Photo Credit: Goaliedudegreg
The thing about numbers is...
Aw fuck it. I’m feeling way too lazy to write up an intro tonite. Just hit the jump and find out everything you need to know about Dee Gordon, Zack Greinke, Freddie Freeman and Kyle Drabek.
More after the jump:
The statistic: .209 BA
The player: Dee Gordon
As the Dee Gordon love was building in February, a contingency of haters started becoming more anti-Dee than the cast of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” They cited his high GB% and unsustainable BABIP as reasons for why the Dodgers SS would prove to be a total bust in 2012. Right now, those same folks are cackling like a gaggle of old hags reading the latest “Beetle Bailey” comic strip. Keep chuckling suckas, because at the end of the year, Dee Gordon owners will have the last laugh.
While his 20.2 K% makes it seem as though Gordon is getting exposed by major league pitching, a closer look at the peripherals dispels that notion. Gordon is making a bit less contact than in 2011, but with a 85.0 Contact% and 6.8 SwStr%, it’s clear that he is still putting the ball on the bat plenty. Gordon’s opponents may be saying, “Well, even if he makes contact, so what? It’s weak as shit and that skinny twig will still be making a ton of outs.” It’s true that Gordon is posting a 51.6 GB%, but that mark is actually lower than it was last year. Regardless, even if his GB% was close to 60 percent, it wouldn’t matter that much. Gordon will net a ton of infield hits because of his wheels, so a high GB% for him is not a BA death sentence the way it is for most hitters. Also, Gordon is rocking a 20.3 LD%, so it’s not like all his contact is of the grass-singeing variety. Considering Gordon’s Infield Hit Percentage is a third lower than it was last year and his .254 BABIP is over 50 points lower than it was in the minors (and almost 100 points lower than it was last year), it’s safe to say that Gordon has endured his share of bad luck. Gordon won’t hover around the Mendoza line all year. Expect his BA to sit at least in the .260 range by season’s end and for Gordon to be among the league leaders in steals. With a spot at the top of LA’s lineup in front of Matt Kemp, the runs should be there too, making Gordon a mint three-category player at a shallow fantasy position.
The statistic: 2.27 FIP and 2.94 xFIP
The player: Zack Greinke
FIP and xFIP are flawed stats for the most part. I prefer to look at SwStr%, GB%, LD%, HR/FB, etc. Sure FIP and xFIP take a bunch of stats and turn them into an easy-to-read number scaled to ERA, but time and time again these stats have failed to accurately translate a pitcher’s performance. Greinke is a perfect example. Plenty of fantasy owners see the 3.94 ERA and think that Greinke is just the victim of bad luck. After all, a pitcher with a 9.10 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9 should be better than a 3.94 ERA, right? R-Right?!?! In the words of Nappy Roots, “Awnaw, hell naw.” For starters, Greinke’s 8.0 SwStr% doesn’t scream “dominance.” Here are some pitchers with a better SwStr% than Greinke:
Josh Tomlin (6.33 K/9)
Joe Blanton (5.19 K/9)
Hiroki Kuroda (5.68 K/9)
Ricky Nolasco (4.96 K/9)
In other words, he really isn’t missing many bats. Greinke is also getting laced when hitters make contact, posting a 26.5 LD%. His performance is looking a lot closer to his 2010 effort (4.17 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 7.4 K/9) than his markedly better 2011. I wouldn’t necessarily trade Greinke unless I had a surplus of pitching and needed to move an SP. Still, anybody thinking his performance to date has been the result of “bad luck” is sorely mistaken. He’s good enough to turn things around, but he sometimes is too smart for his own good (see: 2010).
The statistic: 5.19 FIP
The player: Kyle Drabek
Here’s another example of FIP sucking at its job, except this time it’s undervaluing Kyle Drabek’s performance to date. Michael Salfino isn’t a fan, which makes me like Drabek even more. He has a reputation as a ground ball pitcher with the “upside” of a 6.5 K/9. Yet he seems to be doing a pretty damn good job inducing swings and misses this year (10.2 SwStr% and 7.8 K/9). Oh he’s still getting his grounders (51.9 GB%). Matter of fact, he’s just giving up weak contact in general (17.3 LD%). Yeah it’s possible he’ll slow down and go back to being a meager strikeout contributor, but why take the chance on missing out on a breakout season? Drabek is hard-throwing former top prospect, so it’s possible he’ll keep pitching well and finish the season as an SP3.
The statistic: 37.3 LD%
The player: Freddie Freeman
Freeman is second in all of baseball in LD% and is clearly making hard contact. Problem is, he still looks like a gap-to-gap line drive hitter rather than a true HR slugger. Only one of his bombs has gone over 385 feet and his HR/FB is about where it was the previous two years. Freeman had a modest track record of power during his time in the minors, and like I said in a preseason edition of “Beef: The Series,” “We as fantasy owners require power from our first basemen, and Freeman doesn’t get the job done.” Maybe he’ll sock 20 HRs this year, but overall you are looking at a pretty underwhelming fantasy option.