Early Returns: AL Runs Scored Down Again

Last year, I wrote about how 2010 AL run scoring was significantly depressed. AL batters scored 4.45 runs per game in 2010, down from 4.82 in 2010. In fairly robust 330 game span, here are the early returns from 2011:

AL batters have scored just 4.29 runs per game in 2011. If that were to hold up over a full season, it would be the lowest level of run scoring since 1989.

It should be noted that while there are validity concerns in projecting run scoring down (Baseball conditions are different in April than in other months, although there was little monthly variation last season), 330 games is a pretty robust sample in terms of random variation. We can say with a lot of confidence that run scoring is down, even though that may change in the future.

What does this mean for the 2011 season? First, it means that the Yankees’ 4.19 runs allowed per game and 3.90 ERA so far are worse than they seem.… Click here to read the rest

Swisher’s swings and results

A few days ago, I looked at Robinson Cano and his swing data. Cano’s hit well, but there are red flags in his swing profile so far this year. The problems have been masked a bit since Robbie’s been hitting, and that includes a three run home run last night. Nick Swisher, on the other hand, is not hitting well. Let’s check the swing data from FanGraphs and see if there’s anything on which we can pin Swish’s slow start.

The first thing we notice is the first item listed: O-Swing%. While it’s not as high as it was last year–a career high 25.7%–Swisher’s O-Swing% is at 20.4%. His career percentage is 18.9%, but that number is likely swayed by the high mark in 2010; in five of the eight years for which data is available, Swisher had O-Swing% marks below 18%. Swinging at more pitches out of the zone is never a good thing, and it’s even a bit disheartening to see when it comes from a guy like Swisher who’s been so disciplined at the plate for his career.… Click here to read the rest

Bartolo silencing his skeptics

Of course, we have to repeat the old mantra, this is all compiled over a fairly small sample size. But don’t make the mistake that so many do, when dealing with SSS–discount the results rather than discarding them. I’m not telling you Colon is going to end the season striking out a batter per inning, nor do I expect him to have an ERA below 3.00. But if he’s above average for the league, the Yankees will have made a startlingly good pickup at a cost of roughly nothing.

I’ll leave you with another good datapoint. Often times, when you see a middling pitcher throw a great game, you can look to the umpire,  whose strike zone can play havoc with the outcome of the game. Tom Glavine made a (likely HOF) career off of this dynamic. So it’s always worth checking to see if the pitcher deserves all the accolades he’s getting, or if he just owes the umpire dinner.… Click here to read the rest

The Bartolo Colon redemption tour continues in the Bronx

This one was over in a hurry, as two strong starters were throwing strikes and working quickly. Mark Buehrle was good over seven innings of work, but Bartolo Colon was better. The portly right-hander pitched eight dominant innings of one-run baseball, allowing seven hits and just one walk on 99 pitches.

Colon improved his ERA to 2.77 on the season and has looked flat-out dominant in his two starts this season. Colon’s fastball continued to show late life in the zone, and was clocked as high as 97mph on the YES gun. He mixed in the occasional breaking pitch to keep the White Sox hitters off-balance. Those hitters looked helpless against him.

If the story of the game was Colon’s brilliance, then the storyline that will probably be overlooked is the continued silence of the Yankee bats. In three games against the ChiSox the Yankees have managed a combined five runs. All of tonight’s damage came in the first inning when Robinson Cano hit a three-run home run, scoring Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.… Click here to read the rest

Continuing the Discussion on Pitching to Contact

Here’s how the top ten stacks up:

Chart 1-A

Name Swing % K/9 ERA FIP fWAR
Scott Baker 53.6 % 7.18 (24) 4.39 (47) 4.04 (28) 13.2 (37)
Johan Santana 51.9% 8.34 (8) 2.93 (1T) 3.52 (10) 22.9 (8)
Cole Hamels 49.8% 8.54 (5) 3.53 (15) 3.77 (19) 18.2 (19)
Cliff Lee 49.5% 6.80 (39) 3.60 (19) 3.50 (9) 23.5 (7)
Roy Halladay 49.2% 6.89 (35) 2.97 (3) 3.24 (3) 32.6 (1)
Roy Oswalt 49.2% 7.10 (29) 3.28 (8) 3.53 (11) 21.5 (9T)
Aaron Harang 49.1% 7.86 (18) 4.23 (36T) 4.11 (30) 15.2 (28)
C.C. Sabathia 49.1% 8.00 (16) 3.13 (5) 3.25 (4) 31.6 (2)
Javier Vazquez 48.1% 8.57 (4) 4.24 (38) 3.85 (22) 21.0 (11)
James Shields 47.9% 7.39 (21) 4.26 (41T) 4.03 (27) 16.6 (25)

 

A few things jump out at me immediately.  The first thing that jumps out is that the “four aces” in the Phillies rotation are ranked 3rd through 6th in swing % over the course of our sample period. … Click here to read the rest

Game 21: White Sox 1, Yankees 3

Colon got into some trouble in the second.  Adam Dunn grounded a single past a diving Teixeira and Cano.  Alex Rios worked a walk and A.J. Pierzynski hit a grounder up the middle for a single, loading the bases with no outs.  Colon stayed cool, however, striking out Gordon Beckham before getting Omar Vizquel and Pierre to fly out, ending the inning with the Yankees’ lead still 3-0.

Colon and Buehrle controlled much of the game, as they quickly worked through the lineups.  Colon found himself in trouble in the sixth, however.  Quentin grounded a single up the middle and Konerko followed with a soft fly ball that dropped in front of Swisher for a single.  Dunn drove another grounder up the middle, scoring Quentin and getting the White Sox on the board.  Colon battled back and sat down the next two batters as the Yankees held onto the lead. Mariano Rivera, who had blown his last two save attempts, relieved Colon in the ninth. … Click here to read the rest