Happy Labor Day! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume on Tuesday, September 2.
June 27, 2011
Who Am I?
Player 1: In my last 105 plate appearances, I am hitting .316/.362/.531 which has taken my seasonal slash line up to a more respectable .273/.340/.432. In that time, I have 13 extra base hits, have scored 11 times, and have driven in 16 runs, but there are problems. For instance, I have struck out 32 times while walking just five during this run of success which is a stark contrast from my seasonal output. I have a nine percent walk rate and a 27 percent strikeout rate on the season, so the declines in both metrics are concerning. My home run to fly ball ratio is just 16 percent, which is likely sustainable, but my .435 batting average on balls in play is the second-highest at my position and trails only a strong candidate for league MVP at this time. I have a 30 percent line drive rate over the past month but was at just 20 percent before this hot streak happened. Still, this is quite an impressive run for a guy that still qualifies for the rookie of the year award. Who am I?
Player 2: Over the past month, I have swung at a higher percentage of pitches than all but eight other full-time players in baseball. This is significant because this comes after four straight seasons of swinging at fewer pitches and back-to-back seasons of seven percent walk rates. In my last 123 plate appearances, I am hitting just .259/.301/.328 and have just one stolen base as my numbers continue to be well off of my normal line of the past three seasons. As it is, my home run rate is almost a virtual lock to decline for the fifth straight season, and I am not attempting enough steals to reach double digits, which would be the first time in my full-time playing career that I’ve failed to do so. The power is lacking, but the batting average is improving as my current average is tied with my previous career-high and my strikeout rate is a career-low ten percent. The frustrating part for fantasy owners is that I am getting on base more often than I ever have, but I am not running now that I am hitting out of the two and four hole, so the power loss is being exacerbated by my declining stolen base totals. Who am I?
Player 3: My walk rate is identical to my efforts last season, and while I still strike out quite a bit, I am making slightly better contact this season than I did in 2010. Despite this, my batting average on balls in play has dropped 33 points from last season and my already low batting average is 13 points off last season’s rate. I am getting on base just 31 percent of the time, but I still have one of the ten best stolen base totals in the major leagues. In fact, I am just one of three players in baseball entering play Sunday that have at least ten home runs and 20 stolen bases in 2011. I often get accused of being careless on the basepaths, but I am stealing bases at the best rate of my career in 2011, and dating back to last season, I am 62 for my last 71 in stolen base attempts. Over the past calendar year, I have 39 stolen bases, 21 home runs, have scored 82 times, and have driven in 70 runs, all while hitting .234 and striking out 31 percent of the time. Who am I?
Player 4: My batting average is up 30 points from last season, and I am yet again on pace to steal more than 20 bases this season. My walk rate is up three percentage points from last season while my strikeout rate has improved at nearly the same rate. My on base percentage is currently at .400, which is my highest rate since the 2006 season when I was on a run of five straight seasons over .400. While those numbers are still there, the rest of my numbers are in decline. I have driven in just 32 runs while scoring 29 after never producing less than 68 runs or 74 RBI in previous seasons, and it is not due to a lack of playing time as I have already played in 72 contests. 2011 is the first season in which my on base percentage exceeds my slugging percentage and the fourth straight season in which my slugging percentage has declined. Who am I?
Player 5: I have the third-highest strikeout rate in my league over the past month as well as the third-best strikeout to walk ratio, the fifth-lowest batting average against, and the fourth-best WHIP. I have flashed this kind of success in the past, but only once have I shown this kind of dominance on the mound for longer than half a season. Despite the success I am having lately, I am just 1-1 and have a 4-5 record on the mound. If you worry about workload, I have already equaled my innings total from my previous season, but this is easily my best season in three years with my current organization. My walk rate and WHIP are down for a third straight season, and I am not sacrificing much at all in my strikeout rate while I improve my control. I am a free agent after this season, but my team is only 2.5 games out of first place, meaning I may not be traded as would normally be the case for a player in my organization, with my contract during this time of the season. Who am I?
Player 6: After two straight seasons of sub 7.0 strikeout rates, I am back over that benchmark again and it is just the third time in seven seasons in which I have done so. My 2.9 walk rate is the second-lowest of my career, bested only by my career year in 2008 at the age of 25. This season, I have a 4.22 ERA and just three wins thanks to some lackluster offensive support around me lately, but I am not exactly helping myself of late either. I am 0-4 in my last five starts with a 4.83 ERA as both my control and my ability to control the long ball have abandoned me. I have given up seven home runs in my last 32 innings of work while walking 16 batters and striking out 26. Given the fact that my home run to fly ball ratio is only 11 percent, this is more a matter of my season normalizing than a run of bad luck as my career rate is ten percent. I have won at least ten games in four different seasons, but unless there is a miracle in the second half, there is little chance I do that again in 2011. Who am I?
Player 7: I have the third highest strikeout rate for all qualified relievers at 12.2. In 28 innings of work, I have allowed just 13 hits, walked ten, surrendered two home runs, and have punched out 38. What is most impressive about this youngster is that my strikeout rate is slightly higher than anything I did at the minor league level. Over the past month, my strikeout rate is tops amongst all relievers at 15.8, and I have held opposing batters to a .067 batting average while posting a 4.3 strikeout to walk ratio. The closer on my team is effective at times but does not have the most stable skill set as his strikeout rate is barely over 6.0 and his walk rate is 4.5. If you own my closer, or love speculating on replacements, I am a guy that you should find room for on your roster because the skills are screaming for an opportunity. Who am I?