By the Numbers: Big names, big trends
Our Al Melchior examines the latest hitting and pitching trends to help you identify who is about to improve dramatically and who might be doing it with smoke and mirrors in his latest By the Numbers.
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|
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.
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