Wrapping Up the Weekend

So much happened since last we talked …

  • The National League Rookie of the Year race is heating up between Khalil Greene and Jason Bay. When I last checked up on the top rookies, Kaz Matsui, despite having a somewhat disappointing season, was leading all position players in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) and Ryan Madson was the top rookie pitcher in the NL. Since then, they’ve both gone on the disabled list and Greene and Bay have continued to play well, moving ahead of the rest of the pack.

    Bay went 2-for-3 on Saturday, scoring two runs, driving in two runs, and hitting his 20th homer of the year off Matt Morris. His rate stats (.304/.375/.587) are excellent and, despite missing 40 of Pittsburgh’s games with injuries, his production numbers are nearly identical to Greene’s. Greene, who got hits on Friday and Saturday and smacked his 11th homer of the year off Joey Eischen on Sunday, is at .272/.350/.424 on the year, with 54 RBIs and 58 runs scored. Bay, despite playing in 33 fewer games, has 60 RBIs and 46 runs scored.

    There’s no doubt that Bay, when healthy, has been the better player, but I treat the Rookie of the Year just like the MVP, in that it should go to the most valuable rookie, not necessarily the most impressive in a smaller amount of playing time. When you look at it that way, Bay and Greene are amazingly close …

                VORP     WS     WSAA
    Greene      29.1     17       4
    Bay         29.1     13       4

    They have identical VORP totals and identical Wins Shares Above Average (WSAA) totals, while Greene holds an edge in raw Win Shares (WS). For a while it was looking like the NL Rookie of the Year crop was a sub par one, but I think both Greene and Bay are solid candidates. This race should go down to the wire, although I suspect Greene is the favorite, if for no other reason than I’ve rarely heard Bay mentioned anywhere by the mainstream media, while Greene’s highlights are running on ESPN nearly as often as World Series of Poker reruns.

  • Ruben Sierra hit a grand slam in New York’s 18-6 blowout win over the Blue Jays on Saturday, his 300th career home run. Once upon a time, the idea that Sierra would reach 300 career homers would not have been a surprising one, but considering how his career has turned out, it was a bit of surprise to me.

    Sierra hit 16 homers in 113 games as a 20-year-old in 1986 and then followed that up with 30 homers as a 21-year-old in 1987. Through the age of 25, he had 139 homers, and he hit his 200th career homer as a 28-year-old in 1994. Then it looked like he had no chance at 300 when he struggled throughout the mid-to-late 1990s, even missing the entire 1999 season, but he’s made a nice comeback as a role player with the Rangers, Mariners and Yankees over the past 4-5 years.

    And, believe it or not, Sierra is now one of the leading home run hitters among switch-hitters in baseball history …

    Mickey Mantle               536   
    Eddie Murray                504   
    Chili Davis                 350   
    Reggie Smith                314
    Chipper Jones               305
    RUBEN SIERRA                300
    Bobby Bonilla               287
    Ted Simmons                 248   
    Ken Singleton               246   
    Mickey Tettleton            245

    More than anything, I think what that list shows is just how few great power-hitting switch-hitters there have been throughout baseball history. Oh, and Reggie Smith is really underrated.

  • I wrote about Adrian Beltre‘s breakout season last Thursday and he responded by going 5-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs against the Mets on Saturday and 1-for-3 with an RBI double on Sunday, upping his season totals to .342/.389/.658.

    Beltre is quickly moving up the all-time home run leaderboard for third basemen …

                             YEAR       HR
    Harmon Killebrew         1969       49   
    Mike Schmidt             1980       48   
    Troy Glaus               2000       47   
    Eddie Mathews            1953       47   
    Eddie Mathews            1959       46   
    Vinny Castilla           1998       46   
    Chipper Jones            1999       45   
    Mike Schmidt             1979       45   
    Matt Williams            1994       43   
    Al Rosen                 1953       43   
    Harmon Killebrew         1959       42
    ADRIAN BELTRE            2004       42

    If he continues at his current pace, he’ll shatter Harmon Killebrew‘s record of 49 in 1969 with about a week to spare in the season. He’s also near the top of the all-time OPS rankings for third basemen …

