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Daily Graphing – Brad Penny

Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi for Guillermo Mota, Paul LoDuca, and Juan Encarnacion. That trade made two years ago was most likely Paul DePodesta’s defining transaction as GM of the Dodgers. Nobody seemed to like it, arguing LoDuca’s leadership couldn’t be replaced and Mota was the glue holding the bullpen together (Eric Gagne, anyone?) Those in favor of the trade saw a top-notch starter in Penny and a young power-hitter with patience and potential.

The short story is that Penny immediately injured himself and missed the rest of the season, while the Dodgers still managed to win the division. The long story is that Choi never performed up to expectations, Mota’s been a disappointment for the Marlins and Indians, and LoDuca’s still a nice catcher, but his legend status has disappeared. Penny, after an above-average 2005 season where he managed to toss 175 innings amidst injuries, has turned into an early Cy Young candidate in 2006. Paul DePodesta is long gone, but is this the year that his 2004 trade is finally recognized as a plus move for the Dodgers?

Penny’s ERA currently sits at 2.53 in 53.1 innings pitched. That’s an ERA 1.4 runs below his career rate and currently ranks him fourth in the National League. He’s never posted a full-season ERA below 3.00 before, but came close in 2004.

Penny Seasonal ERA

So, let’s see what Penny‘s doing better this season that explains the ERA drop. He’s been consistently average with his strikeout rate over his career and 2006 is no different. Control-wise, he’s walking half a batter more per game this year than last, but the 2.7 BB/9 is in line with his career rate and better than average.

Penny Season K-9 Small Penny Seasonal BB-9 Small

On the other hand, Penny‘s homerun rate has been amazing so far in 2006 — he’s only given up 2 homeruns in 53.1 innings. Keeping the ball in the park has been a strength throughout his career, but he’s actually allowing more fly balls this season than in the past, in addition to fewer groundballs and more line drives. A shift like that in batted ball profile would tend to imply an increase in homeruns, but Penny’s only allowing 3% of fly balls to leave the yard, compared to a career norm of about 9%. Expect that number to rise, and Penny’s ERA along with it.

Penny BIP Profile

A second indicator of a potential rise in ERA is Penny‘s left-on-base rate in 2006. Over his career, 72% of base-runners were left on base, whereas that number is up to 81% this season. That number will likely regress as the season goes on and with it more runners will score.

Penny Seasonal LOB

Penny‘s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) sits at 3.31, significantly higher than his actual ERA. FIP accounts for the high LOB%, but unless Penny continues to be historically stingy with the homeruns, expect his ERA the rest of the season to be at least 3.75. If he can stay healthy enough to pitch 200 innings, however, his 2006 season will still garner a lot of attention, especially if the Dodgers continue to rebound from 2005 and challenge for the division lead.


Daily Graphing – Corey Koskie

I have a soft spot for players like Corey Koskie — guys that are above-average players, but don’t get the recognition they deserve because they don’t do even one thing at All-Star level. Koskie’s highest finish on a league top 10 list was sixth in sacrifice flies in 2003 and he finished 25th in the league in MVP voting in 2001. His lack of a significant weakness has resulted in consistently above-average production. He’s been above average in runs created per game (RC/G) every season since his 11 at-bats in 1998.

Koskie Seasonal RC-G

While Koskie‘s overall performance has been consistent, the profile of his play has taken on a few different personalities. He cranked 25 homeruns in 2001 and 2004, he walked in 14% of his plate appearances in 2000 and 2003, and he’s hit anywhere from .250 to .310. Combine the best individual numbers from across all his seasons and he’s an All-Star, albeit a poor one.

Let’s take a look at what Koskie did in 2001; his best season. He hit 26 homeruns and broke the century mark in both runs and RBI, coming to the plate 649 times, 75 more than in any other year. The power can be explained by his profile as a fly ball hitter in 2001, which was similar to his 2004 season where he hit 25 home runs. In both those seasons his batting average was below his career norms. Fly balls are turned into outs more often than groundballs, and Koskie’s fly balls (blue) also came with a price of fewer line drives (red), which explains the lower average.

Koskie GB-LD-FB

Koskie‘s worst season (2005) saw his fly ball rate fall by 10%, causing his home run total to decrease to 11. He’s had other successful seasons without much power, but in those seasons he saw both a higher line-drive percentage and walk rate. In 2005 he hit a lot of groundballs and both his power and average dipped because of it.

