Friday, May 29, 2009
We'll kick it off with something that actually isn't too hard to grasp from a numbers perspective but actually can be very helpful in evaluating the current success or failure of a pitcher. BABIP stands for batting average on balls in play, and it essentially measures the percentage of all balls in play that go for hits against a certain pitcher. Home runs aren't counted as a "ball in play," nor are strikeouts obviously, so it largely boils down to all batted balls that a defender would theoretically have a play on. Here's the formula:
where H is hits, HR is home runs, AB is at bats, K is strikeouts, and SF is sacrifice flies.
Seems pretty simple, right? So why is this important?
Basically, looking at a pitcher's BABIP can be used as an indicator that a pitcher is having a fluky season - either a) that they are pitching way over their heads and getting lucky that many of the balls in play simply aren't dropping for hits or that they are benefiting from stellar defense; or b) that they are not pitching nearly as poorly as their win-loss record or ERA (generally regarded by sabremetricians as two of the worst ways to evaluate pitching performance) might suggest, meaning that balls in play are finding more gaps than they normally would or they are being victimized by defensive ineptitude. Extremely high or low BABIPs are not sustainable, and as the short Wikipedia blurb on the subject notes, "those whose BABIPs are extremely high can often be expected to improve in the following season, and those pitchers whose BABIPs are extremely low can often be expected to regress in the following season." Bottom line is that it depends mostly on defense and luck, rather than pitching skill.
So for some real-life examples, let's take a look at the BABIP of a few notable pitchers this admittedly still young season. To keep things in perspective, Baseball Prospectus says that an average BABIP is around .290. I'll highlight a few pitchers at both the top and bottom end of the spectrum.
Now here's an interesting example. As of May 21, with a minimum of 30 IP, the pitcher with the highest BABIP was none other than last year's Cy Young winner and (sic) favorite Tim Lincecum, sitting at a hefty .389. Lincecum's line on the season however, is far from a disaster - 3.03 ERA, 4-1 record, 84 Ks in 65 IP. What does this tell us? Number one, the best way to avoid having a high BABIP really hurt you is to miss a ton of bats, at which Lincecum is one of the best. But number two, we should expect his numbers to improve (sick, I know) as his BABIP regresses to the mean.
Following Timmay! at .388 and .382 are Jon Lester and Ricky Nolasco respectively, and although obviously not in the same category as Lincecum, Tim Dierkes notes that they each probably deserve ERAs around 4 rather than the 6.51 and 7.78 they currently sport.
Riding the wave:
One interesting highlight at the other end: Edinson Volquez. Currently sitting at .211. Volquez is putting together a decent season so far, but a lot of people thought that he would regress after a monster year last year. Obviously there are many more factors that go into something like that, not the least of which is probably fatigue from throwing 196 innings at his age, but this is an interesting stat. He's still missing bats at 45K in 48 IP, but his fortuitous BABIP might suggest that tougher times lie ahead. Not to say that last season was all smoke and mirrors, though as his BABIP last year was a very average .303. Make of this what you will.
So in summary, BABIP isn't a perfect, all-powerful or super-predictive stat, but it can help point out some of those guys who are overperforming and underperforming. Check it out for yourself if you wanna know more.
Note: For an interesting analysis of BABIP from a hitter's perspective, here's a good article.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Ok ok, the news has been out pretty much all day, but my writing partners were busy and I was too so we missed the immediate scoop. Wieters hasn't exactly been lighting it up in the minors as of late, but hopefully he'll do well in his first Major League stint.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Some Twins related news:
- For the 4th time this year, a MLB player hit for the cycle, this time it was Michael Cuddyer of the Twins who hit for the cycle in 4 at-bats last Friday. He is the second Twins player to do it this year (the other was Jason Kubel) and I doubt it even hit the radar screens of most baseball fans because the feat received so little coverage. Cuddyer hit his triple on his last at-bat of the night, a broken bat shot down the 3rd base line. The pieces of the bat we collected and shipped to Cooperstown according to the ESPN recap. And do you want to talk about hot, here's Cuddyer's batting line the past 4 games: 9 for 17, 6Rs, 2HRs, 8RBI, oh, and he had back-to-back 4-hit games. That's even hotter than the ridiculous Joe Mauer.
- Minnesota has scored 43 runs in their last 4 games. The Twins staff has given up 9 runs in their last 4 games. Damn.
