September 24, 2002

Mystery Man

I present to you 5 stat lines:

# ABs .AVG .OBP .SLG HR 2B BB

A 601 .266 .323 .437 22 33 47

B 616 .275 .337 .454 24 32 55

C 615 .229 .301 .390 23 24 56

D 623 .331 .372 .578 37 37 40

E 610 .332 .384 .532 25 41 53

There are basically two groups.

A, B and C are pretty similar.

A medicore to poor average with 50 or so walks and 22-25 homers.

D and E are similar.

A great batting average with about 55 walks, a ton of extra base power, an on-base percentage of 370-380 and a slugging percentage in the mid-.500s.

The interesting thing about those 5 stat lines is...they are all Bret Boone's.

A = his career stats per 162 games played.

B = his stats from 2002, projected to a full season.

C = his stats from the 1st half of 2002, projected to a full season.

D = his stats from 2001.

E = his stats from the 2nd half of 2002, projected to a full season.

Many people (including myself) considered Bret Boone's fabulous 2001 season a gigantic fluke.

I still think that, taken in context with the rest of his career, Boone's 2001 season is a pretty huge fluke.

During the first half of this season, it sured looked more and more like a fluke with every game.

And then Boone started hitting like it was 2001 all over again in the 2nd half of the year.

So was 2001 a huge fluke?

Like I said, taken in context with the rest of his career, yes.

However, it does appear as though Boone has added some skills (primarily a ton of extra muscle) that carried over from his awesome 2001 season and they have shown up in the second half.

And fluke or no fluke, Bret Boone is having a very nice season this year.

His .275 batting average is the second highest he has had in a season with more than 400 ABs.

His .337 on-base % is the second highest he has had in a season with more than 400 ABs.

His .454 slugging % is the third highest he has had in a season with more than 400 ABs.

All of which is a long way of saying Bret Boone is having the second best season of his career.

And the numbers even get a little better when you consider he is playing half his games in Safeco Field, which is a pretty good pitcher's park.

In fact, according to BaseballProspectus.com (which takes into account the differences in ballparks), Boone has been the third best hitting second baseman in all of baseball (behind Kent and Soriano).

Now, if he would just do something about those blonde highlights in his hair...

September 23, 2002

Slumping into October

The Twins traveled to Chicago for a 3 game series over the weekend.

Game 1: Chicago 10, Minnesota 2

Game 2: Chicago 14, Minnesota 4

Game 3: Chicago 8, Minnesota 2

Ouch.

In addition to getting their butts kicked in Chicago, the Twins have also apparently set their post-season pitching rotation.

For those of you who missed it, I discussed what I thought the Twins should do with their post-season pitching in an earlier entry.

Well, apparently Ron Gardenhire is not a reader of Aaron's Baseball Blog!

The Twins are set to throw Brad Radke in game 1, Joe Mays in game 2 and Rick Reed in game 3.

Back on September 10th, I suggested they start Eric Milton in game 1, Rick Reed in game 2, Johan Santana in game 3 and Brad Radke in game 4.

However, since then, Eric Milton has been pretty bad and it looks like he is not recovered from his knee injury and the subsequent time off.

So, like Gardenhire, I would not be confident with Milton starting game 1.

I would bump everyone up a notch, putting Reed in game 1, Santana in game 2 and Radke in game 3.

Then, depending on the travel days and the pitch counts, etc., I would possibly start Milton in game 4.

But it looks like I'm not in charge.

So lets take a look at what will happen.

As I discussed in the earlier post on the Twins in the post-season, their first round opponent, the Oakland A's, hit right handed pitching a whole lot better than they hit left handed pitching.

Actually, since I wrote that a couple of weeks ago, the difference has become even more pronounced.

The A's currently:

Versus Righties - .265/.344/.443

Versus Lefties - .247/.320/.401

That is why I initially thought they should start Milton in game 1 and Santana in game 3.

And that is why I am less than optimistic about the Twins' post-season hopes now that I know the A's will be taking their swings against righties, at least in the first 3 games.

So, what exactly do we have as far as the post-season preview as it stands right now?

The Twins are struggling big time.

The A's are continuing their winning ways, having won 5 in a row.

The Twins have decided to start 3 straight righties against the A's, even though Oakland hits righties much better than they hit lefties.

And the A's, last time I checked, still have Zito, Hudson and Mulder, two of whom are lefties.

And we all know how bad the Twins are against southpaws this year.

It aint looking good Twins fans.

September 22, 2002

Jinxing in reverse

Last Thursday I pointed out the fact that Alfonso Soriano hadn't drawn a walk since August 20th.

