There's two sides to the Drew Stubbs story. Patrick Saunders has the first, where he details all of the things mechanically that have helped Stubbs to a .305 / .344 / .517 (.861 OPS) line this season. According to Stubbs, he's staying back on the ball better, he's seeing pitches clearly, and he's doing a better job of taking advantage of the pitches he does get to hit. He also believes Coors Field is a great place to play and that the park fits his game.
Then there's the other side of the story: The cold hearted saber metrics view. The people who follow this narrative will point to Stubbs' enormous 30 percent strikeout rate, his modest six percent walk rate, his inability to dramatically increase his power (he currently has 11 home runs - So he's likely to end the season in the 15 to 18 neighborhood), and most of all, they will point to his completely unsustainable .410 BABIP. Of course, there's probably some truth to both stories with reality lying somewhere in the middle.
The real interesting number when it comes to Drew Stubbs right now though is 23. That's his line drive percentage for the 2014 season; nearly five percent higher than what he's posted for his career. This plays into the idea that Coors is an excellent fit for Stubbs, as does his .650 slugging percentage in Denver. When Stubbs gets a hold of a pitch, it's going to be hit extremely hard, and with his speed, it's almost surely going for extra bases unless it's hit right at a fielder. With less movement on pitches at altitude, Stubbs is exactly the type of hitter we should expect to benefit most from this environment.
The problem I'm having however is that I don't think this is enough to explain all of his hits falling in. That .410 BABIP is a huge, huge number, and the fact that it sits at .389 on the road with only nine extra base hits and a 37 percent strikeout rate is a massive red flag.
Between looking at these numbers and watching Stubbs play all season, I'm developing two opinions on the matter.
1) Drew Stubbs is a great fit for Coors Field and can be a valuable asset for the Rockies here.
2) Drew Stubbs is not going to be as good for the Rockies in 2015 as he's been in 2014 unless he cuts down on his strikeout rate.
This leaves the Rockies in a tough spot. Stubbs is going to get more expensive next season (he's arbitration eligible) and he's likely to provide less value. At the same time though, he's not as obvious of a "sell high" candidate as most fans want to believe. Other clubs can see his Coors Field success and are unlikely to hand the Rockies a package which would be very beneficial to them.
Normally I think the bias held against Coors Field hitters is largely overblown, but with this particular player, the concern is probably legitimate.
The Rockies, as you've probably heard by now, did nothing at the trade deadline, and Stubbs was a hot topic in the storm of debate which surrounded that inaction. Like many things in life though, the Drew Stubbs situation is complicated. The Rockies are still going to have another chance to sell high on Stubbs this winter, but I don't think they'll get much unless they package him into part of a larger deal with more moving parts.
Unless that happens, I expect to see Stubbs in a Rockies uniform next April. As good as his season has been, he's still a huge risk for other clubs to take on.
* * * * *
Patrick Saunders has a big mailbag segment from yesterday. Chief among the questions: "Did the Rockie fail to take advantage of the trade deadline?"
The Cubs are calling up their top prospect Javier Baez. He's expected to make his MLB debut tonight at Coors Field.
The news we all feared surrounding Andrew McCutchen is true. He's going on the DL with an oblique injury and could miss a month. Thanks again D'Backs! Your organization is a disgrace to this game.
It shouldn't be a surprise at this point after the Giants acquisition of Jake Peavy last month, but Matt Cain is officially done for the season. The Giants have had better luck than anyone keeping their starters healthy over the last five years, but Cain's season has hurt their chances this year. The Giants better hope this surgery can get Cain close to being the pitcher he was during the first seven years of his career again, because he's still owed $20 million over each of the next three seasons.
* * * * *
Lastly, I'm going to leave a link to the Baseball Reference page of the 2014 Angels. Look at the OPS+ numbers of that starting line up! David Freese has the lowest OPS+ (92) of any player on that team to rack up more than 200 plate appearances, and he's been getting hot lately (.825 OPS over his last 34 games). These bats are downright frightening.
I'm bringing this up because I think there's too many people ready to put the A's in the World Series following the aggressive moves they made at the deadline. The Angels are somehow getting away with being under the radar, which is amazing considering this team has Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, and Albert Pujols on the its roster. I can understand the hesitation to see them going far in the postseason with their starting staff, but I don't think there's enough attention being given to the possibility of them overtaking the A's for the division crown.
The regular season is different. The offensive minded teams have more of a chance in this environment (providing their pitching staff isn't a complete dumpster fire like the Rockies), and they have even more of a chance when they play bad teams during this part of the season as many other pitching staffs are worn down.
With that said, the Angels currently sit just one game behind the A's, and after they face the Dodgers for four games this week (We get to see Kershaw vs. Trout tonight on MLB Network!!!!!), they play 27 of their next 35 games against teams with losing records, and seven of the eight games against teams with a winning record are against the A's.
The point I want to get to is this: The A's better not stumble in their games against the Angels, because if they do, the Angels might approach 100 wins with that cupcake schedule. The A's schedule isn't all that difficult either, but they do have a tricky road trip to Kansas City and Atlanta that the Angels don't have to negotiate .
This battle is going to be grudge match, and the loser may very well end up having to face Felix Hernandez in a one game playoff. This is the great advantage of the double Wild Card system which is not in its third season. In the past, you could just ignore this division race and wait to see how these teams fared in October. Not anymore! Now you have two of the best clubs in baseball locked in a two month duel from here to the finish with all sorts of wild games left - And better yet, they play each other ten times between now and the end of the season, including during the second to last series of the year.
Some people can't wait to see how that A's fare in the playoffs. I can't wait to see if they can hold off the Angels.