What's Up With These Guys?
Did you know that 50% of the balls John Rodriguez has put in play have fallen for hits? The average for most players is 30%. No wonder he's hitting .417! Talk about "hitting ‘em where they ain't!" Last season, 40% of the balls he put in play last year fell for hits, mostly due to a very high line drive percentage of 30%. His line drives are down a bit this year at 23%, which is seems more normal. This tells us quite obviously that he's been very lucky and unfortunately won't be able to keep up that Hornsby-like batting average. But he still could be productive, and encouragingly he's picked up his walks to strikeout ratio from a poor .42 to a robust .83. That shows he's being much more selective this year then season. If he can maintain that line, and hit for the sort of power we know he's capable of, then the Cardinals really have something. Here's hoping he gets more opportunities.
There's been a lot of kudos heading in Hector Luna's direction, and understandably so, but I want to send some kudos to the other second baseman, Aaron Miles. I had previously dubbed him "AAA"ron Miles, due to the poor plate discipline and lack of punch he demonstrated in a Rockies uniform. But Miles has really stepped it up in the batter's eye department, as in he's walked 12 times to for 4 strikeouts. It's taken him 1/12 of the plate appearances he had with Colorado to reach 1/3 of the amount of walks he drew there. I probably like Luna as the starter at 2nd better, but Miles has held his own out there, and has seemingly gone unnoticed.
So what's up with Hector, you might ask? He's a puzzle. We still don't even have a full season's worth of plate appearances for him, and his minor league seasons ranged from slightly above average to mediocre at best. He's striking out less this season, so that's a plus. The last two seasons a high number of the balls he puts in play are falling for hits. (.342 in 05, in 06 so far .381) That's probably based more luck then skill. Luna is demonstrating some nifty pop right now for a middle infielder. I love his range at second as well has his speed, though I'd like him to be a tad more selective on the basepaths then he has this season. If he got a full season's worth of AB's, my guess is he'd fall upwards of around .270-.280/.330/.400 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and possibly steal 30 bases and hit 10 HR. But who really knows until he's given the chance? With the way he's been playing, he will certainly be getting more opportunity, so I guess we will wait and see.
(Thanks to The Hardball Times and Fangraphs for the stats.)