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Entries in Adrian Gonzalez (18)

Monday
Aug262013

Looking out for number three

When you are looking at the number three batter in most lineups, invariably you are looking at the best hitter on a player's team. 

Number three versus the clean-up batter in the lineup

There certainly have been times when the slugger in the number four slot was the man.

At least, that's what we grew up with fantasizing about.

I mean the number four guy in the line was the clean-up batter. He actually had a name because we pictured the first three guys getting on base and then the number four guy would clean up the bases with a big hit.

Isn't that why Lou Gehrig had so many grand slams?

But the reality is the number three batter has been the hitter to watch out for. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and even Mickey Mantle were all primarily number three hitters.

Comparing number three and number four

Take a look at how the top 2013 team's number threes versus number four batters in the lineup have done.

Top 10 number three batters by team
 PAAVGOBPSLUGOPSHRBBKRBI
Detroit Tigers (DET) 606 .340 .431 .639 1.070 42 82 91 136
Pittsburgh Pirates (PIT) 575 .315 .395 .509 .904 19 62 86 75
Cincinnati Reds (CIN) 598 .314 .430 .504 .934 20 100 115 62
Kansas City Royals (KC) 565 .300 .366 .443 .809 16 52 72 77
San Francisco Giants (SF) 575 .296 .339 .458 .796 17 33 70 82
Colorado Rockies (COL) 584 .295 .363 .560 .923 32 56 148 83
Boston Red Sox (BOS) 605 .295 .370 .408 .778 8 63 66 71
New York Yankees (NYY) 563 .289 .361 .472 .832 23 53 89 83
New York Mets (NYM) 573 .288 .361 .472 .833 19 55 99 63
Cleveland Indians (CLE) 578 .288 .362 .475 .837 16 59 123 83
2013 Cleanup batters by team
 PAAVGOBPSLUGOPSHRBBKRBI
Colorado Rockies (COL) 570 .334 .391 .557 .948 26 48 104 106
Texas Rangers (TEX) 559 .328 .379 .544 .923 28 39 59 76
Los Angeles Dodgers (LAD) 560 .321 .382 .498 .880 16 47 103 78
St. Louis Cardinals (STL) 568 .320 .382 .482 .864 16 46 98 94
Boston Red Sox (BOS) 592 .313 .380 .574 .954 30 60 99 104
Washington Nationals (WSH) 552 .296 .377 .494 .871 22 62 114 83
Tampa Bay Rays (TB) 559 .295 .367 .497 .864 21 59 117 74
Baltimore Orioles (BAL) 555 .294 .328 .538 .866 32 23 111 107
San Francisco Giants (SF) 561 .278 .351 .451 .802 16 54 81 70
Atlanta Braves (ATL) 563 .278 .350 .460 .810 21 52 115 94

Look at the variance in the number three slot

Baseball's number three batters are interesting lot.

Baseball's #3 Batters - min. 300 PA
 PAAVGOBPSLUGK%BB%HRBBRBISwng%Chas%P/PA
Miguel Cabrera (DET) 550 .358 .449 .684 14.5% 13.6% 42 75 128 50.4% 28.8% 3.69
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 537 .318 .399 .509 14.7% 11.2% 17 60 71 46.2% 22.3% 3.77
Joey Votto (CIN) 585 .314 .432 .507 19.1% 17.1% 20 100 61 38.9% 16.7% 4.13
Robinson Cano (NYY) 355 .314 .389 .495 13.5% 11.0% 13 39 52 46.2% 28.7% 3.78
David Wright (NYM) 456 .308 .393 .514 16.2% 11.4% 16 52 53 45.1% 20.9% 3.78
Carlos Gonzalez (COL) 417 .299 .367 .591 26.9% 9.6% 25 40 67 48.2% 32.9% 3.89
Dustin Pedroia (BOS) 593 .299 .374 .415 11.0% 10.6% 8 63 71 42.4% 24.4% 4.12
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) 501 .292 .394 .542 19.8% 14.2% 28 71 88 40.5% 20.4% 4.17
Jason Kipnis (CLE) 303 .283 .372 .445 21.1% 12.9% 7 39 44 39.1% 17.8% 4.31
Alex Rios (CWS) 460 .279 .329 .425 16.5% 6.7% 12 31 55 43.8% 24.7% 3.73
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) 422 .277 .322 .446 14.7% 6.6% 15 28 60 51.5% 33.6% 3.66
Jason Castro (HOU) 323 .271 .341 .455 26.6% 9.3% 10 30 32 45.6% 27.4% 4.03
Nick Markakis (BAL) 383 .263 .326 .370 8.6% 8.4% 8 32 30 42.1% 24.5% 3.74
Matt Holliday (STL) 400 .263 .343 .455 15.3% 9.8% 15 39 55 50.9% 27.7% 3.70
Albert Pujols (LAA) 443 .258 .330 .437 12.4% 9.0% 17 40 64 45.8% 29.8% 3.79
Justin Upton (ATL) 396 .255 .347 .455 25.3% 11.9% 16 47 46 44.8% 21.6% 4.07
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) 372 .251 .363 .470 26.3% 14.5% 16 54 40 41.4% 26.7% 4.18
Chase Headley (SD) 371 .225 .329 .356 25.1% 11.3% 7 42 30 44.9% 24.4% 3.94
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 438 .220 .313 .420 19.6% 11.2% 16 49 56 44.5% 26.5% 3.92

