Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Stat Central

Utley is raking
Every once in a while, it is helpful to take a look at the leaderboards to get a feel for who is playing well throughout the major leagues. For instance, you probably didn't realize that Brian Giles is third in the NL in on base percentage or that Chase Utley leads all NL middle infielders in OPS, or even that Corey Patterson still ranks in the top 10 in strikeouts despite being sent down to the minors almost a full month ago. What follows are some of the highlights, lowlights, and interesting observations pulled from the leaderboards in various statistical categories.

(To read the rest, click on the "Stat Central" link on the right side of the page.)


Adam Hoff said...

Here are 10 things that stood out to me while trolling through mounds of baseball statistics:

1. It is August 2nd and Derek Lee is still in the hunt for baseball's first Triple Crown. He's first in average (.360), tied for first in home runs (32), and third in RBI (83). More importantly, he's only two ribbies back of Carlos Lee and Albert Pujols. I could just as easily see Lee leading the league in none of the big three categories - primarily because he's got tough company in each area with the likes of Miguel Cabrera in average (.351 and coming on fast), Adam Dunn in home runs (31), and the aforementioned run producers - but it is exciting that he's even got a shot. Meanwhile, he still leads in each of the ratios (average, on base percentage, and OPS), which would make for an equally impressive sweep.

2. Chase Utley is a stud. I mentioned this on the caption page, but Utley is quietly becoming a beast in Philly. After being subjected to a ridiculous platoon for the first month and a half of the season, Utley has taken off in regular duty. He's hitting .315 with 15 jacks, 60 RBI, and 10 stolen bases, while posting an OPS of .924. Ladies and gents, here is your All-Star second baseman for the next 10 years.

3. Johnny Damon is on fire. He's leading the AL in average (.339), hits (143), and runs (82), and is second in doubles with 29 while posting a .380 on base percentage. He'll have to contend with teammates Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz as well as the likes of A-Rod, but with the Orioles plummeting and taking Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada out of the AL MVP race, Damon suddenly looks like a legit candidate to win the ultimate hardware.

4. Don't look now but Jason Giambi is leading the AL in OPS! Remember when he was the laughingstock of baseball? Remember all the talk about going down to the minors? Well, after a 14-homer July, Giambi is back on top. In addition to tying with A-Rod atop the OPS charts at .998, he's also leading the majors in on base percentage at .445. I find this to be mind-blowing information.

5. The Great teammate RBI race. Manny 93, Papi 88 ... start your engines.

6. Triple Double candidates. A triple double in baseball is posting double figure totals in doubles, triples, and home runs. Most years, you don't see many players do it, because the guys getting triples are typically speedsters that lack power. However, this year there are five guys in hot pursuit. In the NL, Furcal is a triple and home run away from doing it and Jimmy Rollins needs three triples and two homers. In the AL, Ichiro (one HR), Carl Crawford (one triple), and Grady Sizemore (two triples) are all closing in on it.

7. Houston Pitching. Chris Carpenter and Pedro Martinez are the favorites for the Cy Young, but the real story might be the brilliance of the Astros trio of Clemens-Oswalt-Petitte. They each rank in the top 10 in the NL in WHIP and in the top FOUR in ERA. Incredible.

8. Lack of dominance in the AL. You know it is a bad sign when a guy can break his foot, miss several weeks, and still remain the top Cy Young candidate. Halladay is still the guy though with a 12-4 record, and league leading ratios in ERA (2.41) and WHIP (.96, which leads by a mile).

9. Don't look now, but this is Mo Rivera's best season yet. 26 saves, a .97 ERA, and a ridiculous .78 WHIP. So much for that meltdown against Boston.

10. Cordero keeps slamming the door. 35 saves, 1.13 ERA, and .97 WHIP for the NL's best closer.

Anonymous said...

Here's a question for you: would you take Chase Utley or Jeff Kent first in fantasy next year? Also, do you think Carpenter - who has a history of injuries - will hold up into October?

Roscoe said...