So what kind of player has Koskie been so far in 2006? His on-base percentage (OBP) lies at a career norm of .365, but he’s slugging a career-best .515 thanks to a .286 average and 14 doubles. Looking underneath those numbers though, his 2006 looks a lot like 2005. His batted ball profile is unfortunately very similar to last year, yet his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is up to .341; the highest it’s been since 2003. One of those two figures will change as the season goes on, likely the latter. Most disappointingly, his walk rate (BB%) is at a career low 9%.

Koskie Seasonal BB Rate

An up and coming team like the Brewers should be concentrating on letting their young guys develop, but they also need to fill a few positions with veterans. Acquiring an underrated third baseman like Koskie at a salary below value is a great move. Most teams in Milwaukee’s situation tend to overspend on players such as Tony Batista and Carl Everett. But while Koskie seems to have bumped up his performance from last year, his profile hasn’t changed much except for a decrease in walks.

I expect his walk-rate to become more in line with his career performance, but the batting average and doubles power will likely come down from their current levels. I’ll still be rooting for Koskie, but it seems like his days as an above-average player may be over.


Daily Graphing – Twins’ Perfect Storm

By now everyone’s heard that Francisco Liriano has joined Minnesota‘s rotation and will start Friday in place of Carlos Silva. Liriano has one of the highest ceilings of any pitching prospect and has shown that so far in 2006 he’s ready to live up to the hype. While Silva has been disastrous this year, the same can also be said for two other Twins’ pitchers: Brad Radke and Kyle Lohse. Which of these three starters really deserves to be banished from the rotation?

Radke is the only one of the three whose ERA fits on the graph below, and it’s still over 7.00. Over the past few years Silva has the best track-record, with Radke about league-average and Lohse slightly worse than that. Based on past ERA and age, Silva looks like the best bet to lower his ERA.

Twins 3P - Seasonal ERA

If we dig deeper, however, that’s not really the case. Silva has been walking a fine line for the past few years, striking out an amazingly low 3.4 hitters per 9 innings in both 2004 and 2005. In fact, all three pitchers struggle to accumulate free outs, and except for Lohse’s 2006 data point, all three are riding downward trends.

Twins 3P - Seasonal K-9

The other thing a pitcher has direct control over other than strikeouts is walks. Silva‘s success in 2005 can be attributed to a historically low .43 BB/9; he walked only 9 batters in 188 innings! Radke is also considered a control specialist, and Lohse is above average as well. Is it any surprise that all three pitchers have seen an increase in their walk-rates this season?

Twins 3P - Seasonal BB-9

You’ve seen the bad. Here comes the ugly. None of these three pitchers allowed homeruns at a better than average rate in 2005, but they might as well let opposing batters hit off a tee this year. Lohse is the only one of the three whose data point appears on the graph. He’s giving up about 1.5 HR/9 which still falls into the poor category. Radke is allowing 2.3 HR/9, and Silva deserves a trophy for his 2.9 HR/9 rate — that’s 15 homeruns in 46 innings.

Twins 3P - Seasonal HR-9

Homeruns are a function of allowing fly balls, so there might be hope for any of these pitchers if their batted-ball profiles are in line with previous seasons. In other words, perhaps hitters are just getting lucky this year. That might be true for Radke, as his fly ball rate is actually lower than at any point over the past five years. Lohse is allowing more fly balls than last year, but it’s not out of line with his previous three seasons. Silva, on the other hand, has suddenly become a fly ball pitcher, not a good idea for somebody who encourages hitters to get wood on the ball.

One last important aspect of pitching performance is actually a measure of the fielders behind the pitcher — allowing hits on balls in play. Considering that all three of our subjects allow a lot of balls in play, good fielding is critical for success. In 2006, the Twins have been the worst fielding team in the majors. Sure, they haven’t committed many errors, but that’s because, other than Torii Hunter, they don’t have the range to get to many balls.

Defensive Efficiency Ratio (DER) is the percentage of balls in play that get turned into outs. The Twins DER this season is .651 against a league average of about .700. The Tigers have the highest DER at .737. From a batter’s perspective, that’s the difference between hitting .267 and .349.
Twins 3P - Seasonal BABIP

Compared to the rest of their careers, Carlos Silva, Brad Radke, and Kyle Lohse are all allowing more walks and more homeruns, they’re striking out fewer batters, and the Twins defense is letting a huge percentage of balls in play go for hits. It’s the perfect storm of pitching. I agree with the assessment that Silva needs a break from the rotation and while he probably won’t help the bullpen one bit, he needs to figure out how to ease his K/BB back towards his career level and reduce his fly ball rate.

