Monday, May 30, 2011

Fili's GOD for May 30th 2011: Toronto Blue Jays vs Cleveland Indians

Jo-Jo Reyes gets the start tonight for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Reyes is 0-4 this season.  Normally Reyes wouldn't be the type of pitcher who would be involved in the Game Of the Day.  But today is different.  

Reyes' career record is 5-19, including:
2011: 0 - 4
2010: 0 - 0
2009: 0 - 2
2008: 3 - 11

Reyes' last win was June 13th 2008 against the Angels.

Since then he has made 27 starts without a victory.

The major league record for consecutive starts without a victory is 28, held by Matt Keough

He has 13 consecutive losses which is about halfway to the 27 consecutive losses that Anthony Young put up.

But he is nowhere near the record for the most consecutive appearances without a victory, 153 games by John Smoltz

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Boob and Dick (Fowler)

Boob and Dick Fowler have sophomorically funny names.

Boob (aka Joseph Chester, aka Gink), an infielder, played for the Reds and Red Sox between 1923 and 1926.

He has a career .326/.348/.406 line in 181 plate appearances, add in his defensive contributions and he was worth .7 WAR over his career. Perhaps he should have been given a shot.

Dick (aka Richard John), was a pitcher for the Philadelphia A's from 1941-1952. He has a career 66-79 record with a 4.11 ERA in 221 games and 170 starts covering 1303 innings. He led the league in losses in 1946 with 16. On September 9th 1945 he pitched a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns. Dick had 7.7 WAR over his career.

He's also the grandfather of Khalid Ballouli

Boob and Dick do not appear to be related. 

Interesting it will be to see how many Google hits this post gets.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fili's GODs for May 27th 2011: Rockies v Cardinals and Mariners v Yankees

Two games tonight that I'm especially interested in.  The first is the Colorado Rockies vs the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rockies' rookie Juan Nicasio makes his major league debut against the Cardinals.  Nicasio is a 24 year old right-hander making his first major league start.   Nicasio is 5 - 1 with a 2.22 ERA in AA thus far.  More importantly he has 10.01 K/9 and just 1.59 BB/9.  Nicasio does a decent job of getting ground balls but his percentages have been decreasing at each level:
A - 49%
Hi A - 45%
AA - 42%
Nicasio throws a mid-90's fastball, slider and change up.

Pitching in the bigs against a potent Cardinals offense (117 wRC+; 2nd in baseball) is a big jump for a guy who was pitching in High A Ball last season.

The second game features another young pitcher, Michael Pineda.  I reviewed Pineda's review here.  Pineda was very good that day, and has been even better since.  Pineda is 6 - 2 with a 2.16 ERA for Seattle in 9 starts.  He's striking out 9.41/9 and walking just 2.16/9.  His 2.26 FIP is better than every starter's in baseball not named Roy Halladay or Matt Garza.

He is showing the left/right split that I was concerned about:
vs L: K/9=8.78, BB/9=2.36, HR/9=.68
vs R: K/9=9.95, BB/9=1.99, HR/9=.28
He's just been so good that it hasn't mattered.

I was concerned about his change up not being good enough to get out left-handed batters.  He's responded by only throwing it 6% of the time.  His run value per 100 change ups is slightly negative, but only -.22.

He's thrown his fastball (62%) and slider (32%) much more often.  Both of those pitches have been excellent.  His fastball has been worth 1.69 runs per 100 pitches while the sider has been worth 2.93 runs per 100 pitches.  That's the 8th best fastball and 12th best slider amongst starters.

Tonight he faces a challenge.  The New York Yankees and their #1 (118 wRC+) offense.  He gets a bit of a reprieve though, as the game is in cavernous SAFECO field and not New Yankee Colosseum.  SAFECO is particularly hard on left-handed batters, which the Yankees have plenty of (Granderson, Cano, Gardner and switch hitters Teixeira, Swisher and Posada), with an 86 park factor for home runs according to StatCorner.    

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yakety Sax: Toronto Blue Jays

Not as encompassing as the Chicago Cubs' Yakety Sax, but the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off a Yakety play today.

