Thursday, July 07, 2005

State of the Angels - Part III.II

After taking a look at how the Angels' hitters did so far this season compared to the predictions made by the Baseball Think Factory, I'll now check how the pitchers have fared so far.

Jarrod Washburn (3.06 ERA, 5-3)
Expected: 4.60 ERA, 13-10
Jarrod Washburn is having a quite bizarre season. On the one hand, his ERA is excellent, 4th in the league (he pushed Colon back to 5th place) and he also has the 4th best PR or RSAA (pitching runs or runs saved above average) in the AL with 21, which means that opponents would have score 21 more runs had an average pitcher pitched Washburn's inning instead of himself.
On the other had, his secondary stats are only average at best.
Only 4.7 K/9, which is the worst rate on the Angels staff (if you don't count Prinz and Bootcheck, who have 3 games each) and 39th in the AL.
He allows 2.65 BB/9, which is decent, but not great (29th AL). And Washburn allows more than one hit per inning (118 H in 106 IP), which adds up to a WHIP of 1.41 (35th AL). He doesn't even keep the ball in the park especially well, giving up an average 1.03 dingers in nine innings (12 HR total). He's also hit relatively hard, giving up line drives on 18.9% of his balls in play. Batters facing Washburn hit .290, with an OBP of .345 and .437 SLG. Which is about what Shannon Stewart (.294, .342, .431) has done this year.
Wherever I look, I see only average numbers indicating that Washburn's ERA should be about a run higher (at least).
So what's the reason that it's still so low?
First, Washburn has been helped by the defense behing him. A lot! His FIP (Fielded Independend Pitching, i.e. his ERA with an average defense) is 4.50!!! So if Washburn played, let's say, for the Yankees, his ERA would be 1.50 runs higher.
However, Washburn actually has a relatively high BAIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .287 (33th), so where's the defense?
First, nobody has stolen a base of Washburn this year yet. All four baserunners attempting a steal were gunned down. Second, and probably more important, Washburn already had 17 double plays turned behind him (3rd in the league). All the other pitchers with 14 or more DP have groundball to flyball ratios of 1.63, 1.32, 2.02, 1.46 and 2.25, while Washburn's is 1.07. I'm not sure whether this means that Washburn has been lucky or that he really knows how to get a DP when he needs one.

One last thing though. Here are two splits from Washburn:
.331, .377, .515 and
.269, .329, .399
No, these are not his righty-lefty splits, though they are quite similar (.298, .356, .467 to .254, .289, .296), these are his home-away splits. And that's no unusual for him. He has better numbers pitching away at least since 2002 (I don't have stats for '01 and earlier). I have no explanation for this other than that Washburn might feel more pressure pitching in front of his hometown fans. Whatever the reason might be, I just hope that Mike Scioscia keeps these numbers in mind when he arranges the postseason rotation.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

State of the Angels - Part III.I

After taking a look at how the Angels' hitters did so far this season compared to the predictions made by the Baseball Think Factory, I'll now check how the pitchers have fared so far.

Bartolo Colon (3.08 ERA, 11-4)
Expected: 4.60 ERA, 16-12
So far, Colon is obviously having a great season. Right now, he is 4th in the league in ERA, 4th in innings and 3rd in wins. If the Cy Young voting would be today, only Roy Halladay (Blue Jays), Mark Buehrle (White Sox) and maybe Johan Santana (Twins) would finish better than Colon.
Why is Colon so successful this year? What is he doing differently to last year, when he was hit hard and had an ERA of 5.01 (and somehow still managed to win 18 games).
First, he is not missing more bats. His strikeout rate is actually lower than it was last year (6.65 K/9 to 6.83), so his "stuff" is the same as in 2004. But he nearly cut down his BB/9 rate in half (1.76 to 3.07) and he's done a better job of keeping the ball in the park (11 homeruns allowed so far compared to 38 during 2004). That's not great (0.88 HR per 9 innings is 20th in the league. John Lackey is 12th with 0.72), but ok and much better than last year (1.64). Opponents hit a .243 average of him, which is only 10th in the league, but his OBP allowed is only .280, which is good for 4th. When opponents hit Bartolo, they usually don't hit him hard. His .364 SLG against also ranks in the Top 10 (6th). All this adds up to an OPS against of .644, 4th in the league. In other words, hitters facing Colon turn into Orlando Cabrera (.648 OPS, 158th in the league), which you know isn't a good thing if you have seen OC hit this year.
So let's sum up: Throw strikes, keep the ball in the park, try not to get hit too hard and you'll do fine. Having an offense that give you 4.90 runs per game sure is helping, though that's only average run support (53rd).

One last thing, though. Bartolo's Balls in Play Average (Batting Average Against, not including HR or K) is only .267, which is 18th in the league. This is a good rate, maybe a little too good, because it might mean that Bartolo's been a little bit lucky so far (on the other hand, Roy Halladay has a BIPA of only .248. Also, Contreras and Garland of the White Sox are 2nd and 3rd on this list. They certainly have been lucky so far.)

CYP (Cy Young Probability) for Colon: 15%