BY MARK SIMON
Let me call your attention to two hitters whose numbers currently don’t match their track records and explain something that’s going on for each of them.
Twins utility man Nick Gordon is 6-for-52 to start the 2023 season. In his first two years in the majors, Gordon hit .261 with a .711 OPS, the latter right in line with MLB average. He’s a decent hitter, one for whom a 6-for-52 slump is possible but a bit unnerving when it happens.
Look closer at Gordon’s batted balls and they show a different story for his season. SIS calculates “expected” offensive numbers based on a set of characteristics about each batted ball – most notably where the ball was hit and how hard it was hit.
Gordon has 6 hits. By our expected numbers, based on where and how hard he’s hit balls, he should have 14 (or to be precise with our system, 14.2).
This ground ball against the White Sox, on which Gordon was thrown out, had a 52% hit probability.
This bloop, on which Chas McCormick of the Astros got a nice jump to make the catch, had a hit probability of 76%.
Gordon’s expected batting average is .273 compared to the actual .115 he’s hitting. The 158-point difference is the largest in MLB to this point in the season.
The other player to look at is Mets right fielder Starling Marte, who is 5-for-35 in his last 9 games, during which he’s been bothered by a neck strain. We’re going to look at his numbers from a slightly different perspective.
Marte’s irritation could be compounded by the knowledge that he’s the MLB leader in being robbed by Good Fielding Plays (GFPs).
These plays are the ones you’d see on baseball highlight shows like Quick Pitch or Baseball Tonight. Our Video Scouts note approximately 30 types of GFPs, with our list for this article specific to ones that rob potential base hits.
Starling Marte is hitting .228 so far this season
But you could make a case his numbers should be better than they are
He's been robbed of a hit by a "Good Fielding Play" more than any hitter in 2023 – 7 times!
(Last year's leader: Amed Rosario, 20 times) pic.twitter.com/tJHHJb24Ua
— SIS_Baseball (@sis_baseball) April 27, 2023
For perspective, Amed Rosario led the majors in being robbed last season – 20 instances. Eugenio Suarez and Kevin Newman had the most instances in 2021, 16.
Marte has also not been gifted any hits yet this season by another thing we track, Defensive Misplays (in this case, we look for plays that weren’t scored errors that could have been outs), so there’s been little to offset the great defensive work against him.
The point of showing you both Gordon and Marte’s numbers is to reiterate an important point: it’s extremely early in the season. Though you are what your record says you are, there’s sometimes a lot more to your stats than just what’s shown within a small sample size.