Lohse may actually be the best of the three options right now, and could bring his ERA below 5.00 if he lowers his walk-rate. Radke’s ERA should fall as well, especially if his current homerun rate really is a fluke. But let’s not kid ourselves, the most positive news from this whole discussion is the fact that Francisco Liriano is now in the rotation. How long will it be before we see Boof Bonser (2.01 ERA in 49.1 IP) called up?


Daily Graphing – Derek Lowe

With all the injuries suffered by the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s been the starting trio of Brad Penny, Brett Tomko, and Derek Lowe that’s kept their record at .500. Lowe’s had an interesting career — he led his league in saves in 2000, won 21 games in 2002 with the Red Sox and also managed to throw the first Fenway park no-hitter in 37 years. Last season, his first year in Los Angeles was deemed successful (3.61 ERA) and in 2006 he’s seen his ERA drop to under 3.00. Can Derek Lowe sustain his current level of success the rest of the season?

Right away, let’s dispel the myth that Lowe’s ERA is a good measure of his value. As David Gassko pointed out, groundball pitchers tend to have a higher percentage of their runs allowed credited as unearned because more errors are made on grounders than fly balls. Lowe just happens to lead the majors in groundball percentage and last year his 24 unearned runs were also the most in the majors. This year he’s allowed 5 unearned runs, with only a handful of pitchers ahead of him.

Lowe GB-LD-FB

What has me worried about Lowe is that his strikeout and walk rates are returning to where they were during his last two years in Boston. In his years as a reliever, he struck out about 8 batters per 9 innings (K/9), but as a starter, he’s never had a K/9 much above 5 except for last year when it was just below 6. This year, it’s dipped to 4.5; a career low.

Lowe Seasonal K-9

Looking at 2002, Lowe‘s best year as a starter, the key to his success (in addition to Rey Sanchez‘s glove) was a low walk-rate of 1.97 per 9 innings (BB/9). When his ERA ballooned into the 5.00′s, his BB/9 also rose to around 3.5. He’s not quite at that level this year, but a walk rate of 2.6 is just too high considering he doesn’t strike anybody out. The last time he had a walk-to-strikeout ratio (K/BB) this low were his final two disastrous seasons in Boston.

Lowe Seasonal K-BB

On the positive side, all those groundballs Lowe induces definitely help him keep the ball in the park. Last year’s rate of 1.14 home runs per 9 innings (HR/9) was way out of line with the rest of his career. A return to about .7 HR/9 this season is impressive and quite reasonable.

Lowe Season HR-9

One of the stranger quirks in Lowe‘s career in Boston was his love of Fenway, a hitter’s park. His ERA at home was always significantly lower than on the road. When he moved to Los Angeles and the pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium, that trend actually reversed itself. For some reason, his ERA last year was slightly worse at home, and the difference has been magnified in 2006. Perhaps the spacious outfield yields more room for line-drives to fall while not helping much with keeping his few fly balls from doing damage.

Lowe H-R ERA Split

Realizing that Lowe was actually a sub-par pitcher in 2005 certainly changes our expectations for 2006. Cutting down on the homeruns should counter his lowered walk-to-strikeout ratio, but it won’t turn him into an All-Star. He may be able to sustain an ERA between 3.50 and 4.00 with his insanely high groundball percentage, but considering the additional unearned runs he’ll allow and the added benefit from pitching in Dodger Stadium (it’s certainly not hurting his value), that’s nothing to write home about.


Daily Graphing – Johnny Gomes

Considering Tampa Bay‘s obsession with young, toolsy players, I assumed when Jonny Gomes was first called up last year that he was of the Joey Gathright, Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli mold. You know, the type of player that puts up a .320/.350/.450 line in their best seasons. When Gomes started yanking balls out of the park last year, I adjusted my mental model to include Shane Spencer and his never-to-be-repeated Roy Hobbs impersonation. However, after spending the off-season reviewing 2005, I realized Jonny Gomes is exactly the antithesis of who I thought he was.

What started to change my mind was Gomes‘ high on-base percentage of .372. He wasn’t just another young call-up hacking away at anything near the strike zone. In his rookie season, he managed to work out a walk more often than the average major league hitter. And while the season’s still young, Gomes has improved on that rate in 2006, up to a stellar 18% of his plate appearances.

