As I was racking my brain on what to write about today I decided to play around with a few of my favorite websites and look for things that stood out to me. I make not conclusions from them, but rather wanted to make them known.
1. Ryan Dempster’s BAbip Was Unusually High
If you’re not familiar with the stat, it stands for Batting Average for Balls in Play. It’s a measurement of how guys do when things like strikeouts are factored out of the equation. In 2011, the league average for pitchers BAbip was .298. Prior to last season, Dempster came in with a career BAbip of .306. In 2011, he posted a .331, his highest total since his pre-Tommy John days with Cincinnati. Norm did a cool look at part of the cause for the rise, citing the location of his splitter in 2011 compared to 2010:
What I also notice is a drop in fastball velocity. In 2010, Dempster’s average fastball clocked in at 91 mph. In 2011, it was down to 90.3 mph, the lowest of his career, yet his usage was up to 56.8%, the highest since his first year with the Cubs in 2004 when he was coming out of the pen and could afford to crank it up and rely more on the fastball.
2. Matt Garza’s WAR Was Head & Shoulders Above Everyone Else
And yet, there has been a lot of talk that he could be dealt this off-season in a rebuilding effort. WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement. It’s designed to measure how many more wins a player provides when compared with the average AAA call up that would not normally have a job if not for injury to someone on the Major League team. A team made up of replacement level talent could expect to win somewhere in the range of 45 to 48 games over the course of a season. Garza’s 5.0 WAR means, you guessed it, that he’d get us up to 53 wins. Compare him with the second best starter on the team, Ryan Dempster, who posted a 2.8 WAR.
What I found very odd, and it was the subject of much critizism in 2011, was the drastic decline in the usage of his fastball. A look at the graph below shows a massive replacement of the usage of the fastball with usage of the slider.
I’m not sure what the cause is, but is a massive change in game plan.