- A couple of other bright spots for the Twins over the weekend were Anthony Swarzak's 7 inning shutout performance against the Brewers in his Major-League debut. The Twins could definitely use another reliable arm in their rotation after some early-struggles by the likes of Liriano and Baker. Speaking of Baker, he pitched a near complete-game on Sunday, 8.1 innings of what should have been 1-run ball, but he gave up a 2-run dinger to Prince Fielder before being taken out to let Joe Nathan finish the game. It was, by a country-mile, Baker's best outing of the year and right now, it looks like the Twins rotation is coming around to what most thought they would be out of the gate. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
At any rate, he's a cool guy, a hometown guy, grew up in Brooklyn Park, MN and went to this author's high school (Park Center High School). He's an avid baseball card collector and overall fan of the game and he runs his own blog chronicling his own Major League experience which can be found here: On The Road with Pat Neshek This is way too much of me talking though, so here's the interview:
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Philly @ Cincy, Texas @ Detroit, Twins @ ChiSox, Cleveland @ KC.
If they can't get going for a Twins v. Chicago game, then what's it gonna take?
Liveblog, son. Liveblog.
On 5/18 went 0/3 with a K and an RBI. On 5/19 Wieters went 2/4 with a R. Getting closer and closer to call-up time.
On 5/18 went 3/6 with 2Ks. Good for the old average. On 5/19 went 2/3 with a BB. His season line is now .471/.500/.521, which easily beats Wieters so far on the year. An unheralded, but very productive, prospect.
Price, Feliz, Brackman, Montero all DNP.
I'll be honest, I've never been a really big fan of Johnny Damon, mostly because I still have some residual hatred from his days with the Boston Red Sox. However, anyone who actually looks/looked like the caveman from the Geico commericals, deserves pity. I'm coming around on Damon now, mostly because I have him on my fantasy baseball team and he has been raking so far this year. I was trying to think of a player for another installment of Future HOFer? and I decided to check Damon's numbers out and was surprised by what I found. Given Damon's body of work so far and taking into account his age, he has a legit shot at reaching bonafide HOF numbers by the time he retires. Check out some of his vitals (provided, as always, by Baseball Reference):
Monday, May 18, 2009
David Price went 5IP yesterday, giving up two walks and King a measly 9. Measly or ridiculous, I can't decide. Looks like his struggles are behind him. Now we will watch Tampa surrender a few more wins by keeping him in the minors and letting Jeff Niemann continue to suck. No big deal, its not like the AL East is competitive.
Matt Wieters followed his 2 HR bonanza last Thursday with another HR on Friday, going 2/3 with 1HR, 2RBI, 1BB, 1R and a K. On Friday, he went 1/4 with a R and a K. That one hit was a triple. Go Wieters go! His season line is now .280/.376/.477. Coming on strong now.
Sweet Jesus Montero went 0/2 with a BB, an RBI and a K on 5/15. He followed that on 5/16 by going 2/5 a double and a K. On 5/17 he went 0/3 with a BB and a K.
Brett Wallace continues to tear it up in AAA. On 5/16 he went 3/4 with a double, 2R and an RBI. On 5/17 he went 0/4 with 2 Ks. It happens.
Finally Andrew Brackman had a meh outing on 5/16, going 5IP with 5H, 2ER, 2BB and 2Ks. His season line is now 42.2IP, 42H, 19ER, 17BB and 40Ks. That's a K/9 of 8.44 and a K/BB ratio of 2.36. I'd like to see that latter ratio nudge higher by him cutting down on the BBs. Only 3 in his last 13 IP.
That concludes today's Roundup, brought to you by "Yankees win...THUUUUUU YANKEES WIN!"
Friday, May 15, 2009
Matt Wieters. I have been on your case about the power outage, but no more good sir, no more. 2/5 with 3R, 2HR, 4RBI and 1K. Welcome back. We're still looking at weeks until the call-up.
Brett Wallace went 2/5 with 1R and a double.
Brackman, Montero and Price DNP.
It is fun to see some of these guys really heat up.
Jacoby Ellsbury should be in AAA. That is all.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
5/8: 1/4 with a walk and 2Ks.
5/9: 2/5, 2 doubles, with 2RBIs.
5/11: 2/4 with a R, a triple, and 2RBIs. Big man legging out the triple, love it.
5/12: 2/4 with a R, a K, and 2RBIs.
now for 5/13...D Day...
5/13: 4/5 with an RBI. Good lord.
His season totals: .336/.392/.563, an OPS of .955. This is an improvement, an improvement! on his 2008 numbers: .326/.376/.491, an OPS of .868. So Montero gained OBP and power when he moved up a level in the minors. This guy is for real.
Imagine what he'll look like when he starts doing bicep curls once a week. Pictures all from Riveraveblues.com and commenter Andy. Hope they don't mind.
