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   1. tfbg9 Posted: April 28, 2007 at 03:15 PM (#2348288)
Five starts is not enough of a sample. That said, Dice has been pitching too carefully, getting himself into trouble.
   2. chris p Posted: April 28, 2007 at 03:38 PM (#2348297)
also, 2 starts against the yankees aren't going to help the era.
   3. PJ Martinez Posted: April 28, 2007 at 03:50 PM (#2348306)
Does he, as Al Leiter was saying last night (and I think others have said before), under-utilize his fastball? Might he pitch more effectively if he was saving more of his pitches for the second and third time through the order?
   4. Darren Posted: April 28, 2007 at 04:03 PM (#2348318)
I can't see how he's underutilizing his fastball with the results he's getting. He's not getting hit hard and he's K'ing a lot of guys.
   5. Chip Posted: April 28, 2007 at 04:11 PM (#2348328)
Remy noted last night how many of the Yankees were swinging at the first pitch - if that turns out to be the scouting report for all teams, you're probably going to see him continue to use the off-speed stuff early in the count to keep hitters off balance.

In both the bad inning in Toronto and the bad inning last night, he appeared to be trying to use the cut fastball as an out pitch when he got to two strikes - on the outside corner to lefties, on the inside corner to righties - and wasn't getting the call on balls just off the plate. That seemed to frustrate him; maybe he got that pitch called more in Japan and he just needs to adjust with it.
   6. PJ Martinez Posted: April 28, 2007 at 04:12 PM (#2348329)
Both good points. Though my response to the second would be that his OPS against has, in the early going, climbed pretty significantly each time through the order (though how his increase has compared with that of other pitchers I don't know-- perhaps it's not unusual), and that saving a pitch or two for later in the game might combat that.
   7. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: April 28, 2007 at 04:20 PM (#2348335)
Less curveball, less krappy slider, more forkballs, and more changeups.
   8. tfbg9 Posted: April 28, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2348399)
I think that what needs to be included in all this "he uses this pitch and he uses that pitch" talk is the observation I have that I've not noticed him shaking off many pitches from Cappy.

Nice sentence?
   9. Darren Posted: April 28, 2007 at 05:39 PM (#2348401)
Only had to read it three times!
   10. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 28, 2007 at 06:26 PM (#2348427)
I think Varitek was part of the problem last night, as I mentioned in the Game Chatter. He insisted on continually setting up on the outside corner even though Daisuke kept missing outside for balls when he did that.
   11. Miko Supports Shane's Spam Habit Posted: April 28, 2007 at 06:27 PM (#2348429)
Another stat from THT to add is that his LD% is 25.3, 2nd highest in the league (among pitchers THT includes), and 4th in the majors.

Of course having the hightest LD% isn't stopping Jeff Suppan from having an ERA < his FIP and xFIP. (So Matsuzaka is bizarro Suppan?)
   12. Miko Supports Shane's Spam Habit Posted: April 28, 2007 at 06:29 PM (#2348430)
More on bizarro-Suppan:

MIL is .14 under league avg in DER, Sox are .12 over the league avg.
   13. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: April 29, 2007 at 01:29 AM (#2348798)
I think he will continue to adjust. The beauty of it is that he has scope to adjust now, as the Sox are playing well enough and his strikeout numbers are good.

I think we'll see some adjustents gradually and be impressed.
   14. dave h Posted: April 29, 2007 at 01:38 AM (#2348809)
Both of his 3 walk innings were the 4th - facing the meat of the order for the second time. Browsing his game log, he generally seems to have given up a lot of runs to the top of the Yankees order (not surprisingly). I'll use this as a lead-in to my second point:

I think DIPS are overused, and this is a particularly vivid example. Let's assume that pitchers only control their peripherals, which isn't true. When you look at just five games, their ERA will still differ from a DIPS ERA because the batters they've faced haven't averaged out yet. Darren hit on this in the third paragraph of the intro - if two of your five starts are against teams that don't hit a lot of HR but get a lot of hits on balls in play (which is certainly a skill for hitters) then you can have good peripherals and a poor ERA.

