Archive for December, 2012

Bill James Handbook 2013 Leaderboards (Part II)

Monday, December 17th, 2012

by John Dewan

Last week in the Stat of the Week we shared a few of the Hitter Leaderboards from The Bill James Handbook 2013. This week, let’s take a look at a few leaderboards for pitchers.

% Pitches In Strike Zone

(minimum 162 IP)

Cliff Lee

Phi

51.9

R.A. Dickey

NYM

49.3

Matt Moore

TB

47.1

Matt Harrison

Tex

46.9

Wandy Rodriguez

Hou-Pit

46.6

Phil Hughes

NYY

46.5

Henderson Alvarez

Tor

46.2

Wei-Yin Chen

Bal

46.1

A.J. Burnett

Pit

46.0

Chris Sale

CWS

45.9

  • Cliff Lee is the only qualifying pitcher in baseball with over half his pitches thrown in the strike zone.
  • It is remarkable to see a knuckleballer second on this list. Given how the break of a knuckleball is so unpredictable, knuckleball pitchers have historically had control problems. But not R.A. Dickey. This is a very good indication of why he is so successful.
  • In three seasons with the Mets, Dickey has not exceeded 2.33 walks per nine innings in a season. In contrast, fellow knuckleballer Tim Wakefield only once walked fewer than 2.72 batters per nine innings in his 19-year career.
  • Seven of the 10 pitchers had an ERA below 4.00.
  • Five of the 10 pitchers were also on the Highest Fastball Percentage Leaderboard.

 

OBP vs. Leadoff Hitter

(minimum 150 BF)

Johnny Cueto

Cin

0.234

Bartolo Colon

Oak

0.236

Homer Bailey

Cin

0.236

Bronson Arroyo

Cin

0.244

Jered Weaver

LAA

0.255

Stephen Strasburg

Was

0.256

Wade Miley

Ari

0.265

Matt Harrison

Tex

0.266

Jake Westbrook

StL

0.267

Kyle Lohse

StL

0.267

  • Three of the top four pitchers are from the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds clearly make it a priority to keep that first batter of the inning off base. Their staff allowed the third fewest total of walks per nine innings in 2012, and they were tied with the Dodgers for the third-lowest ERA in baseball behind the Rays and the Nationals.
  • Isn’t it amazing to see Bartolo Colon second on this list?

 

Pitches 100+ Velocity

Aroldis Chapman

Cin

242

Kelvin Herrera

KC

162

Andrew Cashner

SD

104

Henry Rodriguez

Was

58

Justin Verlander

Det

44

Carter Capps

Sea

43

Nate Jones

CWS

33

Bobby Parnell

NYM

28

Trevor Rosenthal

StL

12

Fernando Rodney

TB

10

  • Aroldis Chapman comfortably led all pitchers in baseball throwing 242 pitches with a velocity of 100 mph or greater, though Kelvin Herrera’s total of 162 blazers was not too shabby. It will be interesting to see how Chapman’s velocity changes as he transitions from reliever to starter.
  • Justin Verlander is the only full-time starter from 2012 to make the list.
  • Everyone on the list had at least 8.00 strikeouts per nine innings.
  • Seven of the 10 pitchers had an ERA below 3.00.

 

Win Shares

Justin Verlander

Det

23

Aroldis Chapman

Cin

21

Johnny Cueto

Cin

20

David Price

TB

19

Fernando Rodney

TB

19

Chris Sale

CWS

19

R.A. Dickey

NYM

19

Clayton Kershaw

LAD

19

Matt Harrison

Tex

18

Cole Hamels

Phi

18

Craig Kimbrel

Atl

18

Kris Medlen

Atl

18

Win Shares is a calculation of the number of wins a player contributed to his team and is adjusted for park, league, and era.

  • Aroldis Chapman led all National League pitchers with 21 Win Shares. It’s impressive to see a reliever as the top pitcher in the NL in this category.
  • Fernando Rodney and Craig Kimbrel are also full-time relievers on this list of pitchers who produced 18 or more Win Shares. Mariano Rivera in 2008 was the only other reliever to exceed 17 Win Shares in the last five seasons.
  • Justin Verlander led all pitchers in 2012 with 23 Win Shares. He topped the 2011 list has well.

