Lies, Damn Lies and Current Statistics
Its late in August and while a fair portion of the league has been for all intent and purposes eliminated from the Pennant races, every inning is that much more pressure packed for those that remain in the chase. The key players need to step up and earn their paychecks while the role players need to at least fill their roles and in some cases, step it up a notch.
Today's column is a random mish-mash of interesting pieces of data, surprising trends, and more often than not it will be information that sheds some light or makes some kind of statement about a pennant race or contending team.
Relevant Dominance - 21 Days of Data
* Jose Ramirez, SS/2B Cleveland Indians
We discussed Ramirez and Mike Napoli on the Podcast last week, but his numbers deserve a blip here. Five home runs, 14 RBis, .358 batting average, 19 Runs scored in 81 at bats over the last three weeks. The Indians pitching staff is why I love their chances in October, but Ramirez and Napoli are why they get there. They have quietly been great.
* Kris Bryant, 3B/OF Chicago Cubs
Six home runs, .387 batting average, .452 OBP and .707 slugging in 75 games over the previous three weeks. Wasn't contact an issue for Bryant? Even Bryant advocates had some concerns. The advanced metrics have never seen a kid with his swing and miss profile in the minor leagues (Joey Gallo people pay attention) become a star player, but Bryant is already a star and getting better. He has hit 32 home runs, is batting .299 with a .390 OBP and a .958 OPS while batting on the best team in baseball. Isn't this the profile of a no-doubter MVP? Why aren't we hearing more about the fact that this kid is the best player in the National League in 2016? Maybe once September comes around we will. He is sprinting tot he finish line on his way to 40 home runs and a possible .300 batting season.
* Trea Turner, SS/OF Washington Nationals
Four home runs, six stolen bases, .289 batting average (with a surprisingly low .307 on-base percentage) in his last 83 at bats. It is difficult to criticize the Nationals for being patient with Turner's promotion since they are running away with a mediocre National League East pennant, but its also difficult not to think this kid should have been promoted much sooner. The kid is playing a foreign position (centerfield) while showing some weakness
* David Dahl, OF Colorado Rockies
Four doubles, three triples, two home runs, three stolen bases, .325 batting average and .388 on-base percentage in 77 at bats. Its a stretch to say the Rockies are relevant but I am in a generous mood today. This kid does a little bit of everything and in Coors field the numbers are going to catch your eye in the coming seasons. The emergence of Charles Blackmon and Corey Dickerson before the trade and David Dahl now highlights the lost opportunities of the Rockies front office with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales and that we are going to continue to see with Nolan Arenado. Anyone can put up eye popping numbers in Coors field, but Dahl has the skill set to take advantage of the opportunity to hit in a joke park.
The "OtheR" Stuff
* Freddie Freeman, 1B Atlanta Braves
He has seven home runs in his last 38 at bats while batting .447 and slugging 1.132. The Braves are moving in to a new stadium and Freeman is the anchor to their marketing of the new park, but he could have really helped a contender. That contract, these numbers, the prospect cost would have bene reasonably while the impact could have been significant. Baseball is always about the dollar, but sometimes its off the field rather than on.
* Gary Sanchez, Ca New York Yankees
He has eight home runs in 46 at bats while batting .435 and slugging 1.00. Prospect followers have heard about his potential with the bat for years, but the Yankees were always "contenders," so instead of giving the kid a shot they stashed him in the minors and signed Brian McCann. Now, finally, this season, the Yankees admitted what fans have known for years, that they aren't "contenders" and Sanchez looks like a beast. The defense will be criticized when times aren't going so well, but this kind of bat behind the plate is rare. Jorge Posada was hardly a defensive whiz and Mike Piazza was just inducted into the Hall of Fame, so I am sure as long as Sanchez continues to hit bombs he will continue to catch pitches.
* Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks
Goldschmidt had ZERO runs batted in last week. If you're a Fantasy sports player you couldn't miss that. Yes, ZERO runs batted in for an entire week. He scored 10 runs, batted .391 and got on base at a silly good .588 clip, but he did not knock in a single runner. Who is batting in front of this beast??