Play this video as you behold:

*H/T to OD

Video from the MLB website

Posey's leg Busted

By now you've probably heard the Buster Posey broke his leg on this play against the Marlins.


For you masochists out there, you can watch this one too.

Well, Posey's leg is broken and he may miss the season
SAN FRANCISCO -- Catcher Buster Posey has a broken bone in his lower left leg, the Giants revealed on Thursday, meaning the worst has happened: The National League's reigning Rookie of the Year will likely be sidelined for the entire season.
Posey has 1.8 WAR thus far on the season. That gives him an expected WAR of about 6 for an entire season. With the injury the Giants will miss out on about 4 Wins

The Giants will try to replace him Eli Whiteside. Whiteside has 1.1 WAR in 315 career plate appearances. That's a close enough approximation for the number of PA's he'll get the remainder of the season. So, we add a Win to the Giants' total.

Now they are down 3 Wins.

The new back up catcher, Chris Stewart, is terrible, so he gives them 0 Wins.

The Giants are 2.5 games up on the Rockies right now. I had the Rox and Giants about equal coming into the season. If they were equal and the Giants are to lose 3 Wins over the rest of the season, the loss of Posey could cost them the division.

That's not even counting the fact that the Giants have given up more runs than they've scored this season (170-172) while winning 56% of their games while the Rox have scored 17 more runs than they've allowed while only winning 50% of their games.

The Giants will certainly want to make a move to shore up the position.  So whom might be available?

Astros: JR Towles and Jason Jaramillo. Houston is going nowhere and Castro (on the DL) is the catcher of the future.
Blue Jays: Jose Molina is a free agent after the season, and JP Arencibia looks like the real deal.
Brewers: Wil Nieves could be available as LuCroy and Kottaras are 1&2 in Milwaukee
Cubs: might move Koyie Hill if Wellington Castillo convinces them he can play
Dodgers: wouldn't mind them trading Barajas away and letting Ellis show if he can play
Mariners: Adam Moore deserves a shot to play. Miguel Olivo could be offered up
Mets: Love themselves some Josh Thole, so Ronny Paulino could go

Nationals: Wilson Ramos is the new #1 catcher in DC so Pudge might make sense
Pirates: They would let Ryan Doumit go for cheap
Yankees: Sabean loves him some old dudes-Posada?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Debut Review: Rubby de la Rosa

Rubby de la Rosa burst onto the Dodgers' prospect list last year when his fastball velocity started regularly hitting 95+.

He spent 2010 in A and AA where he posted the following numbers

A: 8.34 K/9, 2.58 BB/9, 3.12 FIP, 59.1 innings
AA: 6.88 K/9, 3.71 BB/9, 3.22 FIP, 51 innings

Despite his explosive fastball he wasn't able to strikeout a huge number of batters.

In 2011 he started off again in AA

AA: 11.70 K/9, 4.28 BB/9, 2.50 FIP, 40 innings 

Today he was called up to help out a Dodger bullpen that has Jon Broxton, Hong-Chi Kuo, Vicente Padilla and Blake Hawksworth on the DL.

Don Mattingly summoned de la Rosa for the first time to face Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee and Brett Wallace.  How'd he fare?

1 perfect inning with 2 strikeouts.  How'd he get there?  Let's take a look.

He started off Hunter Pence with a 95 MPH fastball at the knees that was called a ball.  He followed that up with a similar pitch that Pence fouled off.  The third pitch was a change up that missed low.  Behind in the count 2-1 de la Rosa cranked up a 96 MPH fastball down the middle that Pence hit foul.  The next pitch was a slider that missed very high.  Facing a full count de la Rosa blew a 96 MPH fastball past Pence.  First strikeout of de la Rosa's career comes against a pretty good hitter.

Next up was Carlos Lee.  De la Rosa started Lee with a curveball that missed high.  He came back with a fastball down and in that caught a lot of plate.  Lee swung and grounded out.

The third batter was Brett Wallace.  The first pitch was de la Rosa's fastest of the night.  A 97.3 MPH fastball for a called strike.  Wallace swung through a change up off the plate and fouled off another fastball away.  De la Rosa came high and inside with a fastball that was called ball one.  The 97 MPH fastball was followed by an 81 MHP curve down and in the Wallace swung through for strike 3.

