Tag Archive | "Sabermetrics"

The Curious Case of Starling Marte

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The Curious Case of Starling Marte

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Patrick Hayes

Sabermetric Spotlight: The Curious Case of Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Reason -

How many times have you taken a look to check Starling Marte’s stats the past few games, waiting for his downfall to start? Shoot, the past two weeks or so I can count at least a dozen for myself. Which is why I decided it’s finally time to return to baseball writing and to dig into Marte’s season thus far.

First of all, before I get to the good stuff, how awesome is his name? I’m automatically including it in my 2013 MLB All-Names team, which I now just decided to create. Be on the look out for that soon, lucky you. Now let’s continue.

Starling Marte

Basic Numbers -

Starling busted into the Majors late last year for the Pittsburgh Pirates and cranked a homer in his first at-bat (Only July 26). In 47 games and 167 ABs, he hit .257 and did his fare share of striking out and not taking many pitches. Because of his less than stellar OBP, he found himself in the later half of the Pirates lineup for the majority of his first go in the bigs.

Heading into the 2013 season, projections seemed to think his first full year would play out much like 2012 did. Frustrating fantasy baseball owners by teasing them of stealing 20+ bases but lacking a high average to make him truly worth an early gamble.

Flash forward to May 13th. Starling is hitting .329 in 36 games with just as many HR (5) RBI (17) and two less steals (10) than he had in 18 more at-bats in all of 2012. The biggest change? His BABIP has skyrocketed from .333 last year to .413 in 2013. Before digging into his stats tonight, I was under the impression that he was/is due for a slump eventually and that this number will recede closer to .350-.375 and his AVG would likely end up around .275. However, looking at it a little more, I believe this isn’t the case. Every year of the his professional baseball career (starting in 2009), Marte has had a BABIP of .389 or higher, except in 2012.

Last year was his first time in both AAA and MLB, was it just part of the expected learning curve? Has he figured it out in 2013? What’s changed?

Sabermetrics -

Looking at Batted Ball data through almost the same amount of at bats in 2012 to 2013, surprisingly, not much has changed. Ground Ball Percent has risen to 57.5 from 57, Line Drive Percent up to 19.8 from 18.4 and Fly Ball Percents down a hair to 22.6 from 24.6. If none of these ratios have changed, his Plate Discipline must be the answer, right?

Bingo. Starling is now swinging is almost half of the pitches he sees (49% from 46.1% in 2012) and is making contact 79.2% of the time, up from 72.3% last year. The biggest jump comes is pitches contacted that are thrown outside of the strike zone as balls. A whooping 63.9% rate from 51.5% last year.

Why are more pitches being connected with you ask? Looking at Pitch Type, Marte is now experiencing an increased dose of Fastballs (56.8% from 52.1%) as well as change-ups (9.4% from 6.8%). The pitch he is seeing less of? Sliders. Now at only 14.2%, down from 18.7%. It seems that batting exclusively in the lead-off spot has led to a more appetizing array of pitches for Starling to hit, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity.

Forward Looking -

It’s only normal to expect his BABIP to take some sort of a dip (especially if pitchers start throwing him more sliders), but not to the depths that experts have predicted. It will stay north of .380 and average will hover just north of .300 to finish the year. Tack on a potential 30 stole base campaign, along with a resurgence of Andrew McCutchen and you have all the makings for one valuable and exciting player.

Fantasy Analysis -

If you are fortunate enough to have Marte on your squad, you most likely picked him up via Free Agency. His ESPN Average Drafted Position saw him being taken around 224. Do you sell high? Well if your team is in trouble, go for it. Starling will easily end up a 20/20 OF and could easily eclipse 100 runs scored. He will go in the top 100 next year.

Did You Know? -

His middle name is Javier and he was born outside of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates

Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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Johnny Cueto coolness

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Sabermetric Spotlight: Johnny Cueto

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Patrick Hayes

Sabermetric Spotlight: Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds

The Reason -

I never would have guessed that a Cincinnati Reds pitcher would be having a CY Young caliber year. This is mainly due to playing at Great American Ballpark, a band box of sorts. I always try and avoid any pitchers who are throwing here and love picking up players who hit there. So to have Johnny perform this well, it’s something I would have never predicted. Now he is getting lots of plugs in CY Young talk, so lets see why!

Johnny  Cueto throwing

 

Basic Numbers -

Lets look at the past five years at once, cool?

Johnny  Cueto Basic Stats

 

Hello consistent improvement. His ERA, and WHIP all improved steadily from 2008 to 2011. This year has been, at least statistically, a step back from 2011. However this year Cueto has 17 wins and will cross 200 IP for the first time in his career, two factors that will definitely play a part of the CY Young raace.

Sabermetrics -

The past two years have been stellar for Johnny. The only difference between the two are the increased K/9 of 7.13 (from 6) and the deceased BB% at 5.6% (from 7.5%). Yes, he is striking out more and walking less. This is a deadly combo. Unfortunately this year welcomes Cueto with a higher BABIP of 2.91 and this results in a higher BAA of .239, still below his career average though.

Johnny  Cueto Sabermetrics

Inducing more line-drives seems trouble some, especially at 22.2%, a career high. The only bright spot about that is the decrease in fly-balls (29% from 30.1%), which translates into less homeruns overall. Sure, his HR rate is slightly up, but it is still well over half of what it was when he broke into the league in 2008 and 2009. His SIERA and ERA indicates that he is having results that are better than predicted, given his stats. The trend from the past three years sees this as normal and it seems as if Johnny is fully comfortable using his arsenal and knowing what type of pitcher he is. Some would say this is the “Art of Pitching”. #Barf (Shot at Tigers radio broadcast? Yup!)

Pitch Types and Speed -

Wow. Johnny is throwing his two-seamer fastball 11% less than 2011 (40.3% to 29.3%). The majority of this is found with his change-up, now being thrown 20.1% (up from 9.7%). He has also introduce a cutter this year, which he has thrown 1.2% of the time.

Would you be shocked that I told you batters are almost having identical results as to swings and locations? Me neither. Perhaps the biggest change is the 62.5% of first strikes being thrown, up from 55.6% last year. This has lead to a slight decrease in contact of swings when the pitch is a strike (87.7% from 90.1%). These are all good things, and just more evidence as to his improvements.

Forward Looking -

September 1st is this weekend, meaning, there isn’t much left to this 2012 MLB year. Johnny is estimated to have five more starts, four of these being at home. He will throw vs Philadelphia, vs Houston, @ Miami, vs Los Angeles and vs Milwaukee. The Reds are 8.5 games up in the Central and almost a near lock (99.4%) to make the playoffs. He will be throwing in the post-season where we will get to see if the rest of the nation gets clued in on just how consistent Cueto is.

Fantasy Analysis -

He isn’t doing you any favors in the K department, but leading the majors in Wins with 17 is nice, right? His ERA and WHIP are great, you are throwing him with confidence knowing that the risk is low and the reward is known ahead of time. While he may not be someone that wows you, he has be an anchor on your team and silencing your woes when your other pitchers tank it. Show him more love already!

Did You Know? -

Johnny’s hero and role model? None other than fellow Dominican, Pedro Martinez.

Johnny  Cueto coolness

 

Conclusion and Projection -

After interpreting all of Johnny’s stats for the past few years, it is clearly evident that he has established himself as a top caliber pitcher. Why he will never have a upper echelon strikeout rate, he will continue to be consistent and produce Wins and eat up innings for the Reds. His contract is up in 2014 and it will be interesting to see if Cincinnati tries to sign him to a contract extension and lock him up long term. Look for the spotlight to really turn to Johnny as the month of September dwindles and the talk of awards and the post-season take full effect.

Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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A.J. Burnett shaking his tail thang

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Sabermetric Spotlight: A.J. Burnett

Posted on 02 August 2012 by Patrick Hayes

Sabermetric Spotlight: A.J. Burnett, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

 

The Reason -

Even before his near no-no last night versus the Chicago Cubs, A.J. Burnett has been an unsuspecting star this 2012 year. After being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the off-season from a disappointing stint the pinstripes of the New York Yankees, he found himself with a minimal amount of expectations awaiting him for the season with the new team. Being overlooked as a viable fantasy option is an understatement looking back just six months ago. Burnett has been one of the more consistent pitchers in all of Major League Baseball this season with only two substantial hiccups along the way (May 2nd vs. STL 2 2/3 IP, 12 ER and July 3rd vs. HOU 5 IP, 6 ER). Taking all of that into consideration, what better player to dissect and figure out what the heck is going on!

A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher

Basic Numbers -

Reviewing his elementary numbers from the past five years paints a picture of the struggle this pitcher presented. (Say that five times fast).

