Tag Archive | "Fly"

The Trumbo Drop

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The Trumbo Drop

Posted on 21 March 2013 by Will Emerson

Ah, the story of Mark Trumbo and the wild ride that was his 2012 season.  For those who did manage to grab Trumbo, their apparent genius was rewarded handsomely… at first. Trumbo started heating up in May and carried that through July, looking like the fantasy steal of 2012. From May through July, Trumbo socked 24, count ‘em, 24 home runs! Trumbo added 61 RBIs and also hit .300 over that span, for those of you who are into that sort of thing and  his OPS’s for those months? 1.077, .899, and .864. Trumbo was well on his way to a tremendous season, when he didn’t see that wall and ran right into it.

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In August, Trumbo hit a meager three dingers, hitting .304, with an OPS of .550. Mr. Trumbo did not fare much better in September and October when he socked two home runs with a .214 average and an OPS of .554. Quite a turnaround for the big fella, wouldn’t ya say? Well, of course the question going into 2013 is, which, if either, is the true Mark Trumbo? The guy who was just mashing for three months or the one who could barely hit himself out of a wet paper bag for the last two months? Obviously the two are pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum here, so just what exactly are we to expect from Trumbo in 2013?

Well, let us take a look at Trumbo’s final numbers, first. Trumbo finished with 32 home runs and 95 RBIs and an OPS of .808. Of course 24 of those 32 home runs were in that three-month span of May through June. Which means Trumbo hit eight home runs in the other three months. Now we all know the power is there for Trumbo, but will the power be consistent or will Trumbo owners have to take the famine with the feast? The biggest difference in August through the end of the season was Trumbo’s home run to fly ball rate. About a quarter of Trumbo’s flyballs were leaving the yard in the first four months, but this rate dropped to 14.3% in August and then right on down to 7.4% in September. Obviously a big factor in the long ball drop off. Of course, it was not just the long balls that dropped off, it was Mark Trumbo’s entire offensive output that fell off a cliff. So what exactly happened?

Well, first off, it seems that either pitchers were starting to figure Trumbo out or he was just not being as patient. Perhaps even a combination of both. Look at Trumbo’s strikeout percentage by month ion 2012:

March/ April – 27.5%

May- 17.8%

June- 23.2%

July- 19.8%

August- 36.4%

September/ October- 33.7%

The K-rate took a huge jump in the last two months of the season, but Trumbo was also not getting on base as much down the stretch. In September Trumbo had a walk rate of 2.3%, helping him to a .233 OBP for the month. I shouldn’t have to tell you dem’s some outrageously bad numbers in both categories. Unfortunately I do not have info on Trumbo’s plate discipline numbers by month, but I think it is safe to say that he was probably pressing as he headed into September. Or was it something else? Trumbo experienced back spasms in July and it is possible that this lingered with him into the final two months and really sapped his power. If the back spasm issue was the primary cause this is good news for Trumbo going into 2013. So, if this is the case, should you expect more of May through July Trumbo? Well, I wouldn’t go quite go that far.

Look, those middle month were torrid and I don’t think there are many people out there who think the .300 average over that span is sustainable, so we’re gonna stay focused on the power. The home run/ power pace for that month was a bit more than expected and I am not quite sure those numbers are sustainable for Trumbo over a full season. If Trumbo had the same HR/AB rate in his lesser three months as he did in his binge months he would have had about 44 home runs for the season. I would say it is safe to project another 30 or so homers from Trumbo in 2013, at the very least, with the potential to sock 40. I am going to predict a number in the middle of those and say that Trumbo will out up 35 home runs in 2013 with 65-70 runs and 95-100 RBIs. Am I predicting a bit high? Well in the home run department, maybe a tad, but I don’t think 35 dongs is completely out of the question for Trumbo. With batting average you may see some hot weeks strung together, but I would not expect anything over .270. You can still expect an OPS over .800 for Trumbo, but this will be mostly driven by his slugging percentage as he has a very low walk rate. So in 5 x 5 leagues the average is a minor detractor, but nevertheless the 2012 late season slump could make Trumbo a mild sleeper in many drafts.

