Archive for Speed Plot

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.


Speed Plot – April 5th, 2006

Daily Best

Jeremy Bonderman – It pains me to give Bonderman best of the day (mostly because he’s a favorite of my fantasy baseball nemesis), but giving up just 3 hits and striking out 8 in 6 plus innings of work was too good to ignore. He induced 13 ground balls and only 2 fly balls, one of which was an infield-fly. Playing against the Royals certainly didn’t hurt.
Runners up: Bronson Arroyo, Josh Beckett

Ivan Rodriguez
– Even though he had arguably the worst plate discipline of any player last season, he managed to get the bat on the ball last night all 11 times he swung. Three of those times he connected for doubles, one time for a home run, and the other time for a single making him a perfect 5-5 on the night. He also drove in 5 runs in the 14-3 drubbing of the Royals.
Runners Up: Tori Hunter, Jay Gibbons

Daily Worst

Seth McClung – Sure McClung‘s fastball might top out at over 100 mph, but when you walk 7, maybe it’s time to ease off the gas a bit. He also gave up 5 hits and 7 runs in just 3 innings of work.
Runners Up: Odalis Perez, Steve Stemle

David Ortiz – The Red Sox pitching managed to fend off the Rangers tonight and it’s a good thing too. The usually great Ortiz struck out once, hit into not one, but two double plays and didn’t get on-base once. A very poor night for the runner-up MVP.
Runners Up: Bernie Williams, Matt Holliday

The 5 Players I Feel Like Writing About

Prince Fielder – The contact watch is over! For the first time this season (all of 3 games), Fielder didn’t strike out once and drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 8th inning. He still only made contact with the ball 50% of the time, but it’s the results that matter. Right?

Orlando Hernandez
– In his first start for the Diamondbacks, he was impressive striking out 8 and surrendering only 1 run in 5 innings of work. Anyone taking bets on another 7-1 start from El Duque? If he can stay healthy, he should do just fine.

Derrek Turnbow
– He’s notched a save in all three of the Brewers’ games, but has walked 2 and given up 4 hits making things a little dicey at times. It’s way too early to make any assumptions, but it’d be nice to see him make things easier on himself instead of having to gut out 1 run games with runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Danny Haren – Walking none and striking out 8 players in one of the most feared lineups in baseball was definitely impressive. Besides giving up a solo home-run to Matsui in the 2nd, most of the damage was done on a 3 run-homer by Sheffield in the 3rd. He’s never had too many problems giving up home runs in the past, so I wouldn’t expect it to be much of an issue this year. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to strike batters out at anywhere near his current pace.

Jonathan Papelbon – Given the nod to close out the game last night, Papelbon was excellent, striking out two in a perfect ninth. In his short stint in the majors last year, he showed all the skills necessary to be a top closer. If he’s not needed in the rotation, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him hang on to the closers job all year long.


Speed Plot – April 4th, 2006

The Daily Best

Brad Penny – Blanking the Braves for 5 innings while striking out 8 and walking none was enough to give Penny top honors for the day. Between injuries in 2005, he actually had a few scattered performances just like tonight’s. His strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) made a nice climb out of the gutter towards “good” territory last season, but his walks per 9 innings (BB/9) headed in the wrong direction. This was definitely a good start.
Runners Up: Sergio Mitre, Vincente Padilla

Aaron Boone – Today, Boone was a triple shy of the cycle, which has happened 1,141 other times the past 4 years. He’s actually accomplished this not so rare feat 3 other times, but his 4 hits (previous best 3 hits) made this by far his best “triple shy of the cycle” performance. He’s also batting .556 on the year and is playing well enough to keep his job, for now.
Runners Up: Brad Wilkerson, Richie Sexson

The Daily Worst

Andy Pettitte – Joining one of the many quality pitchers that had rough starts in their first outing, Pettitte was pretty horrible giving up 13 hits and 7 runs in 4 plus innings of work. He’s giving up 7 or more runs 17 times in his career, but he’s never given up more hits per inning. This start is definitely in contention for the worst of his 12 year career.
Runners Up: Tim Wakefield, Freddy Garcia

Jason Bay – With everyone expecting Bay to have a huge season, he is hitless in his first two games. He did walk 3 times in the opener, but he managed to go 0-4 today and do absolutely nothing when he was the tying run in the 8th inning. He grounded into a double player earlier in the game too. Those worrying that he will not be thrown many strikes this year, fear not. He wasn’t thrown that many strikes last year either and did just fine. I don’t expect to see him in this spot again.
Runners Up: Laynce Nix, Jeff Francoeur

Prince Fielder: Contact Watch!Fielder is now 0-9 with 7 strikeouts.

MLB.com’s Customer Service – I have now been on hold by MLB.com for 77 minutes and 6 seconds. I think I have listened to an entire Mascagni opera which makes me want to dig up my copy of “Raging Bull”. Maybe if I pop it in now, I’ll finish it just in time to actually talk with a representative.