Gomes Seasonal BB%

You have to believe his power’s for real. As David pointed out in his roundup of Ryan Howard‘s Rookie of the Year campaign, Gomes is one of only 25 active players to hit at least 20 homeruns his first year in the league. Only a handful of names on the list turned into disappointments. In 2006, he’s destroying last year’s power benchmark, slugging .648 with an isolated power of .360. Yes, .360!

Gomes Seasonal ISO

In addition to hitting for raw power, Gomes has managed to post a batting average in the .280s since the beginning of 2005. If he has a weakness it’s a high propensity to strike out in over one-third of his at-bats. Striking out is detrimental to his batting average, but Gomes makes up for it by crushing the ball when he does make contact, to a tune of a .350 average on balls in play (BABIP) over his career.

Looking at Gomes batted ball data, we can see the cause of both his power and high balls-in-play average. He hits very few groundballs; it’s all fly balls and line-drives. His career line-drive percentage of 27% is absolutely phenomenal, even better than uber-prospect Joe Mauer, who thrives on creating line-drive hits (red). Notice also the extreme difference between the two players’ fly ball (blue) and groundball (green) rates.

Gomes:

Gomes GB-LD-FB

Mauer:

Mauer GB-LD-FB

I’ve learned my lesson — Gomes is no Joey Gaithright, that’s for sure. He’s a patient hitter who destroys the ball when he chooses to swing. While he hasn’t received the hype given to the rest of the Devil Rays‘ prospects, his abilities speak for themselves. Given a conservative estimate of 600 plate appearances this year, Gomes’ 2006 line could look something like this: .288/.421/.648, 49 HRs, 106 BBs, 98 runs, and 117 RBI — for the Devil Rays. At age 25, he looks poised for a long peak of offensive dominance.


Speed Plot – May 12th, 2006

Daily Best

Nick Swisher and Troy Glaus – Both players hit homeruns in consecutive at-bats and now sit tied for second in the AL with 12 homeruns. On the year, Swisher has a higher average, a higher walk-rate, and a higher slugging percentage making him one of the most valuable hitters so far.

Jake Peavy – In a season where offense is through the roof, Peavy’s 13 strikeout performance last night rivals Javier Vazquez‘s perfecto-bid for most exciting pitching performance of the year. Over seven innings he faced 24 batters. Only four reached base and only eight managed to put the ball in play.

Daily Worst

Marlon Byrd – A night with four strikeouts is always impressive, even if it takes six at-bats to do it. Byrd was a hotshot prospect for the Phillies a couple years ago, but he hasn’t figured out major league pitching yet, as evidence by his .378 career slugging percentage

The Nationals’ Bullpen – After the Nationals’ offense scored three runs in the top of the 11th inning, John Rauch, Felix Rodriguez, and Joey Eischen managed to give up four runs and the game while recording only one out.

The 5 Players I Feel Like Writing About

Bronson Arroyo – Arroyo deserves a full column at some point, but I can’t help but mentioning last night’s performance: 8 IP, no runs, 8 strikeouts, and no walks. He would have had his major league-leading sixth win if David Weathers hadn’t blow the ninth-inning lead.

Corey Koskie – Koskie hit a homerun last night, bringing his season line to .295/.362/.516. His on-base percentage is actually just lower than his career line, but he’s slugging at a career best pace. After a few years out of favor with the Twins and Blue Jays, the Brewers seem to have made a great pickup on the cheap.

Jeff Kent – Kent’s 38 years old and it’s starting to show. Not only has his batting average plummeted to .222, but his isolated power has been cut in half since his prime. The Dodgers were counting on another solid season from Kent in order to contend, but it looks like neither will happen.

Mark Loretta – After an awful start to the season, I began to wonder if Kevin Towers knew something about Loretta that the rest of us didn’t. Over his last seven games, however, he has 17 hits to bring his season average up to .280. His batting average on balls in play is still way below his career mark, giving hope for even more improvement.

Matt Lecroy – After Brian Schneider gave up six stolen bases to the Reds the night before, Lecroy managed to hold them to five last night. If Schneider, a decent defensive catcher, struggled to control the Red’s running game, is it really a smart move to let Lecroy, who is not a decent defensive catcher, take a shot at it?


Speed Plot – May 10th, 2006

Daily Best

Justin Morneau — It’s been a horrible year so far for Morneau; the pride of the Twins‘ farm system just two years ago. He’s walking less and striking out more than any previous season, although his isolated power has grown to a fantastic .243 due to a career low groundball to fly ball ratio. Last night he showed off his power potential with two homeruns and six RBIs, tacking on a single for good measure.

