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Articles Tagged Kyle Hendricks 

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Kyle Hendricks might be a lot closer to Greg Maddux than he thinks.

One of the challenges of bringing BP's new pitching data to light is figuring out whether it’s useful and how we can leverage it to better understand what is happening on the field. As mentioned previously, we look at this in much the same way we look at pitch movement or velocity; we need to figure out how these tunnels data points interact with other components of a player’s performance to unlock a deeper understanding of what is happening.

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks is a perfect subject to start with. As we mentioned in "Two Ways to Tunnel," Hendricks has some of the smallest pitch tunnels in all of baseball. Hendricks is often compared to Greg Maddux (including by us!), and we can see how he is in fact like Maddux in certain respects. It gives us an idea of how he’s successful, but only an abstract one. That is, we rationalize Hendricks’ success because we’ve seen Maddux do it before, but we don’t really know how all of the moving pieces come together.

In order to better understand how Hendricks is successful, we’ll have to dig into some of our new data to see what that can tell us about how he pitches.

Hendricks has steadily learned how to strike out opposing batters, increasing his K% by 55 percent from 2014 to 2015 and 2016, and it’s clear the effect that has had on his game. In fact, Hendricks’ new-found ability to strike batters out has resulted in him becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball as he has posted a sub-3.50 DRA over each of the past two seasons despite getting dinged for pitching (and winning an ERA title) in front of an elite defense.

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Tunneling from Greg Maddux and Barry Zito to Kyle Hendricks and Rich Hill, and everything in between.

The new pitch tunnels data released by Baseball Prospectus gives us a new glimpse into the repertoires of pitchers across the major leagues. Of course, this data is only as useful as the analysis it helps produce. To showcase how pitch tunnels data can help us better understand the success, or lack thereof, of certain pitchers, we’ll need to better understand how pitch tunnels manifest themselves in the real world.

The title of this article— “Two Ways to Tunnel”—already signals that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to this new data. While game theory might suggest that each individual pitcher has an optimal approach (or approaches), there can be dramatic differences in how different pitchers attack major-league hitters. As such, we should look at this tunnels data much like we would PITCHf/x data. It’s descriptive, and there are many ways to interpret and utilize the data.

We’ll use modern pitchers to explain these concepts with requisite data, but first it’s worth revisiting a historical example. Jeff Long's very first post for BP over two years ago included the following quote about Greg Maddux, the patron saint of tunneling (yes, we know the majority of this quote is included in the introductory post about pitch tunnels, but it’s so good that it merits inclusion once again):

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December 15, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: The Landscape: WHIP

4

George Bissell

Allowing baserunners is a bad thing, and pitchers were consistently getting better at it. Until last year, that is.

If you’ve been following our Fantasy Categorical Breakdown series, you’re aware that the birth of the Rob Manfred era has catalyzed a high-octane offensive environment, and dramatically reshaped the fantasy landscape over just a two-year span. As league-wide home run totals continue to skyrocket, nearly a quarter of all plate appearances now end in a strikeout, and stolen bases have declined to their lowest level in decades. The primary aim of this series is to analyze the impact of these recent contextual trends and how fantasy owners should respond in 2017.

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November 22, 2016 8:06 am

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: The ERA Over/Underperformers

1

Wilson Karaman

Who surprised last year and what does that mean for 2017?

Yesterday, George Bissell gave a rousing introduction to our bloated American landscape of low innings totals, high earned run averages, and higher ace valuations in turn. With managers increasingly inclined to limit third-time looks, workhorse starters are becoming as rare as split-ticket voters, and an old-world strategic play of bulking up rotation back-ends with average innings-eaters may just be gone forever by the wayside. Before we get too lost in nostalgia, let’s take a look at a few guys who either over- or under-performed in the category of ERA.

Over-Performers

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November 18, 2016 6:00 am

Retrospective Player Valuation: NL Pitchers

8

Mike Gianella

It's the good stuff. Not like those imitation AL pitchers.

Welcome to my annual look at retrospective player valuation here at Baseball Prospectus. Over the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of posts examining how players performed from a fantasy perspective in 2016. This is the fourth post in a series of six. The first two posts in the series looked at AL-only leagues, the next two shifted their focus to NL-only, and the final two posts will examine mixed leagues.

