By In Stuff

Baseball, April 6

Had this conversation with my 15-year-old daughter Elizabeth this morning. Elizabeth, as I have often written, cares nothing at all for sports. But every now and again she will say something to suggest that she cares a little bit more about what I do than she lets on.

Elizabeth: “Dad, the Red Sox and the Yankees don’t like each other, right?”

Me (proudly): “That’s right.”

There’s a pause for about eight seconds.

Elizabeth: “Is that because they play in the same city?”

* * *

Statcast™ thought of the day:

Jason Hammel, who starts for Kansas City today, was pitching pretty well last year … until he wasn’t. In the middle of August, the Cubs were 15-8 when he started, he had a 2.75 ERA, a 113-42 strikeout to walk ratio, he had allowed a reasonable 16 homer runs.

His last seven starts, the league hit .331 against him, slugged .627 against him, his ERA tripled, etc.

Statcast™ can’t tell us exactly why that happened, but it does show something interesting. Batters, in general, were not hitting the ball any HARDER against him. The exit velocity for the good Jason Hammel (90.9) was basically identical to the exit velocity against the bad Jason Hammel (90.8).

BUT, the angle was very very different. The launch angle against the good Jason Hammel was 13.1 degrees and he wasn’t giving up many “barrels,” that word Statcast™ uses for the hardest hit balls that tend to do the most damage. He was giving up a barrel to one out of every 15 or so batters who put the ball in play.

But in those last seven starts, the launch angle against Hammel jumped up to 17.9 degrees, which isn’t good at all. He was suddenly giving up barrels to one out of every eight batters who put the ball in play.

Statcast™ gives the data — it’s up to the players and coaches themselves to figure out how to fix it. There’s no question that hitters figured out something about Jason Hammel in the last six weeks of the season. The Royals bet that he will solve the problem.

* * *


Here’s the pitcher win scoreboard up to the moment. Great duel in Boston where Chris Sale made his expected awesome debut (7 innings, 3 hits, 7 Ks, 1 walk) but he was more or less matched by Pittsburgh’s young righty Jameson Taillon (7 innings, 5 hits, 6 Ks, 3 walks). Neither, of course, got the win.

Sale threw some slider/breaking balls that can only be described as silly. But we knew that this guy bends gravity. Taillon was the find of the day; he showed real promise last year as a rookie but on Wednesday he looked like the complete package. Pittsburgh’s window may be closing, but the Pirates really do have some exciting young pitching.

The running scoreboard:

Starters who pitch amazing: 2.

Starters who pitch well: 19.

Starters who pitch OK: 2

Starters who pitch kind of lousy: 2.

Relievers in the right place, right time: 7.

Relievers who get, like, one out: 1

Relievers who kind of stink: 2

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13 Responses to Baseball, April 6

  1. Jere L Engelman says:

    I’m not sure exactly what the ‘amazing’ criteria is, but given the 2 examples, I believe there was ONE more amazing … Finnegan who pitched 7 innings, yielded 1 hit, 9 Ks and only one walk.

  2. Rob Smith says:

    So far, about 2/3 of the wins are going to starters that, at least, pitched OK. More than 60% went to starters who pitched well or amazing. Only 14% of the wins go to pitchers that clearly didn’t deserve it, and the rest went to a random pitcher who at least did his job.

    Obviously we’re not even into a full week, so drawing conclusions would be silly. But it will be interesting to see if this study somewhat validates the win as a reasonable stat.

    But wouldn’t it be more interesting, perhaps, to look at the wins a little differently? What about looking at the starters only? What about looking at the percentage of time a pitcher pitches amazing, well, OK, lousy and see how many times their pitching matches up with whether they get a win? I.e. 90% of the starters that pitched amazing got a win, and 70% of the starters that pitched well got a win, or whatever. Wasn’t the stat originally based on the assumption that starters would get most of the wins/losses & it would largely be based on the quality of their pitching?

    • invitro says:

      “I.e. 90% of the starters that pitched amazing got a win, and 70% of the starters that pitched well got a win” — The numbers would be far lower than that. I’d guess 65% and 40%.

