Finally, we are back to real baseball this week. The last four days without meaningful baseball have been painful to get through, even with a travel schedule that had me flying into Omaha and driving to Des Moines. Tip: I-80 has NOTHING for decent food between those two cities unless you are a fan of the golden arches or the Jared meal plan. It is a pretty drive and I did get to stop into the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, Iowa on the way home which was worth the $5 admission to walk around and see some nice history about the Heater from Van Meter for 45 minutes.
Since we have just one afternoon game, let's play one of my favorite games: Who Am I? Sometimes, we cannot help but invoke a little name bias with players and think they are doing better or worse than they actually are based on their names. I will list some stats for the players and you guess the player.
Player 1: Over the last month, I have a triple slash line of .150/.179/.204. I am striking out nearly six times for every one time I walk. As frustrating as I might be right now, it is tough to up and cut me because I have hit 42 home runs since the start of the 2011 season while driving in 113 runs and have hit at least 24 home runs in three different seasons of my career dating back to 2005. I turn 30 next month and while I am not doing too well, my team would be in the post-season if the season ended today. Who Am I?
Player 2: I lead all of baseball in strikeouts over the last month as I have struck out in 44 percent of my plate appearances during that time. Even Adam Dunn has to stand back and admire my work while we were both in Kansas City this week at the All-Star Game. On the season, I have just three more walks than I do extra-base hits, but I am hitting .286/.364/.519 on the season and my runs total and my runs driven in totals are higher than my walk total to date. Who Am I?
Player 3: In the past 30 days, I am just one of 16 players who have more walks than strikeouts. This is a pretty big deal considering I have never had more walks than strikeouts in any season. My current batting average is 22 points higher than last season's average, which was 22 points better than 2010's average. Despite the walks lately, my OBP is nearly identical to last season and I am hitting for less power than last season. I am just three steals shy of equaling last season's stolen base total in 32 less games played and need to drive in just five more runs to eclipse last season's RBI total form 114 games played. Who Am I?
Player 4: On the season, I am hitting .249/.328/.443 with just 26 extra-base hits in 287 plate appearances. Over the last month, I am hitting .318/.372/.671 with 16 of my 26 extra-base hits and I have a higher ISO in that time than Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Mark Trumbo, and even Trevor Plouffe. I'm striking out just 13 percent of the time which is an improvement over my career rate of 18 percent. Who Am I?
Player 5: I am hitting just .239/.307/.293 over the last month and have struck out 17 percent of the time while walking just eight percent of the time. This is not bad luck as I have a .293 BABIP but I simply do not make a lot of hard contact. Why would you want me? Well, I have 16 stolen bases in my last 24 games which is better than anyone in major league baseball. If it were not for Billy Hamilton swiping 35 bases in his last 24 games, I would be the speed demon of organized baseball. Who Am I?
Player 6: Dan Uggla and I have the two lowest BABIPs in baseball in the past 30 days. He is at .157 and I am at .170. While there is just a 13 point difference between us in that metric, I have a .648 OPS while he has a .481 OPS as I have still managed to hit six home runs, score 13 runs, and drive in 14 while in this rut. I should bounce back and given the position I play, I do have a lot of value this season despite being snubbed for the All-Star Game. Who Am I?
Player 7: Over the last month, I'm 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 33 innings as well as a 1.00 WHIP. On the season, I have eight wins, a 4.72 ERA, plenty of strikeouts, but a 1.39 WHIP as I have allowed more hits than innings pitched that has offset my 3.7 strikeout to walk rate. How hard is that to do? In the history of baseball, the highest WHIP for any pitcher with a K/9 of at least 9.0 in a full season and a K/BB of 3.7 as I have now is 1.254 and that belonged to Ricky Nolasco in 2009. Which guy will I be the rest of the season and Who Am I?
Player 8: I have eight wins and a 4.07 ERA on the season for a team that is not doing so well. I even have a career high strikeout rate so far this season along with a career low walk rate and a very fortunate .248 BABIP. Should you pick me up? Before you do, consider that I have allowed 11 home runs in my last six starts but has struck out 28 while walking 10 and that has somehow allowed me to keep my ERA below 5.00 in this charitable run. If you do pick me up, just make sure you start me only at home where I have allowed just six of my 23 home runs this season. Who Am I?
Player 9: No pitcher in baseball has given up more hits than I have over their last six starts. In fact, I have given up ten more hits than Ricky Romero has and everyone knows how bad he is lately. I am still striking out four batters for every one that I walk and have allowed just four home runs in my last 40.2 innings of work but 54 hits has led to 22 runs, 18 of which were earned. Despite the ugly WHIP and bad run support, I have still managed to win two of my last six starts and have an ERA under 4.00 during that time. Who Am I?
Player 10: I have the second-highest BABIP for starters over the last month at .386. I have stranded just 62 percent of my runners and have an ERA of 6.06 during that run with just one win in five starts. Awful, right? I still have a 8.8 K/9IP and a 2.5 BB/9IP in that run and a FIP of 3.13 but my season-long malaise continues. I have the strikeouts, and I have the 1.19 WHIP this season, but I am normally a four-category pitcher and not this current two-category mess you see now. Who Am I?
Player 11: On the season, I have three wins, a 5.4 K/9IP, a 3.8 BB/9IP, and a 4.50 ERA in 74 innings. Over the last month, I have the third-highest groundball rate of all starting pitchers, a 7.4 K/9IP, 1.8 BB/9IP, and 3.26 ERA over five starts. I only have one win in that stretch as the run support on my team is not the best, but I am producing quite well for a guy that has spent most of the last four seasons in Triple-A. Who Am I?
Player 12: In my last 12 appearances, I have thrown 16.2 innings, allowed just nine hits, one home run, and have struck out 23. I have been a bit generous with the walks as I have walked seven in that run but three of them were intentional walks. This season, I have just 26 hits plus unintentional walks allowed in 36.2 innings while striking out 46 hitters. I'm not in line for saves as that role is being handled quite well by one of my right-handed colleagues but skills like mine are useful in deeper leagues and sometimes opportunities present themselves down the road for situations like mine. Who Am I?