Monday, December 1, 2014

The Post Mortem....part 2.

I know, I know, I've been slacking on writing part 2. But part 1 only has 46 views, so I'm not exactly going to make doing this a priority. Fun little hobby, sure, but it's basically for my own enjoyment and no one else's, and if someone thinks it's interesting or cool, great.

Since part 1 covered the position players, part 2 is going to be all about the pitching.

The party line of Reds fans is that they have really good pitching. I'm not sure they have really good pitching. I think they may have ok pitching that looks better than it would on an average fielding team. The Reds defense has been consistently among the best in the game for several years now.

Here's the past few seasons, rated among both NL and AL teams, for Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. (or PADE for short)

2014-3rd
2013-2nd
2012-11th
2011-6th
2010-10th

So, as you can see, they get more help from their defense than most teams.

By FIP the Reds were actually 4th worst in all of baseball with a FIP of 4.01 as a team pitching staff. One might say that you would attribute that to the shoddy bullpen, but that's not really the case. The FIP of the combined relief corps was 3.94, and the FIP for the starters was 4.03. Now, using ERA they were dead in the middle of the pack. 15th out of 30 teams, with a team ERA of 3.59. That's a pretty big difference in FIP and ERA, especially over 1400+ innings of data. The Reds weren't the only team with that large of a split, Seattle and Oakland also had a sizeable split, and coincidentally, (not) those are the 1st and 3rd place teams in PADE.

Now let's look at some of the individual performances, and just like I have done in the past, I will be comparing how they actually performed with their pre-season PECOTA projection from Baseball Prospectus, and saying a few words about each player.

(PECOTA numbers used from left to right: K/9, BB/9, ERA. If other numbers are used I will point those out specifically. I wish they included FIP in their projections, but alas, they do not.)

Mat Latos:
Proj-8.3/2.3/3.16
Act-6.5/2.3/3.25 (FIP was 3.65 due to a pretty good HR rate)

Mat Latos had a pretty good year, when he was able to pitch, which unfortunately, was only 16 times. Everything was pretty much right where it should be, but that K rate is alarmingly low. That K rate was only 5.4 at my midseason review, so it started trickling up as the year went along. Why was that K rate so low? The fastball velocity. Average fastball for the season was 90.7, down from 92.5 from the previous year. He was able to adjust somewhat, throwing the cutter and curveball at higher percentages than previous seasons and the fastball slightly less. He can be effective at 91, but another drop puts him in dangerous territory (and a reason why I wouldn't be opposed to trading him this offseason, but other GMs can see this stuff too, you know.) His bread and butter has always been getting swings and misses up in the zone, and as the season progressed he did have more whiffs in those areas than he did early on.

Johnny Cueto:
Proj-7.3/2.3/3.42
Act-8.9/2.4/2.25 (FIP was 3.30)

Here is what I said about Johnny Cueto on July 14:

Beating the projection in every category! He's been great. Now let's keep him healthy for the stretch. That strikeout rate is also a career high. I expect the ERA to creep up a bit, and probably wind up with a 2.60 or so by the end of the year....and that's quite ok. He's never been a big strikeout guy but that 8.8 k/9 is 15th among all pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. A .220 BABIP is a little eye opening, but that's why I expect the ERA to tick up a bit, because I doubt he'll carry a .220 BABIP straight through.
I was off a little bit there. The BABIP only went up to .238 and the ERA only rose to 2.25. I have nothing else to say. The man pitched amazingly well, better than probably everybody else in the NL not named Kershaw.

Homer Bailey:
Proj-7.9/2.4/3.62
Act-7.7/2.8/3.71 (with a FIP of 3.93)

Revisiting old posts....again, here's what I said about Homer Bailey on July 14:

That ERA has been trending down for a while, and I think it'll wind up in the high 3s. That K rate is right on and the walk rate is close, half a walk per 9 isn't THAT much. He's gotten hurt by a .312 BABIP in a year where the league average is .299. Just dropping that down to average would help trememdously. He's typically around .290 in most seasons, so there's your discrepancy, when it seems like he should have better numbers than he does.

I did a little better with that one. The BABIP did drop to .286. The HR/FB rate was a career high (not counting an 8 start cameo in 2008) and if that drops to his career rate and the other stats stay the same Homer could, and probably should beat that 3.62 ERA projection going forward. FWIW, Steamer (another projection system that already has 2015 projections available) has Homer at 3.65 for 2015. He's 28 now. He is what he is. He's a good pitcher that will most likely never be a great one, and that's ok. Not everybody can be Chris Sale or Clayton Kershaw.

Mike Leake:
Proj-6.3/2.0/4.16
Act-6.9/2.1/3.70 (with a 3.88 FIP)

Fell off slightly in the second half, but you know what? I'm in. He's not flashy like some of the other guys, and the stuff looks like crap when you are watching, but he's really a solid mid-rotation guy.

Aroldis Chapman:
Proj-13.6/4.0/2.31
Act-17.7/4.0/2.00 (with an 0.89 FIP!!)

Still video game numbers. You almost feel bad for the hitters. (I said almost.)

Alfredo Simon:
Proj-7.3/2.9/4.22 (remember those projections were ran with him as a reliever)
Act-5.8/2.6/3.44 (4.33 FIP)

Read older posts for my feelings on Simon. They haven't changed. I still think he's a back of the rotation guy/pen guy going forward.

Not going to hit too many of the bullpen guys, (or Tony Cingrani, because he didn't pitch after I last did this) because they had a revolving door in the second half, and some of the prospects on the pitching side could be ready to contribute soon at least in the pen. Not all of those guys are going to stick as starters, and heck, most relief pitchers are/were failed starters anyway. I think there might be quite a bit of churn this offseason or early next season in the pen.



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