Stats & Info: Rod Barajas

How will Sanchez, Cabrera + others help?

November, 13, 2011

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.
Madison Bumgarner
According to The Elias Sports Bureau, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey were the first all-rookie starting battery in a World Series game since Spec Shea and Yogi Berra started for the New York Yankees in Game One of the 1947 World Series.

How did they do?

Bumgarner became the fourth-youngest starter to win a World Series game as the Giants took a 3-1 series lead over the Rangers. The lefty went eight innings and didn’t allow an earned run becoming the youngest to ever accomplish that feat.

Bumgarner consistently got ahead of Rangers hitters as he threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 27 batters faced (78.0 pct). That's his highest percentage in any of his starts this season.

He also threw a season-high 25 changeups, smashing his previous high of 18. Bumgarner used his changeup most often early in the count to keep hitters that were looking for fastballs off balance. Overall, hitters finished one-for-eight against his changeup, and the seven outs he recorded with that pitch were the most all year.

Bumgarner’s dominance gave the Giants their fourth shutout this postseason. That ties the 1998 Yankees and 1905 New York Giants for the most in a single postseason in major-league history. To put that in perspective, from 1903 to 1966, 16 teams threw at least two shutouts in a World Series. The Giants are the first team since the 1966 Orioles (three shutouts) to pitch multiple shutouts in a World Series.

Bumgarner’s battery-mate, Posey, wasn’t bad either. In the top of the eighth inning he took Darren O’Day deep to center field for a 419-foot bomb that would have also been a home run at AT&T Park.

Buster Posey
Posey is the 4th rookie catcher to homer in a World Series and first since Rod Barajas (2001 Diamondbacks).

At 23 years, 219 days (born March, 27, 1987), Posey is the youngest Giants player to homer in a World Series game. The previous youngest was Matt Williams (23 years, 333 days) in Game Three of the 1989 World Series.

Posey is also the fifth-youngest catcher to homer in a World Series game behind Yogi Berra (22 years, 143 days), Johnny Bench (22 years, 308 days), Bill Delancey (22 years, 313 days) and Tim McCarver (22 years, 362 days).

For the series Posey has two RBI and two runs scored. As a team, the Giants have scored 26 runs while the Rangers have only mustered 26 total HITS! Things will have to change for the Rangers if they hope to be the first team since the 1985 Royals to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series.

1st Pitch: July numbers to rely on

July, 1, 2010
Quick Hits: With the calendar turning to July, certain players are anxious for a fresh start, while others would prefer we just skip to August. Let’s take a look at what history tells us to expect.
  • CC Sabathia will get right to it with a start against the Mariners on Thursday. That might not be a good thing. Sabathia is 17-23 with a 4.61 ERA in July, compared to 128-61 with a 3.43 ERA in all other months combined.
  • Tim Hudson is 22-8 in July, a .733 win percentage. Among careers starting in the last 50 years, only two pitchers with at least 30 decisions have a higher win percentage: Storm Davis (.781) and Pedro Martinez (.750).
  • Brad Lidge is 37-for-38 in save opportunities in July, and has converted 21 straight in the month going back to 2006.
  • Hideki Okajima finished June with a 6.52 ERA, so July could not have come soon enough. He’s only allowed three earned runs over 29 July innings in his career.
  • It’s tough to know what we should expect from Carlos Zambrano at this point, but July has traditionally been his best month. He’s 27-10 with a 2.86 ERA in his career. Over the previous three seasons, he is 12-3 with a 1.93 ERA in July.
  • Rod Barajas is a .200 career hitter in July, the lowest of any active player (min. 300 PA). He hasn’t hit over .200 in the month since 2005.
  • Perhaps the fresh scenery will help Russell Branyan avoid a poor July. Over the previous three seasons, the slugger has hit just .166 in the month.
  • Over the previous two seasons, the Angels are 38-13 in July, best in the majors.
Today’s Trivia: July 1 is Canada Day. It’s also the final day of All-Star voting. Can you name the five players born in Canada to have made three or more All-Star Games?

Today’s Leaderboard: This is Howie Kendrick’s month to shine. He’s a .398 hitter in July, compared to .282 in every other month combined. Chase Utley’s injury status remains up in the air, which means he could miss the month where he performs at his best. He has the second best average among active players, followed by Robinson Cano. Throw in Skip Schumaker (fifth-best), and apparently July is for second basemen.

Key Matchups: Ichiro Suzuki is a .396 career hitter against CC Sabathia, whom he faces on Thursday. Even against an elite pitcher, a high batting average is nothing particularly notable for Ichiro. However, a .708 slugging percentage is quite noteworthy for a player known as a singles hitter. It’s his highest against any pitcher that he’s faced 35 times. Ichiro has eight extra-base hits (including three home runs) off of Sabathia, his most against any pitcher.

For the second straight year, Nelson Cruz will celebrate his birthday by facing Jered Weaver. Let’s just say it probably wasn’t his first choice. Cruz, who turns 30 today, is a .190 career hitter against Weaver with seven strikeouts in 21 at-bats. John Lackey is the only pitcher against whom Cruz has more strikeouts. In last year’s birthday meeting, Cruz went 1-for-2 against Weaver before leaving the game with back stiffness.

