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Luck is No Gameplan
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 4/26/2007 7:47:00 AM
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Jarrod Washburn's comments after his three-hit shoutout Wednesday explain exactly why the Mariners roster construction this offseason was so thoughtless. In his three previous starts, Washburn averaged 104 pitches in six innings per start. So what was the difference in this one?

"The difference between this kind of game and one where I get hit? Nothing. Seriously, I make teams put the ball in play. Tonight, they did it where my team could make the plays. Sometimes, they hit balls where plays canít be made."

What Washburn is saying is that plain old luck plays a huge part when a ball is put into play. Now, a non-strikeout pitcher definitely helps himself out by getting ahead in the count (which Washburn did Wednesday). Forced to throw a 2-0 strike with a mediocre fastball is a recipe for disaster. But all in all, a contact pitcher really has to rely on a good amount of luck each time out.

Which is all to say, when the Mariners re-vamped their pitching staff this offseason and ended up with four contact pitchers in the rotation, they guaranteed that four of every five games basically will come down to crossing their fingers.


Your point about the Mariners happens to be accurate, despite your flawed analysis.

Too much has been made of BABIP, and the influence of luck, particularly on balls put in play. The reality is that yes, pitchers have surprisingly little effect on what proportion of balls in play end up as hits. However, they do have demonstrated control over SLGBIP, which is a bigger driver of run scoring. Do a Google search for Keith Wolner's analysis. Wolner does excellent work.

Doesn't change the fact that the Mariners' brain trust was completely Schiavo for signing the likes of Miggy Barista for that kind of money. And for running Willie Bloomquist out there at every given opportunity. I'm a Mariners fan, and I feel the pain every day.
Posted by Huggy at 4/26/2007 11:39:00 AM
Not sure exactly how much we differ, unless my characterization of luck playing a "huge" part and the Mariners "crossing their fingers" is too strong for your taste. If so, guilty. However, that pitchers have some control over SLGBIP doesn't discount the fact that it is indeed quite the gamble to add three pitchers who don't miss bats but instead rely on grounders hit at their defenders to record outs. The money given to Batista is beside the point, why add a third contact pitcher to the rotation (and then a fourth in Weaver) when we know that luck plays a significant, if not necessarily "huge," part in a contact pitcher's success?
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 4/26/2007 5:45:00 PM

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