Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Tyler Colvin Effect

Tyler Colvin has played in 34 of the Cubs' 41 games and has started just 12 of those. But here's the more interesting number: 19. Colvin has played in 19 games that the Cubs have won. Of course, the Cubs have won 19 games total, which means ... Colvin has played in every Cubs victory this year.

Here are the scores of the games in which he did not appear at all:

Lost to ATL 3-2
Lost to NYM 4-0
Lost to PIT 3-2
Lost to PIT 4-2
Lost to CIN 14-2
Lost to FLA 4-2
Lost to FLA 3-2

Now I'm not suggesting that the Cubs are guaranteed to lose if Colvin doesn't play, but it does seem worth noting that the team is 19-15 when he steps on the field and 0-7 when he doesn't. That's as good an argument as any that he should get more playing time.

As I mentioned, he's had 12 starts through 41 games. When Piniella announced that the 24-year-old would make the team out of spring training, he stated the importance of finding him 2-3 starts per week. We're halfway through week seven, which means he's not even averaging two starts per week.

The problem, of course, is sort of a good one: Fukudome, Byrd and Soriano are all hitting at least .313 (Colvin is hitting .295), so it's been tough to get him into the lineup. But if we look at OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging), it's a little easier to argue that Colvin should be playing more:

Fukudome- .946
Colvin------- .936
Byrd ---------.936

Among major league rookies, only Jason Heyward has more home runs than Colvin and only Heyward and the Tigers' Brennan Boesch have a higher OPS.

I grant that Colvin probably can't sustain these numbers--he's never had an OPS over .850 even in the minors. But he's playing well right now and deserves the 2-3 starts per week Lou promised back in March.

It's a strange time to write this post; after all, Lou did in fact start Colvin two of the last three games. But that was on the heels of six straight non-starts despite the fact that he hit a go-ahead home run the game before that. Those two starts also came just after Lou snapped at a reporter for asking whether Colvin should get more playing time. The answer, Lou, is yes.

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