Big Doin’s This Week July 27, 2011Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Brandon Phillips, Cristhian Martinez, Daniel McCutchen, Daniel Murphy, free baseball, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Michael Cuddyer, Miguel Cairo, Mitch Maier, position players pitching, Scott Proctor, Spectrum Club, unearned runs, weird lines
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When I was a baby sports economist, my father used to refer to busy days as ‘Big Doin’s.’ Well, Major League Baseball has been doin’ big things since my last entry, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t try to mention at least a few of them.
The Braves and the Pirates slugged out a marathon game last night. (Well, maybe not a marathon, but 19 innings is pretty close to 26.2 miles.) I can’t weigh in on the obviously blown call that ended the game, but I was thoroughly impressed with Cristhian Martinez, who pitched a career-high 6.0 innings in relief for the Braves. Martinez had previously pitched 4 innings twice. Scott Proctor got the win when converted starter Daniel McCutchen ‘allowed’ the winning run in the 19th during his 6th inning of work. Fifteen pitchers combined for both teams to get the 37.1 innings covered, all of whom pitch as their primary position.
That’s distinct from Michael Cuddyer, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the Twins in their blowout loss (20-6) to the Rangers on Monday. He allowed two hits but maintains his career 0.00 ERA (since this was the first time he pitched professionally, even counting the minors). Since Cuddyer has DHed a couple of times for the Twins, he joins Mike McCoy and Don Kelly as a 2011 inductee into the prestigious* Spectrum Club (for players who play at both ends of the defensive spectrum in the same season).
Not to be outdone, Mitch Maier of the Royals (a career outfielder who’s also done time at first base and designated hitter) pitched a scoreless ninth against the Red Sox. Mitch has taken two at-bats as DH this year, so welcome to the Spectrum Club!
So, what do Maier and Cuddyer have in common with Reds starter Johnny Cueto? Neither of them allowed an earned run in their last appearance. Unfortunately for Cueto, while Mitch and Michael both had decent defense behind them, Cueto allowed SIX unearned runs in his start against the Mets. Errors by Joey Votto (1B, 1st inning), Brandon Phillips (2B, 3rd inning), and Miguel Cairo (3B, 6th inning) contributed, although Cueto plunking Daniel Murphy didn’t help.
Appendix A: 2011′s Spectrum Club, as of today
Photo credit: Keith Allison. Used under ShareAlike license.
* not a guarantee
A fifteen-inning offensive drought July 18, 2011Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Jacoby Ellsbury, Rays, Red Sox, weird lines
Last night’s ESPN game, between the Red Sox and the Rays, was a pitchers’ duel of the highest magnitude. John at Baseball Reference already looked for other games where both starters had game scores of 85 or higher, and neither team had to call on a position player to pitch, but I thought one of the most interesting things to happen was offensive in nature.
Neither team scored until the sixteenth inning, at which point Dustin Pedroia followed up a John Reddick walk, a Jason Varitek sacrifice, and a Marco Scutaro infield single (to move Reddick to third) with a single to right field. Every batter up to that point was productive and helped manufacture that run… except Jacoby Ellsbury, who flied out to left between Scutaro and Pedroia. In fact, every lineup spot had either a hit, a walk, or a productive out except for Ellsbury, who led off. (Granted, Varitek’s only productivity was his sacrifice, but that’s enough.) Ellsbury had 8 plate appearances, all of them at-bats, and didn’t reach base at all.
Even getting 8 plate appearances is rare. Since 2002 (and through July 7), only 403 batters have had 8 plate appearances, including a handful with 10 and quite a few with 9. All five of the 10-plate-appearance games took place on April 17, but some of them took place in 2008 and some in 2010. (Just an odd coincidence.) Of those 403, only 12 failed to reach base at all. Corey Patterson and Trot Nixon share the record for most plate appearances without reaching base, with 10.
Ellsbury’s streak of 8 plate appearances without reaching base is especially weird because he’s so talented. Ellsbury has a .370 OBP, meaning that on average he reaches base 37% of the time (or, he only gets sent back to the dugout 63% of the time). If we assume last night’s plate appearances were random draws, the probability of 8 times without reaching base would be
or, in English, vanishingly rare.
