Has anyone else noticed the difference between Barry Bonds' numbers at
home and on the road? He's hitting .473 with 12 home runs and an
OPS of 1.895 in 95 plate appearances at SBC park, the toughest
pitcher's park in the majors. On the road, where the park effect
is neutralized, one would expect his numbers to be even better.
But in a strange twist, his numbers are not only worse, they are much
worse. Before coming to Camden Yards this past weekend and facing
the worst pitching staff in the American League (both in ERA and WHIP),
he had just 4 homers and an OPS more than 800 points lower than his
home numbers. As it stands now, he's batting .308 with 6 homers
and an OPS of 1.168 in 126 plate appearances.
Also interesting to note than of the 19 strikes he saw in the two games
I watched, he swung and missed 4 of them, which is right in line with
his contact rate from last year. He's not seeing the ball any
better than he ever has. He's just not getting as many pitches to
hit and his much-increased strength is doing the rest. And for
any who are interested, he did not hit the warehouse with a flyball in
a game or in batting practice. He did hit one onto Eutaw Street
that took one bounce to the warehouse, but he didn't match Ken Griffey
Jr's feat of hitting the building on the fly.
This was the first time I had seen Williams in person and I was
somewhat impressed. He didn't have great velocity or life on his
fastball, so the comparisons to Doc Gooden appear to based solely on a
passing resemblance facially. He did, however, have a nice
breaking ball that froze two experienced lefties - BJ Surhoff and
Rafael Palmeiro - for called strikes. He has the type of body
that looks like it could put on weight easily, like fellow Hawaiian Sid
Fernandez did. But Livan Hernandez appears to be more of a body
As for his delivery, I couldn't help but think of Ken Hill with his
quick whip delivery from behind his ear. Still, when you are
compared to the likes of Hill, Fernandez, Hernandez and Gooden, that's
gotta mean that you will turn out pretty good, doesn't it?
He claims his weight isn't an issue, and it may not be in terms of his
velocity. But after watching him pitch several times this
year, it seems to me that he has a hard time staying within
himself, especially with his mechanics, after 4 or 5 innings. The
numbers bear this out somewhat as his opponents' OPS goes up to .924
from .804 after his third inning of work. Last year, his numbers
stayed virtually the same through the first 6 innings. This
year's OOPS goes back down dramatically after inning 6, but since he's
rarely gone past six innings (five times in 14 starts) and only then if
everything has been working, that doesn't really tell us much.
Bartolo Colon is experiencing something similar. His OOPS last
year went down after 3 innings by almost 80 points, but this year it
has increased by almost 90.
Even though Larry Bigbie's and Luis Matos' numbers look almost
identical last year - .303, with 23 doubles and 13 homers (almost
exactly what Bigbie's prorate to) - I don't believe they are similar
hitters with similar upside.
First let me say that I don't think Luis Matos will be pushed for
playing time regardless of how he hits. He is an excellent center
fielder who covers a lot of ground and possesses a reasonably strong
and accurate arm. That said, his swing is a mess. Sure,
he'll crush the occasional mistake fastball and he does have good
enough speed to beat out some infield hits and steal a couple dozen
bases. But he has a very tough time recognizing pitches and
locations, and goes through spells where his swing looks
Larry Bigbie probably doesn't have as much raw power as Matos, and
certainly not the same class of speed or outfield ability. But he
is a better hitter and could become a pretty good one. He is
quick to the ball and doesn't take too many bad swings. Even
though he's not as physically strong as Matos, I suspect he'll hit for
more power because of superior mechanics. It's highly likely that
he'll hit for more average, perhaps much more. I have heard
several people compare his swing to that of Rafael Palmeiro. Not
that he'll ever hit with that kind of power but for the fluidity of his
stroke, the comparison's may be valid. In practical terms, that
should mean fewer and lesser slumps than a comparable hitter like Matos.
If I were looking to trade for one of these guys in a fantasy league,
unless I needed steals, Bigbie would be the one I would target.
Matos is a year younger than Bigbie, but it looks to me that he has
more than a year's development to make up.