When you look at Miguel Cabrera, you see not the just best number three in baseball, you are looking at the best hitter in the game, on his way to historical greatness.

Andrew McCutchen potentially is on his way to being the NL MVP.

Joey Votto is a great player, but he is the reason why this chart includes walks, swing percentage, and chase percentage. There are many folks out there who get frustrated with Joey's selectivity and when you compare him to his peers, you can see why.

Robinson Cano, is the present and immediate future for the Yankees, if they can retain him. These numbers show you why Jay Z is feeling good about his client.

There is a reason why David Wright is called Captain America, and it's not just because of his good looks. He has good numbers in the three slot.

Carlos Gonzalez is a lifetime .300 hitter.

Dustin Pedroia is the anomaly on this list. The again, when you look at baseball's great players, Pedey is an anomaly in almost every respect.

Paul Goldschmidt is another NL MVP candidate as is Adrian Gonzalez.

Then you have the rest of Gilligan's Island in this select group.

The moral of the story

The moral of this story is very simple:

"If you are a pitcher, be less involved about thinking about number one...you're better off when you focus on number three."

Sunday
May262013

Peter Gammons: On the shoulders of Ellsbury, Kemp and Gonzalez

Don Mattingly this weekend came out and stated what teammates, opposing players and managers understood—that Matt Kemp has not yet fully recovered from off-season reconstructive surgery. Two home runs and 17 on the morning of May 25 says it all about the 2011. 

Kemp hasn't whined or complained, but Mattingly told Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. “He’s frustrated. The biggest thing we want to do with Matt is to try to keep the bat in the strike zone longer…when he’s going good he’s driving the ball to center, to right-center…I notice he’s cutting his swing off…if he’s top-spinning in left and left-center field, it tells me he’s getting extension to a certain point and he’s coming off just a little bit.”

Mattingly is not an orthopedic surgeon, but he is a PhD when it comes to hitting. Kemp has the finest in orthopedic care from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Center. While Dr. ElAttrache cannot discuss the specifics of Kemp’s recovery, he fully understands the complex significance of the shoulder in hitters.

“The importance of the shoulder in hitting is underestimated,” says Dr. ElAttrache. “What is particularly important is the lead shoulder.” Kemp missed nearly two months of the 2012 season with hamstring pulls and other issues, but on August 28 he suffered his most significant injury when he crashed into a fence in Colorado, He continued to play the rest of the season, but after the Dodgers were eliminated he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and some minor damage to the rotator cuff.

The labrum tear was in the front of his left shoulder, the lead shoulder as a righthanded hitter. Mattingly adds that Kemp will return to his star level once he’s healthy; Kemp loves the limelight, but he is one of the rare players who accepts every thing that goes along with stardom. But “health” is far more complex than weeks of rehab and training following labrum surgery.

“Trying to re-establish ones mechanics after surgery is a complex process,” says Dr. ElAttrache, speaking generally. “It’s extremely delicate. It involves rebuilding strength, and all that goes into the swing from the front shoulder. It takes perfect mechanics to regain bat speed and the swing path. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes more.

“A player may think he is fully recovered, especially after all the work that rehab entails, but regaining the mechanics doesn’t come easily,” says the doctor. “Sometimes we can see a hitter opening up too quickly. He may step out with his front foot to catch up to pitches, and also so he doesn’t have to finish off his swing, which puts a great deal of pressure on the shoulder, especially the front of the lead shoulder.

