Friday, July 9, 2010

Player of the Fortnight Awards

A couple of weeks ago, in this post, we tried differentiating the ol' BAseball Reality Tour by awarding Midweek Players of the Week.

On July 4th, in between exasperating moments of heat and isolation on Governors Island, I thought it could still be novel, and less constraining, to actually give Player of the Fortnight Awards.

That way, we can do it any day of the week and still be unique since everyone else does players of the week or month.

Sorry, I cannot remember where I read it, or who said it. However, I do remember a scout being quoted in a story, about a year ago, who said something to the effect of, "The only stats I need to look at to tell me how a player is doing are his stats from the past two weeks. That'll tell you how a guy is doing."

I remember it vividly because ever since then, I routinely checked "past 14 days" stats for Free Agents under consideration for our roto team, Good Friends.

Before checking the stats for the subject of this column, I have to ask, is anyone else thinking about adding Jason Nix? He's always had power, will play every day for the next couple of weeks - minimum, and he's as hot as an Alabama Manhole. We thought about picking him up two days ago and finally pulled the trigger last night, releasing that weirdo, Felipe Lopez.

Before we get to the award winners, can we also take a moment to share in the utter disgust of watching the Cubs become sellers for the next seven weeks?

Ted Lilly, Carlos Zambrano, Tom Gorzelanny, Xavier Nady, Kosuke Fukudome, and even fan favorite Derek Lee are some high-profile Cubs who could get moved. It seems, however, that everyone else is available, too. The problem is no-one wants any of the other overpriced, under producing, and lovable losers. The team really stinks.

Well, on that inspiring note of optimism, we present our Player of the Fortnight Awards

NL Hitter of the Fortnight
Rafael Furcal, Dodgers
We were surprised to see Furcal’s recent performance rise to the top of NL hitter rankings. Looking at his standard stats, we see he hit .472, with 4 Homers, 18 runs scored, 15 RBI, and 5 stolen bases. Raffy also led the league in with a 1.328 OPS and .569 wOBA.

Of the four awards we're giving out today, this was the only one where there was pretty much one clear winner.

Dexter Fowler, Joey Votto, and Lance Berkman, Buster Posey, David Wright, and Martin Prado were the only other NL hitters to OPS over 1.000*

NL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Looking at standard stats, we would probably be deciding between Mat Latos and Adam Wainwright, who each went 2-0 with respective ERAs of 0.44 and 0.59. When looking a little deeper, the recipient of the award actually came down to a virtual toss up between Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1.74) and our eventual choice, Josh Johnson (1-1, 1.23). Both, Kershaw and Johnson, had a 12.50 K:BB ratio, but Johnson's 1.23 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) put him over the top.

Other guys who should be mentioned for their excellence are a trip of NL Cetralers: Johnny Cueto, Ross Ohlendorf, and Wandy Rodriguez. They each had an ERA under 1.30 the past 14 days. WayRod's FIP was actually second best in the NL at 1.48.

AL Hitter of the Fortnight
Ian Kinsler, Rangers
There is a very compelling argument to make for one of our favorite players, Miguel Cabrera. In fact, looking at the numbers, it really could go either way.

The award goes to Kinsler because he plays a premium defensive position, which adds more value to your team than if he's doing it as your first baseman.

Speaking of Rangers' first basemen, how about that Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak and some prospects trade? That's great for the Rangers, and I think, ultimately, great for baseball. The league needs more teams that haven't been cometitive for years to make the lead into serious contender. They could still use a better #2 starter for the playoffs, since Rich Harden is a shadow of his former self, and none of the kids are at #2 level yet.

Anyway, if you want the Kinlser/Cabrera numbers, here they are:

Ian Kinsler
.425/.558/.675, 2 HR, 8 Runs, 8 RBI, 12 BB, 4 K, 2 nSB, 15 wRC

Miguel Cabrera
.463/.532/.805, 2 HR, 11 Runs, 12 RBI, 6 BB, 8 K, -1 nSB, 14 wRC

AL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Jon Lester, Red Sox
This wasn't as much of a toss up as the NL, but still a very close competition. I wanted to pick Francisco Liriano because he has the best xFIP during the time period (2.11). Remarkable, his ERA was an unsightly 4.85. Liriano will not take this award home with him because he’s the victim of the double whammy high BABIP (.386) and low strand rate (58.8%). Max Sherzer (2-0, 0.87 ERA) and C.C. Sabathia (3-0, 1.14 ERA) had very good fortnights by traditional standards, but their xFIP were more pedestrian: 3.52 and 3.58, respectively.

Jon Lester, on the other hand, satisfies traditional box score readers and advanced statheads. During the past fortnight, Lester went 2-0, with a 1.13 ERA, 16 innings pitched, with 10 hits allowed, 2 walks, and 16 strikeouts (2.69 xFIP). He's certainly doing his part to get the Red Sox back to the postseason.

*All Stats from Fangraphs

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