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MLB Notes
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 5/8/2008 1:01:00 PM
View more posts by this author

 

The Cliff Lee train kept on chugging Wednesday with another gem, only this time coming in New York against the Yankees. There’s simply no stopping Lee, who now sports a ridiculous 39:2 K:BB ratio. Entering 2008, Lee had allowed 1.27 homers per nine innings. He’s surrendered just one long ball through 44.2 innings this season.

He’ll never help in batting average, but Mike Cameron is consistently one of the more underrated 20/20 threats in baseball. He’s not going to have the best season of his career at age 35, but remember his numbers from the past two years were suppressed by Petco Park, and the top of Milwaukee’s lineup is an excellent place to bat.

I’m going to go on record and state the Spurs will still win their series against the Hornets.

The pride of Carmel, California, Xavier Nady is off to a blistering start this season, batting .349 with five home runs. His 34 RBI leads the National League. He’s always been somewhat of an underachiever after being taken in the second round of the 2000 draft, so a career-season looks to be in store. However, Nady’s obviously not this good, has a .402 BABIP and has clubbed 75 percent of his homers throughout his career before the All-Star break. He’s someone you should be shopping.

Francisco Rodriguez’s 10:9 K:BB ratio is ugly, and his huge drop in strikeout rate is concerning for the future, but he’s still somehow on pace to finish with 63 saves this season.

After Tuesday’s near no-hitter, let me reiterate, trade Gavin Floyd. If all of your league members remain skeptical, I’d still think a 2.50 ERA and 0.96 WHIP would look good in a packaged deal. No one has been luckier in 2008 than Floyd, who boasts a 4.3 K/9 IP mark, a 1.06:1 K:BB ratio, a 4.08 BB/9 IP line, a 0.66 G/F ratio and a .147 BABIP that leads major league baseball.

Coldplay came correct with their new single. Can’t wait for the new album. No joke.

Only Dusty Baker would leave a 24-year-old pitcher in to throw 118 pitches in a 9-0 game. In life, I’ve found it’s often a good idea to learn from past mistakes. Edinson Volquez may very well lead the majors in both walks and strikeouts this season. Speaking of Cincinnati, tough to have a better fantasy game than Joey Votto’s three homers and a steal Wednesday.

How many setbacks can Mark Mulder possibly have?

I really like Sidney Ponson this year. After three starts, he has a 1.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a 2.75:1 K:BB ratio. He’s in the best shape of his career and should get good run support from Texas’ lineup. He’s flashing a highly impressive 2.13 groundball to flyball rate and has really improved pitching out of the stretch, stranding a remarkable 87.5 percent of baserunners. Additionally, he’s gone six consecutive months without being arrested. OK, I’ll stop now.

One thing I wanted to mention was that you can’t just assume a pitcher’s BABIP will return to the norm, as that stat is also largely a reflection of team defense. If you really want to get specific, you should compare pitchers’ BABIPs among teammates.

Considering that I have both Conor Jackson and Shane Victorino in LABR, watching them violently collide Wednesday night, which ended with Jackson lying motionless on the ground, was no fun. Get well soon CoJack!

Emmitt Smith is a gift that keeps on giving. Check out this recent quote he made in regards to the Cowboys trading for Pacman Jones: “You can be with the guy and in his ear 24 hours a day, but at the end of the day you can’t be there the whole time.” Without a doubt, he’s easily my favorite analyst in any sport.

Despite a 4.74 ERA, Jose Valverde is on pace to finish with 19 wins and 33 saves. I’m not sure he’ll keep that pace in both categories, but 25 saves are within reach. In all seriousness, over his last 11.2 innings, he’s allowed zero runs with a 14:3 K:BB ratio. Valverde’s still not exactly the safest closer around, but this is someone with a staggering 11.4 K/9 IP mark throughout his career.

Fausto Carmona is having one of the more fascinating seasons in memory. His 2.95 ERA and 3-1 record are rock solid, but his WHIP is 1.79, he’s not striking anyone out, and he’s walked at least four batters in all of his seven starts but one. His 4.05 groundball to flyball rate is by far the best in baseball, and he doesn’t have a lucky BABIP (.287) either. Still, his 7.03 BB/9 IP mark is easily the worst in the league, and he’s looked nothing like the pitcher he was last season. All those free passes are going to catch up to him eventually.


Comments....

