That’s one of the surprising facts so far of the 2010 season. Last year Ty Wigginton hit 11 home runs, but on yesterday he surpassed that total. What is perhaps more surprising is that Kelly Johnson, who hit just 8 last year himself, is just one behind the pace Wingginton is setting at second base. The Orioles current second baseman is on pace for 53 home runs. Wigginton has always had a little pop as he averaged 23 home runs a season from 2006-2008, but despite all that power Wigginton has never really cut it as an everyday guy even in those peak years he only got over 450 at-bats once. Last year it appeared that the then 31 year old had was ready to regress hitting only 11.
Now with Brian Roberts on the DL, Wigginton has gotten called upon in 33 of 37 team games and is making the most of regular at-bats. He can’t continue to hit for as much power as he has so far because he simply isn’t this good, but regular at-bats should lead to a career high even if he cools considerably. Going by his numbers since 2006, Wigginton hits a home run once every 20 at-bats. If we assume he gets 375 at-bats from here on out (3 at-bats per game) that means he will hit 30 home runs on the season. That’s a threshold that only Chase Utley, Dan Uggla, and Ian Kinsler have crossed among second basemen in the last two seasons.
While the perceived inevitable drop off of Wigginton will likely kill any possibility of selling high on him, he isn’t a bad player to keep around given that we can only expect him to match his recent averages from here on out. A sudden 80 at-bat home run drought is not the biggest worry with this guy, but a potential trade which changes his roll or the reemergence of Roberts could be an issue down the road.
- Lots of closer news to get to. Huston Street’s road to recovery has been longer than route 95. He threw five pitches in a Double A rehab assignment yesterday. Meanwhile Manny Corpas saved a game for the Rockies in a doubleheader. Corpas was terrible against Philadelphia earlier in the week, but still has a respectable 2.84 ERA and 2:1 strikeout to walk rate on the year.
- Corpas wasn’t the only player getting his first save of the year as Jose Contreras took the bull by the horns in the 9th for his first career save. Brad Lidge was placed on the 15-day DL, so Contreras finds himself being more wanted than he was after the winter meetings of 2002. Also getting his first save of the year was Matt Thornton. Bobby Jenks is no longer the “full-time” closer, but if it was a 100% demotion Thornton’s value would skyrocket. He has a 26 to 3 strikeout to walk rate to date.
- Francisco Cordero, Brian Wilson, Octavio Dotel and Leo Nunez all struggled their way to saves.
- Pat Burrell’s days in Tampa Bay ended yesterday. Burrell had more strikeouts than games played as a Ray despite appearing as a pinch hitter multiple times. Imagine how good Tampa Bay would be right now if they had put that money to good use. Willy Taveras was also let go by the Nationals.
- Jay Bruce was caught stealing for the first time in four attempts yesterday. Bruce has been set in motion a few other times this season which is interesting because he only stole 3 bases in 6 attempts last year. Getting double digit steals on top of his eventual 40 homer potential is gravy.
- Mike Leake is 4-0 and outlasted Adam Wainwright yesterday. Leake is an impressive pitcher in the same sense that Greg Maddux was an impressive pitcher. For such a young guy Leake has an excellent understanding of how to get hitters out. He would have gone 7 innings had he not come up to bat with ducks on the pond in the 6th inning.
- Ronny Paulino’s role has changed with John Baker going to the disabled list. Paulino is usually used to face lefties, but will now be the every day catcher. He is hitting .226 against righties this season and hit .250 against them last year.
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