Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Worst by Position - Shortstop

That damn Jeter.

See, I was going to do something clever for shortstop. I was going to say that the team with the worst shortstop position in baseball is New York. You were going to say, "Which New York team?" And I was going to say, "It doesn't mater." Because it didn't. Both New York teams were terrible at shortstop.

And then Jeter got back. Here's what he's done, as I write this Wednesday evening:
  • He accounts for 2.2% of Yankee shortstop plate appearances.
  • He accounts for 2.5% of Yankee shortstop hits.
  • He accounts for 4.4% of Yankee shortstop total bases
  • He accounts for 5.3% of Yankee shortstop runs.
  • He accounts for 33.3% of Yankee shortstop home runs.
  • He accounts for 0.0% of the 96 Yankee shortstop strikeouts.
The dude's a one-man reclamation project.

I can't say something cute, so I'll have to actually think about this.

Shortstop's tough. It's the most important defensive position, outside of catcher. So while the Mariners shortstops haven't hit--team batting average .199--their primary guy, Brendan Ryan, is a wizard with the glove. The Royals shortstops don't hit either, but Alcides Escobar can pick 'em. Same with the Pirates and Clint Barmes.

How about fielding? The Astros have the most errors. The Angels do the worst in the advanced fielding metrics, the Yankees the second worst. 

I'm going to go with half my original pick: The Mets. Met shortstops haven't made a lot of errors, but they are average-to-bad by the advanced fielding methods. They're punchless with the bat: 29th in batting (.214), 27th in slugging (.281), only two homers, 26th in runs, 27th in RBI. The only thing they do well is draw walks: their 41 is third in baseball. That lifts their on-base percentage all the way up to .289, good for 21st in baseball. But that's not enough.

If Jeter gets hurt again, though, I am so changing to the Yankees.

The Worst by Position - Third Base

You sure about A-Rod, Yankees fans?

Yes, he's a narcissist, and an egotist, and a drug cheat, and it's amazing nobody ever taught him to run away whenever he sees a microphone. But he would be a massive upgrade at third over the mess the Yankees have playing there now. Consider this - whom would you rather have?

Player    AB  R  H  2B 3B HR RBI BB  BA   OPB  SLG
Player A 549 57 119 22  0  6  44 32 .217 .276 .288
Player B 510 30 120 30  0  0  30 30 .235 .278 .294

Player A is the Yankees third basemen this year, per 600 plate appearances. Player B is the Phillies' pitcher John Lannan this year, per 600 plate appearances.

I said when selecting the Brewers as the team with the worst first basemen that it was the easiest choice. But it's close. Yankee third basemen are 30th batting, 28th in on-base percentage, 30th in slugging. 26th in runs, 27th in hits, 27th in doubles, 29th in homers, 29th in RBI. Kevin Youkilis was actually above-average in his 22 games before he got hurt. Everybody else has been just terrible.

Meanwhile, A-Rod insists he's ready to go...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Worst by Position - Second Base

So far: C-Seattle, 1B-Milwaukee

The competition for the team with worst performance at second, in my opinion, is between the Royals and the Blue Jays. Cubs second basemen have put up a terrible batting line, but that's mostly by Darwin Barney, who's a wizard with the glove. The Nationals started the season with Danny Espinosa unable to hit anything, but he's given way to Steve Lombardozzi and Anthony Rendon, both of whom have done OK.

Second base has been a weak spot for the Royals for three years, a perennial duel between Chris Getz, who's a poor hitter (.305 on-base percentage and punchless .298 slugging percentage in four seasons with the Royals), and Johnny Giavotella, who teases Royals fans with great minor league numbers (.321 batting, .392 on-base, .464 slugging in 279 AAA games) but hits like Getz when he gets to Kansas City. This year Royals second basemen are fifth-to-last in batting, fourth-to-last in on-base percentage, second-to-last in slugging, fifth-to-last in runs, second-to-last in doubles, and fourth-to-last in homers.

