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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Murray Chass on Sports: SUDDENLY STRASBURG’S A LOSER

Suddenly 11 baserunners per 9 innings is Porcello-bad.

In a game like baseball, patience pays. It’s not a good idea to jump to a conclusion too quickly or base a decision on too few facts. I offer this bit of advice based on developments in this season’s four-start performance of Stephen Strasburg.

After his first start, in which he pitched seven shutout innings and permitted three hits, USA Today called it “the first step in vindication for general manager Mike Rizzo, who took much of the heat for shutting down the right-hander in the year after elbow surgery.”

I don’t know what Strasburg’s subsequent three starts mean in terms of Rizzo’s shutdown – I don’t know that they mean anything, any more than the first start did—but Strasburg lost all three starts.

No doubt the stats zealots can explain why those losses weren’t Strasburg’s fault, and I suppose if wins are no longer important, as some of my critics tell me, losses don’t matter anymore either. In fact, with a 1-3 won-loss record and a ratio of 11 baserunners per 9 innings, Strasburg very likely is an early leader in the Cy Young race.

But everyone might want to slow down and let Strasburg play out his season. Maybe he’ll win his remaining 29 starts – if he gets to make them all – and then we can applaud the person or people who deserve applause, once we know who they are and what they did.

Repoz Posted: April 21, 2013 at 06:59 AM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats

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   1. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: April 21, 2013 at 08:12 AM (#4420968)
It’s not a good idea to jump to a conclusion too quickly or base a decision on too few facts.

This is hilarious.
   2. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: April 21, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4420973)
No doubt the stats zealots can explain why those losses weren’t Strasburg’s fault

Gladly. Anyone who watched those games saw his defense self-destruct behind him. He needs 8 other guys to make those plays so that the one guy can be credited with the win. And I didn't even use stats!
   3. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: April 21, 2013 at 09:06 AM (#4420975)
STRASBURG IS NO WALTER JOHNSON, MR PRESIDENT
   4. AJMcCringleberry Posted: April 21, 2013 at 09:13 AM (#4420976)
His ERA is almost 3! Clearly he sucks.
   5. morineko Posted: April 21, 2013 at 09:20 AM (#4420978)
Anyone who watched those games saw his defense self-destruct behind him.


Considering every time I've seen Strasburg pitch, particularly in 2010, I noted "ugh, this defense is horrible" and "pitcher must supply own offense to win" I see nothing much has changed.
   6. Chris Fluit Posted: April 21, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4420986)
Ian Desmond/SS and Ryan Zimmerman/3B are both -2 in fielding runs, or -17 for a full season. Jayson Werth/RF is -3, on pace for -23. But Danny Espinosa/2B and Adam Laroche/1B are +3 and +2 respectively (+37 and +18 for a full season). CF Denard Span is +2, on pace for +21, and C Kurt Suzuki is a respectable +1 so far. The final starter, Bryce Harper/LF, is an even 0. Obviously it's early and those numbers will fluctuate (especially the per season totals) but the numbers so far show Washington as a relatively average defensive team. The issue is that the quality of their defense is lopsided. They're going to look bad if a lot of ground balls head to the left side of the infield.
   7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 21, 2013 at 09:56 AM (#4420989)
I saw the game Friday and all Strasburg needed to do was pitch a shutout to win but he choked. Chass is right yet again!
   8. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4420996)
Murry Chass being a passive-aggressive douchebag. Quelle surprise!

Ian Desmond/SS and Ryan Zimmerman/3B are both -2 in fielding runs, or -17 for a full season. Jayson Werth/RF is -3, on pace for -23. But Danny Espinosa/2B and Adam Laroche/1B are +3 and +2 respectively (+37 and +18 for a full season). CF Denard Span is +2, on pace for +21, and C Kurt Suzuki is a respectable +1 so far. The final starter, Bryce Harper/LF, is an even 0. Obviously it's early and those numbers will fluctuate

You can't look at 16 games worth of defensive data. Period. It's beyond meaningless.
   9. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:14 AM (#4420999)
An odd and extremely misleading usage of the term "SUDDENLY."
   10. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:19 AM (#4421001)
I saw the game Friday and all Strasburg needed to do was pitch a shutout to win but he choked. Chass is right yet again!
If Jack Morris can do it...
   11. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4421008)
I saw the game Friday and all Strasburg needed to do was pitch a shutout to win but he choked.


