Archive for June 8th, 2012

Friday: 06.8.2012

BP Work This Week

A quick look at my work available over at Baseball Prospectus this week.

  • First up was the Starting Pitcher Value Picks piece in which I looked at Phil Hughes, who I may have pumped up after watching him dismantle my favorite team in a complete game of excellence.  I profess my love of Edwin Jackson yet again.  Weird.  Completely unexpected.
  • Next up was the Weekly Planner piece which takes a look at the all the two-start pitchers for next week and decides who you should go with and who you should probably avoid.  Aces are very light this week meaning you will have to look at some lesser options if you want to load up on two start starters in H2H leagues.  Edwin Jackson (yes, two mentions!!!) and Bud Norris are among my favorites in that group.
  • I also appeared in the Lineup Card for the first time since joining Baseball Prospectus.  The week’s topic was “Favorite Baseball Books” and I discussed one of my favorite books ever: The Numbers Game by Alan Schwarz.  Just a fantastic journey through the history of baseball stats engineered by one of the best writers out there.  He did some fascinating work on concussions in the NFL and continues to dominate life for the NY Times.
  • And finally, episode 7 will come out for the The Towers of Power Fantasy Hour, a BP Fantasy Podcast on Saturday.  We discussed a ton of players of varying import ranging from stars to lower tier “only” league options.  In lieu of specific segments like most weeks, the meat of the show were these in depth breakdowns on players.  Send your emails to fantasyhour@baseballprospectus.com.  We record on Thursdays usually, but moved to Friday this week.  We also have a Facebook Group that you should definitely join.  Here is my entrant for “Best Thing I Read This Week”.  I didn’t explain it particularly well on the podcast, but it cracked me the f up.
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Friday: 06.8.2012

Have You Ever Noticed?

I have a useless knack for noticing random things.  I notice when a cigarette grows in length during a scene on a film or show.  In fact, I notice way too many continuity errors.  Maybe I can get paid for it and become a Continuitist.  Best job ever.  I notice random patterns and of course ones that are more obvious, too.  I use several different sites to cull statistical information when I am working on pieces or just doing research for my fantasy baseball teams including ESPN.

It always seems to catch my eye when the same guy leads across the board on the five categories they have as the header on team stat pages.  This would fall under the more obvious patterns to catch as I am sure a lot of people would take notice of the same face five times in a row. They just wouldn’t turn it into a blog post about the teams in baseball who have this going on for their team.

There are eight teams in baseball with the same guy leading the club in batting average, home runs, runs batted in, on-base percentage and hits.  Let’s just say there aren’t scrubs pulling off that feat.  It’s not a massively diverse skill set needed to pull off the feat, but a good number of things have to align properly to be atop all of them.

Obviously you are kind of double-dipping with batting average and hits, though it’s no guarantee that leading one will give you the other.  In fact, 12 teams have a different leader in batting average and hits.   Home runs and runs batted in are an obvious double-dip as well and only seven teams saw a different leader in each of those categories.

Good batting average and on-base percentage don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, so you have to be able to rack up hits and either do so with a good eye to draw some walks (lest an Adam Dunn-type thwart you in OBP… though Paul Konerko shan’t be outdone this year) or just be on a team where your huge batting average and handful of walks overpowers anyone else’s OBP.

First, take a moment to see how many of the eight names you can guess without looking below.  Here are some hints:

  • Of the eight, four are what I would call “obvious”
  • Of the four non-obvious, two aren’t obscure names, just surprises to be leading these 5 cats
  • Of the eight, six are from the American League & two from the National League
  • Of the eight, five are outfielders

OK, those are your clues.

Good luck guessing.

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This is me

…giving you some time

…and pushing some space

…between the above text

…and the pictures that I am about to post.

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OK, time’s up.

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Let’s eliminate some name that you may have guessed.

There were five guys who just missed making the list as they led in four of five categories:

  • Carlos Gonzalez is just .002 OBP points behind Dexter Fowler.
  • Miguel Cabrera is just .011 OBP points behind Prince Fielder.
  • Hunter Pence is just .013 AVG points behind Placido Polanco.
  • Chase Headley is just .008 AVG points behind Will Venable.
  • Matt Joyce is just 6 RBIs behind Luke Scott.

Of those, I would assume that Cargo, Miggy and Pence were possible, if not likely, guesses.

The obvious guys were all outfielders:

Even as stacked as the Rangers are (despite their recently mortality in which they have gone 3-7 in their last 10), it is no surprise that Josh Hamilton is leading the pack their because he has just been on another level.  He actually has three guys on his butt for the hits lead as Elvis Andrus, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler all have 66. The impressive thing about that is that they all have 11 or more at-bats than him.

With Fielder gone, Ryan Braun doesn’t have much competition atop the leaderboards for the Brewers.  If Jonathan LuCroy hadn’t gotten hurt and could’ve registered enough at-bats for the batting title, he might have pushed Braun in OBP where he trails by .002 right now.

If these were ordered by most obvious, Andrew McCutchen would have been listed first.  He is up by 11 hits, two home runs, nine RBIs, .062 average points and .068 on base points.  Pedro Alvarez’s power output is the only thing keeping Cutch from running away with all five categories.

Jones is a bit surprising if only because the surprise Orioles have gotten several standout performances, but his 16 home runs and 35 runs batted in are among the American League’s best which is why he still made it into this group of relatively obvious leaders.

Oddly enough, two of the surprise names are full time DHs:

It is quite impressive that David Ortiz is leading all five of these categories on the Red Sox.  The middle three aren’t terribly surprising, but to see him pacing the squad in batting average and hits is definitely a shock.  Haven’t we (we being the baseball community) left him for dead two or three times?

I guess Billy Butler isn’t too surprising in light of the struggles to their other hitting standouts, but he usually displays modest power making his 32 home run, 103 RBI pace a shock this deep into the season.  He might finally be having the power breakout I have projected for the last 17 years.

I am pretty sure my beagle was leading the Oakland Athletics in hits at one this season, so perhaps Josh Reddick isn’t exactly surprising given how inept their offense is, but apart from his 14 home runs, he easily has the worst numbers of this octet and he might not be leading any of these categories had Yoenis Cespedes not gotten hurt for a spell.

And in my estimation, the biggest surprise of all is Mark Trumbo.  We can’t just chalk it up to Mike Trout not qualifying either as he has him beat in batting average and on-base percentage, though if you gave them an equal number of games, Trout is pacing to have more hits.  On a team with Albert Pujols and coming from a guy who posted a sub-.300 OBP last year, this is a major surprise.  It will be far more impressive if he is leading at the All-Star break, let alone the end of the season, but for now he gets his glory.  He is definitely the favorite to lead the team in Trumbombs this year.

I realize this isn’t in the vein of most posts you find here at BbP, but I figured something fun for a Friday might be a nice change of pace.  Besides, who doesn’t want 1,000+ words on the guys in baseball leading their team in five arbitrary categories picked by ESPN?