CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Happy Labor Day! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume on Tuesday, September 2.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: ... (07/31)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Rookie P... (07/28)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Coping w... (08/04)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Under The Knife: Setba... (07/31)

July 31, 2009

Fantasy Beat

Stretch Streakers

by Marc Normandin

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

With the last two months of the season upon us, as of tomorrow it may be time to reassess your offense for your last set of major changes. To lend you a hand in that endeavor, we're taking a look at some the best hitters of the past two months to see who is capable of keeping it up, and who you may want to ditch by the wayside or deal so that someone else gets stuck with the check. This isn't a comprehensive, ranked list, but will instead of focus on some of the more surprising names at or near the top.


Player               HR   RBI    R  SB   AVG/ OBP/ SLG
Jason Kubel          13    33   19   1  .296/.389/.612
Troy Tulowitzki      14    32   36  10  .299/.385/.616
Kendry Morales       12    30   30   1  .310/.362/.625
Adam Lind            13    29   30   1  .303/.359/.601
Juan Rivera          12    37   26   0  .310/.349/.595
Ben Zobrist          10    31   38   7  .298/.407/.526
Bobby Abreu           6    47   38   7  .337/.431/.500
Franklin Gutierrez    9    26   25   5  .333/.382/.545
Marcus Thames        11    22   23   0  .279/.354/.550
Garret Anderson       8    25   19   1  .325/.360/.536
Maicer Izturis        4    23   30   4  .326/.376/.518
David Ortiz          12    37   23   0  .268/.343/.548
Martin Prado          4    20   27   0  .341/.399/.488	
Jose Lopez            8    27   20   2  .305/.319/.534
Mark DeRosa          11    27   24   1  .259/.325/.524

It's taken long enough, but it looks like Jason Kubel is finally having a season that fulfills the promise he showed years ago. It's not just his batting average that has jumped up, but also his power has improved, as his ISO is at a career-high .246. He's been even better than that the past two months, and is one of eight players in the majors to post an OPS over 1.000 over June and July. Kubel's additional power has come out of nowhere though, as he has not changed his approach much, and his batted-ball data is consistent with the previous years of his career. He's even taking the same number of pitches per plate appearance as last year; the one difference is a higher HR/FB. Looking at Hit Tracker confirms that his power is for real though, as he hasn't had a single homer designated as "Lucky" and has just three "Just Enough" shots out of his 18 bombs-most of them have been "Plenty" or "No Doubts", with his average distance at nearly 411 feet. Don't wait around for the other shoe to drop, because Kubel is a legitimate power bat.

Kendry Morales has turned it on after a promising winter ball made us think he would finally do something worthwhile for the Halos. He just missed posting a 1.000 OPS over the past two months, but it's hard to argue with 12 homers and a .625 slugging percentage over that span of time. Unlike Kubel, Morales has changed his approach significantly. He swings at pitches outside and inside the zone at about the same rate, but he's waiting on more pitches overall; his P/PA jumped from 3.5 in 2008 to 4.0 this year, and pitchers have recognized his willingness to wait. They are throwing many more first-pitch strikes to him now so they don't waste a ball on one he isn't chasing, but it hasn't slowed Morales down. He does have six "Just Enough" homers this year, tied for the seventh most in the AL, but he's also got his share of deep shots, so you can be assured that Morales' power isn't going anywhere, especially since much of his power is to deep center.

Franklin Gutierrez was acquired for his defense, but he's given the Mariners plenty to love at the plate the past two months as well. His year started slow (.258/.329/.348 in April/May) but he's picked it up and is now at .296/.355/.448. Which two-month split is on the money, or is the real answer more in line with his full season's work? PECOTA had him topping out at .287/.351/.474 this year, and a 169 at-bat sample from the middle of the year wasn't enough to sway his adjusted forecast (.273/.331/.421). Then again, that forecast also includes the time he was much worse from the first two months, so I would manually adjust and put him right near his current line for the year. While his line doesn't look too amazing, his .283 EqA is well above the positional average at center, as well as in the corners and the outfield overall. Even if he doesn't blow the league away down the stretch like he just did these past two months, he'll be useful for you the rest of the season.

You have to give the Braves credit for making major changes to their team this year, cutting and benching players that were getting in the way of their winning. Martin Prado was a benefactor of this right-minded ruthless, as he is now the starting second baseman. He's done this by making contact with a very high rate of pitches thrown in the zone (95.2 percent; if he qualified, he would rank 11th in the majors) while avoiding strikeouts (10 percent) and drawing walks (9.3 percent). His .160 ISO is a bit above last year's .140 mark, but given his skills controlling the strike zone and working the count (4.0 P/PA to go along with the great contact skills) and it's easy to see why Prado has turned himself into a pretty solid hitter. PECOTA likes him to keep it up, with a .292/.357/.432 rest-of-season forecast that complements his 90th-percentile forecast of .310/.367/.439 well. Given Kelly Johnson's regression as a hitter the past two years, it wouldn't be surprising to see Prado dominate the play at second base from here on out.

Mark DeRosa has shown quite a bit of power this year; even during the past two months when his average was down, he was still going yard with regularity. He's picked up six homers with the Cardinals in just 61 at-bats, but based on his own ability and the Cards' home park, you may not want to expect more of that. DeRosa averages 396.3 feet on his homers (adjusted for temperature, wind, environment, etc., he averages 395.1). St. Louis has one of the tougher parks in the majors for homers, with just 1.63 hit there per game, and for an average distance of 402.4 feet. It's the third-toughest park in the majors to hit homers in for right-handers according to pre-2009 park factors, so DeRosa may lose that bit of production that helps him stand out at second base. Given how low his average and OBP have been this year, losing out on the homers might be a problem for your production at second.

Related Content:  Franklin Morales

2 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: ... (07/31)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Rookie P... (07/28)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Coping w... (08/04)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Under The Knife: Setba... (07/31)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article What You Need to Know: August 29, 2014
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: This Article Mentions Fehlan...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Friday, August 29
Premium Article The Call-Up: Dilson Herrera
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Thursday, Augu...
Prospectus Feature: Roast A Parks
Premium Article Raising Aces: Mis-Priced

MORE FROM JULY 31, 2009
Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: Deadline Drama
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Deadline Day Action
Premium Article Under The Knife: Setbacks Central
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Matchup Doppelgangers

MORE BY MARC NORMANDIN
2009-08-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Productive Pitchers
2009-08-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Fish or Cut Bait?
2009-08-04 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Coping with Swappery
2009-07-31 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Stretch Streakers
2009-07-28 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Rookie Pitchers
2009-07-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Buddy, Can You Spare a LaRoche...
2009-07-21 - Fantasy Beat: Rookie Review
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2009-08-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Productive Pitchers
2009-08-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Fish or Cut Bait?
2009-08-04 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Coping with Swappery
2009-07-31 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Stretch Streakers
2009-07-28 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Rookie Pitchers
2009-07-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Buddy, Can You Spare a LaRoche...
2009-07-21 - Fantasy Beat: Rookie Review
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2009-08-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Fish or Cut Bait?