Still on that pitch count limit, Price went 4.2IP on 5/12, giving up 4H, 2ER and striking out 5. They have really limited his innings and pitches: only 26 IP on the year.
Has not pitched since 5/3. Don't know what the story is on him.
Brackman had himself a very fine game on 5/11, going 8IP, giving up 7H, 2ER, walking only one batter, and striking out 9. That's the kind of breakout game you love to see.
5/8: 0/3 with a BB
5/9: 2/4 with a double, 2RBIs, and 2R
5/10: 1/2 with 2BBs, a double and a K
5/11: 1/3 with a BB and a K
Not exactly making his case, is he? The OBP is nice, but the last part of the tripleslash is a bit bothersome: .263/.366/.368. No reason to sour on him long-term, obviously; the power will come.
So far with the Indians, LaPorta is 4/18 with 3BBs. Of those 4 hits, 1 was a HR and 1 was a double. His tripleslash is .222/.364/.444, which isn't actually all that bad. Not everyone can be Ryan Braun (click through and check his rookie year stats).
And finally, our latest addition to the Prospect Roundup, Sir Brett Wallace...
5/8: 0/3 with a BB and 3Ks. Way to go Brett!
5/9: 0/4 with a K. Time to drop him...
5/10: 2/6 with a double and 2R. Ok, maybe not.
5/11: 3/4. NIiiice.
5/12: 1/4 with a K.
5/13: 0/3 with 2BB, 1R and 1K.
His tripleslash for the year: .282/.403/.431, and OPS of .834. Not too shaaaaaaaby.
Next up on the Peep This Prospect: my current favorite non-Yankee prospect and strikeout fiend Tommy Hanson.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Date: May 3rd, 2009
Cost: 2 tickets, 10 rows up from the Cubs dugout = $143
Number of beers consumed: 4 1/2??
Ballpark Rating: 10/10
We got even luckier than just getting to go to the game. It happened to be the day that the Cubs chose to retire the numbers of Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins (both #31) and so we got there extra early to catch some BP and the retirement ceremony. Watching BP was kinda fun for me, I don't usually get to the park early enough to catch it, but it was cool to see the players all relaxed and joking around. There ceremony was kinda cool, I mean, you're talking about two 300-game winners and the whole ambience of history at Wrigley. I guess I will always be able to say that I was at the first game that they raised the #31 up on the foul poles at Wrigley. Anyway.
The game was a good one, Nolasco v. Zambrano. The bottom of the 5th was particularly wild, Zambrano legged out a bunt and managed to get hurt, Pinella was walking up and down the bench asking "who wants to go out and run?" This guy from behind me yelled, "Put me in Coach!!" which got a hearty laugh from all of us around him. Harden ended up leaping out of the dugout and, well, he picked a good time to run because later on, with the bases loaded, Derrick Lee stepped up to the plate and blasted a grand-slam to center and the capacity crowd went APE SHIT. It was so much fun, high-fives all around, defeaning crowd noise, you would have thought a black man had just been elected President...wait. I digress. The game was a blast, we stayed for the entire thing, did the whole "Go Cubs Go" song at the end, great day for baseball and a great game to be lucky enough to attend. Here's the pics.
Seated (L to R): Ron Santo, Mr. Cub Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins. At the mic: Len Casper
Seated Left: see above, seated left of center: Greg Maddux
Maddux Accepting and paintings unveiled.
Fergie and Maddux on the mound
Future HOFer Hanley Ramirez...again.
View from our seats.
The last At-Bat.
Friday, May 8, 2009
In honor of A-Rod's return to the Yankee lineup, I thought I would find a member of the next wave of Major League 3rd basemen, and we'll start with Brett Wallace who is currently playing for Double-A Springfield in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Wallace was the 9th pick in the 1st round of the 2008 MLB Draft and has so far been raking through A-ball and AA-ball.
As you can see, Wallace is a pure hitter with decent power and a so-so eye. In college he played for Arizona State where he won the Pac-10 Triple Crown twice in three seasons. Oh yeah, his college career .398 average wasn't bad either. The downside to Wallace is his defense which is somewhat suspect and might be due, in some part, to his size. As ESPN puts it, "
Thursday, May 7, 2009
More to follow.
So the rumor mill is churning on this one, and initially I'd heard everything from steroids to recreational drugs. But now it seems we have a culprit - HCG. What is HCG you say? Well read on. The NY Daily News (among other sources, including ESPN) came out with the following:
"Despite Ramirez's claims in a statement released by the MLB Players Association that he was suspended for something other than a steroid, a source told the Daily News that the suspension was for a post-steroid cycle drug called Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, or hCG.
