Another Thursday afternoon, another set of six observations. Bottoms up!
1. Victor Martinez might make something of himself someday
Victor Martinez has hit safely in 30 of the 35 games he has played in this season. He has reached base safely in all but 1 game. He has had more than one hit in a game 14 times. Only Albert Pujols has a better BB/K ratio than Victor (1.77) among qualifying players. And despite hitting for considerable power, he has a fantastic contact rate (88%). Oh yeah, and he spends more than half his time as a catcher.
2. Weglarz…”ha ha, I was just kidding”
Nick Weglarz finished April hitting a woefully bad .089/.243/.143, with 1 extra-base hit and nearly twice as many strikeouts (19) as walks (10). For those Weglarz enthusiasts amongst us, that line was terrifyingly bad. In the first 9 games of May he’s managed to raise his OPS from .386 to .711 by hitting .448/.541/.793 with 6 extra-base hits (2 HRs, 4 2Bs) and 50% more walks (6) than strikeouts (4). April is dead, long live Wegz.
3. The Indians might have known something when they switched Laffey into the bullpen – or maybe not
Many of us, myself included, hope with Sowers demotion Laffey will be moving back into the rotation. But, it is worth looking at what the bullpen has done since Laffey got moved there. His first appearance was May 6th and since that outing the bullpen has gone 23 innings and has only allowed 4 earned runs (I’m excluding Masa’s 0 out, 5 run outing against the Red Sox – which I had the good fortune of watching in person). That’s good for a 1.56 ERA. So it was a good move, right?
That’s a little more complicated. 23 innings in 8 games still means the bullpen is putting in about 3 innings a game – more than is ideal. Part of this is because Laffey’s replacement in the rotation, Jeremy Sowers, has only managed 9 innings in his two outings. And both of those outings, by the way, ended in losses. So the move of Laffey into the pen, assuming it was temporary, might have successfully “reset” the bullpen and stabilized it a bit. But it did not come without some cost in the form of Sowers’ disappointing outings. It’ll be interesting to look back at this in a few weeks with more data and decide if it was ultimately a good move or not. As someone who was initially quite skeptical of the move, I’m more willing to think the team knew what it was doing than I initially gave them credit for.
4. Comparison between Matt LaPorta and mystery player, “Agent M”
LaPorta (Columbus) – 84 PAs, .414 OBP, .640 SLG, 11 extra-base hits, 1 error, age: 24.4
“Agent M” (Columbus) – 61 PAs, .413 OBP, .636 SLG, 8 extra-base hits, 1 error, age: 25.5
5. The Indians have dug themselves a hole
The Indians go into action tonight only 5.5 games out of first place, despite being thoroughly disappointing. A question I have is, if the Indians start playing like we thought they would, how big of a hole have they dug themselves?
The CHONE projection system thought Cleveland would go 90-72 this season, good for a .556 winning percentage. The current winning percentages and projected winning percentages of our AL Central competition are as follows:
If we start playing exactly like we were projected, and our competition continues to play exactly as they are now, we don’t quite ever catch up with Detroit or Kansas City. They both finish with 85-86 victories, and we end up with 83 or 84. If instead they also play exactly as they were projected before the season began, we pass the Royals but end up a hair behind Detroit, who still finishes with 84-85 victories.
There’s no reason to put any value in these projections, which are absurdly reductionist, but they provide some perspective on the cost of the Indians slow start.
6. The early returns from 2009’s top picks/international signings looks good.
Lonnie Chisenhall, Cord Phelps, and Tim Fedroff’s combined line so far this season:
.299/.399/.453, 24 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 7 HRs
Eric Berger, TJ House, Zack Putnam, CC Lee:
114 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.0 K/IP, 2.65 K/BB