The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Archive for the tag “Yasiel Puig”

Strange and Interesting Baseball Facts and Stats For 2014

In every baseball season, unexplainable  situations and statistics occur.  Despite all that we know and understand about the game, including all the advances we can attribute to sabermetrics, the human element still has a way of intruding on the actual outcomes of the ballgames.  Large sums of money are paid to athletes both for what they have accomplished and for what a hopeful team expects them to accomplish in the future.  Obviously, the best laid plans…well, you know how it goes.

Having said that, here are some weird numbers I’ve noticed as I’ve researched the 2014 season to this point.  Of course, the season is still young — we’re only a quarter of the way through it — and some of these players and teams will revert back to their norms, but the fact remains that odd and fascinating things have been happening all over baseball this season.

For example:

Prince Fielder, who has hit 288 home runs in his career and has a career slugging percentage of .522, has “slugged” just .360 this season, 95 points lower than Mets second baseman Danny Murphy, who is slugging a career high .455.  Fielder has three homers and 16 RBI.  Murphy has three homers and 17 RBI.

Francisco “K-Rod Rodriguez has recorded 17 saves in the 42 games the Brewers have played this season, meaning he has saved a game in 40% of the games they’ve played.  In 2008, when the set the Major League record for saves in a season with 62, he recorded a save in 38% of the Angels 162 games.  So basically, K-Rod is on pace to break his own single-season save record.

Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon is on pace to steal 100 bases this year.  No one has stolen a hundred bases in a season since Vince Coleman last did it for the Cardinals in 1987.

Averaging 7.6 strikeouts per walk this season, Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon has the best K/ BB ratio of his career (38 strikeouts against just five walks.)  Yet, by almost every other measure, he’s having one of his very worst seasons thus far:  2-5, 5.84 ERA in eight starts, 1.439 WHIP, ERA+ of 58.  Perhaps one really can be too careful.

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, who over the past five seasons hit 25, 29, 28, 33 and 27 homers, is on pace to hit four this year, as many as Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

With a record of 6-0, and an ERA of 2.17, Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is off to a fantastic start.  He also leads the A.L. with an 0.914 WHIP.  Oddly, though, batters are hitting .318 against his four-seam fastball, and a robust .326 against his two-seam fastball.  But they are hitting just .172 against his slider, and only .141 off his splitter.

Through nine starts, Red pitcher Johnny Cueto has an ERA of 1.25 and a batting average against of .135.  In all of Major League history, no pitcher has ever had an ERA that low and an opponent batting average that low through the first nine starts of a season.

The Cubs entire bullpen as recorded just four saves this season.  Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Rays closer Grant Balfour recorded two in one day.

Is it time to start paying closer attention to the season Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is putting together?  As I type this, he is currently batting .398 with an on-base percentage of .503, and a slugging percentage of .767.   Tulo leads the N.L. in batting, of course, and also in home runs, with 12.  Not only does he have a chance to become the first N.L. player to win the Triple Crown since Ducky Medwick in 1937, but he may become the first player since Tony Gwynn batted .394 twenty-years ago in 1994.  Could even a .400 batting average be within his reach?

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, 23-years old, has now logged exactly 600 MLB plate appearances.  Try as I might, I was unable to find any player from previous generations of batters whose stats through their first 600 plate appearances were truly comparable to Puig’s.  He has hit 27 homers, and has posted a triple slash line of .323 /.400/.549.  Puig’s career OPS+ is 165.

One player I did research who also got off to a nice start to his career homered 31 times in his first 675 plate appearances (a rate roughly similar to Puig’s), and posted a triple slash line of .327 / .436 / .609, while playing his home games in a friendlier hitter’s park than Puig’s Dodgers Stadium.  His career OPS+ through his first 149 games (Puig has played 141) was 160, a bit lower than Puig’s 165.  The other player’s name?  Ted Williams.

As far as I can tell, Brewers outfielder Khris Davis has drawn fewer walks per 150 plate appearances than any other player in the Majors this season.  So far, he has drawn just three walks in 152 plate appearances, down even from last season’s 11 walks in 153 plate appearances.  Clearly, the man likes to swing the bat.  On a visceral level, there’s something to be said for a man who takes his chances, who won’t be cheated, and who isn’t satisfied with a mere trot down to first base.  “Felt wrong not to swing.” -Merrill Hess (Joaquin Phoenix), from the movie, “Signs.”

