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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stats Geek: How does Karstens do it?

And O’Neill…hiding within the Post-Gazette without me finding him.

Jeff Karstens shouldn’t be this good. All the cool stats say so.

Look beyond Karstens’ 8-5 record and 2.28 ERA, second-lowest among National League starters. Take his strand rate, for instance.

That’s the percentage of guys Karstens leaves on base. It’s 86.6 percent. That’s just ridiculous. It’s the lowest among all of baseball’s starting pitchers. The only one close is former Pirate Ryan Vogelsong, now making the greatest comeback since Lazarus. Vogelsong sports an 85.5 percent strand rate and, not coincidentally, the lowest ERA in the league at 2.10.

...There you go. Every game Karstens pitches—he has another tonight against Atlanta—is one where he tries to defy the baseball gods, putting the ball in play all over the yard and hoping the ball finds mitts. So far that’s been working for him and other Pirates pitchers because the balls are finding mitts, or rather the reverse. Those same statisticians who calculate BABIP tell us that Andrew McCutchen, Ronny Cedeno and Neil Walker have made enormous improvement in the field this year, and that McCutchen and Cedeno are among the best in baseball at their positions. (I confess I’ve done an almost complete 180-degree turn this season in my belief in Cedeno’s glove.)

...He’s baffling batters and statisticians at this point, both of which are fun to do. I don’t know about you but I don’t see any choice better than continuing to believe in Karstens, even if we can’t entirely figure out how he does it.

Repoz Posted: July 26, 2011 at 10:18 AM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: pirates, projections, sabermetrics

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   1. JRVJ Posted: July 26, 2011 at 03:50 PM (#3885717)
He’s baffling batters and statisticians at this point, both of which are fun to do. I don’t know about you but I don’t see any choice better than continuing to believe in Karstens, even if we can’t entirely figure out how he does it.


Don't let Keith Law read this.
   2. Accent Shallow Posted: July 26, 2011 at 04:49 PM (#3885747)
Wasn't Karstens referred to at one point as Scary Flyball Guy?

Considering his HR/9 is 1.3, that may still be apt. I do recall reading that a disproportionate number of his homers were solo shots, though.
   3. 'zop is not an $88 player Posted: July 26, 2011 at 04:58 PM (#3885750)
I think he's just so ugly he terrifies the hitters. Jeff Karstens is so ugly that his girlfriend dumped him for Don Mossi. Jeff Karstens is so ugly that he took one look at Hugo Chavez and BAM, the cancer was cured. Jeff Karstens is so ugly that turkey vultures attempt to mate with him when he stands in an open field.
   4. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: July 26, 2011 at 05:06 PM (#3885756)
Wasn't Karstens referred to at one point as Scary Flyball Guy?


Yeah, Steven Goldman hung that on him when he pitched for the Yankees.

I think he's just so ugly he terrifies the hitters.


We can send him up against Shelley Duncan in the ex-Yankee Ugly Off ...
   5. aleskel Posted: July 26, 2011 at 05:51 PM (#3885778)
We can send him up against Shelley Duncan in the ex-Yankee Ugly Off ...

Please, Tyler Clippard walked away with that award a long time ago.

Dear god, I never want to think about that 2007 pitching staff again.
   6. morineko Posted: July 26, 2011 at 07:46 PM (#3885861)
I've got to seriously question someone's aesthetic sense if they think Tyler Clippard is the ugliest one of that bunch. As far as I know, Clippard has about the greatest fangirl following of any setup man in history.

On the other hand, I'd rather have Karstens in the rotation than Clippard...
   7. Most doorknobs are on the right side of the doors Posted: July 26, 2011 at 09:41 PM (#3885906)
Karstens has actually been pretty effective against RHB in his career. They've hit .220/.274/.335 against him since 2007. His biggest issue has been that lefties have absolutely killed him. From 2007 - 2010 they hit .313/.374/.544 against him. It was particularly bad in 2010 (.364/.397/.627 in 237 PA). This year it's a more tolerable .272/.320/.462.

As far as I can tell he hasn't really changed his pitch selection, but his peripherals are better than they've ever been (FIP of 4.42/xFIP of 3.89 compared to 4.85/4.73 career), particularly his walk rate.

Maybe he's developed into a decent mid-rotation starter, but I'd guess he'll be closer to a 4+ ERA going forward. Nothing wrong with that.

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