Sorry for the period of inactivity but graduating college and trying to move all my possessions back home is a time consuming and not-very-fun activity. Well, the moving part anyways, it’s great to get my degree. I’ll be posting once again with regularity for this week and the foreseeable future. Now, on to some thoughts.
Those who’ve watched this team in 2007 know that the offense sometimes clicks together and other times just kinda sputters around. Inconsistency seems to be the #1 problem with the hitting. You’ll see stretches of 1-2 runs per game but other stretches the team seems to get on a run to score 4-5 runs a game. Currently, the Giants rank 8th in the NL in runs scored with 207 runs. The good news is that they’ve climbed the list for runs scored and are no longer hanging out in the runs deprived cellar with the Nationals and Pirates.
Our slugging second basemen, Ray Durham, is a major cog in the offensive machine. Durham, coming off a 2006 in which he posted career highs in HRs and RBIs has struggled with the bat so far this season. His SLG has been down (.389) compared to a career SLG of (.441). Ranking NL second basemen, who’ve had 125 PA’s, by VORP further illustrates Durhams early struggles. He ranks 11th out of 15 qualifying second basemen (in 2006 he ranked #2 in the NL only behind Chase Utley)
So, should we worry about Ray Durham? Here’s a couple reasons why we might see Durham get back on track.
1. Durham has been very unlucky in May
Using BABIP to look at Durhams stats, we can see that Durham has indeed been unlucky in May. In May Durham has a BABIP of .222. A league average BABIP tends to hover around .290 and once Durham’s BABIP starts to creep back towards .290 you should see his hitting improve. Durham’s career BABIP is actually above average at .308.
For those unfamiliar with BABIP is the percentage that batted balls in play, non home runs, fall for hits. It’s generally considered to be related to luck and the defense in the field. Pitchers generally have little ability to affect their BABIP and hitters have somewhat more influence over their BABIP. For example, Derek Jeter has a career BABIP of .359. As stated, Durhams career BABIP is above average and by seasons end he should return to those levels.
Overall, in 2007, Durham’s BABIP is .266 so he still has room to improve. His BABIP for April was .297, around his career norms, and the results was he posted a line of (.279/.333/.430) not great but much better than his May performance so far.
2. Durham is a better hitter later in the season
Even though Ray has struggled in the early going, historically he has hit the best later in the season. In months July and August Durham as posted an OPS of .800+. If Durham can stay healthy he should begin to hit and hopefully will hit his stride in these later months. I think the biggest concern with Durham is going to be if he can stay healthy. Most likely his groin problems have hindered him some this May and might be partially responsible for his tough month offensively.
Watching Durham lately he seems to be getting some better swings on the ball and is actually driving the ball to the outfield. The Giants will need Ray, make no bones about it but even if he crashes and burns this year you’ve got to give props to Sabean for his contract. The 2 year deal that Durham got is one of Sabeans better deals in recent history. Durham was a top 3 second basemen in 2006 and a 2 year commitment to him will help protect the Giants from some damage if he can’t produce this year.
Even though I have faith that Durham can turn it around, we must also understand that he’s 35 this season and he could decline some. I believe that once Durham gets over some of his nagging injuries and his luck changes, he’ll be back to being one of the better hitters on the Giants.
Comment Starter: Worried about Ray? Can he turn around his season?