Over a decade after their advent sent shockwaves through the sabermetric world, we gaze back to the dawn of defense-independent pitching statistics.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Now that BABIP has long since hit the mainstream, join us in flashing back to the day when Voros changed how we thought about pitching and defense, just over ten years after his landmark article originally ran on January 23, 2001.
Are pitchers able to apply certain skills when a game calls for it?
One of the pitchers I enjoyed watching the most while I was growing up was Tom Glavine. Even though I was a Phillies fan and frequently saw him victimize my favorite team, I was impressed by the expertise he demonstrated on the mound, and how he perfected his craft. Glavine remains the premier example of a pitcher who out-pitched his peripheral statistics; he was greater than the sum of his parts. For the amount of strikeouts, walks, and ground balls that Glavine got in his career, he should never have been able to keep runs off the scoreboard as well as he did.
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Pitch data shows that the amount of swinging strikes is not predictive of strikeout rates.
When I wrote about pitchers with major divides between their ERAs and SIERAs two weeks ago, a reader inquired why Clay Buchholz had such a pedestrian strikeout rate while having an above average swinging-strike rate. Buchholz has mustered just 6.2 K/9, nearly a full strikeout below the 7.1 league average, but has induced batters to swing and miss on 9.5 percent of his pitches according to FanGraphs, a full percentage point above the 8.5 percent league average. The question was apparent: Do pitchers who get a lot of whiffs increase their strikeout rates over time?
Who is more responsible for a strikeout, the pitcher or the batter?
I usually put a warning in my pieces that gory mathematical details are about to follow. This week, it comes at the beginning of the piece. You’ve been warned. Then again, depending on what you like, you might be titillated.
The American League has a number of very good early-round options, but don't wait too long.
Starting pitching is one of the key components of your fantasy team. Drafting the right pitchers consistently is a skill that helps separate league winners from the rest of the pack, but that's not the same as drafting the same pitchers to win all of the time. It's a volatile position with lots of turnover—it wasn't so long ago that Scott Kazmir was considered an ace in the making or a great source of strikeouts, and now he is neither of those things, and he's not even a Ray anymore. Everyone just knew that Cliff Lee couldn't repeat his 2008 campaign in 2009—unless you were paying attention to the things you needed to pay attention to. Many people thought Daisuke Matsuzaka was a shoo-in as an ace due to his win total and his ERA in 2008, Knowing when to pass or bid on these types of pitchers helps you make the informed decisions you need in order to build the perfect fantasy pitching staff.
A look at the data used in creating SIERA, Baseball Prospectus' new pitching metric.
Earlier this week we introduced the run estimator SIERA, providing a general summary of its purpose as well as the evolution of its development. Today, in Part 3, our focus will shift to the quantitative side of the metric, offering a detailed look at the data used to derive the formula as well as specifics pertaining to the regression analysis techniques used. The transparency should provide a better understanding of the integrity of such a process as well as a few insights into the SIERA-laden approach towards pitcher valuations.
How do pitchers adapt to situations with runners on second or third, where a ball in play equals danger on the scoreboard?
In the firsttwo installments of this series, we dug into the mystery of whether pitchers are able to beneficially change their approach in double-play situations. By digging through pitching data from 2005-09, we were able to make a few general statements:
Building on last week's work and reader feedback, an expansion on the subject of pitcher performance in double-play situations.
In last week's column, I took an initial look at the question of whether pitchers in general-or specific pitchers-are able to successfully tailor their approach to be more effective in certain game situations, or to be exact, during double-play (DP) situations and situations with a runner on third and fewer than two outs (R3). To do this, I performed some cursory analysis of pitching data for the 2005-09 seasons to see whether ground-ball, walk, and strikeout rates differ in these situations compared to the norm. The numbers I ran for the DP situation showed an increase in ground balls (which are often, but not always, good for the pitcher in double-play situations), a decrease in strikeouts (which are always good for the pitcher in any situation) and a decrease in walk rate. Lastly, I looked at individual pitchers to get some idea of which ones improved the most during the DP situation, based on a quick and dirty measure I called PRIDE, which summed the changes in ground-ball and K rates and subtracted the change in walk rate.
Determining who's successful at pitching with a purpose when it comes to enlisting the pitcher's best friend.
Baseball can often be boiled down to a simple struggle between the wills and skills of one batter and one pitcher. At its base, reptilian core, this conflict is straightforward and Darwinian: pitchers want to record outs, while batters want to avoid making outs. But depending on the game situation, not all outs (or all non-outs) are the same. With the bases empty, any out will do-but with a runner on third and fewer than two outs, many fly balls and some ground balls can result in a run, while strikeouts and popups almost never do let anyone cross home. On the other hand, with a runner on first and fewer than two outs, a ground ball that results in a double play is usually better for the pitcher than a strikeout or popup.
Different hurlers have different capacities for pitcher-on-pitcher violence.
Cliff Lee has performed at an incredibly high level since joining the Phillies rotation last month, compiling a minuscule 0.68 ERA in 40 frames, effectively making Phans phorget that they were ever engaged in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. Lee's junior circuit strikeout rates were generally of the good but not great variety, somewhere in the range of 6.1 and 6.8 per nine innings, yet his 39 whiffs while wearing red pinstripes has resulted in a fantastic rate. Switching to the National League tends to improve a pitcher's performance for a few reasons, but the most obvious of them involves the chance to face pitchers (Ed. Note: Phlailing?) as opposed to additional hitters with Papi Hafner Thome-level power. In his five Phillies starts, Lee has faced the opposing pitcher seven times, recording strikeouts on four different occasions. While the sample here is much too small to make any sort of definitive claim, the underlying idea that his strikeout total has been padded by opportunities to whiff the pitcher piqued my interest.
The lefty's story only keeps improving with every turn, but will last season's hero build on this year's ALDS dominance?
Jon Lester has made headlines each of the past few seasons, but this is the first year that he's garnered attention due to his performance as a major league starting pitcher. Prior to the end of the regular season, Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy stated that Jon Lester was the best pitcher in the Red Sox rotation, and based on his performance both this season and in the playoffs, it's a tough position to argue against. How did he get to this point, and will he able to keep it up in the future?