But they've been topped by the Blue Jays, whose second basemen are last in batting, on-base, slugging, runs and hits, and near the bottom in everything else. They've used five players at second, with only Mark DeRosa putting up non-terrible numbers in limited play (14 games). Special recognition goes to Brett Lawrie, who managed to hit .158 with no extra-base hits in six games at second but .210 with an OK .401 slugging average--243 points higher--at third. See, it's something about the position.

Oh, and Blue Jays second basemen are tied for fourth in the majors in errors, too.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Worst by Position - First Base

This was the easiest call in this series. It's not close. First base is a hitting position. Davis, Goldschmidt, Votto, Freeman, Fielder, Gonzalez, and many more. Going into the season, the Brewers figured they'd be at least middle-of-the-pack. Corey Hart was coming off a 30-homer season, and Mat Gamel was available as a backup. Then both of them had season-ended knee surgery, and, as they say, hilarity ensued. Brewers first basemen are last in batting (.187), on-base percentage (.233), and slugging (.325). Six PITCHERS have done better than that this year, including one on the Brewers:
Player BA OBP SLG Age Tm
Travis Wood .293 .326 .537 26 CHC
Yovani Gallardo .250 .250 .450 27 MIL
Andrew Cashner .300 .323 .400 26 SDP
Tyler Chatwood .345 .367 .379 23 COL
Tony Cingrani .286 .286 .333 23 CIN
Zack Greinke .394 .474 .455 29 LAD
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/29/2013.

They're second-to-last in runs and home runs. Most of the playing time has gone to two converted middle infielders (Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez) and a converted third baseman (Juan Francisco). Since nobody's used to playing the bag, Brewers first basemen lead the majors in errors as well.

As I said, easy call.

The Worst by Position - Catcher

The All-Star Game got me thinking: We look at excellence by position by player, not by team. We talk about Cabrera vs. Machado as to the best third baseman, not Detroit vs. Baltimore, because when you talk about Detroit third baseman you're talking about Miguel Cabrera. With the odd exception of a Ben Zobrist, who's spent most of his career splitting time between second base and right field, most stars play one position, all season long.

This isn't true for the worst players, since guys who are really awful get benched or released or sent down to the minors or something. Here, the more appropriate metric is by team. Asking who the worst shortstop is doesn't yield as good an answer as which team's gotten the worst production from its shortstops. 

I'm going to go through each position over the next few days, figuring the worst at each position. Let's start with catcher.

The Yankee catchers have been pretty bad, tied for last in homers with six and last (easily) in RBI with 28. The Marlins are going to figure prominently in any worst-by-position discussion, given their historically bad offense, and their catchers have managed to score only 19 runs this year, compared to a major league average of 42. The White Sox catchers have batted .209 and walked only 17 times, giving them a majors-worst .255 on base percentage. 

But I'm going to go with the Mariners. Their catchers--primarily Kelly Shoppach, Mike Zunino, and Jesus Montero--are last in batting average (.207), third-to-last in on-base percentage (.280), last in slugging (.322), last in OPS (.602), They've also allowed an above-average number of passed balls and are eighth-worst in caught stealing percentage.

Next up: First base.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Trailing 30 - July 28

Here is an explanation of this weekly post, which lists leaders for the past 30 days. This is possible through the magic of Fangraphs and its fabulous Leaders application.

   American League            National League
   Team W-L                   Team W-L      
1. Tampa Bay      21-6     1. Los Angeles    19-6        
2. Detroit       16-10     2. St. Louis      14-9        
3. Oakland        15-9     3. Atlanta       14-11         
4. Cleveland     15-10        Chicago       14-11   
5. Seattle       15-10     5. Pittsburgh    13-11        

   Worst Team W-L             Worst Team W-L
1. Houston        5-19     1. San Diego      8-18      
2. Toronto        8-17     2. San Francisco  8-18       
3. Chicago        8-18     3. Philadelphia  11-13      
4. Texas         10-15     4. Colorado      11-14
5. Minnesota     10-16     5. Milwaukee     11-15    

