Is James Loney Enormous, or Is He Holding a Golf Ball There?

Hey – fair’s fair. When players underperform, we point it out here. When management makes poor decisions (or, more accurately, several consistiently poor decisions), we take them to task. And there’s little more fun than bashing ridiculous reporters that have no idea what they’re talking about. So when someone’s showing up to play and going well, I can’t ignore it just because it’s not as much fun as blasting someone. Speaking of which, come on, Plashke! It’s been too long. We miss you!

Anyway, James Loney, for much of the year: pretty underwhelming. Labeled here as “the one true disappointment” and “average at best, and that’s being generous“ by Vin, and having an entire post dedicated to his mediocrity by me, he’d hardly been lighting the world on fire. As I said in an earlier post, he was never bad, per se, but he wasn’t all that great, either. At least nowhere near as good as we’d hoped he could be based on his partial seasons the last two years.

Well, guess what – when you’ve been as hot as he’s been over the last month, you deserve your own congratulatory blog post. On May 18th, when I wrote the post I linked to above, Loney’s line was .281/.330/.450, for a 101 OPS+. Not bad, certainly. But not great. Now, on June 23rd, just over a month later? James is up to .310/.368/.469, thanks to an absolutely insane line over the last month of .380/.441/.533. Now that we can live with! Hey, there’s a ton of stats I could use to point out how good this guy has been lately. There’s the 1.313 OPS over the last two weeks, that’s pretty good. There’s the the fact that a .551 OBP over the last two weeks means he’s getting on base well over half the time, which is craziness. But here’s what stood out to me the most:

James Loney, last 14 days
BB:  7
K’s: 1

If that doesn’t show a hitter who is completely and utterly locked in, I don’t know what does. One strikeout in 49 plate appearances? Not to mention, that one strikeout coming against the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner (and hopefully, not future teammate) C.C. Sabathia?

Big James has now worked his way up to 11th in OPS amongst all MLB first basemen, which might not sound impressive until you remember that A), he started slowly, B) his power still hasn’t shown up (just 6 homers), and C) there’s some pretty monster competition at the position, offensively. Just in terms of OPS, he’s still outperforming names like Todd Helton, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, and Ryan Howard. And considering those guys make something like $78 billion dollars while Loney still makes the minimum – and is just 24! – that’s pretty valuable.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg