Seanez signs with Sox

JMB · December 21, 2005 at 4:28 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

Rudy Seanez, who Dave pointed to as a desired off-season acquisition, signed a deal with the Red Sox yesterday worth $2.1M guaranteed next season and a possible $5.3M over two years with incentives.

What’s amusing, however, is this line from the AP story: “The 37-year-old right-hander, who passed a physical Tuesday, went 7-1 with a 2.69 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings with San Diego last season and was second among NL relievers with 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He was more effective against lefties with a 2.45 ERA compared with 2.90 against righties.”

That’s right, folks, lefty-righty ERA splits! What will they think of next?


39 Responses to “Seanez signs with Sox”

  1. Mat on December 21st, 2005 4:30 pm

    How does that even work? If a lefty hitter drives in a guy who got on base hitting right-handed, does that count against the lefty ERA or the righty ERA? Those guys at the AP, they sure know their stats.

  2. Chet Masters on December 21st, 2005 4:31 pm

    Hmpf. I guess we missed out. What about these swirling rumours that Reed is good as gone to Boston???

  3. Evan on December 21st, 2005 4:31 pm

    Wait a sec…

    How do you calculate ERA splits? Is it the handedness of the guys who score?

  4. Mat on December 21st, 2005 4:33 pm

    Oooh, I thought of another one. If a right-handed batter reaches base, then Saenz gets pulled, and the next guy allows him to score by allowing a hit to a left-handed batter, how does that count? Uh, even thinking about using ERA for evaluating relief pitchers is making my head hurt, I’d better stop now.

  5. Evan on December 21st, 2005 4:34 pm

    What if I only induce double-plays with lefties on base?

  6. Mike Snow on December 21st, 2005 4:34 pm

    See, ERA is a much more useful and informative statistic than you guys have been giving it credit for.

    I bet Jarrod Washburn has a great ERA when pitching with runners on base.

  7. JMB on December 21st, 2005 4:37 pm

    I looked at splits… didn’t see ERA listed as righty-lefty. I don’t know where this one came from, if it’s legit (well, it’s not legit, but you get my meaning) or just a weird typo. I did check, and no, it’s not opponent batting average with the decimal point moved.

  8. Jim Thomsen on December 21st, 2005 4:38 pm

    So, Dave, would you have endorsed signing Seanez for this kind of money?

  9. Evan on December 21st, 2005 4:40 pm

    The numbers fit his actual ERA, but I can’t imagine how they calculated it (let alone defended the calculation once they were done).

  10. JMB on December 21st, 2005 4:42 pm

    OK, maybe I was wrong. I could have sworn Seanez was in Dave’s Off-Season Plan from November.

  11. Evan on December 21st, 2005 4:43 pm

    Maybe they assumed that all earned runs are driven in, and then calculated based on RBI splits…

    No, that would require that all RBI were earned runs.

    I really can’t wrap my head around this one. You might be able to do it with play-by-play data – wait, no – you couldn’t, because then the innings would be too short.

  12. Evan on December 21st, 2005 4:49 pm

    If he posted a 2.90 ERA against 113 righties, and a 2.45 against 108 lefties, that works out to a 2.68 ERA for the season. With rounding errors (given that I’m doing the calc backward), that all fits.

    But how did they get those numbers? This is driving me crazy.

  13. domovoi on December 21st, 2005 4:54 pm

    Well, ERA is determined by how many runners score per inning. So maybe lefty ERA is how many runners scored per all the “innings” that left handed batters faced him.

  14. Jim Thomsen on December 21st, 2005 4:54 pm

    They only way they could have done it is a faulty way … just attributing each earned run scored as being driven in by a lefty bat or a righty bat, and using that as a basis for isolating earned runs.

    Remember, last night AP called Ryan Franklin a left-handed pitcher.

    So consider the source: AP is a faceless, mindless copy mill whose writers and editors move hundreds of pieces of copy each night under extreme deadline pressure. If you want a fast and superficial take on something, AP is the place. If you want something credible. go elsewhere.

  15. Evan on December 21st, 2005 4:55 pm

    It could be based on the handedness of the guy whose plate appearance caused the run to score, but that requires that other relievers never let any of Seanez’s bequeathed runners score. Unless you count those guys, but then the relevant batters wouldn’t necessarily be facing Seanez, so then the math shouldn’t work (and maybe it doesn’t – maybe those weren’t rounding errors).

    That’s my best guess. ERA splits are based on the handedness of the batter whose plate appearance caused the run to score, even if that batter never faced the pitcher to whom the run is charged.

    There. I’m done.

