BREAKING DOWN: Carlos Quentin
.351-2-10-6-0 in 37 at-bats
The slugger from Chicago has started off so hot that people seem to have forgotten the player who struggled the past two years for the near MVP level performer from 2008. Before we talk about his work this season, let's go through a short history with Quentin.
2006: As a rookie he blasted nine bombs while knocking in 32 runs in just 57 games.
2007: He really struggled in his second season. Though he accrued 66 more at-bats than his rookie season he hit only five homers, plated just 31 runners and hit a meager .214.
2008: In his first year with the White Sox he did his best David Ortiz impersonation hitting 36 homers, knocking in 100 runners and scoring 96 times in just 130 games. In fact, many were touting him for league MVP honors until he broke his hand punching his bat out of frustration, which cost him all but one game in September.
2009: Working his way back from the injury and picking up other maladies over the course of the year, Quentin appeared in just 99 games, though he still hit 21 homers. Alas, his average fell from .288 down to a poor .236.
2010: He was healthier, racking up 453 at-bats, but his line of .243-26-87 didn't stand out in any way.
So, the question is, has Quentin failed to match his 2008 effort because of injury, or is he simply not that good a hitter?
(1) Quentin has major power. With 99 homers in his career, a season of 500 at-bats would result in an average of 29 homers. Alas, he has never had 500 at-bats in a season.
(2) Though he produces homers, he doesn't strike out much at all. In fact, his 17.9 percent career K mark is roughly half of a guy like Mark Reynolds (38.6). As a result, Quentin's BB/K mark has been at least 0.60 in each of the past three years (the big league average is about 0.50).
(3) Though he doesn't swing and miss often, he also doesn't produce many hits. In his career Quentin owns a mere .253 career batting average. Surprisingly, in his five previous seasons, Quentin has hit better than .253 just one time. His average isn't likely to climb much either given that his career BABIP mark is just .254. Certainly he blasts plenty of homers to offset that mark, but at the same time that's an extremely poor hit rate, which when coupled with his deficient line drive rate (15.4) and large fly ball mark (45.2 percent), signals that this guy simply doesn't possesses the skills to be anything other than a league average bat in terms of batting average - in a best case scenario.
So here is what we have with Quentin. Despite his hot start, there is little reason to expect him to hit better than his career mark in the batting average category. He's also not going to help you at all on the bases with 15 career thefts. The homers and RBIs will be there - when he is on the field. Considering that he's never appeared in 135 games or had more than 480 at-bats, it's far from certain that he will be able to play long enough to produce the numbers that he could given a full season of at-bats.
Be careful with Quentin. He might have another 2008 type effort, but the odds would seem to indicate that his chances of reaching that level again are pretty low.
BREAKING DOWN: Alexi Ogando
2-0, 0.00 ERA, 8 Ks, 0.54 WHIP in 13 innings
Everyone is running to the waiver-wire to add Ogando, and honestly, I don't think two hours go by where I don't get a question about the Rangers hurler. So what should you do with this hard throwing righty?
First off, if you don't know his history and are wondering why he's already 27 years old and just getting a chance, read Alexi Ogando Rewards Patient Rangers. I'm not making this up - he was busted for a mail order bride type scheme that delayed his ability to play baseball in America. For that reason alone I like the guy (admit it - you've thought of ordering a beautiful foreign lady to be your companion after striking out on Saturday night for the umpteenth time at the bar).
The next positive development for Ogando was that the Rangers thought it would be best to leave Neftali Feliz in the closer’s role, which meant there was an opening in the starting rotation after Tommy Hunter got hurt. The Rangers said they would throw Ogando into that role, but that their intention was to move him back into an 8th inning setup role where his heat was a great factor in his successful first season (3.05 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.42 K/9 in 41.2 innings). The Rangers, liking what they've seen from Ogando, seem intent to allow him to continue to operate out of the rotation this year until his performance dictates that he shouldn't be one of their five starters. This could change when Hunter is healthy, but at this point Ogando has given himself a great shot to remain starting games instead of helping to finish them.
While he's likely to have more fantasy value as a starter versus pitching out of a setup role, there are some issues with his ability to remain an elite performer with the extra workload. A converted outfielder who didn't pitch in the States until last season, Ogando has less than 100 professional innings under his belt. How will he be able to hold up to the innings, and the heat, in Texas?