Tags: Angel Sanchez, blown saves, Brett Wallace, Carlos Marmol, Carlos Zambrano, Chris Johnson, Clint Barmes, epically blown saves, Fernando Rodriguez, Hunter Pence, Jason Marquis, Matt Downs, Michael Bourne, Miguel Batista, Robinson Cancel, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall, weird lines
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Carlos Marmol came in last night to close a fine performance by Carlos Zambrano, who had pitched 8 innings and allowed one earned run on 7 hits, no walks, and 7 strikeouts for a game score of 71. (Zambrano went 0-2, dropping his batting average to a paltry .346.) Marmol had allowed 3 runs in 23 innings pitched prior to last night, with 10 saves, two blown saves, and a record of 1-1.
Then came last night.
On one third of an inning pitched, facing the 6-7-8 part of the Astros’ lineup, Marmol first allowed Brett Wallace to single, followed by Chris Johnson doubling and sending Wallace to third. Matt Downs hit for catcher Robinson Cancel and doubled, sending both Wallace and Johnson home. (Two earned runs.)
At this point, I’d have been willing to let pitcher Fernando Rodriguez hit for himself, but Angel Sanchez came in and sacrifice bunted Downs to third base. Credit Marmol with one-third of an inning pitched. Michael Bourne singled to bring Downs home from third (three earned runs), then stole second to put the winning run in scoring position. Clint Barmes walked, followed by Hunter Pence homering (six earned runs). Mercifully, Sean Marshall came in to finish off the inning, allowing one more single but getting the two outs to end the inning.
It’s surprisingly common to have at least 6 earned runs in one-third or less of an inning pitched. Ryan Dempster even managed to allow seven earned runs in .1 IP to start the game and his team bravely held on for the loss, and Jason Marquis once allowed seven earned runs in NO innings pitched (although in Marquis’ defense he left the bases loaded and Miguel Batista allowed all three inherited runners to score).
So, buck up, Marmol, and buy Mr. Zambrano a steak dinner.
Complete Game Shutout… PSYCH! May 30, 2011Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Angels, Hank Conger, Jason Vargas, Jered Weaver, Mariners, Orioles, Phillies, pitcher, Reds, Roy Halladay, Travis Wood, Twins, weird lines, Zach Britton
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Jered Weaver pitched a brilliant game Saturday night for the Angels against the Twins. He’s had a strange opening to the season, starting with six straight wins and then beginning May with four straight losses followed by a no-decision. Saturday, on four days rest, he pitched nine scoreless innings with 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, no hit batsmen, a Game Score of 88, and a career-high 128 pitches. It’s a good thing he grabbed another win… wait, no he didn’t. The game went into extra innings, the Angels lost, and Weaver walked off the mound with a no decision.
Put another way, if anyone had managed to hit a home run, or if Hank Conger had singled instead of popping fly to third in the eighth, Weaver would have a two-hit complete game shutout, and we’d be talking about how he still had it. Instead, he gets a no decision, and the Angels lost the game.
That doesn’t happen a whole lot, but it does happen enough to take notice. For example, on May 12, a 2-1 win for the Orioles over the Mariners was 0-0 into the 12th. So, both the Mariners’ Jason Vargas (9 IP, 7 H, 0 R, o ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 76 GSc) and the Orioles’ Zach Britton (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 86 GSc) left with complete game shutouts that weren’t.
Similarly, last year, on July 10, Roy Halladay was outpitched by the Reds’ Travis Wood in an 11-inning 1-run loss. Wood managed a game score of 93 on one hit, no walks, and 8 strikeouts, whereas Halladay had a paltry 85 on 5 hits, 1 walk and 9 strikeouts. Neither man got the win, which went to Phillies reliever Jose Contreras.
