I posted this over at my own website, but my readership is nowhere near what LL sports. I'm posting this here to get everyone's honest opinion of my writing style and my use of statistics. Please feel free to critique and offer pointers on how to improve. Thanks.
I’ve been pretty negative on the team lately, and with good reason. But in all the murkiness, there have been some shining stars on this Mariners roster.
One of those stars is Franklin Gutierrez. The third iteration of Death to Flying Things came to the Mariners from Cleveland prior to the 2009 season. Being a CF on the same roster as Grady Sizemore doesn’t allow for a whole lot of playing time (not two years ago and prior, anyway), so Franklin was more than ready to come to Seattle and get regular time on the field. He didn’t disappoint in the 2009 season, posting career highs in nearly every statistical category and putting up a slash line of .283/.339/.425 for a wOBA of .337. He also flashed other-worldly defense in CF, posting a UZR of 31.0.
In 2010, Franklin appears to have taken the next step at the plate, and still shows off his defensive brilliance. His slash line currently sits at .283/.377/.430. He has so far posted a wOBA of .368. His UZR currently stands at 2.8 with a UZR/150 of 14.0, but take these numbers with a grain of salt. We all know Franklin is exceptional defensively.
One major reason for Franklin’s early success is that he has improved further his approach at the plate. He is already halfway to his 2009 BB numbers in less than a third of the plate appearances (he walks in 13.1% of his plate appearances). He’s also increased his K rate (26.5% against 21.6% last year, and 23.2% over his career), but his BB/K stands at 0.58, against a career average of 0.34. If he keeps up his current walk rate and matches last year’s number of plate appearances, he’ll end up with around 82 BB. That’s nearly double his career high, and would’ve placed him in the top-25 in the majors last year.
One reason for success on Franklin’s part that detractors may point out is that he appears to have been very lucky so far. His BABIP currently stands at .361, nearly 40 points higher than his career average. This seems strange to me. I’m no batted ball guru, but from what I understand, hitting more ground balls and line drives tends to increase BABIP, while hitting more fly balls tends to decrease BABIP. Franklin’s hitting fewer ground balls (40.5% against 43.3% career) and more fly balls (40.5% against 38.4%). His line drive rate has increased, but not by so much that it would effect his BABIP greatly.
I don’t think DFT’s BABIP will stand at .361, and I’m unsure of how a regressed BABIP will affect his current rates, but it is apparent that Franklin Gutierrez has improved at the plate. Couple that with his stellar defense and he’s arguably the best all-around centerfielder in MLB today. He’s currently locked up contractually for the next four years and change. Though things look a little rough now, we M’s fans have plenty of Frabklin to look forward. Be thankful for that.
Note: All numbers courtesy of Fangraphs.com