Some early season thoughts
By Michael Jong
I was going to try and make one article for each one of these, but it turns out I won’t be able to. Instead, I’ll go ahead and put them together into some early season thoughts. Call them oddities, if you will.
Robertson just as we expected
Remember when half of the Marlins’ fan base was clamoring that Nate Robertson was going to ruin everything? Well, take a look at his 2010 line so far (with all small sample size warnings attached):
2009: 15.5% K%, 8.5% BB%, 11.8% HR/FB%, 56.9% GB%
Compare that to his 2007 and 2008 numbers:
2007: 15.3% K%, 7.8% BB%, 10.0% HR/FB%, 44.6% GB%
2008: 14.3% K%, 7.3% BB%, 12.4% HR/FB%, 44.5% GB%
Ignoring the absurdly-high 57% GB% early in the year for Robertson, what I see as of right now is a pitcher who is very similar to his consistent form pre-elbow injury. Of course, this set of numbers is cherry-picked to look just like that, but I think the three starts that we saw from Robertson were exactly the sorts of things we expected.
Robertson has impressed so far versus lefties. In 16 PA, he’s allowed only one hit, though he has failed to miss their bats (3 K). Against righties he actually has a better strikeout and walk rate, but he is the proud owner of a .325 BABIP and has allowed two homers so far (14.3% HR/FB%). I would not be surprised if his peripheral rates remained very similar by the midway mark of the season. The one thing we should hope for is that that increase in ground balls sticks a bit more.
Nolasco off to a slow start
Check out this early line:
21 2/3 IP, 15.1% K%, 8.1% BB%, 12.9% HR/FB%, 40.9% GB%
This looks eerily similar to Robertson’s line above, but surprisingly this is actually Ricky Nolasco’s season so far. Nolasco has not been as dominant in racking up the strikeouts and avoiding the walks as he has in recent seasons, especially when compared to last season. Part of that is a deviation from his 2009 whiff rate: Nolasco has induced a swing and miss in only 15.4% of the swings taken on his pitches. Compare that to the 20.7% mark from 2009. Of course, I don’t suspect that will stick, but it is an oddity this early in the year.
It’s also interesting to see how weird a reversal of fortunes Nolasco has had so far this year in terms of ERA. Last year, Nolasco’s inability to catch a break led to his 5.09 ERA despite a 3.35 FIP. This year, it’s almost the exact opposite: Nolasco has a 3.78 ERA, but his FIP has jumped to 5.19 due to the four home runs allowed so far. The BABIP and strand rate trends are also reversed, as this year Nolasco has allowed a .219 BABIP to hitters so far (compared to .336 last season), helping lead to a 81.5% strand rate that starkly contrasts with his 61.0% rate last year.
(Note: Of course, as I write this, Nolasco is dominating the Colorado Rockies with seven strikeouts in seven innings.)
The other hot Marlin bat
Everybody is caught up in Jorge Cantu’s hit and RBI streak that they actually missed something of interest. Did you know Cantu as of Saturday morning was not the best hitter on the Marlins? Do you know who was?
If you keep track of the series previews, you might have an inkling as to who it is. His name is Dan Uggla.
As of Saturday morning, Uggla was hitting an absurd .333/.377/.556, good for a wOBA of .401. In the small sample size of 69 PA, Uggla has racked up 21 hits, giving him a ridiculous .353 BABIP that’s sure to head south soon. One thing that I do hope sticks is Uggla’s doubles power; though he has been consistent with the home runs the last three years, his doubles have fallen in each of those seasons, down to just 27 last season. Uggla already has five now (and he picked one up in Game 1 of tonight’s doubleheader as well) and, if he can continue to pound out two-baggers, we could see a spike in slugging and ISO along with the classic power and patience.