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Monday, September 17, 2012

HHS: Why does CC Sabathia allow so many unearned runs?

Dunno, but I do know of two that stalled…and they were well past 3rd base.

That’s quite a list of pitchers. Obviously tilted to the first part of the post-1961 period owing to the factors cited in the preamble. But, why such outstanding pitchers, as opposed to a more typical assortment of hurlers?

Here is my hypothesis. I welcome your feedback (not that I have to invite you, but go ahead and poke as many holes as you like). So, here goes.

1. This group will be allowing fewer runs (even a lot fewer runs) than “average” and “below average” pitchers in any era. Don’t think there should be much debate on this point.

2. The defense behind this group will play better than the defense behind an average or below average pitcher. Why? Fewer base runners, fewer pitches, fewer balls in play, balls in play not hit as hard, pitchers (probably) working faster – all these factors suggest less pressure on the defense and, ergo, less likelihood of committing errors that lead to unearned runs.

3. Factor #1 will be more pronounced than factor #2. That is, while the defense will play better behind this group, it’s not like they’re going to commit only half as many errors as they would behind a below average pitcher. However, a top rank pitcher may very well allow runs at a rate only half that of a below average pitcher, and perhaps 2/3 the rate of an average pitcher.

4. Taking the 3 points together, the reduced absolute number of unearned runs allowed that is expected for this group (point 1 and 2) will still be a larger proportion of their much lower total runs allowed (point 1 and 3), than would be the case for less skilled pitchers (i.e. the great majority of major league pitchers).

So, there’s the hypothesis. It would be great if I could get stats on errors committed behind pitchers (point 2), but I don’t know where those figures might be. I expect the rest of the argument should be fairly self-evident. But, if I’m wrong, please let me know.

Repoz Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:26 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4238044)
The intro deserves a Charles Foster Kane clap.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4238067)
To answer the question in the headline, he doesn't. He has this year, but it's not something that has plagued him his entire career. I'd chalk it up to chance this year.

The same is very true of Harang (one of the Top 3 pitchers listed for 2012). Aaron has two big years of UER but has otherwise been quite stingy with them.

It's too early to say for sure on C.J. Wilson, but he may lean toward yielding more UER than average.

As we've discussed here before, strikeout/BB and GB/FB rates offer the best explanation for UER disparities, as evidenced by Brown and Schilling.



   3. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4238116)
As we've discussed here before, strikeout/BB and GB/FB rates offer the best explanation for UER disparities, as evidenced by Brown and Schilling.


Bingo, which author misses for the forest.
   4. Bob Tufts Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:08 PM (#4238164)
Don't discount throwing strikes, more balls in play (possibly) and working quickly.

As a sinkerball pitcher, I was the beneficiary of a defense that wasn't constantly getting set on their toes and ready to respond only to put up with yet another 3-2 count or numerous walks and 100 pitches through 5 innings.

Perhaps the limits on amps and ADD-like drugs hurt fielding also? I'd be interested if anyone has some data.
   5. dr. scott Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4238189)
I personally find I make more errors on amphetamines. Then again, as a laser physicist, being amped up on speed isn't so useful for aligning optics.

As for the article it seems the metric that would provide the results he was looking for is UR/IP not UR/ER.
   6. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4238214)
As a sinkerball pitcher, I was the beneficiary of a defense that wasn't constantly getting set on their toes and ready to respond only to put up with yet another 3-2 count or numerous walks and 100 pitches through 5 innings.

I'm surprised that Sudden Sam isn't on any of the lists in TFA. He always seemed to get an ungodly number of errors behind him because (the theory was) his infielders were numbed by a succession of 3-2 counts, BB's, K's, and therefore not on their toes. In 1968, e.g. he have up 78 runs, of which only 54 were earned, an unheard of 31% unearned runs. (Lifetime he's right at 12%)
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4238264)
Don't discount throwing strikes, more balls in play (possibly) and working quickly.


Two very different players in this regard show the opposite:

Quick-working Mark Buehrle, not one to strike out or walk many: 2,665 IP - 124 UER. 1 UER for every 21 IP.

Tortoisean Josh Beckett, who strikes out nearly a batter per inning but also walks 2.7 per game: 1,873 IP, 64 UER. 1 UER: 29 IP.

Edit: And one more, a stunner, albeit in a smaller sample:

Daisuke Matsusaka, like Beckett, he strikes out nearly a batter per inning but he walks more than four per game, while redefining the idea of "nibbler.":

663 IP, 11 UER. That's 1 UER for every 60 IP, a rate better than Schilling, the all-time record holder.
   8. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 17, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4238276)
If yesterday's bathroom video is accurate, it's because C.C. is not resting properly between innings.
   9. salvomania Posted: September 17, 2012 at 04:23 PM (#4238296)
CC's got nothing on Jaime Garcia, 2010-2011.

In each of those seasons, both of which were 162+ innings, 23% of his total runs allowed were unearned.
   10. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 17, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4238316)
The fact that the Yankees infield is filled with immovable blocks of granite (as opposed to actual infielders) probably doesn't help.
   11. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 04:52 PM (#4238324)
[10] I know that it's always fun to pick on the Yankee IF defense, regardless of how hollow the claims may be, but even if your statement was correct, immovable blocks of granite are unlikely to contribute to an uptick in UER because you're not charged with an E for a ball you fail to reach.
   12. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4238356)
Maybe it's his gravitational pull on the ball making life difficult for the fielders?
   13. markj111 Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4238382)
I just assumed it was Jeter.
   14. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4238384)
since 1961, all pitchers with an uERA* > 0.5

Jim Kaat 0.583
Tim Wakefield 0.583
Paul Splittorff 0.567
Tom Candiotti 0.558
Wilbur Wood 0.553
Phil Niekro 0.541
Charlie Hough 0.533
Jerry Reuss 0.532
Juan Marichal 0.520
Joe Coleman 0.515
Tommy John 0.512
Ken Holtzman 0.509
Bob Knepper 0.505
Rick Wise 0.501

5 knucklers out of 12

*uERA = unearned runs/ 9IP
   15. Bob Tufts Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4238613)
SoSH - during my time in Waterbury in 1978, our team was really poor in the first half (28-42) but I had a 11-3 record. My fielders all told me that they were more alert and more prepared to make a play as opposed to the other hurlers that threw far too many pitches.

That - and the promise of getting lucky - worked in my favor. Our left fielder Tom Bhagwat told me "I love it when you are on the mound at home. The games always last a little over 2 hours and I can schedule a date on those nights."
   16. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 18, 2012 at 12:15 AM (#4238744)
5 knucklers out of 12

Wouldn't this likely be due to PB rather than E?
   17. DFA Posted: September 18, 2012 at 02:36 AM (#4238792)
I am disappointed Jeter wasn't mentioned until post #13.
   18. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 18, 2012 at 07:03 AM (#4238812)
SoSH - during my time in Waterbury in 1978, our team was really poor in the first half (28-42) but I had a 11-3 record. My fielders all told me that they were more alert and more prepared to make a play as opposed to the other hurlers that threw far too many pitches.

This has nothing to do with Sabathia or Unearned Runs, but just as an aside, it's SO nice to put a tracer on a claimed minor league feat and have it check out.

And of course I knew already that Bob's the real deal, so I was totally unsurprised in his case, but I wonder how many people realize what an enormous percentage of people who claimed to have played professional baseball on any level are just blowing it out of their butts? The ONLY other person out of about a dozen such claimants I've ever met whose alleged baseball career was more than a BS story was this this guy, and that was nearly 40 years ago.

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