Stats & Info: Jamey Carroll

Right-handed hitting Wright hitting to right

May, 31, 2012
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Getty Images/Trevor Ebaugh/ESPN Stats & InformationDavid Wright’s pattern has been base hits to the right side, outs to the left side.
The New York Mets went 15-13 in May, and a big reason for their success was the play of third baseman David Wright.

Wright has easily been the best offensive player for the Mets, and May 2012 was one of the best months of his career. Here's a closer look to see how he has been able to be so successful.

First-inning success
It all begins with Wright’s first at-bat. In the first inning this month, Wright posted a 1.253 OPS (.429/.538/.714) with five walks and four strikeouts. Six of his nine hits were doubles, and he went 5-for-9 with 5 RBI with runners on base.

Opposite-field approach
In May, Wright had 16 hits in 23 at-bats ending with contact to the opposite field. That .696 average leads the league, and was more than 50 points higher than the next-closest hitter. He had only five fly-ball outs to left or left-center (see spray chart above), an impressive feat for a right-handed hitter. His 1.261 slugging percentage to the opposite field was second-best in the majors by a fraction to Andrew McCutchen's 1.263. Wright’s eight doubles were second only to Adrian Gonzalez's nine.

Righties not as intimidating
Historically, Wright has crushed left-handed pitching (.340/.436/.584). In May, he did it against righties as well. He batted .369/.431/.646 against right-handed pitching in May, and 13 of his 16 extra-base hits -- including both of his home runs -- came off of right-handed pitching.

Seeing the fastball
Wright did most of his damage against fastballs, recording 19 of his 34 hits this month when the pitcher threw a two- or four-seam fastball. Wright also hammered cutters and sinkers, going 9-for-15 in at-bats that ended with the cutter or sinker.

His .509 average and 1.457 OPS in at-bats ending on non-offspeed pitches are the best of any player in May (through games of May 30).

The only way pitchers retired Wright this month was with breaking balls. Wright hit just .190 in at-bats ending with a curveball or slider, tying him with Freddie Freeman and Dee Gordon for 118th in the majors. But Wright showed discipline, chasing only 14.3 percent of breaking balls out of the zone, which was tied with Carlos Santana for the second-lowest rate this month (Jamey Carroll, 10 percent).

Price, Rays keep rolling at Tropicana Field

May, 5, 2012
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Kim Klement/US PresswireDavid Price helped the Rays win their 10th straight game at Tropicana Field.
The Tampa Bay Rays scored seven runs in the first four innings to roll past the Oakland Athletics for their 10th straight win at Tropicana Field. That’s the second-longest single-season home winning streak in franchise history, trailing only an 11-game run in 2008.

The Rays are the first American League team to start 13-1 at home since the Minnesota Twins won 14 of their first 15 home games in 2002. In 2009, the Los Angeles Dodgers were the last MLB team to start 13-1.

David Price was able to shut down the Athletics with the combination of his fastball and slider.

Sixty-three percent of Price’s pitches were fastballs, and the A’s went 0-for-11 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending with the heater.

With two strikes, Price went with his slider to end the at-bat. He threw 11 of his 15 sliders with two strikes and recorded six strikeouts. That’s his most whiffs with the slider since 2009.

He didn’t even need to stay in the zone to retire the opposing hitters. Over half of his pitches (56 of 106) were outside the strike zone. The Athletics swung and missed on 58 percent of pitches outside the zone, including six strikeouts. Price hadn’t induced as many chases on pitches outside the zone in a start since his rookie season.

With the win, Price improves to 30-3 at home in his career when getting at least three runs of support.

Around the Diamond
• Albert Pujols went four at-bats without a home run on Friday. His 108 at-bats without a home run this season are his longest single-season streak in his career, passing a 105 at-bat streak last season. Two long homer droughts were snapped Friday, as Shin-Soo Choo (67 at-bats) and Mark Reynolds (66 at-bats) hit their first of the season.

• Also in Anaheim, the Los Angeles Angels were shut out with Ervin Santana on the hill for the fifth straight time. Thanks to our friends at Elias, we know that this is the first time in major-league history that a starting pitcher has received no run support over five straight starts (11 pitchers had gone four straight starts without a run scored on their behalf).

• Wilson Ramos hit a bases-loaded single in the 10th inning as the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies to pick up their MLB-leading fifth walk-off win of the season.

• Mark Teixeira went 2-for-3 with a home run against Bruce Chen, improving to 11-for-22 with seven homers in his career against Chen. That is the most home runs he has hit against any pitcher in the majors.

• Stephen Strasburg allowed two home runs to right-handed hitters; entering the game, he had only allowed one homer to a righty in his career.

• Jerry Hairston Jr. went deep for the Dodgers, and has now hit a home run for six different teams since 2009. No other player has hit homers for as many teams in the same span.

• The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Mets 5-4, snapping a nine-game losing streak in one-run games. According to Elias, that was the second longest streak in franchise history; the Diamondbacks lost 13 consecutive one-run games in 2004.

• Jamey Carroll singled in the first inning to snap a streak of 47 hitless at-bats for the Twins. Elias reports that it was the longest hitless at-bat streak by a team in a season since the San Diego Padres also went 47 at-bats between hits in June 1995.

Andrew Davis contributed to this post.

How will Sanchez, Cabrera + others help?

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
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US Presswire
Melky Cabrera (left) and Jonathan Sanchez (right) will be swapping uniforms next season.
The Hot Stove heated up this week with our first major free-agent signing of the winter, when the Phillies agreed to a four-year, $50 million deal with Jonathan Papelbon (pending a physical). We covered that signing in detail on Friday.