“Sometimes those mechanics can be just a tick off, and they are hard to re-establish. I’m certain there are cases where the should is never exactly the same as before an injury or the gradual wearing down process. It is mechanical. It can be mental. For the hitter, a shoulder injury isn’t really any different that a shoulder injury can be for a pitcher.”

Adrian Gonzalez

Kemp’s rehab is obvious, and well-explained by Mattingly. But there are other cases that at least are worth a look.

One is Adrian Gonzalez. He had three remarkable seasons his last three years at Petco Park, averaging 32 homers. In 2009, he hit 40 homers with a .958 OPS. His lead shoulder had bothered him in 2010, and he had labrum surgery prior to being traded to the Red Sox, and after continuing his rehab process in spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., his numbers leading up to the All Star Break (.354, 17 HR, 1.006 OPS, .591 slug) not only got him to the game, but into the Home Run Derby.

However, after the break, Gonzalez was not the same power hitter. He batted .317 with 10 homers, but more significant, his slugging fell to .489, his OPS to .893. Some suggested that he had worked so hard to be ready for the season—and, yes, get a new contract deal struck during spring training—that he wore down and the shoulder lost some of its strength. He denied it, continually saying that he simply got mechanically out of whack. Because of that, he sometimes tried to look for pitches and got himself out of sorts.

Look at AGon's numbers through May 25, before and after:

Gonzalez has never offered physical excuses, only opined that he gets mechanically unturned. However, is that related to the lead shoulder never being the same? We may never know, and playing 81 games in Dodger Stadium and another 18 in Petco and Pac Bell parks do not help any power numbers. And Dr. ElAtracche points out that the aging process historically impacts power, save for a ten-year window from the mid-nineties until the imposition of mandatory drug-testing in 2005. In addition, with the schedule as erratic as it is now with few getaway day games, the banning of amphetamines has led to a lot of grumbling about the maintence of energy levels that players in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties never had to worry about.

Jacoby Ellsbury

In Boston, there is the concern about the power numbers of Jacoby Ellsbury. Anyone who watched him take batting practice when he came up in 2007 saw some eye-opening power displays. Hitting coach Dave Magadan, when asked in 2007 if Ellsbury might someday turn into a (healthy) Grady Sizemore, always said that his timing took a lot of work and that there was just a tick’s difference between getting jammed by fastballs and hitting infield grounders and launching balls as he often did in BP.

It all came together for Ellsbury in 2011, when he arguably was the American League’s most valuable player:  32 homers; he’d never hit as many as 10 in a pro season. 83 extra base hits.

But on April 12, 2012, he suffered a separated right shoulder—the lead shoulder-- when Rays shortstop Reid Brignac landed atop of him as he slid into second base. Ellsbury played in only 74 games, he had 22 extra base hits, his slugging dropped from .552 to .370.

At no time since he reported for spring training has Ellsbury made excuses about any residual effects from the separated shoulder. He has handled his impending free agency with the ultimate professionalism and tried to stay away from any first person pronoun material.

The decline in on base percentage and slugging could well be mechanical, which has eroded confidence in his ability to hit deep in counts and stay back and drive pitches. On this past road trip, the Red Sox staff felt he was starting to once again launch in batting practice, a sign they felt was encouraging, especially since his best months historically have come after 

Still, one wonders about the mechanical, physical and psychological aspects of Ellsbury’s swing, based on these numbers:

Never underestimate the complexities of the mechanics of hitting,” says Dr. ElAttrache. “Especially when dealing with the lead shoulder.”

Sunday
May122013

The Dodgers (and others) struggles with runners in scoring position

In today's Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes extensively about the Dodgers troubles hitting with runners in scoring position.

Cafardo points out that the Dodgers entered the weekend ranked fifth in batting average (.255), and second in on-base percentage (.330) in the NL, but 14th in slugging and 11th in OPS. With runners in scoring position, the Dodgers are hitting .213, 13th in the NL.

They’re also 12th in OBP, 15th in slugging, and 14th in OPS in the NL with runners in scoring position.

“The key for us is execution,” Dodger GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo. “We’re getting runners on base but we just can’t seem to get that one hit at the right time.”

