All Hail The Unit

Early on, the divisional race looks to be between the Diamondbacks
(21-10 as this is written) and the Dodgers (17-13, 3 1/2 games

If there’s a dominant force that created this situation, his name
is Randy Johnson, who is 7-0 with an ERA lower than
Mickey Mantle‘s blood alcohol count. Johnson easily
occupies the top spot in Michael Wolverton’s

Support-Neutral Win/Loss
metric, and he gets the nod over Pedro
by being every bit as good as Martinez, but pitching even more
and giving the bullpen a rest every time he takes the mound. Johnson
is a different physical specimen than any other pitcher in baseball, and he’s
shown he can absorb huge pitch counts without a hitch. He is the best
pitcher in the National League, the best free-agent signing the division
has seen in years and the reason I expect the Diamondbacks to edge the
Dodgers at the wire.

As if Johnson needed any more help, the Diamondbacks are scheduled to
welcome back third baseman Matt Williams sometime around Memorial Day.
His replacements (Lenny Harris, Andy Fox and Danny
) have been decidedly suboptimal. They’ve posted a composite OPS
under 600 with defense best described as "interesting".

Fun At Altitude

Todd Helton is having the season we thought he’d have
last year. Think his numbers are the Coors Effect in action? Let’s take
a look at the first basemen around the division (all stats through May 5,
DTs courtesy of Clay Davenport’s
EQA report):

Name                   OBP   SLG  EPEQA  EPEQR
Erubiel Durazo        .456  .616   .345   16.8
Todd Helton           .477  .743   .342   22.3
Ryan Klesko           .349  .547   .294   16.0
J.T. Snow             .321  .365   .236    9.6
Eric Karros           .312  .441   .232    9.6

Jeff Cirillo is starting to heat up as well. It would be a mild
surprise if Helton and Cirillo don’t each end up with a top five batting
average this season.

After five horrendous starts, Brian Bohanon has been banished to
the bullpen. With Rolando Arrojo back, Bohanon may not start another
game for the Rockies.

David Lee went from the closer role to the minor leagues in
record time, so less than a year after throwing a no-hitter, Jose
is getting the saves for the Rockies. Jimenez is certainly
as good a bet to crash and burn as Lee was, so who knows who the closer
is going to be next month?

And in our Rockies Outfielder Watch (Past and Present):

Name             OBP   SLG  EPEQA  EPEQR
Bichette        .274  .324   .181    5.9
Hammonds        .413  .625   .290    6.1


  • After their horrific one-year hiatus in 1999, the Dodgers again sport
    one of the better pitching staffs in the league. Kevin Brown
    has been excellent and shows no sign of his broken pinky troubling him, and
    Eric Gagne and Darren Dreifort have been solid. Chan Ho
    and, in a surprise, Carlos Perez have given the Dodgers a
    chance during their starts.

  • Meanwhile, though Todd Hundley
    is again having well-documented problems with the running game (18-2 SB/CS
    through June 5), he’s swatting the ball with the authority he
    hasn’t had since his shoulder surgery in 1997. That’s a complete package you
    can win with.

  • Do the Padres have the worst bullpen in the league? The team could be
    at .500 or better with a league-average relief corps. Carlos Almanzar
    has been the prime culprit, displaying a penchant for giving up the three-run
    homer that Padres fans haven’t seen since Calvin "The Mad Bomber"
    left town. The problem? Obviously, lack of depth; Steve
    ‘s stint on the disabled list, Donne Wall‘s short bout
    with tendinitis and Dan Miceli (the team’s appearances leader in
    1998-99) being traded to Florida left the team depending on Almanzar and
    Will Cunnane more heavily than they would have liked. Bruce Bochy’s
    insistance on keeping Trevor Hoffman a one-inning closer isn’t helping,

  • San Francisco fans are having fun watching the best offense in the
    league, but consider this: they aren’t close to hitting on all cylinders.
    Barry Bonds, Ellis Burks and Jeff Kent have been
    outstanding, but Bobby Estalella hasn’t been able to shake Doug
    yet. More importantly, Bill Mueller, Marvin
    , Rich Aurilia and J.T. Snow are all off their game.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe