Stat Primer- Ryan Dempster, Kosukue Fukudome, and Carlos Pena


Introducing a new series on Cubbies Crib, today we are starting a stat primer. The common way to judge a player in baseball is by a hitter’s average/ on base percentage/ slugging percentage and by a pitcher’s ERA and WHIP. However, the new age of baseball revolves around the new stat-concept called saber-metrics. I’ll be the first to admit that I was originally skeptical about these advanced stats, but in a time, I actually have found them to be quite helpful. Throughout the season on a regular basis, we will feature a stat primer. Which will take an inside look at the stats of three specific players on the Cubs’ roster.

The opening set of players will be Ryan Dempster, Kosuke Fukudome, and Carlos Pena. Dempster has struggled in each of his starts this season, while Fukudome has gotten off to his usual hot start, and Carlos Pena is not the Carlos Pena that has averaged 36 home runs a season for the past four years.

Ryan Dempster–One thing that immediately sticks out about Ryan Dempster this season is the amount of home runs that he has already given up. In 5 starts, Dempster has already given up 8 home runs. That puts him on a pace to give up 59 for the season. This may be indicative of the fact that Dempster has not really found the location of his pitches during his starts. Dempster has left a lot of pitches up in the zone, leaving him more vulnerable to the home run ball.

Another concerning note about Dempster this season is that he has a FIP of 5.71.  For those that don’t know, FIP is a more accurate way of defining a pitcher’s ERA. It only takes into account the things that Pitchers are exclusively responsible for (i.e. hits, walks, home runs, etc). Considering that Dempster has an ERA of 7.63 and an FIP of 5.71, you can conclude that the defense behind him may be responsible for his sluggish start. Still, though, having a FIP over 5 is not that encouraging.

Kosuke Fukudome–Once again, Kosuke Fukudome is off to his usual hot start to a season. Through 57 at bats, Fukudome is hitting .478/.571/.500 on the season. Even more impressive, is the fact that Fukudome has a BABIP ( Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .537. This signals that when Fukudome makes contact with ball he gets a hit more than half of the time.

It would appear that Fukudome has taken a much more simplistic approach this season as when he makes contact with the ball, 51.2% of the time it will be a ground ball. Normally a good hitter should have a higher line drive percentage than 26.8, but Fukudome appears to be hitting the ball in the right spots.

Also when Fukudome swings at the ball, he is not missing. Fukudome has only struck out 5 time this season, which puts him on a pace to strikeout 37 times for the entire season. That would be a career-best for Fukudome. The encouraging sign is that Fukudome only has a K% of 10, and makes contact with ball 87% of the time when he swings.

One thing that has benefited Fukudome this season is that manager Mike Quade has mix and matched him this season in an effort to give him the favorable matchup. This figures to benefit Fukudome, who should not get as fatigued as he used to later in the season.

Carlos Pena–When the Cubs signed Carlos Pena, they figured he would give them a low average, but at the same time, be able to be the prolific run producer that he was in the American League. So far, Pena has been neither for the Chicago Cubs. Through 73 plate appearances, Pena is hitting .169/.306/.186.

To simply put it, Pena is not showing any power right now. So far on the season, Pena has an isolated power percentage (ISO) of .017. Which is by far the worst it has ever been during his career. However this lack of power, could be a product of Pena moving from Tropicana Field–which is a dome– to the outdoor Wrigley Field. Pena has a fly ball percentage of 40 on the season, which is not too far off from a percentage of 45 for his career. The difference is that those fly balls do not have the same travel outdoors as they indoors. The power production from Pena figures to increase once the wind starts blowing out of Wrigley on a regular basis instead of in.

While Pena does have a K% of 37.3 (22 strikeouts), he is still within his career averages when it comes to making contact when he swings. Which would be why there should be little concern over the fact that Pena is not producing much of an average, as everyone should know by now that he is not an average hitter.

I would imagine that once the weather gets better, we will see an increased production from Pena.

*The Stats used in this article were found on FanGraphs.