Baseball BeatJune 25, 2006
Stats You Won't Find in Your Sunday Newspaper
By Rich Lederer

Remember when we used to wait until the Sunday newspaper arrived to get all of our in-season baseball statistics? My, have times changed. We are now able to track play-by-play (or even pitch-by-pitch) stats in real time. We can sort 'em and slice and dice 'em to our heart's desire.

Although not on the cutting edge in terms of the delivery, Baseball Analysts is proud to present the Quad and K/100P every Sunday morning. The Quad categories (OBP, SLG, times on base, and total bases) are nothing new but thinking in terms of these four basic measures and combining them to gain an appreciation of both counting and rate stats is our primary purpose in presenting the leaders at the bottom of the sidebar on the left each week.

The K/100P is much more innovative. It does a better job of correlating with runs allowed than K/9 or K/BF. Pitchers who rank high in K/100P tend to prevent runs at an even greater clip than league leaders in the other strikeout measures. To the extent that there is a discrepancy between what K/100P shows and, say, ERA, it usually means that a pitcher may be the beneficiary or victim of a small sample size, home ballpark, team defense, bullpen, or luck. Betting that K/100P and number of runs allowed will converge over time makes more sense than ignoring such disparities.

Herewith are the leaders in the Quad and K/100P as of June 24. Let's start with the hitters first...

American League
OBP: Travis Hafner, .447
SLG: Vernon Wells, .625
     Jim Thome, .625
TOB: Ichiro Suzuki, 145
TB:  Vernon Wells, 175
National League
OBP: Bobby Abreu, .450
SLG: Albert Pujols, .751
TOB: Bobby Abreu, 143
TB:  David Wright, 176

Vernon Wells and David Wright are the only non-corner outfielders, first basemen, or designated hitters leading their league in any of these four areas. Wells is atop the AL in SLG and TB, which means he is slugging better than anyone per at-bat and in total. It's one thing to lead in one or the other but all the better to do so in both.

What can you say about Wright? The 23-year-old third baseman is not only leading the majors in total bases but is second in the NL in OPS (1.018), 4th in RBI (64), 5th in SLG (.612), 6th in AVG (.339), 9th in OBP (.406), and 10th in HR (18).

For what it's worth, here are Wright's projected full-year stats:

  G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS 
161 629 109 213  41   7  39  139  24 .339 .406 .612 1.018

Most .300/.400/.600 guys are pretty special, especially those who play infield and can run. To wit, here is a list of all the third basemen who have reached those milestones over a full season (with a minimum of 502 plate appearances):

                    AGE    YEAR      OPS    AVG    OBA    SLG
1 George Brett       27    1980    1.118   .390   .454   .664
2 Chipper Jones      27    1999    1.074   .319   .441   .633
3 Jim Thome          25    1996    1.062   .311   .450   .612
4 Al Rosen           29    1953    1.034   .336   .422   .613
5 Eddie Mathews      21    1953    1.033   .302   .406   .627
6 Chipper Jones      29    2001    1.032   .330   .427   .605
7 Alex Rodriguez     29    2005    1.031   .321   .421   .610
8 Ken Caminiti       33    1996    1.028   .326   .408   .621
9 Albert Pujols      21    2001    1.013   .329   .403   .610

Next, we move to the K/100P leaders. Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez have been at or near the top all year long. Let's face it, they just might be the best two pitchers in baseball. Any stat that identifies the greats should be taken seriously, especially as it relates to uncovering those who are not as well-known.

American League
Johan Santana, 7.00
Jeremy Bonderman, 6.66
Scott Kazmir, 6.07

Despite a 3.82 ERA, I have no doubt that Jeremy Bonderman is one of the elite pitchers in the game. Always long on potential, Bonderman has arrived. The 23-year-old right-hander throws a 94-96 mph fastball and a plus breaking ball. His command has been outstanding this season, as evidenced by a career-low BB/9 (2.54) and career-highs in K/9 (8.55) and K/BB (3.36). Bonderman hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his last four starts and struck out 12 batters in his previous two outings. [Update: Bonderman put up a 7.0-7-1-1-1-8 line vs. STL on Sunday, lowering his ERA to 3.65.]

National League
Pedro Martinez, 7.33
Jake Peavy, 6.48
Dave Bush, 6.47

Dave Bush is probably the biggest surprise on either list of league leaders. Bush has been solid but not outstanding in his two-plus seasons in the big leagues. His K/100P rate would suggest that he is pitching better than his 4.64 ERA would otherwise indicate. He is among the top ten in the NL in IP (104.2), K (86), and WHIP (1.17). Bush throws strikes and his out pitch is a big hook. Dave's only downfall is a higher-than-desirable career HR/9 rate of 1.17. He has pitched better at home (4-2, 3.16) than on the road (0-4, 7.14).

If Bush is available in your fantasy league on the cheap because of his mediocre W-L record and ERA, then I would advise trading for him before these stats converge with his much more telling K/100P rate.


They've got a heck of a pitching coach over there in milwaukee...

Yes, Bryan and I believe Mike Maddux is one of the best pitching coaches in the biz. In addition to Bush, Chris Capuano is 4th in the NL in K/100P. That's pretty impressive, considering that MIL's #1 (Ben Sheets) has been out most of the year.

I'd say "elite" is jumping the gun on Bonderman right now. Maybe he is, but people said the same thing last year and he fell apart in the second half. Pitchers need to put together one very good full season, and more often multiple ones or just be ridiculously dominant before I tag them as "elite."