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Just an idle thought before we get back to our look at some notable
first-half performances…is it possible that interleague play has made it
easier for players to skip or be held out of the All-Star Game? The
midsummer classic isn’t the only chance to see some of those special
matchups anymore, and perhaps the loss of that unique selling point has
diminished the Game’s allure.

Like I said…just a thought.

One of the tenets we believe but haven’t proven yet is that selectivity at
the plate can lead to not only walks, but better power as well, as a hitter
finds himself in better counts by laying off balls. Conversely, a hitter
who isn’t selective would find himself behind more, and see his average and
power suffer as well.

It makes sense to me, and to others, but it hasn’t been established yet.
But if you look at Jay Bell‘s season, you can see how his walk rate
has tracked his overall performance. Through June 4, Bell was having 1999
all over again, batting .310 with a walk every six or so times up and good
power. Since then, though, his walk rate has fallen apart: Bell has walked
five times in five weeks, and just once in 73 at-bats since June 19.

In that time, Bell is hitting .171/.205/.265. That performance is as big a
reason as any why the National League West is now a four-team race, instead
of the D’back Invitational it appeared to be in May.

John Rocker has walked more batters in his 25 1/3 innings, 34, than
three-fifths of the Atlanta rotation.

Joe Girardi: 789
Todd Hundley: 703

Yeah, I guess Girardi was more worthy as an All-Star selection.

Oh…that’s Girardi’s OPS? And Hundley’s slugging percentage?!? OK, I know
playing time counts, but this is ridiculous. Bobby Estalella and
Mitch Meluskey have better cases, as well. And before I get accused
of wanting "half-season All-Stars", remember: it’s JOE GIRARDI.

Met fans, prepare the crow:

                   SNWAR
Mike Hampton        2.10
Octavio Dotel       0.00

Mike Hampton has been about two games better than a
replacement-level pitcher, while Octavio Dotel has defined the term.
Clearly, the Mets are ahead to this point in the trade, even factoring in
the financial costs. Dotel has been moved to the bullpen, and is expected
to close as the second half starts. A half-season in the pen will be good
for his arm in the long term, but won’t do much for the numbers above…or
my pre-season evaluation of the two pitchers. Hampton has outperformed my
expectations, while Dotel has been a disappointment. The Mets win, and yes,
the Met fans who politely expressed their minor disagreement with my
position win as well.

Michael Wolverton’s
Reliever Evaluation Tools
aren’t widely known, but they
should be. Here are the top five relievers in the NL, as ranked by his
Adjusted Runs Prevented metric:

Pitcher          Team           ARP

Danny Graves Cincinnati 15.7 Ricky Bones Florida 14.6 Curt Leskanic Milwaukee 14.1 Gabe White Cin/Col 13.5 Steve Kline Montreal 13.3

Want a good rule of thumb? If a pitcher has more runs allowed than
strikeouts, any success they’ve had is likely to be fleeting. "Reid
Cornelius
, Jimmy Haynes and Kirk Rueter, thanks for
playing, collect your parting gifts from Lisa offstage."

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

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