Rotochamp has Trumbo ranked 123 overall, which would mean he would be going around the 12-13th round in 12 team leagues. With an outside shot at 40 homers and 100 RBIs, that would be a nice pickup that late, sure. The problem is Trumbo’s average draft position in Yahoo! leagues is 99.8 and in ESPN leagues it is 84.8, so no one is really buying a ranking of around 123. Realistically, I would say go ahead and grab Trumbo around the 85th pick or so and bet on him not having a repeat of 2012′s dismal finish. It’s okay, you can thank me when you are polishing your fantasy league trophy come October.

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Top And Bottom 5 BABIPs In The MLB

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Top And Bottom 5 BABIPs In The MLB

Posted on 05 August 2012 by John Unity

This is my first post as a contributor for Full Spectrum Baseball, so what better way to start off my weekly column than to write about my favorite topic, BABIP.  For those of you unfamiliar with BABIP, it is short for Batting Average on Balls In Play.  Simply put, BABIP equals a player’s batting average when the player makes contact with the ball minus home runs.  To a point, it is a measure of luck, since a player has no control of the ball once they make contact.  The league average floats around 0.300.  Players with a BABIP much higher that 0.300 tend to be considered lucky and the players with a much lower BABIP tend to be considered unlucky.  With that being said, there are a lot of factors that could affect the BABIP for the positive and negative.   Line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates, opponent’s defensive skills, hard/weak hit balls, etc.

BABIP greatly affects a player’s batting average.  A great example of a player who had incredible luck, but eventually came back down to Earth is Bryan LaHair.  In the first month of the season, LaHair had a batting average of 0.390 in 59 at-bats. However, he also had a BABIP of 0.600, twice the average of the MLB… meaning that LaHair got a hit 60% of the time that he connected with the ball.  So, how is LaHair doing now?  He now has batting average of 0.267 with a 0.370 BABIP.  His BABIP is still rather high, but that is mostly due to the fact that he had such an incredible April. As you can see, as his luck diminished, his batting average came down to a normal level for a player of his caliber.

In this article, I am going to take a look at both the top 5 highest and lowest BABIPs in the current season.  I will discuss if the BABIP is the real deal, if the layer is victim to good or bad luck, or if there are other factors playing a role.


Top 5 BABIPs in the MLB

#5 - Melky Cabrera – 0.386 BABIP

I will be the first to admit that I said that Melky will be a bust this year.  I will also admit that because of it, I believe he has waged a personal vendetta against me to prove me wrong.  Melky has been on an absolute tear this season, especially in the months of May and July where he hit for 0.429 and 0.355 averages, respectively.  This season Melky has had high line drive and ground ball rates, and a low fly ball rate.  Combine that with his low strikeout rate and this is what you get.  At 27 years old, Melky is showing everyone that he is the real deal and that last season was no fluke.  Melky won’t be able to keep up at this pace every season that follows, but don’t be surprised to see him fall somewhere between this season’s and last season’s numbers.

Verdict: Pure skill, with a pinch of luck


#4
 - Austin Jackson – 0.396 BABIP

 

Austin Jackson is turning into something really special for the Detroit Tigers.  In fact, Jackson has a 4.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), higher than both Price Fielder (2.4) and Miguel Cabrera (4.3).  Last season, Jackson posted a 0.249 AVG with a BABIP of 0.340.  A few big changes have occurred between this season and last season.  This season, Jackson is walking more and striking out less.  Not only has he made changes to his swing, he has also become more patient at the plate and is swinging at better pitches.  This has led to a nice increase in his line drive rate and a slight decrease in both his ground ball and fly ball rates. At only 25 years old, this kid could get better in the years to come.  He could end up becoming one of the best leadoff hitters in the game.  In his three seasons, Jackson has a career BABIP of 0.375 and a batting average of 0.281.  He probably won’t be able to maintain the 0.375 BABIP, but with his skills he could end up somewhere in the 0.350 – 0.360 range.  However, don’t let the lower BABIP scare you… as he matures he should begin to lower his strikeout rate, which will raise his batting average.  He could easily become a career 0.300 – 0.310 hitter.