Trivia Answer: Larry Walker’s five All-Star Games are the most for a Canadian. Eric Gagne, Fergie Jenkins, Justin Morneau, and Jason Bay have all been named three times. On the subject of Canada, Jason Bay is 0-for-18 on Canada Day since 2006 according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

1st Pitch: The league leaders you never see

June, 30, 2010
Quick Hits: Not all statistical categories are created equal, but they all have a leader. Let’s take a look at some of the more obscure – and in some cases meaningless – league leaders.
  • On Tuesday, David Murphy reached base by catcher’s interference for the third time this season, which leads the majors. The last player with more than 3 in a season? Edwin Encarnacion who had four in 2007.
  • Derek Jeter leads the majors with 181 ground balls, 22 more than the next player, according to STATS LLC. Having led the majors with 316 in 2009, Jeter is on pace for 385 grounders this season.
  • Carlos Lee is tops with 114 fly balls, though Rod Barajas has 108 in 89 fewer at-bats than Lee.
  • Vladimir Guerrero has swung at the first pitch 152 times, which is 14 more than Vernon Wells. Over the last 35 years, the most first pitch swings in a season belongs to Nomar Garciaparra (381 in 2003).
  • Rafael Betancourt and Carlos Villanueva have both had three batters reach on a strikeout. Yet, it hasn’t happened to Tim Wakefield this season. He is the active leader in that category with 46 in his career.
  • Zack Greinke has had the most batters reach on an error (8), but not the most unearned runs. That would be Felipe Paulino with 11.
  • Ross Ohlendorf leads the majors with four pickoff errors, which is more than every other team except the Tigers.
  • The Dodgers have had seven hitters reach on a strikeout, a huge number when you consider that 26 of 30 teams have three or fewer.
  • Dave Bush leads the majors with seven sacrifice flies against with seven. But how about the Diamondbacks’ Carlos Rosa? He’s given up five sac flies in just 13.1 innings of work.
  • Derek Lowe is on pace to issue 18 intentional walks, which would be the most since Roger McDowell’s 20 in 1991.
  • Justin Verlander has had the most pitches fouled off with 370.
Today’s Trivia: Denard Span tied the modern record with three triples in a game on Tuesday, the first player to do that since Rafael Furcal in 2002. Who holds the record for most at-bats in a season without a triple?

Today’s Leaderboard: Dustin Pedroia leads the majors having fouled off 294 pitches, according to Inside Edge. That accounts for 46.7 percent of the swings he’s taken. Ichiro Suzuki (271) is the only other player with more than 260 fouls this season.

Key Matchups: Paul Konerko is the batter that Zack Greinke has faced most in his career. He’s held the White Sox slugger to a .137 batting average in 51 at-bats. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the second lowest batting average in a matchup between two current AL players (min. 40 at-bats). Nick Swisher’s .111 in 45 AB against John Lackey is the only one worse.

Of the 27 times that Adrian Gonzalez and Jeff Francis have done battle, the Padres slugger has struck out 11 times, or 40.7 percent of the time. That’s his highest K rate against any pitcher he’s faced at least 20 times. Overall, Gonzalez has hit .154 with a .454 OPS against Francis. The two haven’t faced off since 2008, but Francis has struck out Gonzalez in five of the last six at-bats and retired him nine times in a row.

Trivia Answer: Aaron Hill was without a triple in 682 at-bats last season, which set a record according the Elias Sports Bureau. In fact, he is in the midst of a streak of 1,394 consecutive at-bats without a triple. It’s rather ironic for a player whose first career hit was a triple.

1st Pitch: A look at some unlikely leaders

May, 5, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Who hit the most home runs for the Tigers during Ernie Harwell’s tenure with the team?

Quick Hits: Rod Barajas has four homers in his last four games and leads all catchers with seven home runs this season. Here’s a look at a few other unlikely players leading their position in a category:

* Alex Gonzalez leads all shortstops with 8 home runs
* Jose Guillen leads all DHs in homers (2) and RBI (21)
* No surprise that Juan Pierre leads a position in stolen bases, but who would’ve guessed that position would be DH? He has four stolen bases as a DH this year
* Austin Jackson leads all outfielders in multi-hit games with 14
* John Buck leads all catchers with 13 extra-base hits
* David Freese leads all third basemen with a .455 BA with RISP
* Adam LaRoche leads first basemen with a .400 BA against lefties
* Nate Schierholtz leads all outfielders with a .423 BA in the 7th inning or later

Today’s Leaderboard: Tigers rookie Austin Jackson is currently batting .376 and ranks among the major league leaders. While it’s an impressive start, it would seem unlikely that he’ll keep up that pace. Why? Jackson’s batting average on balls in play is .524 this season. The major league average is an even .300.

Key Matchups: It looks promising for Andy Pettitte to continue his hot start against the Orioles today. A number of Orioles have struggled against Pettitte including Miguel Tejada (5-25), Luke Scott (2-12), Ty Wigginton (2-21) and Nolan Reimold (0-8).

It’s been all or nothing for Carlos Pena in his career against Cliff Lee. Pena has 3 career homers against Lee, but has just 2 other hits in 22 at bats. His .227 career average against Lee isn’t nearly the worst among his teammates however. Carl Crawford (3-18), Evan Longoria (1-7) and Dioner Navarro (0-10) are among other Rays who have struggled.

Trivia Answer: Norm Cash, 373 home runs. Cash began his career in Detroit the same year as Harwell, in 1960, after being acquired in a trade from the Indians. Trailing Cash on the list are Al Kaline (274 HR) and Willie Horton (262).