Tidbits Jim Tracy should watch for as we roll down the stretch

As Counting Rocks already explored a bit of Chris Iannetta's slumping 2009, we should probably take note of other notable numbers for the Rockies as we continue in this already Hot August.

For starters, let's take a look at our surging SS Troy Tulowitzki.

If you haven't noticed yet, Tulo's been pretty beastly. He came up pretty short, posting a combined .226/.319/.396/.324 line (AVG/OBP/SLG/wOBA) through April and May, leading many to begin Angel Berroa comparisons again. Many immediately lept to Tulo's defense, citing good defense and a relatively decent bat, relative to his position, to merit his continued playing time.

However, since then Tulo has ramped up his game from June through August, to the tune of .306/.411/.634/.435. While I don't expect these mammoth numbers to continue, at this level of power anyhow, his batting average hasn't been super inflated. He's only sporting a .318 BABIP during these past months, which is far from abnormal. Sure, he'll come down to earth a smidge, probably closer to a .290-.295 AVG, but it should also be noted that his numbers in his short MLB career show a .371 wOBA in August and a .377 in Sept/Oct (think like a mid-.800s OPS for those of you who don't enjoy wOBA).

Next on our list of players to watch is our own Ian Stewart.

 

Click past the jump and see what we have to say about him

Stew had such an abysmal May that it dragged his solid April number straight down to the pits. Seriously, .141/.236/.359/.261. Not even a bit impressive. Well, it depends on how you look at it. His performance was flat out unacceptable. The good to take out of it was the .095 IsoD and the .218 IsoP. Excellent patience, and power numbers we expect to see out of Stew. I'm surely not excusing him, but at least he's not showing any massive signs of power outage or complete impatience or whatever.

But I digress.

If you take that ugly May line out (and I know it's picking and choosing, but just roll with it), Stew has posted a .252/.348/.518/.374 line this season. Those numbers play in any MLB lineup, especially in the 5 or 6 spot. With the On-Base skills of Dex, Helton, Hawpe, and Tulo this season, that .518 SLG will definitely plate its fair share of runs.

Now, the Redhawk's among us will tell you that his .252 AVG isn't acceptable, and in a sense, I agree, we'd always like to see higher. But it should be noted that Stewart was a .279 career hitter in the minors, so I don't think he's going to start magically challenging Ichiro to any batting titles during his career.

That said, Stewart hasn't really had a lot of time to establish solid MLB splits, so it's hard to just look back at, say, August 2008 and see what he's gonna do, it was effectively his rookie season. MinorLeagueSplits brings us just that, his minor league splits, and they warn us about an August slump. Stewart posted a career minor league August line of .237/.311/.407/.311.

It should also be noted, however, that Stewart logged 114 MLB PA in August of 2008, batting a line of .295/.439/.526/.409.

A September slump is what just might get him, though. He posted an OPS of .434 in September '08, and I won't bother with the more detailed numbers, I think that figure tells enough.

Next, let's take a look at our own favorite discussion piece, Clint Barmes.

I'll keep this brief, as we've all hemmed and hawed over Barmes' ability to produce at the plate. Here are Barmes' career month-to-month wOBA splits.

Split

wOBA

April/March

.359

May

.327

June

.336

July

.317

August

.259

Sept/Oct

.290

Barmes starts off hot, bats about average in May, heats up in June, cools off in July, and then falls apart August-September. How's his 2009 looking, relative to his career?

Split

wOBA

April/March

.346

May

.365

June

.358

July

.273

August

.098

It looks like he flip flopped a couple of months, but the trends are still there.

Observe.

Barmes_medium

Look, I'm not saying he won't rebound and do alright, he has made this his best offensive season so far in his career, but the trend is pretty undeniable. Even in 2007 in AAA Colorado Springs, his OPS dropped as soon as he hit July/August:

Month

OPS

April

.866

May

.757

June

1.006

July

.751

August

.721

I think I've driven this point home.