So far this season his average fastball is down a couple of miles an hour, though 94 mph is still bringing it. However, he's been unable to put batters away as easily this year. Last year he produced nearly a K per inning, while this year that number is down to 5.54. Obviously this is a miniscule sample size, and even his career numbers (54.2) can't paint a complete picture. What we do know is, based on this tiny sample size, is that his line drive rate (19.9 percent) and GB/FB ratio (1.02) are around league average. He is also better than average performer in K/9 (7.74) and K/BB (2.47). Given his line drive rate, it's pretty hard to envision him being able to continue to post a BABIP of .224.
Ogando is a risk for multiple reasons. (1) He pitches in Texas, a good park for hitters. (2) There is still a chance that he could be moved back to the bullpen. (3) We just don't have much of a track record with the converted outfielder. He certainly has a great arm, the stuff is top notch, but his ability to put hitters away is an issue that we'll have to continue to evaluate each time he takes the hill. Taking a shot on the righty is perfectly acceptable in pretty much any format, but don't go putting all your eggs in one basket with him.
WHO AM I?
Since the start of the 2008 season I've thrown 642 innings, the 14th highest total in baseball.
Since the start of the 2008 season I've struck out 589 batters, the ninth best total in baseball and ahead of guys like Jered Weaver (586), Cole Hamels (586) and Ubaldo Jimenez (585).
Since the start of the 2008 season I have a K/9 mark of 8.26, the 16th best mark in the game ahead of guys like Felix Hernandez (8.11), C.C. Sabathia (8.06) and Roy Halladay (7.77).
Since the start of the 2008 season I've won 44 games, which is tied with Dan Haren for the 11th best mark in the game.
Since the start of the 2008 season I've posted an ERA of 3.57 which placed me one hundredth out of the top-20 (minimum 480 innings pitched).
From 2008-10 my average season produced a pitching line of 14 wins, a 3.49 ERA, 189 Ks, a 1.28 WHIP and 207.1 innings pitched.
Despite all these accomplishments I'd venture my substantial salary that there wasn't a single draft league this year in which I was taken ahead of Weaver, Hamels, Jimenez, Hernandez, Sabathia, Halladay or Haren.
Who am I?
BY THE NUMBERS
.282: The current batting average for David Ortiz. When compared to his career average of .281, there is no difference seen in his early season work. However, when compared to his last couple of April's he is totally out of his mind right now. In 2010 he hit .143 in April, in 2009 he hit .230 and in 2008 he hit .198. In fact, over the duration of his career April has been his worst month as he has hit a mere .257.
.625: The batting average of Prince Fielder when he's been put into a two strike count as he has gone 10-for-16. Obviously that is a remarkable total that he has no chance of continuing for much longer, but it's still amazing to see (last year he hit .182 in 2-strike situations). In his at-bats this year that ended with zero or one strike he is batting just .211.
2: The number of career homers hit by Sam Fuld of the Rays. It also happens to be the number of steals that he produced in his first 98 games at the big league level. So ask yourself this, does he figure to keep stealing bases at this rate (he has five in eight games)? If you removed his three steals outing on April 7th that would give him our magic number yet again - two.
13: The AL leading walk total of Kevin Youkilis, the Greek God of Walks. Over in the NL we have a surprise leader in Johnny Gomes. The Reds' outfielder has 12 walks on the young season, in just 12 games mind you, but there is more that makes this total stand out. First, Gomes didn't pick up his 12th walk last season until May 28th, and on the year he walked a mere 39 times in 148 games. Think his current rate will continue? Uh, probably not. His current walk rate of 30.8 percent is only three times his career rate of 9.5 percent.
21: That's the number of strikeout that Justin Verlander has produced through three starts (23 innings). It's also the number of hits allowed by Luke Hochevar in 18.2 innings. It also happens to be the number of consecutive seasons that Jim Thome has hit a home run. With 590 career homers, Thome is 8th all-time. Thome is also pretty darn high on the career leader board for OBP (.404, 49th) and SLG (.559, 20th) and walks (1,681, 8th), not to mention strikeouts where he is second all-time with 2,402. Will he catch Reggie Jackson who leads at 2,597? Probably not.
I'm the Cubs' Ryan Dempster.
Dempster has started the year out slowly with a 6.30 ERA and 1.45 WHIP through three starts, but on the plus side he does have 22 Ks in 21 innings. He'll be fine by the time the season is over, his recent history proves that, and he figures to once again produce a strong return on investment compares to his draft day cost.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 211 and XM 147. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.