Well, the streak not only came to an end two nights ago (one day after I mentioned it) when Soriano drew a walk against Detroit reliever Fernando Rodney, but Soriano somehow managed to draw a walk last night too!

This is just another reason why baseball is so great.

A guy can go an entire month without drawing a single walk, hit .330 during that stretch and then walk in back to back games.

But fear not, Soriano started another walkless games streak with today's 4 at bat, 0 walk performance against the Tigers.

My only question is, does it qualify as jinxing him if he actually did something good?

September 21, 2002

Reason #1 why I should stick to baseball

In an entry last Thursday I went away from baseball for once and said the following:

"This is a topic that is completely unrelated to the world of baseball, but I felt as though I needed to share it with my loyal audience.

This weekend the University of Florida plays the University of Tennessee is a sport called football (if you haven't checked it out yet, it isn't bad...although it's no baseball).

I am told that people in Las Vegas are somehow able to gamble on such an event, and there is something called a point spread?

As you can tell, I have no knowledge of gambling or point spreads or anything of the sort.

However, if I did, I would say TENNESSEE MINUS 4 POINTS IS THE LOCK OF THE MILLENIUM!!!!!!

Strictly for entertainment purposes only, of course."

Final score:

Florida 30

Tennessee 13

Strictly baseball from here on out, I promise!

Arms race

Last night Derek Lowe beat the Orioles 4-2, improving his record to 21-7.

Lowe has 21 wins with a 2.45 ERA in 212 inning pitched.

Numbers like that would normally almost guarantee someone a Cy Young, especially in the (higher scoring) American League.

Last year, for example, the AL Cy Young winner, Roger Clemens, finished with 20 wins and a 3.51 ERA in 220 innings.

So Lowe has more wins and an ERA over one run per game better.

But this year, not only is Lowe far from a lock for the Cy Young, he might not even be the best pitcher on his own team!

Pedro Martinez (the Cy Young winner in 2000 and 1999) has been injured a little bit this year, but he still has managed 19 wins and a 2.23 ERA in 193 innings pitched.

Okay, so Lowe might not be guaranteed the Cy Young, but certainly a Red Sox pitcher will win it, right?

Not so fast, Pedro and Lowe have had great seasons that are normally Cy Young worthy, but there is a 3rd pitcher who is in the running.

Barry Zito has 22 wins and a 2.74 ERA in 217 innings pitched.

All 3 pitchers would have been the best in the AL last season, but this year one of them is going to finish 3rd in the Cy Young voting.

So who really deserves the Cy Young award?

Well, they each will likely make 1 or 2 more starts before the season ends, which could change a lot of things.

But, as it stands now, here are the important numbers:



***** Inn .ERA Ws L K's BB HR Hit .AVG .OBP .SLG Ks/9 W/9 H/9 SNWAR

DLowe 213 2.45 21 7 122 46 10 160 .210 .264 .296 _5.2 1.9 6.8 6.8

Pedro 193 2.23 19 4 233 39 13 137 .195 .251 .307 10.9 1.8 6.4 6.2

BZito 217 2.74 22 5 176 74 23 172 .218 .287 .343 _7.3 3.1 7.1 6.0

Okay, so what exactly do we have?

Pedro leads in most of the "rate" stats.

He has the lowest ERA, lowest opponent batting average, lowest opponent on-base %, highest strikeout rate, lowest walk rate and lowest hit rate.

Zito leads in a few of the "counting" stats.

He has the most wins and the most innings pitched.

However, he also has the worst opponent batting average, on-base % and slugging % of the three.

Lowe is 2nd in a lot of the categories.

He is 2nd best in wins, ERA, innings pitched, opponent batting average, opponent on-base %, walk rate and hit rate.

However, he is #1 in home runs allowed and (partly as a result of that) he also has the lowest opponent slugging %.

The last stat on the chart is SNWAR.

This is a BaseballProspectus.com stat that measures a pitchers value to a team, in wins, above a "replacement level pitcher."

Which is saying, if they didn't have the pitcher and they had to replace him with a readily available pitcher, such as one in AAA, how many wins would they lose over the course of a season.

So, according to SNWAR, Lowe is worth 6.8 wins above replacement, Pedro is worth 6.2 and Zito is worth 6.0.

Just like they are in all of the "regular" stats, they are pretty damn close in SNWAR too.

Certainly close enough that their few remaining starts could have a pretty big impact on who the winner should be.

But, if I had to vote right now, here is what my ballot would look like:

1) Derek Lowe

2) Pedro Martinez

3) Barry Zito

When the season comes to an end, I plan on doing an extended entry on my choices for the various awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie, Manager, etc) and I wouldn't be shocked to see the order of my ballot change.

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