Some of the metrics I will be looking at are:
- Gross Production Average (GPA) which is a variation on OPS that gives more weight to on base percentage than slugging percentage. It helps describe the overall offensive productivity of a player and returns a number that can be interpreted much like batting average.
- Runs Created (RC) - a metric created by Bill James which attempts to estimate the number of runs a hitter should contribute to a team given his offensive production. I am using the 2002 updated version and will combare each players RC to the actual number of Runs contributed.
- Pitches per Appearance (P/APP) - I look at this ratio to get an idea of how patient players are being when they come up to bat. A higher average means that they are taking more time at the plate and are waiting for their best pitches to hit. Higher ratios also mean the opposing pitcher has to work harder to create an out.
I will fully admit that I am probably not the most advanced or sophisticated analyst on the planet, but these numbers are fairly easy to interpret and should let get a good understanding of how each batter is doing. I will focus on batters who have at least 5 plate appearances because they will have factored in more significantly in the games that have been played.
Here is a short table that omits some of the statistics I posted earlier and focuses more on the overall production statistics.
|AVG||On Base %||GPA||BB||1B||2B||3B||HR||R||RBI||RC||P/APP||BA_RISP|
Monster Production from Chris Sciambra and Jacoby Jones
Sciambra and Jones are far and away the two most productive forces in the LSU lineup at the moment.
Sciambra has been a fantastic lead off man and doing exactly what you need your lead off man to do, be patient at the plate and get on base. Sciambra leads the team in batting average (0.583), OBP (0.706), RC (6) and second highest number of walks (5), but has only scored 3 runs because of a lack of production from some of the batters behind him (chiefly Mark Laird, more on him in a bit).
Jacoby Jones has been a monster in the middle of the lineup for the Tigers. He currently leads the team in GPA, HR, walks, and P/APP. He has been the most patient batter in the Tigers lineup, picking his spots and making the most of every plate appearance. Jacoby's RC is lower than his actual runs scored because the version of RC I am using takes into account situational hitting. Hitting solo home runs and having few opportunities with runners in scoring position is actually lowering his overall run contribution to RC, but he is still off to a fantastic start.
This is a very good start to the season for both Jones and Sciambra, but it is bound to bounce down. We cannot read much into these numbers and we should definitely not expect them to continue as the quality of opponents increases during SEC play and the Tigers are forced to leave the comfortable surroundings of Alex Box Stadium.
Expect More Out of Raph Rhymes and Mason Katz
After nearly batting 0.500 for nearly all of last season, Rhymes has come back to Earth. It would be impossible to expect Rhymes to continue the tear he was on last season, but we have come to expect a lot from him. He is currently producing below his capability with a GPA of 0.286, but I expect this average to rise as he gets more comfortable. His RC is lower than the team average because of the situational circumstances when he bats. He does not have a hit in three chances with runners in scoring position, but he will get more opportunities as the season progresses so he can improve quickly (especially early in the season with so few AB's).
Mason Katz has struggled in the first three games, but there is not any obvious number you can point to for his struggles. He is being very patient at the plate with 4.1 P/APP. He did get more productive as the weekend went on, so this may just be a blip on the radar until he settles in for the season. He has had the most opportunities with RISP, but has only gone 1 for 5 thus far.
Solid Production from Bregman, Ross, Ibarra, and Moore
Alex Bregman, Ty Ross, and Tyler Moore are all lending solid contributions to the team through the first four games.
Alex Bregman has been impressive, hitting in the three hole for the Tigers. He has been hitting well with runners in scoring position, converting 2 out of his 4 chances through four games. This has contributed to his high RC of 3.19, good for fourth on the team. I would like to see him go deeper into counts and work pitchers harder. He has a below team average 3.5 P/APP and has put the pull in play on less than two pitches 6 times in 15 at bats. However, he is 3/6 when he puts the ball in play with two pitches or less, so what the hell do I know. I should probably just shut up at this point. He creates chances and puts the ball in play. Let's hope he keeps this production going.
Ross' batting has been solid so far. He has converted 2 of 3 chances with runners in scoring position with a home run. This has largely given rise to his RC of 3.49, good for third on the team. Despite his good production, he needs to be more patient at the plate. He has a low P/APP (3.4) and has put the ball in play with two pitches or less 5 times in 10 at bats (1 hit in these AB's).
Moore has made the most of his limited opportunities. He has a decent GPA of 0.280 and is 1 for 2 with RISP. I see him being used as the DH versus right handed pitching, but if he continues to produce he could lock down the DH position regardless of the pitcher.
While he has not lit the world on fire, Christian Ibarra has been productive for LSU. His GPA is below average (0.191), but he has come through with RISP. He is 2/4 with RISP, which has led to his good RC of 2.21 (fifth best on the team).
Laird and Edward Struggling Early
Mark Laird could really use a confidence booster. He has a GPA of only 0.118, lowest among the starters (excluding DH's). His lack of production hurts because he is batting after Sciambra. Sciambra can get on base all he wants, but if Laird does not produce after him then the Tigers could struggle later in the season to score runs. Laird is slightly impatient with a 3.5 P/APP plus he has put the ball in play with less than two pitches 6 times in 15 at bats (no hits). LSU has seen a lot of left hand pitching early this season, so that could be one reason for Laird's struggles. I will need to run the numbers on Laird versus left and right hand pitchers to get confirmation. However, you should expect Mainieri to move him down the lineup until he improves at the plate.
It's pretty easy to see why Alex Edward is struggling. He has a 2.8 P/APP average, lowest on the team (with a minimum of 5 PA). He has put the ball in play with two pitches or less 5 times in 7 AB's (no hits). Edward needs to pick his pitches better and show more patience at the plate. It might not solve his production problem instantly, but it never hurts to be more patient at the plate.