Derrek Lee is a flash in the pan. He won't even finish in the top five in homers or runs batted in, nor will he ever have a season anywhere near this good again. Final numbers for 2005: .332, 39 HR, 116 RBI. Numbers for 2006: .274, 32 HR, 98 RBI.

Enjoy it while it lasts, Derrek Lee!

Adam Hoff said...

I'll answer these questions in seperate posts, so first, the Utley and Carpenter questions.

As for Utley versus Kent, yes, I'd take Utley. I wouldn't even think twice about it. He's younger, has a better home run swing, plays his home games in a hitter's ball park, and has more opportunities to drive in runs. Plus, he steals bases, looks like he will hit for a higher average, and is not a complete a-hole. Chalk one up for the former UCLA star.

As for Carpenter, it is always tough to predict whether someone will or will not get hurt, but I think he'll hang in there. Not only that, I think he will be reason 1b (Pujols is 1a) that the Cards win it all. He's the ace they lacked last year when he suffered that freak nerve injury. Not only is Carpenter in a better age bracket for health (where pitchers are concerned), most of injuries have been of the bizarre variety. I have to believe his luck will hold out.

Adam Hoff said...

As for the Lee post, all I can say is that Roscoe is a sweet name if it is real, but the post is nonsense. First of all, Derrek Lee isn't a flash in the pan. He's already had seasons like the one you predicted for next year, which would seem to indicate there is a chance he could regress back to a .275/32/96 type of player. However, you are overlooking the key change in his approach at the plate: making contact. He has become a more aggressive hitter in good counts and not letting himself get behind against tough pitchers. Therefore, he's taking a few less walks, but adding a bundle of hits, while cutting way down on strikeouts. For his career entering 2005, Lee struck out .86 times per game. This year, he's striking out .66 times a contest. In five full seasons from 2000 to 2004, Lee averaged almost 140 K's per year. This year, he's on pace for 104. 36 less strikeouts means 36 balls in play, probably at least a third of which are going for hits. So that means that even if he's not finding every gap or crushing balls over the fence next year, he should tack on 12-15 additional hits, just because he's making more contact.

If you add on 12 hits to his 2004 totals, he goes from a .278 hitter to a .300 hitter. Then factor in that he now hits third in the Cubs lineup (instead of sixth, which was just classic Dusty Baker) and you are looking at least 15-20 extra RBI. So even if this is a dream year and he regresses back to the "old" Derrek Lee, he still goes something like .300/32/118 with 20 steals. I'd take that.

Finally, remember one other thing. This guy was a first round draft pick and was offered a scholarship to play big time college hoops. It's not like Brady Anderson suddenly finding the range like the big guns of the Civil War. Lee is a stud and to me, it looks more like a can't miss prospect finally emerging as a star than a guy merely having a dream season.

Anonymous said...

What happened to your boy? His average is under .350 now and he's not leading the NL in any of the Triple Crown cats. Sucks to be him. And you, for acting like he's the next Babe Ruth.

Adam Hoff said...

You must have written that post before today, because Lee just busted out of his slump. Yes, he was having a rough go of it for a while, but every player goes through slumps. A guy that has that kind of power, speed, and batting eye is not going to be held down indefinitely, especially while playing in a hitter's park in hot weather.

Today, through the sixth inning, Lee is 2-3 with 3 runs and 4 RBI. He's got two jacks. Just when the field was getting away from him in the Triple Crown categories (as you mentioned), he's right back in it. His 35 HR are two behind the red hot Andruw Jones. His 88 RBI (which I've always conteded is going to be the toughest category for him to win) are 3 back of Carlos Lee and Albert Pujols. And he's back up to .350 which has him a point ahead of the sensational Miguel Cabrera. So he's still got a shot.

Not only that, he still leads the NL in doubles (35), extra base hits (72), slugging percentage, and OPS. My man is having an incredible season is right there in the MVP race with Pujols, Cabrera, and - in my opinion - Ensberg.

Bottom line: There is no great Derek Lee demise.

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