Game 53, Mariners at Rangers
Blake Beavan vs. Derek Holland, 5:05pm
Blake Beavan’s always looking over his shoulder at one of the horde of pitching prospects gunning for his spot in the rotation. Derek Holland’s spending his lucrative extension on the finest moustache products money can buy and relishing his status as a “proven winner” in October after his WS Game 4 gem. Blake Beavan’s given up 4.31 runs per 9 innings in his brief career, while Holland’s given up 5.08. Ok, Ok, we’ll toss out Holland’s terrible first season (which did include a brilliant start against the Mariners) – now his RA/9 stands at 4.51. Is Holland overrated? Is Beavan underrated?
Er, no, not really. I think I’ve been more supportive of Beavan than most, but this goes beyond his HR/FB ratio. As you probably know, Fangraphs uses FIP as the basis for pitching WAR. Beavan’s HR problems thus tarnish his FIP, as his career ERA/RA is around 0.3 lower than his career FIP. Based on his FIP, Beavan’s essentially right on replacement level.
But what about that nice RA? Certainly baseball-reference’s non-FIP based WAR can appreciate the subtle charms of Blake Beavan. The problem is that bbref had to spoil the fun and adjust the league RA by opponent and by park. The result of these adjustments is what the average pitcher in these parks against these teams would give up. For Beavan, that RA is 3.88. That takes some of the luster off of his 4.38. In fact, it puts him at 0.1 WAR. Two very different methodologies, two very similar answers.
Again, I like Beavan but he’s got to figure out a way to keep the ball in the ballpark. He’s given up 8 HRs this season in 9 starts, or at least one in every game except his injury-shortened start against Detroit…and his season opener against the Rangers in Arlington. Rooting for Beavan is, in some sense, rooting against DIPS theory. Why not add rooting against the natural outgrowth of being a fly ball pitcher in Arlington?
Derek Holland, meanwhile, looks much better both by FIP/fWAR and rWAR/baseball-reference. The average pitcher facing Holland’s opponents this year would give up 4.85 R/9, so his 0.6 WAR isn’t too bad. It’s not as good as his 1.2 fWAR, driven by a 3.68 FIP. The low FIP perhaps isn’t a huge surprise given Holland’s above average K rate. But one thing is, especially given his FB/Slider/Curve repertoire.
Throughout his career, Holland’s struck out more righties than lefties. In his breakout season last year, he had a K% of under 15% against lefties but over 20% against righties. He’s a three-true-outcome guy against righties, with lots of Ks, more walks and some HRs, but he’s more of a pitch-to-contact guy against lefties, with a huge platoon split in his ground ball rate as well as Ks. I don’t know that I’ve seen this before. It’s hard to see what’s going on via pitch fx, as the system’s had some problems differentiating his fastballs as well as his curve and slider.
Using BrooksBaseball.net’s pitch IDs, it looks like he uses his fastball, curve and change against righties, and uses his sinker and slider against lefties. The magnitude of these shifts is very small though – it’s not like he never throws a curve to lefties, and the FB picture is murky due to ID issues. What I can say is that Holland’s fastball has an absurd amount of run to it, and I wonder if that might be part of the explanation.
Today’s line-up is noteworthy in that Ichiro’s not in it. Replacing him in RF is Chone Figgins, and….wait! Come back!
1: Ackley (2B)
2: Figgins (RF)
3: Seager (3B)
4: Montero (DH)
5: Smoak (1B)
6: Liddi (LF)
7: Olivo (C)
8: Saunders (CF)
9: Ryan (SS)