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This is a great question - one that we'll surely be tackling, but also one that we've encouraged others to look at as well.
Eno Sarris looked at Hendricks' command profile the other day. Now analysis like that can also incorporate pitch tunnels data, etc.
I totally understand and agree with this. The one caveat is that all the pieces from this week are intended to work together, hence the link to the previous piece.
That said, we're making glossary updates so that moving forward all the terms are clearly defined and easily accessible!
We are! Harry and I both have read a few of his books, and some of the links at the end of the piece should link to Husband's work.
Thanks for the thoughts MGL.
<span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=CS" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('CS'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">CS</span></a> Prob is calculated for all pitches, so that should remove some of the noise in terms of guys with great stuff getting a lot of swings at pitches in the zone. We also agree that any measurements of control (and perhaps command) are going to intrinsically include some aspect of approach, in agreement with the example you gave.
CSAA on the other hand is only calculated on called pitches, as we can't know what the umpire would have done if a pitch had not been contacted or swung at. We do control for pitcher and umpire with CSAA as part of the model, so this is the output that is distinct to the pitcher controlling for those factors, among others.
It largely depends. <a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/author/harry_pavlidis">Harry Pavlidis</a> found that changeups with higher velocity and less drop induce more ground balls, whereas changeups that are much slower than their accompanying fastballs feature more drop and produce strikeouts.
Less spin (or more wasted spin) would result in more drop, but effectiveness will always be a function of repertoire.
Fastball spin does create movement (generally lift and/or arm-side run). This is because most fastballs have backspin (or some variation of it) which causes the ball to drop less than it would as otherwise impacted by gravity. This is what creates the illusion of a "rising fastball".
The 100% figures are likely the result of error in either PITCHf/x or Statcast tracking.
Alternatively, if there's a company/product/on-field piece of equipment that you'd like us to feature in this Tools of the Trade column, let us know! We're always looking for new ideas!
I can assure you that this isn't an advertisement. If the results were inconclusive or negative for the Axe Bat, the results would have been published just the same.
Our hope was to explore something that we thought was interesting, and see if we could statistically prove or disprove the company's claims. I apologize if you didn't enjoy the article, but I hope that there are other BP subscribers/readers who did enjoy it.
Reyes would be about half a win better than Cooney per <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=PECOTA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('PECOTA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">PECOTA</span></a> over 165 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=IP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('IP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">IP</span></a>. I omitted him because he wasn't on the <a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/fantasy/dc/">depth chart</a>, but I think it's perfectly reasonable that he could get starts.
In my defense I think he'd look great in a straw hat too.
Yes, August Fagerstrom said the same thing to me. I'll make that update as well!
This is correct.
Skipping a team seems to be an annual tradition with this thing ... I'll get that fixed.
They told me that had happened but I didn't know there was video!
It's hard to say honestly. Teams consider a lot of factors in making those decisions, but RE24 is a great starting point. There are two caveats to it though:
1. It records actual performance. So all the same things about luck that we attribute to <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=ERA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('ERA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">ERA</span></a> are applicable here as well. I think that's important for RPs, but you'll want guys who consistently post good RE24s.
2. It's a cumulative stat, so it's dependent on how much a pitcher is used (though it's still up to them to pitch well if used more often).
Some guys to look out for might be <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=56957">Tony Watson</a></span> (46.8 RE24 over last three seasons), <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=51032">Will Harris</a></span> (26.5), etc. The list could grow is guys get traded (<span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=E" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('E'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">E</span></a>.g., O'Day @ 44.4, if Britton is moved).
Great question! RE24 is a stat that I particularly like for RPs, you can read more about why here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=25142
Here's some gory math for you - audibly grunting during exertion can increase your power output by anywhere from 4-12%. So while it's not really relevant to what Russell is looking at here, a good ole "Fiddlesticks"-laden grunt could make <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=53014">Aroldis Chapman</a></span> throw just a bit harder, or <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=57556">Giancarlo Stanton</a></span> break a few more scoreboards.
Anyway, <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=31734">Zack Greinke</a></span> does it, and he seems pretty successful. "Everyone always makes fun of me grunting when I throw a fastball. It's kind of funny sometimes."
That first "analysis" should be "sentence". But yeah.
