The good, the bad and the ugly of the 2009 MLB season so far - hitting

Monday, May 11th, 2009   (7 years, 11 months ago)

The Blue Jays are pummeling opposing pitching while the Arizona Diamondbacks’ batting average would get a Gold Glove shortstop sent down to the minors.

Share This These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.

I was looking at the standings earlier today - hoping that the Jays had somehow managed to put a little more distance between themselves and the Red Sox while I was asleep. While looking I started thinking about how weirdly distributed teams were when it came to hitting and pitching. Some teams were overpowering at the plate, while others were truly wretched and the same is true for pitching.

Upon looking more closely at the stats I realized that teams basically fell into three groups: Amazingly good, amazingly bad, and a wide range of mediocre in the middle. Since there was no convenient cliche title to give those groupings and no one really cares when a team is middle of the road I decided to call the article “The good, the bad and the ugly” and use the middle category to make inflammatory statements about teams that are near the top of their division despite having glaring weaknesses.

First up is the offense side of the equation with hitting. Pitching will be up later in the week, so stay tuned because I think we all know which team is going to be showing up in the Ugly section…

the Good

Toronto Blue Jays

Absolutely pummeling opposing pitching with their relentless offense the Jays lead the majors in runs scored by almost 20 over the next nearest team and total bases by nearly 40. They lead the majors in team batting average and are in the top 5 in home runs, OBP, SLG, OPS and extra base hits.

Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Travis Snider are the real deal and Vernon Wells, Scott Rolen and Lyle Overbay are finally all performing up to expectations at the same time. The only worries the Jays have on offense is if the bubble is going to burst on Marc Scutaro and Rod Barajas and whether Alex Rios is ever going to heat up.

Boston Red Sox

Breathing down the Blue Jays’ necks are the Red Sox. Despite the large lead Toronto has in runs scored Boston is nearly tied with them in team OBP, SLG, OPS and extra base hits. The difference so far has been the Jays’ big lead in total bases, home runs, RBIs and batting average.

Is David Ortiz on the downslide or can he get back to being something more like the offensive force of nature he was for Boston from 2003 to 2007? The Sox are playing it classy by giving their beloved slugger time - and to be honest they’re probably a lot more concerned about having allowed more runs than all but 5 other teams in the major leagues.

L.A. Dodgers

The offense is producing at the same pace as the Red Sox (albeit in the National League) and leading the majors in team OBP. If ever there was a team that could be labeled as playing “small ball” though it’s this year’s Dodgers.

Even before losing Manny Ramirez to pregnancy the Dodgers were swinging some pretty lightweight bats: They’re mid-pack in slugging percentage and down in the bottom third in homers. That team RBI total indicates that they’re driving guys in, but apparently they’re doing it one base at a time.

the Bad

Chicago White Sox (3GB)

Still a viable contender in the bloody awful AL Central thanks to some solidly mediocre pitching, the ChiSox are right there with the worst of them when it’s their turn at the dish. Team batting average, OBP, SLG and (obviously) OPS are down in the bottom of the league with “wait ’til next year” teams like Houston, San Diego and Pittsburgh. Their 125 runs scored puts them in the company of the absolute worst hitting teams in the majors.

Atlanta Braves (2.5 GB)

Think of them as the Dodgers Lite - only not good. Like Miller Lite… if Miller was any good I mean.

The Braves are in the top 10 in OBP but 20th in batting average and SLG, 22nd in RBIs and 23rd in homers. Apparently Bobby Cox decided his best strategy this year was to have the trainer glue the team’s bats to the side of their batting helmets. For a completely punchless offense this team has gotten a ton of walks.

Atlanta’s pitching is actually very good so far this year - they strike a lot of guys out and don’t give up many walks (#7 in team WHIP) - but the hitting… well there is no hitting; just an amazing amount of patience at the plate.

Florida Marlins (1 GB)

I really, truly wanted to pick another team - any other team - rather than the Marlins. It’s just that I can’t because they are a glaring affront to the logical mind.

The Marlins have a .240 team batting average, a .320 on-base percentage, a .381 team slugging percentage, a .701 team OPS - all of this is bottom of the barrel, worst-teams-in-baseball type stuff. Florida has just 5 more total bases than Arizona yet has somehow plated 27 more runs!

This has been the luckiest team in baseball.

the Ugly

Oakland A’s

.310 would make for a pretty solid batting average (if you’re into that sort of thing), but as a team OBP it’s absolutely pathetic. Combine that with Oakland’s complete lack of power - they’re dead last in the majors with a .340 team SLG - and you get a really, really bad hitting team. Their .650 team OPS is actually 10 points worse than the San Francisco Giants, who mistakenly ordered all Nerf bats for their team this year and have as a team driven in only slightly more runs than Evan Longoria.

San Fransisco Giants

The Giants are averaging over 63 at-bats per home run this year and are ahead of only Oakland in SLG. Their stunningly awful .306 team OBP and featherweight bats mean that the Giants are the absolute worst team in the majors at driving in runs. They’ve only scored 109 runs, and of those only 101 were RBIs - 13 runs fewer than the next most ineffectual offense in baseball.

Some of San Fransisco’s ineptitude at the plate has to be chalked up to bad luck because they are ahead of Oakland in batting average, extra base hits and OPS (barely).

The Giants are the second best team in baseball at preventing runs, and the worst team in baseball at scoring them: True story - the home plate in San Fransisco has not needed to be dusted off yet this year.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks have managed to plate 11 more runs than the Giants, and 1 less than Oakland. They also fit right between Oakland (.310) and the Giants (.306) in team OPB, but manage to squeeze in below both teams when it comes to team batting average.

Their team BA of .234 would get a gold glove shortstop sent down to the minors but they pull ahead of both the A’s and Giants by virtue of their significantly better .390 SLG and .698 OPS.

Despite being only the third most pathetic team in baseball when they have a bat in their hands Arizona is the team least likely to go anywhere this season because they’re a lot worse at preventing runs than either Oakland or San Fransisco.

Share This These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.

Pissed? I would be too if I was a fan of a bad team, you should definitely complain about it...