Stats & Info: Travis Snider

1st pitch: Crazy ratios after three weeks

April, 26, 2010
4/26/10
2:26
PM ET
Today’s Trivia: On Sunday, Joakim Soria became the all-time saves leader among pitchers born in Mexico? Whose record did Soria break?

Quick Hits: Let’s take a look at some of the more stunning ratios as we hit the three-week point of the young season.

* Brian McCann has 16 walks and only four strikeouts. Rather amazing for a player who has never had more walks than strikeouts, and had only 49 walks compared to 83 strikeouts last season.

* David Eckstein only has fanned once in 63 plate appearances. No qualifying player last decade had a PA per K greater than 30.0. In fact, the last to do so was Tony Gwynn in 1995.

* A ridiculous 79 percent of Kelly Johnson’s hits have been for extra bases. His career high is just 46 percent. Meanwhile, all 16 of Juan Pierre’s hits have been singles.

* According to Baseball-Reference.com, 33 percent of the fly balls hit by Travis Snider have been infield flies.

* With a 4.33 groundout to air out ratio, Derek Jeter is on track to lead the majors in that category for the second straight year.

* Ryan Rowland-Smith has allowed more home runs (six) than he has strikeouts (five), and has the worst strikeout percentage in the majors.

* Of all the fly balls to the outfield against Cole Hamels, 20.6 percent have been home runs, easily the highest percentage in the majors.

* Carlos Silva has a 0.63 WHIP. Last season, he allowed 0.73 extra-base hits per inning pitched.

* Carl Pavano has a 17-to-1 K-BB ratio. Last season, he had three walks in his first recorded inning of work.

* The Astros pitching staff surprisingly leads the majors with a 2.62 K-BB ratio.

* The Giants, Padres, and White Sox have more strikeouts than hits allowed.

* Of the hits allowed by the Pirates, 45 percent have gone for extra bases. Meanwhile, it’s just 25 percent for the Tigers, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Today’s Leaderboard: The Indians have struck out only 90 batters in 18 games, but have walked 77. That is just 1.17 strikeouts for every walk. Over the last 20 years, the worst K-BB ratio belonged to the 1995 Brewers at 1.16. Last decade, only the 2000 Angels (1.27) had a K-BB ratio below 1.3.

Key Matchups: One way to know if Vernon Wells is really back? If he hits Josh Beckett like it is 2006. That was the last year Wells made an All-Star team, and that honor was largely courtesy of Josh Beckett and the Red Sox. In his first 10 games of 2006 against Boston, Wells hit eight home runs. Four of those came off Beckett. However, Wells is just 3-for-18 off of the right-hander since.

Zach Duke is 0-5 with a 7.38 ERA at Miller Park, as the Pirates have lost 21 straight there. That’s the longest road losing streak against a single opponent in Pirates history. Duke’s head-to-head matchups with Corey Hart are the complete opposite of what you’d expect. Hart is a .444 career hitter in Pittsburgh against Duke, but just .150 at home.

Trivia Answer: Aurelio Lopez had 93 saves over an 11-year career that ended in 1987. Considering there have been 68 Mexico-born pitchers in MLB history, Soria’s total is rather small for a “save king.” Countries that can boast a pitcher born there with more saves: Germany (Craig Lefferts, 101), Vietnam (Danny Graves, 182), and Japan (Kazuhiro Sasaki, 129).

Travis Snider is better than you think

March, 2, 2010
3/02/10
3:30
PM ET
This offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays traded away their best starter in Roy Halladay. They also play in the most competitive division in baseball, so what hope they have lies in the future. Travis Snider, a 2006 first-round pick, has had an up-and-down two years, but the left-handed hitting outfielder is still poised to be one of Blue Jays’ offensive leaders. Still just 22 years old, Snider’s progress has been much better than it would appear at first glance.

Superficially, Snider looks like a classic Quad-A ‘tweener, the kind of guy who can rough up minor league pitching but looks desperately overmatched in the bigs. Last year, in his first real taste of sustained major league playing time, he hit .241/.328/.419 with 9 HR in 276 plate appearances. In contrast, his Triple-A numbers are eye-popping: he hit .337/.431/.663 with 14 HR in 204 PAs for Las Vegas. Can he translate his minor league numbers into major league success?

First, we need to translate his numbers into a single, comparable baseline. One of Baseball Prospectus’ numbers experts, Clay Davenport, has developed a way to do just that. According to his Davenport Translations (DTs, which place everyone in a major league context in which teams score an average of 4.5 runs), Snider’s equivalent batting line in the majors last year gets a bump. He improves from .241/.328/.419 to .247/.339/.435, to account for the parks he played in and the quality of the pitchers he faced. On the other hand, his minor league performance at the hitter-friendly ballpark in Las Vegas is adjusted downward from .337/.431/.663 to .282/.377/.588, to reflect the weaker competition and easier park.

We also have an all-inclusive stat that can be compared across leagues and years that incorporates all aspects of a hitter’s value: True Average. Snider’s True Average in Triple-A was .311 last year (it’s scaled just like regular batting average, so that’s quite good). In the major leagues last year, it was .267, which is still above average. Those 45 points represent the gap he needs to close.

The best indication he will succeed is his tremendous power. According to Hit Tracker Online, five of his nine major league home runs last year were “No Doubts” (meaning they cleared the fence by more than 50 feet). In that category, Snider led the Blue Jays despite playing in fewer than half of their games. Blue Jays fans ought to have plenty more Travis Snider home runs to look forward to this season.

Tommy Bennett is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

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