In the aftermath of last week’s piece on Manny Ramirez, BP research guru Bil Burke provided me with some data to put Ramirez’s initial hot streak in Dodger blue into context. Through Sunday, Ramirez had 180 plate appearances since being traded to LA, and as good as he’s been–good enough to catapult the Dodgers into first place in the NL West–others have still enjoyed hotter streaks this year. Ranked by OPS:
Player PA Dates AVG OBP SLG OPS
Lance Berkman 180 4/20-6/4 .433 .522 .813 1.335
Albert Pujols 180 7/26-9/11 .393 .492 .813 1.305
Dan Uggla 180 4/19-6/5 .368 .449 .800 1.249
Chipper Jones 180 4/9-5/29 .433 .525 .720 1.245
Manny Ramirez 180 7/28-9/14 .385 .482 .736 1.208
What you’re seeing here for the other four players besides Ramirez isn’t simply one streak apiece, it’s the best of many similar, overlapping streaks from around the same time period. Berkman actually has 102 different sequences between Opening Day (March 31) and June 8 during which his OPS got no lower than 1.241; what’s shown above is the best one. Pujols has 22 different streaks between July 24 and September 13 in which his OPS never went below 1.245. Jones has just six streaks in his range, Uggla two, and Manny just the one, though as I write this he’s 3-for-4 with a double tonight against Pittsburgh and might conceivably give the two men immediately above him a run for their money in one of those interior sequences.
In any event, at a time when Ramirez’s name is beginning to surface in NL MVP discussions, what the numbers show is that his streak is hardly unprecedented this year. It’s been matched or bettered by three guys who can make solid MVP cases of their own, particularly with regards to Pujols and Berkman, whose teams have remained in the hunt into the season’s final two weeks. And that’s not even considering the body of good work that lies beyond their hottest stretches of the year. The MVP is ostensibly about taking a full season of play into account, and by that token, it’s tough to consider Manny’s shortened National League resume on par with those of Pujols and company.