Verdict: Great skill, with a pinch of luck, and great potential to get better


#3
Mike Trout – 0.397 BABIP

 

I love me some Trout, and who doesn’t?  Mike Trout is arguably the most exciting player in baseball.  Not only is he batting 0.342, but he also has 19 HRs and 33 stolen bases in 387 plate appearances.   At only 20 years old and only 522 plate appearances in his career, it is hard to get a truly accurate reading on him.  However, the one thing I can say about Trout is that this kid is a beast… and the scary thing is that he could end up getting better.

Trout’s 0.397 BABIP, which recently dipped below 0.400, is extremely high.  In the past 75 years, only 4 players finished a season of a BABIP over 0.400 (with a minimum of 500 PAs):

Rod Carew (1977) – 0.408
Jose Hernandez (2002) – 0.404
Manny Ramirez (2000) – 0.403
Roberto Clemente (1967) – 0.403

It would be truly amazing if Trout could finish the season with a BABIP above 0.400, considering his age and the fact that he is a rookie.  I personally don’t see him doing it, but Mike Trout will be a force for years to come.  Trout could put up several seasons with a BABIP close to 0.400, but he should find himself hovering around 0.360 for most of his career, especially if he cuts down on the strikeouts (2012: 20%).

Verdict: He might be a T-800 – Cyborg with human flesh, AKA The Terminator


#2
Joey Votto – 0.398 BABIP

Prior to getting injured, Joey Votto was on pace to rival his 2010 MVP season.  He had posted his highest BABIP (0.398) and batting average (0.342) of his career.  He had also posted the 2nd highest line drive, rate of 30.2%, in the MLB (also highest of his career).  There is little or no luck involved in his BABIP, Votto was just simply seeing the ball well and hitting it hard.  Will Votto do this every season?  No… but he could easily do this again and do it often.  It will be interesting to see how he does when he comes back from his knee surgery, but as for now we are calling him the real deal.

Verdict: Part human, part machine


#1
Andrew McCutchen – 0.423 BABIP

 

With all the attention Mike Trout has received, Andrew McCutchen has been somewhat overlooked.  McCutchen has been having the most impressive hitting season since Larry Walker’s batting average of 0.379 in 1999.  McCutchen is hitting 0.373 this season, and there is no doubt luck has a lot to do with it.  The greatest BABIP in history was in 1923 when Babe Ruth had a 0.423 BABIP (same as McCutchen’s current BABIP).

This season Andrew McCutchen has a slightly high strikeout rate (18.5%) and a slightly low walk rate (9.5 %).  He does have nice line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates, but not good enough to explain his BABIP.  Not to slam McCutchen’s amazing season, but luck is playing a big part of it.  He will most likely see his BABIP and AVG drop a bit before the end of the season.  However, while Trout’s BABIP has been dropping over the last few weeks, McCutchen’s hasn’t and could easily find himself becoming the 5th player in the last 75 years to post a BABIP over 0.400.

Verdict: Pure talent with a ton of luck


Bottom 5 BABIPs in the MLB

#5Ike Davis – 0.230 BABIP

Throughout Ike’s career in both the majors and minors, he has never posted a BABIP under 0.318.  This season he has posted a BABIP of 0.230 and a batting average of 0.209. So what happened?  Last season ended very early for Ike due to injury and he hasn’t been the same man since he has come back.  Ike is walking less (8.6%) and striking out more (26.3%) than he has ever in his career.  However, Ike is hitting more line drives and ground balls, and less fly balls, which is all good.  You have to wonder if last season’s ankle injury is still causing problems for Ike, both physically and mentally.

Ike Davis is too good of a player for this season to define him.  He has shown flashes of improvement, like his 9 HRs in the month of July, but I don’t expect him to save this season.  I do, however, expect him to make a nice return, in 2013, to the man he really is.

Verdict:  Good player who is experiencing a bit of bad luck, mixed in with physical and mental struggles.


#3 (tied)
Brian McCann – 0.227 BABIP

Brian McCann is having an abnormal season based on his standards.  He is a career 0.282 hitter and is batting 0.242 this season.  He is floating around his career average in walk, strike out, line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates.  McCann seems like the perfect example of a player that is flat out having bad luck.  Expect to see him recover a bit and hopefully salvage this forgettable season.

