Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Making the Grade - NL

As mentioned in an earlier post, I will periodically review the GPA leaders in each league throughout the season. Today we will take a look at the NL leaders through yesterday’s games.

As a reference point, here are last year’s leaders in the category (statistics can be found at The Hardball Times:

National League 2007
Chipper Jones .346
Albert Pujols .342
Miguel Cabrera .331
David Wright .331
Prince Fielder .329
Hanley Ramirez .324
Chase Utley .317
Ryan Howard .313
Adrian Gonzalez .306
Dmitri Young .305

The only surprise on the above list is Dmitri Young, but he did have a very productive season last year. This year’s leaders through April 14th are listed below, along with their 2007 and 2006 GPAs.

National League 2008 2007 2006
Albert Pujols .427 .342 .365
Pat Burrell .405 .296 .293
Hanley Ramirez .387 .324 .294
Rafael Furcal .372 .243 .284
Nate McLouth .364 .275 .225
Lance Berkman .354 .301 .344
Justin Upton .354 .208 N/A
James Loney .349 .312 .301
Chipper Jones .346 .346 .336
Derrek Lee .346 .299 .277

The names that appear on both the 2008 and 2007 lists (Pujols, Ramirez, Chipper) will likely remain there all season.

Pat Burrell is off to a tremendous start. If you buy into the contract year theory then this spike in production doesn’t surprise you. Pat’s bat will likely slow down as the season progresses but I wouldn’t be surprised if his GPA finishes the year north of .300.

James Loney has provided quality production in his first few seasons. If he can maintain his current production level (unlikely) he’ll move into the discussion of 2nd tier mixed-league first basemen next year.

Derrek Lee should regress to a .290-.300 range GPA. His 2006 GPA is low because of injury. Furcal had an off year in 2007, but he is certainly more of a .285 player as opposed to his current level of .372.

These next two players have been hot names to start the year. Justin Upton already has 5 HRs and hits in the heart of a young, productive lineup. Most owners felt that Upton would have an OK year, with his eventual breakout scheduled for 2010. His fast start is making many people second guess their initial projections. I fully expect his power to slow down, his legs to speed up, and his GPA to end up in the .290 range. Upton will be an interesting case to follow as his sample size of ABs increases.

Now everybody’s favorite OF sleeper, Nate McLouth, has made his owners smile thus far, as he’s hit safely in all 13 games this year. He is finally getting regular ABs and it will be fun to watch how he holds up over six months of full time work. With that said, McLouth’s current hit streak is likely to end soon and pitchers will start to figure him out. He does, however, possess a good eye at the plate and he takes a lot of pitches. This will help him get on base at a good clip and in turn keep his GPA up.

Again, this sample size is almost useless. But now we have a base for which to work off of as the season moves along.

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