The Marlins did a lot to continue their winning ways from the end of the unofficial first half of the season. The team ran roughshod over the Chicago Cubs, ending up with an impressive series win over the Cubbies in Wrigley Field. The Fish got strong offensive performances and some excellent pitching, culminating in yet another almost perfect series for the team.
Welcome back, Hanley
Hanley Ramirez continues to impress with yet another strong series on his way back to being, well, Hanley Ramirez. He collected seven hits in 19 PA during the Cubs series, including a 3-for-4 afternoon with three doubles and a 2-for-4 Sunday that included his ninth homer of the season. Ramirez’s series was excellent, as he hit a stellar .412/.474/.765, upping his season line to .252/.345/.394.
Since June 20, Ramirez has hit a revitalized .373/.453/.627, single-handedly self-correcting his previously low .231 BABIP with a four-week run of a .417 BABIP. Now he is currently hitting .283 on balls in play, which is more acceptable but still quite low and in need of some further correction (Ramirez’s previous career low BABIP was .327 in 2010). What was more encouraging was the fact that Ramirez’s ISO in this recent span was .254, a mark more akin to his power-laden 2007 and 2008 days. This isn’t likely to continue, but it is an encouraging sign that may point to Ramirez returning to the old successful version that we paid for all those years ago. If this sort of performance is what we can expect going forward, then let me be the first to say “Welcome back, Hanley. We missed you.”
Vazquez Velocity Watch
From Vazquez’s Saturday afternoon start:
Once again, Vazquez sat at 91-plus mph with his fastball and, as a result, dominated the Cubs lineup. He struck out 10 batters while walking none, continuing an awesome streak of baseball that has him throwing like he was two or three years ago rather than how he was for the past season and a quarter. That signifies 11 consecutive starts during which he has outperformed his horrendous opening, and each of those starts corresponds to a drastically increased fastball velocity.
One thing that was brought up by friend of the Maniac and River Avenue Blues blogger Ben Kabak is that this Vazquez could simply be an illusion. After all, from May 21 to July 31 last season, Vazquez also managed a 3.36 ERA. However, his performance then was clearly worse than the performance he is showing now, as evidenced by his 4.59 FIP. This goes along with these velocity numbers:
|Vazquez, 2010||IP||FB Vel||ERA||FIP|
|April-May 21||30 1/3||89.2||8.01||6.69|
|May 21-July 31||83||89.0||3.36||4.58|
In other words, last season’s differences had nothing to do with physical changes; it seemed like he simply began regressing a bit to his mean. But this year, we see a clear difference in his velocity:
|First eight starts||39 1/3||88.2||7.55||5.52|
|Last 10 starts||64||90.5||3.66||3.83|
This season’s numbers are completely different; not only do his peripherals match up well with his ERA, but his fastball’s increased velocity gives us a direct physical reason for the new stats. We may just have an effective Vazquez once again.
Stanton’s power stick
The Marlins had a healthy dose of power in their 13-3 stomping of the Cubs on Saturday, and much of that came from the bat of Mike Stanton, who launched two home runs en route to a 3-for-5 evening. Both of Stanton’s shots went fairly deep, traveling 402 and 426 feet respectively. Once again, the impressive thing about them was that both were to the opposite field, though the deeper second homer was more towards center field. Either way, both of them had plenty of distance to clear the fences at Wrigley Field.
Stanton’s two homers put him at 20 for the season, and his home run pace appears to be very similar to last season’s. Last year, he had 396 PA and launched 22 homers, a rate of 33.3 per 600 PA. This season’s 20 homers in 360 PA puts him at an exact same 33.3 per 600 PA pace. Stanton is hitting a home run every 4.5 fly balls hit, which is essentially the same rate that he hit dingers out last season (one every 4.4 fly balls). If there’s anything you can say about the man, it is that he is consistent with his power. Oh, and he’s just 21 years old right now. It’s going to be a fun few seasons with him on board.