Verdict:  Great offensive catcher with a truck load of bad luck


#3
(tied) – Casey Kotchman – 0.227 BABIP

Casey Kotchman has never really been known for his offense.  In fact, his career BABIP is a low 0.275.  In his nine seasons in the MLB, Casey has posted a BABIP under 0.250 four times.  He has a career isolated power rating of 0.130, so he rarely hits the ball very hard.  He doesn’t walk much, but he doesn’t strikeout much either.  Almost 60% of his batted balls are ground balls.  When you hit a lot of soft ground balls, you’re going to find yourself getting out a lot.

Casey is a great defensive first baseman, although he’s had some issues this season.  He will never be the normal power hitting first basemen that most of us are so used to.

Verdict:  Let’s just say, he’s not in the MLB for his offense, and leave it at that 


#2
Jose Bautista – 0.217 BABIP

Yes… the 2010 and 2011 homerun leader finds himself with the 2nd lowest BABIP in the league.  Why and how, you ask?  Simply put, he has fallen in love with the homerun ball. 50% of his batted balls are fly balls and only 14% of his batted balls are line drives.  He is literally trying to hit a homerun every time he comes up to bat.  The 0.217 BABIP doesn’t come as much as a surprise as you would think.  In 2010, when he hit 54 homeruns, he had a BABIP of 0.233.  In fact, last season’s BABIP of 0.309 and 0.302 average could be considered “lucky”.  Bautista will more than likely post a BABIP in the 0.220 – 0.240 range for the rest of his career.  And why not? “Chicks love the long ball”.

The interesting thing with Bautista is that his career could end up being cut short.  He is turning 32 years old in October.  If and when his strength starts to fade, he will see the homerun totals start to fall.  At that point he could be in trouble, because all he knows how to do is skyrocket a ball into the seats.  When his strength does diminish, we’ll probably see the pre-2010 Bautista that we all knew before.

Verdict:  No bad luck, just a man who loves his homeruns


#1 Justin Smoak – 0.211 BABIP

With a BABIP of 0.211 and a batting average of 0.189, it’s easy to understand why the Mariners sent Justin Smoak back down to AAA.  He has posted his lowest walk rate (7.7%) in his professional career, including in the minors.  He has also posted his 2nd highest strikeout rate (22.7%) and lowest isolated power (0.131).  He has a pathetically low line drive rate of 15% and a high fly ball rate of 43.8%.  Combine all this together and you can see that back luck has little to do with his struggles.  He is impatient at the plate, swings at bad pitches, and is not making good contact with the ball. In 2010, MLB listed Smoak as the #9 in their top prospects list.  He has yet to live up to his potential, so hopefully he will be able to figure things out with a little more conditioning in the minors.

Verdict: Not MLB material right now, but could be at some point


Check out my other writing at JoeBlowBaseball.com, too.

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Has Prince Fielder Been A Disappointment?

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Has Prince Fielder Been A Disappointment?

Posted on 11 June 2012 by Bryan Geary

Prince Fielder has been a perennial 30 home run hitter since his first full season in 2006, averaging 34 per season during that span. Consequently, we just expect the numbers to be there at the end of the year. Perhaps that is why you do not hear more people talking about his drop in power so far this season. The other day I was driving when I heard his name mentioned as a buy low candidate on ESPN Radio. I thought to myself that he did not seem to fit that mold, but that was before I took a look at the numbers. So let us investigate this.

Currently with 10 home runs, Fielder is on pace for 27 home runs this season, a number that would easily be a career low. Maybe people believe the numbers will be there at the end, or maybe the spotlight is not as bright because Detroit is playing poorly, but for some reason not many people have noticed. There is always an adjustment moving from league to league, but Fielder’s .316 average suggests that, on the surface, he is making the adjustment well. However, when you go inside those numbers you see a hitter that has some definite differences from the one we are used to seeing.