April 7 - 114 pitches, 5.1 innings
April 13 - 112 pitches, 6.0 innings
April 19 - 111 pitches, 6.0 innings

Number of games in his ML career where Stephen Strasburg has pitched into the 8th inning: 0

Kid has all the talent in the world, but he's Nuke LaLoosh out there most starts and he wastes a lot of pitches early. Yeah, he had some defensive miscues behind him last time out, but Runs Allowed are Runs Allowed.

But hey, keep pretending like he's Randy Johnson in his prime if that gets you all stiff and lubricated.
   12. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4421009)
But hey, keep pretending like he's Randy Johnson in his prime if that gets you all stiff and lubricated.

Hey man, just cause you can't manage to get stiff and lubricated anymore, is no reason to hate on those that can.
   13. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4421011)
Hey man, just cause you can't manage to get stiff and lubricated anymore, is no reason to hate on those that can.


You've clearly not heard me talk about Evan Gattis.
   14. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4421012)
No doubt the stats zealots can explain why those losses weren’t Strasburg’s fault, and I suppose if wins are no longer important, as some of my critics tell me, losses don’t matter anymore either. In fact, with a 1-3 won-loss record and a ratio of 11 baserunners per 9 innings, Strasburg very likely is an early leader in the Cy Young race.


What an ass. He's had one bad start. In his three others, he has a 0.95 ERA and a 1-2 record. In his last 2 starts, he's pitched 12 innings, given up 10 hits, 3 walks, struck out 13, and has a 1.50 ERA, and an 0-2 record. Now, that said, 2 of his UER in that span are of the dubious variety. One was a HR after an error allowed what would have been the third out to reach base. And another was a 2 out single (after an error extended the inning)to drive in a run.
   15. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4421015)
"His ERA is almost 3! Clearly he sucks" - Needed that laugh.

"No doubt the stats zealots can explain why those losses weren’t Strasburg’s fault,'

Seriously, he gets paid for these stories?
   16. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4421019)
"No doubt the stats zealots can explain why those losses weren’t Strasburg’s fault,'


And that is exactly what you folks are off and running with. CF the "needed laugh" about his ERA in your own post.

Seriously, he gets paid for these stories?


No, he doesn't. He's a blogger. That's why this is published at MurrayChass.com and not the NYTimes.
   17. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: April 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM (#4421030)
He's had one bad start. In his three others, he has a 0.95 ERA and a 1-2 record. In his last 2 starts, he's pitched 12 innings, given up 10 hits, 3 walks, struck out 13, and has a 1.50 ERA, and an 0-2 record. Now, that said, 2 of his UER in that span are of the dubious variety. One was a HR after an error allowed what would have been the third out to reach base. And another was a 2 out single (after an error extended the inning)to drive in a run.

Nobody will dispute that his basic stats are excellent. But the problem, and it's pretty much out in the open at this point, is that his command isn't all that great yet, especially of his off-speed pitches. The hitters have figured that out, and so they're not even swinging at those pitches. As a result, it's taking him way too many pitches to get through innings. Frankly, it's inexcusable for a guy with his level of ability to be averaging under six innings a start.

If and when he learns to really harness command of his off-speed stuff, he'll be the best pitcher in the game, but right now he's not at all.
   18. McCoy Posted: April 21, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4421033)
Told you he should have spent more time down in the minors.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 21, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4421054)
Nobody will dispute that his basic stats are excellent. But the problem, and it's pretty much out in the open at this point, is that his command isn't all that great yet, especially of his off-speed pitches. The hitters have figured that out, and so they're not even swinging at those pitches. As a result, it's taking him way too many pitches to get through innings. Frankly, it's inexcusable for a guy with his level of ability to be averaging under six innings a start.

If and when he learns to really harness command of his off-speed stuff, he'll be the best pitcher in the game, but right now he's not at all.