Freddy Garcia — A number of pitchers turned in impressive starts last night, but Garcia’s was the longest (8 IP) and he didn’t walk a single batter. Throwing in six strikeouts didn’t hurt, either, raising his K/BB ratio back towards where it’s been the past couple years. The win pushes his record to 5-1, a lucky mark for a pitcher with a 4.37 ERA.

The Worst

Kevin Millwood — This was a no-brainer. Really now, 1.1 IP, 9 hits, 9 ER, and no strikeouts? Millwood was just starting to make his detractors rethink their position that last year’s league-leading ERA wasn’t a fluke. On the bright side, Millwood’s walk and home run rates are near career lows, a great sign for a Texas pitcher. Maybe his fielders should start pulling their weight, as they’re currently allowing hits on 35% of Millwood’s balls in play.

Cory Sullivan — An 0-fer with three strikeouts is bad enough, but making the first out of the inning twice and leaving a couple runners stranded at second in a two-run loss just ups the pain. Two more failed attempted bunts last night makes you wonder if Sullivan’s trying a little too hard to be Alex Sanchez. At least Sanchez would get hits on more than 7.7% of hit bunts.

The 5 Players I Feel Like Writing About

Felix Hernandez — So far he hasn’t lived up to the pre-season hype, but last night’s 7.2 IP, 1 run, 8 strikeout performance was more along the lines of what Mariners‘ fans expect of the future King. What’s prevented his ERA from matching last year’s impressive 2.67 figure? A walk-rate above 3 per nine innings and a reduced GB/FB ratio leading to an ugly 1.4 home runs per nine innings.

Rafael Soriano — Soriano was the other pitcher of note for the Mariners last night (George Sherrill walked a batter on four straight balls.) He threw 1.2 IP and didn’t allow a base runner while striking out one. He finally appears to be healthy and the Mariners are relying heavily (19 IP already in 2006) on his 2.78 ERA. While fantasy owners are trying to predict whether he or J.J. Putz will serve as closer, the Mariners are just counting their blessings that they have two stud relievers available in the late innings. Now about getting them some leads….

Tony Clark — What a difference a year makes. Coming into 2005, Clark’s career was assumed to be over but he somehow slugged .636 in almost 400 plate appearances. The Diamondbacks were hoping for more of the same in 2006, but Clark’s reverted to pre-2005 form. In 55 plate appearances he’s managed only seven hits and one homerun. The Cubs are rumored to be interested in him, but why?

Aaron Heilman — I can understand wanting to break a pitcher into the majors in a long relief role when the rotation is full with decent pitchers, but I can’t fathom why Heilman’s not being moved into the rotation now that the Mets have lost both Brian Bannister and Victor Zambrano. They don’t seriously think Jose Lima is the answer, do they? If the rumors are true about the Mets reconsidering Billy Beane’s dream trade of Lastings Milledge/Heilman for Barry Zito, I will stop trying to find a seat on the Mets’ bandwagon.

Luis Castillo — It’s a great sign for your team when you bat six times in a nine-inning game and it’s an even better sign that the Twins scored 15 runs with their number two hitter making five outs in the same game. Castillo’s up to most of his usual tricks in 2006: hitting above .300, refusing to hit for anything resembling power, and putting the ball on the ground over 60% of the time. Unfortunately, in addition to stealing much less frequently, he’s also decided to revert back to his career-worst walk-rate. Eschewing walks must be part of the Twins’ organizational philosophy.


Daily Graphing – Mike Lowell

Ok, I’ll admit it. I thought Mike Lowell was done. Toast. Stick a fork in him. I mean, the guy hit .236 with a sub-.300 on-base percentage and only eight home runs in 558 plate appearances last season. That’s a little too Neifi Perez-like for my taste. Having a down year in 2005 was also a good way to bring about nasty steroid rumors from the public forum.

One of Theo Epstein’s strengths as general manager is signing a few extra high-risk/high-reward players and seeing what sticks. Coming into 2006, the Red Sox had Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, JT Snow, and Hee Seop Choi ready to throw into the 1B/3B mix. It was hard not to see Youkilis and Choi eventually snatching up the starting spots against right-handers, with Lowell managing to play against lefties, and Snow available in the old Doug Mientkiewicz defensive replacement role. Lowell’s always enjoyed hitting against lefties, but he’s flipped that pattern on its head this year:

Lowell L-R SLG

So far in 2006, Lowell‘s made a statement hitting a league-leading 17 doubles as part of a .339/.402/.550 line. Somebody likes the Green Monster, but how much of his resurgence can be explained by switching home ballparks? Florida’s Pro Player Stadium is traditionally a pitcher’s park, while Fenway is perhaps the oldest hitter’s park and Lowell has shown approximately the same amount of power on the road as at home the past few years. As most players tend to hit better at home if all other factors are held constant, that’s a point for Boston.

