Chris Davis is on a historic pace. Tim Lincecum made history in his last start. Clay Buchholz is still disappointing depsite his on field success.
Chris Davis, All-Time Great?
I got into a little debate over on Twitter about the outlook of Chris Davis
in the second half. The fella over there not only believes that 50 homers is a lock for Davis but he'd be willing to wager that 60 is likely to happen as well. Here's what I see.
(1) Prior to this season Davis, albeit in limited at-bats, had one season of 22 homers. This season Davis has 37 home runs in 343 at-bats (he had 33 in 515 last year to set a career best) leaving him with a career best and counting this season in just 95 games.
(2) Per at-bat, prior to this season, Davis had one homer every 19.7 at-bats. This season Davis has hit a homer ever 9.27 at-bats. Do you honestly believe he will be able to double
his career big fly rate?
(3) History is against him. Since 2003 there have only been three seasons in which a player had at least 350 plate appearances and managed to hit more than eight homers per 100 plate appearances:
8.69 Javier Lopez in 2003
8.24 Ryan Howard in 2006
8.18 Barry Bonds in 2003
That's it. Three.
Chris Davis is averaging 8.92 homers per 100 plate appearances. The last time anyone bettered that mark was 2001 when when Sammy Sosa finished the year with a mark of 9.00
. I'm NOT saying that Sosa, Mark McGwire
and Barry Bonds
are all cheaters, though I think there is ample evidence that they all did some funny stuff on their way to their massive seasons. Interesting isn't it that the only three men to ever have a season mark better than Chris Davis' current rate are Bonds, McGwire and Sosa?
* This is not me suggesting that Davis is cheating. This is me pointing out that what Davis is doing might make this the greatest home run effort, if he kept it up all season, of any “clean” player ever. The last “clean” players in baseball to even come close to Davis' rate are Matt Williams in 1994 (8.90) and before that Roger Maris in 1961 (8.74).
(4) History is against him Part II. Since 2003, a span covering a decade of completed seasons, how many players hit 50 homers in a season? It's happened six times.
58 Ryan Howard in 2006
54 David Ortiz in 2006
54 Alex Rodriguez in 2007
54 Jose Bautista in 2010
51 Andruw Jones in 2005
50 Prince Fielder in 2007
Say what you will about steroids and their impact on the game, but it is interesting that there has only been one 50 homer season since 2007.
(5) Davis has a fly ball ratio of 44 percent. He could keep that up, his career mark is 40.2 percent, but it is interesting to note that his mark the previous three seasons was under 38 percent each campaign.
(6) Davis has a HR/F ratio of 35.6 percent. If you add together his HR/F ratio the past two seasons you end up with 35.2 percent. His current mark is higher
than the combination of his last two seasons. Furthermore, no one posts a mark of 35.6 percent over the course of a full season. Here are the big league leaders the past 10 years.
2003: 30.3 Jim Thome
2004: 29.0 Sammy Sosa
2005: 26.6 Manny Ramirez
2006: 39.5 Ryan Howard, percent, 30.2 Travis Hafner
2007: 31.7 Jack Cust, 31.5 Ryan Howard
2008: 31.8 Ryan Howard
2009: 26.0 Mark Reynolds
2010: 25.0 Joey Votto
2011: 24.8 Giancarlo Stanton
2012: 29.3 Adam Dunn
If we remove Ryan Howard we have only three seasons of even 30 percent in the HR/F column over the past decade and only one season by Howard is better than the current mark that Davis owns.(you will also note that there have been none the past four seasons).
The bottom line on the homers is this. Davis is either have one of a handful of seasons that can legitimately be considered for the title of Best Power Hitting season of all-time, or there will be some significant pull back in the second half. I see significant pull back in the second half.
That position is buttressed when we take a look at the batting average and strikeout columns.
Davis was batting .356 on the first day of June.
Davis was batting .332 on the first month of July.
Davis enters the All-Star break hitting .315.
Over his last 41 games he has hit .263
. What was his batting average entering play in 2013? How about .270. Which hitter do you think he will more closely resemble moving forward, the guy who hit .270 over 1,520 at-bats, or the guy who hit .356 over his first 191 at-bats this season?
