Making Sense of Stats - Pitching
Just as hitters were the subject of yesterday's article, pitchers rule today. The pitchers are on a word count here . . . so let's get after it.
Halos Light Up Edinson
I went to the Rangers-Angels game last night and had a chance to witness first hand Edinson Volquez. The rookie entered the game with the following stats:
G GS W L IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA Career 13 10 1 9 43.0 68 45 42 8 27 25 8.79
(The above numbers include a start vs. SEA last month in which the right-hander threw seven scoreless innings.)
He left the game with the following line: 3.0-9-5-5-0-1 (including two HR). His updated career stats now look like this:
G GS W L IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA Career 14 11 1 10 46.0 77 50 47 10 27 26 9.20
Volquez's H/9 is 15.1. His K/9 and BB/9 are 5.09 and 5.28, respectively. Edinson's HR/9 is 1.96. I recognize the small sample size here, but I'm more than skeptical. His fastball (which sits at 92-93 and touched a high of 94 Monday night) may have been good enough to get minor leaguers out, but his command and secondary pitches aren't going to get the job done at the big league level.
Plurality Wins Out
While on the subject of young pitchers, don't mistake Jason Hammel for Cole Hamels.
G GS W L IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA Hammel 7 7 0 4 34.2 43 27 27 6 18 21 7.01 Hamels 22 22 9 8 126.1 110 62 57 18 47 138 4.06
Sure, both pitchers are rookies. But the similarities stop right there. Hammel is ordinary (at best). Hamels is extraordinary.
Fantasy Tip of the Week
Eric Bedard is fast becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball. While his strikeout rate has been remarkably stable the past three seasons, he has been walking fewer and fewer batters. The reduced number of free passes has resulted in a successively lower WHIP and ERA.
K/9 BB/9 WHIP ERA HR/9 GB% FB% 2004 7.93 4.65 1.60 4.59 0.85 38.3 42.5 2005 7.94 3.62 1.38 4.00 0.64 40.0 36.8 2006 7.90 3.06 1.33 3.67 0.75 48.8 30.1
In the meantime, Bedard's current HR/9 rate is the 10th-lowest among all qualified pitchers. He's inducing more groundballs and fewer flyballs. Since late June, the Baltimore lefty is 9-4 with a MLB-best 2.27 ERA and 3.61 K/BB ratio. (Don't pay any attention to the guy with the third-best ERA during this period. You know, the one sandwiched between Roger Clemens and Johan Santana.)
A Buehrle ERA
During this same period (6/21/06-present), Mark Buehrle has had the second-worst ERA (6.69) in baseball. He has nobody to blame but himself. The Chisox southpaw is simply allowing too many balls in play. Buehrle has also been less successful due to giving up more home runs than ever.
BABIP K/9 HR/9 BAA ERA 2004 .298 6.05 1.21 .271 3.89 2005 .298 5.67 0.76 .264 3.12 2006 .307 4.32 1.59 .300 4.99
Fewer strikeouts mean more balls in play. More balls in play equal more hits. More hits result in more runs. It's really no more complicated than that.
Here is a list of pitchers with K/9 rates below 4.50 (fewer than one whiff per two innings):
K/9 Paul Byrd Cle 4.45 Kenny Rogers Det 4.40 Jason Marquis StL 4.40 Steve Trachsel NYM 4.37 Kris Benson Bal 4.34 Mark Buehrle CWS 4.32 Mark Redman KC 4.08 Aaron Cook Col 3.84 Carlos Silva Min 3.53 Chien-Ming Wang NYY 3.06
Extreme groundball pitchers Chien-Ming Wang (3.04 G/F) and Aaron Cook (2.77) might be able to get away with K/9 rates below 4.0. Kenny Rogers, at the upper end of this group and with an above-average G/F rate of 1.62, has shown an ability to succeed as well. Aside from these three, I'm not at all sanguine about the prospects for the other pitchers on the above list.
By the way, did Mark Redman (5.83 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 4.08 K/9) really make the All-Star team this year?
Raise Your Son to be a Left-Handed Pitcher
K/9 BB/9 WHIP 2003 5.12 2.34 1.25 2004 5.18 2.41 1.33 2005 4.77 2.59 1.33 2006 4.96 2.65 1.35
The pitcher's ERA must have been about the same all four years, right? Wrong. Try 4.43, 4.64, 3.20, and 4.67. The pitcher in question is Jarrod Washburn. Fortunately for him, he put up the 3.20 ERA in his contract year and got Seattle's Bill Bavasi to bite on a four-year, $37.5 million contract.
Question: Do you think Washburn's ERA next year will be closer to 3.20 or 4.60? That's what I thought. A league-average pitcher at only $9.375M per year. What a country!