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May 26, 2004

Can Of Corn

O.P.T.

by Dayn Perry

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You down with O.P.T.? You shouldn't be. Other than today, I mean.

By "O.P.T.", I mean "on pace to." We're not even a third of the way through the season, so it runs afoul of sound analysis to pro-rate individual performances to 162 games and bandy about the results as though eminently meaningful. Nevertheless, I'm going to devote today's "Can" to looking at a handful of notable O.P.T.s and see what we can glean from them.

To the numbers…

  • Adam Dunn is O.P.T. draw 162 walks on the season, which would be the fourth-highest total of all-time.

    Dunn, who's abusing the ball to the tune of .271/.457/.564 and is tied for third in the NL with a .348 EqA, has often been criticized for being too patient at the plate. It's possible there's merit to that idea, but he's knocking the snot out of the ball and he has more unintentional/quasi-unintentional walks than Barry Bonds. If he keeps this up, comparisons to a mid-'90s Frank Thomas won't be off base.

  • Alex Sanchez is O.P.T. steal 41 bases...and get caught 33 times.

    Sanchez's exploits on the basepaths this season might be dismissed as an exercise in uselessness...if those caught stealings weren't so darn harmful to his team. Like some rejected ditch-digging/ditch-filling program that didn't pass muster with the Works Progress Administration, Sanchez seems to be stealing bases with the lone goal of busying himself. He needs to stop. If you're an outfielder with no power to speak of and highly limited on-base skills, the least you can do is steal bases efficiently--or not at all.

  • Lyle Overbay is O.P.T. smack 79 doubles, which would best the previous single-season mark by 12.

    Earl Webb's record of 67 has stood unconquered since 1931. It's of course far too early to start peppering the Blogosphere with "Overbay Counters," but that he's O.P.T. to top the record by nearly 20% means it's worth following, if only tangentially for the next month or so. In a related matter, Overbay is also O.P.T. slug a huge .624 despite only hitting 23 homers.

  • Derek Jeter is O.P.T. use up 561 outs at the plate this season.

    Has Jeter been the worst player in baseball this season? Mark Kotsay won't go quietly, but that the question can even be asked is a stunner. Jeter's seasonal line of .189/.250/.276 is unspeakably bad. Take it in tandem with his poor glovework at short, and you've got a board-certified cipher. By no means do I think he'll continue to perform at such a beastly level, but his start is such that it'll be an onerous order if he's to salvage anything more than adequacy from the season.

  • Danny Graves is O.P.T. log 76 freaking saves in '04, which would throttle the previous single-season mark by 19.

    ...and he's already blown four save chances this season. Had he managed perfection in the saves column this year, Graves would be O.P.T. save--brace yourselves--90 games. Given the mainstream media's ardor for the save, he'd probably win the MVP if such ridiculousness came to pass. Never mind that Graves, according to Adjusted Runs Prevented, is actually in negative territory for the season.

  • Jose Mesa is O.P.T. surrender exactly four runs on the season.

    Trade this man. Now.

  • Rafael Betancourt is O.P.T. strike out 94, walk four and post an ERA of 4.15.

    For those counting, that would come to an outrageous strikeout-to-walk ratio of 24:1, which is comfortably better than the best mark of Dennis Eckersley's esteemed relief career. On the downside, Betancourt is also headed toward 100 hits allowed for the season, not a figure you want to see from a relief ace (although the defense behind him has a healthy share of culpability for this mark). That and his fairly high homer rate are sabotaging what's otherwise a season for the annals in terms of command.

  • Matt Morris is O.P.T. vomit up 55 homers and strike out 4.22 per nine while maintaining a sub-4.00 ERA.

    Morris is a DIPS fortunate son thus far in '04. He can't strike anyone out, and batters are treating his fastballs as though they have the option of firing them over the outfield fence with a potato gun. If he continues allowing so many balls in play and so many clouts, he's going to have quite a bit of trouble maintaining that 3.84 ERA. For the time being, though, he can thank the Cardinal defense, which leads the majors in defensive efficiency.

  • David Wells is O.P.T. work 184 innings while fanning only 59 batters.

    That comes to a 2.88 K/9. What also makes this notable is that Wells has a label-mate in Ismael Valdez, who's on pace to log 163.1 innings and 55 strikeouts. The Padres aren't noted for their strong team defense (not that it's necessarily bad), so allowing that much wood on horsehide might be a bad idea. When 40% of your rotation can't strike anyone out, it's a potential problem.

  • Billy Wagner is O.P.T. strike out 81 without walking a single batter.

    Will Carroll reports that Wagner will be out until at least mid-June with that strained left groin, so all projections are up in the air right now. Before his injury, however, Wagner was exactly what the Phillies thought they were getting--an elite closer. His command was spot-on, and he was posting his usual high K rates. Here's hoping he manages a speedier recovery than believed, because he's off to a tremendous start.

* * *

Many others here at BP knew Doug Pappas better than I did. I'd e-mailed back and forth with him on occasion and had the pleasure of meeting him at a Brooklyn Pizza Feed earlier this year. Joe Sheehan and Gary Huckabay have both eulogized him eloquently and movingly, so I'll just add that it was my honor to know this wholly decent human being and ferociously incisive writer. Doug fought the good fight. His fearlessness, integrity and genuineness of spirit will never be replaced. I'd like to thank him for what he was and what he did. Fair sailing, Doug.

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