All in all on the night
De la Rosa threw 13 pitches, 8 for strikes.
8 fastballs averaging 95.6 MPH
2 change ups averaging 87.4 MPH
2 curve balls averaging 78.3 MPH
and a slider at 83.4 MPH

He got swinging strikes on 3 of 13 pitches (23%)

The only ball put in play against him was a ground ball.

3 batters faced isn't a lot, but 2 strikeouts and a groundout is about as good as you can get.

Good luck to Rubby

*Stats from FanGraphs and Brooks Baseball

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fili's GOD for May 18th 2011: Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals

A fun game today with two young pitchers going at it.

The Texas Rangers send Alexi Ogando, whom I reviewed here, up against just promoted Royals prospect Danny Duffy.   

Ogando is 4 - 0 with a 2.06 ERA so he's been fantastic right?  No, that honor would go to Pineda.  Ogando looks great, but there's a lot of reason to think that there have been some smoke and some mirrors involved.  Ogando is only striking out 6.6 per 9 innings thus far.  He does have a very good walk rate (2.06/9) though.  He's giving up a lot of fly balls (34% ground ball rate) and home runs (1.24/9).  That all adds up (and multiplies and divides up) to a FIP of 4.21.  That means, we should expect his ERA to be closer to 4 than to 2.

So, how does a guy who's below average at striking batters out, getting ground balls, and giving up homeruns have a 2.06 ERA?

Ogando's BABIP against is .193.
Batted Ball Type: Ogando's BABIP, League BABIP
Ground Ball: .140, .229
Fly Ball: .091, .138
Line Drive: .600, .716

He's well below average on each type of ball.  The Rangers' infield defense (think Beltre and Andrus) is pretty good, so the ground ball BABIPs might stay low, but not this low.  The outfield is...not as good...that is unlikely to stay low...and line drives...those are hits (and, yes, I love ellipses).

As a result of Ogando's low BABIP he is also stranding 95% of the runners that get on base against him.  He also stranded 93% last season, but when the major league average is 72%, 90% plus looks unsustainable.

Ogando has been better as a starter than I expected, but he's not as good as that 2.06 ERA might lead some to believe.    

In my last Game Of the Day, I wrote about the KC Royals prospects.  One that I didn't write about is making his major league debut tonight.  That's Danny Duffy.


Duffy is an interesting guy.  He took about a year off from baseball.  But he's come back about as good as can be.

Duffy has been a beast in the minor leagues.  In 344 innings across all levels, Duffy has struck out 10.5 batters per 9 whilst walking 2.9 per 9.  He's a pretty neutral fly ball/ground ball guy (40% ground ball rate).

Duffy throws 4 pitches:  A fastball in the lower to mid 90's, change-up, curve and slider.

He's not likely to be a star, but he's the second most talented starting pitcher (behind Jeff Francis) on the Royals right now.

*Stats from FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference, and StatCorner

Yakety Sax: Chicago Cubs (5/17/11)

Wikipedia says:
"Yakety Sax" is often used in television and film as a soundtrack for outlandishly humorous situations. It is frequently used to accompany comedic chases, most notably in the sketch comedy program The Benny Hill Show,[3] where it accompanied otherwise silent, rapidly paced comedy sequences (often involving a chase scene). This use of the piece, and the chase scenes themselves, have been parodied in many other movies and TV shows.
So play this video

While watching these plays in the Cubs Reds game last night.

The Reds won 7 - 5 yesterday as the Cubs gave up 7 unearned runs on 4 errors.

The first play occurred with the bases loaded, 2 out and pitcher Edinson Volquez up in the bottom of the 4th and the cubs up 3 - 0.  Volquez hit a sinking line drive to first baseman Carlos Pena that Pena couldn't handle (1st error).  Second baseman Darwin Barney retrieved the ball and threw it back into the infield.  Kerry Wood cut the throw off near first base.  He then threw the ball home but past catcher Wellington Castillo.  All 3 runners on base scored and the Cubs Win Probability (WP) went from 75.3% to 45.3%, a decrease of 30%.

