I understand feeling uncomfortable if your pitcher has a 7.20 ERA or your batter is hitting .149, but does that mean you should panic? If we're talking Willie Bloomquist and Bruce Chen fine, but should you be worried if established players, all-star types, are scuffling after 2 ½ weeks? I bet you will say no, but that doesn't mean in a moment of honesty that you wouldn't admit to being a bit worried. Let me waylay those fears by letting you know about a handful of fellas who should be just fine despite the slow starts.
I JUST DON'T GET IT
Homer Bailey will be fine. History says that, and so does logic if you take a step back, close your eyes, and breath deeply for a moment. Here's why. (1) His velocity is one tenth of a mph off last season. (2) His 10.67 K/9 would be a career best (he's never had one an inning). (3) His 3.14 walk rate per nine is league average even if it is elevated for him (2.33 or lower last three years). (4) His 51 percent ground ball rate would be a career best (career: 44 percent). Now here comes the goofy. (5) His GB/FB ratio is 2.40, double his career rate of 1.23. Somehow his homer rate has gone up like 9000 percent to 3.77 homers per nine innings. His career mark is 1.08. Check this out. If we add together Bailey HR/F ratio the last five seasons we get 51.9 percent. This year the mark is 60 percent. Bonkers. (6) The last three years his BABIP has been .296 or lower. Right now it's .429. Buy low.
Billy Butler has been a full-time player for six years and he's been a rock of stability for the entire time (he was as a rookie as well in 2007 when he appeared in just 92 games and hit .292 with 52 RBIs). The man can hit. Period. I’m dumfounded by the number of queries I've received about him to this point. Clue #1 that things will be fine. Butler is batting .149. His career mark is nearly double that at .296. Since 2009 he's hit at least .289 every season. The homers? He hit 29 big flies in 2012 and it's like everyone just expected him to do that year after year. Newsflash you all missed – he's not a 29 home run hitter. The other four seasons in which he appeared in 150 games he hit 21, 15, 19 and 15 homers. Regardless, a 13 game stretch without a homer is nothing to worry about. Let me break down the homer.
There are 26 weeks in the big league season.
A 20 homer bat would hit an average of 0.77 a week.
A 26 homer bat could therefore get there by hitting one a week.
A 30 homer bat would hit an average of 1.15 per week.
Pay close attention to those numbers. Really think about it. A guy goes two weeks without a homer, and let's say we're assuming the guy is a 20 homer bat (like Butler). That means he would have 24 weeks to hit 20 homers. That breaks down to an average of 0.83 homers a week. It's barely different from the 26 week pace. You shouldn't be at all panicking if a guy slumps in the power department for a few weeks.
Prince Fielder is a bum. Actually people are going much father than that saying he's a piece of --- let me clean it up --- dog excrement. It's been 15 games. If someone offered me Fielder in a trade sign me up, I'm taking him. I'd be even more confident about doing that given that I will almost certainly be able to purchase him at a discount. I know he's hitting .172 with one homer. I get it, the frustration I mean. Fine to feel that way. Not fine to panic, overreact, and sell for .80 cents on the dollar. The power is coming.
Tim Lincecum update. He's good. I'm telling you. Well I've been telling you and I haven't exactly looked spot on, I will give you that. But it's easy to figure this one out. (1) Lincecum may have lost velocity but he has 17 Ks in 15 innings. (2) He's walked one batter in 15 innings. (3) He's never had a HR/9 mark over 1.11. Pretty sure that 3.00 rate he's currently saddled with is going go to regress. (4) Also pretty sure his 33 percent line drive rate and .349 BABIP will go down too. I'm telling ya, buy low before his current owner looks past the 7.20 ERA.
Mike Trout will be fine. Duh. He's batting .323 with a 1.026 OPS through 15 games. However, on his current pace he would fail to reach 20 steals. Trout has attempted one steal through 15 games. People are just brushing that off when its noted 'ah, it's only been 15 games.' In general, and you all know that from reading everything I've been writing this year, I do believe 15 games isn't enough to make a lasting determination on a player. Agreed. However, if I asked you the following question what would you say: is 80 games enough of a sample size to judge a player? I bet 95 percent of you would agree that it is. Given that fact get ready to have your worry meter start flashing? If we go back to the All-Star Game last season that leaves Mike Trout with 13 steals in his last 80 games. Gulp. After averaging a steal attempt every 2.57 games in 2012 that number sank to on every 3.93 games last season. This year that number is one every 15 but, as noted, if we look at the last 80 games that is one steal attempt for Trout every 6.15 games. That's obviously a rate that is less than half of what he tossed up there in his breakout 2012 effort. Just some food for thought.
Stephen Strasburg has a 6.00 ERA and 1.57 WHIP after four starts. I'm hearing folks try to hold back the panic in their voice. Don't be that guy. Here's why. Anyone notice that Strasburg has 14.14 K/9 right now? Career 10.61. His K/BB ratio is 3.67. Career 4.07. His GB/FB is 1.33. Career 1.47. All of that is either positive or explained by a sample size of 21 innings. The walks are up a bit, a full batter per nine, but that's sample size stuff. Ditto the 1.29 HR/9 mark (his career rate is 0.77). If his current owner is panicking pounce. If you're the current owner who is thinking of dealing the righty do what the kids used to say in the 1980's – take a chill pill.