Dis and Data
While the rest of the baseball world is talking about Francisco Rodriguez's saves record, Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter, and the division races in the AL East, AL Central, and NL East, as well as the wild card in the senior circuit, we are going to change it up and discuss some statistical nuggets outside of the main.
Roy Oswalt has thrown two consecutive shutouts and has not allowed a run in his last 32 1/3 innings pitched. The 31-year-old righthander has lowered his ERA by 1.50 during the past two months, dropping from 5.04 on June 15 to 3.54. He is 10-2 over this period. The reason for his success? Look no further than the fact that Oswalt has struck out 73 batters while walking only 18 and allowing just four HR over 96 IP. As Peter Gammons pointed out on Baseball Tonight a few days ago, Oswalt has won more games than any other pitcher since he made his MLB debut in 2001.
Are you looking for a fantasy sleeper for next year? How about Shin-Soo Choo, who is hitting .340/.426/.605 since the All-Star break? His OPS (1.031) ranks seventh in the majors during this period. The 26-year-old outfielder started the season on the disabled list (recovering from surgery on his left elbow), was sent to the minors for rehabilitation in mid-May, and was recalled at the end of May. He has been playing fairly regularly ever since and recently ended a 12-game hitting streak and run of 28 straight games reaching base safely.
As detailed below, the lefthanded-hitting Choo has hit ground balls to the right side while lifting fly ball outs to center and left at Progressive Field. However, he has slugged six of his seven home runs to the right of center, including four toward the right field line.
Born in South Korea, Choo was signed by the Seattle Mariners as a non-drafted free agent in August 2000. Cleveland acquired him for Ben Broussard in July 2006. The latter was released by the Texas Rangers earlier this season and has toiled in the minors for the Yankees and Cubs since last spring. The negative with Choo is that he must serve two years in the Korean military beginning no later than 2010.
Speaking of hot players since the All-Star game, Melvin Mora (.389/.433/.704) is first in the majors in AVG, fifth in OBP, and 3rd in SLG and OPS (1.137). Only Manny Ramirez (1.185) and Albert Pujols (1.172) have produced higher on-base plus slugging averages during the second half than Mora. The 36-year-old third baseman recently returned to the Baltimore Orioles lineup after missing 10 games in late August and early September.
Unlike Choo, Mora has been using the entire field but has been pulling all of his home runs at Camden Yards.
From the beginning of the 2005 season through this past weekend, Jason Bay has been successful on 46 of his last 50 stolen base attempts. Yes, the former Pittsburgh Pirates and current Boston Red Sox outfielder has stolen bases at a 92% rate over the past four years, including 10-for-10 this season. Moreover, Bay, who turns 30 on Saturday, has slugged 117 homers (or approximately 30 per season) during this period. Except for an aberration last summer, the NL Rookie of the Year in 2004 has hit between .282-.306 with 26-35 HR for each of the past five campaigns.
Vladimir Guerrero (.298/.360/.506 with 24 HR) is on the cusp of tying Lou Gehrig for the all-time record with the most consecutive seasons hitting .300 and 25 home runs. Big Daddy Vladdy, as he is affectionately known in Anaheim, needs to bump up his batting average ever so slightly and crank another home run to become only the second player to put up these numbers 11 times in a row. Gehrig (1927-37) almost did it 12 straight, falling just short of both marks (.295 with 29 HR) in his last full season.
Mike Jacobs (32 HR), Dan Uggla (30), Hanley Ramirez (30), and Jorge Cantu (26) became the first infield to slug 25 home runs in the same season. The Marlins accomplished this feat on Friday when Cantu went yard for the 25th time. He jacked another homer the following day and has an outside shot at joining his fellow infielders with 30 dingers.
Ramirez became the latest member of the 30-30 club when he cranked his 30th four bagger of the season on Saturday. With 90 walks, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound shortstop has taken his game to the next level. He leads the NL in runs (115) and ranks fourth in BB, fifth in OBP (.396) and SB (33), eighth in OPS (.921), and 12th in HR. Did I mention that Ramirez won't turn 25 until December?