I have a theory.
Well I have a bunch of theories, but those are for another column. But one of my prominent theories is this: Everybody can be boiled down to one fact. I don’t mean we’re simple because we’re a terribly complex species. (Well except for the guys on “Duck Dynasty”) What I mean is that there is “one” detail about us that, if it were the only piece of information you know about a person, you would still know the essence of that individual.
It’s hard to know your own detail, but I’m guessing mine might be that I think mascots and midgets should play at halftime of college basketball games for charity. To me, that shows I have a very active but warped imagination, though I’m an innovator with a keen business sense (Admit it: college dudes love midget entertainment and it’ll be funny to hear them say “so that’s what a pelican looks like, dude?” Attendance will soar.)
But enough about me. Back to my theory. In Fantasy baseball we look at so many numbers and columns and predictions for every player in Major League Baseball (and many other prospects). We look at stat lines that are longer than the ones at the DMV and we check everyone’s ADP and we try to figure out which stats are most meaningful in predicting a player’s season.
Whatever happened to our gut reaction?
Often, during the offseason, I see or discover statistics on a player that just jump out at me. Every time I see the player’s name until draft day, all I can think about is that one fact.
And it’s all I need to know.
So here are several players and the “gut fact” you need to know about them. Don’t draft a player just because I saw one thing that I thought might be promising, but do keep these nuggets in mind when the player in question is in the mix of players you may choose at a certain point in your draft.
Alex Gordon (OF, KC) led the major leagues in doubles with 51.
Joey Votto (1B, CIN) had a career high 44 doubles last season. In just 374 at-bats.
Michael Bourn (OF, CLE) attempted to steal about in about 18 percent of stolen base opportunities last season. Five seasons ago that rate was 28 percent and has fallen every year; his success rate has fallen or stayed the same in four of those five seasons as well.
Ike Davis (1B, NYM) hit 27 of his 32 home runs after June 9.
David DeJesus (OF, CHC) increased his average fly ball distance by 16 feet last season.
Chase Headley (3B, SD) saw his fly ball distance rise by an average of 20 feet.
Jake McGee’s (RP, TB) strikeout-to-walk ratio was 6.6 to 1.
Joel Hanrahan’s (RP, BOS) BB/9 rate rose last season by 258 percent (2.1 to 5.43).
Jose Bautista (OF, TOR) saw his BABIP fall from .309 in 2011 to .215 last season.
Sergio Romo’s (RP, SF) 2012 K:BB ratio of 6.3 was a decrease from his 2011 ratio of 13.9 (an all-time major league record).
Glen Perkins (RP, MIN) converted eight of his 16 saves in September and had a 0.80 WHIP in the 2nd half.
Bobby Parnell (RP, NYM) took about 1.5 mph off his fastball and 4.0 mph off his slider, and yielded the lowest batting average allowed in his career (excluding a 6 IP season).
Derek Jeter (SS, NYY) had the lowest walk rate and strikeout rate of his career last season and he swung at a higher percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone than in any of his 17 seasons.
Kelvin Herrera (RP, KC) averaged 97.5 mph on his fastball last season.
Jared Hughes (RP, PIT) failed to hit the strike zone with 7 out of every 10 pitches last year (the worst rate in the majors) and still managed an ERA of 2.85 and a WHIP of 1.15. That’s plain filth.
Bartolo Colon threw strikes on 61 percent of his pitches (the best in MLB) and his ERA (3.43) and WHIP (1.21) were both higher than Hughes’.
Mat Latos (SP, CIN) had virtually the same ERA and WHIP pitching in Cincinnati as he did in spacious PETCO Park with the Padres in 2011.
Greg Holland’s (RP, KC) second half WHIP was 1.10 (1.78 in April-June), with a 2.28 ERA.
JJ Putz (RP, ARIZ) has 77 saves over the last two seasons.
Matt Harvey (SP, NYM) had a greater rate of enticing batters to swing and miss (12.0 percent of his pitches) than Yu Darvish (11.8) and Justin Verlander (11.7); Harvey was seventh among MLB starters with at least 50 IP.
John Axford’s (RP, MIL) HR/FB rate was 19.8 percent; the league average is about 10.5 percent.
Boone Logan (RP, NYY) held batters to the third-lowest contact percentage (65.3 percent of all swings) in the major leagues.
Trevor Cahill (SP, ARIZ) had a 61.2 ground ball percentage, more than 17 percentage points better than the MLB average (about 44 percent) last season.
Erasmo Ramirez (SP, SEA) struck out 4 batters for every batter he walked; as a rookie.
Blake Beavan, (SP, SEA) struck out fewer than 4 batters per nine innings last season.
Vance Worley (SP, PHI) yielded a .305 batting average vs. righties when pitching at home, but just .222 on the road. Conversely, he held lefties to a lower average at home (.296) than on the road (.315).
Jake Arrietta (SP, BAL) had a crazy low strand rate of 55 percent. (This prompted me to look up all his stats, so forgive me if these are technically more than one fact.) In a season in which he improved his K/9 and BB/9 rates, he also saw his BABIP soar by almost 50 points, he yielded a well-above-average 14.5 percent HR/FB rate, and he improved his velocity by over one mph. If it wasn’t for bad luck…..
Jordan Lyles (SP, HOU) added almost 3 mph to his fastball last season (to just under 92 mph) and has amassed 235 IP in the majors, at just 22 years old.
Kyle Lohse (SP, Free Agent) posted a higher than average 24 percent line drive rate, but ended up with a .261 BABIP (average is just under .300).
Dexter Fowler (OF, COL) had the highest BABIP of any batter who had enough at bats to qualify for the batting title in 2012, .390.
Torii Hunter’s (OF, DET) line drive percentage has climbed for four consecutive seasons.
Austin Jackson’s (OF, DET) HR/FB rate has climbed the last two seasons (3.3 percent in 2010, 6.9 percent in 2011 and 11.4 percent) while his average fly ball distance has fallen (289.3 feet in 2010, 283.99 in 2011 and 283.06 in 2012).
Yonder Alonso’s (1B, SD) average fly ball distance was equal to that of Mark Reynolds (23 HRs) and Alex Rios (25 HRs). Alonso hit only nine HR. It was equal to that of Austin Jackson (16 HRs) as well.
What you do with these facts is up to you, but you certainly can’t dismiss them when deciding on these players for your Fantasy team. Good luck and remember: stick with the facts.
It’s a fact that Tom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @TomMcFeeley. No Mr. Rodgers/Speedy Delivery jokes please. He’s heard them all.