 

Cheap Wins

Clay Buchholz

Bos

5

Nick Blackburn

Min

4

Kevin Correia

Pit

4

Wade Miley

Ari

4

Ricky Nolasco

Mia

4

Barry Zito

SF

4

A Cheap Win happens when a starter wins a game where his Game Score was under 50. Game Score measures the quality of a pitcher performance by adding points for outs, strikeouts, and pitching deep into games and by subtracting points for hits, walks, and runs allowed. Basically, a Cheap Win is a win that is not the result of a strong outing.

  • Nick Blackburn finished 4-9 on the season. He did not record a win that wasn’t a Cheap Win.
  • Collectively, these pitchers finished 70-60. If you take away all of their Cheap Wins (and to be fair, their Tough Losses), their records would be a combined 45-54.
  • Wade Miley was the only pitcher on the list with an ERA under 4.00.

 

Tough Losses

Josh Johnson

Mia

7

Jeff Samardzija

ChC

7

Travis Wood

ChC

7

Jake Peavy

CWS

6

Gio Gonzalez

Was

6

Clayton Kershaw

LAD

6

A Tough Loss happens when a starter loses a game where his Game Score was over 50. Game Score measures the quality of a pitcher performance by adding points for outs, strikeouts, and pitching deep into games and by subtracting points for hits, walks, and runs allowed. Basically, a Tough Loss is a loss that is not the result of a poor outing.

  • Six of Gio Gonzalez’s eight total losses were Tough Losses. Six of Clayton Kershaw’s nine total losses were Tough Losses.
  • Collectively, these pitchers finished 69-69. If you take away all of their Tough Losses (and Cheap Wins), their records would be a combined 61-30.

The Marlins and the Cubs scored the second and third-fewest runs in baseball and were responsible for the top three names on the list. The Astros scored the fewest runs, but none of their pitchers were singled out for run support punishment.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

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Morning News: Newtown & Other Things That Matter Less

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Newtown Massacre
I can’t skip past this even though it’d be my preference. If you live under a rock, THIS happened last Friday. Tragic, horrible, not really words to describe the depths of that kind of evil.

Yammering on SNF caught my attention again – this time NBC switched the Patriots/49ers game to their NBCSports channel while President Obama addressed the nation. It was how Obama framed the issue that drew my ire. Two points, in my opinion, are lost in this.

First, school massacres are nothing new. What is STILL the largest school massacre in U.S. history took place in 1927. That’s right, 1927. No bullets, not even one. No semi-automatics. The short version – a guy beat his wife to death and then bombed a school, with three explosive devices. Let’s outlaw chemistry in school! Murder, even mass murder, is nothing new. There’s a halfway decent lesson to learn from the Clint Eastwood/John Malkovich movie, In The Line Of Fire. Malkovich plays a crazed assassin hell-bent on killing the President. His philosophy on why he will ultimately succeed boils down to the idea that he is prepared trade his life for that of his target. And it’s true, as long as someone is prepared to die for their cause or stated goal, whatever that may be, they increase exponentially the possibility of success. You can’t legislate away the crazy people, no matter how enticing that sounds.

Second, since Friday an estimated 85 people have died in the U.S. from drunk driving. (Based on this study and the 2010 figure for deaths per year). So if you really want to legislate something, let’s start with something that has a definitive cause and effect. Again, what happened on Friday was horrible, tragic, and a host of other things – but let’s not permit an (understandably) emotional response distort the proportion of the issue.

Cubs News
A well-documented bridesmaid to many of the bigger deals they’ve tried to consummate lately, the Cubs have been active without a lot to show for it in recent weeks. The Phillies, though, signed free agent reliever Mike Adams to a two-year $12mil deal. That’s a lot for a setup man, especially one that’s 34 (plus a 3rd year at $6.5mil vests if he makes enough appearances; he has a reasonably good chance of doing so). If you want to get rid of Carlos Marmol, I think Adams’ deal might’ve helped make that just a tiny bit easier.

