Fun with Early Season Offensive Numbers

Small sample sizes are generally a bad thing, but they can also be fun. With April starting to wind down, let’s have a look at some interesting team offensive statistics in the Majors so far this year.

  • The Royals are second in the Majors in hitting: .296 batting average.
  • But we know it’s not going to last for these guys (2010 AVG | 2010 BABIP | Career AVG):
    Scott Podsednik: .449 | .512 | .279
    Jose Guillen: .377 | .370 | .273
    Jason Kendall: .352 | .388 | .290

  • The White Sox are last in hitting: .215 batting average.
  • You know you’re in trouble when Andruw Jones (.270) is your leading hitter, followed by Alex Rios (.250). Sophomore Gordon Beckham should pick up his game soon, and a speedster like Juan Pierre is not going to have a .228 BABIP for long, and the Ks aren’t hurting him (5.0 K%). Seriously, though… Andruw Jones. Have you seen him lately? It looks like he left half of himself at home this season… which has resulted in a much quicker bat.

  • The Cardinals and Blue Jays (!) clubs are leading the Majors in homers with 23. The Brewers squad is leading in slugging percentage at .496 and ISO at .209.
  • Vernon Wells accounts for seven of those for the Jays, followed by free agent steal Alex Gonzalez. Overbay has the biggest goose egg with zero in 59 at-bats (along with a .119 average and ugly batting stance/swing)… guess the Jays should have done that Overbay-for-Chris Snyder trade that they reportedly backed out on. For St. Louis, the usual suspects like Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols are hitting jacks, but it’s also nice to see sophomore Colby Rasmus tapping into his raw power.

  • The Astros (five) and Mariners (six) have fewer home runs than Vernon Wells (seven).
  • Jason Michaels, who has all of 14 at-bats, is leading the Astros club with two jacks. Pedro Feliz (12 in ’09) and Carlos Lee (26 in ’09) have yet to hit home runs. Only three Mariners’ hitters have homers: Casey Kotchman (3), Milton Bradley (2), and Rob Johnson (1). The swift-fielding Franklin Gutierrez is hitting .393 but he’s homer-less in 67 PAs. He knocked out 18 homers last season. Jose Lopez (25 dingers in ’09) is also without a homer in 68 PAs.

  • The Astros (41) and Orioles (46) offenses have scored fewer runs combined than the Dodgers (98), Brewers (97), Rays (93), and Phillies (91).
  • For what it’s worth, the Dodgers club has the highest BABIP in the Majors at .346 so it’s taking full advantage of its success with balls in play. The Brewers team is having success with scoring runs even with Prince Fielder off to another slow start in the power department.

  • More Houston woes… the club has walked a total of 18 times. The next fewest walks for a team is 37 by the Royals. The team with the most walks is the… Twins (?!) with 79.
  • There are three hitters in the Majors that have walked as much or more than the entire Astros team (David Wright, Daric Barton, and Nick Johnson). Michael Bourn and Jeff Keppinger account for 12 of the team’s walks (six apiece). Feliz hasn’t walked in 56 plate appearances, Tommy Manzella has a goose egg in 40, and Hunter Pence has one in 57. Seriously, that’s pathetic. As for the Twins, Justin Morneau (15), Denard Span (13), Jason Kubel (10), and Joe Mauer (10) are all in double-digits. Span figures to benefit from the increased focus with on-base percentage given that it should provide him with more stolen base opportunities.

  • Despite having a .215 team batting average, the White Sox club is tied with Kansas City for the fewest strikeouts in the Majors (86). Chicago has a BABIP of .222. The most strikeouts by a team is awarded to the Toronto Blue Jays (135), which also has the second lowest BABIP in the Majors at .255. The Mets club is up next, followed by the Rays.
  • Does Chicago have the slowest team in the Majors? Paul KonerkoA.J. PierzynskiCarlos Quentin… are definitely guilty of slow-footedness (Great, I sound like Carson), but the team also has Pierre, Alexei Ramirez, and Alex Rios. Some of this definitely smells like bad luck, especially when you add in the K-rate, which is good news for the much-maligned Chicago fan base. Toronto’s motto: Live by the long ball, die by the long ball (swing).

  • The Red Sox’ hitters make contact almost 10% more often than the D-Backs’ and Jays’ batters.
  • Again, I reiterate: Toronto’s motto: Live by the long ball, die by the long ball (swing). Man, it’s annoying watching the majority of Toronto’s hitters bat. Pull. Pull. Pull. It’s like being at a tug-of-war contest. I’ll give you the scouting report on Toronto: Pitch them low and away consistently and you’ll win the game.

  • The Phillies and Orioles clubs have each stolen just three bases this season. The O’s team has also been caught three times, while the Phillies’ base runners have been caught once. The Rangers club (!) leads the Majors in steals with 20 in 21 tries. The Rays team is second with 19 but six runners have been gunned down.
  • Jimmy Rollins accounts for two-thirds of the Phillies’ steals, but he’s currently on the DL so don’t expect to see much thievery in Philadelphia for the next little while. Why did Shane Victorino suddenly stop running…? I mean, speed is his game. The O’s best stolen base threat (Brian Roberts) is also dealing with injuries. Sure, the Texas club still has its sluggers, but Nelson Cruz leads the team with seven homers and he’s balanced that out with five steals. He should be a 30-20 guy this season, with an outside shot for 30-30 if he’s motivated. Elvis Andrus also has five steals (and what a steal he’s been from Atlanta). Julio Borbon has four swipes even though he’s barely getting on base (.163 OBP).