We will start with his average, since that might be the most surprising thing of all. Fielder is a career .284 hitter and has never once finished a season over .300 (though he did hit .299 twice). A big explanation for the sudden jump in average is .332 BABIP that is 28 points higher than his career average. When you look inside that number, you see that his line drive and ground ball percentages are both above the career marks, which helps BABIP. Along that note, those two numbers have increased ever year since 2009. It is possible that we are seeing an evolution of Fielder as a hitter. But of course the power was there last year when he smashed 38 home runs, so where is it this year?

Two numbers that are noticeably down this year are numbers that are of great interest to Fielder owners: home run per fly ball ratio and fly ball percentage. During his career, he has hit fly balls 40.1% of the time but this season that number is only 32.5%. Similarly, his career HR/FB ratio is 20.1% while this year that number is 15.9%. Fielder is giving himself fewer chances to hit home runs and is driving fewer of those fly balls out of the ball park. Could this have something to do with the switch from Milwaukee to Detroit? Per the home run maps that you can generate here — the one I created charts Fielder’s home runs at Miller Park in 2011 onto the field dimensions of Comerica — 12 of his home runs were hit to what I would consider center field. Take a look at where this site projects those balls would have landed at Comerica — not many would have gone out.

Take that chart for what its worth, but it’s possible that Fielder’s switch to Comerica Park is having a very real effect on his home run totals. Not enough data is available to do a similar plot for this year’s home runs, but one would have to think that he has already lost a few home runs in the power alleys at Comerica. I think the verdict here is that Fielder may just be different this year. Maybe in his new, more spacious home park, more hits are going to fall for him and the batting average can stay up around .300. As far as Fielder being a buy low candidate, I do not think you are going to get many people who want to sell him low. He still ranks 6th on ESPN’s Player Rater for first basemen, which means he is a valuable commodity to owners. But if you can get someone to give him to you at a reduced price pull the trigger. I am willing to be that his batted ball stats will regress much closer to the mean, which means you might get that 30 home run, 100 RBI guy with a higher average — a win all around.

Rising Fast

Paul Goldschmidt saw his ownership rise 44.4% over the past week and he is now taken in 82.7% of leagues. I am telling you if you need help at first base and he is still out there in your league, grab him and grab him yesterday. This is a guy who showed 30 home run power in the minor leagues with an average that is not going to kill you (he is hitting .292 this year, 7th among qualified first basemen).  Another big reason to own Goldschmidt is his home park Chase Field, which is yielding 1.755 home runs per game, second only to The Great American Ballpark. He is young, playing in a great park, and seeing the majority of his at bats in the 5 or 6 hole, which means plenty of RBI chances. Grab him while you still can or see if you can get him cheap from an owner who might not see him as a household name.

Rekindling the Prospect Shine

Justin Smoak was a disappointment last year, hitting .234/.323/.396 with only 15 home runs. He had a nagging thumb injury and he also dealt with the death of his father, leaving some people, including Keith Law, to think that he may break out this year with a fresh start. It did not happen right away, but Smoak may be coming around of late. Over his last 15 games he is hitting .255 with 4 of his 10 home runs on the season. It is not great, but it is progress. A career .283 hitter in the minors, I am not sure where the average went, but it may never be there. However, if he can turn himself into a 25 home run guy and keep the average around .250, he would be a valuable fantasy asset for those in AL-only leagues or deeper leagues. He is still available in more than half of ESPN leagues, so think about giving him a roster spot if you need help at first.

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Factors and Indicators of Luck vs. Skill

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Factors and Indicators of Luck vs. Skill

Posted on 09 May 2012 by Ryan Bohlen

With the first month of statistics under our belt, it is a good time to start looking at a few different factors and to understand three things: those who are lucky, those who are unlucky, and those who are just plain good.

I myself am a big fan of indicators of future performance for both pitchers and hitters.  For pitchers, I generally look at a pitcher xFIP. Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is a regressed version of FIP, developed by Dave Studeman from The Hardball Times. It’s calculated in the same way as FIP, except it replaces a pitcher’s home run total with an estimate of how many home runs they should have allowed. This estimate is calculated by taking the league-average home run to fly ball rate (~9-10% depending on the year) and multiplying it by a pitcher’s fly ball rate.  I know, I know.  Scary stuff, I can hear you saying, “I just love to watch baseball, I don’t get this in depth.”  Or perhaps, “I just want to hear about what can help my fantasy team.” I hear you.  Let’s call xFIP a teaser for another time.  But trust me, it can help you predict future success and failure for both real life pitchers and your fantasy pitchers.  Nevertheless, on to hitting!

