Links for an Evening Without Baseball
The M’s got swept this afternoon, and the PCL’s off tonight (thanks for letting us borrow Mike Curto, Tacoma!), so here’s what I’ve been reading while I drift in and out of consciousness due to sleep deprivation:
1: Taijuan Walker had one of his poorer outings on Monday, giving up 5R and 5BBs to Beloit. He’s still striking out over 30% of hitters facing him, and he’s still putting up an absurd GB rate. But the pure ground/air out ratio obscures something: Walker will end the month of June with just two outfield putouts behind him. He could end the year with his first baseman making more putouts on fly balls/popups/whatever than his LF/CF/RF put together. There are two things to take from this, both of them good: first, he’s had bad BABIP luck in the OF, and this could regress when he moves up the ladder. Second, he’s getting a high percentage of infield fly balls, a stat which stabilizes relatively quickly for pitchers. Speaking of which….
2: Many of you probably came across this seminal article by Russell Carleton aka ‘Pizza Cutter’ a few years ago measuring when various statistics “stabilized,” defined as an R^2 of .50. That is, how much *information* – as opposed to small-sample noise – do you see in a pitcher/hitter’s GB rate over a given number of plate appearances. Derek Carty’s just updated it with a small but important tweak to the methodology: instead of having a common denominator for each statistic (plate appearances), the denominator shifts based on the metric in question: balls-in-play for balls-in-play stats and plate appearances (or something close to it) for things like K rate. Just using PAs works fine for the majority of players, but consider how many balls in play Ichiro and Jack Cust would put up in any given number of plate appearances; if we’re trying to figure out each player’s ground ball rate, for example, it’s probably significant that Ichiro will have vastly more balls in play than Cust. This is really, really useful stuff even for the 99% of us that won’t use these figures, apply the proper amount of regression, and create new player projections. It’s handy simply as way to rank the various factors that pitchers or hitters control/influence – strikeout rate stabilizes first, walk rate stabilizes a bit slower, and things like HR rate and BABIP don’t stabilize for years.
3: I feel like I should link to this whenever a pitcher has a slight drop in velocity, or every week, whichever is soonest. Amazing.
4: SS prospect Nick Franklin saw his hostile takeover of AA cut short by a freak batting practice injury this week. Larry Stone spoke with M’s head of Player Development Pedro Grifol about it here. Sounds like a concussion; here’s hoping Franklin’s able to heal and resume play quickly.
5: A’s manager Bob Melvin’s seen his injury-ravaged line-up score 9 runs in 7 games, all while bat-first prospect Chris Carter (brought to Oakland on 6/23) perfects his seed-spitting skills on the bench. Carter has one at-bat over the past week, as the vets in front of him continue to struggle. Susan Slusser touches on this apparent incongruity in this post, which leads off with the news that RHP Tyson Ross will make a rehab start this week. Ross injured his oblique on May 19th, which underlines how long these injuries take to heal. Tough break for Chris Gimenez, and a decent opportunity for Josh Bard.
6: Former Rainier Dan Reichert never really lived up to the expectations many had of him, but he’s now given the world this, and that’s OK in my book. All is forgiven for ditching the 2005 R’s after 4 awful innings, Dan. Good look in any future Garrison Opportunities.
7: Bill Petti wrote an interesting article on the drop in runs scored this year, and may have identified an explanation: pitchers entering MLB this year have been really, really good. As a fan of Michael Pineda, I can only say that this hypothesis makes a great deal of sense to me. To be fair, there’s a sizeable drop in FIP for veteran pitchers, so this isn’t the *only* explanation, but for M’s fans who’ve seen Pineda replace Ryan Rowland-Smith/Chris Seddon/David Pauley, it’s quite a plausible one.