This all being said, I'm pretty happy with Matsuzaka so far.
   15. Darren Posted: April 29, 2007 at 01:47 AM (#2348826)
I think DIPS are overused, and this is a particularly vivid example. Let's assume that pitchers only control their peripherals, which isn't true. When you look at just five games, their ERA will still differ from a DIPS ERA because the batters they've faced haven't averaged out yet.



No matter the sample size, DIPS-types numbers are usually a better indicator of pitching skill/performance than ERA is. So when his DIPS numbers are so much better than his ERA, I'd side with his DIPS numbers. It's at least worth investigating the differences.
   16. dave h Posted: April 30, 2007 at 11:37 PM (#2350368)
Darren I missed your response until just now, but think it's worth discussing. Why are DIPS better even with small sample sizes? Taken to the extreme, if a pitcher has faced only one team, and they have a lot of players who strike out a lot, don't walk, don't hit home runs, but hit a lot of doubles and singles on balls in play, then DIPS ERA will always be an underestimation.

I can see how component stats would be a better predictor than using ERA, I just don't see why you only use DIPS. Count singles and doubles too. I don't know how that translates to an ERA, but just eyeballing it I think the point still stands that Matsuzaka has pitched better than his ERA. He seems to have clustered his walks, and that's been the cause of a lot of his runs allowed.

Also, I don't understand why everyone uses K/9 and BB/9. K and BB per batter faced is clearly superior, and it's not like that statistic would be hard to calculate. Inertia I suppose.
   17. Darren Posted: May 01, 2007 at 01:26 AM (#2350528)
Darren I missed your response until just now, but think it's worth discussing. Why are DIPS better even with small sample sizes?


Because they're a better indicator of how a pitcher will do in the future. So that would still be true with a small sample.

Taken to the extreme, if a pitcher has faced only one team, and they have a lot of players who strike out a lot, don't walk, don't hit home runs, but hit a lot of doubles and singles on balls in play, then DIPS ERA will always be an underestimation.


You've taken the most extreme example possible in order to show the limitations of DIPS. Yes, in
that particular case, DIPS would do a pretty lousy job. But that's a very, very rare set of circumstances. Most times, DIPS would work better.

I can see how component stats would be a better predictor than using ERA, I just don't see why you only use DIPS. Count singles and doubles too. I don't know how that translates to an ERA, but just eyeballing it I think the point still stands that Matsuzaka has pitched better than his ERA.


Why do I use only DIPS? I don't. I used his ERA and his DIPS (FIP actually), also added in information about his opponents, his propensity for bad innings (albeit only 2 of them), and I even theorized that he might be the type of pitcher who underperforms his FIP. Why didn't I include doubles and singles? Because pitchers have very little control over those things. If you think small samples throw something like DIPS off (and they do), then you must realize that they positively render doubles and singles allowed meaningless.

He seems to have clustered his walks, and that's been the cause of a lot of his runs allowed.


I covered this.

Also, I don't understand why everyone uses K/9 and BB/9. K and BB per batter faced is clearly superior, and it's not like that statistic would be hard to calculate. Inertia I suppose.


"Everyone" uses it because it's very easy to calculate and in some cases readily available. It's also close enough that it rarely makes much difference. Of course, if you'll notice, I don't use either of these stats in my post above. I use K/G, BB/G, and HR/G from THT, which has all of the advantages that K/batter faced does.

I think my post is pretty fair in recognizing the limitations of DIPS numbers while discussing how Dice-K has performed this year. To reiterate: there's probably been some bad fortune on Dice's part that has resulted in the his ERA being much higher than his peripherals suggest; it's hard to tell what has caused the rest of the difference.
   18. villageidiom Posted: May 01, 2007 at 02:25 AM (#2350623)
In another thread I'd said about DIPS ERA vs. ERA:
Though dERA is more stable (than ERA), at this point it's like saying Britney Spears is more stable than Pacman Jones.