A.J. Burnett basic pitching statistics

While he has always been somewhat of a horse who will get you close to 200 innings pitched per year, his time in the Bronx is just an eye sore. His ERA and WHIP ballooned while his strikeout’s and wins decreased. See his ERA down almost a full two runs results in a double-take that can be known to snap necks. The complete 180+ degree turn he has had in 2012 is quite remarkable, and a key reason why the Pirates are storming towards to the postseason for the first time since 1992.

Sabermetrics -

Yup, chart time!

A.J. Burnett Sabermetric Pitching Statistics

One of the first things to pop off the page is the decreased K/9 rate that is being experienced this year, well below his career average. On the flip side, his HR/9 rate is almost cut in half from where it was in 2011. Teaming up a decreasing average against by 20 points the past two years with a BABIP witnessing the same slumps translates into a higher LOB% due to less runners even getting on base.

Jumping down to the next portion we realize that his GB% has jumped way, way up, to 55.5%, easily a career high. Naturally, with more balls being hit on the ground, a drop of flyballs is incurred. Now does playing in PNC Park over Yankee Stadium have something to do with the decrease of HR/FB? I’m sure a case can be made, but nonetheless, A.J. has been stellar in 2012.

Pitch Types and Speed -

So what the heck is A.J. doing to induce more groundballs and dominate the NL this year? If you guessed throw his sinkerball more often, then you would only be half correct. This pitch is being thrown 16.2% of the time, down from 22.5% in 2010 but up from 10.6% in 2011. The other difference in pitch selection these three years is the one year experiment of throwing a cutter in 2011 (6.9%) and throwing the change-up more often (7.8% in 2012, 9.6% in 2011 from 2.6% in 2010). The knucklecuve is being consistently thrown around 30% the past three years, a pitch he has established as his trademark.

I just fell in love with A.J. Burnett this year as a pitcher. He is throwing first pitch strikes more often than any point in his career at 61.4% of the time. Also adding to this infatuation, an increase of total pitches in the zone from past years, which indicates a return of command (48.5% of the time in 2012 from 40.2% in 2011). Because of these two statistics, batters are indeed making contact more often, but when they do they are pounding it in to the dirt and being thrown out at first base.

Forward Looking -

The remaining schedule for 2012 looks bring for A.J. His next start he faces a hapless San Diego team at home on August 11 before hosting the newly re-tooled Los Angeles Dodgers on August 16, in what could be a playoff preview. A return trip to San Diego on August 21 awaits before another test versus St. Louis on August 27. In the month of September he will be slated to throw against a majority of NL Central teams with two NL East foes potentially on the docket in the last two weeks of the year.

Fantasy Analysis -

Mr. Burnett has been a waiver-wire life raft for your fantasy pitching staff this year. His average drafted position (according to ESPN) sits at 260 overall, yeah, I passed on him too. While the 35 year-old has been nothing short of brilliant this year, there is no way you have him in your plans for 2013, unless you are in an auction/dynasty league and can keep him for pittance. Ride him the rest of the year with confidence as he will get you at worst 6 IP and a handful of K’s while driving down your ERA and WHIP.

Did You Know? -

A.J. Burnett is the career leader of strikeouts for the Florida Marlins with 753. He also sports a Bruce Lee tattoo on his left tricep!

A.J. Burnett shaking his tail thang

Conclusion and Projection -

After reviewing all of the stats and information out there on Allan James, it’s hard not to be convinced that he is in fact the real deal this year. His consistency of pitching deep into games along with a drive for the NL Central title should starve off any missteps along the way. However, checking SIERA vs his ERA, a slight decrease in performance could be expected, especially when realizing his BABIP is well below his average and that with a GB% so high, more are due to find their way into the outfield eventually. And if all goes well, Burnett could be throwing in the postseason for a team with the slimmest of odds to start the year. Somewhere, Yankee fans are secretly pulling for his success.

Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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Sabermetric Spotlight: Melky Cabrera

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Sabermetric Spotlight: Melky Cabrera

Posted on 26 July 2012 by Patrick Hayes

Sabermetric Spotlight: Melky Cabrera, OF, San Francisco Giants

The Reason -

This is simple. What player having another outstanding year did I know less about? Of course it was Melky Cabrera. Being at the ripe old age of 27, Melky has now playing for his fourth team. After having a breakout season in 2011 for the Kansas City Royals, they decided it was appropriate to trade the Melk Man to the San Francisco Giants for Jonathan Sanchez (last seen being DFA’d) and another minor league pitcher. Melky has not only built on his season of last year, he has decided to make that look like chicken feed and absolutely go H.A.M in 2012 and make the All-Star Game, conveniently in Kansas City (where he was named MVP). Lets dig in now to see what has changed that has led to his emergence.