   Batting Average            Batting Average     
1. Martinez, Det  .381     1. Ramirez, LA    .388        
2. Cano, NY       .366     2. McCann, Atl    .366             
3. Rasmus, Tor    .359     3. Werth, Was     .366            
4. Trout, LA      .358     4. Craig, SL      .361          
5. Loney. TB      .354     5. Johnson, Atl   .354       

   Lowest Batting Average     Lowest Batting Average             
1. Moreland, Tex  .157     1. Parra, Ari     .144          
2. Longoria, TB   .185     2. Weeks, Mil     .170         
3. Gordon, KC     .188     3. Blanco, SF     .171               
4. Carter, Hou    .188     4. LaRoche, Was   .172           
5. Dominguez, Hou .194     5. Valbuena, Chi  .176            

   On-Base Percentage         On-Base Percentage                 
1. Trout, LA      .448     1. Werth, Was     .445            
2. Cano, NY       .445     2. Ramrirez, LA   .442            
3. Cabrera, Det   .444     3. McCutchen, Pit .434         
4. De Aza, Chi    .434     4. Craig, SL      .433              
5. Seager, Sea    .423     5. McCann, Atl    .424        
   Slugging Percentage        Slugging Percentage   
1. Cabrera, Det   .753     1. Soriano, Chi   .714        
2. Scott, TB      .672     2. Ramriez, LA    .699     
3. Beltre, Tex    .636     3. Werth, Atl     .667       
4. Hunter, Det    .622     4. Lucroy, Mil    .663       
5. Trout, LA      .617     5. McCann, Atl    .646        
   Home Runs                  Home Runs
1. Cabrera, Det     10     1. Soriano, Chi     10           
2. Davis, Bal        9     2. Werth, Was        8        
3. Beltre, Tex       8        Uggla, Atl        8          
4. Bautista, Tor     8     4. Lucroy, Mil       7
5. 3 with            7        Alvarez, Pit      7

   Runs                       Runs    
1. Seager, Sea      21     1. Ramriez, LA      24        
   Reyes, Tor       21     2. Carpenter, SL    21       
3. Jennings, TB     20     3. Byrd, NY         20    
4. 3 with           19     4. 4 with           19       

   RBI                        RBI      
1. Cano, NY         24     1. Werth, Was       21        
2. Davis, Bal       23        Soriano, Chi     21      
3. Cabrera, Det     21        Quentin, SD      21        
4. Bautista, Tor    20        Uggla, Atl       21        
5. 2 with           19        Phillips, Cin    21        

   Stolen Bases               Stolen Bases             
1. Davis, Tor       13     1. Young, NY        12              
2. Rios, Chi         9     2. Gomez, Mil       10     
3. Altuve, Hou       8     3. Marte, Pit        8     
4. Jennings, TB      7     4. Segura, Mil       7   
   Martin, Tex       7     5. McCutchen, Pit    6    

   Wins                       Wins   
1. 10 with           4     1. Kershaw, LA       5
                              Liriano, Pit      5
                              Lohse, Mil        4
                              Hudson, Atl       4
                           5. 18 with           3

   Saves                      Saves
1. Holland, KC      10     1. Mujica, SL        9
   Balfour, Oak     10        Gregg, Chi        9
3. Rodney, TB        9     3. Kimbrel, Atl      8
4. Perez, Cle        8     4. Cishek, Mia       7
   Johnson, Bal      8        Jansen, LA        7

   ERA                        ERA
1. Moore, TB      0.91     1. Bumgarner, SF  1.50
2. Hernandez, Sea 1.22     2. Kershaw, LA    1.62
3. Wilson, LA     1.25     3. Peralta, Mil   1.64
4. Archer, TB     1.29     4. Miley, Ari     1.89
5. Weaver, LA     1.32     5. Gonzalez, Was  1.95

   Worst ERA                  Worst ERA
1. Williams, LA   9.62     1. Samardzija, Chi5.87
2. Johnson, Tor   8.38     2. Volquez, SD    5.79
3. Lyles, Hou     7.96     3. Kendrick, Phi  5.76
4. Blanton, LA    6.84     4. Hefner, NY     5.60
5. Sabathia, NY   6.32     5. Lynn, SL       5.52

