Thursday, May 05, 2005

Margin of Error

Runelvys Hernandez on the latest Royal loss:

“That was the game right there,” Hernandez said. “A flat slider to Dye. That was a bad pitch. To Pierzynski, my change-up was flat. That was a real bad pitch.”

That's it: A Joe Crede homer (where you just tip your hat to Crede for hitting a good pitch) and two bad pitches in one inning. Otherwise, Elvys was very effective.

These are rough days for Royal starting pitchers. The Royal (no) offense puts so much pressure on them. Will it help these pitchers in the long run to constantly have to pitch under close game pressure, knowing that their offense is not going to provide high-scoring games very often?

Thee Three (Greinke, Bautista, Hernandez)

93.2 IP, 95H, 32BB, 59K (5.6K/9), 1.36 WHIP, 4.52 ERA

Not exactly matching the performance of the trio formerly known as the Big Three, but collectively these are pretty decent #3/#4 starter type performances.

Greinke has a .295 BABIP, which is a bit higher than the .270 BABIP he compiled last season. Some analysts suggested that Greinke was getting lucky with his BABIP last year and he would suffer somewhat once his average regressed to the mean (under the assumption that this average is essentially random and NOT under the control of the pitcher).

So how do the Royals' worst pitchers fare on BABIP?

Shawn Camp: .400
Nate Field: .480
Jaime Cerda: .474

Are Camp, Field and Cerda merely unlucky on BABIP? Of course not. Opposing hitters creamed the ball all over the park against these three, which is the reason why Camp and Field are in AAA right now (and Cerda won't be far behind). I assume over the course of the games they pitch they will face a relatively random sample of hitters of different quality levels. I have sympathy for the DIPS notion that pitching outcomes are to a large extent determined by defense (and the Royals have a terrible defense, for sure), but I'm also sure that bad pitching, all other things being equal, is hit much harder on average more than good pitching, which increases the likelihood of a ball-in-play becoming a hit.

The Hardball Times has tried to refine DIPS theory by measuring line drive %, a proxy for the quality of the opponent's ball in play (they were also the crew who predicted a slight decline for Greinke based on his relatively high LD% and relatively low BABIP).

Unfortunately, they don't have 2005 stats available yet. It would be interesting to test the relationship between BABIP and LD% for the 2005 Royals.


At 12:12 PM, Anonymous FN said...

I always chuckle when pitchers suggest that "I [only] made one/two/three bad pitches and that was the game ...". Do they really believe that? Surely they also make any number of other 'bad' pitches which luckily don't get hit, or which get hit right at someone for an out.

Or maybe any pitch that doesn't result in a hit is, by pitchers' definition, a good pitch?


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