Jose Lopez, best second baseman in baseball
No kidding: right now, he’s up there offensively with Chase Utley and some other scrubs (Jose Vidro? Please). He’s hitting a ridiculous .304/.330/.511 as I type this. That’s like his 2004-5 PCL numbers, no difficulty adjustment or anything. And we’ve seen him play good defense, as well, which we hadn’t seen consistently from the position since what, Boone 03?
That’s an All-Star performance. It’s helped by his ridiculous 34-RBI total (as a #2 hitter!). People love the RBI.
I don’t expect him to continue this well for the rest of the season, though I do still think he’s going to be a good player.
There are some weird ticks in his line so far (check out his stats over at The Hardball Times): he’s hitting a lot of grounders, which is odd and he’s getting a lot of home runs off his fly balls. He’s never been a good walk guy, but he’s down from his career minor league percentages by a ways.
Now, that in itself isn’t unusual. A lot of players see their walk numbers drop. They’re challenged more often by better pitchers, and so on. But what you also see in the majors is power gets junk. Someone hitting for huge power, even if they largely swing at crap, will still walk a reasonable amount because pitchers don’t want to see them connect on something and put it over the wall.
Look through the AL batting leaders. The power hitters around him take way more walks. There are few huge power guys who take as few walks per plate appearance, and those guys have twice as many (Shea Hillenbrand, with 6 walks in his .333/.370/.496 line, is the closest match, but there are a few, like Alex Rios, Chris Shelton, and Kevin Mench, hitting for a lot more power and only getting a few more BB/PA).
This may not mean anything. After all, it’s a couple of walks either way at this point in the season. It would be bad if pitchers, respecting his extra-base power, started to pitch him farther and farther out of the strike zone and he didn’t make some adjustments.
I don’t see it, though. He’s a smart guy, and we know he’s not a total hacker up there. If he stops finding success at what he’s doing, he’ll tighten it up a little.
In the meantime, he’s one of the few bright spots we’ve had this season, and it’s been good to finally see him break through.