Some of the best baseball arguments often center around an individuals performance relative to previous seasons. For instance, a fan may simply look at a batting average and suggest a player has either vastly improved or is playing much worse while another fan may say the players batting average is just a reflection of increased or decreased BABIP (see Casey Kotchman in Tampa Bay and Austin Jackson in Detroit).
Tony Lastoria of IndiansProspectInsider.com & SportstimeOhio.com tackled this perception question about Indians DH Travis Hafner in an article titled Is Hafner Really That Different This Year? In his article Lastoria tackles the perception of many fans that Travis Hafner, is back to being a productive and feared hitter in the lineup. Many fans also believe that Hafner was not very good the previous two seasons and looked as if his career was fading.
Lastoria concludes that based on Hafner's statistical body of work (shown below and excluding 2008 injury shortened season) that Hafner is really not much different at all this season and that he has leveled out and become a consistent above average hitter. Lastoria feels that Hafner is still one of the best designated hitter options around and that the Indians need Hafner's veteran, power bat in the lineup.
So, why is there, as Lastoria points out, a perception that Hafner is a productive a feared hitter in the lineup? One explanation may be that Hafner is performing very well in 2011 with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP).