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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Fangraphs: James Paxton Is Not The “Next Sonny Gray”

Many Yankees fans are cynical about any pitcher on their way to New York. Some of this is because only a handful of pitchers in the world are “sure things.” Some of this is because the Yankees have a recent history of acquiring high-upside pitchers who ultimately disappointed in the Bronx. After that conversation, I thought it would be interesting to consider whether James Paxton is likely to implode in New York.

villageidiom Posted: January 10, 2019 at 09:00 PM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fangraphs, james paxton, new york, new york yankees, sonny gray, yankees

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   1. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 10, 2019 at 09:31 PM (#5804394)
Nope, let's hope he's the next Dave LaPoint circa 1989....
   2. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: January 10, 2019 at 09:58 PM (#5804397)
Patriotic Americans everywhere can certainly hope that he will be.
   3. JustMe Posted: January 11, 2019 at 08:40 AM (#5804451)
I read Yankees news literally every day. I have never once heard someone claim that Paxton may be a bust.

Looks like someone had a deadline to meet.
   4. villageidiom Posted: January 11, 2019 at 10:50 AM (#5804575)
The main thing I'm skeptical about in this article is the notion that hard-hit balls aren't a red flag for Paxton because the 2018 sample is small. I get the notion that any BIP stat for a pitcher who has a low BIP rate will be a smaller, and thus more volatile, sample size, I guess I wouldn't think his sample size is low enough to cause that problem. So what does the sample need to be for volatility to be an issue?

Per Statcast Paxton had 394 batted ball events (BBE) in 2018, and 166 that were considered hard-hit (95 MPH or more). If his hard-hit rate were league average his total would be 134, an increase of 32. The argument is that that is a low BBE total and thus prone to wild swings.

For comparison, let's take, uh, (checks title of article) Sonny Gray. In 2018: also 394 BBE, 155 hard-hit (39.3%). In 2017: 465 BBE, 178 hard hit (38.3%). His 2018 hard hit rate is only 4 hits higher than his 2017 rate. That seems consistent, which suggests the 2018 sample is stable. But maybe that's coincidence?

Let's approach it a different way. I'll take all of Gray's BBE from 2017 and randomly sample 394 of them, then see what the hard-hit rate is. In 20 random samples, his hard hit rate varied 1.5% in either direction from his full 2017 sample. That's 6 pitches in either direction. That gives a rough sense of the degree of variation we should expect to see, in a 394-BBE sample.

None of this is definitive - I mean, I'm looking at just one pitcher's BBE sample from just one year - but it suggests that a 394-BBE sample is pretty stable. There's still variation, but the point is that we shouldn't think of a 32-hit variation from league average in a 394-BBE sample as just a random thing we can ignore. That aside, Paxton's distribution of hard-hit balls is pretty consistent throughout 2018, except maybe for the first half of April. Whether it's predictive for Paxton going into 2019 I couldn't say, at least not on an analysis as simple as mine. But it doesn't look like it's easily dismissed as a sample fluke.

Whether it matters is another story.
   5. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 11, 2019 at 11:50 AM (#5804628)
Nope, let's hope he's the next Dave LaPoint circa 1989....

Patriotic Americans everywhere can certainly hope that he will be.

"Losers don't want to win. Losers want winners to lose."

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