Did You Realize…? NL Edition

It’s June 4th, did you realize…

AL Edition

…that R.A. Dickey not only has a killer 2.69 ERA on the heels of a shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals, but he also has 70 Ks in his 74 innings putting him on pace for 210 this year?

Charlie Hough was the last knuckleballer to punch out 200+ batters when he fanned 223 in 1987 for the Texas Rangers.  He did so in 285 innings (7.0 K/9), though, while Dickey is pacing 220 innings (8.5 K/9).

…that Gio Gonzalez, and not Stephen Strasburg, has been the Nationals best pitcher thus far?

It’s a matter of degree with just 0.04 points of ERA, 0.02 points of WHIP and a whopping 0.46 K/9 separating the pair.  And if you look below the surface numbers, Gonzalez has had more luck on his side with miniscule BABIP and HR/FB rates while Strasburg is nearly at league average in both yielding a significant edge for Strasburg in xFIP: 2.51 to Gio’s 2.82.  Fact is: both are awesome.

…that Tim Lincecum’s 5.1 BB/9 is the worst in the National League?

His struggles have been well-documented, but I was surprised to see that he has the worst walk rate in his league.  His inability to work with runners on (62% LOB%) has killed him this year.  Some of it might be bad luck, but watching him shows obvious struggles from the stretch that need to be fixed if he expects to come anywhere near that 3.88 xFIP that has many believing in a rebound.

…that Trevor Cahill is generating a career-high 64% groundball rate?

His strikeout and walk rates have gone the wrong way, especially with the transition to the National League, but he is still posting a strong 3.45 ERA and pairing it with a career-best 3.76 xFIP.  Even his 2.97 ERA of 2010 only yielded a 3.99 xFIP.  This 24-year old just keeps getting better as a pitcher and I think there is still another level for him to reach skills-wise, too.  Once he can command his sinker in the bottom of the zone a bit more and cut that walk rate, batters are in big trouble.

…that Matt Cain is posting the best skills of his career with an 8.3 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 4.9 K/BB?

Yes, his ERA continues to out-perform his xFIP, but his xFIP also continues to come down.  He has dropped it yearly dipping below 4.00 for the first time last year (3.78) and sitting at 3.57 so far this year.

…that Brandon Beachy is toting baseball’s best ERA at 1.87 despite cutting over three and a half strikeouts off of his 2011 rate?

He fanned 10.7 per game last year, but this year is down to 7.2 in his 72 innings.  In turn, he has shaved 5% off of his flyball rate, added 8% to his groundball rate and cut a whopping 10% off of his BABIP from .307 down to .207 (no, 100 points isn’t 10% of .307, but his hit rate on balls in play dropped from 31% to 21%, that’s the 10% I’m talking about).  There is some regression coming to that ERA, but the dip in strikeout rate doesn’t mean the success is a complete fluke, either.

…that despite his frightening 6.98 ERA, Mike Minor is actually posting skills good enough for a 4.33 xFIP?

His insane 17% HR/FB rate has led to a 2.0 HR/FB rate, but his 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 K/BB are quite good.  Part of the gopheritis is bad luck, but part of it is his own doing as he fails to locate properly in the zone.  He doesn’t have overpowering stuff so command and control are necessary for sustained success or else he is subject to getting batted around as evidenced by his 27% line drive rate a season ago.

…that the three NL leaders in K/BB rate are all Phillies yet Roy Halladay isn’t among them?

He’s right there at 10 with a 4.0 K/BB, but teammates Cliff Lee (5.4), Cole Hamels (5.0) and Joe Blanton (4.9) are leading the way.  Blanton isn’t the only surprise as Bronson Arroyo is right there with a 4.9 himself.

…that three NL relievers have fanned at least 40% of the batters they have faced, but that Jason Grilli (40%) is one them??

The other two, unsurprisingly, are Craig Kimbrel (41%) and Aroldis Chapman (49%!!!!!!!).  Grilli has actually raised his strikeout percentage yearly since 2005 starting at 8% before entering the 20s in 2008.  Though 35, Grilli seems to be throwing his best baseball.

…that Tony Campana is on pace for 54 stolen bases?

This is despite also being on pace for just 309 at-bats.  At this rate, if he could just get 400 at-bats, he would steal 70 bases.  It can be annoying to have a one-trick pony in your lineup, but Campana can win you stolen bases.  He should be rostered in any league, especially since he’s actually been a two-trick pony with a .291 average, too.

…that Dexter Fowler is on pace for 18 doubles, triples and stolen bases?

As well as 24 home runs, 99 runs scored and 84 driven in.  He is also hitting .297 with a .400 on-base percentage.  In other words, he has been amazing this year.  It is absolutely ridiculous that he is 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues and 91% in ESPN.  I can’t envision a format (save AL-only obviously) where he isn’t a viable option.


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