Melky Cabrera, the Melk Man, San Francisco Giants Outfielder

Basic Numbers -

Batting .356 with an OBP of .398 and a SLG of .529 is a sexy slash line, good enough for top 10 in MLB for the first two and top 25 for slugging percentage. Taking a look at the ESPN current and projected stats, Melky is just a tick off of hitting 20 HRs and 20 SBs, but at the rate that he is hitting, this should be the least of your concerns with him.

Melky Cabrera Basic Stats

When summing his basic stats up, it really boils down to how well rounded he is as a player. He doesn’t have any eye popping power numbers but he just hits and hits. It is because of this that I deem him as a sneaky player who is so consistent that you forget he is on your team, or just how good he is.

Sabermetrics -

This is where we can really find out what type of player that Melky Cabrera is. When looking at these advanced stats, the first thing that pops out is how drastic of a transformation he has had in the past two years. Check this chart for proof:

Melky Cabrera Sabermetric Stats

Lets see what is different this year than last year and historically. First off, he is walking more this year than last (7% to 5%), striking out less (12.4% to 13.3%), these are two key ingredients to seeing any progression of a hitter. Next we have an increase of power with his ISO (.174 in 2012 to .164 in 2011), but then we run into the first glaring red flag. His Batting Average Balls In Play (BABIP) this year stands at .393. That is outstanding. Last year he was at .332 and even that was an increase from his career average of .309. Could he be due for a decrease in average and getting on base? You could certainly suspect that.

With his high BABIP in mind, we then move to his Line Drive % and GB %. He is hitting more line drives this year (up to 22.3% from 20.3%) and he is also hitting on the ground more often (52.3% from 47.1%), which could be the direct factor of his increased BABIP. All the while his HR/FB Percentage of 12 appears to be the direct correlation for his increase in ISO and power.

Pitch and Swing Data -

So what types of pitches is Melky seeing this year? Turns out that there has been a significant change in the way that he is being pitched. He is seeing fastballs only 53.8% of the time, down from 60.2% last year, which is a significant cut back. On the flip side, change-ups (15.8% from 13.7%), sliders (12% from 11.4%) and cutters (6.2% from 4.1%) have all increased.

Looking at what he swings at, a few things stand out. First is his total decreased swing percentage, at 48% from 50.1% last year. Next, we have increased contact in pitches swung that are outside of the zone 84.7% from 80%. Why this increase in outside of the zone? The answer lies in the amount of pitches even being in the strike zone, down to 40.3% from 44.3% last year. Even with all of these changes, his swing and miss percentage is at 5.1% down .5% from 2011.

Forward Looking -

While he is projected to play in an astounding 155 games this year, teams can almost begin to pitch around him with the latest injury to Kung Fu Panda, Pablo Sandoval. San Francisco is currently in 1st place of the NL West, but with the Los Angeles Dodgers pulling the trigger to acquire Hanley Ramirez you can’t help but wonder if the Giants will find offensive help before the trade deadline to keep pace.

Fantasy Analysis -

I know wish I had him, and I know you hate playing against him. The question that has now arisen this year is of the subject of Melky’s keeper status. Depending on your league settings and the amount of keepers you are allowed to have, you will need to keep an eye on how the Melk is delivered the rest of the year. If you drafted him late and he keeps this pace up, by all accounts, keep him.

Did You Know? -

Cabrera’s nickname around the Yankee clubhouse was “Masa Pan Con Leche,” which is Spanish for “bread dough with milk.”

Melky Cabrera's Melk Maids

How could I not include the Melk Maids?!

Conclusion and Projection -

Trying to sum everything up for Melky is a bit difficult. He has improved in so many ways the past two years that it would be somewhat of a shock to see him hit a slump of any kind. However, with his BABIP hovering around .400, it is hard to not anticipate at least somewhat of a ‘coming back to earth’ regression for his high batting average. He does a fantastic job combating that argument with his increased eye at the plate of swinging at pitches that he likes. Will he garner enough attention to be mentioned in the NL MVP race if he keeps it up and leads the Giants into the playoffs? With his performance at the All-Star Game to launch him front and center for the media it would be hard to dismiss him from at least being in the conversation, especially if he wins the batting title.

 Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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New Fake Stat: Introduction to SPv

Posted on 25 July 2012 by Dylan Cain

Hello FSBB readers! I’m new writer/author/contributor Dylan Cain and this is my first article for the site. I’m very excited to get started. Baseball is a big part of who I am and I’m glad to share my thoughts and opinions with the baseball world.

I’m an avid creator of fake baseball statistics and I often examine how numbers can teach us things that would be difficult to perceive with just the standards like ERA and W-L record. The stat I am introducing today is called Starting Pitching Valuation (SPv). The inspiration for this stat was Passer Rating in the NFL.  It is a grading scale which judges a quarterback’s performance.  There are downsides to this stat, as the scale of Passer Rating is 0-158.3.  This has always perplexed me.  If I get a test back from English class, I don’t say, “I want a 158.3 on this test!”.  I would obviously like to receive a 100%.  This got my creative, statistical mind going and I feel I successfully created a statistic to give starting pitchers a “quarterbacks score” of  0-100.  I discovered this new statistic would work perfectly for starting pitchers (preferably with multiple games started) in big league baseball .  Here’s an explanation of my statistic, SPv.

Firstly, there are a couple of things you should know before we continue:

1) This stat (at the moment) is not meant for relief pitchers.

2) SPv is actually a combination of three stats.  One is a formula which determines how well a pitcher can get his team the win.  The next stat is a chart which rates the number of batters he strikes out to how few he walks.  The final stat is a chart that compares the amount of base runners he allows to the number of earned runs he allows (the charts I’m talking about are similar to multiplication tables, except they’re using various rates to give the pitchers a score between 0 and 100).

So I will give you an example.  How about Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants?  He has struggled and lost his Cy Young Award winning form (until recently). Let’s compare how he performed in 2009 to how he’s performed in 2012.

“The Freak” had an ERA of 2.48 and a WHIP of 1.047 in 2009.  His score on the “base runners/earned runs” chart is a 76.  This year, so far, he’s had an ERA of 5.72 and a WHIP of 1.487.  That scores only a 42.

The next part of the stat required to solve is the “results-based” portion. There’s a specific formula for this one.

[(Wins (100)) + (No Decisions (50))] / GS

Using this formula, we can determine that Lincecum scored a 62.5 in 2009 but has scored just a 35 this year.  This year’s score is nowhere near “Freakish”.

One more stat left to calculate before we can examine how much Lincecum has changed since his award winning days.

In this portion, we examine how many batters a pitcher strikes out to how many batters he walks.  We know Timmy is a king when it comes to strikeouts, so this should be the section of SPv where he dominates.  In 2009, Lincecum struck out 10.4 batters per 9 (innings pitched) and walked only 2.7 batters per 9.  This performance gave him a score of 90.833.  This season, he’s obviously done worse in both of these categories, compiling a score of 83.35. Now that we have crunched all the numbers necessary, let’s put them all together and see what SPv tells us.

In order to take all of these little stats and put them together, I’ve created a “mixture” of sorts.  This is all based on what I believe is most important for a pitcher to possess.  The blend goes as follows:

45% – “Number of base runners/number of earned runs” chart score

33.33%- “Batters struck out/batters walked” chart score

21.67%- “W-L-ND” formula

All of these portions are out of 100%, so when we calculate SPv using weighted percentages we can learn things about a starting pitcher. We can learn if a pitcher is overrated because of his win total or we can learn what is hurting a pitcher.  For example, if a pitcher has a problem with allowing base runners, it will show in the “base runners/earned run” portion of SPv.

Now back to our example. Tim Lincecum’s SPv has declined dramatically compared to his 2009 season. Here are the results (drum roll please):

  • Perfect Pitcher’s SPv (100%)
  • Tim Lincecum in 2009 (78.02%)
  • Tim Lincecum in 2012 (54.26%)

Still not convinced Lincecum is struggling?  The numbers don’t lie.

So there you have it! That’s your introduction to SPv and I hope you all enjoyed it.  Check back  soon because I ‘ll be posting a weekly leaderboard.  This will definitely come in handy for Fantasy Baseball folks,  as you can easily see whose “stock” is on the rise or decline compared to prior seasons.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new, sabermetricly-inspired statistic. Feel free to use the comments section below and follow me on Twitter at @pitchingstats to continue the conversation about the usefulness of SPv, Starting Pitching Valuation.

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