— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Saturday, April 24, 2004
I Know It’s Early But…
The joys of small sample sizes.
It’s time for an entertaining stroll around looking at early season numbers. Yes, we all know these don’t mean anything, but we can have some fun pretending they do. And I won’t even mention Barry’s 2000+ OPS.
Answering some nagging questions
Can the A’s replace Tejada’s offense? Yes, the A’s remain a pretty average offensive team despite losing Tejada. As expected, they’re relying on Jermaine Dye, Eric Byrnes, Marco Scutaro, and Damian Miller.
Can the Red Sox offense repeat? Easily. Pokey Reese’s 439 OPS is no problem at all, his glove more than makes up for that. Your typical Red Sox second inning goes something like this: Millar makes an out, Varitek walks, Kapler makes an out, Bellhorn walks, Reese makes an out. Sure, that doesn’t look impressive, but that’s a .400 OBP from your 5-9 hitters!
Can the Marlins repeat? Are you kidding? Their best hitter is a pitcher. If it weren’t for the fact that their entire staff is working on their Bob Gibson impressions, this team would be 9-6.
Can Toronto win the wild card? Absolutely, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Yankees. Their offense has been leading the charge, averaging just over 3.6 runs per game. A lot of folks dismiss this team because they’re built on old school principles, but they’re showing that a team OBP of 290 doesn’t keep you from winning. The offense is headed by slugging C Kevin Cash (308/349/513). Their great starting pitching, spearheaded by offseason acquisitions Pat Hentgen (5.17 ERA), Ted Lilly (6.19 ERA), and Miguel Batista (7.88 ERA), rivals Oakland’s.
Who is the Cardinals best pitcher? Catcher/utility player Cody McKay, whose knuckler has baffled hitters (0.00 ERA in 2 IP).
Who has been the best free-agent acquisition? There’s no question that Fernando Vina’s veteran leadership, great defense (only 3 errors!) and 293 slugging percentage have played a huge role in the Tigers’ turnaround. And don’t overlook Jose Guillen who is continuing last year’s excellent performance with his 638 OPS.
I hear a lot about San Fran Left Fielder, but how is San Fran Right Fielder doing? Quantity over quality is a winning strategy when you’re talking beer, but there are some who question it on the baseball diamond. Judge for yourself: Michael Tucker (509 OPS), Jeffrey Hammonds (664 OPS), and Dustan Mohr (259 OPS) have combined for a 1432 OPS. That would be second in the league to San Fran Left Fielder.
Your 2004 All-Stars
Catcher – This is a tough one. According to Prospectus, catchers currently have the highest EQA of any position players. And that’s despite giving lots of time so far to guys like Brandon Inge and Henry Blanco. So our All-Star selections? Brandon Inge, who currently stands at 375/459/531 in 37 PA – in a pitchers’ park! – and Henry Blanco, who’s posted 324/444/676.
First Base – The NL currently holds the top 7 spots in 1B OPS. Lots of good candidates, but we’ll pick out two favorites: Sean Casey (418/476/673) and Hee Seop Choi (286/412/643 in a pitchers’ park).
Second Base – Sometimes a player stands so far above the rest, that you select just one All-Star at that position. Ladies (if there are any Primate ladies) and Gentlemen, I give you the next Joe Morgan – Ron Belliard (435/493/581) … and he’s not in Coors anymore.
Third Base – Speaking of Coors, how about Vinny Castilla? He’s at 283/381/717. When did he start to walk? He only had 48 in Atlanta – that’s both seasons in Atlanta – but 9 already this year. Or, if you don’t care for walks, we could go with the Appendectomy Kid, Adrian Beltre, at 368/373/737.
Shortstop – With AROD gone, this field is wide open. The trendy pick seems to be Michael Young (394/423/591) but he’s heading to our bench in deference to Jack Wilson (370/386/574).
Left Field – Rising from the grave, we have Moises Alou (377/424/820). Representing the relatively young whippersnappers, we’ve got the offseason’s top free-agent signing, Raul Ibanez at 280/383/600.
Center Field – Making that Torii Hunter contract look better by the day, we’ve got Lew Ford (450/477/800). Making that Marquis Grissom contract look better by the day, we’ve got Marquis Grissom (339/391/610).
Right Field – Finally having landed a multi-year contract, Reggie Sanders has been clubbing it at 339/383/750. But we’re giving the starting nod to the woefully underpaid Danny Bautista (382/424/691).
Designated Hitter – If this guy keeps it up, he could be the next Julio Franco: Jose Offerman (283/400/565). They’re keeping Justin Morneau in the minors for this?? On the bench will be Dontrelle Willis (667/667/1111).
LH Starter – Dontrelle Willis who currently has the record for the largest difference between his OPS (1778) and his ERA (0.00). When your slugging is over 1 and your ERA is under 1, you’re doing something right.
RH Starter – There’s not one even remotely humorous RH starter doing well, so we’ll have to go with Roger Clemens and his .286 BA.
Closer – Oh, so many to choose from. Choke artist Armando Benitez and his MLB-leading 8 saves and 0.79 ERA? Or Danny Graves, who’s piled up 7 saves despite his 4.50 ERA? Or "17 saves in 44 career chances" Arthur Rhodes, who’s 6 for 7? No I’m afraid they’ll all be setting up for Joe Table, who’s 5 for 5 in save opportunities and has a 0.00 ERA. And since I dissed him in the offseason, we’ll find room for Braden Looper (0.00 ERA) too.