Sunday, May 4, 2014

Players of the Fortnight

Lots of changes happening at the HQ of the ol' blog. I quit my job on Friday, which was a unique experience. Saturday, my baby daughter turned one fortnight old, which we celebrated with a brief walk in the park. As we revisit our most frequently used writing device, we get to give awards to the best players of the past 2-weeks. It just happens to be to the best players since my daughter was born, and that could only happen if we take a quick look at the leaderboards this morning. This idea for a recurring perspective came from an old professional scout who told me that he could tell who was playing well and who wasn't just by looking at their past 14-day stat lines. There's probably many lifetimes worth of bias in that statement, but I was about fifteen years old at the time and absorbed any seamhead knowledge I'd hear. We talked about bias, streakiness, and clutch the last time we gave away some virtual hardware, but without furthur ado, let us present our first Player of the Fortnight awards for 2014:

NL Batter of the Fortnight
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Pretty easy decision, as Tulo leads the National League in just about every offensive category the past two weeks. His high marks include 5 Home Runs, a .447 Batting Average, .552 On Base Percentage, .873 Slugging, .593 wOBA, and 272 wRC+. Tulowitzki was also one of just 10 players in the NL, with 30+ plate appearances the past two weeks, to walk more often than strikeout. That top 10 looks like this:

Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 18 BB%, 5 K%
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: 26 BB%, 18 K%
Neil Walker, Pirates: 13 BB%, 6 K%
Joey Votto, Reds: 23 BB%, 17 K%
Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: 15 BB%, 9 K%
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 17 BB%, 12 K%
Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers: 15 BB%, 11 K%
Travis d'Arnaud, Mets: 9 BB%, 6 K%
Carl Crawford, Dodgers: 6 BB%, 3 K%
Chase Utley, Phillies: 11 BB%, 9 K%

How about that Anthony Rizzo, leading the NL in BB% the past fortnight. Cubs fans should be happy about that. Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Jhonny Peralta, Aaron Hill, and Matt Holliday all had 1:1 K:BB ratios the past two weeks.

Honorable consideration: Yasiel Puig, Andrew McCutchen, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Ruiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Miguel Montero, Todd Frazier

NL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Jose Fernandez, Marlins
The National League selections this time around are about as easy to identify as they've ever been. Along with Tulo on offense, who could the pitcher have been, other than Jose Fernandez? Craig Kimbrel, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jordan Walden are a few of the most impressive relief pitchers from the past two weeks, but they combined make the same number of outs as Jose Fernandez in the same time frame. Among qualified starting pitchers, Fernandez ranked first with a 0.00 ERA, 0.77 FIP, 1.66 xFIP, 0.19 tERA, 1.48 SIERA, 40.0 K% (!), and 1.0 fWAR.

Honorable consideration: Francisco Rodriguez, Craig Kimbrel, Zack Greinke, Stephen Strasburg, Johnny Cueto, Nathan Eovaldi, Brandon McCarthy

AL Batter of the Fortnight
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Believe me when I tell you, we wanted to go with a player who didn't even get enough PA's the past two weeks to be at the rate of a batter qualified for the batting title. Derek Norris had just 30 plate appearances over 9 games the past two weeks. He did not hit a home run, nor did he steal any bases. What Norris did very well was avoid outs. He led all American League batters with at least 30 plate appearances the past two weeks with a .520 AVG, .600 OBP, .568 wOBA, and 273 wRC+. Derek Norris walked more often than he struck out, but this was not as rare in the AL the past two weeks. Fifteen batters with at least 30 PA's walked more than struck out, and another ten had 1:1 K:BB ratios. We wanted to recognize Norris for his extraordinary contributions, but ultimately we gave the award to someone who affected more games and provided more value defensively. Norris was a pretty good pitch framer last season, saving 7.4 runs above average, but so far in 2014, he's at 2.4 runs below average, coincidentally tied with his teammate John Jaso.

Jose Bautista won a heavily contested race. He didn't lead the league in any well known statistic, but his .362/.474/.638 slash line, along with league average base running, was good for the highest Offensive score on Fangraphs.

Honorable consideration: Derek Norris, Josh Donaldson, Howie Kendrick, Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Kyle Seager, James Loney

AL Pitcher of the Fortnight
Collin McHugh, Astros
What?! Who? What?! No way. Yes! The first time I ran the AL leaderboards, I forgot to set it to the past 14 days and was looking at entire season stats. Looking at it that way, three rookies have made fabulous showings, so far. Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and Yordano Ventura consistently bring world class pitching to the game. For the entire season, Tanaka leads the AL with a 2.22 xFIP and is second to Max Scherzer with a 30.4 K%. Ventura leads the league with a 1.50 ERA, but has thrown only 30 innings, compared with 42.6 for Tanaka. Jon Lester has pitched great this year, while curiously getting a decision in every game, as he sits with a 4-3 record after 7 starts.

Over the past two weeks, former Met Collin McHugh has lead the league with a 0.59 ERA and 0.8 fWAR. He has "only" thrown 15.3 innings, but he won both of his starts and garnered a 11.2 K/9 to exemplify his dominance.

Honorable consideration: John Lackey, David Price, Max Scherzer, Scott Kazmir

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