Jimmy Rollins – Rollins is having a disappointing season thus far, hitting .263/.329/.425 after an MVP season last year where he hit .296/.344/.531. The dip in Rollins’ batting average can largely be attributed to bad luck. Rollins is having the best year of his career in terms of plate discipline (EYE of .95 compared to career EYE of .60 actually shows he has improved by leaps and bounds), yet he has a singles average of .203, his worst over the past 5 seasons. In terms of Rollins’ dip in slugging percentage, a simple look at his distribution of balls in play might explain that. Rollins was able to post a career high slugging percentage of .531 last season due to a FB% of 44.2%. Prior to that Rollins never had a FB% greater than 36.9%. This season, Rollins’ FB% is back down to 31.7%, making last season’s number look like an anomaly. So, in conclusion, we should expect Rollins to rebound in the batting average department next season, but we may never see him slug greater than .500 again because he simply puts the ball on the ground too much, with the exception of one year (2007) out of eight.
Aaron Heilman – Heilman has 3 saves filling in for the injured Bob Wagner, but he currently has a 5.48 ERA this season after posting sub-4 ERA’s of 3.17, 3.62, and 3.03 the past 3 seasons. So, what gives? Heilman has the best K rate of his career, but as Tom mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it has come at expense of his control. Interestingly, despite his best k rate, Heilman has his worst K/BB ratio of the past 4 seasons. That is an issue. Still, Heilman’s ERA should not be quite so high. He has an unlucky BABIP of .326 (his highest ever) and a LOB% of 65.7%, which is extremely low when you consider his ability to strike batters out. Expect Heilman to have better numbers the rest of the season, and he could even be dominant if he stopped walking so many batters this season (4.41 BB/9 this season compared to career BB/9 of 3.50).
Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano picked up his 13th win of the season yesterday afternoon, but beware! I don’t think he will be extremely successful from here on out. He helped his own cause out yesterday by hitting a HR, but he also posted a K/BB ratio of 1, by striking out and walking 4 batters a piece. In his last 4 starts, Zambrano has only 15 strikeouts in 22.3 IP, while walking 11 batters over that span, for a K/BB ratio of just 1.36. When I wrote about Zambrano finally putting everything together this year (back on June 13th), he had a K/BB ratio of 2.06, which is now down to 1.95. It does not seem like much of a drop-off, but Zambrano clearly is not showing the type of control that he did earlier in the season. Meanwhile his k/9 have dropped all the way to 6.13, which is about a strikeout and a half lower than his career average, thus making Zambrano a dangerous pick in keeper leagues.
Tim Redding - Tim Redding is one of a few Nationals pitchers who flies under the radar because he plays for a bad team. Yet, Redding actually has pretty decent skills. During yesterday’s start, Redding went 6 innings and gave up just 1 run in Philadelphia. He struck out 5 while walking only 1. A quick look at Redding’s ERA the past two seasons may look like he is regressing (3.64 last season, 4.54 this season), but that is not the case. Redding has upped his K/BB ratio from 1.24 to 1.98 and upped his GB% from 38.3% to 41.3%. So, the jump in ERA is not a result of Redding’s skills dropping off, but rather it is due to a 12% decrease in his LOB% (81.3% to 69.3%). If Redding continues to improve, he will post a sub-4 ERA next season.