By Jason Wojciechowski on April 19, 2003 at 4:08 PM
I don't get the guy. He hit his team-leading (and close to league-leading)
fifth homer of the year yesterday, helping the A's win 9-0 over the Rangers.
He's only got a .318 OBP, but is slugging .542, as 8 of his 14 hits have been for extra bases. I never thought his power would come back, so I placed his requirement for staying in the lineup on improving his on-base skills.
Through Friday (i.e. before this 2-3 with a homer day), Long was 2 RARP, which places him 18th in baseball, so right around the middle of the pack. He's outhitting Chipper Jones, Matt Lawton, and Cliff Floyd right now, but will that continue? In Lawton's case, quite probably, but not for Jones and Floyd, I'd wager.
He's contributing to a defense that's in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency, even with Eric Byrnes getting a number of starts in center field (speaking of which, two consecutive starts for Byrnes might say that he and Singleton have fallen into a job-sharing arrangement, rather than a starter-backup thing, which suits me fine).
All this just says that I don't know what to say. If Adam Piatt were the
everday left fielder, would he be getting on base more than 31% of the time?
Probably. But would he have five homers? Probably not. But is five homers from Long just as much a fluke as it would be if Piatt had those five? I think so. But then there's the defense, and Long is almost certainly a better defensive left fielder than Piatt is.
Final answer? We'll see where Long is in 12 days.
Meanwhile, Mark Ellis has cooled off his hot start, putting up five ofers in his last six starts, dropping his batting average below .300 (significantly below: his 0-5 yesterday cost his 23 points, which is more a sign of how young the season still is than anything else). In those five ofers, he managed two walks, so his OBP is falling as well. If he hits essentially what he's hitting now (350/500) all season, I'll be a pretty happy guy, as that'll probably keep him solidly in the upper third of offensive second basemen in the league.
I guess I should give some love to Ramon Hernandez. He's not walking, as his
OBP is only 40 points over his BA, but he's hitting 360/400/540 right now.
That's good for the fifth best RARP in the majors for catchers. Unfortunately, it's all batting average (three doubles and two homers compared to 13 singles), and Ramon can't maintain a .360 BA, so he'll see some drop-off later on. So long as that isn't a 300 points of OPS drop-off, though (to get back to the depths of his 2002 performance), I'll be happy.