    A couple of lessons for the day:
    1. Houston is really frickin’ bad with the stick.
    2. Toronto batters swing for the fences and have no idea what “small ball” or “strategy” means.
    3. The Rangers are no longer one-dimensional (Here that Toronto?).
    4. The Twins’ free-swinging reputation is actually wrong (check out the ’09 totals, too).
    5. Sample sample sizes can be fun if used properly and in the presence of an adult.




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    Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


    25 Responses to “Fun with Early Season Offensive Numbers”

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    1. Zack says:

      “The Rangers club (!) leads the Majors in steals with 20 in 21 tries. The Rays team is second with 19 but six runners have been gunned down.”

      They owe Tek and Vmart thank you cards

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    2. Reuben says:

      Many of the Texas steals came in this Boston series. It was a bit of good management, I think, on their part.

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    3. JD says:

      Are you seriously suggesting Toronto’s current (lucky) power spike is a result of some organizational philosephy of “swinging for the fences”? Where was this power the last few seasons when it actually mattered and there pitching staff was top 5? Dude, your work is slippin, unless I missed a healthy dose of sarcasm. Slippin…

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      • Damon Stryker says:

        While I respect your “philosephy” of not using Spell Check, your comment doesn’t make much sense. You call their current power surge “lucky” (which may be true) and then appear to fault them for not having this approach last year, when they had different players, Wells wasn’t healthy, and they had a different hitting coach. You’re all over the place. Slippin’ indeed.

        Also, I think Texas’ high stolen bases total was heavily skewered by playing Tim Wakefield.

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        • JD says:

          I am not faulting them for having a different approach last year, I am stating it wasn’t an approach (a marked one) at all. Given there results the past few seasons, if they truly were ‘selling out’ for HRs, it sure didn’t show.

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    4. Marc Hulet says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Uh yeah, I’m not suggesting it’s the team’s actually philosophy. What I am suggesting is that many of the Jays hitters are trying to do too much, which often results in swinging for the fences in situations where they should be thinking about getting on base. And under that would be a suggestion that the team really isn’t playing as a team right now…

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      • JD says:

        Runs are runs, period. The Jays were run by JP for 7 years, who came from the moneyball philosophy (thx Damon, though fangraphs does not have a spell check) and presumably valued on-base more than anything, to a fault. The Jays current personnel on the field does not lend itself to patience though. It is what it is for AA at the moment.

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        • Joser says:

          Fangraphs may not have a spellcheck, but your web browser does. Or should. If it doesn’t, get another browser.

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        • Jason B says:

          The Jays are an assemblage of guys who don’t now, and won’t ever, hit for average. When you’re running Jose Bautista, Alex Gonzalez, Edwin E, Travis Snider, and John Buck out there every day, the bottom half of the oder is going to show a significant number of 0-for-4’s.

          That said, I could live with a team full of .240 hitters if they worked counts, drew walks, and got on base at a .350 clip. But that’s not those guys’ strong suit, either. Once the unsustainable pace of home runs falls off, this team will be scuffling to a lot of 1 and 2 run nights, I’m afraid.

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    5. DonCoburleone says:

      Nice article Marc. There are definately things I took from this, especially in regards to the White Sox. That .228 BABIP for Juan Pierre makes me feel alot better about his early bad start… One thing I’d be interested to see is the Braves current walk rate and their current Batting Average w/ RISP. Both seem to be (at least from just watching the games) abnormally high for a team…

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      • DonCoburleone says:

        I mean the Walk Rate seems abnormally high for the Braves while the BA with RISP seems incredibly low…

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        • Temo says:

          Our BA in generally is really low. And both stats mirror spring training, when the Braves led all teams in walks and have a very pedestrian batting average.

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    6. Con says:

      The Indians and Pirates each have 4 more home runs than Vernon Wells yet 2 fewer total bases than the Mariners.

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    7. Andy S. says:

      Hear* and Small* in the lessons part, fyi.

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    8. MikeS says:

      You think the White Sox are slow this year? They were glacial last year with Thome and Dye in the line up. This team looks like a bunch of greyhounds in comparison. Of course, Dye and Thome could occasionally hit the ball out of the infield. A skill this years team has been deficient in so far.

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    9. Torgen says:

      “Pitch them low and away consistently and you’ll win the game.”
      Isn’t that everyone’s strategy against everyone?

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    10. Llewdor says:

      Are we at all surprised that Cito Gaston wants all of his players to hit like Joe Carter?

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    11. OremLK says:

      To be expected that Houston would be horrible offensively, particularly at hitting homers and drawing walks, with Berkman injured. They’re going to be bad anyway, but this kind of historically bad performance is not likely to continue with the Big Puma bag in the lineup.

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    12. woodman says:

      I don’t know why you’re picking on Toronto. They’re still exceeding all expectations, they walk, they hit for power, and they even steal bases. The lineup is very power heavy so that’s what you’ll get.

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      • Joser says:

        How is he picking on Toronto? Had Toronto only lived up to pre-season expectations, he wouldn’t have even mentioned the Blue Jays.

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    13. max says:

      “Nelson Cruz leads the team with seven homers and he’s balanced that out with five steals. He should be a 30-20 guy this season, with an outside shot for 30-30 if he’s motivated.”

      I think he has a better shot of going 40-20 than 30-30. Just sayin.

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    14. Ebessan says:

      I had assumed that the Phillies weren’t stealing because Davey Lopes was out on bereavement leave for the first week of the season, and that Milt Thompson was probably unsure of what to do in the first base box.

      But, since then? Uh.

      And, considering that the team has struggled to score over the last week basically playing vertically, wouldn’t this be the time to steal?

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    15. BX says:

      Daric Barton is awesome.

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    16. GT says:

      how good will the ray’s offense be when the BABIP gets back in line with the league average! 3rd in the majors in runs scored with the 3rd worst BABIP

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