Stat of the day: Eastern League OPS & ERA leaders

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Top 10 OPS
1. Carlos Santana (Indians) – 943
2. Neil Sellers (Phillies) – 869
3. Brock Bond (Giants) – 838
4. Brian Stavisky (Phillies) – 831
5. Brett Pill (Giants) – 828
6. Brennan Boesch (Tigers) – 828
7. Brian Dinkelman (Twins) – 824
8. Deik Scram (Tigers) – 819
9. Josh Thole (Mets) – 816
10. Kevin Mahar (Phillies) – 815
– Obviously, many of the more interesting players didn’t qualify. Pedro Alvarez, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, came in at 1009 in 60 games. Phillies outfielder Michael Taylor was at 977 in 86 games. The Orioles’ Brandon Snyder was promoted after posting a 1018 mark in 58 games.
– Santana never received a promotion, though he clearly deserved one for the work he did offensively. The problem is that the 23-year-old is still rather raw defensively behind the plate after beginning his pro career as an outfielder. He has the tools to make it as a starting catcher, but he’s likely going to need another full year in the minors in 2010.
– Bond’s 838 OPS was very impressive for a guy who played half of his games in one of the best parks for pitchers in the minors. Still, his league-leading 429 OBP would have counted for more if he wasn’t caught stealing on 15 of his 28 attempts.
– Other notables: Alex Avila (Tigers) – 814, Nick Weglarz (Indians) – 808, Ryan Kalish (Red Sox) – 781, Ruben Tejada (Mets) – 732, David Cooper (Blue Jays) – 729, Beau Mills (Indians) – 724, Brad Emaus (Blue Jays) – 712, Lars Anderson (Red Sox) – 673, Cale Iorg (Tigers) – 610
Top 10 ERA
1. Zach McAllister (Yankees) – 2.23
2. Felix Doubront (Red Sox) – 3.35
3. Jeanmar Gomez (Indians) – 3.43
4. Luis Perez (Blue Jays) – 3.55
5. Matt Fox (Twins) – 3.58
6. Randy Boone (Blue Jays) – 3.70
7. Danny Moskos (Pirates) – 3.74
8. Erik Arnesen (Nationals) – 3.87
9. Ryan Mullins (Twins) – 4.03
10. Jon Kibler (Tigers) – 4.06
– Non-qualifiers included Madison Bumgarner (1.93 ERA in 107 IP), Brad Lincoln (2.28 EREA in 75 IP), Ryan Edell (2.32 ERA in 89 1/3 IP), Brandon Erbe (2.34 ERA in 73 IP) and Junichi Tazawa (2.57 ERA in 98 IP).
– Also clearly deserving of mention was Yankees prospect Josh Schmidt, who had a 1.61 ERA in five starts and 41 relief appearances.
– McAllister was the league’s best pitcher, and he had the 1.08 WHIP to back up his ERA. Still, his season wasn’t quite as encouraging as the numbers suggest, if only because his previously strong groundball rate dwindled. He ended up as a modest flyball pitcher, and given that he’s probably not going to be a big strikeout guy in the majors, he’s going to have to induce grounders to thrive.
– Doubront’s ERA was more of a fluke, as he allowed 14 unearned runs and finished with a 1.41 WHIP, thanks to the 52 walks he surrendered in 121 innings. The 21-year-old lefty is a fine prospect without much of a platoon split, but he shouldn’t be counted on to be so effective in Triple-A next year.

Bryce Harper is really just a tiny bit better Adam Lind when you think about it

Associated Press
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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post writes about an important matter facing the Washington Nationals over the next year: what to do about Bryce Harper, who is entering his walk year and will be a free agent a little over 12 months from now.

That’s a fine and important question. The Nats do need to decide whether to offer Harper a long term deal, when to offer it and, above all else, how big that deal should be. Should it be $300 million? $400 million? Should it be conventional or unconventional, with opt-outs and such? It’s not every day that a generational talent comes along and it’s even more rare that the generational talent hits free agency at the age of 26, so the decisions facing the Nationals are not easy ones.

Boswell acknowledges that bit of trickiness, but he also, strangely, spends a whole lot of time trying to portray Harper as an ordinary talent. He starts with health, comparing him poorly with Stephen Strasburg, who is ranked 30th in games started over the past five years. In contrast . . .

In those same five years, Harper ranks 90th in games played, just 126 a season, and now he says he should have skipped quite a few more games in 2016 when he had a balky shoulder. That’s almost six weeks out per season.

Nowhere in the column is it mentioned that the several weeks he missed in 2017 was the result of a freak injury in wet conditions and that, despite that, Harper worked his tail off to come back and be ready for the postseason. Not that Boswell doesn’t mention the postseason of course . . .

Harper, for the fourth time, failed to lead his team out of the first round and has career playoff batting average and OPS marks of .215 and .801. By the high standards of right fielders, he’s Mr. Average in October.

I suppose it’s not Boswell’s job to refrain from insulting a player on the team he covers, but he certainly seems hellbent on insulting not only Harper, but our own intelligence via comparisons like this:

In the past five years, in those 126 games, Harper averaged 26 homers, 72 RBI and a .288 average. Over the last nine years, Adam Lind averaged 128 games, 20 homers, 70 RBI and hit .273. That’s selective stat mining. Harper is much better, in part because he walks so much. But Harper and Lind in the same sentence?

“A person can eat delicious chocolate cake or lead paint chips. The chocolate cake is much better, but chocolate cake and lead paint in the same sentence?” I guess Boswell gets points for acknowledging that it was a misleading comparison, but if he thinks it is, why make it in the first place? If you want to eliminate this one as an outlier, cool, because he makes a lot of other comparisons like that in the piece.

This is not necessarily new for Boswell. Here’s something he wrote about Harper in 2014:

Harper has not driven in 60 runs in either of his two seasons. He has only five RBI this year. He’s never had more than 157 runs-plus-RBI. Ryan Zimmerman has had between 163 and 216 six times. Adam LaRoche, no big star, has had 175 or more three times. Fourth outfielder Nate McLouth once had 207. Can we get a grip? Counting their three top starting pitchers, Harper may be the Nats’ seventh-best player. If forced to choose whether Harper or Anthony Rendon would have the better career, I’d think twice. Harper is in a self-conscious, fierce scowl-off with baseball. Rendon dances with it and grins. Baseball loves relaxed.

That was written 16 games into his age-22 season.

I’m not sure what Boswell’s beef with Harper is. I’m not sure why he’s contorting himself to portray him as an ordinary player when he is fairly extraordinary and, most certainly, a special case when it comes to his impending free agency. In his career he already has 26.1 career bWAR, 150 homers, an MVP Award under his belt and, if it wasn’t for that freak injury in August, would have a strong case for a second one. Guy has a career line of .285/.386/.515 and he turned 26 four days ago. He’s younger than Aaron Judge.

My view of things is that players should ignore the media for the most part, but they don’t always do that. Sometimes the hostility or criticism of the local press — especially from the most respected portions of the local press who have the ability to shape fan sentiment — gets to them.

Which is to say that, if this kind of noise keeps up, I wouldn’t be shocked if Harper puts up a line of .340/.480/.650 in 2018 and then walked the hell out of D.C. for New York or Chicago or L.A. or something. Would anyone blame him?