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Complete Game Shutout… PSYCH! May 30, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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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.

15 Strikeouts Early In The Season April 11, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Apparently, Jered Weaver wants to make a stronger case for the Cy Young this year.

Last night, the Los Angeles Angeles hosted the Toronto Blue Jays and won handily 3-1. Weaver was the starter and went an impressive 7 2/3 innings with 125 pitches before handing the ball to Hisanori Takahashi. Tak got one crucial out before Fernando Rodney came in for the save.

Most impressive, though, was Weaver’s strikeout total: 15. Ordinarily, pitchers don’t achieve such high strikeout totals this early in the season. As the Angels’ opening day starter, he was warmed up slightly more than most pitchers in early April – it was his third start in the ninth game of the season, rather than his second – but it still shows impressive control to notch so many Ks so early in the season.

In fact, only 11 pitchers have gotten 15 or more strikeouts within the first ten games of a season. (It’s conceivable that a team playing their tenth game tonight will render this entry obsolete tomorrow, but I’m willing to take that risk.) The highest total in the first 10 games was Curt Schilling in his complete game on April 7, 2002, pitching the Diamondbacks to a 2-0 victory over the Brewers. Interestingly, Schilling had four strikeouts after the first two outs of the seventh, meaning that Weaver’s K/9 is actually higher for the games in question.

Pedro Martinez, meanwhile, totaled 16 Ks on April 8, 2001, in 8 scoreless innings against the Devil Rays. Like Schilling, this was Pedro’s second start of the season.

Why the difference in voting? January 5, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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As much as I love the Angels, I can’t take Jered’s side on this one.

Today, I was browsing the voting results from the various awards being voted on. Each league’s Cy Young award voting included the requisite two closers. No surprises there. There was also a beautiful case study of the AL Cy Young winner, Felix Hernandez, versus Jered Weaver. They had identical records (13-12) in an identical number of starts (34) and similar strikeouts (233 for Weaver versus 232 for Hernandez). What explains Hernandez’ winning total of 167 points contra Weaver’s fifth-place 24?

A few things come to mind:

  • Hernandez went longer. In the same number of games, wins, and losses, King Felix pitched 249 2/3 innings, whereas Weaver pitched 224 1/3. Those extra 25 1/3 innings show not only that Hernandez was considered more reliable by his manager but that he was, in fact, more reliable (since the extra innings didn’t result in his stats taking a hit). Hernandez also pitched a formidable 6 complete games with one shutout, whereas Weaver had no pips in either category.
  • Hernandez was more effective. Felix gave up fewer runs (80 versus 83) and had a much higher proportion of unearned runs – fully 21.25% of his runs were unearned, whereas Weaver had about 9.6% of runs unearned. That means that more of Hernandez’s runs are attributable to defensive mishaps than Weaver’s. That leads to Felix with a miniscule 2.27 ERA, much lower than Weaver’s respectable 3.01, and 6 wins above replacement compared with Weaver’s 5.4.
  • Hernandez was marginally more effective. He had six Tough Losses and no Cheap Wins, while Weaver had five Tough Losses and one Cheap Win. Felix couldn’t rely on his team to supply him with significant run support, while Weaver got that support in his one cheap win.
  • However, Hernandez’s control wasn’t as good. Felix walked 70 batters for a control ratio (Strikeouts over walks) of .30 and threw 14 wild pitches. Jered, on the other hand, walked only 54 batters, for a control ratio of .23, and only 7 wild pitches. Still, it seems reasonable to assume that control suffers exponentially as innings increase, so part of the apparent lack of control can be explained by Hernandez’s extra innings.

Overall, Felix’s marginal value over Weaver more than explains the difference in voting.