Another reason to be wary of the continuation of his batting average success is the massive strikeout total he's putting up there.
In his first 54 games Davis struck out 50 times.
In his last 41 games Davis has struck out 60 times.
On the season his strikeout rate is up to 28.0 percent. Given that his career mark is 30.4 percent, that's hardly a shock. Some real world perspective. With 110 Ks in 343 at-bats over 95 games (the Orioles have played 96 games), Davis is on pace for a huge overall K mark. With 110 Ks in 95 games, Davis is on pace to strike out 1.16 times a game this season. If he plays 160 games this season and maintains that pace he would strike out 186 times. In the history of baseball there have been 24 seasons in which a batter struck out 185 times. Only once in those 24 efforts did a player manage to hit .300 as Bobby Bonds hit .302 with 189 Ks back in 1970. If we drop the average down to .290, only one other man qualifies (Thome hit .291 with 185 Ks in 2001). Even .280 is rare. Only one other man joins that list – Jose Hernandez hit .288 with 188 Ks in 2002. So of the 24 times that a player has struck out 185 times only three times has a player managed to hit .280
. Remember, Davis is on pace to reach the 185 K mark and he's also batting .315.
He's still going to have a special season, but it's hard to predict a historic one.
Tim Lincecum Is Back?
I've been backing Tim Lincecum all season, and he made me look great the other night as he tossed his first no-hitter. There was some alarm that he threw 148 pitches in the effort, but people should remember that Lincecum has NEVER had an arm problem in his life. Truth be told, he doesn't even ice his arm. The guy truly is a Freak.
Some more Lincecum information so you know that his turnaround is more than just one night of excellence.
Tim Lincecum, over his last eight starts, has some Lincecum-like numbers: 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.0 K/9, 3.35 K/BB. That may not be his truly elite form of a few years back, but they are dominating numbers nonetheless and the hope is that there will be more of that level of performance than what we've seen for a large portion of the past year an a half.
Furthermore, to show that Lincecum's 2013 effort might be going better than you give him credit for, two measures I offer. SIERA
which are fancy era's that speak more to a pitchers actual performance than does ERA (for more data on both you can go to Fangraphs.com
). What they both show is that Lincecum's effort this season has been better than some hurlers who I'm sure everyone reading this will consider to have had better seasons to this point.
xFIP – Lincecum 3.25, Jordan Zimmerman 3.33, Madison Bumgarner 3.37, Shelby Miller 3.39, Stephen Strasburg 3.50, Patrick Corbin 3.52, Mike Minor 3.59, Jose Fernandez 3.59.
The mark that Lincecum owns by the way is 13th best in baseball.
SIERA – Lincecum 3.54, Derek Holland 3.56, Corbin 3.61, Justin Verlander 3.69, Fernandez 3.70, Julio Teheran 3.73, James Shields 3.78, Gio Gonzalez 3.79.
It's too late to buy low on Lincecum after the no-no, but perhaps you bought low on him a while back and are now reaping the rewards
I went to The Pez Museum
in Burlingame, California, the home of the world's largest Pez machine, it stands nearly eight feet tall. Here's a picture I snapped while there of some of the normal sized folks. Was great.
Buchholz Still A Wuss
Clay Buchholz is still having soreness in his shoulder. Still. Remember when this was supposed to be nothing and he was just going to miss one start? Well, he's already been out of action for over a month, and he is still experiencing soreness in his shoulder. The team removed him from a scheduled start in the minors Sunday and while throwing his bullpen session Sunday his shoulder continued to bark. That doesn't sound like a guy who's going to be back anytime soon (there's no word what's going to happen but he will need to throw at least a couple of games in the minors before he returns so I have to think we're looking a August). You simply cannot trust this guy. Cannot. His career began in 2007. How many times has he thrown 100 innings, not 200, not 180, not even 160, but how many times has he thrown 100-innings in back-to-back seasons? NEVER. He's at 84.1 innings after a career-high 189.1 innings last season.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.