Friday, June 22, 2012

Calling the Melk-Man

I never realized this until yesterday, but Bill James Online has content that is free to the public (most are behind the paid wall, but some are free).  I ran across this interesting analysis of spring training stats that could be the sign of a breakout season.  In 2010, it highlighted Jose Bautista's breakout, then in 2011, caught on to Melky Cabrera and Alex Gordon.

When perusing their list of potential breakouts (once I saw that they have a long list, I wasn't as impressed, but still interesting) for 2012, again Melky Cabrera's name came up and, as we all know, he's having another career year, so their 2013 list will undoubtedly bring up Melky as one of their successes.

But I wondered how the others are doing, what other breakouts are there, in terms of career years.  Here are the ones where I thought there was enough separation between 2012 vs. career and/or top season:

  • Cody Ross:  .895 OPS vs. .785 career and .804 high.  However, I would note that he's not playing full-time, and he's never really been a full-time player, more of a platoon.  Plus, he's playing in an good hitter's park.  
  • Carlos Ruiz:  .982 vs. .773 vs. .847.  And at age 33 too.
  • Jonathan Lucroy:  .969 vs. 722 vs. .703, FYI didn't play full-time before
  • Tyler Colvin:  .876 vs. .730 vs. .816, first year in Colorado, though
  • A.J. Pierzitski:  .840 vs. .750 vs. 824 (that high was in 2003!)
  • Melky Cabrera:  .932 vs. .746 vs. .809, looks like he'll be mentioned second year in row
Given the long list, that's not a lot of what I would call breakouts.  And that the problem, they defined breakout as beating their career SLG.  Ooops, gathered the wrong stats.  

Still, beating slugging usually would show up in OPS as well.  I doubt that a lot of them beat their career SLG  if their OPS doesn't beat their career OPS, because it is pretty hard to boost up OBP a lot, but pretty easy if you start hitting for more power.  But I don't got time to do the research again, and you can either accept my logic or not.

In any case, 12 of the 29 players have higher OPS in 2012 than career OPS, for what it's worth.

Ah, what the heck.  I still found the same players to be breakouts, the six above, plus Darwin Barney.  Among the 29 players, I found 13 to have higher SLG in 2012 than their career SLG.  Again, basically the same as the OPS differences, with just one additional guy, young Darwin Barney.

I also compiled ages, just in case it was young guys who predominate, but I didn't find that either.  

Of course, the season isn't over yet, maybe some may rise, but one would think maybe some may fall as well.  The percentage so far this season is roughly 40% vs. the 60% that they had been finding before.  And as I noted, half of those were just minorly over their career numbers, I feel that comparing to career high is a better sign of a breakout year, and by a good margin as well, not just edging out.  For example, Andre Ethier right now would qualify because his SLG of .484 beat out his career SLG of .480, but is significantly lower than his high of .510, over 5% less.  




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