Here's a closer look at some other notable transactions from the past week, including a potentially significant trade and a few under-the-radar signings.

Jonathan Sanchez Traded by Giants to Royals for Melky Cabrera
This was a classic trade where both teams dealt from a strength while looking to improve a weakness. The San Francisco Giants last year had the second-best ERA and the fourth-worst OPS in the majors, while the Kansas City Royals had the fourth-worst ERA and seventh-best OPS.

In Sanchez, the Royals receive a hard-throwing left-hander who has the third-highest strikeout rate since 2008 (minimum, 500 innings pitched). He also struggles with his command, never averaging fewer than four walks per nine innings in a season, including last year’s league-high rate of 5.9.

One concern for the Royals is Sanchez’s diminishing strikeout rate and fastball velocity over the past three seasons. Last year, when Sanchez missed more than a month with a biceps injury, his fastball averaged below 90 mph for the first time in his career.

Sanchez should help a Royals rotation that struck out just 621 batters, fifth-fewest in the majors last year. But he’ll need to improve his efficiency if he is going to make an impact on a Royals rotation that ranked 24th in innings pitched. His average of 5.3 innings per start was second-worst in the majors (minimum, 100 innings).

The Giants hope that Cabrera, who had a breakout season with 18 homers and a .305 batting average in 2011, can help improve an offense that scored the second-fewest runs in the majors last year.

Cabrera's career-best numbers were partly fueled by a .332 BABIP that was well above his career mark of .299. Cabrera also posted the lowest walk rate (5.0 percent) and highest strikeout rate (13.3 percent) of his career.

Pirates Sign Rod Barajas
The Pittsburgh Pirates inked Barajas to a one-year, $4 million deal following his 16-homer season with the Dodgers. Barajas will bring some much-needed power behind the plate to the Pirates. Since 2004, only three catchers have hit more homers than Barajas’ 111.

Pirates catchers hit just 13 homers (23rd in MLB) and had a .382 slugging percentage last year (18th in MLB). The last Pirates catcher to hit more than 15 homers in a season was Jim Pagliaroni, who had 17 in 1965.

Diamondbacks Sign Willie Bloomquist
Twins Agree to Terms with Jamey Carroll
The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Bloomquist to a two-year, $3.8 million contract. On a positive note, Bloomquist is a versatile defender, having played at least 100 innings at every position except catcher in his 10-season career.

But he is also the definition of a replacement-level player. Bloomquist has never posted a season with a WAR of at least 1.0. His career OPS of .654 is the ninth-worst among active players (min. 2,000 PA), and his .073 Isolated Power is seventh-worst.

The Minnesota Twins also found a utility man to their liking with the addition of Jamey Carroll, who has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal. The Twins had a rough go last season at second base and shortstop. The metric Defensive Runs Saved, which measures a middle infielder's ability to turn batted balls into outs and turn double plays, showed that Twins middle infielders went from saving the team 27 runs in 2010 to costing them 39 runs in 2011.

Though Carroll contributed positive value defensively at second base as recently as 2009, last season was his worst in that regard. Carroll's defense was viewed by that metric as costing his team 14 runs.

Cold markets in this year's hot stove

November, 5, 2011
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If you’re a team that needs a catcher, second baseman, or centerfielder, you might struggle to find what you’re looking for in this year’s free agent market. Here’s a closer look at what is available among these positions.

Catcher
The first thing to know about the market for backstops is that there are no catchers on this year’s free agent market who played in 100 games last season. The only available player who even caught 700 innings was Rod Barajas.

The top-rated catcher available statistically is Ramon Hernandez, who finished last season with 2.0 Wins Above Replacement. His WAR over the past three seasons is 4.4, the best among free-agent catchers.

Ramon Hernandez
Hernandez
For perspective on Hernandez’s value, a 2.0 WAR is someone who would barely be considered an everyday player. In fact, his WAR ranked 16th-best among all catchers in 2011.

Aside from his below-average production, another potential reason against signing Hernandez is that he is a Type A free agent. If the Cincinnati Reds offer him arbitration, the compensation for another team signing him could be a first-round pick.

Second Base
There are plenty of second baseman in this year’s free agent pool, but the market lacks a star player. It does have a large group of players who played a lot of innings, but produced in a limited fashion.

The highest-rated second baseman in Wins Above Replacement are Kelly Johnson, who hit .222 with 21 homers for the Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks, and Jamey Carroll, who had a .359 on-base percentage but no home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both players finished with 2.2 WAR last season.

How thin is the second base market? There are four free agents who played at least 100 games last season and finished with a WAR below 1.0: Aaron Hill, Aaron Miles, Adam Kennedy, and Orlando Cabrera.

Center Field
The highest-rated centerfielder by Wins Above Replacement is Coco Crisp, who finished with 2.2 WAR in 2011, followed by Rick Ankiel at 1.4.

What’s interesting about center field is that there are two players who were formerly great centerfielders, who would be highly coveted and could be put in centerfield if a team is willing to take a risk.

Carlos Beltran showed himself to be an adequate defensive player in right field for the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants, with two Defensive Runs Saved last season. However, a factor that would work against him moving back to center field is his age, as he turns 35 in April.

Beltran also showed that he is still capable of handling himself at the plate. His .910 OPS was third-best among major-league right fielders last year, and his 39 doubles were surpassed only by Joey Votto among all NL players.

When healthy, Grady Sizemore was one of the top centerfielders in the game, averaging 27 homers and 29 stolen bases from 2005-08. However, he’s played an average of just 70 games in the last three seasons and has hit .234 over that span.

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