   WHIP                       WHIP
1. Moore, TB      0.67     1. Kershaw, LA    0.59
2. Archer, TB     0.76     2. Bumgarner, SF  0.81
3. Price, TB      0.78     3. Lohse, Mil     0.87
4. Kazmir, Cle    0.90     4. Harvey, NY     0.89
5. Hernandez, Sea 0.92     5. Arroyo, Cin    0.90

   Strikeouts                 Strikeouts
1. Sale, Chi        45     1. Harvey, NY       43       
2. Scherzer, Det    42     2. Gonzalez, Was    39
3. Sabathia, NY     37        Wainwright, SL   39
4. Masterson, CLe   36     4. Kershaw, LA      38
5. 3 with           35     5. Strasburg, Was   37

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tampa Bay Rays, Team of Destiny

Did you know the Tampa Bay Rays, after last night's rainout in Boston, have won 19 of their last 22 games? This has to be the quietest hot streak we've seen in a while. It's almost as if there's something else that has been dominating the baseball news...

Anyway, I looked to see how unusual a 19-3 run is. Since the start of divisional play in 1969, there have been 50 streaks of 19-3 or better, including the Rays, or a little over one a season. (Yes, I eliminated duplicates, in which one team, say, had three 19-3 streaks over a 24-game stretch.) How successful were those teams?

All of them finished with winning records. That's not a surprise. A team with a 19-3 streak would have to go 61-79 over their other games to finish below .500. That's a .436 winning percentage, what you'd expect from a 71-91 team. That kind of team is not likely to win 19 of 22. (I could figure out the probability, but it's Friday and I'm tired.)

Of those fifty teams, 38 played in the postseason. Ten won the World Series, five lost it, and 19 made the playoffs but were eliminated. Twelve went home at the end of the season. Wait, you're saying, that's only 47. True enough: In the strike year of 1994, three teams had 19-3 runs. Two were leading their division when the season ended, and one was only a game out of first. 

Split further, in the two division era (1969-1993), 25 teams had 19-3 runs. 64% made the postseason, 40% made the World Series, and 28% won it.

In the three division era (1995-2012), 21 teams had 19-3 streaks. 86% made the postseason, 24% made the Series, and 14% won it.

So since the advent of wild cards, only three teams (1996 White Sox, 3 behind the wild card; 1998 Angels, 7 behind the wild card and 3 behind in their division; 2005 A's, 7 behind the wild card and their division) have failed to make the playoffs. The Rays' run doesn't mean they're favorites to win, or even play in, the Series, but it does mean the odds are good that we'll be watching them into October.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Vin Mazzaro: A Good Reason to Pull for the Pirates

Yet another Pirates bullpen post (beats A-Rod, right?)...

When I wrote about Monday night's game, during which Jason Grilli got hurt, the Pirates brought in Vin Mazzaro for the last out, earning the first save of his five year career.

I am a big Vin Mazzaro fan. He was drafted by the A's out of high school in Hackensack, NJ in 2005. After posting 5+ ERAs in his first two minor league seasons, he had a big year at AA Midland in 2008 (12-3, 1.90 ERA over 22 starts) and spent most of 2009 and 2010 with Oakland, starting 35 games 4.72 ERA. He was traded to the Royals in November 2010. He was expected to be the team's fifth starter, but after a lousy spring and a lousier start of the year in AAA Omaha, he stayed in the minors until May. He was called up for a start against the Yankees on May 11 (4 innings, 2 runs and a no-decision in a game the Royals won 4-3). He then sat until May 16, at home against the Indians.

Kyle Davies started the game for the Royals but left with an injury after getting just one out and walking the bases full. Nathan Adcock came in, allowed two of Davies' runners to score, and another run in the second. He left in the third inning after the leadoff runner got on base. He was replaced by Vin Mazzaro, in his second game as a Royal.

