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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Who’s in Command Here?!?

If you tell me you expected to see Javier Vasquez among these names, you’re either a wizard or a liar.

gehrig97 Posted: March 21, 2018 at 06:34 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: clayton kershaw, command, control issues, greg maddux, juan marichal, pitching, roger clemens, walter johnson

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   1. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 21, 2018 at 08:50 PM (#5641282)
As you might expect, no true immortals here. But no real duds, either. Most of these pitchers, in fact, provided significant value over the course of their careers.


This isnthe comment under the guys with the worst rates “min. 2500 IP.” The innings pitched limitation is going to exclude the real bums. K/BB isn’t the only measure of success and while you may not be great if you have a good rate I’d bet it’s unlikely to be a bad pitcher with a good K/BB rate.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: March 21, 2018 at 08:52 PM (#5641283)
I think the first thing that this study needed to do was place a modern limit on the names. As the first table showed, the best k/bb guys were modern guys with Marichal/Eck being the only guys who didn't pitch in the 80's or later on the list.(and that is undercutting it, everyone on the top list of command in the first chart, started their career after 1984) the game was different, so if you are trying to demonstrate that command is good or bad, you need to focus on contemporaries of the exceptionally good.... (note, I've only read the first few paragraphs of the article...stopped after the second chart, so let's see if the writer then fixes for this as I read the rest of the article)
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: March 21, 2018 at 08:53 PM (#5641284)
(as I read the next two paragraphs, that is exactly what he is doing.... so touche random internet writer)
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: March 21, 2018 at 08:58 PM (#5641287)
So I made it through the whole article. At a first read I like this cr+ concept, it has some validity to my eyes.... obviously the more I think about it the more I might want to pick it apart, but right now, it has some useful evaluation value.
   5. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: March 21, 2018 at 09:06 PM (#5641292)
If you tell me you expected to see Javier Vasquez among these names, you’re either a wizard or a liar.
No kidding.

I remember one year's BPro comments, I imagine after his 2001 season, said he had become "a buzzsaw." Damn fine pitcher...anyone recall why he was done so young?
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: March 21, 2018 at 09:13 PM (#5641294)

I remember one year's BPro comments, I imagine after his 2001 season, said he had become "a buzzsaw." Damn fine pitcher...anyone recall why he was done so young?


Don't remember, but I do remember making arguments that he was going to be the first 3000 strikeout pitcher who doesn't deserve the hof.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: March 21, 2018 at 09:25 PM (#5641301)
Fangraphs gives him -11 wins total for LOB, which means that he must have been consistently awful with runners on base. He was as bad at pitching with runners on base as Tom Glavine was good at it. 703 OPS with bases empty, 773 OPS with men on.
   8. . . . . . . Posted: March 21, 2018 at 09:33 PM (#5641305)
IIRC, Vasquez had a drinking problem.
   9. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: March 21, 2018 at 11:21 PM (#5641360)
I remember being pretty surprised that Vazquez quit when he did. His last was pretty good overall but he was horrible to start the season and brilliant down the stretch. In his last 19 starts, he put up a 1.92 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2018 at 12:43 AM (#5641378)
If you tell me you expected to see Javier Vasquez among these names, you’re either a wizard or a liar.


The Dugout has taught me that if there's a trivia question involving 2000s pitchers, Javy Vazquez's name is never a surprise.

Don't remember, but I do remember making arguments that he was going to be the first 3000 strikeout pitcher who doesn't deserve the hof.


He at least deserved a spot on the ballot.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: March 22, 2018 at 01:51 AM (#5641386)
Can I be an exaggerating magician? I always focused on K/BB back in the day. Vazquez was on most/all of my fantasy teams in the few years that I did that primarily for that reason. I recall once an odd online league using a points system where Ks were worth 2 and walks were -1 and I loaded up on not so great SP with great K-BB in the middle-late rounds (Hideo Nomo was one I think). Anyway, I certainly could have told you Vazquez had an excellent K/BB, that he was regularly among the best of his era in that stat ... probably wouldn't have bet on top-10 all-time. (Note, K-BB seems to be more important as somebody here once convinced me ... sometimes a reason why some excellent K/BB guys turn out less or only as impressive as their wilder but K-happy kin.)

Lots of high K/BB guys have a problem with HRs as you might expect. And that was Vazuez's main problem -- 1.2 HR/9 ... or 3.1% of PAs vs a league average of 2.7%. Fergie and Blyleven had similar problems (and Robin Roberts too I believe). That doesn't seem like a lot but for nearly 12000 batters faced that's 48 extra HRs which must be 60-70 extra runs ... still doesn't sound like a lot over 2800 innings but it's .19 in career ERA.

