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Do the Mets have it right against the Diamondbacks? August 7, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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The Mets are idle on Monday but begin a homestand on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. They’ll also see the San Diego Padres before heading to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks and play a four-game series against San Francisco and three against the Cardinals.

The Dbacks are notable as one of the most right-handed lineups in the majors. Arizona’s left-handed batters have made only 1149 plate appearances as of Sunday morning; for comparison, the Phillies have had 1896, Miami 1477, Washington 1881, and Atlanta a whopping 2386. Fortunately, the rotation is leaning toward some of our least effective starters against lefties.

Although Tuesday night starter Steven Matz is a southpaw, he takes a beating against lefties. He allows a .308 OBP to righties but a .348 OBP against left-handers. Wednesday night starter Bartolo Colon is about even (.298 OBP regardless of handedness), and Thursday afternoon starter Noah Syndergaard allows a .333 OBP to left-handers but holds right-handers to a .257 mark.

Outfielder Jake Lamb is likely to be the hardest lefty to get rid of. Fortunately, Erik Goeddel has held lefties to a .219 OBP in 32 plate appearances (.220 vs right-handers in 59 PA). Goeddel has really been a sleeper for the Mets this year, although those numbers are deflated a bit by a lower-than-average BAbip. That means that the Mets can confidently use Goeddel regardless of the arrangement of batters. In addition, traditional LOOGY Josh Edgin is available for crucial outs, even as alleged left-handed specialist Jerry Blevins has allowed a .275 OBP to left-handers against a .250 OBP to right-handers.

Future Mets closer Hansel Robles has continued his weird reverse split; he’s holding lefties to a .272 OBP while allowing a .333 OBP to righties (inflated a bit by a high BAbip). That’s not as good as Addison Reed (.193 vs RHB, .262 vs LHB), but it’s still fairly solid. Robles, incidentally, is 5-0 with 3 holds and a 2.28 ERA on a very slightly high BAbip since his 3 2/3 of relief for Bartolo Colon. Although he melted down against Mark Teixeira, he’s still maintained a 3.0 KBB ratio in those last 16 games.

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Chad Billingsley’s Home Run June 6, 2011

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Chad Billingsley had what was by all accounts an unremarkable start on the mound last night: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, all of them earned, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 HBP. Considering that the Dodgers have seven tough losses already (only the Rays and the Nationals have more), this would ordinarily be a short entry commenting on how Billingsley needs some work.

Actually, scratch that. I wouldn’t make that entry – the folks over at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness would.

Billingsley managed to earn a mention last night by hitting the second home run of his career (solo in the second) and going 2 for 2 with a walk. Billingsley’s Win Probability Added (WPA) from the plate was a team-leading .215 (Matt Kemp was second with .168). Of course, he evened that out with actually subtracting WPA as a pitcher. Still, his walk in the third forced Casey Blake in for a second RBI, and his double in the fifth brought James Loney home and ultimately pulled Reds starter Travis Wood out of the game.

Oddly, Wood himself managed a three-RBI night back on May 9, as did the Diamondbacks’ Zach Duke on May 28. Like Billingsley, both of them took the win in those games.

The most stylish home runs by pitchers happen when the player doesn’t even know he’s a pitcher, though – on April 13, 2009, Nick Swisher hit a home run in the top of the fourth inning while playing first base and then was called on to pitch the bottom of the 8th in a 15-5 loss to the Rays. He’s the only player in the last 10 years to start the game as a position player, hit a home run, and pitch. Admittedly, that’s a weird set of conditions. Luckily, there’s another instance that almost fits, so I don’t feel like I’m cheating. Keith Osik didn’t start on May 20, 2000, but came in as part of a triple-switch in the top of the 8th to play third base. Osik hit a two-run homer to bring Mike Benjamin home in the bottom of the 8th, then gave up 5 earned runs on 5 hits in the top of the 9th.

Hopefully Billingsley will repeat his performance at the plate and will continue cleaning up on the mound. Last night was his first Cheap Win of the year, and he already has two Tough Losses. Not a bad showing as far as ability goes.

Edwin Jackson, Fourth No-Hitter of 2010 June 25, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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Tonight, Edwin Jackson of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitched a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s the fourth no-hitter of this year, following Ubaldo Jimenez and the perfect games by Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay.

