The Pace

By Asher B. Chancey, Baseball Evolution

 

The Eric Milton Watch Continues . . .

 

You know, I like Julio Franco as much as the next guy. I was very excited last night to check my scores and find out that he had hit two home runs for the first time since 1996. He is still churning along, and I hope he plays until he is 50. That having been said, I hope that people will keep adoration of Franco's feat in proper perspective. He did, after all, hit his home runs off of Eric Milton.

 

After briefly stumbling the last three games, giving up a combined 2 home runs, Milton returned in good form, giving up Franco's two blasts plus one to Andruw Jones. For the season, Milton has given up 25 home runs in 81.2 innings pitched, which means he is still well on pace to break Bert Blyleven's record of 50, which we must remember, came in 271.2 innings. Oh, and don't think Milton is a one trick pony. He also has a 3-9 record with a 7.82 ERA.

 

Brian Roberts

 

I don't want anyone to think that I am trying to say that Brian Roberts isn't having a good year, because he is, but through yesterday it has been over a month since Roberts hit a home run or stole a base. Beginning to wonder if he'll even go 30/30 this year.

 

But hey, some guy in Philly is still hittin'em out and stealin' em. He has 16 and 17 right now. He is on pace for 38 and 40. I know you don't know who he is, because no one in the United States seems to know his name. So, I'll let you look at the Phillies box score tomorrow to find his name.

 

Andruw Jones

 

An interesting thing has happened of late. For the last few years, we have been wondering when Andruw Jones would live up to his potential and start being the five tool player we all think he can be. After a torrid spring, Jones got off to a horrendous start. The Braves did fine at first despite Jones' down turn, but then they to started to struggle: their pitching began to falter, Chipper Jones got hurt, and the team started to call up their stars of tomorrow, making it look like this may be the end of their run.

 

Then a funny thing happened. Andruw Jones began to hit. He has hit 7 home runs in the last eight games, and has raised his average 16 points since June 8th. Yesterday, when Julio Franco hit two homeruns, he had Andruw Jones hitting behind him.

 

Not that this isn't the same Andruw Jones, and not that players donít go on hot streaks, but wouldn't it be great if Andruw Jones finally felt that this was his team, and that his team needs him, and he has to do something to help his team win, and then he actually did it?

 

The 300/300 Club

 

A funny thing happened on the way to the 300/300 clubhouse. For some bizarre reason, Reggie Sanders has been stealing bases as if he was 25 again. After stealing 21 bases all of last year, and none in April of this season, Reggie has stolen 13 bases since May 3rd, and has only been caught once. After stealing 2 bases last night, he has three multiple stolen base games. As a result, Sanders is 4 stolen bases away from 300. He also has 13 home runs, which means that the 29 home runs he needs this season to could get to 300 suddenly seems very do-able, with only 16 to go.

 

Steve Finley, on the other hand, has less far to go but seems to be having a harder time getting there. As of yesterday, his OBP is under .300, and he has only 8 home runs after hitting 36 last season. Nevertheless, he already has the stolen bases, and needs only 7 more home runs to get the homers, so he SHOULD be a lock to break into the club this season.

 

After having only 4 players accomplish the feat in baseball history, it looks like we have a legitimate chance of seeing two guys do it in the same year.

 

Derrek Lee

 

What are you KIDDING?!?!?!?!

 

It is WAY too early to talk triple crown. Geez!!!!

 

Nevertheless, Derrek Lee is making people in Chicago forget about Sammy Sosa big time.

 

Talk to me again about the Triple Crown in September.

 

Speaking of Lee . . .

 

The Year of the Lee?

 

This is one of those strange things, like the 1950s when there were 5 guys named Eddie who walked a lot. For some strange reason, Carlos Lee and Derrek Lee, who have always been solid players to say the least, have chosen this year to have breakout seasons. Not only that, but Cliff Lee has been vastly improved for the Indians this year with an ERA more than two points lower than last year, and a winning percentage and K/BB ratio better than last year as well.

 

This really isn't as big as it could be. If Travis Lee's OPS climbed up over 800, now THAT would be freaky!

 

Adam Dunn

 

Remember 1987, the pre-1990s "Year of the Home Run?"

 

That year, the Cleveland Indians featured a player by the name of Brook Jacoby, who finished the season with 32 home runs. What was remarkable about Jacoby's season, though, was that he had only 69 RBIs. That made for a HR-RBI ratio of 2.16, which is plainly terrible.

 

Barry Bonds, of course, has had several years in which his HR-RBI ratio has been poor, which reflects more on the fear that opposing teams have when it comes to pitching to Bonds with men on base. His ratio two years ago was exactly 2.0 (45/90), while his ratio in his record breaking season of 2001 was a remarkable 1.88 (73/137)

 

This season, through 67 games, Adam Dunn has hit 18 home runs, but has only 37 RBIs, for a HR-RBI ratio of 2.056, truly an embarrassing total. Like Bonds, Adam has been walking a lot, as he is currently tied for the major league lead with 50, but his .248 average probably indicates that he should be driving in more runs even despite his high walk total. Remember, Barry hit .328 in 2001. The Dunner is probably reminding the Reds more of Rob Deer in 1992, when he complemented his 32 HR with only 64 RBI for a 2.00 ratio.

 

With the pace Adam Dunn is on, across the board, his pace does not look quite as monstrous as his physique. If he continues at his current clip, the Dunner's end of the year numbers should look something like this:

 

G R H HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG

157 102 126 40 81 118 173 .243 .398 .555