The Dodgers are just one of the teams struggling when hitting with RISP.

 

The major league average for hitting w/RISP this season is .255.

Their American League neighbors, the Angels, are equally awful also hit .223. Then again neither of these two teams' fan base should be complaining as much as those who follow the residents of "the friendly confines." The Cubs are the only team in baseball hitting under .200 with runners in scoring position. And their Second City neighbors, the White Sox are only hitting .221.

The Marlins, Mariners, Jays and Diamondbacks are all under .220 in their miserable displays of hitting when it matters.

15 players whose career average with runners in scoring position fall below .255

(at least 2000 PA w/RISP)

Rk I Player From To G BA PA AB H RBI
1   Adam Dunn 2001 2013 1268 .222 2044 1542 342 607
2   Tom Brunansky 1981 1994 1232 .239 2023 1676 400 632
3   Dave Kingman 1971 1986 1302 .240 2066 1774 425 771
4   Royce Clayton 1991 2007 1374 .243 2133 1808 440 598
5   Lance Parrish 1977 1995 1396 .244 2244 1954 477 692
6 I Jim Wynn 1963 1977 1334 .245 2201 1704 418 638
7   Bobby Grich 1970 1986 1368 .248 2169 1712 425 609
8   Andruw Jones 1996 2012 1585 .249 2632 2154 537 824
9   Darrell Porter 1971 1987 1238 .251 2000 1550 389 623
10   Graig Nettles 1968 1988 1781 .252 2689 2218 560 886
11   Chris Speier 1971 1989 1409 .252 2153 1745 439 576
12 I Darrell Evans 1969 1989 1825 .253 2919 2242 568 895
13   Ron Gant 1987 2003 1285 .254 2040 1680 427 674
14 I Bill Mazeroski 1956 1972 1354 .254 2113 1806 459 641
15   Benito Santiago 1986 2005 1339 .254 2125 1841 467 696
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/12/2013.

There are 121 batters who this season have to the plate at least 20 times with runners in scoring position who are hitting under .255, 56 of them are under .200.

Here are the 25 under .150

Rk Player BA PA AB H RBI
1 Eduardo Nunez .000 24 16 0 4
2 Luis Cruz .038 29 26 1 2
3 Dan Uggla .050 26 20 1 4
4 Ryan Flaherty .050 25 20 1 3
5 Darwin Barney .063 23 16 1 1
6 Martin Prado .063 37 32 2 4
7 Nolan Reimold .067 22 15 1 4
8 B.J. Upton .083 33 24 2 3
9 Rickie Weeks .088 45 34 3 8
10 Nick Hundley .091 27 22 2 7
11 Mike Moustakas .091 30 22 2 4
12 Miguel Montero .095 36 21 2 10
13 Alex Avila .103 32 29 3 3
14 Josh Hamilton .103 36 29 3 6
15 Mike Morse .108 41 37 4 7
16 Chris Iannetta .118 29 17 2 6
17 Eric Sogard .125 28 24 3 3
18 Maicer Izturis .130 25 23 3 3
19 Ike Davis .133 36 30 4 6
20 Tyler Flowers .136 23 22 3 8
21 Skip Schumaker .136 27 22 3 4
22 Cliff Pennington .136 30 22 3 8
23 Will Middlebrooks .138 33 29 4 9
24 Justin Smoak .148 35 27 4 5
25 Chris Parmelee .148 31 27 4 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/12/2013.

The Dodgers individual batters with runners in scoring position.

Fans certainly can have no complaints with Adrian Gonzalez or Mark Ellis.

But Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are very different stories.

Rk Player BA PA AB H RBI
1 Mark Ellis .545 14 11 6 10
2 Adrian Gonzalez .500 38 28 14 23
3 Juan Uribe .273 17 11 3 4
4 Carl Crawford .269 31 26 7 3
5 Nick Punto .250 15 12 3 4
6 A.J. Ellis .241 37 29 7 7
7 Justin Sellers .231 15 13 3 1
8 Andre Ethier .200 40 35 7 8
9 Matt Kemp .171 44 35 6 11
10 Skip Schumaker .136 27 22 3 4
11 Jerry Hairston .071 16 14 1 3
12 Luis Cruz .038 29 26 1 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/12/2013.

It appears, that even when the Dodgers recover from their injuries, if they don't recover their hitting stroke with runners in scoring position, this season will continue to be ugly.