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Splitsville: The First Two Months
by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
June 1, 2006


Splitsville: The First Two Months

You always hear that you shouldnít take April stats too seriously.Fortunately, we now have May statistics with which to compliment them.For the players with vastly disparate April and May stats, weíll take a look and decide which month more accurately reflects each playerís abilities.

 

Hitters Ė Good April, Bad May

 

Player-Month

At Bats

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

Chris Shelton-A

92

10

20

326

404

783

Shelton-M

91

1

8

286

340

363

Brad Ausmus-A

62

0

7

339

462

387

Ausmus-M

89

0

6

270

327

337

Miguel Tejada-A

102

6

21

422

459

618

Tejada-M

107

8

19

224

300

514

David Ortiz-A

97

10

20

278

391

618

Ortiz-M

98

5

28

255

333

514

 

  • Chris Sheltonís April was even a more obvious fluke than Brian Robertsí 2005 April.The only surprise is that the Tigers have continued to play well despite Sheltonís predictable collapse.

 

  • The most unusual part of Ausmusí April was his .462 OBP and 7/11 K/BB ratio.His May ratio was 17/7, much more in line with his career numbers, and causing all of his averages to slide.

 

  • Yes, Tejadaís average really was 198 points lower in May.He slumped last May as well, only to hit a second wind through June and July, before sinking with the rest of the orioles from August on.Like Cal Ripken before him, shortstops that regularly play 162 games are going to falter as the season wears on.Weíre just noticing it more with Tejada now that he has entered his 30ís.If the Orioles continue to use him every day, woe is the next team that signs this worn down player to a huge contract.

 

  • Davidís April numbers are actually about in line with his actual abilities.Itís interesting to note that Ortiz (and to a lesser extent, Tejada) has lived up to his billing as a money player and continued to drive in runs despite a down month.

 

 

 

Hitters Ė Bad April, Good May

 

Player-Month

At Bats

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

Frank Thomas-A

79

5

11

190

264

405

Thomas-M

71

6

17

268

436

535

Mackowiak-A

35

0

4

143

250

200

Mackowiak-M

64

2

5

344

425

500

Eric Byrnes-A

59

1

5

237

318

373

Byrnes-M

99

8

16

364

406

717

Jose Castillo-A

77

1

6

234

294

312

Castillo-M

101

7

21

366

413

634

 

  • Since the Big Hurt had been hurt each of the past two seasons, itís only natural to have expected him to take a little time to get his swing back.The wait is over.His May numbers are for realÖ but is his clean bill of health?

 

  • Ozzie Guillen has gradually given utility man Rob Mackowiak more and more playing time as nagging injuries to Jermaine Dye, a slow start for Scott Podsednik (OPS: .592-A, .938-M), and season-long slumps to Brian Anderson have warranted.As the playing time has increased, so have the numbers.Now, Ozzie has officially named RoMack as Andersonís platoon partner in center.Caution: Mackowiakís career Pre/Post splits for OPS are .768/.710.Depending on the strength of the platoon, he may be fine, but Robbie just doesnít seem to have the stamina for a 500 AB season.

 

  • Eric Byrnesí splits are misleading.Heís got a 1.110 OPS in baseballís most extreme hitterís park, but itís a mortal .810 on the road.Byrnes played in 8 home games in April, 13 in May.Youíll see similarly disparate home/road splits for most Diamondbacks players, but Byrnes was a role player in April, and had the misfortune of starting in predominately road games.

 

  • Between May 9 and May 31, Castillo has raised his OPS from .566 to .855, and he finished the month with homers in five consecutive games.Iím not buying into this.Castilloís .416 SLG last year was his highest since A-ball in 2002.His walk rate is improving, but Iím going to need to see more than three great weeks to become a Castillo believer.