  16. IgnatiusReilly on December 21st, 2005 4:58 pm

    Hmmm, looks like he should be a LOOGY then…

  17. Chris Miller on December 21st, 2005 5:45 pm

    Maybe he’s a “switch pitcher” and those are ERA splits by HIS handedness. LOL!!!!!!! What’s even more suspicious is that both splits are pretty well rounded numbers.

  18. Smegmalicious on December 21st, 2005 5:46 pm

    There actually have been switch pitchers. Man…imagine if Felix could do that…

  19. joran on December 21st, 2005 5:47 pm

    What about Papplebon for Reed?

  20. RickL on December 21st, 2005 5:49 pm

    It is a shame the M’s couldn’t have gottne him instead of Washburn.

  21. Evan on December 21st, 2005 5:56 pm

    Actually, that wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Get a big bullpen of solid pitchers who can throw multiple innings, and run a rotation of 4 crappy guys who you’ll keep on a short leash.

    If Felix pitches 8 innings, that’s great. But if Meche only goes 2+, then you replace him quickly and get your good pitchers into the game.

  22. Chris Miller on December 21st, 2005 6:02 pm

    Switch hitting is one thing, switch pitching is another. There have been a “few” as you say, but very “few” and far. I don’t blame teams for frowning on it either. BUT imagine if a pitcher COULD be effective like that. IF they were conditioned enough they might be able to conserve their arms. Of course throwing knuckleballs can do similar wonders for ones durability, and, altough still very very hard to do effectively at the MLB level, is obviously easier than switch pitching. Of course if there was some genetic freak out there, he’d NEVER get the chance.

  23. Paul Covert on December 21st, 2005 6:33 pm

    Okay, folks, here’s how they do it. has the L/R ERA splits (Seanez shows the same 2.90 and 2.45 that AP reported), so I looked up Atchison there and did my research on him (since he only pitched a handful of innings).

    Splits shown:
    vs. LHB 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 7.36 ERA
    vs. RHB 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 6.00 ERA

    Play-by-play records of runs allowed:
    Wells R, driven in by Zaun S(L)
    Zaun S(L), driven in by Zaun S(L)
    Polanco R, driven in by Shelton R
    Shelton R, driven in by Monroe R
    Monroe R, driven in by Pena L (with Thornton pitching)
    4 runs scored by RHB, 1 by LHB
    2 runs scored with RHP at bat, 3 with LHP

    Play-by-play records of outs recorded:
    Mora R
    Gibbons L
    Lopez R
    Young L
    Matos R (CS with Newhan (LHB) at bat)
    Newhan L
    Barajas R
    Soriano R
    Mench R
    DeRosa R
    Matthews S(L)
    Catalanotto L
    Koskie L
    Hinske L
    Rios R
    Kendall R
    Swisher S(L)
    Ellis R
    Chavez L
    Johnson L

    10 outs made (3.1 IP) by RHB, 10 (3.1) by LHB
    9 outs made (3.0 IP) with RHP at bat, 11 (3.2) with LHP

    In both cases (the IP and the runs), the splits shown for Atchison match the batters at the plate when the outs and runs were recorded– not the batters who scored the runs or caused the outs. (Never mind that Pena was actually batting against Thornton, or that Newhan just happened to be the guy at the plate when Matos got caught stealing.)

    So I think I’ve established how they did the ERA splits for LHB vs. RHB. (If you want to know why they did it that way, though… your guess is as good as mine, and probably better.)

    (In any case, though: If blame is needed, I’m inclined to pin it on the stat service that presented the data as if it were relevant, rather than on the news service that took their word for it about that.)

  24. Smegmalicious on December 21st, 2005 6:54 pm

    It’s got the ERA label which means, like wins, it’s all most people need to see.

  25. Jim Thomsen on December 21st, 2005 6:55 pm

    You mean “it’s all most people CARE to see.”

  26. wabbles on December 21st, 2005 7:04 pm

    It goes without saying that if I’m off-base here, I’ll be corrected. So I’ll skip that part. Isn’t righty/lefty ERA one of those stats you see on the television broadcasts all the time. “Well Jim, when this pitcher faces seven-foot-tall illegal aliens, he has an ERA of 4.50. But if they have their green card, it drops to 3.70.” I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that kind of breakout of batters faced before, although I can’t vouch for its accuracy.

  27. Ralph Malph on December 21st, 2005 7:23 pm

    wabbles – the problem isn’t with giving left-right splits. Doing that is a great idea, and tells you a lot about a pitcher’s value in different situation.