    • Bryan says:

      4856 – 2016 Regular Season Starters: win% – % of time they win, so counting No Decision and a Loss the same
      6 – 9+ IP, 3+ ER – .833 win%, 5 W, 1 L, 0 ND
      9 – 9+ IP, 2 ER – .889 win%, 8 W, 1 L, 0 ND
      19 – 9+ IP, 1 ER – 1.000 win%, 19 W, 0 L, 0 ND
      36 – 9+ IP, 0 ER – .972 win%, 35 W, 0 L, 1 ND
      17 – 8-8.2 IP, 3+ ER – .471 win%, 8 W, 9 L, 0 ND
      54 – 8-8.2 IP, 2 ER – .648 win%, 35 W, 7 L, 12 ND
      64 – 8-8.2 IP, 1 ER – .719 win%, 46 W, 10 L, 8 ND
      64 – 8-8.2 IP, 0 ER – .813 win%, 52 W, 0 L, 12 ND
      188 – 7-7.2 IP, 3+ ER – .340 win%, 64 W, 85 L, 39 ND
      210 – 7-7.2 IP, 2 ER – .510 win%, 107 W, 45 L, 58 ND
      234 – 7-7.2 IP, 1 ER – .632 win%, 148 W, 20 L, 66 ND
      196 – 7-7.2 IP, 0 ER – .827 win%, 162 W, 1 L, 33 ND
      599 – 6-6.2 IP, 3+ ER – .229 win%, 137 W, 289 L, 173 ND
      400 – 6-6.2 IP, 2 ER – .388 win%, 155 W, 99 L, 146 ND
      337 – 6-6.2 IP, 1 ER – .534 win%, 180 W, 40 L, 117 ND
      204 – 6-6.2 IP, 0 ER – .711 win%, 145 W, 3 L, 56 ND
      772 – 5-5.2 IP, 3+ ER – .162 win%, 125 W, 415 L, 232 ND
      207 – 5-5.2 IP, 2 ER – .377 win%, 78 W, 53 L, 76 ND
      170 – 5-5.2 IP, 1 ER – .382 win%, 65 W, 22 L, 83 ND
      85 – 5-5.2 IP, 0 ER – .635 win%, 54 W, 3 L, 28 ND
      780 – less than 5 IP, 3+ ER – 549 L, 231 ND
      96 – less than 5 IP, 2 ER – 37 L, 59 ND
      60 – less than 5 IP, 1 ER – 14 L, 46 ND
      49 – less than 5 IP, 0 ER – 3 L, 46 ND
      Information provided by Play Index

  3. Jeff says:

    Agree with Rob Smith.

    Perhaps you could also include the number of times a starter pitched “well” or “amazing” but didn’t get a win, i.e. Sale and Taillon.

    • SDG says:

      The issue with that is it’s common for starters to pitch amazing and not get the win. Any pitchers” duel qualifies.

  4. Dan says:

    So, Dylan Bundy – 7 IP, 8Ks, 0 walks, 4 H, all singles against the Blue Jays…that doesn’t count as pitching amazing, but just “well?”

    • Dan says:

      Or is he the 2nd “starter pitched amazing” win? Unsure.

      • Ethan says:

        I’m guessing that the second starter who pitched “amazing” is Brandon Finnegan who threw 7 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, 1 H against the Phillies, but I would agree that Bundy is arguably more impressive when you factor in the strength of the opponent.

  5. DSE4AU says:

    It is interesting that the statistics seem to be showing that (at least 3 games into the season, not much of a sample size) the W goes to the starter who pitched pretty well most of the time. So far the “cheap” wins by relievers are a pretty low percentage. To me the WORST case is one where the starter does not make it 5 full innings, but pitches as well, or better than the reliever who pitches less innings and gets the win. The Angles game yesterday was like that. Richards line was 4.2 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits 1 walk and Ramirez got the win with 2.2 innings pitched 0 runs 2 hits 0 walks. It seems silly (I know the whole rule is silly) to give that win to the reliever just because the starter could not (or was not allowed to get) one more out!

    Then again, should there be a different category for a reliever who gets the win for pitching more than one inning? That might be slightly better than just being in the right place at the right time!

  6. Pat says:

    You know, I’m thinking that there is a missing category here, albeit one that won’t often arise. Namely, the rare deserving reliever who rights the ship, pitches a long time, and gives the team the opportunity to take the lead. I’m thinking Pedro in that LDS Game 5 against the Indians or Randy Johnson in Game 7 in 2001.

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