Yeah, I actually wrote a whole analysis about Davis waving through three pitches making this entire analysis moot, but we edited it out when we uncovered that whether or not the reliever actually makes it to first is largely irrelevant.
According to the data, the damage was done regardless of whether Davis watched 4 balls, whiffed at intentional balls, or watched fastballs sail across the middle of the plate.
Great points all. The one thing I'd argue is that guys like Lopez, Chen, and Guthrie are like Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen-successes of pro scouting (as opposed to amateur scouting and/or player development).
As for what we can take away from this? That's more difficult. I don't necessarily know why it hasn't really been working, but I do know that if given the opportunity I'd do things differently (with the caveat that the O's may already be doing this, we don't know everything about their pitching development).
If I were in charge I'd have more roving instructors who had a group of pitchers they checked in with at each level of the minors. I'd bring in special consultants to work with pitchers who have atypical routines or workout regimens (as opposed to taking a one-size fits all approach where mechanics and routines are changed regularly). I'd target pitchers in the draft differently, with a more risk-reward approach. I'd also eschew conventional wisdom and target undersized guys like Stroman or hurt pitchers like Giolito.
There's obviously a lot more to it, and I have some more in depth thoughts, but those few things are opportunities for improvement in my eyes. Keep in mind though, I don't work for a team, so I'm by no means an expert.
While exploring every team wasn't a part of this exercise I'll say that the O's aren't doing anything that's 100% unique I don't think. I do think they are (currently) more rigid than most with restrictions re: pitch types, counts, mechanics, routines, etc. They're also the only ones following <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=78188">Rick Peterson</a></span>'s unique brand of biomechanics.
It's likely not any one thing, but a combination of things including development philosophies as well as the types of pitchers that they're targeting and acquiring.
This is possible, but Camden Yards isn't quite the hitter haven it's made out to be (typically 1-5% better for hitters than average).
That said, it is possible that concerns have driven development decisions that adversely affected the players' development. And/or their development is hurt by the psychological impacts of giving up homers right and left in their first few seasons.
I thought about mentioning Rodriguez in the cavalry section, but he probably better fit in the modern section which was more about the future. Totally right about him clicking once in Boston though.
It was about a 45:55 split from 2007 through 2013 in favor of hitters. So not far off from what roster construction would need to be.
A couple of thoughts...
Generally speaking I agree with much of what you said in the comments here, and I want to make sure that nobody sees this article as a "takedown" or anything of that sort. My intention was for it to clarify something that I think is very important, that I probably didn't articulate well enough in the article itself (noting that only after your comments did I come up with appropriate language, so that's of course the reason for that). You made an important point:
"That would be like me saying that you shouldn't care about your child not wearing his helmet while bicycling because it only increases his chances of getting seriously injured by 1 in a 1000 each time he rides."
I think this is critical because the general reaction to your initial tweets was "MGL says we shouldn't care about bad decisions by managers. What?!?!" which of course wasn't your intent. You're simply pointing out that, generally speaking, any one decision impacts the win probability very little. This is, as I said in the article, 100% accurate.
I also agree with your points that A. we have no way of knowing if the manager made the right decision in any given instance (because we can't predict the future or any number of alternate futures), and that B. there will be times where the manager does make the 'correct' decision, and loses anyway. To wit, we don't know that Storen or Papelbon would've not given up runs like Janssen in that particualr instance.
The crux of this, for me, is that the timing of these decisions should not be ignored. While the impact of any one individual decision is minimal, the timing of it can amplify that impact. There's a difference between bringing in your 4th best reliever for a given spot when down by a run vs. when the game is tied. The manager's decision to bring in a reliever who is not best suited to succeed in a given situation might only have a small impact, but it is entirely within the manager's control around the timing of that decision. Minimizing the high-leverage mistakes could be the difference between winning and losing.
With perfect hindsight we can go back and critique a manager for the inLI of his relievers. How often did he make the wrong decision? Bringing in a decent or poor reliever in high leverage situations? That was a big part of the methodology here:
Anyway, the purpose here isn't to propose a solution, or even a "I'm right, MGL is wrong" proclamation. The purpose was to simply encourage greater discussion of this one aspect of maangerial performance, because it is easily critiqued but not easily understood. I hope that this article was able to accomplish that, and I truly believe that the 'solution', if there is one right solution, is somewhere in our back-and-forth here.
