There is no question that Jason Giambi is having a stinker of a season, and yet he is still on 61 percent of rosters on CBSSports.com. He is starting in only 30 percent of all leagues, so most of his owners are savvy enough to bench him. Still, why hang onto a .154 hitter at all? Here's why: his 12 percent H/BIP not only puts him atop of our "Unlucky Hitters" list, but it also implies that a rebound is coming. Skeptics may note that we are five weeks into the season, his rate is actually moving downward, and a low H/BIP is actually normal for Giambi. All of this is true, though Giambi's "low" rates in recent years have still been much higher than this, settling in the mid-20s.
To put the flukiness of Giambi's performance into perspective, let's compare his supporting skill stats against those of another player giving an equally putrid performance. Both Giambi and Matt Diaz play positions where an RC/27 around 6.0 is normal, yet both are currently at 3.9. Diaz has a respectable .289 average, but neither player has an OBP over .320 or a SLG in the neighborhood of .400. Yet despite the similar numbers, Giambi walks more and makes more frequent and stronger contact. With his inferior skill set, you have to wonder what kind of stats Diaz would have if it weren't for the 36 percent of the balls in play that have become base hits for him. This is a normal rate for Diaz, but if his H/BIP were cut in half, like Giambi's has been, he would have much worse stats than Giambi.
|Player||Batting Average||On Base %||Slugging %||Walk Rate||Whiff Rate||Iso Power|
Gregor Blanco, with his .317 average, looks like he could be an eventual replacement for Diaz. If he does take over in left field, you will see a player who steals and walks more than his predecessor. However, Blanco's 43 percent H/BIP lets us know that his average will fall below .300, and his minor league numbers tell us not to count on him for homers.
Paul Byrd, Jeremy Bonderman, Tim Wakefield and Carlos Silva have been the Gregor Blancos of the mound. Perhaps Chad Billingsley and Javier Vazquez can send them some of their bad luck to even things out. Also, it looks like the just-demoted Anthony Reyes may have gotten a raw deal from the Cards, because H/BIP and ERC say he should be given another chance.
All statistics are for season-to-date performances through Saturday, May 3.
|'Lucky' Hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||'Lucky' Pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Dioner Navarro, C, Tampa Bay||46%||5.3||Justin Speier, RP, L.A. Angels||19%||4.13|
|Matt Kemp, OF, L.A. Dodgers||44%||6.1||Logan Kensing, RP, Florida||20%||3.63|
|Gregor Blanco, OF, Atlanta||43%||7.3||Manny Acosta, RP, Atlanta||22%||4.72|
|Justin Upton, OF, Arizona||43%||9.6||Paul Byrd, SP, Cleveland||25%||4.23|
|Aaron Rowand, OF, San Francisco||42%||7.9||Geoff Geary, RP, Houston||26%||3.68|
|Chris Iannetta, C, Colorado||42%||9.1||Brian Bass, RP, Minnesota||26%||4.94|
|Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta||42%||14.3||Chan Ho Park, SP, L.A. Dodgers||26%||6.43|
|Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Chicago Cubs||41%||9.1||Jeremy Bonderman, SP, Detroit||26%||4.96|
|Manny Ramirez, OF, Boston||41%||9.1||Tim Wakefield, SP, Boston||27%||4.93|
|Rafael Furcal, SS, L.A. Dodgers||41%||12.3||Carlos Silva, SP, Seattle||27%||3.22|
|'Unlucky' Hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||'Unlucky' Pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Jason Giambi, DH, N.Y. Yankees||12%||3.9||Chad Billingsley, SP, L.A. Dodgers||39%||4.88|
|Robinson Cano, 2B, N.Y. Yankees||16%||1.4||Joel Peralta, RP, Kansas City||35%||4.25|
|Cody Ross, OF, Florida||16%||1.3||Glendon Rusch, RP, San Diego||35%||4.81|
|Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago Cubs||17%||2.6||Randy Johnson, SP, Arizona||33%||4.50|
|Ben Broussard, 1B, Texas||17%||1.8||Anthony Reyes, SP, St. Louis||33%||4.71|
|J.R. Towles, C, Houston||17%||4.2||Javier Vazquez, SP, Chicago White Sox||32%||2.99|
|Ramon Hernandez, C, Baltimore||18%||2.6||Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Boston||32%||1.41|
|Juan Uribe, 2B, Chicago White Sox||18%||2.1|
|Corey Patterson, OF, Cincinnati||18%||3.9|
|Pedro Feliz, 3B, Philadelphia||20%||2.4|
|Good stats, good skills - hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||Good stats, good skills - pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston||30%||8.7||Santiago Casilla, RP, Oakland||29%||0.94|
|Jason Bay, OF, Pittsburgh||30%||7.7||Tim Hudson, SP, Atlanta||28%||2.09|
|Casey Kotchman, 1B, L.A. Angels||31%||7.2||Edinson Volquez, SP, Cincinnati||29%||2.47|
|Adrian Beltre, 3B, Seattle||31%||7.1||Randy Wolf, SP, San Diego||30%||2.75|
|Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas||32%||7.1||Shawn Hill, SP, Washington||31%||2.86|
|Poor stats, poor skills - hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||Poor stats, poor skills - pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Wily Mo Pena, OF, Washington||30%||1.6||Steve Trachsel, SP, Baltimore||30%||6.44|
|Morgan Ensberg, 3B, N.Y. Yankees||28%||2.1||Brandon Backe, SP, Houston||30%||6.23|
|Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa Bay||28%||2.1||Eric Gagne, RP, Milwaukee||29%||5.96|
|Luis Hernandez, SS, Baltimore||28%||3.0||Carlos Villanueva, SP, Milwaukee||30%||5.91|
|Eugenio Velez, 2B, San Francisco||28%||3.2||Ricky Nolasco, SP, Florida||30%||5.85|
|Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27) -- An estimate of how many runs a lineup would produce per 27 outs if a particular player occupied each spot in the order; ex. the RC/27 for Miguel Cabrera would predict the productivity of a lineup where Cabrera (or his statistical equal) batted in all nine spots; created by Bill James|
Component ERA (ERC) -- An estimate of a what a pitcher's ERA would be if it were based solely on actual pitching performance; created by Bill James
Base Hits per Balls in Play (H/BIP) -- The percentage of balls in play (at bats minus strikeouts and home runs) that are base hits; research by Voros McCracken and others has established that this rate is largely random and has a norm of approximately 30%
Isolated Power -- The difference between slugging percentage and batting average; created by Branch Rickey and Allan Roth
Walk Rate -- Walks / (at bats + walks)
Whiff Rate -- Strikeouts / at bats
Al Melchior was recently a Fantasy columnist and data analyst for Baseball HQ and will be providing advice columns for CBSSports.com. Click here to send him a question. Please put "Melchior" in the subject field.