Mazzaro pitched two and a third innings. He struck out two, but walked three and gave up 11 hits, one a homer, and was charged with 14 runs. The Royals lost, 19-1.

Now, giving up 14 runs in a game isn't unheard of. Nineteen pitchers since 1916 (that's how far back game data go) have given up 14 or more earned runs in a game. But most of those guys pitched in the early part of the 20th century, when relief pitchers were rare. Since World War II, only four pitchers matched Mazzaro's 14. And Mazzaro is the only pitcher to have given up 14 runs in fewer than three innings. 

Here's the thing: I was at the game. I remember it for two things. One was a group of young Korean-American girls who ran down to the railing of the upper deck where I was sitting to snap pictures every time Shin-Soo Choo came to the plate for the Indians. The other was wondering why Ned Yost left Mazzaro in to take that pounding. It's not like the bullpen was depleted that Monday; the Royals didn't play Sunday, they got a complete game Saturday, and they used two relievers for two innings Friday. It just seemed gratuitous.

Then, the next day, the Royals sent him back to Omaha. With his 22.74 ERA. I remember sportswriters suggesting that we'd seen the last of Vin Mazzaro.

We hadn't. He pitched again for the Royals in June and September, compiling a 4.09 ERA over five games and 22 innings. Last year he also split time between Kansas City and Omaha, with a 5.73 ERA in 44 innings, spread over 18 games. The last nine games were in September, exclusively in relief, and his ERA of 4.63 in those appearances consisted of two games in which he allowed three runs each and seven games in which he allowed none.

That was good enough for the Pirates, who recently have had an uncanny ability with pitching reclamation projects (A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Joel Hanrahan, and, of course, injured closer Jason Grilli, who had five saves in ten seasons before this year). They traded for Mazzaro in November. In 33 appearances this year, he's 5-2 with that one save, and career bests for ERA (2.62), WHIP (1.14), strikeouts per nine (6.0), walks per nine (2.0), home runs per nine (0.6), strikeouts to walks (3.0), groundballs per fly ball (1.02)--pretty much everything good.

Not bad for a guy who had what one writer called The Worst Pitching Performance Ever. And certainly the worst one I saw.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sorry, Pirates Fans

Monday morning, I posted this, in which I noted
  1. The Pirates have had a really good bullpen.
  2. They've been working their relievers pretty hard.
  3. Their workload hasn't necessarily been indicative of future problems . . . 
  4. . . . except that over the past few years, Pirates relievers who've been worked hard have often wilted in the second half of the year.
Right on schedule, their closer, Jason Grilli, left Monday night's game with an apparent injury. Today he was put on the 15-day disabled list, with a scary-sounding injury: often "forearm tightness" becomes "ruptured ulnar collateral ligament, out for 12-14 months."

Like all other decent-minded people, I'm pulling for the Pirates this year. As I pointed out Monday, they haven't had a winning record since Bush was in the White House--the first Bush. They're a likeable bunch. I regret my prescience.

Just in case this lucky guess thing isn't a fluke, though, i also think that the PED discussion is going to vanish from baseball, and I'm going to win Saturday's Powerball.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Real Tragedy of PEDs in Baseball

I have Braun on my fantasy team.

Are the Pirates Killing their Bullpen?

The Pirates beat the Reds 3-2 yesterday, ending a three-game losing streak, as five relievers preserved the win for starter Jeff Locke. Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson, and Mark Melancon earned holds (Melancon his NL-leading 26th), and Jason Grilli his league-leading 30th save.

This kept the Pirates not only in second place in their division but also have the second best record in the National League and the third best in all of baseball, an improbable turn for a team that famously haven't had a winning record since George Bush was in the White House. The first President George Bush.

The most prominent (and most discussed) feature of this year's Bucs has been its bullpen.

Pirates starting pitchers have a 3.31 ERA, best in the league, but that figure is barely ahead of the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Reds. The bullpen ERA of 2.74 is second to the Braves, but has been the key to the team's success. (It hasn't been the offense: The Pirates have scored the third-fewest runs in the league.)

