Back on April 22, I wrote a post titled “Nasty Nate McLouth“, dissecting the hot start of the Pirates outfielder. He had a ridiculously high BABIP at the time which led to quite the inflated slash line. Additionally, while sustaining a very similar walk rate he had drastically reduced his strikeout percentage. Here are some of his numbers at the time of the first post and his overall numbers as we speak:
Apr 22: .403 BABIP, .375/.444/.639, 1.082 OPS, 12.5 K%
Today: .288 BABIP, .281/.361/.523, .885 OPS, 13.8 K%
As expected, his BABIP dropped significantly, and his slash line fell as a result. His strikeout rate has increased a bit but the 13.8% is still much lower than the 23.4% of last year. Speaking of the 2007 season, McLouth now has virtually the same amount of at-bats this year as last. Here are his numbers from the last two years:
2007: 85-329, 48 1B, 21 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 39 BB, 77 K, .258/.351/.489
2008: 92-327, 46 1B, 28 2B, 3 3B, 15 HR, 34 BB, 45 K, .281/.362/.523
Things appear very similar with the exception of the strikeouts and added power; McLouth’s increase in doubles and home runs has led to not only the higher batting average but the higher slugging percentage as well. His ISO in 2007 was .201 compared to the .242 so far this year. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you are a Pirates fan, he actually gets lost in the shuffle a bit because the entire Bucs outfield is producing at a high level.
Amongst NL outfielders, McLouth ranks 8th in WPA (1.54) and 7th in WPA/LI (1.56). Jason Bay and Xavier Nady rank ahead of him in both areas. McLouth’s 22.58 BRAA and 2.24 REW rank third amongst NL outfielders, though, higher than both of his teammates. He has cooled off quite a bit since riding the coattails of a 19-game hitting streak early in the season but he is still producing at a high level; or at least much higher than we might have expected entering the season. I also would not be surprised if he has earned his first All-Star berth given his solid numbers and the fact that surprising players make good stories.