NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
I wasn't sure what to go with as a headline for this piece, so I went with "Friday Five". "Friday Five" sounds like the kind of thing that's a recurring series - like after a little while you're just supposed to know what "Friday Five" means because it gets posted every Friday - but rest assured, I have no intentions of doing this every week. I may never do it again in my life. This could be a one-episode series, like The Rich List was, or like Homeboys In Outer Space should've been.
All that follows are five current statistics that, when I saw them, I kind of couldn't believe were true. I don't know if you'll express the same level of disbelief when you see them for yourselves, but there's only one way to find out.
has the lowest xFIP in the American League, at 2.66
For those of you who are unfamiliar, xFIP is a popular pitching statistic on an ERA scale that judges pitchers based on their strikeouts, walks and groundballs. The best pitchers post good xFIPs, the worst pitchers post bad xFIPs, and an xFIP that is far away from a pitcher's ERA tends to be an indicator of either good or bad luck. It's with that in mind that I present to you the AL xFIP leaderboard:
Ahead of a bunch of amazing pitchers is a 37-year-old oaf of a man who last season took a year-long vacation, and who hadn't posted a K/9 over 8 since 2001. Right now Colon's got 33 strikeouts and six walks in 33 innings, and his fastball's coming in in the low- to mid-90s. Given all the adversity they've gone through, honestly it's just nice to see a team like the Yankees finally get a break in their favor.
has an OPS+ of 1
Jose Lopez's career in Seattle took a nasty turn, but when he was set free and sent to Colorado, there was a sense that he might finally blossom in a pleasant ballpark. Lopez is a dead pull hitter who had trouble in Safeco, and Coors Field has a funny way of making hitters feel good about themselves. A month into the season, Lopez has been the second-worst hitter in baseball, with an OPS that is literally half of Jacoby Ellsbury's OPS. The OPS+ is perfect. An OPS+ of 1 feels more pathetic than an OPS+ of 0, and it feels more pathetic than an OPS+ of like -10 or something. Just look at the way this stands out.
1. In a statistic that reads in the double- and triple-digits, Jose Lopez has a 1. A single vertical line to represent the entirety of his offensive output. It even works if you say it out loud.
Guy A: Hey, would you happen to know Jose Lopez's OPS+?
Guy B: 1.
Guy A: Oh
1. It rolls off the tongue like a stutter, like there should be more syllables to follow. Whether you read it or say it, 1 is over as quickly as a Jose Lopez at bat.
has a groundball rate of 91%
Jonny Venters ranks first in groundball rate, at 91%. Marc Rzepczynski ranks second in groundball rate, at 71%. Chris Young ranks last in groundball rate, at 19%. The gap between Jonny Venters' groundball rate and the second-place groundball rate is bigger than the last-place groundball rate. Also Venters strikes out a bunch of dudes too. If facing Barry Enright is a walk in the park, then facing Jonny Venters is a walk in one of those cartoon forests near the evil castle, and it's midnight, and there's shattered glass all over the ground, and the glass is coated in poison, and the air is the lethal gas from The Rock.
The Twins have a team OPS of .615
There have been a total of 828 batters who have batted at least 500 times between 2000-2011. Poring over that data, here are some similar batting lines:
2011 Minnesota Twins: .230/.292/.323
Peter Bergeron: .225/.300/.309
Wilson Valdez: .241/.289/.322
Robert Andino: .235/.290/.323
Jose Molina: .237/.280/.339
The Minnesota Twins came into the season as the popular favorites to win the AL Central. So far, the entire team has hit like a collection of backup shortstops. The good news is that at least they've also had baseball's worst pitching staff. Go big or go home.
Thehave a team OBP of .364
Offense is down league-wide this season, but I guess nobody's bothered to tell St. Louis. Truthfully, while a team OBP .364 is really good, this stat only gains its complete meaning when considered in context. The Cardinals have the league's best team OBP, and they have a 23-point lead on the second-place Indians. And this is with their pitchers hitting.
The Cardinals' team OBP is 23 points above second place, and 44 points above the NL average. To think this has all been done with Albert Pujols struggling so bad. Before the year a lot of people thought the Cardinals might've been toast when news broke about Adam Wainwright's injury, but the team has responded by bludgeoning the crap out of everyone, because oh by the way they also lead the NL in slugging percentage. Amazing what can happen when Lance Berkman decides to post something less like an OPS and more like an international telephone number.