Tuesday, May 14, 2013

James Loney Tearing Up 2013, Thanks To Some Wicked BABIP

James Loney is off to a fast pace in 2013, but David Schoenfield of ESPN.com (who also quotes Eric Karabell of ESPN.com) says it's due to some favorable bounces:

James Loney is hitting .376, second in the majors to Miguel Cabrera. Eric Karabell wrote about the Tampa Bay Rays first baseman:

Loney enters the week one of five players being aided by a BABIP of better than .400. All five players (Joe Mauer, Carlos Gomez, Starling Marte, Cabrera and Loney) are hitting considerably better than .300, but I think only Mauer and Cabrera stay there. Loney is taking walks, making more contact and not striking out as much, and considering he has been on the bench against lefty pitchers, I wouldn't be shocked if he batted .300. But I'll say he hits more like .250 the rest of the way, and I'll take the under on 12 home runs and 70 RBIs. The fact we're even discussing him at all after years of underachievement with the Los Angeles Dodgers is a feat in itself.

I'm basically in agreement with Eric. He's unlikely to have suddenly improved at age 29. The Rays are smartly platooning him; for some reason the Dodgers never realized he couldn't hit left-handers, or kept hoping he'd eventually figure it out. (He hit .231 with little power against lefties from 2009 through 2012.)

Anyway, you know who Loney reminds me of? Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. In fact ... the similarities are pretty eerie. Both were pitchers/first basemen in high school who some teams like on the mound as much as the plate. Both are tall/thinner guys who put up big numbers their first seasons in the majors, leading to big expectations. [...]

He's still very young, of course, and it's easy to lose sight of that. But Loney's career is a warning that just because you flash power early in your career you're not necessarily going to grow from there.