Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pitching Under the Radar in 2012

Armed with a 97 mph fastball, Pedro Strop achieved the 2nd highest Groundball rate and 3rd highest GB/FB rate ratio among 263 pitchers who threw over 1,000 pitches in 2012. His fortunate-to-lucky 83.2% LOB% and .275 BABIP, brought together the unlikely marriage of a 5.02 BB/9 and 2.44 ERA.

In this sample, only the Dodgers' Jamey Wright had a higher GB%.

2012 Ground Ball Percentage
min 1,000 pitches thrown
Jamey Wright, Dodgers 67.3%
Pedro Strop, Orioles 64.8%
Ronald Belisario, Dodgers 64.5%
Robbie Ross, Rangers 62.4%
Jim Johnson, Orioles 62.3%

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A bright spot for the 2012 Red Sox was Junichi Tazawa, who hardly walked anyone (2.9% BB%) and avoided Homeruns (0.2 HR/9 from a low 26.9% Flyball % and minuscule 3.1% HR/FB).

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553 pitchers threw at least 10 innings in the Big Leagues this year.

Alberto Cabrera ranked 6th in that group, by missing approximately 2.87 bats per inning pitched.

According to our math, the winner in missed bats per IP is, no surprise, Aroldis Chapman at 3.062.

There are some interesting names at the tops and bottoms of this list, when increasing the minimum number of innings pitched. At a minimum of 100 ip, the lowest missed bats per 9 innings were Bartolo Colon (.67) and Henderson Alvarez (.79)

Missed bats per inning
min 180 innings thrown
Max Scherzer 2.18
Tim Lincecum 2.08
Yu Darvish 2.03
Cole Hamels 2.01
Edwin Jackson 1.95

For all his troubles this season, giving up runs, Tim Lincecum still missed bats at an elite level, as we can see when we change per inning to per pitches.

Missed bats / average number of pitches* / inning
min 2,500 pitches thrown
Francisco Liriano 2.16
Max Scherzer 1.99
Tim Lincecum 1.87
Matt Moore 1.91
Yu Darvish 1.96
Cole Hamels 2.09
Jeff Samardzija 1.97
Edwin Jackson 1.99
Justin Verlander 1.91
Edinson Volquez 1.875

*Per each pitcher's unique number of pitches per inning

Tim Lincecum's troubles this season included a career high 23 home runs allowed. Tim Lincecum's resurgence out of the bullpen this postseason has been inspiring. We hope the Good Lincecum returns in 2013, but his value trends over the past 5 years don't look too promising...

Year Age WAR Salary Awards
2008 24 7.6 $405,000 AS,CYA-1,MVP-23
2009 25 7.1 $650,000 AS,CYA-1,MVP-18
2010 26 3.0 $9,000,000 AS,CYA-10
2011 27 3.9 $14,000,000 AS,CYA-6
2012 28 -2.1 $18,000,000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2012.

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The cost of an aging arm rises while its effectiveness decreases.

The outspoken Vinnie Pestano ranked 5th, among the 553 pitchers who threw at least 10 innings, in Win Probability Added.

Heath Bell had the 548th highest WPA.

Heath Bell will made $6 million this season, with another $9 million in each of the next two seasons. Vinnie Pestano made $491,200 in 2012, and is arbitration eligible in 2014. Depending on if he signs a long-term deal or goes through arbitration, he should make about $4 million over the next 2 years.

Heath Bell had some really great seasons in San Diego when he was at Pestano's pay scale. This isn't to knock Heath Bell, just marveling at them having 543 pitchers between them in WPA, with disproportionate expenses of $24 million or $5 million, across 2012-2014. Along with Tim Lincecum's trends, the Heath Bell and Vinne Pestano comparisons perfectly exemplify the value young, cheap talent.

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Here's a quick salute to Yu Darvish, as he exceeded lofty, worldwide expectations.

In his first season away from Japan, in the American League, Yu Darvish made the All-Star team and ranked 2nd in K/9, 3rd in H/9 and HR/9, 5th in Strikeouts, and did not commit an error.

Darvish is just shy of real contention for the AL Cy Young award. The finalists for that hardware are David Price, Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander, with Chris Sale as the dark-horse candidate.

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Something found in Excel while writing this that became tweets:

and

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Who are Donnie Veal and Tom Layne?

Long time, first time, Donnie Veal
The former is a bit easier for me to answer because he's a former Cub farmhand, whom they lost in the Rule 5 draft a few years ago to the Pirates.

I'm, however, no Donnie Veal expert. I knew he was a reliever, but I also thought he was a white guy. His Google Image search certainly points out that I am no Donnie Veal expert. Tom Layne, I've never even heard of.

In limited action, these two relievers flourished:

2012 Best RAR/9 (min 10 ip)
Craig Kimbrel, 62.2 ip, 4.70 RAR/9
Aroldis Chapman, 71.2 ip, 3.86 RAR/9
Donnie Veal, 13 ip, 3.67 RAR/9
Tom Layne, 16.2 ip, 3.61 RAR/9
Jake McGee, 55.1 ip, 3.17 RAR/9
Sean Doolittle, 47.1 ip, 2.85 RAR/9
Al Alburquerque, 13.1 ip, 2.82 RAR/9
Fernando Rodney, 74.2 ip, 2.80 RAR/9
Greg Holland, 67 ip, 2.78 RAR/9
Jim Henderson, 30.2 ip, 2.74 RAR/9

Forget Donnie Veal. Who's Jim Henderson? I must have missed at least 36 Brewers games this year.

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