Lists, Lists, and More Lists
At the halfway point in the 2006 seaon, we present the leaders in special batting categories not widely publicized (all stats through Saturday, July 1):
Fly/Pops Hit AL: Orlando Cabrera, 126 NL: Carlos Lee, 127 Alfonso Soriano, 127
This is the first year in which Cabrera has hit more balls in the air than on the ground. He has a lifetime 1.17 G/F ratio. Orlando's walk (.084 per PA) and BB/SO (1.22) rates are the highest ever. He is also putting up career bests in AVG (.299) and OBP (.361) and has a current streak of getting on-base in 58 consecutive games, the longest such skein since 1960.
% Flys/Pops Hit AL: Jonny Gomes, 66.23% (100/151) NL: Jason Lane, 64.08% (91/142)
Two players who are struggling. Gomes hit .203/.289/.392 in June and hasn't gone deep since slugging two vs. Kansas City three weeks ago. Lane hasn't hit for average at home (.226) or on the road (.187), vs. LHP (.226) or RHP (.200). To his credit, he has drawn 40 walks and ripped 11 HR.
Grounders Hit AL: Ichiro Suzuki, 174 NL: Juan Pierre, 161
Suzuki is well on his way to his sixth consecutive 200-hit season. Only Willie Keeler (8, 1894-01) and Wade Boggs (7, 1983-89) have had longer streaks. Ichiro is 24 hits shy of matching his Japan total and now has 2,532 for his combined career.
% Grounders Hit AL: Derek Jeter, 79.12 (144/182) NL: Matt Murton, 74.39 (122/164)
In his first full season, Murton is looking more like a platoon or fourth outfielder. He is mashing LHP (.333/.410/.493) with 9 BB and 5 SO in 69 AB but is struggling vs. RHP (.234/.299/.304) with 13 BB and 31 SO in 158 AB.
Groundball/Flyball Ratio AL: Derek Jeter, 3.79 (144/38) NL: Matt Murton, 2.90 (122/42)
Always a groundball-type hitter (2.20 career G/F ratio), Jeter is banging them into the turf at a higher rate than ever before. Derek is hitting in the .330s for the first time since 2000 and is walking at the highest rate (.121) since 1999. He is a legitimate MVP candidate this year.
Pitches Seen AL: Kevin Youkilis, 1533 NL: Bobby Abreu, 1550
Although Abreu's batting average and power are down, his OBP is the highest its been since 1999 when he hit .335 with 109 BB. Bobby has walked at least 100 times in each of the last seven seasons and is on pace to exceed 150 free passes this year.
Pitches Seen per PA AL: Kevin Youkilis, 4.47 (1533/343) NL: Bobby Abreu, 4.49 (1550/345)
The Greek God of Walks has seen more pitches in total and per plate appearance than any other batter in the AL this year. Youkilis slugged his 10th HR of the season on Sunday, raising more than a few eyebrows with his power. He has played first and third base and been the most valuable addition to Boston's starting lineup this year.
% Pitches Taken AL: Jason Giambi, 66.3% (886/1337) NL: Barry Bonds, 68.3% (670/981)
The names of Giambi and Bonds are usually not found in the same sentence because of the high percentage of pitches taken. These power hitters are as selective as they come when it comes to swinging at pitches. Both sport outstanding on-base and isolated power marks to more than offset suspect defense and baserunning.
% Swings That Missed AL: Frank Catalanotto, 5.8% (21/364) NL: Juan Pierre, 6.1% (37/608)
Catalanotto is the best-kept secret in Canada. He is hitting .335/.439/.503 and now has a career batting average of .300. The left fielder has never walked more than he struck out, yet has 35 BB and just 15 SO this season. As a role player, Frank is much more valuable to the Blue Jays than to any fantasy owner and that may be why he has never quite gotten his due.
% Swings Put Into Play AL: Placido Polanco, 60.2% (278/462) NL: Scott Hatteberg, 61.4% (208/339)
Polanco has reverted to his prior career form with a batting average in the .280s after hitting .331 last year. He has always put the ball in play, striking out in fewer than 7% of his plate appearances.
% Strikes Taken AL: Vladimir Guerrero, 8.2% 8.2 (57/698) NL: Jeff Francoeur, 10.8% (82/758)
Guerrero and Francoeur have never met a pitch they didn't like (or wave at). Although there are a lot of similarities between the two right fielders, Guerrero has been much more productive when swinging at pitches. Vlad has hit for a higher average (.292 to .251) and more power (19.3 to 22.6 HR/AB) than his NL counterpart.
% Swung at 1st Pitch AL: Johnny Damon, 10.1% (36/356) NL: David Eckstein, 10.2% (36/352)
Two of the most patient lead-off hitters in the game. Damon and Eckstein work the pitcher by rarely swinging at the first offering. These "little things" aren't always appreciated among statheads but are valuable nonetheless.
