— File this under Dammit! Russ Branyan has exploded after being traded to the Indians. With the AAA Buffalo Bisons Branyan has posted a .313/.361/.719 line with 4 HRs in 8 games. While this is Triple-A and a small sample size — really it’s nothing to get upset over — it just stinks to see a guy you just traded for PTBNL take off like that. Although, congrats to Branyan.
— I had been thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to move Rafael Furcal down in the batting order given his early struggles, but after exaimining his numbers I now think that Furcky may be the victim of some bad luck. Right now he is putting up .254/.362/.356. I would like to see my leadoff guy with a higher OBP than that, especially when Julio and Estrada are putting up .400+ OBPs. But, looking at Furcal’s career he seems to be acquiring the plate discipline that will get him on base more. Why do I say Furcky’s OBP is low when his current OBP is near dead-on his career average? Well, his OBP is down from what I think it will be by season end because his batting average is down. Furcal has been injured, and I think this explains some of his problems at the plate. His career ratio of OBP/BA is 1.22, but this season it is 1.44. If his batting average returns to his career average of .280 and the OBP/BA ratio stays the same, then his OBP will end up being just over .400. And even if I look at his BAs from his two weakest seasons of .275 his OBP will be .390.
At this point you are probably screaming loudly. “Your an idiot JC! Why are you assuming the BA will revert to the mean but his OBP/BA will not? You damn imperialist economists think you know everything!” Whoa! Calm down imaginary foil; I have an answer. The reason I am optimistic about Furcal is that his walk rate and the number of pitches he is taking this year are up while strikeouts are down. So far in 2004 Furcal has walked in 14% of his of his plate appearances and facing 4.28 pitches. He is striking out in only 10% of his at bats. This is a stark difference over his career. His walk rate, pitch count, and strikeout rates are 8.75%, 3.9, and 15.52%. His walks and Ks have virtually flip-flopped! It looks like he is taking a much better approach to hitting than he has in past years, and if he keeps it up he might be one of the best lead-off men in the game. Keep up the good work Furcky! I’m sorry I ever doubted you.