In the bottom of the 6th with 2 out, a runner at first and Miguel Cairo at bat, Cairo swung through a third strike but the umpire ruled that the ball hit the ground before being caught by Cubs' catcher Wellington Castillo.  Confusion abounded as the Cubs walked off the field and the Reds' Ramon Hernandez and Miguel Cairo took their gift bases.  Though a run didn't score, the gaffe cost the Cubs 1.9% WP

Then, in the bottom of the 8th with the Cubs back on top 5 - 3, nobody out, and runners at 1st and 2nd, the Reds' Ryan Hannigan tried to sacrifice.  Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood fielded the ball and threw to third to try and nab the lead runner.  His throw was in plenty of time, but it was plenty off line and went into left field.  Left fielder Tony Campana couldn't stop it and it rolled to the wall.  Scott Rolen and Fred Lewis scored as Hannigan ended up on 3rd.  With the Cubs' lead in the 8th they had a 63.3% WP.  After the error they had a 17.4% WP.  That's a decrease of 45.9%.

Four errors, decreased the Cubs' WP by 77.8% in total.  Yakety Sax, indeed.

*WP data from FanGraphs' awesome new box scores.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jose Bautista is on Fire

Bautista had a pretty good weekend.

Bautista did this in 3 games vs the Twins
He came up to bat 16 times
He drew 2 walks
He struck out once
He had 7 hits
He had 1 single
He had 1 double
He had 5 home runs

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs wrote this article today.

Jose Bautista Facts
Bautista is on pace for a +14.6 WAR season (assuming 150 games played), which would be the second best in the history of baseball. In 2001, when Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs, he accumulated “just” +12.9 WAR. 
Relative to league average, Bautista’s current performance – if sustained for the whole season – would go down as easily the best offensive performance of all time. His current wRC+ is 278 – Barry Bonds’ 2002 season holds the record at 245. Babe Ruth‘s best season at the plate came in 1920, when he posted a 235 mark. 
Also since the start of the 2010 season, Jose Bautista’s Isolated Slugging is .381. The next highest in baseball is Miguel Cabrera… who is at .281, exactly 100 points lower. 
Over the past 365 days, Bautista’s line is as follows: 156 games, 673 PA, .292/.421/.708, 33 2B, 3 3B, 63 HR, 114 BB, 100 K, 10 SB, 2 CS. Albert Pujols is second in home runs over the same time period – he has 41.
Over the weekend, Bautista hit five home runs in Target Field. The Twins have hit six home runs in Target Field all season.

I might have underestimated him

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What's Wrong With Jorge Posada?

If you're reading this you probably want to know what is going on with Jorge Posada and why he asked out of the lineup on Saturday night?

I have no idea.

If you want to know why Jorge sucks so bad thus far this season, I also have no idea, but its always fun to look at numbers.

As of today Posada is 'hitting': .165/.272/.349.  That looks really ugly but it's only a 70 wRC+, which means that Posada is hitting 70% as well as the average major league hitter.  That's not good, but it's not horrifyingly horrific.

Let's break those numbers apart a little bit.

Posada is still drawing walks at the same rate he has been recently and at a better rate than league average.

*Click to make bigger

He's striking out a bit more than he has recently

*Click to make bigger

But his power is still well above average

*Click to make bigger

So in three of the most important things that a batter can do, he isn't showing much decline.

So, what's wrong?

BABIP.  His BABIP has fallen completely off of a cliff.  Posada has the worst BABIP in the majors at .164.  36 points below the second worst player (Vernon Wells .200).

Problem solved, right?  He's the victim of bad luck.

Not so fast...There's also this

Posada's line drives are way down while his ground balls are way up.  More ground balls usually increase BABIP, but that's probably not true for slow-footed 39 year-old catchers.  In fact, Posada has just 6 hits on ground balls this season and is 0-36 on balls fielded on the infield.

He has a .135 BABIP on ground balls.  .240 is considered average.
He has a .038 BABIP on fly balls.  .140 is considered average.
He has a .600 BABIP on his 10 line drives.  .740 is considered average.

One of two things, or-more likely-a combination of them both, Posada is having horrible BABIP luck or/and he's not hitting the ball hard.

