Throw It Like a Ballplayer

providing baseball commentary and ponderings since April 2010

Posts Tagged ‘pitching’

Punctuated Home Run Equilibrium: Part III

Posted by dannmckeegan on May 27, 2010

From Coming Home Through Expansion: Waves #2 and #3

This is the third in a multi-part series examining the history of home run rates in Major League Baseball. Inspired by my disagreement with J.C. Bradbury’s opinion on the importance of steroids in the rise in home runs over the last 15 years, this research attempts to look beyond statistical expectations.  Rather than providing explanations for changes in home run rate, this series hopes to provide the reader with causal relationships not drawn from correlation, but rather from actual events.  Part One introduced Mr. Bradbury‘s argument, as well as my initial concerns with the position.  Part Two explores the Roaring Twenties and the decade’s end, where we see that a small piece of large puzzle can explain what appears to be widespread instability.

Following a plummeting rate of home runs per game (HR/G) during World War II, the return of the stars and the subsequent evolution of the American way of life led to what appears as a dramatic spike in power at the big league level.  Today’s entry examines what history has to say not from a purely numerical level, but also from a historical examination.

To be perfectly clear, I am not attempting to weave a narrative in retrospect.  Rather, my argument is that the peaks and troughs throughout history are largely evolutionary and incidental, byproducts of other socio-historical factors endemic to the game or experienced by the players.  The ups and downs that appear as data points are functionally independent of one another.  Extremes either high or low have historically tended to correct, if not overcorrect, themselves from year to year.  We will see this a number of times in today’s article. Read the rest of this entry »


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Cubs Sign Howry, Option Berg, DFA Patton

Posted by dannmckeegan on May 21, 2010

Veteran bad pitcher Bob Howry will be in uniform tonight when the Cubs take on the Rangers at the Ballpark at Arlington.  Unfortunately, it won’t be a Rangers uniform.  Howry’s career numbers look just  fine, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank.  He was so bad, Arizona let him go. In 14.1 IP for the DBacks, Howry K’d 6, walked 6, and served up 6 home runs.  He’s allowed 91 homers in 767 innings in a career that began in 1998 on the South Side.

His .245 batting average against and .287 BABIP against are attractive, but the average against has been around .310 in both 2010 and 2008.  The 2.62 K/BB rate, similarly looks great until we see the year-to-year inconsistencies.

He’s lost about 2-3 mph off of all three of his pitches, a fastball (92.4 to 89.8), a slider (85 to 82.7), and a change (85.1 to 83).  His fastball has always been his bread and butter, a pitch he likes to throw about 75% of the time.  The slider is a 15-20% pitcher, and the change is somewhere near 5%.

People are swinging more, but making just about the same kind of contact.  That generally means he, well, sucks now.

How much he sucks will be the question.  There is a suck spot open on the roster with Esmailin Caridad on the DL and Jeff Stevens having a nice inning against the Phillies.  Justin Berg will be sent toward Iowa, but odds are 10:3 that he misses Des Moines on four straight attempts and ends up walking back from Ames.  To make room for Howry on the 40-man roster, David Patton was DFA’d.

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Looking at LOOGYs

Posted by dannmckeegan on May 5, 2010

James Russell - MiLB

Cubs rookie, loogy James Russell. I'd provide a better picture, but none exist. While there is no reason not to record a LOOGY for posterity, even in a digital age, photographers would hate to waste the film. At least that's what they tell the poor kids.

Today we’ll be taking a look at the LOOGY, one of the most specialized positions in MLB.

The LOOGY, for those who don’t know, is the Left-Handed One-Out Guy. He’s a relief pitcher who averages less than an inning per appearance and is expected to come in for a specific hitter or two in the late innings. Used correctly, he’ll have something like twice as many appearances as innings pitches. The only situations he’ll usually see are the crucial short-relief situations and the occasional mop-up duty where ERAs get blown up and any stat imaginable gets blown to hell. Which certainly makes any sort of analysis of a pitcher you can miss by blinking all the more fun a month in.

Let’s see who falls where.

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Updates: TTO; Bradley; Silva; Bullpen

Posted by dannmckeegan on April 13, 2010

Carlos Silva and Milton Bradley are not going to leave me alone.  Studying Silva’s fall from grace is interesting and more complicated than I thought.  Bradley’s saga keeps getting more and more storied.  There’s some tangential follow-up to the three true outcomes entry from a couple days ago.  And the bullpen craziness is bugging the hell out of me.  I’ll have more later, but I’ll keep these four mini topics together.

Third things first: Read the rest of this entry »

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