Pitchers Hit This Year (or, Two Guys Named Buchholz) December 23, 2010Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: baseball-reference.com, Bruce Chen, Clay Buccholz, Evan Meek, George Sherrill, Gustavo Chacin, hit by pitch, Jack Taschner, Joe Blanton, Kenley Jansen, Manny Aybar, Matt Reynolds, Pitchers batting, Taylor Buccholz, weird lines, Yovani Gallardo
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Okay, I admit it. This post was originally conceived as a way to talk about the supremely weird line put up by Gustavo Chacin, who in his only plate appearance for Houston hit a home run to leave him with the maximum season OPS of 5.0. Unfortunately, Raphy at Baseball Reference beat me to it. Instead, I noticed while I was browsing the NL’s home run log to prepare to run some diagnostics on it that Kenley Jansen had two plate appearances comprising one hit and one walk. (Seriously, is there anything this kid can’t do?)
In Kenley’s case, that’s not entirely surprising, since he was a catcher until this season. His numbers weren’t great, but he was competent. What surprised me was that 75 pitchers since 2000 have finished the season with a perfect batting average. 9 were from this year, including Clay Buchholz and his distant cousing Taylor Buchholz. Evan Meek and Bruce Chen matched Jansen’s two plate appearances without an out. None of the perfect batting average crowd had an extra-base hit except for Chacin.
Since 2000, the most plate appearances by a pitcher to keep the perfect batting average was 4 by Manny Aybar in 2000.
At the other end of the spectrum, this year only three pitchers managed a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage without getting any hits at all. George Sherrill and Matt Reynolds both walked in their only plate appearances; Jack Taschner went them one better by recording a sacrifice hit in a second plate appearance.
Finally, to round things out, this year saw Joe Blanton and Heureusement, ici, c’est le Blog‘s favorite pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, each get hit by two pitches. Gallardo had clearly angered other pitchers by being so much more awesome than they were.
Tough Losses July 8, 2010Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Baseball, baseball-reference.com, Dan Haren, Jon Niese, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Ubaldo Jimenez, weird lines, Year of the Pitcher, Yovani Gallardo
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Last night, Jonathon Niese pitched 7.2 innings of respectable work (6 hits, 3 runs, all earned, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, 2 home runs, for a game score of 62) but still took the loss due to his unfortunate lack of run support – the Mets’ only run came in from an Angel Pagan solo homer. This is a prime example of what Bill James called a “Tough Loss”: a game in which the starting pitcher made a quality start but took a loss anyway.
There are two accepted measures of what a quality start is. Officially, a quality start is one with 6 or more innings pitched and 3 or fewer runs. Bill James’ definition used his game score statistic and used 50 as the cutoff point for a quality start. Since a pitcher gets 50 points for walking out on the mound and then adds to or subtracts from that value based on his performance, game score has the nice property of showing whether a pitcher added value to the team or not.
Using the game score definition, there were 393 losses in quality starts last year, including 109 by July 7th. Ubaldo Jimenez and Dan Haren led the league with 7, Roy Halladay had 6, and Yovani Gallardo (who’s quickly becoming my favorite player because he seems to show up in every category) was also up there with 6.
So far this year, though, it seems to be the Year of the Tough Loss. There have already been 230, and Roy Oswalt is already at the 6-tough-loss mark. Halladay is already up at 4. This is consistent with the talk of the Year of the Pitcher, with better pitching (and potentially less use of performance-enhancing drugs) leading to lower run support. That will require a bit more work to confirm, though.
Welcome to the Majors, Jay June 22, 2010Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Blue Jays, Brewers, Chris Gomez, Gary Cohen, hit by pitch, Jack Wilson, Jason Tyner, Jay Sborz, Jeff Francoeur, Justin Miller, major league debuts, Mets, Mitch Stetter, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, pirates, Rod Barajas, Stuff Keith Hernandez Says, Tigers, ugly debuts, weird lines
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Jay Sborz had a rough debut in relief of Justin Verlander during tonight’s Tigers at Mets game when there was a rain delay in the top of the 3rd. He faced seven batters in two-thirds of an inning, plunking the first two – Rod Barajas and Jeff Francoeur – and giving up hits to the last three. As Sborz, who was obviously struggling with nerves, tried to pitch his way out of the inning, Mets commentator Gary Cohen was mocking him mercilessly. “That’s got to be some kind of record,” for one.
Though Gary said it, that pinged my “Stuff Keith Hernandez Says” meter, and I trotted off to Baseball-Reference.com to look it up. Since 1973, six other pitchers who debuted in relief have two hit batsman. Were any of them as bad as Sborz?