His line drive percentage is just 11% this season after he averaged 21% between 2005 and 2010.  Those line drives appear to be traded in for mostly ground balls.  Posada's ground ball percentage in 2011 is 48%, up from 40% in 2005 to 2010.  His fly ball rate has been static at 41% in 2011 compared to 40% in 2005-2010.

Can Posada turn it around and start hitting line drives again on balls he's been grounding out on all season?

I don't know.

*Stats from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Do Teams Keep Good Players in the Minors?

I was recently having a discussion about the Nationals’ Bryce Harper in reference to this FanGraphs article.  The question came up as to why the Nationals don’t bring Harper up now as he’s probably already a better player than at least a couple of guy on the roster.  I responded that the Nationals had a financial interest in keeping Harper in the minors due to baseball’s salary structure.  I want to put some numbers to that to make it clearer. 

Since Harper signed a major league deal worth $9.9 million over 5 years, this post isn’t about Harper, per se, but minor league players in general. 

I’ve done a few posts on player contracts ( Ryan Braun, Adrian Gonzalez, Clay Buchholz) so this chart might look somewhat familiar.

I’ve made up some WAR numbers that represent a steady increase in the player’s abilities.  In the $/WAR column I’ve assumed a 5% salary inflation.  In the WAR * $ column I simply multiplied the player’s WAR times the market value of WAR to get the player’s value to the team.  In the Act Sal column I’ve created some salaries that reflect baseball’s salary structure including the 40/60/80 assumptions for arbitration years.  The Savings column is the difference between Harper’s market value and what the Nationals would actually pay him. 

The first part of the graph assumes the team calls the player up immediately and pays him the minor league minimum for a .5 WAR season.  For the next 2 seasons a team can unilaterally decide the player’s salary.  In 2007 Ryan Howard received the largest contract (of this type) ever for a 2nd year player; $900,000.  I’ve chosen salaries of $1 and $1.5 million.  Those numbers may fluctuate a bit in either direction (probably down) but not enough to make a significant difference in the conclusion.  For the next 3 years (2014-2016), I assumed the team paid exactly 40%, 60%, 80% of the player’s market value.  Under this scenario the player produces $62 million in value while being paid only $32 million.  This leaves the team with $30 in surplus value.

The second part of the graph assumes the team waits 2 years, until 2013, to call the player up and still pays him the minor league minimum for his first year.  Instead of producing a .5 WAR season, the more developed player produces a 1.5 WAR season.  This leads to an even larger 2nd year (and beyond) contract.  In this scenario the player provides  $106 million in value while being paid $50 million.  This leaves the team with $56 million in surplus value. 

This is why teams wait to call up prospects.  In a player’s first 6 seasons in the majors teams get a huge discount on their services.  By waiting, teams get to pay players much less than they are worth during the players’ most productive seasons.  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Justin Verlander's less odd no-hitter

Six days ago I (and many many others) wrote about about Francisco Liriano's odd no-hitter.  We all mentioned how Liriano didn't seem to control the strike zone and how he didn't dominate hitters.

Well, Justin Verlander pitched a much more traditional no-hitter.

Let's take a look at their stats side by side:

The amount of strikes and balls, and walks, is what really jumps out.  Liriano was all over the place

while Verlander was much more in the strike zone

The high walk totals for Liriano lead to the high FIP and Batted Ball FIP numbers at the end.  Using those metrics we see that we'd expect a pitcher who performed like Verlander to give up less runs.

But we're no worried about runs, neither pitcher gave up a run, and both pitched no-hitters.  So how about hits?

Using expected BABIP numbers and the pitchers' batted ball types we'd expect Verlander to have given up 5.15 hits and Liriano to have given up 5.1 hits.   That would result in a .224 BABIP for Verlander and a .213 BABIP for Liriano.

When a pitcher has an actual BABIP lower than his expected BABIP we say he is 'lucky'.  All no-hitters are lucky since no pitcher can maintain a .000 BABIP.  Here's video of all 27 outs for both pitchers.

All 27 of Verlander's outs
All 27 of Liriano's outs

Both pitchers needed some help from their teammates to preserve their no-hitters.  Instead of crediting no-hitters to pitchers, perhaps they should be credited to teams.

