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April 11, 2013 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

Lies, Damn Lies and Advanced Metrics: Week Two Edition

Lies, Damn Lies and Advanced Metrics: Week Two Edition
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Billy Butler, DH Kansas City Royals

Billy Butler, DH, Kansas City Royals

There was a promise that this edition would feature pitchers. Well, we still have seven pitchers with 100.0% LOB percentages. Among them are such luminaries as Paul Maholm, Clay Buchholz and Barry Zito. You know its the second week of April if Barry Zito is useful in fantasy baseball. This is still too small a sample size to be able to reach any conclusions.

It’s still too really know anything about most hitters, but at least they play every day. It’s time for more fun with small sample sizes from guys who swing at baseballs instead of throwing them.

Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford is going out of his way to try to make fantasy GMs forget the past two seasons. Carl has only played eight games, so it’s still way too early in the season to jump (or in Carl’s case, run) to any conclusions. Actually, the only conclusion we can reach is that Carl appears to be healthy.

Carl is rocking a 1.246 OPS in 32 PA’s. He’s keeping the ball out of the air and owns an 18.2% FB %. He’s spraying line drives around the field at a 31.8% clip and putting the ball on the ground 50.0% of the time. He’s walking at a 12.5% clip. That number is more than double his 5.3% career average. Either Carl has discovered some unknown plate discipline in his age 32 season or it’s a small sample size. He has four walks. It’s a small sample size, but he has only swung at 22.0% of pitches outside the zone so far. That’s almost ten percent below his 31.6% career average. He’s only swung at 35.6% of all pitches he’s seen. That number is almost 20 percent below his 52.8% swing %. So, Carl is showing better plate discipline, but it’s still far too early to know if it’s a legit trend or simply just a small sample size.

Speaking of guys who are enjoying a sudden resurgence…Lance Berkman! Berkman has taken to the full-time DH role in Texas. He managed to start the season on the major league roster and not on the DL. He owns a .280 ISO in 32 PA’s so far this year, but that’s not the interesting part. He’s currently hitting .480 with a .524 BABIP, but that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part? Berkman has a 21.9% BB% with only a 9.4% K%. Berkman has never posted a season in his career with a BB% over 20% or a K% under 10%.

Billy Butler has two homers in 34 PA’s this season. The problem with Butler is that he’s doing it with a 50.0% HR:FB ratio. We don’t have any mathemagicians on staff here at FP911, but that means he’s hit four fly balls so far. Four. He’s currently putting up a 4.25 GB:FB ratio. That’s not what anyone should want to see from a player known more for his “moobs” than his legs. Again, it’s only 34 PA’s, but Butler is a guy that needs to hit fly balls over 30% of the time to post homer totals in the high teens/twenties.

Butler has two swing metrics that need to be taken into consideration because they’re wildly different from his career averages. Butler is posting a swinging strike % of 4.9%. That’s well under his 7.2% career average and he’s never ended the year under 6.3%. This is actually a sign that he’s not being overmatched at the plate. This is a good thing.

The other swing metric is probably where the problem lies. Butler is swinging at pitches outside the zone 27.0% of the time. His career average is 27.3%. That’s not the issue. This issue is that Butler has an 83.3% O-contact %. His career average is only 68.5%. He’s making contact 83.3% of the time he offers at a pitch outside the zone. This is more likely a sample size issue than anything else, but it would be an unusual trend if it continues. We should see his O-contact % dip closer to his career average and his fly ball rate slowly climb as we get a larger sample size. Butler is not the guy fantasy GMs should want to see make contact with pitches outside the zone and pounding them into the ground.

Want to know another reason why RBIs is a BS stat? John Buck has 14 of them in only nine games. Mr. Buck needed 106 games in 2012 to reach 41 RBIs for the season. He also has a 29.4% HR:FB ratio. His career average is only 12.5%. It’s probably a bad idea to cut a useful player for a guy obviously playing over his head like Buck. He’s hot right now, but how helpful is Buck going to be when it’s mid-May and he’s still stuck on five homers? There’s a good chance we’ve seen the best Buck has to offer and it’s going to be a long, downhill grind to September.

Remember when some fantasy pundits were suggesting that you shouldn’t be too excited by Aaron Hicks’ spring? You should have listened better if you have Hicks on your roster. Hicks currently owns a 43.2% K% with a .165 OPS in 37 PAs. There could be a bus ticket to Rochester waiting for Hicks any day now. It’s safe to send him to the waiver wire any time you’re ready.

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