Numbers are a Funny Thing

Numbers can tell you quite a bit. Around here, I rely heavily on numbers. When someone is a minor league pitcher, I look at their K/BB ratio to use as a guide in assessing their abilities. Why? Well for a number of reasons, but mostly because they are independent of the defense, and translate well to what their abilities in the major leagues will be. But sometimes, there are numbers that can mislead, or give us false impressions of talent, or lack thereof. Here are a few numbers, who they are associated with, and what they tell us.

0

The first number, zero, is one of the most interesting numbers there is. Its got quite a history, the zero. The ancient Mayan used it as a placeholder, the ancient Greeks argued whether it existed, and the Indians were the ones who started using it mathematically less than 1500 years ago. I’m pretty sure medieval Christians associated the 0 with the devil, because they associated everything with the devil. Today, people can comprehend the zero just by looking at Emilio Bonifacio, who has exactly zero walks in 47 ABs. None. Nil. Null. Naught. The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

What does this mean for Emilio? Well it means his lack of plate discipline is not just a rumor. Also, it means that in order to be an effective leadoff man, he’s going to have to hit something like .340. Not impossible, but as I’ve mentioned before, Robinson Cano can hit .340 one year and still go 3 months hitting about .200 the next. As we’re talking about math, here’s a theorem for you: IF YOU DON’T WALK AND DON’T HIT WITH POWER THEN YOU ARE USELESS WHEN SLUMPING. Here’s a corollary to that theorem: BASESTEALERS CAN’T STEAL WHEN THEY DON’T GET ON BASE. I think Bonifacio still has a chance of being a very good player, and his defense is superb. But if he isn’t going to walk, he probably shouldn’t be the leadoff hitter. Manny Acta is a very smart manager, and I know he won’t keep Bonifacio in leadoff forever if he can’t get on base. I’m sure Manny understands what the number zero represents, and if Bonifacio doesn’t learn it, he’ll eventually get to know the number 8, as in his spot in the lineup, soon enough.

9

Number 9. Number 9. Number 9. I actually think that song is really annoying. Too avant garde for me, 40 years later. Anyway, nine is the number of strikeouts Garret Mock had on Monday afternoon. Promising number, but this is one of those that may be a bit more misleading. The key word in that sentence wasn’t “strikeouts” or “nine,” it was “afternoon.” The sun was bright and the ball was moving in and out of shadows when pitched, making it very hard for the batters to hit. Mock still was impressive in his number of strikeouts, there is nothing bad about striking out 9. But the reason he allowed 4 ER in less than 5 innings while striking out so many was that his stuff wasn’t THAT great. His counterpart, Dave Bush, struck out 6 in 6 1/3 IP, not only his 3rd highest K total of the season, but the most in any outing less than 7 IP. Mock can strike people out, and the 9 is something to take with him, but it wasn’t a sign of a domination. He’s got to put it together where he can strike out 9, last more than 5 innings, and not give up 4 ERs. Meanwhile, his 3 BBs in that short of an outing was also a sign that he wasn’t exactly stellar, and contributed to his early exit.

$1,376,000

One Meeeellion Dollars, and then some. That is the total amount of signing bonuses the Nationals gave to their third, fourth and fifth round draft picks this season, in deals finalized over the last few days. Why is this number important? Well, despite saying they probably wouldn’t go above slot, they paid more than the “suggested bonus” for all 3 guys. They signed SS Daniel Espinso, LHP Graham Hicks, and Catcher Adrian Neito, whose last name I will pronounce “Neat-O”. This makes me very happy, as I was really worried that the team wasn’t going to pay for these guys. They had suggested they might not pay, and since they have voiced over and over that they don’t want to pay for free agents and want to build from within, this is where their money HAS to go. The draft. That’s it, there’s really nowhere else for the money to go. Except signing their Evan Longoria’s and Ryan Braun’s to long term deals (Zimmerman). All they have left to sign is Aaron Crow, their first round pick. They would like to give him something like the $2.15 million they gave to Detwiler last year, he apparently wants more. I will say what I said before about their spending, but it would be repetitive. If they don’t sign him, they do get a compensatory pick next draft. But the only reason I would think that not spending an extra million here is worth it is if they are having second thoughts about the guy’s ability. We’ll see what happens, deadline to sign is Friday.

5

I was thinking of having the number be .313/.361/.567, but that’s really more than one number. Anyway, 5 is number of Home Runs Blastings Milledge has hit since coming off the DL 17 games ago. The splits are his since then, and while those numbers aren’t entirely sustainable, they show us a few things. First that number 5 indicates that Milledge does indeed have power potential, and is probably able to hit 20-25 HRs in a full season. It also shows that he is hot right now, and reminds us of another number – 23, which is his age. He is still young, and he may yet turn out to be that great hitter that people thought he could be just a year ago. I’m not one to give up on young guys so easily. If people once thought they could be the best player in the organization, and they don’t show it on the major league level until they’re 24 or 25, it shouldn’t be that surprising. Let’s just hope the 5 Home Runs in about 3 weeks is a preview of whats to come.

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