Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ramon Hernandez Is Actually Awesome (and other collected tidbits...)

I was going to write a post about everythig that is wrong with Ramon Hernandez in 2008, speculate that he's injured or getting old and ultimately was going to recommend that Guillermo Quiroz get a few more starts in his place.

Then something funny happened as I looked closer at Razor Ramon. I found out that he is having one hell of an April.

This is hardly the descriptor one would use for a player sporting a batting line (AVG/OPB/SLG) of .208/.247/.416. I have noted that Hernandez has made the most of his hits by coming through in the clutch and is among the team leaders in RBI but in general, I thought he was having a really poor start.

However, as I was digging around I looked at the line drive percentage (LD%) of the Oriole batters and saw Ramon leading them all. How was this possible? It's possible because Hernandez has been smoking the ball all season and been hitting them right at the opposition. In other words, he's just been incredibly unlucky.

Hernandez has had a Batting Average on Ball in Play (BABIP) of .191 so far. Generally, a batter can expect his BABIP to be about his LD% plus .12. Adam Jones, for example, has a LD% of 21.4% (.214). Add .12 and you get an estimated BABIP of .324. His actual BABIP is .329.

Ramon's LD% is 25.4% (.254). Adding .12, his BABIP should be .374, nearly doubling the actual .191 he sports now.

There's more. JC Bradbury created a stat several years ago called Projected OPS (PrOPS) which creates a batting line based on peripheral batted ball data like percentage of line drives, home runs, ground balls, etc. According to PrOPS, Ramon Hernandez batting line should be something like this: .314/.348./.506 for an OPS of .855. That number would put him in the top 25 in the AL and he would be far and away the best hitting catcher in the league.

Ramon Hernandez is blistering the ball and it's only a matter of time before things start to go his way. Look for great things from Ramon in May (assuming good health) and if you have a fantasy team, consider stashing him on your bench.


While we're talking about PrOPS, expect Kevin Millar (OPS .671) to also get appreciably better (PrOPS .804).
Expect "Spanky" Huff (OPS .814) to get a lot worse in the short term. Huff sports the fourth worst LD% of any regular in the AL (9.7%) so that batting average should be falling precipitously any week now.


Most defensive metrics point to the 2008 Orioles fielders as just average this year. But their Defensive Efficiency Ratio (DER) is a league leading .732. That means that the fielders and pitchers are working together to become a sum greater than the parts and converting 73% of balls in play to outs. That kind of run prevention can take a team a long way.


O-Swing% - The percentage of times a player swings at balls outside of the strike zone. Nick Markakis ranks 6th in baseball behind such "good eyes" like Frank Thomas, Albert Pujols and Pat Burrell. Nick only swings at bad pitches 12.04% of the time and the only other player in their early 20's who is even in the ballpark with Markakis is A's first baseman Daric Barton (12.95%). That's incredibly impressive for a player starting their third full season in the majors.

As you might imagine, Adam Jones swings at the most bad pitches (28.39%) and is swinging away at a team-leading 52.95% of all pitches total.

Brian Roberts makes contact 90.11% of the time he swings away, including a Vlad Guerrero-like 78.05% on balls outside of the strike zone. Amazing bat control.


It's been awhile since I've harped on John Maine, a pitcher I hate through no fault of his own. Maine is 2-2 with a 3.58 ERA so far this season for the Mets but his WHIP is 1.55 and his FIP stands at 4.71. You don't win for long putting that many people on base, especially when you are a flyball pitcher.

After the All-Star break last season, Maine went 5-6 with a 5.53 ERA contributing mightily to the Mets collapse down the stretch. Look for his first half number to approach these pretty soon, he's heading for a fall.

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