Dave’s totally right. Here’s my view of Franklin as a pitcher (and I’m going to repeat some stuff I’ve gone over before): Franklin doesn’t have the raw talent or stuff of a top-tier pitcher, but he’s still smart and he’s particularly good about knowing how to get deep into games. Franklin’s a guy you could go to and say “I need a complete game and don’t throw over 120 pitches” and you’d be able to rely on him for it. Now, he goes about getting there by putting balls in play early, relying on his defense, and that means he’s almost certainly going to be slapped around for a couple runs at some point — but he’d give you a complete game in under 120 pitches if that’s what you really needed.
Now to the issue of whether Franklin was lucky. I should have thought that through a little and been more specific.
On the fly ball issue: I don’t see that that’s the case. Franklin put a ton of balls into play and… doing some sketchy math….
Moyer: G/F ratio: .85, faced ~900 batters, about 700 balls put into play, 200 hits for about a .285 average on balls in play
Franklin was a little more extreme: .76 G/F, 877 faced, 683 put into play, .291 average on balls in play
Meche .92, slight fly baller, 785 faced, 562 in play, .332 average on BIPs
… I’m wrong.
Garcia, 1.04, 862, 616… .318 average on balls in play
Pineiro, uhh… 1.26 G/F ratio, 890, 644 in play, 192 hits… .298 BIP
now, please don’t go quoting those stats around without doing them yourself — this is me with a STATS book and a calculator doing rounding and neglecting HBP, IBB, and some stuff.
What’s the moral there, really? I have no idea. Current thought on defense-independent stats holds, to make a huge generalization, that a pitcher’s effect on balls in play is much less than people have historically thought. Moyer, for instance, was used as an example by Tippett (I think) of a pitcher who over his career has managed to have a slight and consistent depressing effect on hitters’s ability to get hits on balls they make contact on.
But here’s Franklin’s historical numbers, and these should be pretty consistent because he’s been in front of the same OF defense, right? Not so much as you’d think. It was .319 in 2001, and .297 in 2002.
By contrast, Moyer’s nice and level: .282 in 2001, .280 in 2002, to the .285 in 2003 I estimated above. We might reasonably expect (given the same defense) that Moyer’s a much better bet to stay frosty while Franklin regresses.
On the other side of this — It’s entirely possible that Franklin gives up dingers because he challenges batters when no one’s on. It’s certainly the view he’s advance, with going after Bonds recently the latest example. But is that the case?
Home Runs Against Franklin
A Chronology in 34 parts
R Sierra (1, 2nd inning off R Franklin 1 on, 0 Out)
H Blalock (1, 5th inning off R Franklin 1 on, 1 Out)
B Fullmer (3, 3rd inning off R Franklin 1 on, 2 Out)
E Chavez (2, 3rd inning off R Franklin 0 on, 2 Out)
M Ellis (2, 5th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 1 Out)
G Anderson (2, 1st inning off R Franklin 1 on, 2 Out)
S Halter (2, 4th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 0 Out)
J Valentin (7, 1st inning off R Franklin 1 on, 0 Out)
R Ibanez 2 (7, 4th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 2 Out; 6th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 1 Out) [clears throat]
D Mohr (5, 2nd inning off R Franklin 0 on, 0 Out)
D Mohr (7, 7th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 1 Out)
J Phillips (2, 5th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 0 Out)
C Floyd (11, 7th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 0 Out)
B Fullmer (8, 2nd inning off R Franklin 0 on, 2 Out)
D Erstad (3, 6th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 0 Out)
G Anderson (16, 6th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 1 Out)
T Salmon (9, 8th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 2 Out)
S Burroughs (4, 4th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 1 Out)
M Kotsay (3, 5th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 1 Out)
R White (14, 7th inning off R Franklin 2 on, 2 Out)
T Batista (16, 6th inning off R Franklin 1 on, 2 Out)
J Gibbons (21, 2nd inning off R Franklin 0 on, 0 Out)
T Batista (23, 6th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 2 Out)
A Guiel (6, 3rd inning off R Franklin 0 on, 1 Out)
A Berroa (11, 5th inning off R Franklin 0 on, 0 Out)
R Palmeiro (23, 1st inning off R Franklin 2 on, 0 Out)
H Blalock (17, 5th inning off R Franklin 1 on, 1 Out)
H Matsui (14, 2nd inning off R Franklin 0 on, 0 Out)
N Johnson (7, 6th inning off R Franklin 3 on, 1 Out)
R Johnson (7, 4th inning off R Franklin 2 on, 0 Out)
D Ortiz (19, 4th inning off R Franklin 2 on, 2 Out)
E Durazo (21, 1st inning off R Franklin 0 on, 1 Out)
E Chavez (29, 3rd inning off R Franklin 1 on, 1 Out)
Solo shots: 21/34
That strikes me as a normal proportion. Without having a point of comparison, though, that really doesn’t answer anything. Except the question “Do I spend too much time researching random Mariners questions?” The answer is “Yes.”