                             YEAR      OPS
    George Brett             1980    1.118   
    Chipper Jones            1999    1.074   
    Jim Thome                1996    1.062   
    Wade Boggs               1987    1.049   
    ADRIAN BELTRE            2004    1.047
    Al Rosen                 1953    1.034   
    Eddie Mathews            1953    1.033   
    Chipper Jones            2001    1.032   
    Ken Caminiti             1996    1.028   
    Dick Allen               1966    1.027

    Considering the ballpark he plays in and the quality of his defense at third base, I think it’s very possible Beltre is having one of the greatest handful of seasons ever for a third baseman. Of course, Scott Rolen is also having an amazing year, driving in his 111th run of the season on Friday and his 112th on Sunday. Rolen’s run production numbers are better than Beltre’s, but that’s due in large part to his supporting cast, which includes several of the best hitters in baseball.

    Here’s how they compare …

                  G      AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS      GPA     2B     HR     RUN     RBI
    Beltre      125     .342     .389     .658    1.047     .340     26     42      91      98
    Rolen       126     .324     .413     .608    1.021     .338     29     31      97     112

    According to Lee SininsSunday stats report, which was in my mailbox when I woke up Sunday morning, Beltre has been worth 55 Runs Created Above Average (RCAA) so far this year, while Rolen has been worth 53 RCAA. However, the groundswell of support for NL MVP that both Rolen and Beltre have been getting this month is completely ridiculous. Barry Bonds is hitting .368/.607/.822 this season and has been worth 120 RCAA. Yes, 120. That means, strictly on offense, Bonds has been worth as much to his team as Rolen and Beltre, combined. And that was before he went 4-for-6 with two homers and six RBIs against the Braves on Sunday.

    For those of you who are doubting Bonds’ case because of his relatively low run production numbers, consider that he has a total of 192 runs scored and runs batted in, while Beltre has 189 and Rolen has 209. The kicker is that Bonds has used up a grand total of 192 outs while scoring and driving in those 192 runs, while Beltre has used up 324 outs and Rolen has used 310. In other words, in “creating” four more runs scored and runs driven in than Beltre and 17 less than Rolen, Bonds has used up 132 and 118 fewer outs. I urge you to think about that for a minute or two, because it really is quite amazing.

  • I know I’m not supposed to talk about him here anymore, but I just can’t help myself. The Angels came into Saturday’s game against the Twins with a nine-game winning streak during which they averaged 8.6 runs per game, including a 21-run outburst against the Royals on August 25.

    Unfortunately for them, Johan Santana couldn’t care less. Santana was marvelous yet again, twirling his 16th straight Quality Start, allowing just four hits and one run in seven innings. Santana is now 15-6 with a 3.03 ERA on the year, including 13-3 with a 1.84 ERA since the end of May, a span of 127 innings.

    Thus ends today’s Johan Santana Update.

  • Octavio Dotel‘s tenure as Oakland’s closer started off rocky, as he blew his first save opportunity with the team and converted just eight of his first 12 chances. He has turned things around since then, going 2-0 with eight saves in nine chances in his last 11 appearances, with a 12-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Dotel converted back-to-back saves on Friday and Saturday and then blew the save Sunday night, before picking up a win when the A’s scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Tampa Bay 9-6.

    Oakland’s bullpen, which was such a mess early this season, now has a 3.98 ERA on the year, which ranks eighth in the league, right behind the Yankees (3.91). Since the All-Star break, the A’s relievers have been phenomenal, with a combined ERA of 2.46 in 124.1 innings, and those numbers are inflated because of a couple bad outings from 21-year-old rookie Jairo Garcia.

    Here are the ERAs of Oakland’s main core of relievers since the All-Star break …

                          IP      ERA
    Arthur Rhodes        3.0     0.00
    Jim Mecir           10.0     0.00
    Chris Hammond       13.1     0.68
    Ricardo Rincon      11.2     1.42
    Chad Bradford       11.2     2.31
    Justin Duchscherer  27.1     2.63
    Octavio Dotel       24.1     3.33
    TOTAL              101.1     1.95

    Funny how quickly something can go from a major weakness to a major strength.

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