Adam Dunn continues to make a big comeback from one of the worst seasons in major-league history, and Bryce Harper hits his first homer.
The Monday Takeaway
With 11 home runs in 150 plate appearances entering Monday’s game against the Tigers, Adam Dunn had come all the way back from one of the worst offensive seasons in history. Well, almost all the way.
The one thing Dunn had not yet done was go deep against a left-handed pitcher. The last time he did that, Dunn was still a member of the Nationals, the Democrats still controlled the House, and the most salient things being occupied were airplane lavatories on cross-country flights.
A lot of younger veterans are having huge starts to their years, but are the stat lines legit, or will they be turning back into pumpkins soon?
Last year around this time, I wrote a series of articles about the “All-Bounceback Team,” highlighting aging players who were off to such great starts that they had already provided more value than they had during the whole previous season, and predicting whether they could continue on at that level. In trying to put together a similar list this week, I noticed there are far more young veterans surpassing their recent performances than there were older veterans reclaiming their mojo. Thus, I’ve decided to use this year’s columns to identify whether these players’ performance so far points to a “Bounceback” for a veteran player, a “Breakthrough” for a young player who has never experienced much success, or is merely the “Balderdash” of small-sample success that’s doomed to erode.
A look at the surprise home run hitters of 2010, relative to their pre-season PECOTA forecasts.
On Tuesday night in Kansas City, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista launched his major league-leading 26th home run, continuing one of the most unexpected power surges in recent memory. Long known as a journeyman with decent patience and a modicum of power, few expected Bautista at this stage of his career to suddenly turn into a long-ball machine. It’s always fun to see players suddenly show a propensity for the long ball—perhaps we identify with players who manage the baseball equivalent of the young Marty McFly balling up his fist and decking Biff with an unexpected haymaker.
A number of young hurlers are making strong comebacks in 2010.
Last week in this space, I took a look at hitters who had already exceeded their 2009 VORP in the early stages of 2010 and tried to determine whether those players were likely to build on their exceptional starts. This week, I’ll be doing the same for pitchers. I’ve selected the five starters and five relievers who have achieved the greatest VORP bouncebacks so far this year, compared to last year’s VORP tally or, for players that put up negative VORP performances last year, a replacement-level zero VORP. To make the starter list, a pitcher must have thrown at least 90 innings last season, while the cutoff for relievers is 40 innings. Those performance benchmarks are designed to ensure the players selected pitched significantly, if poorly, last season, and are off to a good start, rather than off to a mediocre start that’s much better than their disastrous 2009 numbers.
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Ty Wigginton and Alex Rios are among many hitters who are far exceeding their 2009 production.
It’s mid-May, and now that the clanging stampede at the starting gate has faded, baseball is starting to settle into its normal, quiet rhythms. Division races are beginning to take some shape. Metrics are starting to develop some sample-size heft. The cream is rising to the top, with names like Ethier, Morneau, Cabrera, Cano, and Pujols holding most of the top spots on the VORP leaderboard. And there, wedged between Ryan Braun and Chase Utley, you’ll find Ty Wigginton and his 20.6 VORP.