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September: A Gurgling Vortex of Suckitude in Review

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An 8-18 record. Only 3.77 runs per game. A -41 run differential. Pretty much the worst month for the team since June 2006, when we went 8-20 and were -72 in runs - though even there, we scored four runs per game. The offense in particular was phoning in its performance, with a line of .247/.314/.393, an OPS of only .707. While a little better than April's .703, that was partly-based on a low BABIP figure of .265. In September, the figure was .300. League average for both was .298, so the team wasn't unlucky last month - they flat-out sucked.

This is not what you want at the end of the season. What you want are some nuggets of hope, onto which you can cling through the long, dark winter - a sense that better things are just around the corner for your team. September was not such a month. The only comfort to be drawn is that the Mets and Pirates both had a worse time of it, going 8-20. I don't know about you but, "we sucked fractionally less than Pittsburgh" is not the final thought I want to take away from the 2009 season. After the jump, we'll see if we can find any heroes, and also name some names...

Heroes

Few and far between this month: to get five, I had to lower the bar significantly compare to previous months. Therefore, you should think of the following, not perhaps as those who played particularly well, but more those who didn't blow quite as many chunks as their team-mates.

  1. Billy Buckner: 30.1 IP, 31 H, 10 BB, 26 K, 13 ER, 3.86 ERA
    The addition of a cut-fastball to Buckner's armory appeared to turn him from the sub-replacement pitcher we saw at the start of the year [an 8.63 ERA in his first 40.2 innings], to being perhaps the foremost candidate for the #5 starter's spot next season. Stilll a work in progress, he needs to keep the ball down if he's to be effective.

  2. Miguel Montero: .310/.372/.452, 3 HR, 9 RBI
    The last few games will decide whether Montero can hit .300 on the year - he currently sits at .299 - but he posted his third straight month above that line in September. Though his power was down, from 11 doubles to three, Montero took a season-high number of walks, leading to a year's best OBP of .372.

  3. Leo Rosales: 11.2 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 4 ER, 3.09 ERA
    Not a great month for the bullpen, who burbled their way to a collective 5.35 ERA in September. The only other reliever with five innings and an ERA under 4.80 was Gutierrez at 3.86, so Rosales deserves credit. He has got his ERA back to near-league average with a good couple of months, and seems we could do worse at the back of the 2010 bullpen.

  4. Max Scherzer: 31 IP, 24 H, 12 BB, 24 K, 12 ER, 3.48 ERA
    We were concerned about Max wearing down at the end of the season, but he proved to be our most effective starter in September, though you wouldn't know it from his 1-3 record. He did allow six home-runs over the month, but all of them were solo shots. For a 25-year old in his sophomore season, he's had a solid year.

  5. Chris Young: .266/.343/.500, 6 HR, 10 RBI
    Probably the brightest note on offense was the return to form of Young, who had the best OPS of anyone with 30 PAs. Even putting aside the power-surge, including three HR in one game, his .266 average has been bettered by Young only once since May 2007. If he can carry that into 2010, it'll be a significant help to the team.

Villains

A special, extended edition of this section, thanks to a pitching staff whose ERA was 15th in the league at 5.24, and hitters ranked 14th by runs scored. A special note on the offense. At .750 and .670, two of our starting pitchers, Billy Buckner and Dan Haren, each had better OPS numbers in September than all of the following batters.

  1. Brandon Allen: .188/.282/.377, 3 HR, 9 RBI
    First baseman of the future? Not on September's performance, which also included 25 strikeouts in 69 at-bats. Manager AJ Hinch thinks Allen panics with two strikes: "I think he gets in-between pitches. He worries about the breaking ball...and gets a little jumpy with the fastball... His strike-zone judgment is actually pretty good... I think that over time that will allow him to be a better two-strike hitter."

  2. Doug Davis: 26.1 IP, 42 H, 14 BB, 16 K, 20 ER, 6.84 ERA
    If Davis is pitching for a big free-agent contract, you wouldn't know it. That's his worst ERA for any month with more than one start in over eight years, since a 7.71 ERA in three April 2001 games. Opponents hit .375 off Davis in September. He wasn't helped by a .415 BABIP - but nor was he helped by a K:BB ratio perilously close to even.

  3. Stephen Drew: .240/.294/.350, 1 HR, 6 RBI
    I remember at the break, we were hoping for the same second-half surge we got from Drew in 2008. It hasn't happened, with a 50-point drop in his OPS since the break, though this month was better than May for Drew. Could the problem be his removal from the lead-off spot? There, he hits .305, eighty points higher than in the two-hole.

  4. Kevin Mulvey: 23 IP, 23 H, 12 BB, 18 K, 18 ER, 7.04 ERA
    Not looking like one of Byrnes' best trades. Jon Rauch has a 2.08 ERA for the Twins, and picked up as many victories in his first two games there, as during his entire time in Arizona. Mulvey, meanwhile has been hit hard - five home-runs in September, a Petit-esque rate. Those and the walks are what have hurt his overall numbers.

  5. Yusmeiro Petit: 11.1 IP, 15 H, 5 BB. 10 K, 10 ER, 7.94 ERA
    Speaking of Petit-esque... Here's the real deal, showing how it should be done, with three home-runs in this brief stint. Part of the problem is, seven of the last eight HR allowed have come with men on base; in his first 25 career homers, 20 were solo shots. Insane fly-ball rate + Chase Field = may end up not being present on the 2010 roster.

  6. Mark Reynolds: .187/.286/.363, 4 HR, 11 RBI
    Special K just doesn't like September. His career OPS for the month is .751 - the next-lowest is more than 60 points better. He probably wasn't helped by a BABIP of .250 - he has been anywhere from .319 to .396 the rest of the season, averaging .338. Srikeouts and walks remained remakably consistent, but it does seem he is flagging at the end of a long, largely memorable, season.

  7. Ryan Roberts: .224/.298/.303, 1 HR, 5 RBI
    RR's roller-coaster year continues: in the four months with 50+ PAs, his OPS has been .933, .396, 1.004 and .600 - no month within four hundred points of the next. Maybe we only need to play him in months that end in a Y? He had the lowest OPS of anyone with more than twenty PAs, and did little to solidify his claim on a starting-role next year.