* Brad Miller, 2B/SS Tampa Bay Rays
Eight home runs, 21 RBIs, 15 Runs scored with a .329 batting average and .420 OBP. Miller has hit 25 home runs with an .843 OPS this season. His .263 batting average and .319 on-base percentage are advanced metric arguments to be a little less frothy about the kids break out season, but the bombs are a surprise and will earn him a nice piece of coin. He is swinging for the fences, a common approach in Tampa Bay this season, and his OBP is suffering because of it, but chicks dig the long ball and Miller is a "playa" this season. Nice year for a kid I liked in Seattle where the Mariners clearly gave up on him, partially due to Ketel Marte.
* Billy Hamilton, OF Cincinnati Reds
18 stolen bases in 66 at bats and he has walked 12 times in the last 21 days. He batted .318 with an OBP of .423. If he can hit better than .270 he will be an impact player, if he can bat better than .290 he can steal his way to an MVP. His speed can be that impactful. Its scary when his on-base percentage is higher than his slugging percentage but lets not harp on the negative. The kid is a slap hitter with road-runner speed that can turn a single into a triple and that kind of talent doesn't show up in the slugging percentage. Silly Billy Hamilton has some warts in his game, but seeing these kinds of stolen base numbers makes my jaw drop. he has 53 steals in 108 games player. In a mediocre full season he could steal 80 bases and 100 is easily within reach.
Team Stats for August
* Ohio necks are getting whiplash from all the base runners crossing the plate as well as all the politicians flip flopping their stances on a number of issues. The Cleveland Indians are third (112) and the Cincinnati Reds are fourth (110) in runs scored for the month. Maybe the bigger surprise? The Tampa Bay Rays (107) are tied with the Chicago Cubs for sixth in runs scored. Next head turner - Toronto Blue Jays rank 24th with 78 runs scored while the Texas Rangers are tied for 25th (77) and the Detroit Tigers are 28th (68). I guess you don't need to score runs to make a run at the Wild Card or the Division, at least in the American league. Are these teams opting not to use their DH?
* The Milwaukee Brewers lead the league in stolen bases with 34 in August while the Baltimore Orioles are last... wait for it... with ONE. Yes, the Baltimore Orioles have stolen ONE base in August. The St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets have doubled up on them with TWO for the month while the Detroit Tigers have stolen four, the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays five. The four lowest ranked teams in stolen bases in August are all playoff contenders and eleven potential playoff teams rank seventeenth or worse in stolen bases this month. I guess running, at least in August, does not correlate to winning. You would think that small ball and creating runs was something winning teams did and that stealing bases was a part of, but only the Cleveland Indians are in the top five in steals in August amongst contenders.
* The Orioles (40) and the Dodgers (32) lead playoff contenders in home runs in August while the Giants (14), Pirates (16), Marlins (18), Royals (19) and Rangers (22) ranked 22nd or lower in home runs in August.
* The Brewers have walked the most in baseball in August (95), the Giants (76) rank second. The Royals (45) are last while the Orioles are tied for 27th with 47 walks in August. 10 playoff contenders rank in the bottom half, 17th or lower, in walks in August.
* The Royals pitching staff leads baseball in team ERA in August (2.43). The Cubs are second (2.52), Jays third (3.12). 12 playoff contenders rank in the top half, 15th or better, in team ERA in August. The Red Sox rank fifth in team ERA (3.41) in August after ranking 23rd in July. The Mets rank 21st in team ERA in August (4.93) after ranking fourth (3.37) in July.
* The Jays had the best team Whip in July (1.05) while the Royals (1.06) and Cubs (1.07) are the top two while the Red Sox (1.16) and Jays are tied for third (1.16).
* The Astros pitching staff has allowed the most home runs (40) in baseball in August while the Marlins (11) have allowed the least.
* The Giants only have four saves in August (the least of any contender) while the Mariners have the most (12) - Edwin Diaz has been filthy good.
* The Kansas City Royals are on a nine game winning streak.
* The Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants have lost three in a row.
* The Boston Red Sox are 10-2 in their last 12.
- 3-0 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
- 1-0 vs. Cleveland Indians
- 2-0 vs. Baltimore Orioles
- 2-2 vs. Detroit Tigers
- 2-0 vs. Tampa Bay Rays
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