That sounds like someone else we know. Does anyone remember Sanford Braun?
   20. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4421055)
I will almost never type these words in this order again, but Joey is correct.
   21. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 21, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4421076)
The Nats made it pretty clear they thought Strasburg was a loser when they decided they didn't want him on the postseason roster last year.
   22. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 21, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4421079)
Hey man, just cause you can't manage to get stiff and lubricated anymore, is no reason to hate on those that can.

You've clearly not heard me talk about Evan Gattis.

All that proves is that you've learned to fake the right noises. Probably picked it up from every girl you were with while you could still get it up.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: April 21, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4421110)
I will almost never type these words in this order again, but Joey is correct.


Not quite... I would change his comment from best pitcher in the game to among the best pitcher in the game. And of course expand the phrase "harness his command" to "add consistency and harness his command"...

Nobody doubts Strasburgs talent. But like most young pitchers he's going to have ups and downs..The fact that his downs have been relatively minor is a testament to his ability and maturity (as a pitcher) already.


   24. Howie Menckel Posted: April 21, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4421189)

"You've clearly not heard me talk about Evan Gattis."

The Braves catcher who is hitting .245 this season?

He did hit several HRs, but that was SO first half of April...

   25. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4421220)
The Braves catcher who is hitting .245 this season?


.245/.309/.592
   26. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 21, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4421303)
The Braves catcher who is hitting .245 this season?


Yes, the one who is 3rd in wOBA/WRC+ among NL catchers and 6th among MLB catchers.
   27. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 21, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4421308)
Looks like Murray took down this link-bait.
   28. bobm Posted: April 21, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4421324)
[27] No. Just scroll all the way down.
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: April 21, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4421329)
Isn't the real point of this article a simple truth.. No matter how Strasburg does this season it doesn't affirm either viewpoint on the handling of the situation last year?

Of course he put the stat zealot comment in there so that someone on here would link him. But I was under the impression that stat zealots were mixed in opinions on operation shut Strasburg down.
   30. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: April 21, 2013 at 04:04 PM (#4421374)
How about calling a moratorium on linking to Chass posts? There doesn't seem to be any point to linking to them; it's always so predictable: Murray Chass proudly and defiantly gives his dumb opinion, in a sleazily nasty manner, oozing with barely-if-at-all-restrained hatred and designed to push buttons. BBTF's buttons are successfully pushed and no one can restrain themselves from rushing to declare how dumb Murray Chass's dumb opinion is.

Has there ever been any Chass post on BBTF that didn't go this way? If so, how long ago was the last one? Years?

Who cares about this guy? Who cares what he says? And if there is anyone who actually cares what he says, can't you just imagine what he says instead of actually reading it? At this point no one should have any need to read a Chass article to know what it says. Let's just stop giving him the links and clicks already.
   31. Howie Menckel Posted: April 21, 2013 at 04:04 PM (#4421375)

"Yes, the one who is 3rd in wOBA/WRC+ among NL catchers and 6th among MLB catchers."

in April. I suspect more lubricant will be needed, stat

#justsayin

update: make that .235, as we play the 7th inning

   32. cardsfanboy Posted: April 21, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4421386)
Has there ever been any Chass post on BBTF that didn't go this way? If so, how long ago was the last one? Years?


Sometimes, when he is talking about finances and the union without dealing with Fehr or naming a specific player.
   33. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4421389)
1-3, with a double and a walk today. But hey, we all know batting average is how to measure a player's production at the plate, right?
   34. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: April 21, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4421401)
1-3, with a double and a walk today. But hey, we all know batting average is how to measure a player's production at the plate, right?

You're obviously right about batting average being overrated. But Gattis had 30 excellent AB and he's struggled since. He might very well be an all-star calibre player but being skeptical is a reasonable approach since he's barely played baseball in the last 5 years.
   35. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4421417)
You're obviously right about batting average being overrated. But Gattis had 30 excellent AB and he's struggled since. He might very well be an all-star calibre player but being skeptical is a reasonable approach since he's barely played baseball in the last 5 years


I've never said Gattis was an All-Star. I have said Gattis is a complete black box, that standard model prospect ranking and projection systems have absolutely nothing of merit to say about him (due to his absurd career path) and that he's the most interesting and fun player I've seen come through Atlanta in years. (This discounts Justin Upton, who was of course a somewhat known quantity when they traded for him.)