K/BB tends to correlate pretty well with WHIP. Either you K a lot so less contact and not a lot of walks to go with it ... or you don't K that many but give up so few walks that your WHIP is driven by BABIP. It's easy to see why it matters as well. It's a simplified way of looking at things but you can divide pitching into contact and non-contact. Pitchers don't have a lot of control over what happens on contact but quite a bit over (a) how much contact and (b) what happens on non-contact. A good K/BB with good K-rate (or again, K-BB) means, in Vazquez's case, a slightly better than league-average non-contact rate and, hooray, that non-contact was tilted much more heavily towards Ks. Because of the higher HR rate and dead average BABIP, he'd have been a bit worse on-contact than an average pitcher ... and with a nearly average contact rate that wouldn't be good. But he gains that back and more by the outstanding K/BB.

A guy like Nolan Ryan (or Kerry Wood or the young Randy Johnson) do well by reducing the contact rate -- which also conveniently usually reduces HR/PA and HR/9 if not necessarily HR/FB. On a rate basis, they may not have been as good as Vazquez on non-contact but it helps to have a lot of non-contact to be good but not great at. Vazquez had a 71% contact rate in a 73% league (give or take rounding) while Ryan had a 60.5% contact rate in a 76% league. He was replacing contact with a mix of walks (worse) and Ks (much better).

Also an interesting comp in K/BB vs K-BB terms. Vazquez has a 3.3 vs 2.0 K/BB advantage over Ryan but it's just a 14.9% vs 12.9% K-BB edge. Still, Ryan had the better ERA+.

bWAR also says that Vazquez played his entire career in front of pretty bad defenses, accounting (in theory) for about half of the difference between his FIP and his ERA. His FIP+ is 113 ... but still the same gap to Ryan's FIP+ (who also had bad defenses but not quite so bad).

At the other end, you get the super-low walk, mediocre (or low) K guys. They are sometimes also low-HR guys (maybe especially on a per contact basis). Generally they give up lots of contact of course but still excel at giving up little on non-contact. The Ol' Primey-Winning Tewksbury Paradox.

Re CR+ ... maybe given the (possible) preference for K-BB, maybe 1/2(K+ + BB+) or, to continue the historical error of OPS+, (K+ + BB+ - 1). (Maybe that should be called BB-?) I have no idea how that works out historically but Ryan is at 123, Vazquez at 130, Pedro at 149, Maddux at 140, Clemens at 128 .... OK, clearly the scale is not useful here, maybe 1/3(2*K+ + BB+) ... Ryan 142, Vazquez 128, Pedro 155, Maddux 127, Clemens 133, W Johnson 156, Feller 140, Fergie 135, Schilling 150, Tewk 122 ... that actually seems about right in terms of ranking, historical similarity and in terms of who gets grouped together but those still give the impression of pretty small differences. Oh, Kershaw 136.

So let's check ... Glavine 93, Jeff Weaver 104, Hammel 102, Moyer 100, John 97. Again looking about right. Generally below-average Ks, generally above-average walks. Moyer and Ryan have very similar career K/BB ratios but Ryan's dominance comes through here. Glavine as we know was just a weirdo.

I suppose it's not exactly a "command" measure as much as an "excelled at the non-contact part of the game" measure. I'd still like a weighting that puts Ryan below Clemens but above Maddux I think so this probably rewards K's too much. Whether it correlates better than K/BB or CR+ with ... what do we want, ERA+, WAA/200 IP? ... I have no idea.

And to remind ourselves of what we missed ... Prior's first 4 years were a 149.

I know that latter bunch seems suspiciously similar for such a diverse set of pitchers but I doubt you can reach 1500+ innings (or whatever) if you're neither dominant in at least one of K and BB nor average-ish at both.
   12. Brian White Posted: March 22, 2018 at 07:29 AM (#5641393)
I'm in the same boat as Walt. Back when I played fantasy baseball, I was more focused on K/BB ratio than anyone else in our league, and more often than not I'd end up with Javier Vazquez on my team. I also tended to remember Vazquez as a guy who always pitched worse than his peripherals would suggest, although looking at it now, there's not a huge spread between his FIP and ERA over his career.
   13. Greg Pope Posted: March 22, 2018 at 08:51 AM (#5641406)
Vazquez has a 3.3 vs 2.0 K/BB advantage over Ryan but it's just a 14.9% vs 12.9% K-BB edge.

Sorry, but what is K-BB? I thought just a subtraction, but here it's a percentage.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: March 22, 2018 at 04:46 PM (#5641857)
It is ... I just short-handed it as K%-BB% (per PA) which you can think of as (K-BB)/PA if you prefer. Seemed the simplest way to do it for guys with a range of innings pitched.
   15. Greg Pope Posted: March 22, 2018 at 05:53 PM (#5641880)
Gotcha, thanks.

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