Before I dig in, here is a brief description of the charts below.

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Will Cy Young voters again be fooled by the Cubs' defense?

We’ve reached awards season, with the Cy Young—designated for the best pitcher in each league—due to be awarded this coming week.

In the National League, the named finalists are two Cubs (Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester) and one National (Max Scherzer). Here is how they compare on various measures of pitcher quality:

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September 7, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Three Thoughts About 2016

0

J.P. Breen

J.P. shares his reflections on three notable players and their fantasy prospect for next season.

(1) Zack Greinke has pitched much better than his 4.54 ERA would otherwise suggest.

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October 20, 2015 9:22 am

BP Wrigleyville

0

Rian Watt

Kyle Hendricks makes the biggest start of his career tonight. How did he learn the pitch that could allow him to neutralize the Mets' bats?

Every pitch has an origin story and for Kyle Hendricks, his changeup came along after rough outing in high school and a long workout with his father. It has now developed into the pitch that allows Hendricks to go under the radar and become a very solid piece of the Cubs rotation. After they clinched their spot in the NLCS, Rian Watt spoke to Hendricks and Hendricks' father about how that pitch came about. Over at BP Wrigleyville, Watt shares that story.

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October 11, 2015 10:47 am

Playoff Prospectus: The Cubs Do Simple Better: NLDS Game 2

2

Rian Watt

The Northsiders used everything in their arsenal to even the series at one.

It was 54 degrees on October 3rd in Milwaukee, and the Cubs were bunched around the batting cages, working on their bunting. Manager Joe Maddon, who spent years as a nuts-and-bolts minor-league instructor, and whose mantra this year has been “Do Simple Better” was convinced that his players would need to come up big in a bunt situation come playoff time, and wanted to drive home that message on the penultimate day of the regular season. Maddon’s decision took just a week to pay off. The Cubs did simple better Saturday night in St. Louis, beating the Cardinals 6-3 in their own ballpark and taking the series back to Chicago knotted at one.

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July 9, 2015 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Grading The Buyer's Guide, Part One

4

J.P. Breen

A look at how well you've done if you followed some of J.P.'s preseason recommendations.

As we near the All-Star break, I thought it would be useful to critique myself and my fantasy advice throughout the year. This allows me to own up to mistaken guidance or faulty analysis, while also celebrating my own home runs. In other words, this article hopes to be the “accountability” for which people crave.

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May 30, 2015 9:30 am

BP Wrigleyville

1

Cat Garcia

The soft-tossing right-hander has gotten back on track after a terrible April.

It’s no big secret that I am a huge supporter of Kyle Hendricks. Though I have a very strong hold on my affinity for him and his pitching style, others remain quite vigilant when it comes to Hendricks. This is completely understandable, given the fact that he has been said to not have anything more than fringe-average stuff to bring to the table every five days, but it’s been working for him. And though he has a few wrinkles to iron out, his wrinkles aren’t any more serious or damaging than previous pitchers’ wrinkles have been—he’s managed to hold onto his roster spot longer than the likes of Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson.

Hendricks finished his 2014 season on an absolute tear, with a 2.46 ERA in 13 games over 80 innings pitched. He had just a 1.08 WHIP on the season and an impressive 3.32 FIP. This left fans and critics alike wondering if he would be able to repeat this type of performance in 2015, his first full season with a permanent spot in the rotation.

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March 23, 2015 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Kyle Hendricks

2

J.P. Breen

A closer look at the intriguing Cubs righty.

For those diehards who religiously follow the minor leagues, devouring the wonderful BP top-10 prospect lists and Monday Ten Packs, we’re always cautioned to be careful of player comps. Such comps place unrealistic expectations on player development and don’t allow for minor leaguers to carve out their own niche. They categorize and label guys in a way that’s not always productive and is sometimes unfair.

I do believe statistical comps can be useful for fresh-faced major leaguers, though, in terms of fantasy baseball. Minor-league scouting reports paint a picture of what a player could become if everything clicks; however, it’s always important to take a step back from the painting and consider where it fits in the larger fantasy landscape. That is to say, statistically, what type of player could [Player X] become and what does that look like for fantasy owners.

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