Author Archives: Will@IIATMS

Where do we go from here?

Offensively, the Rays put up a .328 wOBA this season, a tick below league average, and 8th in the American League. Conversely, the Rangers were above average at .333, 5th in the AL. But they were essentially carried by Josh Hamilton, who is the presumptive AL MVP, despite missing a full month of the season with  broken ribs. He’s on the playoff roster, and has been playing every day–but he’s clearly not himself, having gone 1 for 12 with 5 strikeouts. Doing the same exercise that I did to adjust for Justin Morneau’s absence on the Twins, we can take the difference between Hamilton’s season wOBA and the Rangers season wOBA, and then divide that by the percentage of the season Hamilton played (out of the Rangers total playing time). Take that away from the Rangers’ team average, and you’ve got an estimate of what their actual hitting number ought to be.

Rangers fans, are you reading? Shield your eyes…because this is ugly.…

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Five Numbers Twins Fans Should Worry About

138.1

Brian Duensing, your Game Three starter, has made a total of 22 starts over his first two seasons, pitching just 138.1 innings in that time. The most important of those games came on October 7, 2009, when he started Game One of last season’s ALDS against, who else, the Yankees. He was out before the end of the fifth inning, giving up five earned runs on seven hits and a walk (3 punchouts), and was relieved by none other than Francisco Liriano after only 79 pitches. The reason 138.1 is important is not particularly complicated. There’s no deep statistical story here–in fact, Duensing’s xFIP and FIP look great for a pitcher his age (any age, really), floating right around 4.00 (which is very good). The question is how he will respond to the pressure of a playoff situation, especially if the Twins postseason is on the line in that game.

.334

The Twins offense is relying on Jim Thome whose numbers this season have been flat out fantastic.…

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Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

Francisco Liriano has very quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, putting up a league leading 3.06 xFIP (fifteen points better than Cliff Lee, and twenty points better than King Felix). His terrific slider has helped him generate the 3rd highest percentage of swings outside the strike zone of pitchers in the American League (34.4%). To go along with that, he’s got the highest out-of-zone whiff rate in the league (44.2%). He strikes out more than a batter per inning, and walks 2.7 per 9 innings. His .340 BABIP has led to an artificially high 3.62 ERA that masks an FIP a full run lower (2.66) and the previously noted best xFIP in the league.

Following him is perennial Yankee killer Carl Pavano (who has accomplished this task as both an opponent, and a team member). It pains me to say it, but Pavano has been a horse for the Twins this year, throwing 220 innings, and notching a solid 3.75/4.02/4.01 ERA/FIP/xFIP line.…

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Debate Over: Bring on Texas!

Both Minnesota and Texas have good rotations. Lee and Liriano match up closely at the top (though I’d rather face Lee, as Liriano’s xFIP tops the American League at 3.08). It looks like Lee will be followed by C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis, and Liriano will be followed by Scott Baker and Carl Pavano. All four have xFIPs between 3.95 and 4.24 and given the scheduling, a fourth starter will not be necessary in the ALDS. Both teams have good relief pitching: the Rangers ‘pen has a 4.28 xFIP, and the Twins’ is 4.35, and the Twins’ addition of Matt Capps (3.55) probably bridges the gap (assuming he gets the innings instead of Brian Fuentes (4.55)).

When you start looking at position players, though, the Rangers get into trouble. The Twins’ position players have been worth 30.4 WAR over the course of the season (second only to the Yankees with 32.5). The Rangers aren’t even close: 22.9!…

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The lucky, the unlucky and Joba

Moving on the pitching:

It’s a bit more complicated for pitchers—but the numbers I prefer to focus on are BABIP (same as above), LOB% (the rate at which a pitcher strands his baserunners, league average is slightly above 70%), HR/FB (the rate at which fly balls turn into home runs), and E-F (ERA-FIP, the difference between the pitchers ERA and his fielding independent pitching statistic). All four of these, at the extremes, can indicate good and bad luck.

In some cases, this can be confusing. For instance, take a look at Boone Logan, who has been a touch lucky with his strand rate (78.4% is very high), and with his HR/FB rate (6.3% is low), but a bit unlucky with his BABIP (.329 is high). In the aggregate (as shown by his E-F) he’s been lucky…but not ridiculously so. [EDITOR’S NOTE: I don’t care one bit about your fancy-schmancy stats and color-coded tables, Will. 

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Remember when Gardner and Cervelli were AAAA players?

Gardner wasn’t even expecting to play that night, but after Damon was tossed in the third for arguing balls and strikes (not a regular occurrence by any stretch of the imagination) Gardner had his shot. What happened next is the stuff of Hollywood—light swinging Gardner hit the first inside-the-park-home run in New Yankee Stadium history, and later played a significant role in the Yankees 9th inning comeback, hitting a leadoff triple off of bigtime closer Joe Nathan. And later that night, the script continued—Alyssa’s number came up, her wait for a new heart was over.


Superstitious or no, the story is pretty amazing, and whatever karma Brett took from that bracelet, it’s still going strong (.299/.379/.377, along with 17 steals in 19 attempts thus far this season). And earlier this week, Alyssa made her way out to Yankee Stadium to catch a game, her first since having heart replacement surgery more than a year ago. Here she is on the field, after the game.…

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The Trade Brian Cashman Would Like To Take Back

Ian Kennedy is a serviceable #4-#5 starter.

Kennedy is a back-end starter, who thus far has had a good bit of luck in 2010, and has looked like a #3 or better. His 3.58 ERA masks a 4.73 FIP, not least of all due to a low BABIP of .261. That basically means he’s had more balls hit at defenders than the average pitcher, and indicates a non-sustainable ERA. ZiPS, for example (one of the better projection systems) thinks that he’ll put up an ERA of over 5 for the rest of the season. I’m not that bearish on Kennedy—after all, he averaged almost 10 strikeouts per 9 innings through the minor leagues—but he’s due for a dip.

Austin Jackson is not ready for the major leagues yet.

I know, that’s crazy talk, right? This guy has a .374 wOBA, is batting over .330, heck, he’s even stealing bases at a reasonable clip (6 for 7 so far this season). Unfortunately, his batting average on balls in play is an outrageous .459.…

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Embattled Vazquez shows signs of life

Many of the folks writing in this space Thursday and today have been writing about the player on their team who needs to go — why, how, and to be replaced by whom. It’d be too easy to write that story for Vazquez. Too easy, too consensus, and more importantly, downright incorrect.

Javier Vazquez doesn’t need to go anywhere. Unless he’s supped from the cup of sudden aging (a possibility, no doubt), he’ll not only be fine over the rest of this season — he’ll be one of the Yankees best pitchers.

Last season, Javy smoked the National League — 2nd by FIP, 2nd by K/BB, 7th by ERA, 1st by xFIP, 4th in swinging strike rate inside the zone (17.1%!). Despite what you’re probably thinking right now, he wasn’t just lucky. He didn’t benefit from a crazy LOB%, nor an extremely low BABIP, nor a lower than normal HR/FB rate.

This year, he hasn’t had nearly as much success getting batters to swing and miss in the zone, generating whiffs on only 11.5% of such pitches.…

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