Wednesday was probably the craziest night of the 2012 baseball season, highlighting the unpredictability of baseball. In today's Triple Play, we asked our experts to discuss some of the players and teams that they just can't figure out.
1. The team that has you scratching your head is ________?
Eric Karabell (@karabellespn), ESPN Insider
It's the Philadelphia Phillies. I scratch my head most nights watching them. They get good pitching but can't score, and then Wednesday in Atlanta happens, when Roy Halladay gets pounded, they score 13 runs, and still lose. If the Phillies hadn't won the division the past five years, I think a lot of people would view them as a third-place team. Yet they could still win it all. Who knows?
Jeremy Lundblad (@JLundbladESPN), ESPN Stats & Info
The Miami Marlins. This isn't a lineup that should rank in the bottom five in runs scored while hitting .224. Yet Omar Infante is the only Miami batter who isn't underperforming thus far. Gaby Sanchez stopped taking walks, Giancarlo Stanton's power stroke has disappeared, and Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez are batting a combined .213.
Evan Brunell (@evanbrunell), Fire Brand of the A.L.
The Houston Astros. Last season, Houston lost 106 games with a minus-181 run differential. This season, with virtually the same team, the Astros are 11-14 -- with a plus-14 run differential. They've done this with almost the same exact roster as last season, so their performance comes a bit out of left field. Their offense is top 10 in the league, most of it due to the double-play combination of Jose Altuve and Jed Lowrie. Unfortunately, these guys are playing over their heads, so the Astros won't sustain this excellence -- and Wandy Rodriguez can't have an ERA under 2.00 the entire season.
2. The pitcher who has you scratching your head is ________?
Karabell: I'll go with Josh Johnson of the Marlins. I thought the options on him were he'd either pitch great or get hurt, or both. For him to have allowed 41 hits in 28 2/3 innings, be winless in five starts but still have allowed nary a home run is quite odd. He literally could still win the Cy Young award, get hurt in his next outing or apparently continue to get lit up.
Lundblad: Ubaldo Jimenez. He's lost 4 mph off his fastball from two years ago. That's led to half as many swings and misses, and his strikeout rate has been cut in half. Jimenez has never had great control, but enough strikeouts helped mask that. Not anymore.
Brunell: Joe Saunders. The lefty looks like a different pitcher this year after struggling to find a contract to his liking in the offseason due to being typecast as a back-end starter. He ended up re-signing with the Diamondbacks, which didn't bode well for him since his home park is a homer haven. And yet, Saunders has a 1.24 ERA in five starts, and when you dig deeper, you can see that he's ditched his slider completely and fallen in love with his two-seamer, which is inducing ground balls at a 55 percent clip after being in the mid-40s for his career. Saunders appears to be reinventing himself as a pitcher -- and it's working.
3. The position player who has you scratching your head is ________?
Karabell: Two Dodgers hitters get my vote. One is Matt Kemp. How did he hit .249 a few years ago? He's outhomered the entire Chicago Cubs team into May. But as good as Kemp is, how can Dee Gordon still refuse to take walks or find some way on base? His OBP is .263. Kemp should have 40 RBIs already.
Lundblad: Ike Davis is hitting .180 with a .524 OPS. At Citi Field, he's just 3-for-43 this season. Those numbers are perfectly ugly, but what really makes me scratch my head are the strikeouts. He is fanning once every 3.7 plate appearances, and it's often because he simply isn't swinging the bat. Davis leads the majors with 13 strikeouts looking.
Brunell: David Ortiz just wrapped up a thoroughly dominating April, which is not the word one would associate with Ortiz and the month of April the last few seasons. Ortiz has slimmed down dramatically, suddenly become a lefty-killer and is slowly but surely forcing the defense to play him straight away instead of shifting. No matter how much one digs into the numbers and credits his weight loss, there just isn't that one smoking gun that explains Big Papi's success. But Red Sox fans are sure enjoying it.