I’ve been writing "D"P for a little over a year now, and in that
time I’ve run into occasional writer’s blocks of various sizes. Missing a
day or turning out a column with which I’m not happy irks me terribly, while
enhancing my admiration of someone like
Rob Neyer, who has cranked out
daily, high-quality baseball content for years.
Anyway, without a focus, I figured this would be a good day to take a tour
of the leagues to date and see what we can see. Just to be different, we’ll
start the tour from the bottom of each league, alphabetically. AL today, NL
tomorrow, and a trip around the minors on Wednesday.
- This year’s Jeff Zimmerman is the Blue Jays’ Paul
Quantrill. Q hasn’t given up a run or walked a batter in 22 innings. He’s
lapping the field in Michael Wolverton’s
Adjusted Runs Prevented, with
nearly 50% more ARP than his closest competition. Quantrill won’t keep this
pace, but the Jays have another setup man, Kelvim Escobar putting up
similar numbers but with even better peripherals (22 strikeouts, six hits in
15 1/3 innings).
You can win with a middle-of-the-pack rotation simply by owning the sixth
through ninth innings. That’s what the Jays have done so far, and that’s
what makes them and the Mariners the teams that look like they can be
dangerous in the postseason.
- A typical Jays lineup contains six players with OBPs of .336 or below,
despite which they’re second in the league in runs scored. Leading the
league in home runs helps, as does a good hitters’ park, but a lineup with
four OBP sinks always runs the risk of extended slumps.
- The Rangers
have no starting pitchers performing above replacement level.
Despite this, they’re one of 12 teams that has yet to use a sixth starter.
- Tossing out
21 at-bats, the Devil Rays have exactly
Russ Johnson, with an OPS above 730. If you simply took the Devil Rays for your
HACKING MASS team–say,
Fred McGriff, Vinny Castilla, Felix Martinez, and Gerald Williams–you’d easily be among the contest leaders.
- Call me crazy, but I’m still not off the Paul Wilson bandwagon.
Yes, his ERA is twice that of teammate Albie Lopez, but here are
their defense-independent rate stats:
K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Wilson 6.2 3.8 1.34 Lopez 5.6 4.3 0.54
Wilson’s strikeout and walk data is better than that of Lopez, while he has
had a bigger problem with the long ball. Wilson is still a pitcher with
talent and upside, and I expect him to improve going forward.
- Instead of
as a comp for Ichiro Suzuki? Especially early Gwynn, when the Padre
was a pretty good (if not as good as Suzuki is) right fielder. Suzuki’s
batting style is more reminiscent of the slap-hitting Gwynn’s as well.
- Barry Zito‘s ERA has risen compared to his rookie season, but you
have to look a bit deeper to see how well he’s pitching. His
strikeout-to-walk ratio is better than 3-to-1, a far cry from last year’s
2-to-1, and he’s allowed just four home runs in 41 1/3 innings. He’s
allowing more hits this season (45, as opposed to just 88 in 101 2/3 innings
last year), but
as Voros McCracken has pointed out,
that may have less to do with how well Zito is pitching and more to do
with luck and defense.
The Twins are a great story,
and I’d love to see them stay in the AL
Central race, or even the wild-card chase, for a while. But with
out for two months, their lineup is left with three hitters who
have OBPs above the league average. Five Twins starters–assuming
gets most of the playing time in Ortiz’s absence–have
below-.300 OBPs. There’s just
no amount of great outfield defense
or fantastic control that can cover that for very long.
- You know, there is simply nothing interesting about the Kansas City
Royals. Or the Detroit Tigers, for that matter.
- Russ Branyan‘s
Three True Outcomes percentage has slipped to 50%,
after hovering around 60% earlier this season. He’s fun to watch, but unless
he walks more or hits .250, it’s going to be real hard for him to be a
contributor. An OBP around the Guillen Line needs a lot of other positives
- Here’s a race: Shea Hillenbrand‘s walks drawn versus Pedro
Martinez‘s home runs allowed. Hillenbrand has an early 1-0 lead, but
I’ll make Pedro the favorite, say open him up at -130.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by
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