Lowell H-A SLG

Another interesting tidbit shown by the previous graph is a tendency for Lowell‘s power to fall off a cliff towards the end of each season. (Maybe he just decided to spend the whole season at the bottom of the cliff last year?)

Considering Lowell‘s career batting average is .274, his current .339 average is wishful thinking. Are there any secondary signs that Lowell has made changes from last year and isn’t about to crash and burn? Well, he’s cut down on strikeouts a bit and increased his walk-rate slightly, resulting in a significantly higher walk to strikeout ratio (BB/K). And his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is at a career-high; something than can partially be attributed to Fenway.

Lowell Seasonal BB-KLowell Seasonal BABIP

But another factor to consider is what types of batted balls are coming off Lowell‘s bat this season. His line-drive percentage has shot up to 24%, a good sign for the batting average, but he’s traded a lot of fly balls for groundballs, a very bad sign for the home run totals.

Lowell Rolling GB-FB-LD

A high-average doubles hitter isn’t what the Red Sox were expecting, but it’s a lot better than the 2005 version of Mike Lowell. If we allow for a batting average decline to .300 while maintaining the same hitting profile, Lowell’s still a .300/.360/.510 third-baseman. Hey, Boston loved the real Wade Boggs, so why not the right-handed version?


Daily Graphing – Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn can mash and we all know his power and walks dwarf the negatives associated with his massive strikeout totals. Sure, his career batting average is .248, but very few can match his walk rate (17%) or isolated power (.274). With Cincinnati making a bid to take over Houston‘s role as runner-up to St. Louis, he could be involved in an MVP discussion for the first time. Does he have what it takes to put up a career year and bring joy to Redsville?

His strikeout rate has actually increased in 2006 — striking out in almost 36% of his at-bats. Given 550 at-bats, he’s on pace for 198 strikeouts. Sure looks like 2005 was an aberration in his “growth” curve, no?

Dunn's Seasonal K%
That huge strikeout total is a harbinger of a down year, right? Nope — all other signs point to a career year. Dunn is walking more often (21% of PAs), he’s hitting fewer groundballs (32%), more line-drives (22%), and a lot fewer infield flies (6% down from last year’s 14%). Even if you’re worried about the strikeouts, feel confident that the increased walks will result in a career best walk-to-strikeout ratio (BB/K).

Dunn's Seasonal BB/K
Dunn‘s batting average is right at his career mark, but he’s sitting with a career high in isolated power (ISO). His 12 HRs in 32 games put him on-pace for over 60 HRs. With full awareness of the dangers of the on-pace game, could this be the year that Babe Ruth has two of his historical marks surpassed in the same season?

Dunn's Seasonal ISO
One of the favorite arguments of the sabermetric crowd is to match up a low-average, high-OBP Dunn-type with a player of the opposite skill set. It’s a difficult task to find a slugging first-basemen that doesn’t take his fair share of walks, but why not go with David Ortiz? He’s hit over .300 the past two years and owns a .281 career average. Comparing our two heroes, we can see that Dunn holds his own in the OBP battle despite giving up lots of ground in the average department.

graphs_319_745_0_batter_season_1_full300225_20060508.pnggraphs_319_745_0_batter_season_0_full300225_20060508.png
Ortiz retains a slight edge in runs created per game due to his extra power, but it’s very interesting to compare Dunn’s and Ortiz‘s runs-created-per-game (RC/G) by age. They have almost the same performance curve, with Dunn enjoying a two runs per game advantage in almost every season. I think Dunn‘s inability to hit for average will prevent him from producing 11 runs per game at age 30 (Ortiz’s peak), but if these guys were both 25 this season, who would you rather have? Heck, with Dunn’s advantage in the youth department, who would you rather have right now?

graphs_319_745_0_batter_age_8_blog_20060508.png

Could a player that flirts with the season record for strikeouts also win an MVP? Just having Adam Dunn in the discussion would set off another round of old-school versus sabr-geek debate, and debate can only help the intelligent. If I’m wearing my Nostradamus hat, Dunn hits 52 HRs, strikes out 188 times, finishes second to Albert Pujols in the MVP race, and the Reds fall short of the playoffs once somebody reminds their starters that they aren’t actually Cy Young candidates.