Friday, August 10, 2007

Daily Tracker, 8/10

The daily tracker posts will be a clearinghouse for various trends or curiosities I've noticed and think are interesting. Simply because I follow the team much more closely than others, more often than not it will be Brewers players featured, though I'm certainly open to suggestions.

Without further ado, the first thing I've been tracking is the offense of the Chicago Cubs' catching staff since June 20, the day Michael Barrett was traded to the San Diego Padres. More recent acquisition Jason Kendall has been on a tear lately (.360/.467/.560 in August, coming into tonight) and that continued in the Cubs' 6-2 win over the Rockies. Kendall went 3-4 with a walk and 2 RBI, bringing his line since joining the Cubs to .317/.414/.417 with 8 RBI in 18 games (71 PA). While that hot streak won't continue forever, he's showing that he can still swing the bat. The Cubs' catching staff's overall stats since June 20:

186 PA, 161 AB, 32 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 34 K, 48 TB, 1 SH, 3 SF, 19 BB, 2 HBP, .199/.286/.298

According to Brew Crew Ball, the 2006 league average catcher put up a .269/.329/.416 line to give you an idea just how bad they've been since trading Barrett. To their credit, however, Barrett has actually done worse, so you could argue trading him helped the team offensively. Of course, that's kind of like switching from pouring salt on a wound to pouring sugar. It's less painful, but it doesn't really help matters.

Now for the Brewers I've been keeping an eye on. First, there's been a big deal made about how often Johnny Estrada swings at the first pitch. Here's his relevant data, updated to include tonight's victory over the Astros in 11 innings.

Plate Appearances: 357
Times Swung at First Pitch: 184
Times Made Contact with First Pitch: 162
First Pitch Put Into Play: 88
Swung at First Pitch Percentage: 51.5%
Contact Percentage Swinging at First Pitch: 88.0% (fouls and balls put into play)
First Pitch Contact Into Play Percentage: 54.3%
First Pitch Put Into Play Overall Percentage: 24.6%

So, roughly one out of every two plate appearances sees him hacking at the first pitch and seven out of every eight first pitch swings result in contact. Of those swings, five out of nine are hit into play. Overall, about a quarter of his plate appearances have lasted one pitch. He has a dramatic split relating to this:

First Pitch Put in Play or Taken for Ball: .324/.358/.458 (191 PA)
After 0-1: .239/.241/.380 (166 PA)

It's too small to really say much and I don't know how it holds up over his career, but it's interesting nonetheless. Credit goes to TAPmoney at Brew Crew Ball for suggesting that angle.

The final note I have relates to Brewers rookie third baseman Ryan Braun. For the season, he's now at .345/.390/.655 after his 1 for 6 showing tonight (complete with cheap bloop single). Since being called up, he's amassed 305 plate appearances, leaving him 55 short of qualifying for league leaderboards (3.1*116 Brewers games = 359.6, so 360 PA is the minimum). Thus, when hitching an 0 for 55 collar to his numbers, you get his "leaderboard" line:


Coming into today, that line would have put him 11th in the league for slugging average. Pretty impressive for a guy taking his first crack at the big leagues.

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