MLB Star Power Index: Eloy Jimenez is crushing it; Yadier Molina might finish with higher average than OBP

Welcome to the MLB Star Power Index — a weekly hootenanny that determines with awful authority which players are dominating the current zeitgeist of the sport. While one’s presence on this list is often celebratory in nature, it can also be for purposes of lamentation or ridicule. The players listed are in no particular order, just like the phone book.

Eloy Jimenez is a dump truck driven by a werewolf. The White Sox’s young cloutsman is a werewolf because he is capable of zipper-quick instances of (sanctioned) baseball violence — all perpetrated against pitchers and their foul implements. 

In a mere 151 career games, the 23-year-old has already tallied 41 deep coconuts, which is what we’re calling home runs this week. Jimenez’s home run balls are very often obliterated to distant reaches, far beyond the fences that attempt to restrain his mighty will. For instance, regard this recent 466-foot bit of property damage at the expense of the Cubs, who once dared trade the hero of this story: 

Impressive, yes? Yes. Yet the duality of humankind is such that every werewolf is governed, offset, and ultimately diminished by the dump truck he or she drives. Jimenez is 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, and in the field he trundles under the heft of that which makes the above action sports footage possible. He is a dump truck when he repeatedly plops into protective netting like a Creamsicle dropped into a toilet by chance. He is a dump truck when his mess-mates, aware of his dangerous tendencies and perhaps having summoned up the grim appraisals of the advanced defensive metrics, cross the foamy seas of time to spare him from the routine and its perils. 

Rescue him, Good Luis: 

Have mercy, Mighty Tim: 

Unsolicited help is help just the same, and every missed opportunity for a catch may also be a pratfall aborted. Luis Robert and Tim Anderson appreciate a werewolf driving a dump truck as much as anyone, but they also know what brake fluid looks like and when the lines have been cut. Flag him down before he crests the hill, takes the curve on two wheels, and blows through the red light in full view of an idling smokey. Before he …  

Ah well. 

There are two kinds of fielders that provide emotional uplift to the baseball-watcher — the very good fielder and the very bad. Mr. Jimenez counts himself among the latter. Yes, we can appreciate the mellow richness of, say, a Lorenzo Cain in the field, but we can also appreciate a werewolf who drops a cig into his lap while driving a dump truck and in a panic jumps the median and causes an oncoming tractor trailer to jackknife before crashing into the side of an abandoned Hardee’s. No one was hurt.

Has this metaphor gone on long enough? Hoss, it’s not as long as an Eloy Jimenez home run.  

From the standpoint of the batsman, walks are useful but boring, not unlike the principle of gainful employment. For the baseball onlooker, walks are simply boring. So praise be to Yadier Molina for not inflicting upon us a single one of them so far in 2020. While he’s overall been a solid enough hitter by positional standards, Molina has precisely zero four-ball counts in 54 plate appearances. You see, the People of Baseball are not interested in persnickety discernment at the plate. The People of Baseball want to see the cowhide scalded into dirt, grass, or gloves or over fencing. Molina, with his zero walks and mere six strikeouts, does that better than many and most. 

In any event, Molina’s blessed lack of walks raises a tantalizing possibility — might he manage a batting average higher than his on-base percentage for the season? That such a thing is possible is a function of the sacrifice fly. The sac fly, you see, counts against you in the calculation of OBP (it’s an out, after all), but that’s not the case when you tally up batting average. In other words, the denominator of OBP is DIFFERENT (😤). 

Way back yonder in 1984, a light-hitting infielder named Rob Picciolo of the California Angels managed to end the season with 128 plate appearances and a batting average, .202, higher than his OBP, .200 (one sac fly versus zero walks). Assuming I ran the Stathead search query correctly — and don’t you know it hardly matters if I did — that’s a record for most plate appearances in a season with a higher average than OBP. 

Molina’s problem is that he has two HBPs this season versus no sac flies. Those HBPs are fulling the vile urges of the walk and elevating his OBP to unseemly levels. At this point, we must hope he’s able to muster three sac flies while neither getting plunked or boring himself all the way to four balls over the remainder of the season. Given Molina’s expected workload the rest of the way, that would give him the record for most plate appearances logged while having a batting average higher than his OBP. 

On second thought, who cares. 

Speaking of the noble exercise of pondering the merits of restraint and finding them wanting, here’s David Fletcher of the Cherubs offering at a pitch right down the middle — provided we’re talking about the middle of an osprey nest in the upper reaches of the forest canopy: 

Now for an award-winning still shot: 

Let’s not bury Mr. Fletcher in verbal bouquets — he has 14 criminally unintentional walks this season, which is 14 too many. However, in this instance he is to be elevated almost as high as he’s willing to swing on 0-2. You can throw it in the strike zone to David Fletcher, but, buddy, don’t throw it way up there in the Werewolf Zone. 

In any event, the Angels are terrible. 

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