From Last Night:
- Valbuena homers in the 9th to lift the Cubs over the Marlins 4-3
- Buehrle continues to struggle, allows 3 HR to the Yankees in 5-3 loss
- Harper and Espinosa power Gio to a win over the Reds
- Buchholz K’s 10 Astros enroute to a 7-2 victory
What I’m Watching Today:
- After a terrible first start, Scott Kazmir takes another shot on the comeback trail against the Royals (8p Eastern)
- Chen and Milone face off as last year’s Cinderella’s meet in Oakland (10p Eastern)
- Lincecum looks to stay on track against hard throwing Cashner and the Padres (10p Eastern)
The Big Question:
- Have you seen the Yu Darvish .gif? You must. You just must.
As I often do in the space below the Morning Edition, I’d like to highlight a weird early season set of statistics. Most would tend to consider wRC+ the best catch-all offensive metric, and as I sort the 2013 leaderboard by said metric a variety of names expected and unexpected rise to the top. The player who ranks 11th as I write this (11:21pm April 25) is Braves 3rd basemen Chris Johnson with 176 wRC+. I’m not going to make the case that this makes Johnson an MVP candidate or anything silly like that, but I would like to point out that he is, by out best single number, one of the best dozen hitters in baseball over the first four weeks. What makes that so interesting is that he is doing so while walking a preposterously small amount, just 3% of the time. Usually when someone is near the top of the leaderboards this early, we talk about negative regression to the mean, but Johnson’s walk rate is so low it can only regress upward. Don’t get me wrong, the dude doesn’t walk, but he’s never walked less than 4% of the time in the major leagues, so that should get marginally better, or at least not worse. The next player on the list who walks less than Johnson is JP Arencibia, who is 44th ranked. Johnson’s line looks like this: .397/.424/.556. He has the same wRC+ as Prince Fielder who has walked 17% of the time while hitting for more power! How is this so? Well Johnson is hitting .397, which is very high and very BABIP driven (.460). He is a high BABIP guy (career .353), but that should come down to some degree and he’ll settle in closer to his career mark of 104 wRC+, which is nothing at which to sneeze. Now if only he could play defense (career UZR -34.9 in 365 games).