Exhibit A Who is really more responsible for that being a no-hit game?  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Debut Review: Eric Hosmer

It's starting to feel like I'm a KC Royals fan.

In my last GOD post I wrote about Zack Greinke and the prospects the Royals received when they traded him to the Brewers.  I also wrote about going to see the AAA Isotopes vs the Omaha Storm Chasers, KC's top farm club.  I did a paragraph on Royals prospects Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Mike Montgomery and Lorenzo Cain.

In that post I wrote of Hosmer:
The first is Eric Hosmer.  Hosmer was rated as the #8 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America.  He's currently obliterating minor league pitching to the tune of .518/.581.    The first baseman looks about ready for the bigs.  His career minor league OBP is just shy of .400 while his slugging is just shy of .500.  He walks a decent amount while drastically cutting his strikeouts last season.  He's ready to go and could be called up any day.
Well, not to toot my prophetic horn, but Eric Hosmer was called up by KC one day later and is making his major league debut as I type.

Jason Pridie also just hit a home run to give the Mets a two-run lead over LA.  Dammit

I said of Hosmer that he was "currently obliterating minor league pitching" I should have looked into it a bit farther.  At the time of his call up Hosmer was hitting .439/.525/.582.  Impressive numbers no doubt.  However, there is some reason to give pause.

Hosmer's BABIP is .500.  According to Statcorner, Hosmer's LD% was 18%.  Pretty impossible to have a .500 BABIP with an 18% line drive rate.  He's hitting a lot of groundballs, 50%, so that helps his BABIP, but at the cost of some power.  Using Hosmer's batted ball rates from Statcorner, MLB BABIPs per batted ball type, and the same ratio of extra base hits, we get Hosmer as having an expected BABIP of .268 and an overall .246/.365/.373 line-not nearly as impressive.

A nearly 2-to-1 ground ball to fly ball rate isn't what you want to see out of your slugger.

Despite this, Hosmer's minor league track record indicates he's going to be a very good player.  He still manages to strike out quite infrequently for a power hitter, and he draws a good number of walks.  He's just not been as good in 2011 as a he has looked.

Anyway, to today's game.

Hosmer faces a pretty good pitcher, Gio Gonzalez.  Gonzalez is a lefty and has induced ground balls about 47% of the time at the major league level.  He's also just plain good, coming off of a 3 WAR 3.78 FIP season.  A good left-handed ground ball pitcher isn't just what the doctor ordered for a left-handed slugger's major league debut.

Let's see what he's doing:
In his first at bat Hosmer came up with one out and nobody on in the 2nd inning.    He took a 96 mph fastball just a bit off the outside corner.  Gonzalez came back with a fastball pretty much down the middle that Hosmer fouled off.  The third pitch was an 82 mile an hour curve that Hosmer watched for a strike.  Hosmer is down 1 - 2.  Gonzalez comes back with another curve that isn't close.  Gonzlaez goes to the curve again and misses inside.  Hosmer's got a full count.  Gonzalez goes to another fastball low and away that just misses.  Hosmer takes the walk.  A good at bat.  Hosmer fouled off a hittable fastball, and watched a curve that got plenty of plate, but he didn't swing out of the zone on a couple of close pitches.

In his second at bat Hosmer came up with 2 out and no one on.  Gonzalez missed low and away with a curveball and a fastball that weren't real close.     Hosmer took a fastball for a strike on the outside of the plate.  Gonzalez followed that up with a fastball low and in the Hosmer fouled off.  Gonzalez then missed with another curve and fastball low and away. Hosmer draws another walk.

In his third at bat Hosmer came up with 2 out and Jeff Francoeur on 2nd base.  Gonzalez comes right after him with a fastball down the middle for a strike.  Gonzalez followed that up with a curveball low and in that Hosmer watched for a strike.  Gonzalez throws another fastball up and away that Hosmer watches for strike 3.  Young hitters have a tendency to be aggressive in RBI situations.  Hosmer never took the bat off of his shoulder.

