March 23, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

And, following up, this is why I love the blogosphere. I had no sooner finished up my post below than Jeff Sullivan sent me a link to his even-better post over at his blog. Franklin’s rate of solo homers allowed was actually less than the team average. Good stuff, Jeff.

Also, Chris Begley sent in an email that included the same research I did below, but also included three year splits. From 2001-2003, Franklin gave up homers at a rate of 1 every 24 at-bats with no one on, and 1 every 28 at-bats with runners on base. Last year was actually his worst year for allowing dingers with men on base. Which just further goes to show that my speculation was just flat out wrong.

March 23, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

As was kindly pointed out, I shouldn’t blog early in the morning. My mind avoided the fact that most at-bats occur with the bases empty, so the rate of home runs will not be evenly distributed among solo, two-run, three-run, and grand slam home runs.

Here is Franklin’s breakdown by home run per at-bat last year:

Solo Homers: 21 allowed in 480 AB’s. 1 homer for every 23 trips to the plate with the bases empty.

Two Run: 8 allowed in 223 AB’s. 1 homer for every 28 trips to the plate with one man on.

Three Run: 4 allowed in 80 AB’s. 1 homer for every 20 trips to the plate with two men on.

Grand Slam: 1 allowed in 11 AB’s. 1 homer for every 11 trips to the plate with three on.

Any Runners On: 13 allowed in 314 AB’s. 1 homer for every 24 trips to the plate when there were baserunners.

The difference of one homer every 23rd or 24th at-bat would be what we call statistically insignificant.

The conclusion? Our readers are smarter than me, and I was pretty much dead wrong. There’s no evidence to support my claim that Franklin intentionally pitched in a way to allow more home runs when it would do his team the least harm. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, or that he didn’t try to pitch that way, but it sure didn’t seem to work, even if that was his intent.

March 23, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Just so Derek doesn’t need to do any more sketchy math, here are Jay Jaffe’s handy 2003 DIPS numbers. I’m not sure where Derek’s calculator failed him, but his average on BIP rates weren’t all that close. The actual totals for the M’s starters last year:

Franklin: .245

Moyer: .267

Pineiro: .271

Garcia: .273

Meche: .281

Franklin’s .245 average against on balls in play ranked 3rd best in the majors, behind only Barry Zito and Jeremi Gonzalez. Before you think that this is some kind of stat that proves Franklin is an an upper echelon tier and we’re not giving him credit for pitching well, some of the other folks on that leaderboard are Kip Wells, Joaquin Benoit, John Halama, Ron Villone, Kevin Appier, and Jon Garland. An all-star list it is not.

Also, without having any evidence, it strikes me that Franklin’s rate of allowing solo HR’s would be much higher than normal. There are four possibilities for types of longballs, meaning that the odds of a home run being one certain type should be at least within the range of 25 %, I would think. Perhaps some factors do make a certain home run more common, but I can’t imagine anything that would make a 60 % mark in one category normal. Perhaps I’ll see if we can find some kind of information on this, as I find it an interesting topic.

March 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

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.”

Or something.

March 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

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.

March 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

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).

March 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

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:

Pineiro, 6

Meche, 5.99

Moyer, 5.73

Garcia, 5.36

Franklin, 4.84

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.

March 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

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.

March 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

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.

March 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

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?

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