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

Weekend Round-Up – 4/24/2011

Tales from the Sweet Spot Mother Ship:

  • David Schoenfield – Schoenfield puts together the All-Overrated team.  Can’t say I disagree with anyone on the list.
  • Christina Kahrl – Kahrl has the goods on Ryan Braun’s new extension.  Like me, she has short-term and long-term concerns with the deal.
  • Steve Berthiaume – Steve thinks a one game playoff is the way to go.  I respectfully disagree for a number of reasons, but his reasoning certainly makes sense.
  • Joe Janish – Joe examines Anibal Sanchez’s near no-no.
  • Austin Swafford – Austin wonders if the NL Central is due for disparity.

Tales from around the Sweet Spot Network:

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When Will They Ever Learn?

First of all, I’m not sure why Madden feels it’s necessary to bring up Hughes and Nova in this discussion.  For starters, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen many 24 year old power pitchers that suddenly lose 2-3 MPH off of their fastball over a winter—well, unless there’s an undocumented physical ailment causing said loss in velocity.  Still, Hughes’s problem appears to be that he’s allowing far too much contact (92.9% contact rate).  Thus far, he’s allowed 19 hits and struck out only three in 10-1/3 innings.  If anything, pitching to contact is killing his ability to be an effective pitcher.

As for Nova, his entire career up to this point has been based on pitching to contact and inducing ground balls.  His problem during Friday’s start wasn’t that he was trying to avoid contact, but that he walked five batters in 4-1/3 innings.  I suppose you could argue that Nova didn’t have command of his pitches or didn’t trust his stuff (whatever that means), but it’s not like you could call the start “out of the ordinary.”  For whatever reason, he walks guys. … Click here to read the rest

Weekend Round-Up – 4/17/2011

Tales from the Sweet Spot at the ESPN mother ship:

Best of the Rest:

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Weekend Round-Up – 4/10/2011

The Best of the Rest:

  • Joe Posnanski waxes about Manny Ramirez.  Manny had more than his share of faults, but he’ll always be one of my all time favorite players.  He brought a childlike joy (and a childlike demeanor) to the game.
  • Rob Neyer tries to make sense of how Brandon Wood came to be the player he’s become.   It just goes to show…there’s no such thing as a guarantee when it comes to prospects.
  • Craig Calcaterra over at Hardball Talk discusses Manny’s legacy.  Does he have a shot at the Hall of Fame?  Yes, but it will probably be close to 20 years before he’s elected—or should I say, if he’s elected.  I think he will make it, but it’s really hard to put a guarantee on it just yet.
  • Double dipping from Craig this week.  He puts on his dusty shyster hat to discuss the Bonds trial.  It’s in the jury’s hands now.
  • This week at Fangraphs… Jonah Keri discusses Manny’s legacy, and the fate of the Rays.  
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Projecting the Yankees – Part 4: The Bullpen

Closer:  Mariano Rivera

2010 Stats:  3-3, 33 SV, 1.80 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 6.75 K/9, 4.09 K/BB, 1.7 WAR

2011 Projections:  3-2, 35 SV, 2.15 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 7.22 K/9, 4.25 K/BB, 1.6 WAR

Marcel Projections: 3-3, 26 SV, 2.90 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 7.40 K/9, 3.19 K/BB

Bill James Projections: 5-2, 33 SV, 1.89 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 8.42 K/9, 5.27 K/BB

Mariano Rivera’s run of dominance has to end at some time, doesn’t it?  Yes, of course it does, but that doesn’t mean that we should expect it come this season.  While Rivera’s curious drop in strikeout rate (from 9.77 in 2009 to 6.75 in 2010) could be construed as a cause for concern, I’m not willing to make that assumption just yet.  At various points during his career, he’s experienced a similar drop in his K/9 rate without a corresponding drop in performance.  (See 2005-2007 for an example of this.)   How’s he able to avoid the pitfalls of such a 30% decline in his strikeout rate in a single season? … Click here to read the rest

Projecting the 2011 Yankees: Part 3 – The Starting Rotation

C.C. Sabathia

2010 Stats: 21-7, 3.18 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 7.46 K/9, 2.66 K/BB, 50.7% GB, 5.1 WAR

2011 Projection: 18-8, 3.26 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 7.54 K/9, 3.03 K/BB, 51.3% GB, 5.3 WAR

2011 Bill James: 17-9, 3.32 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 7.70 K/9, 3.11 K/BB

2011 Marcel: 16-7, 3.30 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 7.57 K/9, 2.83 K/BB

With a slimmer frame to go along with a devastating five-pitch arsenal, C.C. Sabathia appears poised to put together another outstanding season in 2011. His fastball velocity is firmly entrenched in the 91-96 MPH range (although he occasionally touches 97-98 MPH), and he posted above average whiff rates with his change-up (16.6%), slider (16.0%), and curveball (15.5%) last season. Recently, Sabathia started throwing his sinker (3.2% usage in 2009 vs. 14.3% usage in 2010) more frequently, mostly at the expense of his four-seam fastball. While this contributed to a few of Sabathia’s key performance indicators (strikeouts, walks, contact rate) trending in the wrong direction, he’s made up for it by improving his ground ball rate.… Click here to read the rest

Projecting the 2011 Yankees – Part 2: The Outfield

Left Field – Brett Gardner
2010 Season – .277/.383/.379, .358 wOBA, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 45 SB, 21.9 UZR, 5.4 WAR
2011 Projection – .267/.350/.371, .336 wOBA, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 45 SB, 12.5 UZR, 3.1 WAR
Marcel Projection – .269/.357/.378, .345 wOBA, 6 HR, 46 RBI, 37 SB
Bill James Projection – .275/.377/.371, .349 wOBA, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 50 SB

Brett Gardner was spectacular in his first season as a full-time outfielder with the Yankees. Really…for what more could the Yankees have asked? Not a whole lot. With the exception of power, Gardner provided the whole package on route to one of the quietest 5 WAR seasons in recent memory.

Stolen bases? Check!

Solid OBP? Check!

Defense? Double Check!

Still, as great as he was last season, is it fair for us to expect an encore performance in 2011? Absolutely not. Offensively, Gardner benefitted from an unusually high .340 BABIP that inflated his batting average and on-base percentage. While a hitter producing a BABIP at that level is by no means unheard of, it’s not one that’s in line with his current batted ball profile.… Click here to read the rest

Projecting the 2011 Yankees – Part 1: The Infield

Catcher – Russell Martin

2010 Season – .248/.347/.332, .306 wOBA, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 6 SB, 4.0 UZR, 2.1 WAR

2011 Projection – .254/.352/.349, .323 wOBA, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 5 SB, 2.0 UZR, 2.2 WAR

Marcel Projection – .256/.350/.350, .315 wOBA, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 9 SB

Bill James Projection – .270/.380/.398, .333 wOBA, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 10 SB

Do you remember when Russell Martin was a young, upcoming stud catcher with solid power, above average base running skills, and great on base abilities? Yeah, so do I. With Martin having just turned 28 years old, it seems strange to think that he may have already played his best baseball. Still, after watching him play the past two seasons, I have a feeling that’s the case. While Martin has retained his ability to get on base, his power and base running abilities have all but disappeared. The torn hip labrum he suffered mid-way through last season likely not only robbed him of some of his speed on the base paths, but also shortened his shelf-life as a catcher.… Click here to read the rest