Can you tell which pitches will leads to hits and which will lead to outs without seeing the results?
If we want to evaluate a pitch, there are few things we can focus on. We can look at the qualities of the pitch itself as it moves toward home plate, including movement, pitch type, and location. We can look at the catcher's glove, to see how much it moves from its target. We can look at the batter, to see how balanced he is as he swings at it. And we can look at the result: hit, out, stung, dribbled. I have a theory, which is that we (non-scouts) are mostly unable to make much of the first, second and third ways. That, mostly, we only remember the fourth.
So what follows is an experiment. I don't know what the point of this experiment is or what it will show. I don't know the best way to conduct this experiment. This might be an experiment I revisit in a better form someday in the future. But the experiment is simple, and I think it will be interesting, and I can't wait.
Pleasant 2012 surprises James McDonald and Jake Peavy are among this week's top two-start pitchers.
This is what happens when I trust Clay Buchholz. He faced Miami in back-to-back starts and initially demolished them at home, running his streak to four straight great games (which is why he got the seal of approval as a “start”), but the Fish smashed him for five runs on nine hits in six innings in their rematch. The silver lining is that he managed to get the win since Ricky Nolasco was even worse.
Of the three other AL “starts,” all of whom were relative no-names, it was actually Scott Diamond facing the Pirates in Pittsburgh who did the worst, surprisingly enough. After seven straight starts of three earned runs or fewer, he has allowed four in back-to-back outings against the Phillies and Pirates. Matt Harrisonand Tommy Milone were excellent in their initial starts of the week, including a complete game from Milone.
Does the success of Jake Peavy's changeup owe anything to the pitches before it?
Pitch-type linear weights are, let me say right here in the first line of this piece, not a particularly powerful tool for analysis. Hit this link if you don't know what they are, but the short of it is that they assign a run value to every pitch thrown based on whether it was a strike, a ball, an out, a single, etc. This tells you something, I suppose, but you, being a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, can probably see the issues already. They strip context of all sorts from the true act of run-prevention, ignoring the effects of defense, park, and luck. They ignore the abilities of the batters that a particular pitcher has faced. Perhaps most deadly, and yet most intriguingly, they ignore sequencing.
I might go so far as to say that a deep understanding of pitch sequencing is one of the holy grails of sabermetrics. (Will Woods called sequencing virgin territory about two years ago in these pages.) Unlike important but entirely unquantifiable aspects of baseball like a manager's motivational skills, the magic of PITCHf/x theoretically gives us powerful data from which we can work to approach these questions.
Jake Peavy doesn't have Jake Peavy's fastball anymore. Here's how he is still good.
Jon Lester and Jake Peavy engaged in a pitcher’s duel on Saturday afternoon. Officially, Lester and the Red Sox won 1-0, but Peavy stole the show as he threw back-to-back complete games for the first time in his career. All told, Peavy’s line through five games moved to 37 2/3 innings pitched, 21 hits allowed (one home run), seven runs against, and 28 more strikeouts than walks.
The temptation to label Peavy’s April as “vintage Peavy” is as strong as it is inaccurate. Peavy no longer sits in the mid-90s (he touches 94 mph) and he no longer strikes out a batter per inning. But Peavy is still a bulldog on the mound, his tenacity evident in both his pitching and in his unwillingness to be forthcoming about injuries. A certain air of invincibility is required in order to make it as a major-league pitcher; however, being a pertinacious pitcher can have its drawbacks—like being in denial about lost velocity and continuing to ride a subpar heater.
White Sox unveil their new manager for his first home opener, Jim Leyland isn't saying much but Kenny Williams is, and something is askew around home plate.
CHICAGO -- Friday marked Robin Ventura's first home game in uniform as a member of the White Sox since Sept. 20, 1998. He was asked if he remembered his last game at then-Comiskey Park. He didn't. But of course, we can look it up. He went 1 for 3 with a walk against the Red Sox, batting behind Frank Thomas and Albert Belle.
Phil Hughes, Jamie Garcia, Chris Capuano, and Jake Peavy get the Preseason VP treatment this week
It’s March 1 as you’re reading this, and that is noteworthy if only because we’re finally into a month where there’s going to be real, live Major League Baseball that counts—even if the Japan-based series between the M’s and A’s will take place in the middle of the night for most of us. With the season fast approaching, fantasy drafts are really starting to heat up. Here are some thoughts on four pitchers who may or may not be on your radar for various reasons…
Will the White Sox look to cut their losses by trading Jake Peavy this year?
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams has developed a penchant over the years for making daring, out-of-nowhere trades. His deal with Kevin Towers to bring in Jake Peavy at the 2009 trade deadline—after Peavy nixed a similar deal that May—epitomized his willingness to leave no stone unturned.
From Chicago’s perspective, the move was risky for several reasons.
Uneven outings for Jake Peavy and Cory Luebke, plus thoughts on the ChiSox bench.
CAMELBACK RANCH—Seeing Jake Peavy take the mound is always going to be interesting, for any of a number of reasons. You might be wondering whether Kenny Williams is going to get any significant fraction of value for the former Pads ace that he acquired under circumstances almost as controversial as those that attended the addition of Alex Rios, or merely skeptical that Peavy can be good for 26 starts this season (where we've got him initially for 2006). How he does is no minor matter: with that projected playing time, PECOTA pegs Peavy as the club's top pitcher via WARP (4.0) and VORP (38.8).
Every new day with Peavy on the mound represents a new, interesting suggestion that maybe, just maybe, Herm Schneider's White Sox training staff have pulled off another of the everyday miraculous recoveries that have ranked theirs among the best training-room units in the game. However, there's also the necessary grind of getting in gear, and yesterday's contest was a great example of process. Peavy's coming along well, but he's also not all there yet, as a series of near-misses and struggles to get out of jams because of problems pitching from the stretch finally came to a head in the fourth inning, when he gave up three runs. In the second and third innings, Peavy got the first two outs, only to put a man on, then each time give up a base hit to a lefty hitter while pitching from the stretch. In the fourth, he didn't get the benefit of the early outs, as Cameron Maybin led off with a single through the infield, with two lefty batters due. Cedric Hunter then doubled, scoring Maybin, and Mike Baxter homered.
After missing parts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons with a variety of injuries, fantasy owners hoped they could get a full season - with something close to full production - from Jake Peavy in 2010.
After all, strikeouts have always been among Peavy's strengths and he was mowing down hitters at a prodigious clip in the first half of 2009 when he whiffed batters at a rate of 10.1 K/9. Upon returning to action in September, it was with a new team (and a new league) and limited expectations. He made three starts down the stretch for the White Sox and was flat-out dominant, working 20 innings, allowing 11 hits and six walks while striking out 18. He won all three of his starts and finished with a 1.35 ERA. Despite the injury which limited his action, Peavy had a solid overall year with 16 Wins, a 3.45 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 101 innings.