Here are some random facts about the Pirates bullpen. All comparisons are to their National League counterparts. Yes, there's a difference between the leagues; relievers appear more in the DH-less NL.
  • Pirates relief pitchers have made 275 appearances, slightly below the average of 283.Their relievers are second in relief wins, with 21, and second-to-last in relief losses, with 11.
  • They have 34 saves, the most by five. With just nine blown saves, they're also first in save percentage, 79%.
  • The middle relievers lead in holds, with 55.
  • The relievers have inherited 105 baserunners and allowed just 21 to score. The 20% of inherited runners scoring is easily the lowest in the NL, where the average is 28%.

Those are all impressive stats. But here's the dark lining of the silver cloud: Manager Clint Hurdle has relied heavily on his relievers. Setup man Mark Melancon has appeared in 46 games, 11th most in the league. Closer Jason Grilli's been in 43 (21st most). Tony Watson's been in 40 (37th), Justin Wilson 37 (50th), Vin Mazzaro 32 (61st), Bryan Morris 28 (71st). Only Cincinnati has had more relievers appear in 28 or more games, and only Milwaukee has had more relievers appear in 30+. And most Pirates relievers have seen an uptick in innings:

  • Grilli: 58.2 IP last year, on pace for 68.2 this year
  • Melancon: 45.0 IP last year, on pace for 76.2 this year
  • Watson: 53.1 IP last year, on pace for 78.2 this year
  • Wilson: 135.2 IP at AAA and 4.2 in the majors last year, on pace for 89.1 this year
  • Mazzaro: 67.0 IP at AAA and 44.0 in the majors last year, on pace for 74.2 this year
  • Morris: 81.0 IP at AAA and 5.0 in the majors last year, on pace for 67.2 this year

What happens when relievers throw that many innings? To answer that, I looked at every National League reliever from 2010 to 2012 who pitched 67 or more innings. (That may not sound like a lot of innings, but fewer than half of relievers with 30 or more saves logged that many innings. Mariano Rivera hasn't since 2008.) I checked how they did in the second half of the year compared to the first. I used on base plus slugging (OPS) as my metric, since ERAs for relievers are not necessarily reliable. I grouped every reliever into one of five categories:
  • Same in each half: OPS within 25 points, plus or minus, in each half
  • Better in second half: OPS 25-75 points lower in second half
  • Way better in second half: OPS 75+ points lower
  • Worse in second half: OPS 25-75 points higher in second half
  • Way worse in second half: OPS 75+ points higher
Here's how the 81 pitchers with 67+ innings pitched broke down:
  • 14% same
  • 20% better
  • 23% way better
  • 16% worse
  • 27% way worse
That's not too scary. A high-innings reliever is equally likely to be better in the second half of the season than in the first. There's a slightly higher chance of a collapse, but that's not a surprise, given that pitchers with a really strong first half are going to be given more opportunities in the second half.

But we can't let the Pirates off the hook just yet. Included among those 81 pitchers with 67+ IP in 2010-2012 are eight Pirates:
  • Joel Hanrahan 2010, OPS .641 in first half, .658 in second half (same)
  • Evan Meek 2010, .506/.605 (way worse)
  • Jose Veras 2011, .578/.705 (way worse)
  • Chris Resop 2011.643/.899 (way worse)
  • Daniel McCutchen 2011, .701/.776 (worse)
  • Joel Hanrahan 2011, .514/.579 (worse)
  • Jared Hughes 2012, .654/.706 (worse)
  • Chris Resop 2012, .711/.738 (worse)
The Pirates have not had a high innings reliever improve in the second half of the year during this decade. They're clearly an outlier of the wrong kind. That could be a matter of personnel (Hughes is the only pitcher still with the team, and he's been disabled since the beginning of June), or coaching, or managing. But it is enough to make me think that the Bucs need stronger hitting and a stable rotation to stay in playoff contention this year. Because it's probably not realistic to expect the bullpen to remain this good.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Trailing 30 - July 21, 2013

Here is an explanation of this weekly post, which lists leaders for the past 30 days. This is possible through the magic of Fangraphs and its fabulous Leaders application.

