Sunday, July 28, 2013

Preseason projections revisited--Part 2-pitchers.

Here's the pitcher segment of the PECOTA projections compared with the current numbers.

Once again....I will be using the ERA/FRA/WARP for these numbers. No win/loss records. That is largely team dependent based on run support and other factors and we want to judge these performances based on how the pitcher pitched.

ERA-If you're reading this, you know what that is.

FRA explanation from Baseball Prospectus:

Fair Run Average differs from FIP in a few ways. While FIP is concerned only with what a pitcher is believed to control-typically strikeouts, walks, and home runs, though Prospectus includes hit batsmen in our FIP calculation-Fair Run Average takes things a step further. Pitchers receive credit for good sequencing, thus rewarding pitchers who seem to work out of jams more often than usual. Fair Run Average also considers batted ball distribution, base-out state, and team defensive quality (as measured by Fielding Runs Above Average).

So, without further ado...let's get on it.

Homer Bailey-

Projection: 4.10 ERA/4.46 FRA/2.2 WARP
Actual-      3.77/2.86/3.36/2.8 WARP

Bailey is having his best season, but it's peculiar as well. His underlying advanced stats actually say he's one of the best pitchers in baseball, but for some reason his ERA is higher than it should be. His BABIP is .310, so higher than normal, which means he's been a little hit-unlucky, but not extremely so. By WARP he's actually been the 4th best pitcher in baseball this year, behind only Wainwright, Harvey, and Kershaw. Among pitchers with 100 or more innings pitched, he's 7th in FRA. Basically, he's pitched better than his "traditional" stats indicate, so that makes him a candidate for a big finish to the year if he can continue his current trends. Also, his K/9 innings has jumped up quite a bit from his career averages. It is up to 9.1 this year, which is elite for a starter, and up from 7.3 last season and 7.2 the season before. This is likely due to the fact that oddly, his fastball velocity has went up. For the most part, pitchers lose velocity slowly as they age until it tends to level out in their late 20s or early 30s. A lot of guys throw harder in the minors when they are very young than they do when they mature enough as a pitcher to actually make it to the majors. According to Fangraphs, Bailey is throwing harder this year than he has since 2009, and he sucked in 2009 because he didn't know where it was going. His average fastball velocity in 2013 is 93.9, which is way up from 2012's 92.4 and 2011's 92.2. He did have a shoulder injury in 2011 and 2010, so maybe he's just healthy now and he always had the extra power to the fastball, but it's strange, because for most guys once you lose a mph or two you don't get it back, ever.

Mat Latos-


Pretty close. I don't think Latos gets enough credit from a lot of fans. He's fucking good. According to WARP Latos is currently the 13th best pitcher in baseball this year. The Reds have two of the top 13, and  the only other team that can say that is Detroit, which has 3, Verlander, Sanchez, and Scherzer. How funny is it that in a "down year" for Justin Verlander he's 11th in MLB in WARP? Fuck that guy's good.

Mike Leake-


Man, that ERA sticks out like a sore thumb, doesn't it? A guy who only strikes out 5.5 batters per 9 innings should not have an ERA that low. Fueled by a .271 BABIP in part, but the most striking thing to me is the fact that he's not getting killed by the home runs as much this year. His HR/9 is down from 1.3 the past two seasons to 1 flat this year. That doesn't sound like much, but it does help in the long run, but if that BABIP regressed to the mean Mike Leake could be in for a little regression the last two months. He's having the best year of his young career, but he hasn't pitched as well as the ERA would indicate. He allows more baserunners than either Bailey or Latos but less runs, and that just isn't sustainable. He's had ladyluck on his side. I'm not saying the guy sucks or anything, but he's largely a league average pitcher overperforming his true ability, and baseball is full of statistical anomalys like this. Remember Jack Armstrong? That guy sucked, but he pitched well enough for 3 months once to actually start the damn All Star Game. Good for the Reds Mike Leake is better than Jack Armstrong ever was, but let's not get too jazzed over that pretty ERA, because that's not who Leake is.

Bronson Arroyo-note that these numbers don't include the 7/27 game vs. LA. BP hasn't updated their stats for tonight's games yet. 


In all statistical theories, there are always outliers. Guys who consistently buck the trend of what the advanced stats say. Bronson Arroyo almost always outperforms his underlying advanced numbers for whatever reason. He has his whole career, so his projections are always going to be low, because the system just doesn't factor in guys like him, and there are very few in baseball who can actually sustain "cheating the system" so to speak. Arroyo doesn't strike out enough guys, and he gives up too many home runs. But for whatever reason it works. For Mike Leake, he doesn't have a track record of things like that. Bronson does. If Mike Leake can have an Arroyoish career he will have done quite well. Note, however, that his FRA projection is almost dead on the money. An average BABIP is right around .300. Guys will have some seasons higher, and some seasons lower, but for the most part players tend to have their career BABIP around that level. Arroyo has only had an average or higher BABIP twice in his entire career, which suggests that he is one of the few guys who have consistent control over whether or not balls in play are hits or outs. For more on the BABIP thing (it's called the DIPS theory) read Voros McCracken's groundbreaking article from 2001. I'll link to it here for the newbs who don't have a clue what I'm talking about. It's kind of a must read and a theory that you must grasp if you want to get into sabermetrics, even a little bit. If you think it's a bunch of mularkey then sabermetrics probably aren't for you.

The McCracken article

I'm skipping Johnny Cueto because of injury, and skipping Tony Cingrani due to the fact that there wasn't much to project on him. PECOTA did a projection, but it was based on him spending most of the season in the minors, which isn't happening. He is exceeding his projection that they put out there, largely due to a sky high 10.1 K/9. If he could avoid the walks (3.7 BB/9) he could be a killer. Home run rate is a little too high as well. 

I was going to do a few bullpen guys, but I've been working on this thing for 2 hours, and nobody reads this stuff anyway, so the hell with it. 

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