Bunts In Play AL: Corey Patterson, 28 NL: Juan Pierre, 37
Patterson and Pierre would have made better fast-pitch softball players than big leaguers. Slow pitch, no. Fast pitch, yes.
AVG w/ Men on Base AL: Frank Catalanotto, .446 (37/83) NL: Dan Uggla, .396 (42/106)
There's Catalanotto's name again. Uggla has been anything but ugly for Florida. After missing a week due to a sore hamstring, he was back in the starting lineup this weekend vs. Boston. The NL Rookie of the Year candidate is hitting .308 with 13 HR.
AVG RISP AL: Kenji Johjima, .407 (22/54) Placido Polanco, .407 (22/54) NL: Albert Pujols, .480 (24/50)
AVG Late & Close AL: Reed Johnson, .609 (14/23) NL: Nomar Garciaparra, .444 (12/27)
At the risk of small sample sizes, the players in the two categories above have hit well thus far with runners in scoring position or late and close. Call them clutch, call them lucky. Whatever you prefer. The numbers are what they are but also subject to huge swings between now and the end of the season.
AVG vs LHP AL: Vladimir Guerrero, .418 (33/79) NL: Freddy Sanchez, .500 (29/58)
Can you say breakout season? Sanchez is hitting .356/.390/.517 with 24 doubles and more than 40 runs and RBI in 79 games. He is also leading the league in OBP vs. LHP and batting average at home (see below).
OBP vs LHP AL: Jermaine Dye, .495 (48/97) NL: Freddy Sanchez, .531 (34/64)
Dye has already slugged 20 HR, including 8 in just 78 AB vs. LHP.
SLG vs LHP AL: Jonny Gomes, .768 (53/69) NL: Bill Hall, .833 (45/54)
Hall just may be the most underrated player in the game. With the injury to J.J. Hardy, the former utilityman has become Milwaukee's everyday shortstop. He has 40 extra-base hits in 72 games. The 26-year-old has also played second, third, and center this year.
AVG vs RHP AL: Joe Mauer, .391 ( 70/179 ) NL: Miguel Cabrera, .352 (80/227)
What's most amazing about Mauer is that he is tattooing everybody everywhere. To wit, the #1 pick in the 2001 draft is hitting .393 vs. LHP, .391 vs. RHP, .380 at home, and .403 on the road. Consistent but, more importantly, just flat out awesome.
OBP vs RHP AL: Joe Mauer, .469 (97/207) NL: Nick Johnson, .442 (100/226)
Johnson is on pace to post career highs in AVG (.300), OBP (.429), and SLG (.533). When healthy, he is among the most productive hitters in the NL.
SLG vs RHP AL: Jim Thome, .780 (124/159) NL: Albert Pujols, .709 (117/165)
It takes more than great slugging vs. RHP to win the MVP but two of the leading candidates are doing just that.
AVG at Home AL: Ichiro Suzuki, .387 (67/173) NL: Freddy Sanchez, .396 (55/139)
If Safeco is a pitcher's park, how much does it really affect a player like Ichiro? A word to the wise: be wary of adjusted park data as a be all and end all to evaluating hitters.
AVG on the Road AL: Joe Mauer, .403 (56/139) NL: Scott Rolen, .391 (45/115)
Rolen is a lock to win Comeback Player of the Year in the NL. The way Scott is swinging the bat this year, one would never know he hit just .235 with 5 HR in 2005. He is on pace to reach career highs in AVG (.343) and OBP (.411) while SLG (.577) is only a tad shy of his best season in 2004.
SB Attempt (1BH+BB+HBP) AL: Corey Patterson, .522 (35/67) NL: Jose Reyes, .457 (43/94)
After reaching first base on a single, walk, or hit by pitch, Patterson and Reyes are attempting to steal second more often than anyone else.
Steals of Third AL: Derek Jeter, 7 Scott Podsednik, 7 NL: Alfonso Soriano, 8
Stealing third is an art in itself. Sure, it takes speed. But it also takes an even bigger lead and jump to swipe third than second. The best time to steal third is usually with one out as you don't want to make the first or last out of an inning at third.
GDP/GDP Situation AL: Grady Sizemore, 0.0% (0/57) NL: Craig Counsell, 0.0% (0/30)
Sizemore is an excellent all-round player. His stats speak for themselves. But here is one that gets almost no attention.
Extra Bases Taken as Runner AL: Chone Figgins, 0.85 (22/26) NL: Mike Cameron, 0.83 (19/23)
The above percentages are extraordinarily high. Always a great baserunner, Figgins took the extra base 62% of the time last year. His rate this year is worth an extra five or six bases vis-a-vis 2005. Cameron took the extra base 64% of the time last season without being thrown out, another important component to this baserunning stat.
Tomorrow: Special Pitching Stats
Source: STATS LLC