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).
I’m not entirely certain where to start a blog post after not having made an appearance for a large number of months. I’ve been absent from the interwebs for a few reasons (note this is the part to skip if you want to get to the baseball analysis). I’ve migrated jobs a few times (all positive), but now have less free time on my hands at work to randomly do baseball analysis. At the same time I’ve just not been very interested in doing data analysis outside of work after having spent the entire day doing it at work. If you’ve read anything I’ve done in the past it was always very data heavy, and I didn’t feel I had a whole lot to add to the discussion without being able/willing to get my hands dirty on the data side. So now what? I’m going to try and ease my way back into it with some sporadic posting and we’ll see where it goes from there.
A lot has happened since I wrote anything baseball related. The Cards capped an unfathomable run with a World Series title (YAY!), Albert Pujols left for the greener pastures of Anaheim (BOO!), the Cards didn’t hamstring their payroll with the Albert Pujols contract (YAY!), and Tony LaRussa retired (YAY!, no BOO!, well I don’t know). My opinions on those are concisely summarized in the parentheticals, and I’m sure a great deal of sabermetric ink has been spilled on the topics as well. I’m going to let those topics lie and look at Lance Lynn, starter.
On twitter the other day, I asked for some article ideas and a friend of mine asked me to analyze the bullpen and lament all of the blown saves. After all, Franklin blew four saves in the first month of the season… take those away and the Cardinals would be right in the thick of the NL Central race, right? Well, not exactly… but it’s probably fortunate that Albert is holding the sniper rifle in the picture to the right instead of one of 3 million fans that will walk through Busch Stadium’s gates this season.
As detailed last week, I’ll be monitoring the competition for the fifth starter spot. Here are the ERAs for the contenders in week number two:
- Kyle McClellan – 1.29
- Lance Lynn – 5.14
- Adam Ottavino – 0.00
- Brandon Dickson – 7.50
- Bryan Augenstein – 1.50
- Raul Valdes – 12.00
The Cardinals threw me a curve ball by scrimmaging the Braves in a B-game on Wednesday, March 9th. Since the data from that game was not made available through Gameday, most of the players were minor leaguers, and the numbers were not even included on players’ overall stat lines at MLB.com, they aren’t represented in the graphs here either.
Derrick Goold provided us with the following numbers:
The lines for the pitchers:
Snell … 3 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 groundouts.
Valdes … 2 IP, 1 H*, 0 BB, 0 Ks, 3 groundouts.
* Infield hit that ricocheted off of him.
Ottavino … 2 IP, 0 H, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 2 groundouts*.
* One on a bunt back to him.
Today, Strauss narrowed the competition:
La Russa initially claimed 6-7 arms were in the fifth starter competition; however, two of those, P.J. Walters and Adam Ottavino, were optioned out of major-league camp Friday. Prospect Brandon Dickson remains after laboring through a three-inning appearance March 8 against the Boston Red Sox.
That still leaves us with five of the six names we’ve been monitoring: Kyle McClellan, Lance Lynn, Brandon Dickson, Bryan Augenstein, and Raul Valdes. Since Ottavino is no longer being considered by the club, he will not appear in the graphs below. The good news is that he still has a proud mother who loves him, as evidenced by her comments in last week’s installment.
Remember, all of these numbers are subject to small sample size and not necessarily indicative of players’ true talents. All of these pitchers are pretty close together in skill, and their opportunity to win a spot in the rotation is based on a very brief window of observation. Such is the nature of Spring Training. Onwards to the graphs…
The contenders’ ERA at the end of week one:
- Kyle McClellan – 0.00
- Lance Lynn – 0.00
- Adam Ottavino – 0.00
- Brandon Dickson – 3.00
- Bryan Augenstein – 2.25
- Raul Valdes – 12.00
- Shelby Miller – 0.00
I spent some time tracking numbers in MLB’s Gameday feature to bring you the following graphs. I plan on recreating them once weekly until a fifth starter has been declared. It might be fun to see how the graphs transform between weeks… and to see how opinions/impressions change… not that I’d ever make a decision based on Spring Training performance. Never! But, in truth, this might be one of few (only?) scenarios in which it might be acceptable to evaluate players on small sample size performance. Would you argue that any of the candidates, in their short careers, have clearly distinguished themselves as the superior option? As Steve showed in an earlier post (Internal Options), the projection systems have lumped these guys together, none offering much more than the other. The Cardinals need a guy to step up and rise to the occasion. The opportunity is there. Maybe this can serve as motivation that allows one contender to reach a new level in his game.
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|
|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|
|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|
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.
Steve gave his Top 7 Cardinal prospects earlier today. You didn’t think the godfather of FR was going to sit idly by and not chime in, did you? Without further adieu -
1. Shelby Miller – One year removed from high school, Shelby Miller struck out 32% of the batters he faced in the Midwest League while posting a walk rate under 3 per 9. That’s tremendous. He predominantly threw his fastball, which may account for some of his .366 BABIP. As he gets more of a feel for his breaking stuff and as luck corrects itself, I have a feeling that number will drop. I’m glad the Cardinals were careful with his workload.
2. Zack Cox – I really liked the Cox pick, and I’d like to believe there’s a good chance that he’s the everyday third baseman of the future. My only concern is the lack of power in his sophomore season at Arkansas, but from what I read about Cox, it seems like he has the aptitude to make adjustments. I’ve read mixed reviews about his glove, and I almost can’t help but wonder if he’s not Brett Wallace 2.
3. Carlos Matias – I’m going to go bananas here and buy into the the hype. 99 MPH with control? I need some oxygen. The Dominican Summer League isn’t somewhere to look for reliable statistical information, but 78 K’s in 59 innings is pretty good.
4. Lance Lynn – I seem to remember a period when Lynn was getting consistently hammered, but truth be told, he put together a pretty solid season. Triple-A has swallowed up some other Cardinal pitching prospects in the past in their first go (Ottavino, Hawksworth), but Lynn posted decent walk, strikeout and ground ball rates in his first season in Triple-A. There’s nothing really spectacular about Lynn, but he’s gotta be at least a win (maybe two better) than the monster that is Lohssan.
5. Seth Blair – I saw him pitch in the College World Series, and his change-up is a sight to behold. His fastball velocity wasn’t at the as-advertised range of 94-95; it was more in the 89-91 range, but I’m willing to chalk that up to fatigue for now.
6 . Eduardo Sánchez – I’ve fallen into the trap of rating relievers too high in times past, but Sánchez continued his success in the higher levels of the minors. He should be a solid set-up man, and could possibly be the closer of the future.
7. Matt Carpenter – He fell to the 13th round as a senior in last year’s draft, but has done nothing but produced. He has a line-drive, contact oriented type of swing and doesn’t have a ton of power, but that’s OK so long as he continues to walk at a good clip. I’ve seen him on one occasion and from what little I could gather, his glove was a plus.
Personal cheeseballs: Oscar Taveras, Tommy Pham, Joe Kelly. Oscar Taveras and Pham are cut from a similar cloth, while Taveras is the hype of the day while Pham has been languishing until this past season. Both have tools out of the ying-yang, power, speed and arm strength. Taveras probably has better power, while Pham has shown the ability to take a walk.
Joe Kelly is a ground-ball machine with his 93-96 MPH sinker of his, and he has a good slider. His numbers at the QC were a little underwhelming, but this was his first full season starting since high school, and if all else fails, he should do well in relief.
Just missed: Dan Descalso, Tyrell Jenkins.