According to research from Pizza Cutter, pitchers’ strikeout percentage per plate appearance (K/PA) stabilizes after they have faced 150 total batters. It just so happens that all five starting pitchers in the Cardinals’ rotation have recently surpassed this threshold, so I thought it would be fun to create a visual that pits their 2012 K/PA against career rates. The graph is below followed by some brief commentary (after the jump).


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Andy already wrote up a summary of the reactions and analysis in the blogosphere on the Wainwright injury.  Check out his piece and the pieces he links to get a good feel for how the sabermetric community is viewing the injury.  With that said while there has been some analysis done on possible replacements/replacement scenarios, I figured I’d throw my 2 cents in as well.  This first piece will look at the internal candidates.  I limited the look to three options: Bryan Augenstein, Lance Lynn, and Kyle McClellan (you could argue PJ Walters, but he projects worse than Lynn and is therefore uninteresting analytically).  The following table summarizes each pitchers respective ZIPs and PECOTA projections

Zips ERA Zips WAR PECOTA ERA PECOTA WAR
Bryan Augenstein 4.35 2.05 4.92 1.01
Lance Lynn 4.87 1.1 4.39 1.97
Kyle McClellan (St) 4.58 1.43 4.75 1.12

The projection for McClellan is his reliever ERA + 1 (ref this post).  WAR assumes 160 IP.

That’s not the end of the story however; as shifting McClellan to the rotation has an impact on the bullpen as well, so this table is of interest also

Zips ERA Zips WAR PECOTA ERA PECOTA WAR
Fernando Salas 3.79 1.08 3.86 1.01
Kyle McClellan (Re) 3.58 1.33 3.75 1.13

Now we have to combine those two pieces of data to see which course of action has the best WAR. Additionally we have to account for the remaining 50 or so starters innings to get from a number of 210 IP to the 160 I have allotted to these guys. It is assumed that the other 50 would be filled by the next best option of Lynn or Augenstein. That COAs look about like:

Zips WAR PECOTA WAR Avg WAR
Bryan Augenstein 3.7 2.8 3.2
Lance Lynn 3.1 3.5 3.3
Kyle McClellan 3.2 2.7 2.9

WAR represented is the 5th starter spot plus the one reliever slot (modeled at a Leverage Index of 1.4 at 75 innings)

Using the projections as stated above, it appears that the best COA would be to use Lynn as the 5th starter, with Augenstein as a fill in if need be.  That said the numbers are pretty close all the way around, so if you think McClellan could hold his stamina better than the normal reliever making this switch (and thus not losing the 1 run of ERA) then any option is probably pretty close.

Adam Wainwright on July 20, 2008

Image via Wikipedia

And just like that, a cloud developed over the Cardinals’ 2011 season. Let’s start with a couple of quotes… then I’ll guide us through the plethora of opinions and input (links, links, links) on what this means for the Cardinals in 2011 and beyond after the jump.

From the Post Dispatch’s Joe Strauss:

Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals’ ace, projected opening day starter and two-time Cy Young Award contender, will receive a second opinion today after an initial exam found enough damage to a ligament near his right elbow to suggest surgery that would put him out for this season and a large part of 2012.

And from the injury expert himself, Will Carroll, at Sports Illustrated:

If Wainwright has Tommy John surgery, he’ll miss the 2011 season while undergoing the nine-to-twelve month rehab. He should be able to come back without any real challenge, following the same path as Joe Nathan, the Twins closer who is returning from elbow reconstruction. Nathan tore his ligament at a similar part of spring training in 2010 and is throwing without limitations now.

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4 posts in 2 days. Look at PAH9 go. The following post is indirectly related to my Brendan Ryan post. You also should check out Andy’s pet peeve and my top 7 Cardinal prospects.

One of the common criticisms (especially among Cardinal fans) of DIPS pitching stats is that all batted balls are not created equal. Specifically, all GBs are not equal, all FBs are not equal etc. With that thought in mind I wanted to compare a couple of Cardinal pitchers to see if there was a discernable difference in their GBs. To level the playing field I only looked at RHB when Brendan Ryan was playing. I looked at Out+Error rate, making the assumption that the pitcher had no control over the error part. The following table summarizes the results across all hit angles (GBs only)

Out+Error Rate BIP
Carpenter 0.820 311
Wainwright 0.799 328
Lohse 0.731 186

And then across the SS area of responsibility (since that was who we held constant)

Out+Error Rate BIP
Carpenter 0.870 154
Wainwright 0.887 151
Lohse 0.818 88

And in chart form

So what can we attribute the differences to?

Ground ball quality – I would guess that harder hit ground balls would be more likely to make it up the middle (-7.5 in the chart) and through the hole (-27.5). The anecdotal evidence in the data above seems to agree. I’d guess that Lohse gives up the hardest hit balls of the 3.

