Miguel Olivo Is Happy August Is Over

Miguel Olivo is having a nice season at the plate (if you believe in defensive metrics for catchers, he’s also having a good season behind the plate, but this post is about offense) for the Colorado Rockies. Leaving aside the Chris Iannetta issue (sigh), Olivo has given the Rockies slightly-above average offense (101 wRC+), very good for a catcher. In a surprising twist, Olivo, well-known for his hacktastic ways, has slightly decreased his swings at pitches outside of the zone in 2010 (although he’s still one of the most free-swinging hitters in baseball), which partly explains his best seasonal walk rate since he became a regular player. While a .323 on-base percentage is nothing to get excited about for most players, for Olivo, it is not only the best on-base percentage of any season in his career, but it’s the only time he’s ever had a yearly OBP over .300.

Still, while a .335 wOBA is good for a catcher, even in Colorado, a quick glance at Olivo’s monthly wOBAs through July (.398, .403, .352, .351) might lead one to wonder how it got so low. Well, in 58 August plate appearances, Olivo hit .140/.155/.158 for a .141 wOBA. That’s simply a stunning line. After walking more than ever before through July, Olivo walked once in August, and that was an intentional walk. His BABIP for August was .211, which probably reflects some bad luck, although he hit very few line drives (7.9%) during the month. He hit a good deal of fly balls, but none of them went out of the park for home runs during August.

To be clear — it would even more foolish to cherry pick one month of Olivo’s season to represent his true talent or to dismiss it as an “outlier” as it would to do so for a whole season. One has to take the season as a whole into account and properly weight it, regress it, etc. It is simply stunning how bad the one month was, so bad that it can take the seasonal line down that far. Olivo has had some months almost this bad this before — a .234 wOBA in July 2009 and a .201 wOBA in July 2008, to give just two examples. All players have bad stretches, naturally. One shouldn’t attribute “consistency” or its opposite as a particular “skill” to any player. Understanding that performance will fluctuate around a players true talent is just part of accepting randomness.

While Olivo’s August performance in-itself should not be singled out as a reason to worry, it did alter his 2010 line in a way that does matter. It turns Olivo’s 2010 season from a very good offensive performance to one that is slightly above-average. It makes the Rockies decisions about playing time 2011 a bit more interesting given Olivo’s club option and Iannetta’s contract.

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

8 Responses to “Miguel Olivo Is Happy August Is Over”

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  1. Matt says:

    If you cherry-pick further, you realize that in the 30th-31st, he went 4 for 8 in those 2 games. Before those 2 games, he was hitting .081 in August.

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  2. fledermice says:

    Good article, I know Coors has helped Olivo have the best year of his career, but it’s not helping Mr. Ianetta.

    WHAT is going on there?! Very good season in ’08, lived up to potential, though he was going to improve. BABIP has gone from .311-.245-.213, LD rate from 21%-16%-12%. While that explains a lot of lag in BA (.264-.228-.204), what is causing this?

    In ’09 his FB% was 52, up from 41, and this year it’s 45. In ’09 his GB% was 38… this year, 42, ’08, 32.

    His numbers are very, very, confusing.

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  3. brendan says:

    not sure sept has started better. on sep 1 he threw the ball into LF trying to catch darren ford going to third. ford popped up and scored the go-ahead run in the 8th inning.

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  4. Not David says:

    We need one of these for Brennan Boesch, .450 OPS over the last 7 weeks.

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    • Yeah… I’m saving it until after the season. Maybe. Don’t wanna be too vindictive, it’s a bad quality I have. But I’ll just sneak it in here, especially in light of my claim way back duing Boesch’s hot streak that Raburn should have been getting at least some of Boesch’s playing time, when Raburn had done nothign on the year:

      Current wOBA for entire 2010 season:

      Boesch: .339
      Raburn: .341

      Regression is a cruel mistress

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  5. jason says:

    I know the intent of this article was not to rehash Iannetta, but…
    Sometimes I wish managers were less p.c., because it would clear up a lot of confusion. If Jim Tracy was able to speak his mind and really tell the media what the the heck he thinks is wrong with Iannetta it would make a lot of people happier. When a manager trots out a guy having a career year that is worse than the career rates of the benched guy, it makes you wonder. It has really crossed from me being a fan-boy of Iannetta to seriously wondering what Tracy is thinking. Heck, if the guy said the only stat he looks at is batting average and that’s what the decision is based on, I’d disagree with it, but I’d be a lot less confused.

    Now if you excuse me, I’m going to reread my posts complaining about Scioscia and Torre burying Brandon Wood and Andy LaRoche on their respective benches, thank you very much. :(

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  6. ChrisDTX says:

    wOBA? More like woeBA!

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