When it comes to hitters, there are three categories I find crucial to deciphering between those who are lucky and unlucky: BABIP, Contact% and Line drive %.

BABIP King

Let’s start with the basic concept of Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). As each hitter puts a ball in play only two outcomes are going to occur; the player either reaches safely or is out.  Please note, home runs do NOT factor in. While it is true that batters can reach base via an error or fielder’s choice, but the simple fact is that he is still safe.

BABIP indicates the rate of success (reaching base) after putting the ball in play. Generally speaking a high BABIP (above .310) will lead to a higher batting average. In addition, guys with speed will tend to have even higher BABIP numbers on average.

Contact Percentage (contact%) is simply the rate at which a player makes contact with the ball. The higher the percentage of contact equals more at bats where balls are put in play (instead of striking out). Interesting to note, players with higher contact rates (above 80%) tend to have greater fluctuation in the batting average based on their BABIP.

Line Drive Percentage (LD%) indicates the number of line drives that are hit by a particular batter. Simple enough.

Once you mix BABIP with Line Drive Percentage (LD%) you can begin to gauge how lucky, or unlucky, a particular batter is. Sure, there are other factors to consider, but let’s keep this simple.

  • Unlucky Batter = Low BABIP with high LD%
  • Lucky Batter = High BABIP with low contact%

Which Players Have Been Lucky?

Here are the top 10 hitters (ranked by BABIP) with at least 50 at bats this year(as of May 1st):

Name

Team

BABIP

LD%

Contact%

Bryan LaHair, 1B Cubs

0.600

25.70%

65.90%

Jason Kubel, OF Diamondbacks

0.460

39.60%

80.40%

Ryan Sweeney, OF Red Sox

0.455

30.90%

88.30%

David Wright, 3B Mets

0.450

31.70%

82.10%

Matt Kemp,    OF Dodgers

0.444

21.20%

69.00%

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF Mets

0.436

28.10%

73.00%

Derek Jeter,   SS Yankees

0.424

19.30%

85.60%

Jose Altuve,   2B Astros

0.421

25.00%

93.50%

Jon Jay, OF Cardinals

0.415

29.60%

90.80%

 

Bryan LaHair, and his .600 BABIP is a big reason why he is currently posting a .390/.478/.779 line this season.  The .600 BABIP is absolutely unsustainable, and with a strikeout rate of 31.6%, it appears LaHair is getting ready to fall off considerably.  However, last year in AAA Iowa for the Cubs, LaHair did post a cool .361 BABIP, leading to a .331 batting average with 31 homers. It appears he may have turned his luck into a skill.

Fantasy spin: Though most websites and writers suggest sell, sell, sell on LaHair, even if his BABIP comes back to earth around .340 or .350 he should still be able to produce a .290-.300 batting average with 25-30 homeruns.  Not bad for a guy not drafted or drafted in the later rounds of most drafts.  Advice: Hold

This list also features a handful of stars who are obviously in the world of just being very good, no luck needed.  You know the Wrights, Kemps and Jeters of the world. The rest of this list strikes me as getting lucky with the exceptions of Jose Altuve and Jon Jay.  Both are making contact over 90% of the time and both have proven in the minors that making contact has not been a problem.  Fantasy wise, I would recommend Altuve in all leagues as he will absolutely play every day in a lineup that is desperate for production. Not to mention, a .351 batting average. He is for real kids.  As for Jay, my only concern is the return of Allen Craig and the impending return of Lance Berkman.  Playing time is my only quarrel here.

The Unlucky Ones..

The top 10 players currently with the lowest BABIP with at least 50 at bats (as of May 1st).

