Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Rash Breaks Out
Well, Willie Harris has gone and done it again.  After his bat slumbered through most of July, Willie got on base 5 times last night against the Rangers, going 2 for 3 with 3 bases on balls.  Contrary to his nature, he even managed to get an extra base hit (his 10th of the season), creeping his isolated slugging (slugging minus batting average) to  .048.  That ISO puts him roughly in the same class as Mike Caruso (although that's a little unfair to Slappy, his career ISO was .063).  
As much as I am on Willie's case, the Sox need him to be an effective leadoff hitter.  He does actually manage to take his share of walks, with 32 in 231 at-bats.  That's a solid walk rate, and a .358 OBP is at the low end of serviceable for a leadoff man that has no power.  If Willie gets on base from the leadoff spot, the Sox tend to win.  Willie's problem is that he tends to get on base in bunches, rather than a consistent 2-3 times per game.  Consistency is the key; if he gets on base 2 or more times in 70% of the Sox's games, he'll be a very, very good leadoff man.
Jose Hitting Lefty - Midseason Update
Apropos of Jose Valentin's two-run homer off of A's ace lefty Mark Mulder on Sunday, here's another update on how Jose is doing with his lefty-only experiment.
Here's a reminder of his three-year splits as a right handed hitter against lefties:

And now Jose as a lefty against lefties this year:


Still not terrific, but a more than 20% improvement in OPS, .618 vs. .491. He's gone from a pitcher-type performance against lefties to more of a Timo Perez-type performance. Again, kudos for an old shortstop learning new tricks.

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