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 has been slowly-but-surely creeping up the all-time leaderboard for K/9 in a single season. Thanks to 58 K over his past 41.2 IP (12.5/9), Bedard's season rate now stands at 11.197/9, which would place him 18th, behind Kerry Wood's 2001 season (11.203/9) and in front of Hideo Nomo's 1995 campaign (11.101/9).
It's no coincidence that the red-hot Yankees have three of the top four players in the Yahoo! game over the past month. Hideki Matsui hit 11 HR in 73 games before the All-Star break, but has doubled that total in 26 games since the break, along with 28 R, 26 RBI, and a .346 average. Bobby Abreu had a .263/.351/.372 line and 5 HR as of the All-Star break, but has hit .356/.416/.624 in 25 games since, with 24 R, 6 HR, and 33 RBI. Robinson Cano's season line was just .274/.314/.427 as of the break, but he's hit .416/.479/.693 in 27 games since, with 24 R, 5 HR, and 25 RBI.
It may seem unbelievable, but the Royals' Brian Bannister has been one of the best pitchers in fantasy baseball since June 1 – yes, a span of over two months. He's 8-3 in his past 12 starts with a 2.80 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 44 K in 80.1 IP, yet he's currently owned in just 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
I'll just throw a few stats out there while we all sit around and wonder what the heck is wrong with Travis Hafner. Historically, the career .289/.398/.557 hitter has followed up the best splits of his career in August (.306/.398/.617) with down numbers in September (.263/.387/.571). Of course, those September numbers would be a revelation for Hafner owners at this point …
Widely available starting pitchers among the league leaders in opponent OPS over the past three weeks (minimum three starts): Doug Davis (sixth, 0.504), Dustin McGowan (eighth, 0.557), Anthony Reyes (11th, 0.574), Scott Baker (12th, 0.578), Brian Bannister (15th, 0.589), Tim Redding (18th, 0.612), and Byung-Hyun Kim (20th, 0.628).
Wandy Rodriguez Watch update:
Most recent home start (Aug 6): 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K (ND)
Current home stats: 11 GS (7-2), 74.2 IP, 52 H, 14 ER, 16 BB, 65 K, 1.69 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, .195 BAA
Most recent road start (Aug 1): 4.0 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 5 BB, 4 K (L)
Current road stats: 11 GS (1-8), 57.1 IP, 77 H, 52 ER, 22 BB, 51 K, 8.16 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, .316 BAA
Notable Pitching Game of the Week
Scott Kazmir (TB – SP) 8/4 vs Baltimore
7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K (110 pitches, 74 strikes)
Admit it. A month ago, you were trying to find a way to simply get Kazmir off your roster (with little success), as his 115 K in 112.1 IP did little to nothing to offset his meager 5 W and pedestrian 4.41 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. Kazmir appears to have turned a corner, however, as his solid work against the Orioles was his fifth consecutive quality start – he's 3-1 in those starts with a 1.38 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 38 K in 32.2 IP. His walk rate has been 3.0/9 over his past five starts, a far cry from his rate of 4.6/9 through July 8. Walks will be the key stat for Kazmir the rest of the way – if he can keep them in check, fantasy owners will at least get some return on what was likely to be a sizeable investment on Kazmir. His BABIP currently stands in at .344, highest in the league among qualified starters, so he's as good of a candidate for a late-season surge in fantasy value as any.
Tim Lincecum (SF – SP) 8/6 vs Washington
7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 K (116 pitches, 71 strikes)
Fantasy owners who made the 23-year-old Lincecum among the most dropped players in fantasy after hitting a rough patch in early-to-mid June have certainly come to regret that decision. In eight starts since June 25, the rookie phenom has gone 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 59 K in 53.1 IP. The fact that he's surrendered a high number of walks (4.2/9) has been offset by incredible hit (5.4/9) and strikeout rates (10.0/9). In fact, among pitchers with at least 50 IP and starts in at least half of their appearances, Lincecum ranks fourth in both strikeout rate (9.7/9) and hit rate (6.6/9). Lincecum has pitched 136.1 IP so far this season (including 31.0 in Triple-A), after totaling 157.0 IP between college, Low-A, and High-A in 2006, so whether or not he'll finish the season in the Giants rotation is something that won't be decided for another month or so. In mid-July, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "We'll see where we are at in September, but right now we don't have plans to monitor or hold him back."
Notable Batting Game of the Week
Jason Botts (Tex – DH) 8/6 vs Oakland
6 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Botts was recalled by the Rangers from Triple-A on August 1, and he and Sammy Sosa were notified that, for the remainder of the season, the majority of the AB's at DH will go to Botts. The 27-year-old, 6-foot-5, 250 pound behemoth has a chance to put up better numbers than teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia, despite significantly less fanfare. Botts tore up minor-league pitching to the tune of a .320/.436/.545 line in 102 games, with 36 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 81 BB, and 102 K. Over the past three seasons in Triple-A, Botts has accumulated a .302/.401/.541 line, with 162-game averages of 47 2B, 7 3B, 28 HR, 97 BB, and 171 K. He's got significant gap power and a solid eye, and most of his time will be spent somewhere in the middle of the Rangers' lineup. One downside – he only has DH eligibility at this point, and that may or may not change moving forward, although he did get the start in LF on Monday night.
Stat(s) of the Week
Ryan Raburns's three hits on Tuesday night continued a torrid streak for the 26-year-old since being called up from Triple-A by the Tigers in early July. He's hit .380/.415/.660 in 50 AB over 17 games, with 13 R, 5 2B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, and 2 SB. He has four multi-hit games and has a 2 HR, 7 RBI game to his credit, while making starts at four different positions (LF, CF, RF, and 2B). Raburn was hitting well in the minors – he had a .292/.394/.540 line in 85 games, with 17 HR and 12 SB. He should continue to find consistent AB for the Tigers at least in the short-term, with a number of players either injured or slumping, and with enough playing time, he'll be a fantasy factor, as the Tigers were only recently passed by the Yankees for the most runs scored in the league.