FACTS/FLUKES: Price, Teixeira, Hochevar, Napoli, Norris

Price adds more GBs to his arsenal…By taming the Red Sox last weekend with his fourth-straight PQS-5 performance, David Price (LHP, TAM) became the first 12-game winner in the AL.  Price “stumbled” a bit in 2011 with a 12-13 record, but he seems to have recovered the form that led to a 19-6 record and second place finish in the Cy Young race in 2010:

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  H%  S%  Ctl  Dom  Cmd   G/L/F    hr/9  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ==  ==  ===  ===  ===  ========  ====  ====  ===
2009* 163  4.54  4.31  28  71  4.0  7.3  1.8  41/19/39   1.2   11%   49
2010  209  2.72  3.95  28  79  3.4  8.1  2.4  44/17/40   0.6    7%   76
2011  224  3.49  3.22  29  72  2.5  8.7  3.5  44/19/37   0.9   10%  111
2012  119  2.80  3.18  29  80  3.0  8.5  2.8  53/20/26   0.8   13%  103
*- inc MLEs

It’s not hard to see why Price is in the upper echelon of AL starters:

  • He’s regained some speed on his fastball; with an average of 95.6 mph, he’s up a bit from last year and similar to 2010.
  • While Price used the four-seam fastball almost exclusively in his early years (75% in 2008), he’s used it only 23% of the time in 2012. He now uses the two-seam sinking fastball 39% of the time.
  • That sinker is helping Price keep the ball on the ground; he’s seeing a big jump in GB% from years past.
  • Part of the sub-3.00 ERA is due to high S%, and his Cmd is down a bit from last year. But xERA and BPV shows what you already know—he’s an elite pitcher.

If you’re relying on Price as the anchor of your pitching staff, rest easy—there are no signs that he’ll slow down anytime soon.

 

Low BA continues to plague Teixeira…With 314 HR heading into 2012, Mark Teixeira (1B, NYY) has a well-earned reputation as a power hitter. Until recently, he could also be counted on to approach a .300 BA, but that hasn’t been the case in recent years.

Year   AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%   h%   G/L/F    HR   PX  hr/f
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ===  ====
2008  574  .308  .311   14   84   32  43/21/36  33  146   19%
2009  609  .292  .300   12   81   30  36/20/44  39  159   18%
2010  601  .256  .282   13   80   27  36/19/45  33  146   15%
2011  589  .248  .284   11   81   24  35/18/47  39  145   17%
2012  311  .251  .299   11   84   25  42/19/39  18  144   17%

It looks like a marginal BA is now part of the equation for Teixeira:

  • He retains a sound plate approach, taking plenty of walks and making solid contact. Combine that with his power, and you have an xBA approaching .300.
  • But Teixeira has underperformed his xBA for three straight years; much of that is due to a drop in h%. Early in his career, he was routinely in the low-30% range; over the last three years, he’s been in the mid-20s. It’s a long enough trend to be considered his new normal.
  • His power remains a constant; PX and hr/f have been consistent over the last few years. Playing half his games in Yankee Stadium (+43% LH HR, +17% RH HR) clearly helps.

Teixeira remains one of the top AL first basemen, a virtual lock to produce plenty of power. But unless he can reverse the h% trend, the days of producing $30 of value are over.

 

Hochevar ownership has its ups and downs…Does managing your fanalytic roster feel like a roller coaster ride sometimes? Perhaps you’re a Luke Hochevar (LHP, KC) owner. After suffering through three PQS-0 performances in four starts in the second half of 2011, he reeled off seven PQS-DOM outings in his next 10 starts.

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  H%  S%  Ctl  Dom  Cmd   G/L/F    hr/9  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ==  ==  ===  ===  ===  ========  ====  ====  ===
2008* 146  5.24  4.45  30  64  3.3  5.0  1.5  52/17/32   0.9    9%   36
2009* 191  5.42  5.01  32  65  2.8  6.3  2.2  47/18/36   1.2   14%   46
2010  103  4.81  4.34  32  67  3.2  6.6  2.1  46/21/33   0.8    8%   56
2011  198  4.68  3.89  28  65  2.8  5.8  2.1  50/18/32   1.0   12%   57
2012  103  5.16  4.06  32  64  2.9  6.6  2.3  46/22/33   1.0   11%   64
*- inc MLEs

The thrill ride seems to be continuing for Hochevar:

  • He was being pummeled out of the gate this year, with a 6.19 ERA in April and May. But that was mostly due to a 36% H% and 58% S% over that time frame. With normalization, he’s got a 4.09 ERA in June/July.
  • Hochevar’s Dom and Ctl hover around league average, leading to a Cmd that’s nothing special.
  • While xERA shows he’s got some upside, it also shows that he’s not a truly dominant starter. A 44/33 PQS DOM/DIS split means there’s little middle ground for Hochevar. 

Even though Hochevar is clearly better than the numbers he posted in April and May, there’s no reason to expect a major breakout in the near future. In the meantime, he should come with a warning label—ownership is not for the faint of heart.

 

Napoli can’t match the torrid pace of 2011 2H…Even though he had been producing good numbers for several years, Mike Napoli’s (C, TEX) coming-out party came in the second half of 2011, when he hit .378 with 20 HR. He became a household name when he hit .350 with two HR during the World Series.

Year   AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%   h%   G/L/F    HR   PX  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ===  ====  ===
2008  227  .273  .273   13   69   31  31/17/52  20  204   24%   93
2009  382  .272  .259    9   73   32  38/19/43  20  143   17%   45
2010  453  .238  .264    8   70   28  38/20/42  26  166   19%   49
2011  369  .320  .316   14   77   35  39/20/41  30  199   25%  112
2012  244  .225  .226   13   64   30  40/21/38  12  132   20%   15

Not surprisingly, Napoli hasn’t been able to keep up the 2011 2H pace:

  • During that second half streak in 2011, he had a 42% h%. With normalization, his BA has suffered quite a bit.
  • Napoli’s poor BA is due to more than just h%; he’s striking out much more frequently. While it’s not surprising he hasn’t matched 2011’s ct%, he’s not at the level he established earlier in his career.
  • He’s also been unable to maintain 2011’s PX and hr/f. However, he has hit at those levels before, so it’s not out of the question that another HR barrage is on the horizon.

As a power hitter at a scarce position, Napoli remains a valuable player. But until he reins in his free-swinging ways, he’s going to hurt you with a low BA.

 

First Impression: Derek Norris (C, OAK)

CALLED UP: June 2
CURRENT
ROLE: Part-time catcher
POTENTIAL: Starting catcher

Year           AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%   h%   G/L/F    HR   PX  SB
============  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ===  ==
2011 AA MLEs  334  .189         16   63                 16  119  11  
2012 AAA      209  .273          9   81   30             8        5
2012 majors    49  .204  .209    9   69   25  50/18/32   2   73   2

With Kurt Suzuki’s (C, OAK) recent struggles, Norris is auditioning for regular playing time:

  • With decent plate patience, Norris fits the mold of a typical Oakland farmhand.
  • However, he struggles to make contact, which will impact his ability to hit for average.
  • Norris has exhibited above-average power in the minors; he should be good for double-digit HR production with regular playing time.
  • He also runs well, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see double-digit SB totals.

Norris was hitting for a decent BA at AAA-Sacramento earlier this year. If he can do the same in the majors, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the A’s trade Suzuki and give Norris the majority of playing time. For now, he remains a low-BA backstop who will produce a few HRs and SBs over the rest of the year.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.