Coldplays got nothing on Sarah Bareilles' new cd.
Posted by djm1144 at 5/8/2008 1:18:00 PM
 
Spurs are only getting 2 to 1 for the series price, which is surprising them being down as much as they are w/o homecourt adv. I see someone's gotten in the Ponson kool-aid, if I had him in your league I'd trade him to you for anything right now. Nothing in his history suggests he can keep these numbers (or stay away from Johnny Law).
Posted by kevinccp at 5/8/2008 1:54:00 PM
 
I guess sarcasm is tough to translate in word form, but I was most definitely being facetious in the Ponson comment. Come on now, it's Sidney Ponson! The fact he's stranded 88 percent of the baserunners he's allowed shows how lucky he's been...That's crazy Spurs just 2/1 right now. I would have expected higher odds as well.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 5/8/2008 2:04:00 PM
 
I am hearing a lot of outrage over Volquez being "allowed" to throw 118 pitches. I continue to be amazed over the widely held belief that high pitch counts somehow puts a young pitcher at risk for getting hurt.

This pitch count obsession over the last 20 years has not reduced the number of arm injuries like so many want to believe. The fact is, throwing a baseball is an unnatural thing physiologically for the human body to do; hence there always have been arm injuries and there always will be.

As recently as the 1970's pitchers were throwing over 5,000 pitches per season with no higher rate of injury than we see today. If we see a pitcher throw over 3,500 pitches in today's game, red flags are thrown up to an impending arm injury that often never comes.

And what do we have as a result of all of these preventive measures? No fewer arm injuries...if anything we see more now. Teams are pitching their best arms less and their worst ones more. Games being lost in the late innings because the best option, the starter, has been removed from the game to keep his pitch count from reaching "dangerous levels."

So let's leave Dusty alone. I find it refreshing that he is letting Volquez and Cueto pitch like pitchers always had been before this madness and that is: until they are tired or until they are ineffective.

I wish a GM was brave enough to reverse this insanity and stop babying these pitchers. Maybe a Billy Beane type. The only problem is the first young pitcher to get injured he is out of a job.
Posted by skinsnut at 5/8/2008 2:09:00 PM
 
Yeah leave Dusty alone!

His track record at babying young arms is second to none. He's old school and that's the only school.

Posted by vtadave at 5/8/2008 2:21:00 PM
 
Never took you for a Coldplay fan there 3D...not that I'm NOT one.


Posted by vtadave at 5/8/2008 2:21:00 PM
 
Dice-K threw a 250 pitch game once. I guess I missed your sarcasm there, seemed like you were giving a convincing argument.
Posted by kevinccp at 5/8/2008 2:29:00 PM
 
Dusty Baker literally ruined Mark Prior's career and nearly did the same to Kerry Wood. Pitchers back in the day weren't throwing 95 mph. Billy Beane does overwork his pitchers, and then trades them to St. Louis or lets SF spend $120 mill for them.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 5/8/2008 2:38:00 PM
 
This is the reaction I figured I would get. There have been a number of studies on this matter, most notably by Bill James, and the conclusion is the same: Limiting pitch counts over the last 20 years has not prevented injury and has been downright counterproductive when you factor in all the quality innings that are lost in the process.

Dalton-with all due respect, there have plenty of hard throwing guys before this . I will give three from different eras:

Walter Johnson- We didn't have radar guns to measure his velocity but there is no doubt that the "Big Train" could bring it, whether that was 95mph or perhaps more.

Bob Fellar- Again, no radar guns to give us a specific number but he threw as hard as anyone. He probably thinks this pitch counting obsession is absurd.

Nolan Ryan- We KNOW that he threw 95mph. And he logged over 90,000 pitches in his career!!



Posted by skinsnut at 5/8/2008 3:19:00 PM
 
Dusty did not "literally" ruin Prior's career.
Posted by OB1jakearoni at 5/8/2008 3:37:00 PM
 
I'm not too happy about the 118 pitch outing but with that outing, Volquez has averaged right near 100 pitches per game, which is acceptable. Because of today's off day, and as long as Arroyo isn't skipped, Volquez gets an extra day of rest before his next start.
Posted by OB1jakearoni at 5/8/2008 3:40:00 PM
 
I think that it's not a pure number that's important. It's what happens to a pitcher's mechanics as his count rises, how much he has to exert himself to get out of his earlier innings, the weather, the score, etc... One point in Dalton's favor was that the score was 9-0 on a drizzly day - that makes a certain amount of sense to get Volquez out of there for that 7th inning. On the flip side, the Reds' bullpen had been worked really hard heading into that series with the Cubs - the efforts of Cueto/Harang/Volquez eased that quite a bit. Then again, the Reds are off today.


