A look at how the changing defense behind James Shields may be affecting the way he's approaching hitters and the success he's achieving.
James Shields picked up in 2012 where he left off in 2011, winning five of his first six decisions while posting an ERA of 3.05. The first month of the season even saw Shields do something better than he had ever done in the past: generate groundballs.
How much does pitching on a downhill plane affect a pitcher's ability to get ground balls?
Here we are in the middle of the Information Age, with access to more data than the human mind can possibly process, and yet the dissemination of baseball information has been muted by a language barrier. Baseball fans are becoming increasingly savvy about the nuances of the game, with sophisticated analytical tools at their disposal, but access to the dynamics of play on the field is often clouded by a filter of scout-speak. If we were playing poker, then the dealer would need to remind the scouts in seats eight and nine of the “English only at the table” rule in order to prevent them from trading secrets that fly under the radar of other players.
There are dozens of entries in the pitching section of the scout-speak dictionary, from “command” and “control” to “arm action.” One of these buzzwords is “downhill plane,” a term that refers to pitch trajectory that has a steep slope on its approach toward the hitter. It seems to follow that pitchers who possess a high release point would induce a higher rate of ground balls. The logic behind the idea is simple enough, as anyone who has thrown a tennis ball against a wall can attest, but the statistical evidence paints a different picture.
A look at whether Henderson Alvarez could be a sleeper in deep fantasy leagues this year
The other day, I was asked for a late-round sleeper in AL-only leagues, and I replied with Henderson Alvarez. Sure, he’s slight of build and barely old enough to drink, but color me interested despite what PECOTA has to say about him.
Mike continues his investigation of HITf/x data to glean more insights into whether pitchers can prevent hits on balls in play.
In the first part of this study, I used detailed batted ball speed information from HITf/x to examine the degree of skill that batters and pitchers had in quality of contact made or allowed. Here, I will look deeper into the question of why some batted balls fall for hits and others do not.
That loosely translated scene from Brokeback Mountain accurately describes my relationship with Ricky Nolasco since the start of the 2008 season. My relationship with Nolasco began in the 2008 NL Tout Wars season when I acquired him in an afterthought of a trade early in the season. I had FAAB’d Manny Acosta the first week of the season on a speculative $1 bid, and he ended up picking up two quick saves by mid-April. Another owner in the league put out a note asking for saves, and at the time, I did not need Acosta as I already had two other closers. I was, however, in need of starting pitching. He had Nolasco on his bench as he had made just two starts that season. When I offered Acosta for Nolasco, the reply was, “Why the hell not. It’s just Ricky Nolasco.” Needless to say, Nolasco won 14 games for me, helped in every category, and was a big part of my 2nd place finish that season while Acosta went on to collect just one more save the entire rest of the year.
A look at pitchers who are able to maintain better-than-average BABIPs due to their ability to induce popups.
Earlier this season, I penned a piece about the holy trinity of skills that I look for in pursuing starting pitching: high groundball rate, high strikeout rate, and solid strikeout to walk rate. The desire for those skills are rather obvious in that groundballs are the least likely of the batted ball types to become home runs, the less balls in play mean less chance of batted balls becoming hits, and command of the strike zone helps pitchers stay ahead in counts, which is statistically favorable.
The short-handed Yankees relief corps has succeeded by limiting homers and outpitching its collective track record, but can its run of success be sustained?
As the season began, the AL East bullpens took center stage in this space. As I noted then, the team whose bullpen had the highest WXRL had won the division in each of the past five years, and with some AL East clubs saddled with starting staffs chock full o’ question marks, relief arms figured to play a key role this season.
Last week, the division’s bullpens again drew headlines. The Yankees, armed with the American League’s best bullpen, saw their last remaining depth crumble away as set-up man Joba Chamberlainlanded on the disabled list with a strained right elbow flexor. He has since undergone Tommy John surgery and will not return until early 2012. Although he says he felt no pain and couldn’t pinpoint when he was injured, it's clear that the Joba Rules failed to protect him, if indeed they didn't contribute to the damage.
Which players is Jason avoiding, despite their recent success?
The 2011 season has seen its share of odd moments already. Jose Bautista’s slugging percentage is higher than Albert Pujols’ OPS right now; Vernon Wells, Carl Crawford, and Alex Rios have three of the worst OPS in all of baseball; guys like John Lackey, Carl Pavano, and Edinson Volquez all have ERA over 5.00 following the “year of the pitcher”. One of the worst things fantasy players can do is run out and acquire players via trade or free agency based on small sample sizes or news bits that flash across the screen, just because they look intriguing. Here are four players I recommend you stay away from despite their recent success, as you have likely already missed their good production, and will only be saddled with headaches.
The Reds (34-36) and Jays (40-33) find themselves in the same place despite very different records. While the Jays are 7 games over .500, they still lag five games behind the Red Sox in the challenging AL East. Rather than trying to gain some ground on the Red Sox directly, they will be playing the Sox' National League doppelganger-the team formerly known as the Red Stockings-the Cincinnati Reds.
I can't tell you how to be a millionaire without paying taxes, but I can tell you how to beat PECOTA without a computer model. First, get the PECOTA projections. Here, I will explain how you can beat PECOTA once you do.