Smells Like Pujols is an ongoing feature that will run throughout the MLB season. In it, I compare the stats of this year’s crop of rookie hitting phenoms against those of Albert Pujols’ ROY season in 2001. I am using (technically mis-using) Bill James’ Similarity Scores concept to keep track of the progress of our hopefuls. The leader board on the right side of the page will show the current scores of each participant throughout the week.
Cooper Brannan is a minor-league pitcher with the Padres, who has bested Albert Pujols in only one category: he earned 300 citizenship points for being wounded in Iraq, while Mr. P. earned a mere 100 points on his written exam. If you want to see pitchers ranked in a serious manner, check out GoodEnough for Me, Mr. Thursday’s companion piece to SLP.
Lo, how the mighty have fallen. Jeff Baker and Josh Hamilton had amazing leads in average and slugging last week, which, due to my appalling misuse of Similarity Scores, ranked them above the master, Albert Pujols.
This week, we got back to reality, with both men falling precipitously from their perches above the 1000 mark. Baker was bound to do so, because the Rockies use him primarily as a pinch hitter, so his diminished plate appearances will ultimately keep him off the pace as the season wears on. Hamilton, on the other hand, is being used every day, and still holds the top place in the standings.
Hamilton has two of Tampa Bay’s upstarts hard on his heels, with B.J. Upton and Akinori Iwamura in the 700 range. The vast majority of our players fell into the middle ground of the 500 level, which seems more realistic, especially since four of them play on the same team in Tampa.
We had three players debut in the standings this week: Florida’s Alejandro De Aza makes the biggest splash, showing up with an impressive SLP number of 690. Felix Pie has thrilled Cubs fans and MLB watchers with his defense, but his hitting currently has him stalled in the lower reaches of the leaderboard. Finally, Minnesota’s speed merchant Alexi Casilla is hardly setting the world on fire with his bat, but should easily beat the 2001 standard of 1 SB set by Mr. Pujols.
Congratulations to these rookies for getting their shot at the bigs. We look forward to watching your progress!