I'd love to see him hit 270/340 rather than 240/310, sure. But he's still slugging damned near .600 and he hasn't been getting much help from park factors. He crushes the ball.
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: April 21, 2013 at 04:38 PM (#4421433)
"You're obviously right about batting average being overrated. But Gattis had 30 excellent AB and he's struggled since. He might very well be an all-star calibre player but being skeptical is a reasonable approach since he's barely played baseball in the last 5 years"

now, that's crazy talk
:)

Bryan LaHair's 15 days of fame lasted longer last year, and no one can say he wasn't crushing the ball.

from a "this is fun" standpoint, I hope Gattis defies the odds.

from an sabrmetric standpoint, 30 stellar AB in April followed by a just-as-cold spell doesn't make me think he might be an All-Star - check that, LaHair was replacement level if that during last June, and he bluffed his way into the All-Star Game before signing a deal in Japan in the offseason.

"standard model prospect ranking and projection systems have absolutely nothing of merit to say about him (due to his absurd career path)"

I think they say that it's not going to work out, don't they?

again, there's no sense in a discussion between a fan rooting for a cool story and SABR types who see the only positive evidence as small sample size. I guess I'm used to the latter here, but I don't want to ruin anyone's fun, either.

   37. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:11 PM (#4421768)
His ERA is almost 3! Clearly he sucks.


Chass is an idiot, but 4 of Strasburg's 12 runs allowed have been unearned, and his peripherals are a tick behind normal. Now, it's only 24 innings - and Chass is an idiot - but Strasburg has not been tip top thus far.

Not that there is any point to obsessing over 24 innings.
   38. Brian Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4422042)
I was at the game and was lucky enough to be right behind homeplate, a few rows back. It looked like the ump squeezed Strasburg just a smidge and between that and the error by Desmond in the 1st, I thought Strasburg's demeanor suffered. He seemed a bit frustrated and a little petulant. Stopped working as quickly and did a lot of pawing at the mound and shaking his head. Never helpful. Harvey caught the ball and threw it again. Great pace and mound presence.
   39. bunyon Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4422082)
I have said Gattis is a complete black box, that standard model prospect ranking and projection systems have absolutely nothing of merit to say about him (due to his absurd career path) and that he's the most interesting and fun player I've seen come through Atlanta in years.

I agree with this but my projection system says this after watching him: he runs like a janitor.

Seriously, I saw him running the bases at one point and, before I knew his backstory, thought, man, he runs like a janitor.


I was at the game and was lucky enough to be right behind homeplate, a few rows back. It looked like the ump squeezed Strasburg just a smidge and between that and the error by Desmond in the 1st, I thought Strasburg's demeanor suffered. He seemed a bit frustrated and a little petulant. Stopped working as quickly and did a lot of pawing at the mound and shaking his head. Never helpful. Harvey caught the ball and threw it again. Great pace and mound presence.

This. Great stuff. But to harness it, he will have to learn some command and stop reacting to adversity the way he does. However, he's young and I think he will.
   40. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4422109)
No one can touch Jake Arrieta for lousy mound presence. He has great stuff, but he just falls apart the second he has any sort of trouble. He really needs to be a one inning reliever who can focus on a couple pitches and blowing it by the hitters.
   41. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4422126)
from an sabrmetric standpoint, 30 stellar AB in April followed by a just-as-cold spell doesn't make me think he might be an All-Star


He hasn't been that cold. He's just not been super hot. He does run like a janitor, though.
   42. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4422133)
In his last nine games, covering 34 PAs, .138/.235/.414. It's safe to say Gattis is not super hot.
   43. cmd600 Posted: April 22, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4422334)
I have said Gattis is a complete black box, that standard model prospect ranking and projection systems have absolutely nothing of merit to say about him


I feel like about 20 teams a year pick up a guy where the fanbase is convinced that he's that one guy who breaks the mold. Usually the freaky hot streak ends by the middle of spring training though.

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