Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Justin Upton: smashing things up...
No doubt that one of the key factors in Arizona's push into the NL West race is its still-young right fielder Justin Upton, subject of many neo-sabe rattlings due to his previous inability to blossom into a superstar. He's showing some indications of such a flowering this year, particularly in the past 14 games, in which he's hit .436, slugged .982, and driven in 21 runs.

Since late May, Upton has been one of the best sluggers in baseball (data, as is so often the case, courtesy of David Pinto's terrifically useful Day by Day Database):

As we see the level of hitting that Upton has been maintaining over the past two months, we can also see how the Red Sox have kept their surge alive--their top of the lineup hitters (Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury) are outslugging their middle of the lineup hitters (Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz). How often does that happen?

Projecting Upton over the rest of the season is tricky, because previously Justin has managed to play fewer games as each month passes. He's had a track record of getting injured in the second half of the year. Our personal seat o' the pants rule of thumb for a "superstar" hitting season is a 160 OPS+; right now Justin is sitting at 152.

* * *

"Here's a pie to go with that pink slip, Mattbert..."
Matt Stairs was pink-slipped by the Nationals the other day, and one of the "fils" at Forman et fils noted the number of franchises the Great Chunkster had played for in his career. (We're still hoping that the Rockies will take a flyer on Matt during the last month of the season, as he's a wonderful fit in Coors Field.)

[UPDATE: Stairs has announced his retirement. Spoil-sport!]

But it occurs to us that the real way to measure the most well-traveled player in baseball isn't simply by counting the number of franchises for whom he played. It really should be done by the percentage of available franchises for whom he played.

When we look at it from this perspective, it's clear that Stairs--and Octavio Dotel, who's also played for 12 franchises--aren't really close to the record at all.

They've played for 40% of the available franchises. 

While that's reasonably impressive, it's far behind the top mark, which is just a tad over 56%.

Bobo Newsom's monogrammed dashboard came
in handy on his many, many road trips from team to team...
Dick "Chicken" Littlefield
Who were those chimps? One was 200 game winner (and 200 game loser) Bobo Newsom. The other was Dick Littlefield. When we prorate the number of games that "Chicken" Littlefield played in his career, he's the winner in what might be called the Great PTBNL Sweepstakes--a man to be named later as often as possible, but seen for as little time as convenient.

"I love it here in Kansas City...this is
Kansas City, right??"
Matt is going to need stints with at least four more teams in order to get into this territory. That's just not gonna happen. 

Don't count out Dotel, though. There's much more room for marginal pitchers in baseball, so if you're a gambler, there's your bet.