We don’t have to go back too far to find someone who was. In 2002, Justin Miller of the Blue Jays made his debut against the Devil Rays and hit Chris Gomez, then Jason Tyner. Miller deserves special recognition – after that beautiful start, he held on to pitch 2 2/3 and got the win!
Honorable mention goes to Mitch Stetter of the Brewers. In a 2007 game against the Pirates, Stetter debuted in the last inning of a 12-2 blowout. He was on the winning side, though it ended up 12-3. Stetter hit Jack Wilson. He threw a wild pitch in the process of walking Nyjer Morgan, then iced the cake by plunking Nate McLouth. That was followed up with a groundout that scored Wilson and a merciful game-ending double play.
At the other end… June 22, 2010Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Andre Ethier, As, Cedrick Bowers, Diamondbacks, Esmerling Vasquez, extra innings, free baseball, home runs, Joey Votto, Michael Wuertz, Ramon Hernandez, Rangers, Reds, Scott Rolen, weird lines
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Although AJ Burnett had a bad first inning last night, the Oakland As had a bad tenth inning. After taking a 2-2 game into extra innings, the Cincinnati Reds knocked three out of the park against pitchers Michael Wuertz and Cedrick Bowers. The first was hit by Ramon Hernandez; Joey Votto and Scott Rolen went deep back to back. Although extra-inning home runs aren’t very rare (there have been 35 so far this year), only three pitchers have surrendered more than one, and neither of the other two (Chad Durbin and Matt Belisle) gave them both up on the same night.
Last year, everyone’s favorite balk-off artist, Arizona’s Esmerling Vasquez, gave up two home runs in extra innings against the Texas Rangers on June 25th. Those were two of 83 free-baseball homers in 2009. Extra-innings home runs are more common in the tops of innings, because in a tied game a home run for the home team is a walk-off whereas the road team will get the chance to capitalize on their momentum, but I would have expected the proportions to be much more different than they are. In 2009, for example, of those 83, only 44 were hit by the away team with 39 hit by the home team (and 33 of those were game-enders).
So far, no batter has more than one extra-innings home run this year, but last year there were several. Andre Ethier led the pack with 3, with a bunch of batters who had 2.
AJ Burnett: Statistical Anomaly June 21, 2010Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: 2 outs, Adam LaRoche, AJ Burnett, baseball-reference.com, first inning, home run, Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds, weird lines
Tonight, A.J. Burnett had a weird first inning in a game that’s still going on as I write this. He got the first two outs fairly easily, and then surrendered home runs to Justin Upton, Adam LaRoche, and Mark Reynolds. Before he knew it, he was down 5-0 in the bottom of the first. That can’t happen very often.
I queried Baseball-Reference.com’s event finder for home runs, then narrowed it down to first inning home-runs with two outs this year. Prior to tonight, there had been 82. None of them came in three-homer games – that answers that.
Just for fun, I checked 2009 as well. In total, there were 209 2-out, first-inning home runs in 2009. Only one of those home runs happened in a three-homer game, so it didn’t happen then, either.
Win, 1 Batter Faced June 10, 2010Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Baseball, baseball-reference.com, Chris Narveson, Elmer Dessens, Eric O'Flaherty, George Kottaras, John Parrish, Jorge Sosa, Mets, Pedro Feliciano, Randy Flores, weird lines
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So far this year, 15 games have ended with the winning pitcher having faced only one batter. Using Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index, I ran a search for those games to examine the trends. The most recent was Elmer Dessens, but the Mets’ Pedro Feliciano leads the league with two.
The most interesting fact to me was that only one third of the games were won by left-handed pitchers (Feliciano twice, Eric O’Flaherty, Randy Flores, and John Parrish). That doesn’t quite make sense because LHPs are more likely to come in for one batter than RHPs. (So far, 189 right-handers have games with one batter faced, compared with 198 lefties). That indicates that wins aren’t distributed uniformly across appearances.
Also interesting is the efficiency shown by Jorge Sosa in the Marlins’ May 31 game against the Brewers. He threw one pitch to pitcher Chris Narveson, who was doubled up along with catcher George Kottaras. Sosa ended up credited with 2/3 of an inning pitched and the win.