Fair question. My response to that isn't eminently quantifiable, so take it with a grain of salt.
I think that the combination of reduced stress, more opportunity for better training, better camaraderie, better nutrition, etc. would increase the likelihood that a player would develop in a much better way than they would in today's system. Enhanced development would theoretically increase the likelihood that they provide value at the MLB level.
If one player goes from providing no MLB value in the current system to being a 1-2 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=WARP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('WARP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">WARP</span></a> guy in the majors in the proposed one then the surplus calue he'd provide to the club could match or exceed the entire cost of this endeavor.
Is it realistic that these changes would make players develop better? I honestly have no idea, but it seems to be a reasonable hypothesis to me. After all, plenty of companies and organizations have bought into the idea that happy/healthy employees produce better results.
Noted this in the article but I think one of a couple things could happen:
1. It would provide incentive for teams to build longer relationships with minor league affiliates.
2. A few teams might just acquire the minor league affiliates outright (especially clubs like the O's who have already moved them near the parent club).
3. Teams could essentially trade facilities among themselves, renting/leasing space to the new club moving their affiliate to Hartford.
4. They might just have to sell it. This would be the worst case scenario, but the sunk cost might only be $1-2MM over 3-5 year timelines.
This would certainly be a concern w/r/t new stadium builds but I think teams would find it much more difficult to come into an established market and shake down governments for housing when no new stadium is going to be built. Fortunately, the latter circumstance will be ~90% of these transactions I'd think.
Thanks MGL. The thought process re: command was that a pitch that consistently has nearly all of its spin be of the useful variety would be more consistent than a pitch whose spin is split between useful and gyrospin. The idea then being that consistency means that a pitcher knows where it's going which leads to better command.
I think the part that I glossed over originally was that I made the assumption that a pitch having a higher % of useful spin would have less volatility, in terms of the ratio on a per pitch basis, than one that is split more evenly. In thinking about that more, I'm not sure that's true, because we don't really know anything about the per pitch ratios using season-long data.
Great question. Player numbers can be found here:
Hitters - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1819121
Pitchers - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1819122
You'll have to download the data and sum up the columns to get league averages.
FWIW - the park factors for righties at Camden yards are: singles - 101, doubles - 98, triples - 85, HRs - 104... So I think the idea that camden yards is some huge boon to Machado's stats is probably a bit overstated.
Maybe this link will work better?
Thanks for all the kind words everyone. This is yet another example of why BP's readers are the best.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the BP editing team for their help making everything we write so much better as well.
Cashner should've gotten more consideration I think. Big oversight by the writer!
Wanted to clarify that I messed up the data on the Bard pitch. I wrote: "That last pitch is the one in question: 99 mph with seven inches less drop than you would expect from a pitch with no spin, and 14 inches (!) of horizontal movement."
The correct interpretation should be that the pitch had 14 inches of "drop" from a straight line to the plate, and 7" of spin deflection. According to Brooks though, that means the pitch had > 12" of horizontal movement.
Hat tip to Dan Rozenson for the catch.
Try this link instead...
This is great feedback. I wasn't under the delusion that the stats I picked were perfect (far from it), but I wanted to use baseline stats that isolated one part of the game from another.
I do think things like contact%, swing%, etc. could be more fruitful stats to use. Ultimately this is, hopefully, the first phase in many iterations for this type of analysis.
This is in the works for sure. The difficult thing is identifying the right inputs that will produce a result. Outputs are easy because everyone has the same ones!
That's an interesting angle I hadn't considered! We'll definitely have to add that to the list of possible analyses we want to use this tool for.
No. Thank YOU for the great question!
No, I appreciate it! I didn't work on the Braves' depth chart so I'm just going by what we have. That's good to know. Martin's PECOTA projection is actually quite good!
So on the depth charts the Braves rotation is: Teheran, Minor, Miller, Wood, Folty. That leaves Stults, Wandy, Banuelos, Jenkins, Sims as spot start options.