    The problem is with doing it based on ERA, because an earned run usually involves a contribution from several different hitters. If a pitcher (say) gives up three straight singles to left handed hitters which load the bases, and then gives up a bases clearing double to a right handed hitter, followed by three outs to left handed hitters, he’ll show up (according to Paul Covert’s post above) with three earned runs for the one right handed hitter he faced, and none for the six left handed hitters he faced.

    It would be accurate to talk about a pitcher’s batting average versus right or left handed, or on base percentage, or slugging percentage, or WHIP even, because those numbers are computed batter by batter. But ERA is a number that you can’t break out for the left handed and right handed hitters faced, because it is computed inning by inning. So right-left ERA splits are utterly meaningless. Nonsensical, really.

    I hope I explained that right.

  28. wabbles on December 21st, 2005 7:34 pm

    Right, just thinking maybe I’ve seen them before, regardless of their validity. ‘shrug’

  29. Dave on December 21st, 2005 8:03 pm

    Yea, this is a steal for the Red Sox. Seanez is a dominant reliever, one of the more underrated in baseball, whose only real flaw is an inability to be a workhorse. When used economically, he’s a relief ace.

    $2 million for Rudy Seanez? Absolutely.

  30. Jeff Sullivan on December 21st, 2005 10:17 pm

    Assuming that Seanez will miss at least a month or two of next season due to whatever it is that knocks him out of action so often, the Red Sox might as well go sign Chad Fox to fill in the gaps. With luck, maybe they’ll stagger their elbow injuries.

  31. Evan on December 21st, 2005 10:25 pm


    Thank you, Paul Covert (I’m told you’re a super reader)!

    It looks like I figured out the method (flawed though it is).

    I’m feeling exceedingly pleased with myself.

  32. k-factory on December 21st, 2005 10:29 pm

    Seanez is a journeyman pitcher whos 37 years old and has pitched well in pitcher friendly parks – petco/dolphins stadium. A ‘dominant’ reliever is overstating it a bit. He pitched in Boston for a minute in 2003, long enough to look shaky as hell and was DFA’d.
    Now hes part of a pen thats overloaded with righties and has only one lefty – dinardo. a curious allocation of resources for boston, but then again they’re going to need all the pitching help they can get against that strengthened yankee lineup.

  33. Evan on December 21st, 2005 10:31 pm

    And now that I actually know what’s happening here…

    …it occurs to me that a guy used as a strict LOOGY (only ever faces lefty hitters), he could actually rack up an ERA against righties, even though he’s never faced them.

    Think about it. Say Mike Myers comes in to face a pair of lefties. The first he retires, but the second he walks. Myers has now pitched one third of an inning. If the next guy out of the pen gives up an RBI double to the righty batter, Myers now has an infinte ERA against righties, since one of them drove in a run credited to him, but he’s never retired one.

    If this happens just a few times in the season, and Myers eventually (in an emergency) does retire one righty, that would give him him a righty-ERA split of something like 54.00, even though he’s retired every righty he’s ever faced (just the one guy).

  34. Hub on December 22nd, 2005 2:19 am

    If a dmoninant switch pitcher DID break into the leagues, how would he best be used? Would he switch arms throughout the night, depending on who faced him? Or would he do the following: pitch RH one night, and LH a couple nights later. Allowing the pitcher to effectively fill TWO spots in the rotation (and log 350+ IP in the process).

  35. Hub on December 22nd, 2005 2:21 am

    I just realized that if he DID fill two spots in the rotation, most likely Boras would become his agent…and write a 100 page booklet to all the owners explaining how the pitcher is ‘twice’ as good as anyone else. And demanding a 10-yr, 400mil contract.

  36. Paul Covert on December 22nd, 2005 3:12 am

    Ralph and Evan– yes, your explanations are both correct.

  37. Chris Miller on December 22nd, 2005 8:01 am

    Likely they’d switch on an at-bat basis. I doubt they’d be dominant w/ both hands though. Even if someone was good enough with both hands, no MLB manager would EVER let someone try that, which is probably part of why it’s been so rare, AND it’s hard to do. I play whiffle-ball and can half-assed throw left handed. On a good night I can throw strikes on an occasion.

  38. Evan on December 22nd, 2005 10:10 am

    MLB rules prohibit the switching of hands during an at-bat. I read that some years ago when Chris Michalak broke into the majors. He was reportedly an ambidextrous pitcher, though I think he only ever pitched lefty in the bigs.

  39. msb on December 22nd, 2005 10:31 am

    re: ambidextrous pitching, follow the link, and then scroll down the the letter asking the same question