NFL
A week of blowouts in the NFL. Only two games finished within single digits, two teams were blanked and lost by more than 30 points, the Seahawks put up 50 again, and the night ended with the Patriots getting bushwhacked on SNF at home. The Dallas-Pittsburgh game was easily the best (and really the only competitive matchup); Dallas won in OT. The Bears-Packers tilt was the other game that finished within 10 points, but really the Packers controlled the game and eased to a 21-13 division/playoff-clinching victory. Green Bay didn’t get any help though, the 49ers and Falcons both won and thus they remain slotted for the No. 3 seed in the NFC. The Bears will likely spend the week drafting a reorganization plan – if they miss the playoffs after starting 7-1 (and it seems likely that they will) I doubt Lovie Smith and his coaching staff will avoid the metaphorical guillotine.

Christmas: One Week Away
I’ve been to more Toys R Us stores in the last three weeks than I care to admit to – so I consider myself a bit of an expert on what’s flying off the shelves. If you’re shopping for a girl, these British Bieber’s are everywhere. I’d not really heard of them until I saw the ubiquitous dolls in Toys R Us stores everywhere. Only in the UK would multiplying Justin Bieber five times and parading around the result as a tween heartthrob megagroup sound like a good idea. One of them even wears his hair in a napsack.

If, instead, you’re searching for a boy – I’ve seen this thing everywhere. It must be the all-encompassing boy gift of the year, because when I first saw it I believe it was listed under $40. Today I see it most often listed for $60; but in some places as much as $100. How does this happen? Are we really that toy crazy at Christmas that something suddenly doubles in worth?

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Go: For Granted

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Today was to be the inaugural episode of our off-season GO! column, where we discuss quirky, silly little questions because weekends are baseball-boring and no one really feels like writing “real” stuff. But, after the events of yesterday in Connecticut, today seems all too “real” and not the least bit silly. So, we’ll start that next week.

In the meantime I’d like to us to take a little bit of time out of our busy Saturday to reflect on things we are truly thankful for, but that we might take for granted. Come on, I know you have some. Maybe you’re thankful for your beautiful family, even those who annoy you at times. Maybe you’re thankful for your successful career or the roof over your head or that your dog loves you. Or maybe the thing you’re most thankful for is that pitchers and catchers report in two months and from the looks of the weather they might as well start up today. Whatever your pleasure, think about the things you take for granted, and give those things a little extra love today. And, if you’d like to share your thoughts here with us, please do so.

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Morning News: Rumors, Slander, and Murderous Plots

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Already/Not Yet  Yet again, the Cubs find themselves caught up in the offseason rumor mill, this time regarding a deal for free agent starter Anibal Sanchez. Thursday afternoon, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted that the Cubs had signed Sanchez to a 5-year $75M contract. However, it soon became clear that the deal was not yet final, and that Sanchez and his agents were still waiting for an offer from Detroit. Read between the lines and it seems that Nightengale might just be a pawn in the hands of Sanchez’s agents, helping to accelerate the final stage of negotiations (you can see how the whole story unfolded here). It won’t be great if the Cubs whiff on another nearly-done deal, but by the time you read this Friday morning, the waiting game might be over. Regardless of how it turns out, a potential rotation made up of some combination of Garza, Sanchez, The Dread Pirate Samardzija, Wood, Baker, and Feldman would be a significant upgrade over the broken-down journeymen and unskilled apprentices the Cubs trotted out to the mound last season. (Check back throughout the day for any updates.) UPDATE: And to no one’s surprise, the deal fell apart.

Every Last Dime  Earlier this week, I told you Ryan Dempster had turned down a 2-year, $25M offer from the Red Sox and a $26M offer from the Royals. Speculation at the time was that he believed a third year was out there somewhere, and I said I thought he was getting bad advice. I stand corrected, as he and the Red Sox announced an agreement for a 2-year, $26.5M deal Thursday. And you know what? Good for Dempster–hats off to him for capitalizing on one of the best years of his career, and holding out for the maximum in what is most likely his last pro contract. I wish him all the best, unless he happens to take the mound against the Cubs this season.