Name

Team

BABIP

LD%

Contact%

Eric Sogard,   3B Athletics

0.139

30.60%

90.90%

Casey Kotchman,      1B Indians

0.143

17.20%

86.70%

Geovany Soto, C Cubs

0.146

19.00%

71.70%

Xavier Nady,  OF Nationals

0.154

25.00%

72.30%

Eric Hosmer,  1B Royals

0.155

17.30%

79.10%

Clint Barmes, SS Pirates

0.157

17.30%

73.70%

Brendan Ryan, 2B Mariners

0.163

18.20%

78.50%

Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays

0.169

16.00%

81.60%

J.J. Hardy,     SS Orioles

0.173

13.00%

83.70%

 

For me, the two names that will stand out to most are Eric Hosmer and Jose Bautista.  Both players were expected to post strong numbers heading into this season and thus far it’s been ugly.  Hosmer is sporting a

Still trying to find his swing

.179/.252/.357 line after posting an impressive .293/.334/.465 line in 128 games last year for the Royals.  This year, his walk rate is up (8.9 compared to 6.0), while his strikeout rate is down (13.0 compared to 14.6) and his contact rate is right with all of his career averages.  So what gives?  Bottom line, Hosmer is getting extremely unlucky and a breakout is coming.

Fantasy spin: Hosmer is an extremely patient hitter who makes a lot of contact.  With a BABIP of .155 and a career BABIP (minors and majors) of .316, I fully expect Hosmer to return draft day value and finish with a batting average in the .280-.290 range with 25-30 homers.

Advice: Hold, buy low.

As for Bautista, he is a bit more concerning. Thus far, his walk rate has plummeted from 20.2% to 14.8%, showing that his patience has not there as compared to years past.  While he is making contact at a decent clip, he has been swinging at “pitcher’s pitches.” I do think Bautista will regain his patient eye and keep mashing homeruns, getting back to his .302 average from last year seems unreachable as it was inflated due to an inflated .309 BABIP. His previous three years, he never exceeded .275.  Look for the homers, not the average.

Think I’m crazy about a keeping LaHair or believing in a Hosmer turnaround?  Believe in the batting average side of Bautista? Feel free to comment.

 

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Ryan Braun or how the system let us all down

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Ryan Braun or how the system let us all down

Posted on 24 February 2012 by Bill Ivie

By now you have surely heard the news that reigning National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun‘s appeal has been upheld and he will not be suspended for 50 games after failing a performance enhancing drug test.

If you had not heard that and need a minute to re-read that opening line, go ahead, I’ll wait right here.

Got it?  Good…

The fundamental problem here is that a decision within a “no-fault” program was over turned.  A ball player has successfully defended himself with a “I did not know” excuse.  A professional athlete, in today’s day and age, took a medication without double-checking to see if any part of that medication might show up on a banned substance list.

Most of the details surrounding this case are leaked and rumors at best, I will admit.  I will also admit that if the original test was never leaked, this would not even be a story.  There would have been a positive test, an appeal hearing, a decision and the public would have been none the wiser.

But that is not the way it happened.  The media found out and ran with the story.  Excuses began to fly.  The only words that Braun has not said, to my knowledge, is “I’m sorry”.

Why does he get a free pass?  Why is it that Ryan Braun should be allowed to say that he did not know what the medication was?  Rafael Palmeiro, one of the greatest hitters of our generation, swears that he was under the impression that the injections he was receiving were B12 shots.  Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

The game has changed.  The black mark left on it by the steroid era has left fans, experts, and even Hall Of Fame voters at different ends of various arguments.  What it has led to is an elevated  level of responsibility on the players.  The players, more so now than ever, are responsible for their actions both on and off the field.  The players are provided with a list of banned substances and are expected to abide by that list.  As professional athletes, it should be an easy responsibility to take on.  If your athleticism is how you make your money and that money is dependent on your athleticism being natural, then you should take the responsibility to know every substance that goes into your body.

The office of the commissioner released this statement:

Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our Clubs and all of the players who take the field. It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.

As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.

A “no-fault” system does not allow a person to question it.  Baseball is a game of clearly defined rules and regulations on and off the field.  The lines are drawn.  Foul is foul, safe is safe, and out is out and you cannot question that.

The line for the policy on performance enhancing drugs just became blurry and undefined.

The game has taken a step back because of that.

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