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.
Stat Trends, Streaks and Anomalies
* With the symbolic midway point of the season upon us in the form of the All-Star break, let's take a look at various leaders over the past calendar year (*where applicable, players must qualify for the batting or ERA title).
AVG (best)*: Chipper Jones .360, Albert Pujols .351, Matt Holliday .338, Magglio Ordonez .335, Lance Berkman/Garrett Atkins .326
AVG (worst)*: Mike Cameron .219, Gary Matthews Jr. .223, Rickie Weeks .229, Paul Konerko .231, Eric Byrnes, Kevin Millar (.233)
H: Ichiro Suzuki 228, Michael Young 215, Dustin Pedroia 211, Garrett Atkins 211, Hanley Ramirez 209
2B: Brian Roberts 56, Aaron Rowand 51, Nate McLouth/Dustin Pedroia 46, 5 players tied with 45
3B: Jimmy Rollins 15, Curtis Granderson/Jose Reyes 13, Corey Hart 10, Brian Roberts/Akinori Iwamura 9
HR: Ryan Howard 54, Ryan Braun 44, Pat Burrell/Adam Dunn/Alex Rodriguez 42
RBI: Ryan Howard 153, Mark Teixeira 133, Ryan Braun 127, David Wright 126, Carlos Beltran 123
R: Hanley Ramirez 134, Ian Kinsler 130, Lance Berkman 126, Jose Reyes 124, David Wright 123
SB: Jose Reyes/Juan Pierre 64, Jimmy Rollins/Brian Roberts 50, Carl Crawford 49
BB: Jack Cust 134, Pat Burrell 123, Adam Dunn 121, David Wright 110, Albert Pujols 107
K: Ryan Howard 231, Jack Cust 201, Mark Reynolds 198, Chris Young 182, B.J. Upton 167
OPS (best)*: Albert Pujols 1.078, Chipper Jones 1.066, Lance Berkman 1.042, Matt Holliday 1.021, David Ortiz 1.012
OPS (worst)*: Felipe Lopez .645, Jose Lopez .655, Gary Matthews Jr. .665, Jason Bartlett .666, Khalil Greene .676
ERA (best)*: Jake Peavy 2.71, Roy Halladay 2.72, Scott Kazmir 2.78, John Lackey 2.84, Tim Lincecum 2.87
ERA (worst)*: Tom Gorzellany 5.81, Livan Hernandez 5.44, Ian Snell 5.33, Andy Sonnanstine 5.24, Jose Contreras 5.20
WHIP (best)*: Cole Hamels 1.00, Roy Halladay 1.07, Jake Peavy 1.09, Brandon Webb 1.13, Shaun Marcum 1.14
WHIP (worst)*: Tom Gorzellany 1.73, Ian Snell 1.72, Kevin Millwood 1.66, Livan Hernandez 1.61, Jeff Suppan 1.55
IP: Roy Halladay 257.2, C.C. Sabathia 245.0, Brandon Webb 236.1, Tim Hudson 236.1, Joe Blanton 222.2
W: Brandon Webb 23, Andy Pettitte 20, Chien-Ming Wang/Mike Mussina 18, 5 tied with 17
L: Joe Blanton 17, Gil Meche/Jarrod Washburn/Barry Zito 16, Aaron Harang/Carlos Silva/Nate Robertson 15
SV: Francisco Rodriguez 54, Joe Nathan 47, Jose Valverde 45, Jonathan Papelbon 44, Mariano Rivera 41
K: C.C. Sabathia 227, Javier Vazquez 222, Johan Santana 216, Josh Beckett/Chad Billingsley 209
K/BB*: Josh Beckett 4.9, Dan Haren 4.5, James Shields 4.4, Aaron Harang/John Lackey/Scott Baker 4.2
OppAVG (best)*: Cole Hamels .215, Jake Peavy .218, Scott Kazmir .223, Daisuke Matsuzaka .230, Shaun Marcum .235
OppAVG (worst)*: Livan Hernandez .325, Kevin Millwood .314, Ian Snell .303, Mike Mussina .302, Carlos Silva .298
• Widely-available starters among the league leaders in opponent OPS over the past three weeks (minimum three starts): Tim Wakefield (.418, second), Hiroki Kuroda (.432, fourth), Manny Parra (.467, fifth), Dave Bush (.513, 10th), Paul Maholm (.536, 15th), Mike Pelfrey (.573, 18th), Jason Marquis (.577, 19th), Oliver Perez (.581, 20th), and Edwin Jackson (.590, 22nd).
Notable Pitching Game(s) of the Week
Mike Pelfrey (NYM – SP) 7/13 vs Col
8.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (119 pitches, 81 strikes)
Pelfrey limited the Rockies' bats to five singles and a double in his 8.0 innings, and he's been money in three July starts (3 W, 22.0 IP, 0.41 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, .200 BAA, 16:2 K:BB). Over his past nine starts, dating back to May 21, he's 6-0 with a 2.26 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 59.2 innings, with 54 hits, 19 walks and 41 strikeouts. Those are good numbers. The dramatic difference has been his home/away success. In four home starts over that stretch, he's had a 0.90 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 24:3 K:BB in 30.0 innings; in five away starts, those numbers fall to a 3.64 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 17:16 K:BB in 29.2 innings. The major reasons that his ERA has stayed low relative to the high WHIP: lots of ground balls induced (49.9% on the season) and barely any home runs allowed (0.33/9). He hasn't allowed a home run since May 21, a span of 63.2 innings. He credits his recent success to a change in philosophy on the mound. On May 26, his K:BB was 23:24 (49.0 IP), but since then it's been 36:15 (54.2 IP). He's a young pitcher (24 years old) with just 176.1 career minor league innings to his credit, so some bumps in the road shouldn't come as a surprise if you use a roster spot on Pelfrey. He's been fairly hittable (.284 BAA on the season) but his great GB% and HR rate help counteract that. His next few road starts could be very telling as to how much of a turnaround he's actually made.
Chris Volstad (Fla – RP) 7/11 at LAD
8.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 6 K (100 pitches, 67 strikes)
Volstad stymied the Dodgers in his first major league start, allowing just five singles in the 3-1 win. He was stopped just short of a complete game after allowing two of the hits and the one run in the ninth inning. While his long-term prospects look good, I caution you in terms of expectations for this season's second half. Volstad does have some things working for him: he is a highly-regarded prospect (Florida's No.1 pick in the 2005 draft), is an imposing physical specimen at 6-foot-7, and his sinker is a plus-pitch (13:6 GB:FB in his start). His 3.36 ERA in 91.0 minor league innings this season is good, but it was Double-A and his 1.27 WHIP (86 H, 30 BB) doesn't project well in a jump to the majors. What is also worth noting is that the 21-year-old allowed 193 hits in 148.2 innings (1.42 WHIP) between Single- and Double-A in 2007. My expectations for Volstad moving forward: a few good starts that are more than made up for by a few real stinkers.
Notable Batting Game(s) of the Week
Howie Kendrick (LAA – 2B) 7/10 at Tex
5 AB, 3 H, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB
Kendrick fell out of favor with some fantasy owners after he was slow to recover from a hamstring strain and then ever slower to get back into a groove at the plate once he was activated. He hit just .247 (24 for 97) in June, and his percentage-owned numbers are down to around 70 percent. Now is the time to react if he's still available in your league – he's hit .370 (17 for 46) in 12 July games, with nine extra-base hits (6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR), nine runs, and 10 runs batted in. His career .360/.403/.571 minor league line suggests multiple batting titles are in his future. As far as the immediate future goes, one of the majors' best batting averages in the season's second half doesn't seem like much of a stretch.