by Ryan Butler
Hey folks, I’m back from my holiday in the Poconos, and boy do I feel refreshed! I hope you missed me, because I sure missed you. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Carlos Gonzalez (9 R/3 HR/8 RBI/2 SB/.464 BA) 13-for-28: Well, well, well…look who decided to (finally) play up to his considerable talent level. Sunday’s six RBI performance catapulted what had been a very good week for CarGo into the POW stratosphere. Who knows how many runs he’d have knocked in had he not been forced from the game in the seventh inning after colliding with the center-field wall. His BA (.296), OBP (.363), SLG (.497), and OPS (.860) are finally normalizing, much to the delight of those who own him.
Aramis Ramirez (9/6/10/0/.393) 11-for-28: In one week, Ramirez doubled his home run total in what so far has been a good, if not spectacular season. Third basemen across the board have been a disappointment this year, making Ramirez’s numbers stand out, especially among his NL contemporaries.
Ian Kinsler (5/4/6/3/.318) 7-for-22: Kinsler has remained remarkably healthy this season, playing in 80 of the Rangers’ 85 games. That’s good. He has 18 steals in 20 attempts (90%), which is very good. His BB/K rate is 52/36; outstanding! He’s batting .241. That’s not so good. But he’s already surpassed his HR total from last season, and the rediscovery of his power stroke, coupled with his speed, should be enough to placate those who own him. For now.
Gio Gonzalez (15.0 IP/2 W/16 K/0.60 ERA/0.80 WHIP): Perhaps no statistic better illustrates how good he has been this season than this one here: at no point in 2011 has his ERA been higher than 2.70. With the help of his week 13 performance, it now sits at a tidy 2.31. As has always been the case, walks (4.0 BB/9) are the only real issue with Gonzalez. His unsightly walk total of 49, however, has been mitigated by a K/9 of 8.8 and a BAA of .214.
Matt Garza (16.1/1/13/2.20/0.67): The Garza of ’11 (9.2 K/9) has so far borne more of a resemblance to the ’09 version of himself (8.4 K/9) than the ’10 version (6.6 K/9). He’s not going to win any ERA titles; no pitcher in baseball walks the razor’s edge between ‘good’ and ‘mediocre’ as adroitly as Garza. Since 2007, when he started 15 games, through this season (also 15 starts so far), his ERA totals are as follows: 3.69, 3.70, 3.95, 3.91, 3.77. His K/BB rate of 2.97 is nice, and bodes well for his success beyond the All-Star break; even if he is a Cub.
Mike Leake (12.0/2/11/3.00/1.00): So far, ol’ Sticky Fingers has been better than he was in his impressive ’10 rookie season. He has already matched his win total from last year (eight) in eight fewer starts. Moving down the stat line there is still more marked improvement from Leake: K/BB (1.86, ’10; 2.87, ’11), K/9 (5.9, ’10; 6.6, ’11), H/9 (10.3, ’10; 8.4, ’11), WHIP (1.50, ’10; 1.19, ’11), BAA (.292, ’10; .250, ’11). I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Craig Kimbrel (9 K/4 SV/0.00 ERA/0.50 WHIP): He’s had a few hiccups (five blown saves in 30 chances), but Kimbrel appears to be a great closer in the making. His freakishly powerful arm and rather diminutive stature calls to mind a right-handed Billy Wagner. I know Wagner is one of the all-time great closers, but with 67 Ks in 42.0 IP (14.4 K/9) and a .192 BAA, it’s hard not to make such a comparison.
Sergio Santos (6/3/0.00/0.00): 4.5 BB/9 is an ugly figure, especially for a guy who’s job is to slam the door in what’s usually a close ballgame. 11.9 K/9, a 1.05 WHIP and a BAA of .159, on the other hand, are outstanding numbers, which have allowed Santos to convert 18 of 20 save opportunities. I guess you can afford to walk more batters than the next guy if the league can’t hit you.
Heath Bell (2/4/0.00/1.25): Over the past two seasons he’s converted 71 of 75 save opportunities (95%). His 113 saves since the start of the ’09 season are the most in the majors, and while his K/9 this season (6.7) is far below his career rate of 9.3, the league is hitting a paltry .213 against Bell. He makes the ninth inning interesting sometimes, but he almost always gets the job done and is arguably the most reliable closer in the game.