This, That, The Other...

Sunday, June 05 2011 @ 05:30 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

The arrival of Brett Lawrie....

 ... seems, at this point, to be just days away. Personally, I would have had no objection if they'd waited until September 1. I'm not wild about rushing 21 year olds to the majors, and the Travis Snider Experience hasn't done anything to change my mind. But there's nothing to be done now. I told y'all back in March that if Snider could hit .337 in six weeks at Las Vegas, Lawrie was quite capable of hitting .360 in the same time span and that if he did, it would be awfully hard to leave him there.

Speaking of Las Vegas...

               Age   G  PA   AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  SB CS  BB  SO  BAVG  OBP  SLG    OPS  TB GDP HBP  SH SF IBB
David Cooper    24  36 165  147  25  59 19 0  3  39   0  0  16  12  .401 .455 .592  1.046  87   2   0   0  2   1
Eric Thames     24  36 167  146  27  50 17  2  6  30   3  2  17  30  .342 .419 .610  1.029  89   3   3   0  1   5
Travis Snider   23  34 162  144  27  41 11  0  1  23   6  0  15  27  .285 .358 .382   .740  55   3   2   0  1   1

I wasn't very keen on the decision to send Snider back to AAA, thinking that if this kid really is your left fielder of the future, at some point he's going to have to solve his problems at the major league level. But maybe he's not the left fielder of the future. Maybe he's just this organization's most ridiculously over-hyped prospect since - I dunno, Eddie Zosky? - who was rushed to the majors for no good reason whatsoever, well before his due date, by a doomed management regime desperate to show the fan base that there really was something to get about excited about in the days ahead.

As is well known by now, I never drank the Snider kool-aid. I never thought he was going to be a great major league hitter. But I did assume he would develop into a solid corner outfield bat, and I still think that's the most likely outcome. But while a 21 year old does have more time and space to grow and develop than a 23 year old or a 24 year old - that's why we're much more excited, and rightfully so, about Brett Lawrie than we are about Eric Thames - there's this as well. Not all 21 year olds develop. Some simply remain what they are. Snider has always looked like a much better prospect than David Cooper (called a "non-prospect" on this very site not too long ago.) But Cooper appears to be the one who eventually figures out how to adjust to a new level and have success. Snider's history is that he has initial success, and then the level adjusts to him. He's still only 23 years old, but perhaps at long last he's going to have to actually earn his next chance. And right now, Cooper and Thames (and Loewen, for Chrissakes!) are kicking his butt.

Kyle Drabek and Josh Tomlin gave us a fascinating pitching matchup last week, as was anticipated at the time. Drabek, of course, has a power arm and electric stuff and Tomlin... no one seems to know exactly why he's so effective. Rotoworld keeps waiting, if not outright cheering, for him to fall on his ass. Drabek, of course, leads the AL in walks allowed with 45. Tomlin has walked just 11 men all season. That's the obvious difference between them, and it's more than enough. But Tomlin has also been much harder to hit than Drabek - he's allowed just 57 hits in 71.2 IP. AL batters are hitting .265 against Drabek (league average is .252) and just .213 against Tomlin. How does that happen?

Some of it, no doubt, has been the warm embrace of the gods and goddesses of BABiP. But not all of it. Tomlin has earned some of this huge advantage. When AL hitters are ahead in the count, they hit .291/.463/.484; when the count is even, they hit .259/.264/.402; and when the hitter is behind, they hit just .210/.218/.302. It's really that simple. This game revolves around controlling the strike zone - that's why Corey Patterson never became a superstar - and Josh Tomlin controls the strike zone. He's faced 281 batters this season, and he was ahead of the hitter when the at bat was resolved in 113 of those plate appearances (hitters went .152/.159/.268); the count was even 90 times, the batter was ahead just 78 times. Drabek has faced almost the exact same number of hitters (286 batters), but he was ahead of the hitter just 59 times, and he was pitching from behind more than half the time (145 plate appearances.) Tomlin really has been extremely fortunate on his balls in play, of course, and that's unlikely to last forever. But as long as he works ahead of the hitters, I don't see why he can't continue to be successful.

Drabek hasn't been very effective even when he works ahead of the hitters - AL batters are hitting .276/.288/.448 against Drabek when they're behind in the count. When the batters are ahead, they're hitting .245/.476/429 - all of which suggests Drabek simply doesn't yet know what he's doing out there.