 

Pitchers Ė Good April, Bad May

 

Pitcher-Month

W-L

IP

K

BB

ERA

Kris Benson-A

3-2

31.1

17

11

3.45

Benson-M

3-2

34.1

16

13

6.03

Erik Bedard-A

4-1

31.2

19

9

3.69

Bedard-M

1-3

38.2

17

17

7.85

Chris Capuano-A

4-2

42

40

9

2.36

Capuano-M

1-2

39

30

9

4.38

Greg Maddux-A

5-0

33.1

24

6

1.35

Maddux-M

1-4

33.1

18

10

7.29

 

  • I donít mean to pick on the Orioles and new pitching coach Leo Mazzone with two Oriole pitchers on this list, but what choice do they leave me?I realize that the Orioles always collapse towards the end of the year, even when theyíre not starting off well to begin with, but isnít this a little early?And isnít this the sort of thing that Mazzone was brought in to prevent?

 

  • Bedard pulled this stunt last year when he came back from his injury.After a stellar April, we thought, ďOK, 2005 pre-injury was for real.Had he not gotten injured, heíd have had an ERA around 3.ĒNow, he just looks like a pitcher that the league can figure out after a few looks.

 

  • C-Cap has finally displayed some command, command which did not diminish in May.When your team gets swept by the Pirates in a four-game series at the end of the month, you know itís been a bad month.The Brewers are just going through a bad spell; Capuano and company will bounce back.

 

  • Saving the most extreme for last.As bad as the rest of the Cubs team is, Iíd prefer to credit Maddux for keeping the Cubs competitive in April rather than blame him for their historically terrible May.Once Lee gets back, it should be Womack and Walker at second base, and thatís not such good news for a groundball pitcher (although honestly, Hairston Jr. and Neifi werenít exactly impressing there).

 

Pitchers Ė Bad April, Good May

 

Pitcher-Month

W-L

IP

K

BB

ERA

Paul Byrd-A

3-2

24.2

14

10

8.03

Byrd-M

1-2

34

18

3

3.18

Miguel Batista-A

2-1

27

24

11

6.33

Batista-M

3-1

40.2

19

16

2.66

Barry Zito-A

1-2

27.1

23

14

2.36

Zito-M

3-1

41

28

20

4.38

Jason Schmidt-A

1-2

34

26

18

4.76

Schmidt-M

4-0

46

35

7

1.17

 

  • Iím working on a theory that extreme control pitchers (Byrd, Lieber, Radke, Silva, Moehler, Towers) tend to be very inconsistent as compared with power pitchers.This makes sense empirically, since if your stuff isnít great, any bouts of leaving pitches over the plate are going to get you plastered.Also, allowing lots of balls in play allows for luck to play a larger role in your starts.It also makes sense statistically; Bill James determined that once a modern starting pitcherís strikeout rate dips below 4.5 per 9 innings, he cannot be consistently successful at the big league level.So when low strikeout pitchers have stretches with fewer strikeouts than average, you get a bad looking month.Of course, Byrdís problem in April was not hat he wasnít striking enough batters out, rather that he was uncharacteristically walking people to add to his always-high hit totals.

 

  • Naturally, Batista pitches better away from Chase Field (3.55/4.85), but that split isnít too extreme for him since heís a ground ball pitcher.But heís not suffering from Eric Byrnes Syndrome, since heís made as many starts at home as he has on the road in May.Rather, heís benefiting from Derek Lowe Syndrome: focusing on getting ground ball outs rather than strikeouts to get hitters out.Donít get me wrong; he still needs to hover at or above the magic 4.5K/9IP in strikeouts, but as you can see, his 8K/9IP in April didnít do much for him. ††

 

  • Zitoís got a career Pre-AS ERA of 3.86, and his Post-AS ERA is eighty points lower.If this yearís an indication that heís going to start turning it on in May rather than July, then look out, AL hitters!

 

  • Schmidt is back.A 5:1 K/BB ratio doesnít lie.San Francisco quietly exercised Schmidtís $10.5 million 2006 option despite his down year in 2005.Hopefully for them, Schmidt will repay Brian Sabean and company with a hometown discount this offseason, because a lot of teams would pay a lot of money for his future services.

 

 

Obviously, Schmidtís not going to pitch at a 1.17 ERA clip for the rest of the year.All of these players are going to perform somewhere between their April rates and their May rates; Iím just doing the best I can to gauge which rate theyíll finish closer to.




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith Glab resides in Chicago, Illinois, and can be reached at keith@baseballevolution.com.




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