We also have Outman as a long man, which, if that is his role in the bullpen then he'd likely be first man up to start. That said, here are the WARP over 165 IP for the rest of the Braves options:
Wandy - 0.0
Stults - 0.0
So Wandy & Stults are definitely the best options IF they aren't in the rotation already.
1. PECOTA is pretty bearish on Garrett Richards. I doubt Tropeano is nearly 4x as good as Richards this season!
2. Thank you!
As an expert on the Orioles I can tell you that the O's bigger issue is that they have 5 #4 starters, and that's my assuming Gausman jumps into 2/3 territory this season.
We felt Taillon was a bit too far off, but if he were available he'd be a much better option (as far as PECOTA is concerned) at ~-0.2 over 165 innings (back of the envelop).
Either Hellweg or Burgos I suppose. Hellweg (-2.1) would be pretty bad. Burgos comes out to about -0.9 over 165 innings with a back off the envelop calculation.
On the depth charts we have: Lester, Arrieta, Hammel, Wood, Jackson.
I think Wood might be interchangeable with Turner/Wada but he's projected for 0.7 WARP so he's a good option to start right away. I imagine they'll let Jackson start and see if they can flip him before the trade deadline.
Congratulations! You've moved up to the Self-taught Survivalist category!
For reference - Cumpton was 0.0 WARP over 165 IP.
I knew I missed at least one! Ugh.
Next man up in PIT would be either Kingham (-0.3 WARP) or Stolmy Pimentel (-1.3). So, there's that.
Well yes. So the idea was we sort of used PECOTA as our guide and adjusted manually as little as possible. And PECOTA likes Ross (0.3 WARP over 165 IP) more than guys like Eduardo Rodriguez (0.0), Zeke Spruill (0.0), Matt Barnes (-0.6), or Steven Wright (-2.8).
I almost included that quote but ended up leaving it out for some reason. Glad at least one other person had the same thought as me!
Theoretically, yes. In practice though, things might not be that simple.
This is a good (if semantic) point. Breakouts are the result of an alteration to approach or arsenal in some fashion, which means that this data doesn't preclude Peralta from breaking out in 2015, as you point out.
I think that's what I was trying to get at (in a roundabout way) with the comparison to Ross' arsenal and the changes he made from year 1 to year 2 (breakout). I just wasn't as direct about that as I maybe should have been.
I suppose a more appropriate conclusion would be that without changing the things outlined above, Peralta won't have a breakout season.
Thanks for the very insightful comment!
Cingrani is interesting too! He's T-9 for Breakout and T-26 for Improvement per PECOTA (whereas Peralta is #1 for both). That said, I'd much rather have Cingrani's 2015 line per PECOTA than Peralta's!
Historically home teams have won ~60% of WS games.
For what that's worth.
Yeah, estimating economic impact is exceedingly difficult. You have to take whatever you think the max that'll be spent that weekend is and subtract money that would've been spent otherwise, costs associated with the event, etc.
Also, much of that economic impact goes out of state because companies reap the benefits and they aren't local.
It's definitely an inexact science.
Yeah, these would be event estimates ... so over the course of the three day all star festival (TM)
Yeah, I actually wrote a whole thing about home field advantage in the WS and regular season, mentioning how Selig would be essentially be tipping things in favor of the NL.
But then Sam pointed out exactly what Bryan mentioned, and it all becomes mostly moot. There's *some* advantage to having the last at-bat, but home field in the ASG likely isn't equal to the 54:46 advantage that it is in the regular season (Matt Swartz found the 54:46 advantage a few years ago)
We (as in Brooks Baseball) has Rivera @ 89% cutters - http://www.brooksbaseball.net/tabs.php?player=121250&time=&startDate=03/30/2007&endDate=01/17/2015&s_type=2
Worth noting that he does rank in the top 1% of pitchers in streakiness, like mentioned above for McGee.
That's a good location-sequencing question that I didn't look into. Hmmmm
Thank YOU for reading!
Tough to tell, but recent reports have been positive. My only fear is that the loose bodies in the elbow are merely a precursor to a second TJ :
I don't think anyone compares to Mariano, but McGee's prolific heater is worth noting for sure.
This is one of the best summations of the issue that I've seen.
Palmeiro wasn't eligible because he didn't get 5% of the vote in BBWAA voting last year. He'd have gotten an extended ballot vote from me this year if he was eligible.
