Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Too Bad About Pujols, But....

It's very unfortunate that Albert Pujols is now out for up to 6 weeks with a strained oblique, but unlike what the guys on Baseball Tonight were saying, this doesn't exactly mean that there's nothing left to look forward to this season. In fact, there a quite a few stories still worth following, including:

Jim Thome - I said before the season that he would come back to his pre-injury form, but he's setting a pace that would rival, perhaps even eclipse his best years in Cleveland. He's currently batting .295 with a slugging percentage of .661, and a K/BB ratio if 54/43 in 183 ABs. This has translated to 20 HR in 52 games played.

His best season for power production was 2002, when he slugged 52 HR in only 480 ABs. At his pace this year, if he can accrue 550 total ABs, Thome will hit 60 HR. It's not out of the question - the White Sox just passed the 1/3 point, the 54th game. Of course, that also means sustaining his current average, which is over 10 points higher than his career average, but it's certainly within the range of possibilities.

Other surprising sluggers include Alfonso Soriano, who most people (including myself) thought would struggle in a move to RFK, and Ryan Howard (not surprising, perhaps, but still beyond most expectations). Soriano has 20 and Howard has 19, and both have an excellent chance of surpassing 50.

Guys hitting for average

Derek Jeter - Jeter hit for great average in 1999 and 2000, and has been remarkably consistent this year. His defense may be lacking, but this year, his bat has been superb. The only concern in his injured hand, which may have just been reinjured on a HBP.

Alex Rios and Miguel Cabrera - We're not hearing a lot about these guys, especially Cabrera, who is silently having a career year. In fact, if you look at his last three years, his average, OBP and SLG has climbed every year. He is on pace for nearly 70 doubles this year, which would eclipse Earl Webb's 67 in 1931. His pace would easily carry him past Joe Medwick's NL record of 64 in 1936. And Alex Rios has silence doubters by carrying a high average in June with no sign of slowing down.

Ichiro - What do you know? After a bit of a slow start, Ichiro has raised his average about 60 points since May 1, and is now batting .342. 200 hits are within reach (which is never that hard for him since he averages about 700 ABs a season), which would be his sixth straight 200 hit season since coming to the US.

Nomar - I don't want to jinx him, but Nomar finally looks healthy. He is hitting the ball with authority, sporting a .369 average and extremely respectable power numbers. Even more impressive, he has only struck out 5 times in 149 ABs. Along with 15 walks, his 3-1 BB/K ratio is incredible.

Catchers - Joe Mauer, Brian McCann - Before hitting the DL with an ankle sprain, McCann was batting around .350. Mauer is batting .357. We haven't seen a catcher lead the majors in average for a long, long time, and if McCann's injury is not a lingering one, both these players could contend of the batting title (assuming sufficient at bats).


Brandon Webb currently sports a GB/FB ratio of 4.30 - meaning for every 3 fly balls, about 13 are hit on the ground. I believe in a start against Atlanta, he induced 18 grounders and 1 fly. He is riding a 25 innings scoreless streak, and has a perfect 8-0 record.

Meanwhile, Tom Glavine has had one bad outing this year, and has otherwise not allowed more than 3 earned runs in any start. He and Pedro Martinez are performing beyond the Mets' wildest expectations, and could be the 1-2 starting pitching punch that will carry the Mets into the postseason.

Where are you, Larry Walker? Fellow Colorado Rockie and native Canadian Jeff Francis is pitching very effectively, although he isn't getting a whole lot of run support - his 3-5 record includes 2 losses in which he allowed 3 ER or less and 2 no-decisions in which he allowed only 1 ER. His home ERA is .330

So Pujols is out, but there's still plenty of great baseball to watch, and some players who are on pace for career years.


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