Also, it cracks me up that stations are airing anti-satellite radio ads that end “brought to by your local radio station.” Which are all owned by Entercom or Clear Channel, massive conscience-less corporations involved in hugely complicated pay-for-play lawsuits, responsible for the Balkanization of commercial radio, and… it bugs me to hear these kind of ads — they should go “Folks, giant corporations are all alike. Stick with us, because you’re lazy.”
Note: I totally agree with Derek’s basic premise, which is that Franklin is due for a much worse year, will see his ERA skyrocket even if he doesn’t pitch any worse, and is about as poor a candidate as one could find for an improved win total this year.
I don’t, agree, however, that Franklin was lucky at “not having runners on when he gave up dingers.” I know the DIPS argument well, but believe that people have taken the findings too far, making claims like the above and believing them to be true. Now, Derek just made an off-hand comment, and I doubt he’ll disagree with this, so don’t take this as an attack on the coolest new guy in Bellevue.
Isn’t it possible, or even probable, that Franklin gave up a majority of his home runs with nobody on because he was far more willing to throw a pitch that could potentially result in a home run when it would only cost his team one run? Do we really assume that Franklin is just as likely to throw a get-over-strike with runners at first and second as when the bases are empty?
Strategically, it makes a ton of sense for Ryan Franklin to intentionally give up fly balls last year, with an amazing outfield defense and a big outfield that bats down fly balls behind him. Franklin hasn’t always been an extreme fly ball pitcher, but the one year he happened to have teammates that would make that a beneficial strategy, he maximized it to full effect. I don’t feel that it was a coincidence, and I won’t be too surprised if he makes a focused effort to induce more grounders this year.
The overall findings that a pitcher has little ability to consistently control whether a ball is a hit or an out on a ball in play is interesting and helps analyze performances. Pitchers who avoid contact are indeed better bets for success, and Franklin’s alarmingly low strikeout rate is a big red flag. However, the DIPS theory does not prove that a pitcher cannot influence where a batted ball goes, as there are many instances of extreme ground ball/fly ball pitchers, who clearly and consistently exert influence over where a batter hits a ball, even when it doesn’t leave the yard. To assume that Franklin had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that a large majority of his outs last year came because Mike Cameron and Randy Winn were tracking down fly balls in the gaps is to overstate the findings of the DIPS theory. Franklin may not be able to control where every ball is hit, but I’d guess that with the liabilities roaming the outfield now, we’ll see Franklin pitching quite a bit differently than he did in 2003.
Derek’s chat was pretty good. I especially like the part where Bootylicious asked him who was going to win the NL West. See if you can guess what he said… I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
As some of you may know, I write for the Grand Salami magazine sold outside Safeco. I spent the weekend working on player profiles (as well as my regular column and minor league feature) for the April issue, and doing so made me realize just how crappy the bench is going to be. Leading the way is Quinton McCracken, an average (at best) fielder who can’t hit. And yet, he’s our backup centerfielder an in line for quite a bit of playing time if any of Ibanez, Winn or Ichiro get hurt. Given their respective salaries, is there any good reason why Jamal Strong shouldn’t have McCracken’s roster spot? Next up, Dave Hansen. Hansen’s OK, I guess, except that (as we’ve covered here before) there’s nobody for him to pinch-hit for. This spot on the roster should have remained Greg Colbrunn’s, as he’s right-handed and a better hitter. What’s that over there? Make way for Wee Willie Bloomquist, the cutest, scrappiest, hard workingest utility player you ever did see! Except that he too cannot hit, and is limited defensively (contrary to Bob Melvin’s opinion that Bloomquist can play SS and CF). Rounding out the bunch will be either Ramon Santiago or Eric Owens. Owens, McCracken, McCracken, Owens… it’s all the same to me. Santiago’s no great shakes, but at least he plays an acceptable middle infield.
