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 …
HR 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 Sinins‘ Sunday 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.