As for Sosa ... I just think it's tough to say he's one of the top 10 guys on the ballot. He's an extended ballot guy for me. So he's worthy IMO, just not as worthy as at least 10 others.
"You trying to say Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?"
It's for the best that you wrote this instead of me because I wouldn't have been able to resist the urge to pepper it with Major League quotes. For example:
"Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come." - Pedro Cerrano
Talked to Alan Nathan about this and he said:
"Spin from pitchf/x is estimate based on movement, using a fixed (not actual) air density. So spin is underestimated at Coors."
So maybe the changes in CB spin rate (for Pomeranz & Lyles) aren't telling the whole story. That said, the change in movement is very real (and since spin rates are calculated from movement, changes in spin rates are even more unreliable for people moving in/out of COL).
Yeah, this is interesting. Lyles average spin rate was 1600+ in HOU, and just over 930 in Colorado. Now a lot of things impact spin rate, but that's really interesting.
Perhaps we could do a study around park effects for spin rates...
There wasn't a real reason for IP vs. batters faced. I'm sure it'd make a difference, but I doubt it would be significant in the context of all 3,000+ seasons. That is, Mo might bump up to #1 or something, but overall the change across all pitchers would be minimal I think.
Eric Gagne isn't ommitted, he's simply a little farther down the lists. Here are his ranks:
2003 Gagne: 20th in WPA/IP (.068) ... 94th in RE24/IP (.312)
2004 Gagne: 25th in WPA/IP (.067) ... 232nd in RE24/IP (.263)
2002 Gagne: 29th in WPA/IP (.066) ... 194th in RE24/IP (.274)
So a couple of things. WPA measures how much the player in question increased his team's chances of winning the game, directly through their play. RE24 uses base states (the expected # of runs scored in a given situation) to give assess if a pitcher improved or hurt his team through the lens of run expectancy. WPA includes leverage, so closers get a bump there.
Either way, Gagne's 2002-04 seasons are likely the best 3-year stretch for WPA/IP ever. RE24 likes him less, but he's still well in the top 8% or so for all three seasons.
Yep. That's what I get for being all nostalgic and not thinking clearly.
Still, we can replace "Mark" Clark with other more nostalgic names like Eddie Murray, Carlos Baerga, or Omar Vizquel!
What a team that was.
Surely. Data for everyone! https://www.dropbox.com/s/7lxo21u67shq6df/RPs_1988-2014.xlsx?dl=0
That is correct. Damn typo. We'll get that fixed!
Davis ranks 106th for WPA/IP at 0.051944. This is to be expected since he wasn't a closer and threw a lot of innings.
He ranks 67th for RE24/IP at 0.333889. Again, his 72 IP really muck things up for him here.
To be fair though, that puts him in the 97th and 98th percentiles respectively for reliever seasons in the last 25 years, which is pretty incredible.
Yes, it's totally possible but would require some manipulation of the data. I can take a look at it in a week or two and/or I am happy to send you the data if you'd like to mess around with it yourself!
I think the closest we might get to that is my post from last week (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=25011) though admittedly this week's column shows the difficulty in that as well. I think that if you replicated my research from last week but did it for multiple years for the same managers, you'd get a decent picture of their "Bullpen Management True Talent Level" or something like that.
I also have a few ideas around quantifying this, but given what we discussed above, I'm not sold on that being such a great idea (unless year-to-year volatility in 'pen management is largely nonexistent).
Todd, I wasn't planning on it - but if you shoot me an email I'll be happy to do it for a handful of teams.
Next week the plan is to dive deeper into the decision making itself.
To answer both of your questions - this is certainly feasible. It would take Rob altering his queries, but I'm not sure it'd be a tremendous task to undertake.
It's on the side burner for now, though I may end up revisiting it once the offseason is in full swing.
Thanks for taking the time to read & provide feedback. I tend to agree with pretty much everything you said. Originally I requested the RISP vs. no RISP data because you had asked in the comments there how Shields compared to other pitchers in those same situations. I tend to agree though that the situations are too vague, and as a result capturing a lot of factors influencing approach as you mentioned above.
