, and followed it up with 69 percent of 90 pitches going for strikes in his second start. Control is his calling card – he took the long way to get there, but had a 2.11 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 110.2 innings in Triple-A last season, with the sparkling WHIP due in large part to a microscopic walk rate of 0.98/9. His role in the rotation may hinge on Francisco Liriano and Kevin Slowey's availability, but keep an eye on this talented 26-year-old, particularly in deep leagues.

Notable Batting Game(s) of the Week

Jeff Keppinger (Cin – SS, 3B) 4/6 vs PHI
5 AB, 3 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB
Keppinger has quickly become a Cincinnati and Roto Arcade favorite, but a .423/.483/.769 line tends to have that affect on people. This isn't the first time that Keppinger has hit the ball all over the place – he went for .335/.400/.485 in 233 at bats after the All-Star break last season, and hit .320 in 2,154 career minor-league at bats. At worst, Keppinger is going to keep producing numbers in the two-hole for the Reds for another three weeks, when Alex Gonzalez is expected to return from a knee injury. A best-case scenario is that he plays too well to go back to the bench and you get a reasonable impression of Michael Young from a waiver pickup (currently owned in 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues).

Nate McLouth (PIT – OF) 4/6 @ FLA
5 AB, 3 H, 3 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
McLouth is quickly on his way to becoming the other Roto Arcade favorite. He's hit safely in all seven games this season (.441/.472/.735), and has four straight multi-hit games. He hit .302/.420/.564 with nine home runs and 16 steals in his final 47 games last season. Yet he's still on free agent lists in about 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Now is probably a good time to point out that good fantasy players don't only come from good teams.

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