Well, At Least Manny’s “Heating Up”

mannyrunnings.jpgIf there was any one thing more ludicrous than the “Colletti failed by not going out to get a mythical ‘ace’ pitcher that never really existed, and why hasn’t he perfected human cloning yet and acquired the rights to the offspring of Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax who will rule us all” argument, it was the idea that post-suspension Manny was somehow not even a league-average hitter, topped by the fantastic suggestion yesterday that Manny should be benched for Juan Pierre. Yet, as we briefly mentioned, Manny’s been just fine lately, and yesterday’s opposite field homer off Dan Haren just added more evidence to that.

So let’s look at Manny’s season, and keep in mind that his “slump” really started when he took a 90+ MPH fastball to the hand in the last week of July, not when he came back from his suspension. It doesn’t make for as sexy of a story, I’ll grant you, but it’s hard to overlook how much something like that can hurt a hitter.

April/March 98 78 19 29 7 0 5 15 20 14 .372 .500 .654 1.154 .407
May 22 14 3 3 2 0 1 5 6 3 .214 .455 .571 1.026 .182
July 91 79 10 22 5 1 5 17 10 20 .278 .374 .557 .931 .315
August 121 103 16 31 6 0 4 12 16 24 .301 .405 .476 .881 .360
Sept/Oct 30 24 5 6 0 0 3 5 5 5 .250 .400 .625 1.025 .188

So there’s no doubt that August was his worst month, and clearly the downward sprial in OPS in each month is worrisome – though not, as the uninformed like to say, a direct result of his lack of “assistance”.

The best part, though? In his “lousy” August, he still had a line of .301/.405/.476, which is hardly disastrous, and while his .881 OPS isn’t what you’re used to from him, it still would have put him just outside the top 20 in the NL OPS rankings, ahead of guys like Matt Kemp, David Wright, Carlos Lee, and Dan Uggla. In his worst month!

Now, he’s really started to heat up in the first week of September, and in fact, over the last few weeks. Let’s now look at just the three post-suspension segments of Manny’s second half:

July 3 – July 31 (post-suspension, pre-HBP): .333/.429/.688         1.116 OPS
July 22 – Aug. 25 (playing through a sore hand): .261/.351/.409  .760 OPS 
Aug 26 – Sept. 9 (welcome back, Manny): .302/.455/.651            1.106 OPS 

Oh, and in September, he’s been hampered by a .188 BABIP, which is only likely to rise, so he could get better. Which means that A), so much for your steroid conspiracy theories, and B) a hot Manny can go a long way towards alleviating any starting rotation issues we might see.