Happy 235th birthday, America, and a belated national birthday to our subscribers to our north. Either way, I hope that you enjoyed your holiday weekend and that you were not too upset about the results of the All-Star Game rosters that were revealed. July 4th is a historical day in baseball as it was on the 4th that Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter, Billy Wagner earned his 300th save, Keith Hernandez hit for the cycle in the first eight innings of a 19 inning contest, and everyone’s favorite announcer Tim McCarver cost himself a grand slam by passing Garry Maddox on the basepaths.
Here are this week’s mystery players; if you score 80 percent, you too are an all-star in my book.
Player 1: I have the 50th best BVORP heading into July 3rd but have a 5.3 WARP for my entire career. My current TAv of .272 is higher than any other season in my six-year career. Over the past 30 days, I have a .291/.325/.393 slash line but now have an outside chance at a 20/20 season, which would be the first of my career. I am striking out at my normal rate and walking even less than I normally do, but I have a career-high Isolated Power rating this season. My power output has spiked a bit this season, but my season is not that much better than my 2009 numbers, and that season was heavily park-influenced. Who am I?
Player 2: I am hitting just .160/.224/.267 over the past month while striking out in 27 percent of my plate appearances, and I had the worst slash line on my team in June. My walk rate is down six percent from last season and I am just 14 for my last 83 with six walks and 22 strikeouts. That said, I have the fifth-best BVORP at my position and was just named to the All-Star team yesterday as a reserve in the midst of my career season. Who am I?
Player 3: So far this season, my BVORP is better than that of Nick Swisher, Jay Bruce, Mike Stanton, and Ichiro Suzuki. In my last 46 plate appearances, I have a .395/.435/.651 slash line that includes seven extra base hits and eight runs scored. Last season, I hit just .233/.295/.378 against right-handed pitching but have improved that to a .289/.349/.495 line this season as I am making much better contact against those pitchers who ate me alive last year. Overall, my strikeout rate is four percentage points lower than last season, and I have already exceeded last year’s runs scored total despite nearly 200 fewer plate appearances. Who am I?
Player 4: My season slash line is but .242/.302/.391, but in the past two weeks I have swiped five of my ten stolen bases now that I am getting a bit more playing time. I am walking less than I did last season and striking out about the same rate, but if you are in need of some cheap steals in the second half and can carry an empty batting average, consider rostering me. After all, I am 12 for my last 38 with six runs scored and six runs driven in and have reached base in 18 of my last 38 plate appearances. Who am I?
Player 5: Speaking of empty steals, I could help you out as well. In my last 429 plate appearances, I have but 28 extra base hits, which is four more than my RBI total. I have also scored 61 runs in that time but have swiped just 22 bases. In 2009, I swiped 21 bases in full-time duty and have recently been given some regular playing time once again. As a result, I managed to steal six bases during interleague play. The average is very empty, but my new manager appears willing to let me run any time I am on base. Who am I?
Player 6: My current batting average is my lowest effort since my rookie season back in 1998, and my .331 on base percentage is the third worst of my career despite a career-high walk rate of eight percent. I am on pace to hit more home runs and drive in more runs than I did last season, but I will end up scoring less often this season. June was a horrible month for me as I hit .213/.279/.266 in 104 plate appearances, but it is all good because I am an all-star this season! Who am I?
Player 7: My VORP is 43rd best in baseball despite the fact that I generate more swinging strikes than Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, and Justin Verlander. Thanks to that, I have a career-high strikeout rate of 9.2 and have given up just 97 hits in 109 innings of work while walking 33. Unfortunately, I only have six wins because my offense gives me just 3.7 runs of support, which is in the bottom third of run production in my league. Who am I?
Player 8: 20 percent of the plate appearances against me result in a swinging strikeout, good for fifth-best in the majors in 2011. 23 percent of the plate appearances against me end up in some kind of strikeout, which is 13th best in baseball. As a result, I have a career high strikeout rate this season, and my ERA is nearly one and a half runs lower than last season (though an 81% LOB% certainly helps that). Despite all of this success, it is going to be a stretch for me to duplicate my win total from last season despite being on pace to exceed last year’s inning total. 2011 will likely make it four of the past five seasons where I have failed to pitch 200 innings in a single season as durability is always a concern for me. Who am I?
Player 9: People were concerned about me making the switch out of the bullpen and into the starting rotation, but my 2.97 ERA should have alleviated those concerns by now. Even though I am on pace to exceed my innings total from the last two seasons sometime around mid-August, I have the highest strikeout rate and lowest walk rate of any full season in my career. June was a great month for me as I went 3-1 with a 1.00 ERA and struck out 33 batters while walking just six in 36 innings of work. Unfortunately, those three wins represent 75 percent of my seasonal win total as I have the fifth-worst run support in baseball. Meanwhile, I still have the fourth best VORP in baseball. Who am I?
Player 10: I have the highest groundball rate of all pitchers in baseball at 59 percent, yet my home run rate is still 1.2. I am one win shy of matching last season’s total despite a drop in my strikeout rate and my home run rate nearly doubling. Stranding 81 percent of my runners certainly helps, and a 3.10 ERA compared to a 4.19 FIP is also rather fortunate. I went 3-1 in June with a 2.56 ERA despite walking 17 batters in 31.2 innings and allowing five home runs. The talent is there, but the complete picture is not yet painted. After all, my VORP is below Brian Duensing’s this season. Who am I?