Mike Scioscia is walking a very fine line with intentional walks this year.
If the Angels end up beating the Astros to the finish line and taking the second Wild Card berth next weekend, the moments to remember will be the team's back-to-back one-run wins over Houston on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Angels led the whole way on Tuesday, but it was a white-knuckle grip that allowed them to hold onto the game in the final two innings. On Wednesday, they needed three runs in the top of the eighth to overcome the Astros' seventh-inning rally, and then had a similarly breath-shortening time of it during the last inning and a half.
What made those finishes particularly interesting, and perhaps particularly stressful, was Mike Scioscia doing what Mike Scioscia does. It started in the eighth inning Tuesday, when he brought on closer Huston Street with runners on the corners and two outs, and Luis Valbuena pinch-hitting for the Astros. (Okay, when Scioscia called upon Street, it was to face Jonathan Villar, and Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded by sending up Valbuena. It's hard to imagine that Scioscia either failed to foresee that, nor that he would have done anything differently anyway.) The score was 3-1 until Street's first pitch bounced past Chris Iannetta, making it 3-2 and sending The Other Matt Duffy to second base. With that change in situation, Scioscia felt that a Valbuena-Street matchup no longer made sense. He ordered an intentional walk. Jake Marisnick batted next, and Street struck him out on six pitches to get out of the frame.
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Examining which hurlers become more and less valuable in leagues that count walks and quality starts.
On to the bump we go! While this series has previously focused on hitting adjustments in OBP and points formats, today we tackle starters in non-standard leagues. Judging by our Bat Signal data I decided to focus today on leagues that utilize a penalty for Walks, be it in ratio form (K-BB, K/BB, BB/9) or a negative point value, as well as leagues that utilize Quality Starts as a merciful counting stat replacement for archaic pitcher Wins. I’m more than happy to address any other specific player-and-format questions in the comments below, or if you’ve got a particularly unique league setup that requires a longer discussion of value you can always drop it into a Bat Signal.
In case you missed it, here are our tiered rankings for starting pitchers in standard leagues: Part I and Part II.
The latest on the longest season-starting walkless streaks.
It’s appropriate that Jeff Keppinger’s first walk of 2013 was a game-winner. After 140 plate appearances without one—150 dating back to the end of last season—it would’ve been a shame if the walk we’d all been waiting for hadn’t helped the White Sox win.
How does the plate discipline of Dominican players compare to the league as a whole?
If you read Jorge Arangure Jr.’s great guest piece on Dominican players and plate discipline today, you may have wondered, as I did, whether we could see any difference between Dominicans and non-Dominicans in the data. Jorge mentioned how few Dominicans are among their respective leagues’ leaders in walk rate, but I wanted to see how DR-born players stacked up as a group. I asked BP data dude Dan Turkenkopf to run the numbers, and this is what he found for major leaguers in 2012. (Note: pitcher hitting is included, and the “league” rates include Dominican players.)
Are Dominican hitters hurting themselves by focusing on raw skills at the expense of a patient approach? And can anything be done about it?
Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Jorge Arangure has been a baseball writer since 2003. He has worked as a senior writer for ESPN and The Washington Post. He's got #want and is #wet and will probably spend his BP freelancing money drinking with Jason Parks.
How often has a pitcher issued 10 or more walks and 10 or more strikeouts in the same game? Not often at all.
When we examined Sandy Koufax's workload a while back, reader LynchMob asked whether anyone had thrown more than 193 pitches in a game since Koufax did it on May 28, 1960. I found two documented cases, both by members of the following year's Dodgers:
Prince Fielder's new deal has albatross potential, but the Tigers hope it doesn't turn out like one of John's picks for the worst contracts of the free-agent era.
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 (and mostly free) 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.
As your mind reels at the size of Prince Fielder's payday, take a look at this list of 10 free-agent deals that didn't work out well for the teams that handed them out, which originally ran on February 20, 2007.
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.
Continuing an examination of Cliff Lee's season, here's a closer look at his home run and walk rates.
I've been thinking an awful lot about walks lately—not the kind I try to take each night before bed, but rather the kind that Cliff Lee now avoids with startling regularity. My last two Seidnotes columns focused on his fantastic season in an attempt to deduce whether or not anyone ever matched his potentially historic pace. Additionally, I used his numbers to illustrate the differences between the more common strikeout-to-walk ratio and the strikeout-minus-walk differential. Today, I frame his walk-averse campaign in a slightly different light. Entering his most recent complete-game loss, Lee issued seven walks while surrendering nine home runs.
Yes, the man had walked fewer batters than he had allowed home runs! An out-of-character, two-walk performance on Sunday tied the numbers, but I began to wonder how rare it is for dingers to exceed walks. With that in mind, my goals today are to explore this very phenomenon, and to discuss walks and walk rates on a very basic level, as the numbers are used very frequently, yet leaders in the respective categories are not exactly common knowledge.
With an eye towards the weekend's action, what is the performance track record of the Angels' Game Three starter?
Despite his age, Scott Kazmir has already had a career full of ups and downs. At just 25 years old, the former Tampa Bay Rays ace has an uncertain future ahead of him, as he could go in one of two directions: he could bounce back from a disappointing 2009 season to become the pitcher many envisioned him turning into, or he could continue to slip further from top-of-the-rotation relevancy with each passing year. The Angels dealt for him this summer, hoping that he can be more the former than the latter, especially over the next month, as they try to do something they have never done before-beat the Red Sox to advance in the playoffs.
Given the advent of the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and their run-generating home parks, it's easy to forget that Wrigley Field used to be the National League's premier batter-friendly park. It hasn't really changed as a hitter-friendly environment; though the old ballpark cannot compete with the high elevation of Colorado or the warm, dry air of Arizona, in most seasons it still gives batters more of a lift than the other sea-level, mild-climate ballparks.
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.