Sunday, 30 May 2010

Who's doing what?

So, we're almost to the 1/3 mark in the MLB season (and well past the 1/3 mark in the minors) so there's a lot to talk about, in terms of statistics. while it's not quite the end of May yet, I'm going to go ahead and fudge that and take a look at the Monthly Positional Prospect Review (MPPR) for the farm system today, but first I'm going to engage in a bunch of totally useless observations on the Major league roster.

Among the hitters, if you did a simple pro-rate, then you get seasons that look like this (counting stats):

Bautista: 34 doubles, 6 triples, 50 HR, 128 RBI, 9 steals
Wells: 57 - 3 - 41 - 114 - 6
Buck: 43 - 0 - 28 - 93 - 0
Gonzalez: 51 - 3 - 35 - 101 - 3
Encarnacion: 20 - 0 - 44 - 112 - 6
Overbay: 33 - 2 - 22 - 76 - 0
Hill: 20 - 0 - 32 - 68 - 4
Lind: 28 - 0 - 22 - 82 - 0

Now, of course, it's insanely unlikely that such pace's continue, and there will be variation all around. For instance, Alex Gonzalez's homer this afternoon was his first since May 8. Coming into today, his OPS for may was .647 and his OPS since April 16 is .696 which is much more what we might expect from him from here on out. Still, he'll quite possibly reach the mid-20's in homers.

Lind, on the other hand, will almost certainly pick up the pace. I still think that the "non-homer" offense will pick up enough to offset the inevitable slacking off of Buck, Gonzo, EE, and to a lesser extent Overbay, Bautista, and Wells. But the Jays have hit 53 homers in May (so far!) and that's an unsustainable pace.

This entry is already going to skew towards massive so I won't take time to break down every Jays hitter but I do want to make a few other quick points: First, Wells may very well stay this good all year. He DOES have the ability to do this well and his longest slump so far this year was only six games.

Second, the ever enigmatic Jose Bautista. It is VERY easy to be a sucker for post-hoc reasoning. Bautista explained in a recent interview about how Cito and Dewayne Murphy "fixed" him by teaching him to start his bat earlier, and that he was able to really apply that after Alex Rios departed and he (Baustista) took over as the full time right fielder. No one in baseball has hit more homers than JB since September 1, 2009 - a span which now totals exactly 1/2 season worth of games. He has a .951 OPS over that span and, most indecipherable, he's doing it by pounding RHP.
I'm loath to "buy in" to the idea that this is the new normal for Bautista, but while I recently predicted he'd cool considerably, I'm warming to the idea that this is quite possibly our Brady Anderson moment. It may very well be that he has a completely off-the-curve year this year. But more importantly, long term, is whether or not the actual "new normal" is good enough that the Jays need to start thinking about a multi-year contract which installs Bautista as the Jays 3B for the next few years (after EE is presumably gone). The new normal doesn't have to be 40+ homers in order for him to be a better offensive option at 3B than will be easily obtained in the next year or two.

It's interesting to note, in passing, that the much maligned Overbay is on pace to match his career high in home runs. The reason it's interesting is that Overbay is being described as being sucky this year at the plate (most of the time he has been) and yet in other years he's maligned for not showing "typical" corner infielder power. I'm thinking we'd all be happy to see the old "get on base" Overbay back. Also, Overbay now has a 1.000 OPS over the last 17 games.

About Encarnacion, I'll simply invoke the sample size caveat. while I DO think he's going to be a valuable hitter this year, and quite possibly our most valuable trade chip in July, I DON'T think he'll remotely threaten 40 homers. Best case I'd guess 30-32 depending on number of at bats.

Finally, I'll note that Hill, even at his worst, still shows the power he had last year, and assert that both he and Lind will step up the pace in a huge way as the season wears on.

Turning to the pitching side of the ledger . . .

Rickey Romero's complete game effort lowered his ERA to 3.14, made hin the third Jays starter to have 5 wins, and installed him as the AL leader in strikeouts (one behind Tim Lincicum for the major league lead);

Shawn Marcum is now 4th in the AL in ERA, and among the league leaders in WHIP and some other catagories as well;

Brett Cecil has a 1.66 ERA over his last three starts, and a 2.45 ERA in all games beside that unfortunate 2 innings in Texas.

To engage in a bit of homerism, I have a lot more faith that those three will be almost that good throughout the season. It's still unclear, however, when or if Morrow is going to harness his stuff, and whether Jesse Litsch (or someone) can step in to the other spot and be effective. We have the makings of a rotation as good as Tampa's if we can pull together the 4 and 5 spots.

There's little to say about the bullpen, except to speculate that Josh Roenicke will be the guy who's dropped for Brian Tallet. Did I mention that the Jays are going to give that Tuesday start to Tallet?

Looking ahead, I'll repeat what every other observer has said about the Jays' June - YIKES! 33 of the 37 games between now and the All-Star break are against good to very good teams. I'm already going to prepare myself mentally for the potential that the Jays might be back around .500 by the break (12 out of 16 out of the break are easy opponents too, btw) but if they play even .500 ball over this stretch they'll announce their presence with authority.

For the sake of length, I'll separate the major league discussion from the MPPR, which will be up shortly.

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