Thursday, July 13, 2006

Halfway There, Livin' On A Prayer, Pt 2.

I had started to churn out some numbers on the woeful pitching staff when I came across Aaron Gleeman's analysis of the Twins staff. It's an excellent post, getting to the heart of a pitching staff. I'm going to gleefully steal the idea from him.

  • SO%                 BB%
    Patterson 24.7 Patterson 5.3
    Cordero 24.3 Ortiz 6.7
    Rauch 23.5 Hill 7.4
    Eischen 21.7 Cordero 8.5
    Armas 16.6 Rauch 8.9
    Bray 16.0 Bray 9.0
    Stanton 15.6 Hernandez 9.1
    O'Connor 15.4 Armas 9.3
    Majewski 14.4 O'Connor 10.5
    Hernandez 12.5 Majewski 10.5
    Ortiz 11.9 Stanton 11.7
    Hill 9.8 Eischen 22.9

    SO% is strikeouts per batter faced. Using just Plate Appearances, the league average is roughly 16.7%. But keep in mind that all the sacrifices (flies and bunts) 'lower' the totals in the chart above, so Armas and Bray are probably above average. BB% is walks per batter faced. Using the same caveat, the league average is roughly 8.8.

    Looking at the two numbers it's easy to see how much the team misses Patterson. His underlying numbers are ace-worthy -- striking out a ton, and walking almost nobody. They also show that Cordero has been decent. Despite some high profile blown saves, he's generally been one of the most effective relievers. It also shows the problem with Majewski. He just doesn't really strike out that many batters, even as he's walked a bunch. For someone with a 95-mph fastball, he doesn't get many results. Ramon Ortiz continues to live on the edge, compensating for a low K rate by being stingy with the walks.

    Good Control, Good Strikeouts: Patterson, Cordero, Rauch
    Good Control, Poor Strikeouts: Ortiz, Hill
    Bad Control, Good Strikeouts: Eischen
    Bad Control, Poor Strikeouts: Majewski, O'Connor, Hernandez.

  • GB%               GB/FB Ratio
    Majewski 53.5 Hill 1.94
    Hill 50.4 Majewski 1.85
    Bray 48.6 Bray 1.43
    Eischen 44.4 LG AVE 1.23
    LG AVE 43.0 Ortiz 1.01
    Stanton 42.1 Eischen 1.00
    Ortiz 40.2 Stanton 1.00
    O'Connor 37.4 Armas 0.86
    Hernandez 36.7 Hernandez 0.81
    Cordero 36.0 O'Connor 0.80
    Rauch 35.1 Cordero 0.69
    Armas 34.5 Rauch 0.68
    Patterson 30.1 Patterson 0.45

    Flyballers all, save for Majewski and Bray, basically.

    I had pushed for flyball pitchers in the offseason thinking that the spacious dimensions of RFK would turn some from homers into outs. What's happened instead, it seems, is that some of these have turned into doubles and triples, while the others remain homers.

    With the infield defense as shoddy it is, I wonder how much of Majewski's struggles are because of the groundballs he's getting. Given how few Ks he gets (meaning more balls are put in play) and the number of infield grounders, he'd be a prime candidate for the player most harmed by bad defense.

  • BABIP               LD%            HR/FB%
    Cordero .224 Cordero 13.5 Cordero 22.2
    O'Connor .241 Patterson 15.9 Eischen 21.3
    Majewski .260 O'Connor 17.4 Rauch 14.0
    Rauch .280 Majewski 17.4 Hernandez 12.6
    Patterson .286 Rauch 17.6 O'Connor 10.8
    Ortiz .298 Hill 18.9 Bray 10.6
    Armas .302 LG AVE 19.0 Ortiz 10.6
    Bray .306 Bray 19.4 LG AVE 10.0
    LG AVE .309 Stanton 19.8 Majewski 9.1
    Hill .315 Ortiz 20.2 Patterson 7.7
    Hernandez .318 Hernandez 20.5 Armas 6.7
    Stanton .328 Armas 21.8 Hill 5.8
    Eischen .372 Eischen 33.3 Stanton 2.7

    BABIP is batting average on balls in play, which is exactly what it sounds like. When it's not a strikeout, walk, or homer, how are the hitters doing? LD is the percentage of balls hit that are line drives. HR/FB is the percentage of flyballs hit that leave the park.

    The Nats seem to do well on BABIP, which could be a combo of passable outfield defense, a big park with room to chase balls down, and a flyball pitching staff. Cordero, who is one of the most extreme flyballers seems to be greatly helped by the park, especially when you look at his team-low line-drive rate. He's getting a ton of soft fly balls. Unfortunately, a number of them are leaving the yard. As I've said before, the main difference between Cordero this year and last is that a few more flyballs are leaving the park. I'm glad that stats back up my observation.

    There, too, you see how dominant Patterson is. Despite being an extreme flyballer like Cordero, he does well to keep his opponents in the park. I imagine that they're popping up a lot of those curves.

    Contrast Patterson with Eischen. Eichen was a mess, giving up line-drives like a pitching machine. Sure, he struck out a bunch of batters, but when you're walking as many as he did, and giving up as many hard-hit balls, it's going to be ugly.

    The FB/HR stat really tells the story, I think. The Nats have really regressed here from last year, giving up more homers than they did the previous season. When a staff walks a lot of batters and gives up homers, it's going to be ugly unless the team is striking out a lot of batters, which they're not doing.

  • All in all, it's pretty ugly. The pitching has definitely been the most disappointing aspect of the team. They've gotten worse than nothing from Patterson and Livan, the 1 and 1A of the pitching staff. The patchwork mix of Ortiz, Armas and O'Connor have been passable, but they weren't meant to anchor the staff as they've been doing.

    The bullpen has struggled, but expecting them to duplicate the superhuman effort of last year was probably a bit much. Cordero's been roughly the same. Majewski's effective, but he's not a dominant reliever. Rauch has been a pleasant surprise. But the back end has been a mess. Eischen, Stanton, Bergmann, Rivera, etc, have all stunk, and stunk hard. With starters unable to go more than 5 routinely, these backend guys have turned small deficits into big ones. That, more than the struggles of the setup guys, has been a problem.

  • Later, I'll have one last look at the first half.

  • For a more macro look at the pitching, including an excellent comparison showing how bad things are from this year to last (as well as how Frank's managing is hurting the pitching), check out Federal Baseball's take on the pitching.


    • Perhaps I need to rethink my Cordero-to-setup, Majewski-to-closer strategy. Thanks for the analysis.

      By Anonymous ghostofwadelefler, at 7/13/2006 12:43 PM  

    • Wouldn't you think if Majewski was really hurt by bad defense - that hsi BABIP would be unusally high? Rather it's low (for this team)

      By Blogger El Gran Color Naranja, at 7/13/2006 1:16 PM  

    • True, but he's also well below average in liners. I guess he's getting regular ol' grounders.

      There's something funky though with the BABIP numbers for this team. The defense isn't good, yet the stats seem to indicate that they are. Are the stats wrong? Are my eyes missing out on something? Maybe it's just a fluke.


      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/13/2006 1:27 PM  

    • As this graph shows, your suspicion about Majewski's GB/FB ratio leading to his lessened effectiveness is likely justified. He is giving up roughly 10% more GB's this seaosn than last, which, when coupled with our worse infield defense, may explain the dip in his effectiveness.

      BTW, Banks of the Anacostia is back up and running again, if you are so inclined.

      By Blogger JammingEcono, at 7/13/2006 2:01 PM  

    • Banks of the Anacostia? Never heard of it! ;)

      Welcome back!

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/13/2006 2:03 PM  

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