The Lynx April 2007 (Part One-Won-Lost and the Lynx Offence)
The Ottawa Lynx completed the first month of the 2007 season with a 10-9 won lost record, not great, not terrible, but on the good side of .500 with an 8-4 record after a 2-5 start on the road. Getting off to a good start and perhaps leading the division or at minimum staying close to the division lead is of prime importance in the early going. If a team falls significantly behind due to a poor record in the month of April, any hot streak which they enjoy later will have been wasted just getting back to or near the .500 level. In most seasons, except those in which a team finishes close to .600, a team will have one or two cold streaks and one or two hot streaks. The key is limiting the length of the cold streaks and having them more towards the middle of the season. It is also preferable to have a cold streak against teams in another division and hot streaks against your own. But that is a matter of the luck of the schedule and I suppose, luck of the draw. There are statistical categories and analysis ad nasuem to explain everything from the effect of the moon to which movie todays starting pitcher watched three days ago. Stats are useful in their own right but I’m not a slave to them and more often than not prefer to analyse what I’ve seen and not what I’ve read. As we discuss April 2007 and the Ottawa Lynx, it should be interesting to try and determine what these stats might be telling us.
Let’s get to the just completed first month of the season and delve into the good and less than good April for the Ottawa Lynx. I will begin with the historically popular but increasingly almost meaningless traditional numbers. Some of these stats will lend themselves to obvious conclusions. Keep in mind though, that batting averages and pitchers ERA especially can fluctuate wildly until a significant amount of at bats and innings pitched have been reached and analysing what a team might do over the course of a full season
As written in the opening, Ottawa had an overall record of 10-9, good for third place, 3.5 games behind division leading Rochester and 3.0 behind second place Buffalo. Ottawa was 7-3 at home and 3-6 on the road, (due to a 2-5 road trip to begin the season). One game over .500 and still very much in the race for first place. With Ottawa opening a four game home stand, (against Louisville), to begin month two, (May 1-4), a chance to climb further over the .500 mark and closer to the two teams currently ahead of them.
Hitting: There is one glaring number which jumps out at you right away-Ottawa managed only one home run the entire month of April, last in the IL. Syracuse led with 25 and the next worst total to Ottawa was Richmond with 11. The majority of scouts will usually tell you that doubles ion the minor leagues are a much better indicator of true power which could translate into home runs at the major league level. Ottawa ranked in the lower half of the IL at ninth place with 32 doubles. The IL leader in April was Durham with 48. Okay, if a teams power numbers are among the worst in the league, speed is going to have to compensate. But the Lynx rank thirteenth in steals with 11, (Indianapolis led with 41) and with only 3 triples. But Ottawa ranked a very respectable sixth in runs scored with 88, (Toledo led with 108), third in team batting average at .276, (Indianapolis led with .289) and eighth in hits-175, (Indianapolis led with 212). Ottawa rank second in OBP at . 349, (Indianapolis led with .366) but rank last in slugging percentage, (not surprising, .340), compared to league leader Buffalo at .409.
The conclusion has to be that the Lynx are doing it station to station and by chipping away and taking advantage of almost every opportunity. Manager John Russell has been favouring the sacrifice bunt and hit and run over the steal to keep pressure on the opposition defence. The opportunities haven’t been there to use the speed of Roberson with our lead off hitter getting on only 27% of the time. Joe Thurston leads the team with 5 steals.
All this would suggest that if this trend continues, our pitching and defence are going to have to carry the load. One of the stranger Ottawa stats in April-Chris Roberson, lead off hitter in each of the nineteen games, hit a mere .192, but led the team in RBI with 14. Rarely do lead off hitters lead a team in RBI and certainly not when they are hitting a buck ninety two. Roberson also has only three steals and has been caught three times. He stole 25 last season.
Gary Burnham, Lou Collier, Brennan King, Jim Rushford and Jason Jaramillo have solid total base, on base percentages, slugging and batting averages but have produced relatively few runs, only 41. Again, this is likely lack of opportunities. Ottawa have two batters in the top ten at the end of April-Lou Collier at .339 and Jason Jaramillo at .345. Now Ottawa needs to translate that into more crooked numbers on the scoreboard. Maybe Ottawa is a hot weather team and will increase their run totals as the thermometer climbs. Doubles and the long ball make life a whole lot easier. This team hit only 83 home runs last season and still managed to win the division.
Part two tomorrow-Pitching, defence and the manager