A better Big Bad.

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If you’re an Angels
fan, delete this email now, without reading further.

 

What is an OPS of
.794?

 

1.      It’s a number that signifies a player whose
on-base percentage plus slugging percentage totals .794.  Looking solely at players with enough at-bats
to be on pace to qualify for a batting title, there are 84 with 2010 OPS’s higher
than .794.  Nearly three per team.

 

2.      Among those with OPS’s above .794: Placido
Polanco, Gaby Sanchez, Martin Prado, Alberto Callaspo, David Freese, Andruw
Jones, and Johnny Damon. 

 

3.      Yes. 
Johnny Damon.

 

4.      Michael Young’s OPS is .825.

 

The point of all
this?

 

Vladimir Guerrero’s
OPS in 2009 was .794.

 

He was an Angels hitter
who produced, by that measure, at a rate that Prado and Callaspo and Freese and
Damon are producing at this year.

 

Los Angeles, seeing that, at age 34, Guerrero played only
100 games and OPS’d at that rate after an .886 in 2008 and 10 consecutive years
before that over .934 or greater, let him go. 
Didn’t even offer him arbitration to secure a compensatory pick.   

 

Guerrero’s OPS right now is .974.  Only three hitters in the American League
(Justin Morneau, Kevin Youkilis, and Miguel Cabrera) have higher marks. 

 

The last season that Guerrero’s OPS was this high was his
MVP season of 2004. 

 

Last year (albeit in only 383 at-bats), Guerrero hit 15 home
runs and drove in 50.

 

This year, in fewer than half as many at-bats (176), he has
12 homers and 42 RBI.

 

His doubles rate hasn’t changed much (16 last year, eight
this season), but the RBI two-bagger he swatted down the left field line in the
seventh inning last night to extend the Rangers’ lead to 8-6, on a sinking
mid-90s fastball a foot inside, bearing in on his back knee, was just
silly.  (Said Young after the game: “He
has the best set of hands I’ve ever seen. 
He just kept his hands inside and hit it.”)

 

Which raises one other Guerrero improvement from 2009: Last
year his swing-and-miss percentage on pitches outside the strike zone was
27.6.  This year, according to ESPN Stats
& Info: 16.9.

 

We’re lucky to be able to watch that guy play baseball every
day.

 

I’ve gotten lots of question marks about last night’s
postgame email.  Pictured was former
Rangers manager Doug Rader.  The reason:
He coined the term “Winning Ugly.”  That may
have been the ugliest Rangers win I can remember.  Bad plays, plays unmade, fundamentals blown.

 

Amazing stat, courtesy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram‘s
Anthony Andro: Last night was the first time all season that Texas has homered
more than once in a road game.

 

Rich Harden’s inability to put .146-hitting Willie
Bloomquist away in the sixth inning demonstrated how different a pitcher he’s
become. 

 

Harden led all starting pitchers in strikeouts per nine
innings in 2009.  And in lowest opponents’
percentage of contact made when swinging. 

 

And yet Bloomquist, who strikes out every fourth at-bat,
never swung and missed in an 11-pitch at-bat, fouling eight Harden deliveries off
(one slider and eight fastballs) and watching two settle outside the strike
zone.  The final pitch – Harden’s last of
the night – was slammed to left field, over Josh Hamilton’s head, for a two-run
triple that cut a three-run Rangers lead to two and led to a game-tying suicide
squeeze.

 

Harden threw lots of strikes last night (73 out of 104
pitches) but once again didn’t get the job done.  It’s sort of obvious to say he’s no longer
the pitcher he used to be, but the Bloomquist at-bat alone typifies how
different he is from just last year.

 

This is sort of silly: seven of the Rangers’ last eight
games have been decided by one run. 
Happily, Texas has won five of those seven, but there’s going to be a residual
effect from all these close games the Rangers have played in 2010 (without
checking, I believe I heard they’re tied with Cincinnati for most one-run
decisions this year). 

 

My MLB.com column tomorrow will focus on a growing problem that
all these close contests, and the inability of Harden and several others to get
deeper into games, could be bringing on, with the possible solution not as
obvious as you might think.

 

 

===========================================================

 

To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get
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and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

 

 

(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

1 Comment

Does Tommy “Big Game” Hunter count as an obvious possible solution?

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