The Mets tenth-highest paid player this season is, (are you ready for this?),  Bobby Bonilla!   Bonilla hasn’t worn the uniform of any MLB team for the past 13 years.  Bonilla, now 51-years old, will continue to be paid one million dollars per year by the Mets (1.19, to be exact), through the year 2035.  He will be 72-years old when they stop sending him checks.  The Mets could have bought him out for 5.9 million in the year 2000, but failed to do so.  On the back of such improbably horrible decisions are legacies made.

If there are any other oddities you’d like to share with me, by all means, please do so.

 

 

 

 

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Ten Reasons Why Yasiel Puig Deserves To Be An All-Star

There’s been a lot of talk over the past week regarding whether or not the Dodgers phenom outfielder should be allowed to make the N.L. All-Star Team, given that he’s only been in the Majors for little more than one month.  Yesterday, Phillies relief pitcher Jonathon Papelbon, who has never pitched more than 75 innings over the course of an entire season, and who’s been named to five All Star squads, made the following statement:

“The guy’s got a month, I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues,” Papelbon said during the interview. “Just comparing him to this and that, and saying he’s going to make the All-Star team, that’s a joke to me.

Papelbon added that it would, in his opinion, be disrespectful to veteran ballplayers who’ve been around for years to have Puig named to the All Star team.

Dear Jon, Allow me to retort:

1)  According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, no player since Joe DiMaggio back in the 1930’s has started his career with as much early success as has Puig.  We are not talking about a normal player on a short hot streak, we are witnessing baseball history every time Puig comes to the plate.

2)  Through last night’s game, Puig is now batting .440 through his first 109 MLB at bats.  Not enough at bats to impress you?  Well, even if Puig went hitless in his next 50 at bats (about half the number he already has), he’d still be batting over .300.  Does anyone believe he’ll go zero for his next 50?  If he bats just .250 over his next 200 at bats, he’ll still be batting around .317.  Would you say a .317 batting average, with power, is enough to justify an All Star nod?  I would.

3)  Puig already has the highest WAR of any Dodgers position player, at 2.6.  Shouldn’t the best position player on a team garner serious All Star consideration?

4)  Papelbon’s argument that a Puig All Star nomination would be disrespectful to MLB veterans is patently absurd.  There have been other rookies who have made All Star teams in the past.  Just because most of them began the season in April, garnering three full months (!) instead of Puig’s one month, is hardly enough of a difference to single Puig out as somehow being not worthy of this honor.

5)  The rule that has been in place for many years that requires each team, regardless of the caliber of its players, to have at least one representative for the All Star game has resulted in many questionable “All Stars” over the years.  The idea that seems to be floating out there that the All Star Game is and always has been for only the best of the best hasn’t been true for decades, if it ever was the case at all.  Meanwhile, Puig might very well be one of the top ten, if not the top five, players in the game right now.

6)  Attendance is down throughout the Majors.  Translation:  The product is not selling as well has it has in the past.  The players, meanwhile, are the product.  They are not the marketers, nor are they the gate-keepers of what the fans “should” be allowed to spend their hard-earned money on.  Next time Papelbon cashes a paycheck, he should keep that in mind.

7)  The All-Star Game is an exhibition.  It’s primary purpose is to promote The Game.  (The charade of home-field advantage being decided for the World Series is and always has been an afterthought.)  Question:  Are the fans less likely or more likely to watch this exhibition on T.V. if Puig gets to play?  How about fans in the greater L.A. area, the second biggest market in America?

8)  Baseball is also about winning, correct?  When the Puig joined the Dodgers in early June, they were at or near the bottom of the standings in the N.L. West.  Now, they are just 2 1/2 games out of first place, and have won ten of their last eleven games.   Certainly, this dramatic turnaround has not all been attributable to Puig.  Yet, if Puig was still languishing down in the minors, do you really think the Dodgers would now be this close to the top of the standings?  I don’t.

9)  No one remembers entire All-Star games, but they do remember individual, specific moments.  People remember Bo Jackson in ’89, or Dave Parker’s throw to the plate in ’79, or Ted Williams walk-off homer in ’41.  Isn’t it as likely as not that Puig will do something in this year’s All Star Game that fans will remember for years to come?  There’s no way to know, unless he gets to play.

10) Finally, if Papelbon’s point of view that Puig has not yet proven himself worthy of playing in an All-Star Game is widely shared by other veteran ballplayers (and one has to wonder what Puig’s Dodger teammates think of all this), then why not let the veterans show us in the All-Star Game itself how inferior Puig truly is?  Let Justin Verlander or Yu Darvish or Matt Moore or someone else face him down and attempt to strike him out.  After all, isn’t that the whole point of sports in general, and baseball in particular?  Let it be settled it between the chalk lines, not the airwaves, Jonathon.

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