Finally, we'll discuss our favorite failfest, Garrett Atkins.

Atkins is a notorious 2nd half hitter for us. Right? I mean, look at 2007, he was flat 1st half and then took off 2nd half, he's a 2nd half hitter! It's pretty much written in stone. Right?!

Career Total

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wOBA

First Half

.293

.361

.534

.895

.366

Second Half

.310

.378

.496

.874

.387

Well, a .021 wOBA swing is definitely an improvement. Funny how his OPS actually suggest he's a WORSE 2nd half hitter. So if Atkins is sporting a wOBA of .303 during the first half this season, should we expect something along the lines of a .324 wOBA for the 2nd? Well, maybe, maybe not. We obviously can't just add wOBA and call it accurate, it doesn't work like that.

ZiPS is calling for Atkins to post a .352 wOBA for the rest of the season, OPSing just above .800 - which isn't TOOOOOOO bad, but considering we're seeing another 20 points of wOBA into that PLUS a better glove, it's hard to rationalize Atkins, despite his big June.

Unless we look at his other splits.

Atkins has a career .305/.397/.496/.389 split against LHP, including a .281/.387/.469/.366 line just in 2009. Now, if Atkins had been putting up those numbers across the board, Stewart would still be at 2B.

Speaking of Stewart, let's take a quick glance at his lines v LHP:

Year

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wOBA

2007

.100

.182

.200

.382

.181

2008

.370

.433

.704

1.137

.477

2009

.181

.289

.389

.678

.300

Career Total

.250

.338

.500

.838

.360

Take a look at that 2009 line there. Those numbers don't play, I'm sorry to say.

As long as we're looking at big splits, let's take a quick glance at a couple of other guys and how they fare against LHP:

Year

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wOBA

2005

.289

.312

.456

.767

.338

2006

.267

.327

.419

.745

.333

2008

.307

.333

.614

.947

.397

2009

.293

.368

.610

.978

.421

Career Total

.302

.345

.531

.876

.377

Year

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wOBA

2006

.326

.392

.432

.824

.386

2007

.285

.386

.358

.743

.346

2008

.246

.388

.290

.678

.339

2009

.299

.339

.359

.698

.329

Career Total

.304

.405

.468

.872

.391

Would you believe that the first batter is Barmes, and the second is Todd Helton? Pretty strange stuff, huh?

So what have we learned from all this? Or, as the article title says, what should Jim Tracy learn from this?

1.      Tulo is a beast and should be starting in at LEAST the 5 hole. Check, done.

2.      Clint Barmes' bat is going to get more terrible from here.

3.      Ian Stewart is a stud. Don't you worry about that May.

4.      Garrett Atkins being a 2nd half hitter isn't quite as pronounced as we thought.

5.      Garrett Atkins can still hit Lefties really well.

6.      Ian Stewart can't.

7.      Barmes can, though!

8.      Helton, however can't.

So where now? Well, basically, Stewart sits v LHP. Atkins starts at 3B, Barmes at 2B - and based on the numbers we just saw, they downright deserve to. Helton stays because his .329 wOBA, while poor, is still better than Stew's .300. Plus Helton + Glove =  Starting. (FYI, Hawpe has an .849 OPS v LHP.)

Our problem now is the issue of who starts at 2B v RHP. We could move Stewart to 2B and start Atkins at 3B v RHP, but Atkins sucks v RHP. So Stewart is the guy at 3B v RHP, and I suppose we're just stuck with Barmes and his walloping .673 OPS v RHB and stellar glove.

To conclude, this is the point where I want to see O'Dowd start to do something. Q's .429 OPS v RHP aren't terribly indicative of making him the new choice at 2B, so once again, I think we need to raise the "Free EYJ" banner again, or maybe even "Free Mike McCoy". Point is, we have a big hole in the infield that just cannot hit RHP, whether it comes in the form of Barmes or Atkins.

Jim Tracy has a lot to think about as we continue in August and hope for an exciting September.

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