   American League            National League
   Team W-L                   Team W-L      
1. Tampa Bay      19-6     1. Los Angeles    19-6        
2. Boston         15-9     2. Pittsburgh     13-9        
3. Oakland        13-9     3. New York      14-10         
   Los Angeles    13-9        Chicago       14-10   
5. Seattle       13-10     5. Philadelphia  14-11        

   Worst Team W-L             Worst Team W-L
1. Houston        5-17     1. San Diego      6-19      
2. Minnesota      8-17     2. San Francisco  8-16       
3. Chicago        9-15     3. Colorado      10-14      
4. Toronto       10-15     4. Milwaukee     11-14
5. Kansas City   11-13        Arizona       11-14    

   Batting Average            Batting Average     
1. Kipnis, Cle    .395     1. Craig, SL      .410        
2. Cano, NY       .395     2. Revere, Phi    .400             
3. Ellsbury, Bo   .380     3. Ramriez, LA    .398            
4. Cabrera, Det   .364     4. McCutchen, Pit .381          
5. Loney. TB      .361     5. Johnson, Atl   .372       

   Lowest Batting Average     Lowest Batting Average             
1. Reynolds, Cle  .159     1. Ruggiano, Mia  .141          
2. Longoria, TB   .162     2. Martin, Pit    .181         
3. Trumbo, LA     .171     3. Forsythe, SD   .181               
4. Dominguez, Hou .180     4. Parra, Ari     .186           
5. Crisp, Oak     .185     5. Arenado, Col   .195            

   On-Base Percentage         On-Base Percentage                 
1. Cano, NY       .500     1. Ramirez, LA    .467            
2. Kipnis, Cle    .481     2. McCutchen, Pit .458            
3. Cabrera, Det   .467     3. Criag, SL      .457         
4. Ortiz, Bos     .449     4. Votto, Cin     .436              
5. Ellsbury, Bos  .431     5. Revere, Phi    .429        
   Slugging Percentage        Slugging Percentage   
1. Cabrera, Det   .773     1. Soriano, Chi   .753        
2. Ibanez, Sea    .730     2. Ramriez, LA    .753     
3. Kipnis, Cle    .686     3. McCann, Atl    .671       
4. Davis, Bal     .670     4. McCutchen, Pit .667       
5. Scott, TB      .643     5. Lucroy, Mil    .640        
   Home Runs                  Home Runs
1. Davis, Bal       11     1. Soriano, Chi     10           
2. Cabrera, Det     11     2. Albarez, Pit      8        
3. Ibanez, Sea      10     3. Ramirez, LA       7          
4. 5 with            7        Lucroy, Mil       7
                           5. 7 with            6

   Runs                       Runs    
1. Jennings, TB     21     1. Utley, Phi       23        
2. Kipnis Cle       20     2. Carpenter, SL    20       
   Hunter, Det      20        Ramirez, LA      20    
   Davis, Bal       20     4. Soriano, Chi     19       
5. 3 with           19     5. 2 with           18          

   RBI                        RBI      
1. Davis, Bal       28     1. Carpenter, SL    22        
2. Cabrera, Det     24        Byrd, NY         22      
   Cano, NY         24     3. Ramirez, LA      21        
   Kipnis, Cle      24        Craig, SL        21        
5. Bautista, Tor    21        Phillips, Cin    21        

   Stolen Bases               Stolen Bases             
1. Davis, Tor       11     1. Young, NY        10              
2. Martin, Tex       7     2. Gomez, Mil        7     
   Jennings, TB      7        Murphy, NY        7     
   Rios, Chi         7        Segura, Mil       7   
5. Dyson, KC         6     5. 2 with            6    

