By the Numbers: Big names, big trends

April has been awfully kind to some of the new faces in new places. Aaron Rowand is enjoying his housewarming in the Bay Area, the Big Apple seems to agree with Ryan Church , and Luke Scott is hitting well on a crabcake diet. While he has slowed a bit in recent weeks, Kosuke Fukudome has learned the meaning of "friendly confines." However, exceedingly high H/BIP rates point to cooler bats for all of these players as the weather heats up. Favorable H/BIP rates have also played a role in the fast starts from Jeff Suppan and Brian Burres , though their ERCs show us that they have still pitched very well.

Low H/BIP rates have been costly for Frank Thomas and Jayson Nix -- so much so that they both lost their jobs. Thomas has already resurfaced in Oakland, but Nix’ chance for a major league career took a real hit. It's true that Nix is not a good big league hitter, but given more at-bats, he would probably not be this bad. David Ortiz luck is already turning around, as his H/BIP rose three points from last week. The 18% rate is still ugly, but a truly fluky first three weeks is already built into his season total. Anthony Reyes has probably been the unluckiest pitcher so far, as ERC says that his ERA is almost a run-and-a-half higher than it should be. If Jason Isringhausen struggles continue, or if Reyes ever makes his way back into the rotation, he is someone to watch.

Lost in all the hand-wringing over Detroit's pitching woes is Aquilino Lopez spectacular work in the 'pen. His 0.49 ERA is about as real as a fractional ERA gets. Lopez has backed it up with a 14-to-1 K/BB ratio and no home runs in 18-plus innings. Eventually, he will come down to earth, but because he hasn't padded his stats with a fluky H/BIP rate, the landing should be soft. He should equal or improve upon his career 3.49 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, and when you pitch ahead of Todd Jones , some save chances are always a possibility.

All statistics are for season-to-date performances through Saturday, April 26.

'Lucky' Hitters H/BIP RC/27 'Lucky' Pitchers H/BIP ERC
Manny Ramirez , OF, Boston 44% 10.7 Brian Bass , RP, Minnesota 25% 5.78
Chipper Jones , 3B, Atlanta 43% 15.7 Kevin Hart , SP, Chicago Cubs 25% 4.51
Aaron Rowand , OF, San Francisco 42% 6.0 Mike Mussina , SP, N.Y. Yankees 25% 5.09
Ryan Church , OF, N.Y. Mets 42% 7.3 Jeff Suppan , SP, Milwaukee 26% 3.72
Luke Scott , OF, Baltimore 41% 7.6 Oscar Villarreal , RP, Houston 26% 7.14
Fred Lewis , OF, San Francisco 41% 8.2 Sean Green , RP, Seattle 26% 4.74
Geovany Soto , C, Chicago Cubs 41% 8.9 Kevin Correia , SP, San Francisco 26% 4.73
Chone Figgins , 3B, L.A. Angels 41% 6.7 Brian Burres , SP, Baltimore 26% 3.05
Ryan Ludwick , OF, St. Louis 41% 11.4 Brett Myers , SP, Philadelphia 27% 5.02
Kosuke Fukudome , OF, Chicago Cubs 40% 9.2 Paul Byrd , SP, Cleveland 27% 5.63
'Unlucky' Hitters H/BIP RC/27 'Unlucky' Pitchers H/BIP ERC
Jason Giambi , 1B, N.Y. Yankees 13% 4.9 Shawn Hill , SP, Washington 42% 4.96
Frank Thomas , DH, Oakland 15% 2.9 Joel Hanrahan , SP, Washington 36% 4.78
Jayson Nix , 2B, Colorado 15% 1.1 Javier Vazquez , SP, Chicago White Sox 36% 3.55
Robinson Cano , 2B, N.Y. Yankees 17% 1.5 Anthony Reyes , SP, St. Louis 33% 3.63
David Ortiz , DH, Boston 18% 2.3 Jonathan Papelbon , RP, Boston 33% 1.58
J.R. Towles , C, Houston 18% 5.6 Tom Gordon , RP, Philadelphia 33% 3.60
Alfonso Soriano , OF, Chicago Cubs 18% 2.4
Ben Broussard , 1B, Texas 18% 2.3
Juan Uribe , 2B, Chicago White Sox 19% 1.8
Ramon Hernandez , C, Baltimore 19% 2.6
Supported by skills H/BIP RC/27 Supported by skills H/BIP ERC
Yorvit Torrealba , C, Colorado 27% 2.1 Aquilino Lopez , RP, Detroit 28% 1.41
Jose Castillo , 3B, San Francisco 27% 2.7 Justin Miller , RP, Florida 29% 2.05
Delmon Young , OF, Minnesota 31% 2.8 J.C. Romero , RP, Philadelphia 28% 2.29
Geoff Jenkins , OF, Philadelphia 30% 3.0 Edinson Volquez , SP, Cincinnati 29% 2.45
Eugenio Velez , 2B, San Francisco 29% 3.3 Carlos Zambrano , SP, Chicago Cubs 30% 2.79
Hideki Matsui , OF, N.Y. Yankees 33% 9.2 Tom Gorzelanny , SP, Pittsburgh 31% 6.93
Hanley Ramirez , SS, Florida 36% 11.6 Chuck James , SP, Atlanta 31% 7.22
Lance Berkman , 1B, Houston 29% 11.8 Jorge Sosa , SP, N.Y. Mets 31% 7.22
Albert Pujols , 1B, St. Louis 38% 14.2 Josh Fogg , SP, Cincinnati 32% 7.53
Chase Utley , 2B, Philadelphia 36% 14.6 Adam Loewen , SP, Baltimore 28% 7.92
Glossary
Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27) -- An estimate of how many runs a lineup would produce per 27 outs if a particular player occupied each spot in the order; ex. the RC/27 for Miguel Cabrera would predict the productivity of a lineup where Cabrera (or his statistical equal) batted in all nine spots; created by Bill James
Component ERA (ERC) -- An estimate of a what a pitcher's ERA would be if it were based solely on actual pitching performance; created by Bill James
Base Hits per Balls in Play (H/BIP) -- The percentage of balls in play (at bats minus strikeouts and home runs) that are base hits; research by Voros McCracken and others has established that this rate is largely random and has a norm of approximately 30%
Isolated Power -- The difference between slugging percentage and batting average; created by Branch Rickey and Allan Roth
Walk Rate -- Walks / (at bats + walks)
Whiff Rate -- Strikeouts / at bats

Al Melchior was recently a Fantasy columnist and data analyst for Baseball HQ and will be providing advice columns for CBSSports.com. Click here to send him a question. Please put "Melchior" in the subject field.

Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

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