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
The Wandy Rodriguez Watch is in full effect. Of his past six starts, three were at home and three were on the road, with amazingly predictable results. He went 3-0 at home with a 0.39 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in 23.0 IP; on the road, he was 0-3 with an 11.50 ERA and 3.33 WHIP in 13.1 IP. His season splits tell the same tale: he's 6-2 in 10 starts at home, with a 1.76 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and .202 BAA in 66.2 IP; in 10 starts on the road, he's 1-7 with a 7.43 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, and .314 BAA in 53.1 IP. I'm going to go ahead and recommend Rodriguez for spot starts at home.
Eric Byrnes continues to confound and amaze. He entered the 2007 season with career lines of .242/.295/.410 versus RHP and .300/.362/.527 versus LHP. His current season line is .323/.374/.497 versus RHP and .263/.360/.535 versus LHP. The 31-year-old Byrnes has appeared in every game thus far for the Diamondbacks and is on pace for 197 H, 98 R, 24 HR, 91 RBI, and 41 SB, of which all but the HR total would be career highs.
Looking for a hot hand? Think about going after Adrian Beltre, Casey Blake, or Mark Ellis, three players who tend to do among their best work during the month of August. Beltre's price-tag is already up thanks to a great July, but the best may be yet to come. His career line is .271/.328/.459, but it balloons to .300/.355/.540 in August. Blake's career line is .261/.333/.448, but he has gone for .288/.346/.535 during the month, and Ellis' pedestrian .268/.338/.407 line has been buoyed in part by his historical splits of .276/.354/.456 during the month of August.
Widely available starting pitchers among the league leaders in opponent OPS over the past three weeks (minimum three starts): Kason Gabbard (fourth, 0.472), Aaron Cook (fifth, 0.497), Yovani Gallardo (seventh, 0.510), Sean Marshall (11th, 0.537), Rodrigo Lopez (13th, 0.562), Brian Bannister (15th, 0.567), Mike Bacsik (17th, 0.581), and Matt Garza (20th, 0.603).
Notable Pitching Game of the Week
Let's take a look at three notable games from the past week involving young starters:
Scott Baker (Min – SP) 7/30 vs Kansas City
8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (99 pitches, 71 strikes)
Baker struggled initially after getting the call up from Triple-A in mid-May, going 1-2 with a 7.33 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in 27.0 IP in his first five starts, but he's settled in very nicely since. He's 4-2 in his past eight starts with a 3.61 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 52.1 IP, with 39 K and just 6 BB. He's also allowed just 3 HR in his past eight starts after allowing six in his first five. Before you assume that he's gotten lucky with matchups, consider that he's faced Detroit twice during the month of July, allowing 4 ER in 14.1 IP (2.51 ERA). Baker simply throws strikes – he hasn't issued more than one walk in nine consecutive starts, throwing 68 percent of his pitches for strikes during that time. Despite those very nice numbers and a "Last Month (total)" rank of 72 overall, Baker is currently owned in just five percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Anthony Reyes (StL – SP) 7/28 vs MIL
6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (67 pitches, 45 strikes)
Remember Reyes? He is the guy who was brilliant in Game 1 of last season's World Series and 0-10 with a 6.40 ERA and 1.42 WHIP as of June 27 of this season. He was called up for a spot-start, but pitched himself into at least one more chance to stick – and he's certainly been no less effective than Mike Maroth, Kip Wells, or Brad Thompson. Perhaps he figured some things out while he was in Triple-A – in six starts, he complied a 2.79 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and .206 BAA in 38.2 IP. He's a good choice for Watch Lists, particularly in deeper leagues.
Jordan Tata (Det – RP) 7/30 at Oakland
7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (106 pitches, 63 strikes)
Tata was called up from Triple-A to take Kenny Rogers' place in the rotation, and was effective in his first Major League start. He's not going to strike out a lot of batters (6.6/9 in 579.2 minor-league innings), but he's a good bet for a few wins thanks to the Detroit offense and his propensity for avoiding the long-ball (0.6/9 in minors). In 11 starts in Triple-A this season, Tata posted a 3.29 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and .229 BAA in 63.0 IP. Rogers said that he'll know "in two weeks or whenever it is" when he's ready to return to the rotation, so Tata should get a few more starts.
Notable Batting Game of the Week
Pat Burrell (Phi – OF) 7/27 vs Pittsburgh
3 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB Burrell has been as hot as anyone in baseball in recent weeks, and his solid line against the Pirates has been a regular occurrence of late, as he's hit safely in 18 of his past 20 games. He's hit .458 (27 for 59) during that stretch, with 12 R, 4 HR, 20 RBI, and 18:12 BB:K. His season line, a paltry .202/.369/.376 as of July 3, now stands at .256/.417/.455.
While "The Bat" has proven to be a bit of a generous nickname for Burrell, he's been a reasonably productive Major League hitter. The former first overall pick (1998) set the bar a bit high in the 2002 season, hitting .282 with 37 HR and 116 RBI. The drop-off was huge in 2003, as he managed just .209/21/64, but he averaged 28 HR and 99 RBI from 2004-06, while hitting .266.
The 30-year-old Burrell scuffled for much of the season's first half, but his bat has found some life of late. He's hitting well at the sixth spot in the order for the Phillies (.316/.468/.579 in 32 games), having been displaced as the team's No.5 hitter by the equally-dialed-in Aaron Rowand. He's not going to score many runs that far down in the order (he's on pace for just 62 R), but the top half of the Phillies order will continue to present Burrell with significant amounts of RBI opportunities, even with Chase Utley on the shelf. Burrell typically posts better numbers after the break (.262/.372/.488 career line) than before (.255/.362/.470 career line), and this season isn't likely to be any different. Grab him now while he's still hot and take a chance on "The Bat" finishing the season on a good note.
Stat(s) of the Week
Apparently, I offended the heads of the "Ryan Braun for ROY" committee by poring over Hunter Pence's stats last week, after it was announced that he'd miss most of the remainder of the season with a wrist injury. The common refrain was something to the effect of "Why does Pence get all the love when Braun is clearly putting up better numbers?" Perhaps they glossed over the fact that it was simply a timely tribute to Pence, who is all but done getting love thanks to the injury; perhaps they glossed over my mention of Braun one week earlier. Either way, why fight it?
Braun missed the Brewers' first 47 games, but has been a man possessed since joining the club on May 25. He's hit .350 in 58 games with 48 R, 18 HR, 50 RBI, and 9 SB. Assuming he plays out the rest of the season, he's on pace for 94 R, 35 HR, 98 RBI, and 18 SB in 114 games. Braun's numbers in 58 games extrapolate over a 162-game season to the following: 654 AB, 229 H, 134 R, 42 2B, 6 3B, 50 HR, 140 RBI, and 25 SB. Good stuff.