In his fourth at bat Hosmer came up with 1 out and nobody on with the Royals down by 1 against A's closer Brian Fuentes.  Fuentes is also a very tough left-handed pitcher.  The A's again started Hosmer away with a fastball.  This one too far away for ball one.  Fuentes came back with a fastball down the middle that Hosmer swung through.  The next pitch was another fastball inside, maybe too far inside, that Hosmer fouled off.  Fuentes followed that with a changeup low and away for ball 2.  The next pitch was a fastball away to fill the count.  Fuentes threw another perfectly placed fastball on the outside corner at the knees that Hosmer took for strike 3.

Unless the Royals can score here in the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs and a runner at 1st base, that'll conclude Eric Hosmer's debut.

Let's look at some charts of his at bats in order.

Hosmer faced two really good lefties tonight and it's hard to make much out of 4 trips to the plate but I would say that it is obvious that he isn't a wild hacker swinging at anything and everything that opposing pitchers throw.

Hosmer swung at only 4 of the 18 (22%) pitches that he saw, the major league average is 45%.  Though the A's threw him plenty of pitches out of the zone, Hosmer didn't swing at any pitches that were clearly balls.  He did take a few strikes including 2 strike threes.

There was a definite tendency for the A's to stay low and away to Hosmer as 10 of 18 pitches to him were out there.

It looks like he might have been pretty well fooled in the 3rd at bat.  Gonzalez had pitched him mostly outside to that point before starting him with two pitches in.  He may have been expecting a 3rd when he got a fastball up and away.

Still a .500 OBP is nothing to sneeze at, and that's with no BABIP whatsoever.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tim Lincecum and Christy Mathewson

Tim Lincecum struck out 12 New York Mets last night.  That game was the 29th double digit strikeout game of his career.  That gives Lincecum more double digit strike out games than any Giants pitcher ever, including Christy Mathewson whose record Lincecum broke.

I'm not going to get into who the better pitcher is.  I am going to say that, thus far into Lincecum's career, Mathewson is the better strike out pitcher.

Through 130 games, 129 starts and 858 innings, Lincecum has 964 K's.  10.11 K's per 9 innings.
Through Mathewson's first 125 games, 113 starts and 1013 innings, he had 662 K's.  5.88 per 9 innings.

So, how can Mathewson be a better strikeout pitcher?

This graph may help answer that question.

*Click to make bigger

The light blue line is Tim Lincecum's K/9 through his career.  Between 9 - 11 K's per 9.
The orange line is the league average K/9 through Lincecum's career.  Around 7 K's per 9.
The green line is Christy Mathewson's K/9 through out his career.  Between around 6.5 and 2 K's per 9.
The purple line is the league average K/9 through Mathewson's career.   Between 2 and 4 K's per 9.

Obviously, Mathewson struck out less batters per 9 innings than Lincecum did.  But also obvious is that pitchers in general struck out less batters in Matthewson's time than those in Lincecum's time.

The darker blue line is Christy Mathewson's K/9 divided by the league average K/9.
The red line is Tim Lincecum's K/9 divided by the league average K/9.

You can see that Mathewson strikes out slightly more batters relative to the league average than does Lincecum.

"Context matters" we like to say.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fili's GOD for May 4th 2011: Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves

Today's Game Of the Day is the first start of the season (and of the Milwaukee Brewers career) for Zack Greinke.  Greinke was traded, along with SS Yuneisky Betancourt, from Kansas City to Milwaukee this off season for a solid package of players including SS Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Odorizzi, and Jeremy Jeffress.

I wrote about Greinke here, when I didn't know he was going to pitch in the NL or miss the first month of the season.

Greinke suffered his injury playing pickup basketball so the injury wasn't pitching related.  There shouldn't be much reason to expect Greinke to pitch any worse than what we would have thought before the season, just that he'll pitch less.

Greinke made 3 minor league starts to gear up for tonight.  They looked like this:
High A: 1 start, 3 innings pitched, 10 batters faced, 1 hit, 0 walks, 4 strike outs.
AAA: 2 starts, 7.2 innings pitched, 33 batters faced, 10 hits, 1 home run, 2 walks, 9 strike outs.

Nothing there to indicate that he's not ready to go.

He'll be squaring off against Tim Hudson of the Braves.  Hudson came back last year after missing most of 2009.  He picked up right where he left off.