OK, I think I’m about done now (well, other than to say I agree with Dave 100% on Kevin Jarvis — it’s ridiculous that he’s being considerd for a roster spot).
Today’s funny story: “Ryan’s hope: More run support“. Ryan is singled out as “due for some good luck” and… it’s just so funny.
“The team’s offense was lacking most of the season in the games Franklin pitched.”
Interestingly, there’s something to that
Run support by Mariner pitcher:
That’s almost a run/game over the average Mariner starter. And since run support is purely chance, sure. But among Mariner pitchers, kis K/BB ratio was terrible (1.62), his K/9 also bad (4.2!!), and he was lucky in having balls in play turned into outs, and not having runners on when he gave up dingers. Players around him in K rate were David Wells (who walks nobody, ever), Maroth and Damian Moss. Maroth and Moss had ERAs of 5.0something and 5.73 — Franklin had *3.57* and gave up the same number of home runs as Maroth did. Franklin was hugely lucky last year, even if run support didn’t come through for him.
Next year his defensive support will be worse, and his offense might not be any better. That’s not a formula for increasing win totals, no matter what a gamer he might be.
Reader Paul Covert sent in this from the latest Gammons column:
Surely this can’t mean what it seems to mean, can it?
“Then Melvin is going right-left the rest of the way, with Randy Winn, John Olerud and Raul Ibanez in front of Edgar Martinez in the five hole, followed by Bret Boone, Scott Spiezio and Rich Aurilia. ”
Paul may mean “Olerud in the 3-spot? Whaaa?” or maybe “Isn’t that L-B-L-L-R-R-B-R, rather than right-left?”
Both are good questions.
Updated! Paul writes:
No, actually, what I meant was was: “He’s putting the two best hitters in the lineup at five AND SIX?!?!!” But yeah, Olerud at three and the not-exactly-left-right thing are also related concerns.
Also just in — I’m chatting on BP today at noon Pacific time. Come on down for some fine live chat action. And not the kind advertised late at night.
The infatuation with Bloomquist is pretty stupid, but not that uncommon. There’s just something about nice, caucasion, local utility players who can’t hit that most organizations fall in love with. Bloomquist is just following the tradition of guys like Craig Counsell, Joe McEwing, and Bo Hart. They get labeled overachievers who managers love because they get everything out of their lack of talent, and, for some reason, that makes it okay to be terrible.
Also, am I the only one amazed by the fact that this organization is one of the deepest in baseball in terms of quality major league ready relief prospects, and have guaranteed two roster spots to the likes of Ron Villone, Terry Mulholland, Mike Myers, and Kevin Jarvis? Does no one else find it odd that the Mariners continue to waste resources already in the organization so they can discover why every other team in the majors discarded these wastes of space?
Hey, all. I’ll be pimping this in the future, too, but for those who plan way, way in advance:
Portland readers — come hang out
PORTLAND April 7th
Barnes & Noble @ 7:30pm
1720 N Jantzen Beach
Portland, OR 97217
aaaaaaaaand a week later, all you faithful U.S.S. Mariner readers here in Seattle can come out to the downtown Seattle B&N on your lunch hour a week later —
SEATTLE April 14
Barnes & Noble @ 12:30pm
600 Pine St., Suite 107
Seattle, WA 98101
Free pizza at both locations! I think. I’ll sign anything (almost) that you want to see significantly decrease in value. Fair chance someone will attempt to do me bodily harm!