Bat Collecting  It seems Angels’ owner Arte Moreno has a thing for aging power hitters. He added another one Thursday with the signing of Josh Hamilton. Stealing the slugger away from the rival Rangers with a 5-year, $125M deal should help the Angels re-establish their dominance in the AL West, adding another big bat to an already formidable lineup. And in an offseason when they’ve already missed on James Shields and Zach Greinke, things are quickly getting desperate for the Rangers.

Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now  Andy Reid’s farewell tour with the Eagles made another stop in Philadelphia Thursday night against the Bengals. The Eagles turned the ball over five times in the 34-13 rout. Like most of you I’m sure, I didn’t watch a second of this game–another in a stretch of forgettable Thursday night games.

A Few (Race) Cards Short Of A Deck  Another very stupid thing was said on ESPN’s First Take Thursday morning. I’m starting to wonder if these guys prep for the show with a combination of sleep deprivation, moonshine, and that bat-spin party game that no one really likes to play.

Lousy Ways To Go  A Fort Worth man died after the garbage can he was sleeping in was dumped into a trash compactor–but not immediately. In Chicago, a man died after climbing to the roof of the of the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue to take some pictures. He fell into the chimney and descended some twenty feet down before he was wedged in a bend in the chimney, suffering severe burns. It took several hours for firefighters to extricate him, and he was able to call and text his girlfriend during the ordeal before he finally asphyxiated.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up  A man already serving consecutive life sentences devised and put into motion a plan to kidnap, castrate, and murder Justin Bieber. Yup, you read that right.

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GirlieView (12/13/2012)

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Well here we are smack dab in the middle of December. By the time I post the next GirlieView, Christmas will be overwith. Can you believe it? Let’s get right to it because everyone’s busy. :-)

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks)
  • Top 10 of 2012 = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims. Let’s go!