Hudson doesn't strike out a ton of hitters (6/9 innings career, but in the 5-5.5/9 innings range recently).  He doesn't walk anybody (2.75/9 innings career).  He gets a ton of ground balls (59% career, but well above 60% since his injury).

The Brewers offense-with guys like Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, and Ricky Weeks-is geared toward the home run.  Hudson's ground balls are geared toward preventing the home run.

It should be a good game between two pretty good teams, and two very good pitchers.

I'm also going to a AAA game tonight.

The Albuquerque Isotopes host the Omaha Storm Chasers.  Albuquerque is the AAA team for the (/my favorite team) LA Dodgers.  Omaha is the AAA team for Zack Greinke's former team, the KC Royals.  This is my first chance to see some of the Dodgers' top prospects, namely: Trayvon Robinson and Dee Gordon.

I most recently wrote about Robinson and Gordon here and Robinson and Gordon are both liking the Albuquerque air.

Robinson is off to a .365/.500 line.  Though the strike outs (29 in 96 plate appearances) are still a big problem.

Gordon is hitting .343/.340.  Not even Coors Field AAA can get him to hit for power.  He's stolen 11 bases though but has already committed 7 errors.

I'll also be hoping that Scott Elbert gets called on in relief.  Elbert has a fantastic arm as evidenced by 598 strikeouts in 516 career minor league innings as well as 29 K's in 26 major league innings.  Unfortunately, he walks about half that many.

I'm also excited to take a look at 4 top prospects for the Royals.  The Royals have the best farm system that's been put together in a while.

See John Sickels' Farm System Rankings

The first is Eric Hosmer.  Hosmer was rated as the #8 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America.  He's currently obliterating minor league pitching to the tune of .518/.581.    The first baseman looks about ready for the bigs.  His career minor league OBP is just shy of .400 while his slugging is just shy of .500.  He walks a decent amount while drastically cutting his strikeouts last season.  He's ready to go and could be called up any day.

Next on the list (and Baseball America's prospect list at #9) is third baseman Mike Moustakas.  Moustakas isn't as far along as Hosmer is despite being a year older.  He can still hit the ball though.  He has a career .498 minor league slugging percentage.  He's struggled in AAA though.  In half of last year plus a month this year he's just hitting .308/.516 in AAA.  As evidenced by the OBP he doesn't walk as much as Hosmer but he avoids strikeouts while still hitting the ball a long way.  The defense at 3rd is shaky, but the Royals already have Hosmer and Billy Butler as 1B/DH's.  Moustakas will have to stick at 3rd to get playing time in KC.

Lorenzo Cain was a big part of the Greinke trade.  He's not nearly the hitter that Hosmer or Moustakas is.  He's more of a decent glove, decent bat center fielder.  He's put up a .365/.415 line in the minors.  In limited AAA time he's hit .363/.385 as well as .348/.415 in 43 big league games.

The starting pitcher tonight will be Mike Montgomery.  He's #19 on Baseball America's list.  Montgomery isn't your huge strikeout pitcher.  He's struck out about 8 batters per 9 inning in the minors. Montgomery seems to be able to limit home runs quite well; he gets well over 50% ground balls and has only given up 8 home runs in 272 minor league innings.  Montgomery is 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA this year and 3.87 FIP in 27 innings.  He's K'd 7.7/9 while walking an uncharacteristically high 5/9.

He'll be facing my doppelganger, Tim Redding.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Francisco Liriano's odd no-no

All no hitters involve some degree of luck.

But Liriano's seems especially so.

In retiring 27 White Sox without yielding a hit Liriano threw almost as many balls (57) as strikes (66) while walking 6 batters and striking out only 2.  It'd be difficult to say that he was really dominating the strike zone or that he had amazing command of his pitches.

He had 9 balls hit that were classified as ground balls, 9 as fly balls, 4 as infield fly balls and only 2 as line drives 

I didn't watch the game but he definitely go some help from his teammates (as all no-hit pitchers do).

This play by Danny Valencia was especially good.

Using Tango's Batted Ball FIP, we would expect Liriano to have given up 4.59 runs based on how the how the White Sox were able to hit the ball off of him-not pitch a no-hit shut out.

Regardless, Liriano goes into the history books with the first no-hitter of 2011.