AN UNSEEN SOLID EFFORT
Chase Utley appeared in 115 games in 2010, then 103 last year, and he'll see that number shrink yet again this year as he's appeared in 74 games for the Phillies. I got news for you folks. When the guys body allows, he is still a mighty productive hitter. If we double his work this season to 148 games played, how many of you are aware than we would be talking about a guy damn near going 20/20? Utley has 11 homers and nine steals on the season. Are you aware that he'd also be an 80-80 guy since he has 41 RBIs and 42 runs scored? What about the fact that he's hitting .293 with 15 RBIs, 14 runs scored an a .417 OBP in the month of September? You can't draft Utley next year expecting a 20-80-80-20 season of course, but the fact of the matter is that he's certainly done enough to engender at least a modicum of excitement heading into 2013.
Just read a story from ESPN New York, and boy are the Mets in some trouble. Jason Bay is hitting .155 with eight homers in 187 at-bats this season. His fall from impressive middle of the order hitter to glorified 4th outfielder has been astoundingly quick. He is owed $19 million next year. Yikes. Don't worry though, that's not the biggest outlay of cash that the Mets will be making next year. Johan Santana is due over $25 million next year and there is also a 2014 buyout, which will be exercised, meaning the Mets will owe Santana $31 million over the next year. Considering that Santana ended the year with one of the worst runs of pitching we have ever seen, at least six earned runs in each of his last five outings, the Mets are in a giant stink hole. That's $50 million for Bay and Santana for the 2013 season. And you thought the $21 million the Angels were paying Vernon Wells was crazy. Well, maybe the Angels are still crazy as he's hit only .233 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs through 236 at-bats this season.
PAST THREE CALENDAR YEARS
Over the past three calendar years, here are some pitching facts that I found interesting when I was perusing the data.
Innings: Justin Verlander (722.1), Felix Hernandez (718.1), James Shields (680).
Not a big surprise there, though some may not have penned Shields for third on the list.
K/9: Tim Lincecum (9.42), Clayton Kershaw (9.35), Yovani Gallardo (9.24), Max Scherzer (9.20)
These are the only men in the game with a K/IP that have thrown at least 480 innings. So much for Lincecum being a total waste. I know you're wondering where Justin Verlander is. He's just off the list at 8.88 which just so happens to match the total of the one and only Bud Norris.
ERA: Clayton Kershaw (2.59), Jered Weaver (2.69), Roy Halladay (2.80)
What I found so interesting looking at the list is that Cliff Lee, who has a 2.98 ERA, has a mere 35-27 record thanks to woeful run support. Only one other hurler in baseball has an ERA in the 2's while winning less than 40 games, and that is R.A. Dickey who is at 2.93 and 38 wins. At the other end of things, the rear end if you will, there is only one man in baseball who has thrown at least 480-innings while posting an ERA over five, the Royals' Luke Hochevar at 5.17. Why the Royals keep giving him the ball every five games only they know.
WHIP: Jered Weaver (1.03), Justin Verlander (1.04), Cliff Lee/Clayton Kershaw (1.06)
Again we see Mr. Lee as a dominating arm who isn't getting it done in the W-L column. It's also worth noting that one hurler has a WHIP of over 1.50. No it's not Hochevar again, his mark is 1.37, it's the man who has the second worst ERA in baseball and that would be Derek Lowe who is saddling his employers with a 1.51 WHIP and 4.76 ERA over the past three calendar years.
BY THE NUMBERS
.392: The second half OBP of Carlos Santana, the 6th best mark in the AL. The leader is Prince Fielder at .446, but the second place guy is one you will never guess. He's another catcher, and no it's not Joe Mauer who is 3rd at .414. The #2 is Seattle's very own John Jaso. Back to Santana, he has reached base in seven of his last eight plate appearances. Santana is killing it in the second half hitting .296 with 13 homers, 45 RBIs an a .929 OPS. That's what we were all expecting when we made Santana a top-3 draft selection at the catcher's position this year.
.397: The Twins leader in batting average in the month of September. As expected it belongs to Joe Mauer. However, it's what is going on behind Mauer that is so exciting. Here are the batting averages of four others who are having an impressive run to finish the season: Alex Casilla (.393), Jamey Carroll (.377), Chris Parmelee (.313) and Denard Span (.313).
2: The number of players in the history of baseball to go 30 games to start the year without a homer only to get hot and then finish the season with 30 homers. The first was Dwight Evans in 1982. The other? How about Alfonso Soriano who has hit 31 homers since May 15th. As of this moment he has 31 homers and 105 RBIs making him only the second player in baseball to reach both levels (Ryan Braun has 40 homers and 108 RBIs).
6: The number of players in White Sox history who have gone deep 40 times in a season after Adam Dunn hit two homers to give him 41 on the season (the team record is 49 by Albert Belle in 1998). Dunn has now recorded 40 homers in a season six times tying him with Jim Thome and Albert Pujols for the second highest total among active players (Alex Rodriguez is first with eight such efforts). Dunn, who needs one homer to tie Duke Snider for 48th all-time with 407 homers, went deep 11 times last season making this year's effort one remarkable comeback. Dunn is also on the cusp of being just the second player in baseball history to lead the majors in homers, walks and strike outs (the other is Babe Ruth who did it three times 1923-24 and 1927). He may not get there as his total of 41 homers is one behind Miguel Cabrera and two behind Josh Hamilton. He does lead the majors with 100 walks and 207 Ks, the worst total of his strikeout filled career.
36: The highest homer total allowed by any hurler in the game, and it belongs to Ervin Santana. I'm not making light of what is an absolutely hideous total from Ervin, but has anyone noticed that Tommy Hunter has allowed 32 homers? Why does that mean so much? Hunter has thrown 44.2 fewer innings than Santana (130.2). No other pitcher in baseball, who has thrown 135 or fewer innings, has allowed more than 23 homers (Jason Marquis, Nick Blackburn and Phil Humber).
50: The amount of doubles hit this year by Aramis Ramirez, the second most in Brewers history behind the total of 53 hit by Lyle Overbay in 2004. Ramirez has also posted his 9th season of 90 RBIs and his 10th year with 25 homers. He's also hitting .327 over his last 103 games to push his season long average to the cusp of .300 at .298. Oh yeah, his total of 50 doubles leads baseball and his total of 77 extra base hits leads the NL (Miguel Cabrera has 82 extra base hits to lead the majors).
71: The number of RBIs that Ryan Zimmerman has in his last 81 games, a pace that would lead to, you guessed it, over 140 RBIs in a full season of games. On the year he has 93 RBIs, the third best mark of his career (110 is his career best from 2006 and he had 106 in 2009). On the year Ryan has a .286/.353/.483 slash line which is a near identical match for his career marks of .288/.353/.480.
111: The RBI total of Miguel Cabrera over his last 122 games. The slugger has also gone deep 35 times in that stretch while he's hit .347 with a 1.059 OPS. As amazing as that run is, it's really not a hell of a lot better than his overall marks this season. On the year Cabrera is hitting .331 to lead the AL. He's gone deep 42 times, one behind Josh Hamilton. He's driven in 133 runs, the most in baseball. He also has a 1.007 OPS, the best mark in baseball. He's just damn good. Can he win the Triple Crown? Will he or Mike Trout win the AL MVP award? It will be one interesting race to the finish line.
30/31: The steal and double totals of Alcides Escobar of the Royals. There are only four players in baseball who have hit this “30/30” effort – Jimmy Rollins, Jose Altuve and Jose Reyes. Escobar is also hitting .293 on the year in what has been a pretty impressive under-the-radar season.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9 PM EDT. Ray's analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.