Two questions come to mind immediately:

  1. How likely is a season with 4 no-hitters?
  2. Does this mean we’re on pace for a lot more?

The second question is pretty easy to dispense with. Taking a look at the list of all no-hitters (which interestingly enough includes several losses), it’s hard to predict a pattern. No-hitters aren’t uniformly distributed over time, so saying that we’ve had 4 no-hitters in x games doesn’t tell us anything meaningful about a pace.

The first is a bit more interesting. I’m interested in the frequency of no-hitters, so I’m going to take a look at the list of frequencies here and take a page from Martin over at BayesBall in using the Poisson distribution to figure out whether this is something we can expect.

The Poisson distribution takes the form

f(n; \lambda)=\frac{\lambda^n e^{-\lambda}}{n!}

where \lambda is the expected number of occurrences and we want to know how likely it would be to have n occurrences based on that.

Using Martin’s numbers – 201506 opportunities for no-hitters and an average of 4112 games per season from 1961 to 2009 – I looked at the number of no-hitters since 1961 (120) and determined that an average season should return about 2.44876 no-hitters. That means

\lambda =  2.44876

and

f(n; \lambda = 2.44876)=\frac{2.44876^n  (.0864)}{n!}

Above is the distribution. p is the probability of exactly n no-hitters being thrown in a single season of 4112 games; cdf is the cumulative probability, or the probability of n or fewer no-hitters; p49 is the predicted number of seasons out of 49 (1961-2009) that we would expect to have n no-hitters; obs is the observed number of seasons with n no-hitters; cp49 is the predicted number of seasons with n or fewer no-hitters; and cobs is the observed number of seasons with n or fewer no-hitters.

It’s clear that 4 or even 5 no-hitters is a perfectly reasonable number to expect.

2.448760831

At the other end… June 22, 2010

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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.

Appearances as Pitcher and DH June 17, 2010

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Earlier this year, Felipe Lopez pitched in relief for the St. Louis Cardinals in their 20-inning game against the Mets. Last year, he also played DH during an interleague game for Arizona. That made me curious how many players have at least one appearance each at DH and pitcher. I generated this table at Baseball Reference to check.

Several of these – for example, the bottom two in the list – were pitchers who started games at DH to allow their managers to insert hitting specialists when the DH came up. This led to a rule that the DH has to come to bat at least once unless the opposing team changes pitchers.

More interesting are the three at the top of the list – Jeff Kunkel, Wade Boggs, and Mark Loretta – all of whom have two seasons in which they both DHed and pitched. Loretta pitched an inning in 2001 and a single out in 2009, with Kunkel pitching for Texas in 1988 and 1989 and Boggs pitching for the Yankees in 1997 and the Rays in 1999. Hopefully the Cards will find an excuse to DH Lopez at some point this year just to even things out.

Quickie: Balk-Offs June 1, 2010

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Last night, Esmerling Vasquez took the loss in relief for Arizona against the Dodgers. In the bottom of the 9th inning with the score tied, Vasquez balked with a runner on third, bringing in the winning run.

Balks are fun. The rule is designed to keep the pitcher from “deceiving the baserunner,” but also serves to encourage good fundamentals in young pitchers at the lower levels of play. For example, it’s a balk to even accidentally drop the ball.

Walk-off balks (balk-offs) are fairly rare. It’s not surprising that Vasquez, a sophomore in MLB, was fooled by Casey Blake, because balks can result from inexperience, and it’s fairly rare to have an inexperienced pitcher throwing the bottom of the 9th inning in a tied game. I ran a search on Baseball-Reference.com for losing pitchers with at least one balk who finished the game for the visiting team, which are necessary conditions (but not sufficient) to find a balk-off. After wading through the game logs, I found that the most recent balk-off was almost two years ago, when Colorado visited Atlanta in September of 2008. Taylor Buchholz balked in Kelly Johnson to take the loss.

Buchholz was in his third (and so far final) major-league season and is best known for having allegedly failed a trade physical when Houston tried to trade him to the White Sox. He’s still with Colorado and currently on the 60-day DL for Tommy John surgery.

Pitchers with 4+ RBIs (Sorry, Mets fans) September 23, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Academia, Baseball.
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Last night, the Cubs’ Jason Marquis hit a rare grand slam. Even rarer is that Marquis was the starting pitcher and got the win. Still rarer: Marquis had one hit and 5 RBIs.

That raises the question: just how common an event is Jason’s productivity?

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