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Kansas Batting Update April 16, 2009

Player Yr/Pos At Bats BA OB% Slug OPS HR RBIs SB/CS BB/K
Tony Thompson So/3B 138 .391 .437 .681 1.118 9 44 1/0 9/19
David Narodowski Jr/SS 135 .333 .389 .407 .796 17 5/3 12/28
Robby Price Jr/2B 119 .286 .430 .412 .842 2 17 3/0 25/12
Buck Afenir Sr/C 116 .353 .410 .543 .953 4 33 11/24
Nick Faunce Sr/OF 106 .264 .311 .396 .707 2 23 2/3 6/23
Brian Heere So/RF 105 .371 .485 .524 1.009 2 18 4/2 26/18
Preston Land Sr/1B 83 .239 .320 .289 .609 6 1/0 8/37
Jason Brunansky Fr/OF 77 .247 .363 .429 .792 2 8 2/0 13/26
Jimmy Waters So/OF-DH 76 .224 .341 .276 .617 9 2/0 9/17
Casey Lytle So/OF-DH 73 .301 .395 .370 .765 14 5/0 12/16
Zac Elgie Fr/1B-OF-DH 58 .310 .373 .414 .787 1 16 5/14
Joe Lincoln So/C-DH 38 .211 .268 .263 .531 4 3/5
Jake Marasco Fr/OF 36 .167 .225 .222 .447 4 2/0 1/10
James Stanfield Fr/SS-2B-3B 25 .320 .346 .360 .707 4 1/5
Greg Herbst So/3B-DH 23 .304 .385 .435 .820 2 3/4
Team 1235 .300 .384 .430 .814 33 221 27/8 149/268

Only players with 20 or more at bats included.

When I last updated this chart a month ago the team was hitting .279/.368/.422.  Those numbers are up a bit across the board.  This is not terribly unexpected.  Teams do tend to hit better as the seaso warms up.  Also nine of the 15 players on that list are seeing NCAA D-I pitching on a daily basis for the first time.

The big story in the KU offense this year is Tony Thompson.  He is having an extrodinary year in all ways.  Buck Afenir is having a great senior campaign both at the plate and in the field.  Afneir is looking good to set career highs in all offensive categories.  He has also worked hard and developed into a good defensive catcher.  Brian Heere is the surprise on the team.  His numbers are just too good to believe, but he has kept them at roughly the same level for several weeks now so I guess it is time to start believing.  Heere's OBP and defense will keep him in the line-up forever.  The power he provides is all a bonus.

There are a few players coming on strong this month.  Robby Price had an OPS of .777 in the last update.  He has it up to .842 now.  Price's infield mate David Narodowski has been even hotter than Price.  David has gone from an OPS of .698 to .796 in the last 30 days.  Most of Narodowski's numbers are built on singles and walks.  Apparently he has a deep reservoir of power which he had not yet managed to ignite.

Outside of Heere the situtiaon in the outfield is not settled.  Nick Faunce will be out for several weeks with a fractured finger and Jake Marasco will miss the rest of the season with a broken foot.  Jason Brunansky will see more time due to these injurues.  Brunansky is playing well enough, and he is still a freshman, so no complaints here.  He is inconsistant on defense and he strikes out 28% of the time.  He needs to improve in those areas but they are normal trouble spots for first year players.  Casey Lytle is still hitting for good average and getting on base but he lacks power and his defense needs more work.  Jimmy Waters has been given a lot of at-bats but has been mired in a long slump.  During this slump he has maintained a respectable OBP, but power is absent and he is swinging and missing too often (20% K rate).  Zac Elgie has been hitting well lately and so might see more time in the outfield and at DH in addition to the days he spells Preston Land at first.  I expect Elgie to receive about 10-12 at bats a week down the stretch.  He is a huge recruit and Price will want to see him in action this last month.  The Elgie situation does not bode well for Preston Land.  Preston plays excellent defense at first base, he is a calming presence in the line-up, and his on base numbers are not too bad.  What is killing Preston is the skill that everyone thought would reward him - power hitting.  If Preston continues to slug under .300 at first base Price will practically be forced to make the move to Elgie this season.  I love Preston and I want him to succeed, but we all see this train coming.

A few of the bench players has seen enough plate time to be evaluated.  Joe Lincoln started out the year hot at the plate but now has sunk to back-up catcher level numbers.  He will either need to improve his defense or start hitting at a significantly higher rate to hold on to the starter job next year after Afenir leaves.  James Stanfield filled in at SS during David Narodowski's three game injury stint.  Stanfield looks like a good stap hitter with some pop.  He did not look comfortable at SS or 3B.  He woud do well to develop better range and reaction speed this summer.  He could become a very valuable utility infielder next year and move into a starting position in 2011 if he develops better defensive skills.  Greg Herbst has only played in the field sporadically, although I thought he looked good at third base.  He has hit for average and power in his 23 at bats.  All I have on Herbst is a very small sample size but he looks good going off that.  He is a very big guy as well.  If he finds a position I could see him blossomining into a strong contributor.