Saturday, April 26, 2014

23 games in the books....time for me to ramble on.

I hate April. Baseball statistics in April are a bitch. That said, I think there are a few things that we've either learned, or can analyze somewhat. I'll try to hit on some of the hot button issues going on in Reds Land up to this point.

What's the deal with JJ Hoover?

Well, he started out pretty crappy last season as well, although this run is lasting a bit longer than it did last year. The main problem is walks. He's currently walking 24.2% of batters faced. That will go down. I'm very confident of that. If it doesn't he'll be pumping gas. That's second in all of baseball among people with more than 5 innings pitched. And that's another issue. It's 5 innings! 5 1/3 to be exact. (for future reference, I am going to refer to thirds of innings as 5.1, or 5.2 going forward, although it's not mathematically correct, it's easier to read and type) Think about it. If a starting pitcher has 5 bad innings, it's one start. For a reliever, that's a lost month. That's part of the reason relief pitchers are so volatile from year to year. A guy may just have a hot or cold streak that lasts a whole season because he may only pitch 60 innings in one year, but for a starter that same workload is a quarter of a season. Makes it hard to tell if a guy is actually pitching to his true skill level or just on a run of good or bad luck. (Phil Norton in 2003 says hi, and for the record, that guy sucked, I don't care how good he was for a month in 2003) But anyway, if Hoover can stop walking guys he'll be fine. His stuff is still there. The strikeout rate is a little lower than career rates, but still very good, and usually if guys just lose their stuff the strikeout rate will drop. If he doesn't stop walking guys he'll be driving down 71 to meet some new AAA teammates, but I think past success will give him a bit of a leash.

What about Homer Bailey? What the fuck man?

It's frustrating. I know. 7 Home runs in 5 starts? The good news is that this isn't going to continue. That's pretty much a guarantee. Homer's HR/FB ratio is currently 29.2% (Meaning that that percent of fly balls hit off of him are leaving the yard) That's unsustainably high, and part of the problem with looking too closely at April small sample size numbers. For some context, league average is around 11%, and the HIGHEST OF ALL TIME (at least since Retrosheet, and Baseball Info Solutions starting tracking it, which only goes back 11 or 12 years I think) is Odalis Perez in 2003 with 19.7%. (By the way, our own Mike Leake's 2012 season is 13th worst all time) So, unless you think that Homer is going to break the record by 10%, be safe in saying that that number is going to regress. Is that Homer's only issue right now? Well, pretty much. His walk rate is a little elevated, but his strikeout rate is actually at a career high right now. When some more of those fly balls start finding gloves instead of grandstands, he'll probably be gangbusters.

In case you want to see that list of HR/FB all time worst season ratios, you can find that HERE.

Zack Cozart really sucks ass, right?

Pretty much. But even he's not this bad. As I type this, he's sitting at .147/.179/.240. He's actually striking out slightly less than his career numbers...problem is, his walk rate has cratered. His BABIP is an unsustainably low .151. He's put 66 balls in play and only has 10 hits. If you normalize that to his career line, (or as close to it as I can mathmatically get), just adding singles, no extra base hits, which you can't assume that they would all be singles but I'm being conservative here, that would raise his line to .250/.270/.347. That's not great, at all, but being that his career line is .246/.280/.384 that's pretty close. I'd expect that slugging percentage to rise a bit. Just changing one of those added hits to an extra base hit would put it right on target, I'd say.

Devin Mesoraco is going to fall to earth, right?

Well no shit sherlock. He's not fucking Ted Williams.

What about DatDudeBP?

I'm a little concerned, quite frankly. Here's why. Look at the following screenshot and look at the columns I circled. I know it's early, but it's not a good trend.
Why is this happening? Well, he's swinging more than he ever has. He's currently swinging at a baffling 43% of pitches OUTSIDE of the strikezone. (He's also swinging slightly more at pitches IN the strikezone. He's swinging more overall) Pitchers know they can get him out right now without challenging him because he will chase. I know it's early and this could change, mind you, but his career number is only 34%, which still isn't that great, but Brandon has always been a bit of a free swinger. Unfortunately, his contact rate is down from 79% to 72%. Swinging more and making less contact is not a good recipe for success, obviously.