The 5 Players I Feel Like Writing About

Johan Santana – Looks like he’s off to his typical slow start as he gave up 10 hits and 4 runs in 5.2 innings against the Blue Jays. He struck-out just 3 batters and walked 1. Over the past two seasons he’s had a 4.05 ERA the first half, compared to a 1.62 ERA in the second half. The biggest difference being his struggles with the long ball early in the season.

Jim Thome – Two games into the season and the man who hit over 40 home runs for 4 consecutive seasons, already has 2 home runs this year. He’s batting .500 on the season, with no strikeouts. His isolated power (ISO) is way off the chart! Aren’t small sample sizes fun?

Brandon Webb – Pitching at Coors Field yesterday, Webb took his ground ball tendencies to the utter extreme by inducing 21 ground balls and a single fly ball. The only pitcher to have a higher GB:FB ratio in a single game the past 5 seasons is Zach Day. Back on June 6th, 2003, Webb induced a personal high 25 ground balls.

Josh Willingham – Joining Albert Pujols and Chris Shelton in the 2006 multi-homer game club, Willingham is showing why he was touted by many as a “fantasy sleeper”. Going 3-7 in his first two games with just one strikeout isn’t too shabby. In the opener he made contact with every single pitch he swung at. So far, so good.

John Lackey – Being the Lackey fan that I am, I was disappointed to see him have such a poor outing in his season debut. He struggled to keep runners off base in every inning, but despite his 5 earned runs and 9 hits, he still struck out 4 and walked only 1 in 4 innings. He’s been a pretty slow starter the past two years (6.18 ERA in April), so there should be much better days ahead of him.


Speed Plot – Opening Day

The Daily Best

Roy Oswalt – It looks like Oswalt is well on his way to his third straight 20 win season as he blanked the young Marlins for 8 innings while striking out 8 and walking one. Now that he’s out of Roger Clemens‘ shadow in Houston, maybe he’ll get a little more attention and maybe even a Cy Young award? Third time’s a charm.
Runners up: Jake Peavy, Jason Jennings

Hideki Matsui – In the 2005 season opener he went 3-5 with 1 HR and 3 RBI’s and this year started off pretty similar. In his 4-4, 1HR, 4 RBI effort he got hits off four of the five different A’s pitchers. Did you know that this was his 2,061 consecutive game if you include the 1,573 games he played in Japan? That’s getting up there and would (but doesn’t) give him the 3rd longest streak.
Runners Up: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez

The Daily Worst

Barry Zito – This is really a no-brainer. In his shortest outing ever, he managed to give up 7 runs including a grand slam to Alex Rodriguez. I’m not the biggest Zito fan, but let’s chalk this one up to opening day jitters and a total lack of control. On the bright side, there’s no place for his ERA of 47 to go but down.
Runners Up: Jon Leiber, Derek Lowe

Prince Fielder – On his first opening day, Fielder did nothing to help his Rookie of the Year campaign. He went 0-4 striking out in all four of his at-bats. While the odds of him striking out in 100% of his at-bats for the season are slim, it might be a while before he improves on last year’s 28% strikeout rate. The power’s there, but the contact is lacking.
Runners Up: Garrett Anderson, Mark Grudzielanek

The 5 Players I Feel Like Writing About

Jason Jennings – In an odd opening day pitcher’s duel at Coors Field, Jennings held his own against Brandon Webb by going 7 strong innings while striking out 6 and giving up only 1 run. He’s coming back from a broken finger that kept him out most of last season and while it’s a nice story to see him do well, there’s not much in his past to suggest he can continue his opening day success.

Matt Murton – I wrote a glowing Matt Murton Daily Graphing back in February and between batting .400 in spring training and his 3-5 opening day performance, he’s done nothing to shy me away. It was especially nice to see him hit a home run since power’s been the knock on him.

Chris Shelton – I wasn’t so high on Shelton this off-season because of the way he finished out 2005 (and his fairly average plate discipline), but a few more 2 home run games will make me change my mind in a hurry.

Chris Reitsma – How long do you think it will take Bobby Cox to remove Reitsma from the closers role (again). Given a three run lead, he nearly allowed the Dodgers to complete what would have been, a rather mind blowing comeback. Actually, he barely has borderline closer stuff, striking out just over 5 per 9 innings, with only his extremely low walk rate of 1.7 to save him. Only problem is, the Braves don’t exactly have a deep bullpen and cutting Joey Devine didn’t help.

Fernando Rodney – With Todd Jones on the disabled list, Rodney is more than capable of handling closer duties as he proved by pitching a perfect ninth against the Royals (maybe not the best example). He struck out a quality 8.6 per 9 innings last season, but converted only 9 of 14 save chances after taking over the closers role when Kyle Farnsworth was traded to the Braves. He’ll be the guy at least until Jones comes back.