Like I said in the body, this was the first stab at diving into this on a league-wide level. And honestly, it took me and those who helped me out interpreting the data, several weeks before I was comfortable with it enough to write something up. I think the last paragraph gets to a good deal of what you mentioned:
"So no, no conclusions. More than anything this analysis raises further questions about why pitchers alter their repertoires, and what impact such volatility might have on performance. For Iwakuma, changing approach as runners advance around the bases is standard operating procedure. We can’t say whether the change is good or bad. We can say, at least, that it’s there, and that’s a start."
It would be interesting, for example, to see if Kershaw (whose approach is extraordinarily consistent) continues to not change his approach with a runner on 1st and less than two outs.
Obviously the only issue with getting further down the funnel when it comes to situations is that you run into sample size issues. Still, I think there's a lot to learn from how pitch usage changes.
Betances is a close runner-up on breaking balls, but I'm biased towards Miller. Also Betances' breaking ball has some massive break but I didn't see too many embarrassing swings against it. Miller's on the other hand made hitters look foolish nearly every time he pitched.
I spent the last 45 minutes going down a cricket rabbit hole as a result of this and I found this video:
I'm not sure what's occurring honestly, but I presume hitting balls out of the stadium is a good thing to do. The announcers sure seem pretty excited.
I spent more time debating over whether Mozeliak should be in that first tier or not. I feel like I probably should've put him in group 1, but I just couldn't decide so I stuck with what I had.
This is where that incomplete knowledge comes in for sure. I only know enough about a handful of teams to say "those are AGMs that are a big part of the reason GM ____ is successful". So people with a different perspective will value guys differently for sure. I had no idea Searage and Gayo were such big factors in PIT.
What say you to...
Yay for typing good and stuff.
What say to to subs being sandwiches then?
Ah! How did I miss that one!
Good catch. What a tremendous miss for TOR to trade Yan Gomes for Esmil Rogers.
I see what you mean. I asked our research team to pull the relevant data here so I'll look into it shortly.
Here's the thing about Beane. It's reasonable to say that his trades this season have been misguided (though not everyone would agree with you), but it's not these few trades on which we should pass judgment. 75% of Oakland's 40-man roster has been acquired by trade. Regardless of if they make the playoffs or not, they're a top team in baseball and nearly the entire roster was constructed via trade. That's crazy. At this link (http://www.rosterresource.com/mlb-oakland-athletics-info/) you can scroll down to the "How Assembled" chart and see how Beane acquired the players that made OAK the top team in baseball for much of this season.
Kind of related, but not really... I actually remember hearing when the movie was coming out that "This might be the first time that the person is actually better looking than the actor portraying them" re: Brad Pitt and Billy Beane. So there's that.
The first one is difficult to parse out, but I'm working on that. Sam and I discussed this in depth before this article went up, but what separates Shields from other SPs isn't necessarily that he changes his approach, it's that it is more effective. We know for a fact the average MLB pitcher gets worse with RISP vs. non, likely for a variety of reasons.
As for your second question, I think there are a couple of factors. One reason is that it seems his cutter is more effective when he uses it selectively. The Kings of Kaufman article linked above goes into that to some degree. Another interesting note is that this season RHH have hit his cutter better than his fourseamer. So it seems that early in the count Shields is willing to trade the potential for giving up hits for strikes (better command of his CUT vs. FA). We opted not to include it in the final piece because we felt that batted ball numbers for 1 pitch in 1 season were too volatile to note. That said, it's interesting to note. Here's a Brooks link to pitch outcomes vs. RHH in 2014: http://www.brooksbaseball.net/tabs.php?player=448306&p_hand=-1&ppos=-1&cn=200&compType=none&risp=0&1b=0&2b=0&3b=0&rType=perc&balls=-1&strikes=-1&b_hand=R&time=month&minmax=ci&var=ra&s_type=2&gFilt=&startDate=01/01/2014&endDate=01/01/2015
Deception is certainly a piece of it, though I wonder how long it would take a hitter to adjust to Stroman's release point. Obviously major league hitters will make adjustments to Stroman, meaning he'll have to adjust back to keep his edge. That said, if hitters struggle to pick up his pitches because they break later than you'd expect (vs. having a strange release point) then the benefit of facing him multiple times won't be as significant.
It actually should be "seasons". Sorry about that!