Former slugger and admitted longtime steroid user Jose Canseco was detained at the Mexican border last fall and charged with possession of hCG, which helps a player re-establish normal testosterone production after extensive steroid use. It also helps combat testiclular atrophy and is similar to the fertility drug Clomid, which was used by several BALCO clients, including Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds."Hmmm...so it sounds like he didn't TECHNICALLY take steroids (well it sounds like he probably did, but let's say he didn't get busted for it in this case), but tested positive for a drug that usually follows steroid use. But couldn't he have been prescribed it for a legitimate reason? According to Wikipedia, "Typical uses for hCG in men include hypogonadism and fertility treatment." So, unless he's impotent, basically, it sounds like, no. And even if it was, which the likelihood looks ever slimmer and slimmer, the bottom line is that as one of the biggest stars in MLB, you better make sure that you and your doctor check, recheck and triple check everything he's giving you against the banned substance list. "I didn't know what I was taking, my doctor said it was OK" is not an excuse, not even close.
It doesn't seem like he's putting up much of a fight, accepting the suspension without even an appeal. Personally, I could care less about Manny Ramirez as a player. He's never been very likable, and I'm not going to be that sad that he's missing 50 games. What I DO care about is the fact that this is another blemish on the game, another thing that detractors and haters will point to as a reason baseball is a sham. I don't share those convictions, but my faith is a little more shaken.
David Price, Neftali Feliz, Andrew Brackman all DNP.
Matt LaPorta DNP.
Matt Wieters DNP. However, I missed the fact that he played in a doubleheader on 5/5. I only listed the stats from one game in which he went 1/3, a single. He went 2/3 in the second game, knocking in a run. His BA is up to .290 now. Just awaitin' the power...Any day Matt.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Matt Wieters -
5/1 - 2/4 with 1R and 2BBs. Good day for the OBP, that's for sure.
5/2 - 0/4 with a K. About that OBP, fella...
5/3 - 2/5 with a double. 1R, 1RBI.
5/4 - Off-day
5/5 - 1/3. That's all she wrote.
Wieters isn't hitting for a whole lotta power so far this month. It's a bit disconcerting. His season line triple-slash is .290/.363/.377. Those first two numbers are good, the SLG is what concerns me.
Sweet Jesus Montero -
5/1 - 1/4 with a solo HR. 1RBI, 1R
5/2 - 0/3 with a BB and a K.
5/3 - 1/4 with a double; 1 RBI and 1K.
5/4 - 0/2 with a walk and a K.
5/5 - 1/3 with a double, a walk and a K.
Season line: .312/.379/.548; OPS of .927. That's just filthy.
Sir David Price -
5/2 - 3.2IP, 4H, 2ER, 3BB, 1K. Dude is just biding time til he gets called up. He's on a pitch count limit and everything. Call his ass up already and get it over with. He's wasting away. Cheap bastards.
The Man the Myth Neftali Feliz
5/3 - 5IP, 6H, 4ER, 2BB and 7Ks. That's a lot of Ks; the ER are a bit high. This would be a good time to read a scout's evaluation of the game. Unfortunately I can't find one of those. Thanks Obama.
Andrew Brackman -
5/5 - 4IP, 2H, 1ER, 3BB and 3Ks. Still having control issues, but the K rate is nice!
2009 MLB Amateur Rule IV Draft 1st Pick of 1st Round -
5/1 - 8IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 12Ks. It's losing the shock value at this point. How about the season line:
10-0. 78IP. 13R. 12ER. 15BB. One Hundred and Forty-Seven Strikeouts. K/9 rate? 17.01 strikeouts per nine innings. K/BB ratio? 9.8Ks for every 1 walk. Folks, it don't get much better than that. For fun, I present to you this:
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
"We'll take the physical challenge!"
Indeed you will. Let's get to tha numbaz...
Matt Wieters - On 4/29 went 1/4 with an RBI, a BB and a K. Kind of weak, truth be told. Still awaiting that power surge. On 4/30 went 1/5. A single. Ok then.
David Price, Neftali Feliz, DNP
Sweet Jesus Montero - Followed his 4/28 performance with an 0/4 with 2Ks. It happens to the best of 'em. On 4/30 went 0/3 with a BB.
Andrew Brackman pitched on 4/30 and went 5 innings, giving up 7H, walking 3, giving up 4R, only 2 of which were earned, and striking out 6. OK, enough bullshit Brackman. It's time for a good outing.
I'm also issuing the clarion call for more Prospects. They can be a long piece like Peep This Prospect or a quick hit. It don't matter; we need more.