   Wins                       Wins   
1. Moore, Tor        4     1. Garza, Chi        5
   Wilson, LA        4        Greinke, LA       5
   Hellickson, TB    4     3. 4 with            4
   Saunders, Sea     4    
5. 14 with           3
   Saves                      Saves
1. Johnson, Bal      9     1. Jansen, LAa       8
   Rodney, TB        9        Gregg, Chi        8
   Holland, KC       9     3. Kimbrel, Atl      7
4. 3 with            8        Parnell, NY       7
                              Soriano, Was      7

   ERA                        ERA
1. Moore, TB      1.35     1. Peralta, Mil   1.08
2. Archer, TB     1.69     2. Garza, Chi     1.47
3. Wilson, LA     1.85     3. Gonzalez, Was  1.64
4. Hernendez, Sea 1.86     4. Chacin, Col    1.65
5. Straily, Oak   1.90     5. Fernandez, Mia 1.80

   Worst ERA                  Worst ERA
1. Fister, Det    6.67     1. Maholm, Atl    7.56
2. Johnson, Tor   6.62     2. Gallardo, Mil  6.39
3. Guthrie, KC    6.23     3. Lynn, SL       6.30
4. Keuchel, Hou   5.70     4. Samardzija, Chi5.63
5. Harang, Sea    5.63     5. Marquis, SD    5.60

   WHIP                       WHIP
1. Parker, Oak    0.79     1. Kershaw, LA    0.74
2. Price, TB      0.84     2. Bumgarner, SF  0.75
3. Kazmir, Cle    0.86     3. Leake, Cin     0.91
4. Archer, TB     0.88     4. Corbin, Ari    0.95
5. Hughes, NY     0.91     5. Lohse, Mil     0.95

   Strikeouts                 Strikeouts
1. Holland, Tex     41     1. Latos, Cin       45       
2. Sale, Chi        40     2. Lincecum, SF     44
3. Lackey, Bos      39     3. Strasburg, Was   38
4. 3 with           36     4. Greinke, LA      36
                           5. 2 with           35

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Jose Fernandez, For a Limited Time Only

The Marlins have announced that their 20-year-old All-Star pitcher, Jose Fernandez, will be shut down after he reaches 150-170 innings pitched. He's at 104.2 as of today. Given his average of 5.8 innings per start, that works out to 8-13 more appearances.

Since he plays for a lousy team, Fernandez is having one of the more anonymous amazing seasons in history. There's been a lot written about all the great young pitchers in baseball this season, and Fernandez is the youngest. He turned 20 only on April 7. His promotion to the Marlins at such a young age, after only one full season in the minors, was a surprise, especially for a team that you'd think would be obsessed with delaying the start of young players' arbitration eligibility clock. He's certainly proved to be up to the task, as he's top 10 in ERA, WHIP, and hits, strikeouts, and home runs per nine innings pitched.

How unusual is that? Really, really unusual. I looked for pitchers 20 or younger who qualified for the ERA title (i.e., at least one inning pitched per game played) with an ERA below 3.00, at least seven strikeouts per nine innings, a WHIP below 1.2, and fewer than one homer per nine innings. This is all I found:

Player ERA SO/9 WHIP HR/9 Year Age Tm W L IP
Dwight Gooden 1.53 8.72 0.965 0.42 1985 20 NYM 24 4 276.2
Fernando Valenzuela 2.48 8.42 1.045 0.51 1981 20 LAD 13 7 192.1
Gary Nolan 2.58 8.18 1.125 0.71 1967 19 CIN 14 8 226.2
Dwight Gooden 2.60 11.39 1.073 0.29 1984 19 NYM 17 9 218.0
Jose Fernandez 2.75 8.86 1.080 0.60 2013 20 MIA 5 5 104.2
Bert Blyleven 2.81 7.24 1.171 0.68 1971 20 MIN 16 15 278.1
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/20/2013.

That isn't an encouraging list. Blyleven's in the Hall, but Gooden, Nolan, and Velenzuela all flamed out early with arm injuries. Despite the recent surge of innings and pitch counts, there isn't a lot of evidence that they prevent injury. Let's hope it works 
for Fernandez, because despite the anonymity of playing for the Marlins, and the possibility that he'll be the only pitcher on the list with a losing record, he's a rare talent.