How Concerned About Lee Should We Be?

As its a slow Easter Sunday for me today, I decided to crunch some numbers. I’ve been pretty hard on Lee this Spring and I was curious to see if I was justified in being as worried about him as I am going into the regular season. Lee finished in the top 20 as far as MLB batting averages were concerned at the end of the 2007 season. He finished the season batting .317, tied for 20th. As of today, he is batting .184 for the Spring. I know we all say its just Spring, it doesn’t matter…no one cares about spring training numbers and it hardly reflects the big names of Summer. Those that normally do well, will do well…don’t sweat their Spring numbers, etc.

I decided to take the top 20 MLB averages from last season and see how they are doing this Spring to see if Lee was one of a few who is doing poorly, or are they all struggling to pull it together. Here is the complete list of the 2007 top 20 batting averages in MLB:

Top_20_2007_batting_avg

And here are the same 20 players with their final average from last season compared to what they are hitting so far this Spring (with regular season games RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!):

Player 2007 Spring ’08 +/-M Ordonez .363 .306 -.057
I. Suzuki .351 .180 -.171
P. Polanco .341 .449 +.108
M. Holliday .340 .326 -.014
J. Posada .338 .241 -.197
C. Jones .337 .406 +.069
D. Ortiz .332 .267 -.065
H. Ramirez .332 .415 +.083
E. Renteria .332 .220 -.112
C. Utley .332 .233 -.099
C. Figgins .330 .341 +.011
A. Pujols .327 .400 +.073
D. Wright .325 .306 -.019
V. Guerrero .324 .293 -.031
M. Lowell .324 .237 -.087
D. Jeter .322 .222 -.100
M. Cabrera.320 .271 -.049
T. Helton .320 .415 +.095
D. Young .320 .300 -.020
D. Lee .317 .184 -.133

AVG: .331 .301 -.061

So as you can see some people have a great average in comparison, but most are way behind where they finished last year. On average in fact, players are .061 lower than what they finished with last year. And I know their numbers last year is a cumulation of an entire season of ups and downs over the course of a 6 month period and Spring numbers are not and compiled before they really get into the swing of things. However, they are AVERAGES so it should give us a good idea still as to where they are at going into the regular season and no matter the fact that the numbers will improve come the end of ’08, this is where they are at on average right now approaching games in a week in a half that DO count.

So, a few things you can say about these results: 1) All most all of the top hitters in the game are struggling this Spring making Lee no different and nothing to worry about. 2) Lee is hitting .133 lower this Spring than where he finished last year, twice as low as the average difference among the other members of the top 20 group from last year making it a big deal and definitely something to be concerned about. 3) Pujols is having a great camp hitting .073 better than he finished last year putting his BA for the Spring at .400. Yikes, possibly something that could be problem for us if it continues into the regular season.

In the end, I don’t really know what to make of all this and really, I think I may have tried to do it to comfort myself and ended up even more concerned about Lee than I was before I did this. Good thing there’s plenty of jelly beans today…see you in the chat room during the game in a bit! Go Cubs Go!

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