Defense – Yes Brendan Ryan was in the field, but that isn’t to say that he played identically (both in reaction time and positioning) behind all 3 of these guys. As samples increase this effect would likely decrease.

Park effects – Infield speed isn’t constant across all parks (can adjust for these, but haven’t)

Stringer/Scorer Bias – Are these all groundballs? What is the difference between GBs and LDs? Is the hit location recorded accurately? Is there Hit/Error bias?

Luck – Bad hops, deflections etc.

The real question is what weight you put on each of those factors. I’m not sure we’ll get at the answer to that until we get Field F/X data (if we get field f/x data). For now I’d hesitate to weight the first one (which is what would be ideal to measure) as any more than 50% of the difference. There’s just too much other stuff that could be at play.

This post has been modified from it’s original content, no thanks to some pesky calculation errors.

Follow the money trail! The stat de jour is SIERA, created by Matt Schwartz and Eric Seidman of Baseball Prospectus. SIERA stands for Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average, and let’s face it, See-air-ah is a lot more graceful off of the tongue than Ecks-fip. The BP writers say that SIERA accomplishes the following -

  1. Allows for the fact that a high ground-ball rate is more useful to pitchers who walk more batters, due to the potential that double plays wipe away runners.
  2. Allows for the fact that a low fly ball rate (and therefore, a low HR rate) is less useful to pitchers who strike out a lot of batters (e.g. Johan Santana’s FIP tends to be higher than his ERA because the former treats all HR the same, even though Santana’s skill set portends this bombs allowed will usually be solo shots).
  3. Allows for the fact that adding strikeouts is more useful when you don’t strike out many guys to begin with, since more runners get stranded.
  4. Allows for the fact that adding ground balls is more useful when you already allow a lot of ground balls because there are frequently runners on first.
  5. Corrects for the fact that QERA used GB/BIP instead of GB/PA (e.g. Joel Pineiro is all contact, so increasing his ground-ball rate means more ground balls than if Oliver Perez had done it, given he’s not a high contact guy).
  6. Corrects for the fact that FIP and xFIP use IP as a denominator which means that luck on balls in play changes one’s FIP.

SIERA comes out smelling like a rose when tested against other ERA estimators. In case you’re wondering, the formula for SIERA is -

SIERA = 6.145 – 16.986*(SO/PA) + 11.434*(BB/PA) – 1.858((GB-FB-PU)/PA) + 7.653*((SO/PA)^2) +/- 6.664*(((GB-FB-PU)/PA)^2) + 10.130*(SO/PA)*((GB-FB-PU)/PA) – 5.195*(BB/PA)*((GB-FB-PU)/PA)
where +/- is as before such that it is a negative sign when (GB-FB-PU)/PA is positive and vice versa.

Here’s your 2009 Cardinals, by SIERA, sorted by IP.


Name IP SIERA ERA FIP ERA-SIERA FIP-SIERA
Adam Wainwright 233 3.38 2.63 3.20 0.75 -0.18
Joel Pineiro 214 3.57 3.49 3.36 0.08 -0.20
Chris Carpenter 192.7 3.36 2.24 2.86 1.12 -0.50
Todd Wellemeyer 122.3 5.07 5.89 5.37 -0.82 0.29
Kyle Lohse 117.7 4.47 4.74 4.60 -0.27 0.14
Brad Thompson 80 4.74 4.84 4.70 -0.10 -0.04
Kyle McClellan 66.7 4.44 3.38 3.98 1.06 -0.46
Ryan Franklin 61 4.32 1.92 3.27 2.40 -1.06
Mitchell Boggs 58 4.49 4.19 4.20 0.30 -0.29
Jason Motte 56.7 3.83 4.76 4.86 -0.93 1.03
Trever Miller 43.7 2.88 2.06 3.41 0.82 0.52
Dennys Reyes 41 4.20 3.29 3.91 0.91 -0.30
Blake Hawksworth 40 4.69 2.03 3.83 2.66 -0.86
John Smoltz 38 2.98 4.26 2.75 -1.28 -0.23

A couple of quick thoughts -

  • John Smoltz is 43 years old. I get it. But he deserves a job, because he’s still really good at what he does. Discrimination against the elderly is an ugly thing, MLB general managers.
  • Our bullpen could really suck next year. Our best reliever is a LOOGY. Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan and Blake Hawksworth all had spiffy ERAs, but their SIERA indicates their skills are nigh replacement level. That doesn’t quite “feel” right, so take it for what it’s worth. I still get a sense of evil foreboding about our ‘pen for ’10.  Jason Motte on the other hand comes out looking like the Jason Motte we hyperventilated about not that long ago.
  • Revisiting the turd-storm that was the NL Cy Young this past season, Tim Lincecum’s SIERA was 2.73. Javier Vazquez was 2.87. Dan Haren’s was 3.37.  Just stirrin’ the pot.
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