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July 11, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Around the NL

by Joe Sheehan

Just an idle thought before we get back to our look at some notable first-half performances...is it possible that interleague play has made it easier for players to skip or be held out of the All-Star Game? The midsummer classic isn't the only chance to see some of those special matchups anymore, and perhaps the loss of that unique selling point has diminished the Game's allure.

Like I said...just a thought.

One of the tenets we believe but haven't proven yet is that selectivity at the plate can lead to not only walks, but better power as well, as a hitter finds himself in better counts by laying off balls. Conversely, a hitter who isn't selective would find himself behind more, and see his average and power suffer as well.

It makes sense to me, and to others, but it hasn't been established yet. But if you look at Jay Bell's season, you can see how his walk rate has tracked his overall performance. Through June 4, Bell was having 1999 all over again, batting .310 with a walk every six or so times up and good power. Since then, though, his walk rate has fallen apart: Bell has walked five times in five weeks, and just once in 73 at-bats since June 19.

In that time, Bell is hitting .171/.205/.265. That performance is as big a reason as any why the National League West is now a four-team race, instead of the D'back Invitational it appeared to be in May.

John Rocker has walked more batters in his 25 1/3 innings, 34, than three-fifths of the Atlanta rotation.

Joe Girardi: 789
Todd Hundley: 703

Yeah, I guess Girardi was more worthy as an All-Star selection.

Oh...that's Girardi's OPS? And Hundley's slugging percentage?!? OK, I know playing time counts, but this is ridiculous. Bobby Estalella and Mitch Meluskey have better cases, as well. And before I get accused of wanting "half-season All-Stars", remember: it's JOE GIRARDI.

Met fans, prepare the crow:

                   SNWAR
Mike Hampton        2.10
Octavio Dotel       0.00

Mike Hampton has been about two games better than a replacement-level pitcher, while Octavio Dotel has defined the term. Clearly, the Mets are ahead to this point in the trade, even factoring in the financial costs. Dotel has been moved to the bullpen, and is expected to close as the second half starts. A half-season in the pen will be good for his arm in the long term, but won't do much for the numbers above...or my pre-season evaluation of the two pitchers. Hampton has outperformed my expectations, while Dotel has been a disappointment. The Mets win, and yes, the Met fans who politely expressed their minor disagreement with my position win as well.

Michael Wolverton's Reliever Evaluation Tools aren't widely known, but they should be. Here are the top five relievers in the NL, as ranked by his Adjusted Runs Prevented metric:

Pitcher          Team           ARP

Danny Graves Cincinnati 15.7 Ricky Bones Florida 14.6 Curt Leskanic Milwaukee 14.1 Gabe White Cin/Col 13.5 Steve Kline Montreal 13.3

Want a good rule of thumb? If a pitcher has more runs allowed than strikeouts, any success they've had is likely to be fleeting. "Reid Cornelius, Jimmy Haynes and Kirk Rueter, thanks for playing, collect your parting gifts from Lisa offstage."

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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