Lizzies

  • this would indicate to me that the Cubs are at least talking to Stewart about bringing him back at a discounted rate. If that’s the case, I’m sure there will be much gnashing of teeth across the internet.
  • Is $500 million enough to buy the Cubs and call the shots?
  • Word has it that Fyu was seen at the local Wrigleyville Subway dinning on turkey and pepper jack cheese triangles.
  • third base is a Mendoza line abyss at Wrigley Field.
  • Not using pseudonyms could lead to a higher ranking, but it’s part of the amusement.
  • So I guess Seymour’s thankful my ‘thankful’ piece didn’t run on a little longer…
  • Exactly what I think
  • Chuck get Lizzies.  Chuck happy now.
  • I predict that the Cubs will sign some very average players to very average contracts.
  • As for the Lizzies, I expect the rest of the year to closely parallel the plot of Rocky 3. I’ve gotten soft in the last several weeks–too comfortable on top and not as focused as I was during the season. I’ve lost my edge; my killer instinct. Jswanson comes out firing like Clubber Lang and completely overwhelms me, seizing the top spot and sending me off in disgrace. That’s when I drop everything and head down to my old foe Raker’s compound to regain the “Eye of the Tiger.” We set aside our rivalry, admit we’ve begrudgingly respected each other all along, and launch into intense training sessions–complete with the tiny gym shorts, wind sprints on the beach, and slow-motion hugs in the surf. Then I come back in the last few days of the year to shock Jswanson with some new moves and regain the throne. Next year a communist (obviously a Cardinals fan) kills Raker, and I have to grow a beard and go to St. Louis to avenge his death.
  • Beard, Holliday jersey, and…you guessed it…jorts.
  • He’s also twenty-five years old, which is equal parts impressive and frustrating.
  • If I can fit 10 balls in my cargo shorts, I’m good for the first few holes.
  • Exactly why cargo shorts should be required on golf courses.  That way those of us who hit the ball into lake michigan on the first hole of the waveland course do not cause people to wait.
  • As one with a fair knowledge of physics, I’m guessing you realize that a corked bat will result in slightly shorter fly balls.
  • If you had any knowledge of hitting you would know that Sosa used the cork in order to get around on the fastball.
  • If you had any knowledge of cork, you would realize it fits nicely in your pie hole
  • As much as I’d like to explain the conservation of momentum to you, I’m not going to.
  • Carlos Marmol might not want to book tee times in Mesa just yet.
  • I guess they missed the part where their former teammate MURDERED THE MOTHER OF HIS CHILD!!!
  • I love this time of year and it goes by so very fast; especially if you have children (as I do). I am, however, not excited about the commercial aspect of Christmas and the removal of the actual reason for Christmas (celebration of the Lord’s birth).
  • As so long as he doesn’t rely upon the tactic of walking a guy or two before throwing a strike, I’ll likely be a Fuji fan.
  • here’s hoping he’s not a fan of puns or lengthy digressions about obscure prog-rock bands
  • I think it was the right decision for both the Cubs and Ramirez, even though we knew when the decision was made that 3B in baseball right now is a barren wasteland behind the top tier.
  • there’s no need to be a .450 team instead of a .400 team.
  • I think having a malcontent on a bad team where the reported saving grace is that the clubhouse gets along really well is probably a really bad idea.
  • Just snapped back to reality briefly and realized that Fuji is younger than I am.  I guess if the Cubs gig doesn’t work out, the Bozeman Black Sox could bring a whole bunch of lukewarm beer and as-many-innings-until-you-can-throw-until-your-elbow-is-jacked to the bargaining table.
  • I will buy you a steak dinner at Gibson’s if Soriano is Cubs third baseman in 2013.
  • My best friends sisters boyfriends brothers girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with a girl that saw Svuem, Theo, Jed, and obviously Hendry at the 31 flavors trying to work a deal for Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in exchange for Jurrgens and prospects. Svuem looked like he’d been shot.
  • even Scott Baio or Scott Peterson if we really wanted to think outside the box.
  • Reed Johnson played hard enough to get another deal with the Braves.
  • And long enough…
  • Ian Stewart on the cheap is better than wasting more money/years on some slightly better crap.
  • Tom Brady has been begging for the cuddle rule for years now.
  • Wrigley had better look like the god damn Taj Mahal when this is over or we have been hoodwinked.
  • For the record, giant golden trough urinals are pricey.
  • But they are magnificent.
  • Yes, but still just pissing the team away.
  • Hold on and watch the growth.
  • Rizzo, a cancer survivor and insufferable ingrate reportedly didn’t sign any autographs, donated none of his own money, and openly mocked those ‘too weak to beat cancer.’
  • And if you have to say, “I’m not a thug,” you’re losing the PR battle by a sizable margin.
  • I ordered my Rosetta Stone for jive so maybe I can figure it out later.
  • Wake me midway through Spring Training to worry about the 25-man.
  • One of the great things in baseball, and life in general, is that something can be seen in different ways depending on your perspective.
  • Surely the Cubs can find a less expensive Harry Caray impersonator.
  • Surely we don’t need a Harry Caray impersonator.
  • Work on your knuckleball and you stand a reasonable chance…Garza, Shark, Wood, Homza, Baker.  They’ll call you the poor man’s R.A. Dickey.
  • Poor man’s dickey with a knuckleball. Sounds painful.

Lizard

  • Good read, Jedi, but you forgot the Costa’s half time quote of Jason Whitlock: “One thing we know for sure, if it wasn’t for cars, Jerry Brown would be alive today.”

MVL

  • Congratulations to Jedi Johnson, the Most Valuable Lizzie’er this time around!

Shout Outs

  • A big shout out to Bones for winning his first 2012 Lizzie! Thanks for joining us, we love having you here!

2012 Top Ten YTD

1. jswanson
2. Jeremiah Johnson
3. Doc Raker
4. Seymour Butts
5. Jedi Johnson
6. cap’n Obvious
7. Buddy
8. Joe Aiello
9. Chuck
10. Eddie Von White

Chit Chat

  • Are you done with your Christmas shopping? Have you started your Christmas shopping? Do you do any Christmas shopping?
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