Game 156, Mariners at Twins
Blake Beavan vs. Anthony Swarzak, 10:10am
The M’s go for a rare road sweep this morning in Minnesota with Blake Beavan matching up against Anthony Swarzak in a dream match-up for fans who find strike-outs too showy or selfish. Swarzak, like his brothers in the Twins’ cloning program Nick Blackburn and Liam Hendriks, is the epitome of a pitch-to-contact guy. In fact, this is one of the rare games where Blake Beavan has a better contact/swinging strike rate than his opposite number. If you’re tuning in to watch whoever those people are in Twins uniforms play defense, you’re in luck. Of course, he IS facing the Mariners today, so a career-high in K’s isn’t out of the question.
1: Ichiro (RF)
2: Rodriguez (SS)
3: Ackley (2B)
4: Carp (1B)
5: Smoak (DH)
6: Seager (3B)
7: Robinson (LF)
8: Gimenez (C)
9: Saunders (CF)
A couple of great sabermetric articles while you wait:
First, Mike Fast’s look at pitch-framing has garnered a lot of well-deserved praise. It goes beyond refining how we measure pitch framing and gets to HOW catchers might influence an umpire’s call. For M’s fans, it also highlights just how bad our catchers have been in recent years. That’s not news or anything, but Kenji Johjima was amongst the worst in baseball and Rob Johnson wasn’t much better. Miguel Olivo is quite close to average, but when none of these guys is elite in pitch-blocking, and they range from “meh” to “amongst the worst in baseball” in pitch-framing, you better hope they bring a lot of offense to the table. Kenji did for a while; the others are Rob Johnson, Adam Moore and Miguel Olivo. I know it’s unfair to put the blame squarely on the M’s catching coach Roger Hansen, but while we heard a lot about how much these guys improved under his tutelage, the M’s have had a hell of a time developing catchers who could catch. Maybe the M’s thought so much of him that they gave him guys spectacularly ill-suited to the job (this may be the case with Rob Johnson, who was an OF in college). I love baseball articles that make you think, but beware: this one will might make you reevaluate/pine for the Rene Rivera era.
Second, Josh Weinstock’s got a great article at THT on how a pitcher’s repertoire might impact his BABIP. It focuses on my favorite pitch, the change-up. The takeaway is that throwing a lot of change-ups may lower a pitcher’s BABIP. We’ve seen a few articles breaking down BABIP, HR/FB or batted-ball rates by pitch, but I think we can learn a whole lot more about how pitchers might influence what happens after they release the ball. We’ve known for a while that while their influence isn’t huge and tends to be pretty volatile, it’s not zero either. How we apportion credit/blame is one of those things that divides the saber camp, particularly when it comes to awards. The one-sentence summary of DIPS theory works reasonably well in most cases, but if we can refine the theory based on repertoire, we’re going to alter the way we evaluate pitchers.