I think that Dusty was guilty of running up some egregious counts with Prior and Wood, but he was hardly the first, and can't possibly get all the blame for what happened to them. But he also didn't improve the likelihood that they'd avoid injury.
Posted by Erickson at 5/8/2008 3:46:00 PM
 
I'd be interested to see a link to the Bill James study referred to above if anyone has it.

You can't compare different eras because there's no way to verify injuries. For instance, how many pitchers saw their careers end prematurely because they pitched with an undiagnosed injury years early? There's no way to know. Maybe the injury took a year or two off the guy's career or maybe the injury had no long-term impact and he would have lost his effectiveness anyway.

The key (and I don't remember where I read this; maybe Will Carroll) is how many pitches a pitcher throws beyond his fatigue point. If a pitcher's arm becomes fatigued at 85 pitches and he throws 25 more, that's more of a problem than if he throws 120 pitches without fatigue.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/8/2008 4:21:00 PM
 
Thorn - coughKoufaxcough...

Dean Chance is another. Many many more.

You're absolutely correct on fatigue point as well. BP of course has done a ton of research on that, some of which can be found here:

http://www.baseball-analysis.com/article.php?articleid=2633


Posted by vtadave at 5/8/2008 4:27:00 PM
 
Good points by all. And I shouldn't have totally attributed Prior's fall to Dusty Baker. And I agree pitchers today are "babied" more than the old-schoolers back in the day, some of whom did throw gas. Still, no need to test the limits on someone so young in a blowout of a game.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 5/8/2008 6:27:00 PM
 
Actually, I think it was Don Baylor that left Prior in for 139 pitches at age 21. I don't know what his particular fatigue point was, but why take a chance?

There's a lot we don't know about how pitching injuries occur - some would probably happen under the best of circumstances, but if there's some evidence that beyond a fatigue point (which might not always be visible) a pitcher will get hurt, then why roll the dice and leave him in if you have a big lead? Also, I think it's pretty well documented that younger pitchers are more susceptible to injuries.

I can imagine a pitcher throwing 50 pitches in one inning getting hurt, too, even if it were the first inning - because his arm wouldn't get to rest. I also heard that the Braves kept Glavine and Maddux (and even Smoltz who despite some arm problems has had a very long career) healthy in part because of their schedule of throwing during off days. So there are a number of theories, but if it's 9-0, and it's a $100 million arm, why take a chance?
Posted by cliss at 5/8/2008 7:07:00 PM
 
Jason- Here is a really good article on the topic from a few years ago:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/what-pitch-counts-hath-wrought/


Posted by skinsnut at 5/8/2008 7:33:00 PM
 
Hmmm, someone who is a fan of Dusty Baker's starting pitching management......those are hard to find....I believe you have better odds at winning powerball. From a fantasy perspective....I LOVE Dusty Baker...but then I only do 1 year leagues.....

I think other factors make Bill James's anaylsis misleading on different era pitchers and health. Maybe the steroids in our food doesn't help the arm, but I think the biggest reason for more arm injuries in this era compared to the Walter Johnson era is the amount of abuse the arm takes from Little League on up....just my own theory, maybe I am wrong....Also I imagine if Walter Johnson was paid comperable to todays standards he probably would be on a pitch count.....rofl. I wrecked my arm throwing my wicked curve/slider in my Little League/Babe Ruth days....I am sure it happens more and more today than say 50 years ago....

So many other factors come into play....arm fatigue is probably the biggest factor, then you got weather, genetics, food...yada yada yada......As a Brewer fan, I think Dusty Baker has a done a fine job managing his young arms....ROFL
Posted by Zenguerrilla at 5/8/2008 9:09:00 PM
 
How does weather affect today's pitchers more than it did the pitchers of yesteryear?
Posted by bscwik at 5/9/2008 12:45:00 PM
 
Where did I say it did? As far as weather I just pointed out it could factor in to an injury. Wasn't meant to interpret there is different weather in different era's...lol
Posted by Zenguerrilla at 5/9/2008 3:03:00 PM
 

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