Monday, June 4, 2012
Clearing the bases: Hanley heats up
By David Schoenfield
First base: Phabulous Phil. I watched much of the Yankees-Tigers game and Phil Hughes looked as good as I've seen him since early in the 2010 season, showing a lot of confidence with his fastball in throwing his second career complete game. I thought a key moment came in the fifth inning when Hughes walked No. 8 hitter Don Kelly on five pitches with a 5-1 lead and you figured, "Here it goes." But Omir Santos grounded into a double play and Hughes allowed just two hits the rest of the game. Of course, it should be noted that the Detroit lineup featured not only the light-hitting Kelly and Santos, but Quintin Berry, Danny Worth and the struggling Brennan Boesch. In fact, outside of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the Detroit is hardly imposing these days. After starting 9-3, the Tigers are 16-26. Justin Verlander lost his third straight decision and when he's not winning, Detroit is a thoroughly mediocre team.
Second base: Closer look at CarGo. Carlos Gonzalez slowed down the past two days, going 1-for-4 each game, but he's still 17-for-34 over his past nine games with six home runs, three doubles and 11 RBIs. But just how good is Gonzalez? This topic came up in last week's chat on the ESPN.com Franchise Player Draft as many readers felt Gonzalez didn't go high enough in the draft (he went 27th). I pointed out the red flag about Gonzalez: How good is he away from Coors Field? Eight of those nine games came at home. Entering Sunday's game, he had 1.235 OPS at home, .824 on the road. Ten of his 14 home runs have come at Coors. This follows his career pattern: He has a career 1.080 OPS at Coors, .753 on the road. In the chat, a user brought up Joey Votto, suggesting The Great American Ballpark is just as good a hitter's park as Coors. Well, sort of. It's a great home run park. But Votto actually has a higher career OPS on the road (.982 versus .949). He hits more home runs in Cincy, but compensates with a higher average and more doubles on the road. While it's pretty evident Votto is one of the best hitters in baseball no matter the park, the evidence suggests that's not the case with CarGo.
Third base: Speaking of hot hitters ... He's now playing the in the shadow of Giancarlo Stanton, but Hanley Ramirez is starting to give the Marlins the powerful 1-2 punch they envisioned. After hitting two home runs on Saturday, he hit another one on Sunday in a 5-1 victory over the Phillies (winning pitcher Carlos Zambrano also homered). After hitting .207 in April, he hit .322 in May and he's 12 for his last 24 with four home runs and three doubles. Most importantly, Ramirez has yet to miss a game. Jose Reyes had two more hits and he's quietly been raising his OBP as well -- from .293 in April to .344 by the end of May and now to .356. Also importantly, Reyes has missed just one game. It's a four-man offense right now for the Marlins (Omar Infante being the fourth run producer), but in the National League, four hitters may be all you need.
Home plate: Tweet of the day.