Archive for May 2010
Here are the current NL West standings:
I had predicted Colorado, LA, Arizona, San Francisco, and San Diego, so kind of upside-down. But why?
The Padres have had a middle-of-the-pack offense but currently rank 3rd in ERA. Guys like Scott Hairston, Yorvit Torrealba, Chase Headley, and Will Venable are tearing the cover off the ball. Most are drawing their fair share of walks (save Headley) and not striking out too much (save Hairston and Venable). Their pitching staff looks like the 1993 Braves, as the relievers are striking out a hitter an inning while giving up very few home runs and walks; everyone but Sean Gallagher has pitched well. The starters are also pitching alright; Mat Latos has been victimized by walks and home runs and Jon Garland has walked too many hitters but gotten away with it. Wade LeBlanc doesn’t give up hits with runners on base (95.5% strand rate) and has yet to give up a home run; these two numbers are not sustainable. Overall, I think the continuing of the Padre hitters to exceed expectations is more important for them, but if their pitchers simply walked fewer hitters, they’d be a lot better off, particularly is a ballpark as forgiving as Petco Park. I’m very surprised the Padres have gotten off to this kind of start; if the hitters continue to hit like they did in April, they could be frisky come August and September. I still don’t think they are contenders though.
I would talk a lot about the Giants, but it’s the same story we’ve heard for years. Their pitchers strike out the fourth-most hitters and have given up the second-fewest home runs; with Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez pitching so well, opposing teams have to face 4 legitimate starters with good stuff. As good as they’ve been, they aren’t this good. The starters have a 0.193 batting average against, deflated thanks to a 0.246 BABIP. The team has stranded almost 79 percent of baserunners. They’ve gotten hot starts from half of their regulars, some of whom (Schierholtz, Molina, Renteria) simply cannot sustain it (apologies to Harry in the Haight).
The Dodgers have hit well but have been unlucky with respect to stranding runners, but their pitchers are walking too many hitters, partly because some of them (Padilla, Ortiz) suck. The Diamondbacks have scored a ton of runs but their starters have been bad and their bullpen is a disaster. By contrast, the Rockies bullpen has been awesome, hitters have been pretty good, and the starting rotation (outside of Ubaldo Jiminez – seriously, look at these stupid numbers) has been awful, walking almost as many batters as they strike out. Yesterday, Jhoulys Chacin took a spot in the rotation (in place of either Jason Hammel or Jorge de la Rosa) and proved why he’s been top-rated prospects for a couple of seasons. I still like the Rockies, because the starting pitching can’t get much worse, but this division is more wide-open than I thought it would be.
The American League standings look fairly normal to this point; the Rays and Yankees are good, the Twins are going to win the AL Central (though Detroit is frisky), and the AL West is a mess. Boston struggling out of the gate is a surprise, as they’ve had a middle-of-the-pack offense and bad pitching and, as a result, are 11-14 right now. The National League Central looks about right also, with the Cardinals establishing themselves as the class of the division. In the NL East and West, things look funny; this post (and the next) is an attempt to figure why and whether it can be sustained.
Here are the current NL East standings:
As seen above, the Mets are giving up only 3.46 runs per game. They are 3rd in strikeouts per nine innings, last in walks per nine innings, and give up the second fewest home runs per nine innings. They are stranding 78% of runners that reach base; as a result, they are currently 3rd in ERA. The starters have pitched well; only John Maine has given up more than one home run, but they are walking at least 3 hitters per nine innings. Oliver Perez’s K/BB ratio is bad news, and the top three strand rates are too high to sustain. The rates for the bullpen pretty much mirror the rotation’s.
The only other thought I had was that maybe their defense has been really good so far. The starters have only given up three unearned runs in a month, which is pretty good. UZR is unreliable in small sample sizes, but it doesn’t appear that is the reason for the excellent run prevention. They do have some good defenders, but overall, I would expect more runs to start beings scored against the Mets. They’ve also had the benefit of a schedule that wasn’t full of juggernauts.
Washington has also been pretty good, but their pitchers have been bad and their hitters have been average and it has mostly been luck. The Braves on the other hand have had fairly good pitching but have hit with toothpicks for the first month. Jason Heyward has been their best hitter, and Martin Prado is the only hitter worth nothing right now. They are striking out far too much and not hitting for any power. Given their issues, they are only 3 behind Philadelphia; however, we’re a month in and the Atlanta bats are not getting it done.
Part 2 about the NL West is coming soon…