That was in reference to Mike Timlin's stats, which are an even smaller sample than Matsuzaka's. Though the point still holds - that small sample size wreaks havoc with both measures - there's already a decent amount of stability around Matsuzaka's dERA.

One way to get a handle on it is by adding or subtracting one from any of the key values: K, BB, or HR. Actually, HR gives the biggest swing, so a decent range would be to look at what his dERA would be with one more (or fewer) HR. I have Matsuzaka at a 2.89 dERA. With one fewer HR it would be at 2.56; one more, 3.22. His actual ERA is a full point higher.

Darren, contrary to what you say in #19, dERA does help explain how he has performed this year. It might not explain the results of the performance, but it does quantify the performance itself. Once the sample size grows sufficiently large it can also help to predict how he will likely do the rest of the year. Despite the sample size - 138 BF - I think we're pretty close to a predictive dERA.

I might test that out in a little bit. We'll see.
   19. Darren Posted: May 01, 2007 at 02:32 AM (#2350633)
Darren, contrary to what you say in #19, dERA does help explain how he has performed this year.


I don't think I said anything that would refute this and I certainly agree with it.
   20. villageidiom Posted: May 01, 2007 at 03:27 AM (#2350666)
OK, so I pulled the dERA and ERA for Curt Schilling in 2004, game by game, to test out volatility in the numbers. I wanted someone who had a pretty stable but good year. Here's what I got:

Start:           1     2     3     4     5     6     7
BF 
(cumul.):     24    56    84   120   147   175   207
ERA
:            1.50  3.21  2.66  4.18  3.31  3.19  2.81
dERA
:           1.59  2.18  2.87  3.09  2.71  2.86  2.85 


Schilling's 7th start was on May 8. His dERA stayed between 2.75 and 2.96 from the prior start all the way to the end of July, when it moved to 3.10 and never dropped below again. (His HR rate went up; it was 0.55/G in his first 20 starts, 1.0/G in his next 12.) Prior to that, it looks like it reached a pretty stable point in start 6, with 175 batters faced. It could be argued that relative stability was attained as early as 150 BF.

Schilling's 2004 is only one example, so take it for what it's worth. But it looks like dERA is useful around 150-175 BF, and a bit shaky before that. His ERA, on the other hand, still sees some decent swings out at 400 BF.

The 1-HR rule, BTW, produces about a 0.25 swing either way around dERA at 175 BF. It's 0.30 either way at 150 BF.
   21. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 01, 2007 at 11:55 AM (#2350817)
Well, DIPS works on the population of most established major league starting pitchers, and Schilling 2004 is a pretty clear case of an established major league starter. The question, with Daisuke, is whether DIPS is going to work. If he really pitches worse out of the stretch, and as such allows more hits on balls in play, and the walks and hits he allows are worth more runs than average walks and hits, then there's going to be a problem.

That is, whether DIPS will work on Matsuzaka like it works on Schilling 2004 is precisely the thing at issue here. We don't really know. I tend to think it will, within a reasonable range - Daisuke has the stuff and command of a very good major league pitcher, and his none on / runners on splits look perfectly fine (650 OPS allowed for both).

I expect his ERA to come down over the next few starts. I'm not particularly worried. Daisuke's going to be one of the top 5-10 pitchers in the league this year, and we won't need to argue for DIPS to show that it's the case.
   22. villageidiom Posted: May 01, 2007 at 12:53 PM (#2350845)
MCA, I agree. There are different kinds of variance, and I was focusing on the variance that comes with a small sample size. Matsuzaka has to date had quite the variance in actual performance (bases empty vs. with runners on), and that will make both dERA and ERA less predictive.

OTOH, Derek Lowe in 2001 - the year of the Derek Lowe Face, 5-10 with 24 saves in 50 finished games - had a 3.23 dERA vs. a 3.53 ERA. He had 404 batters faced on the season, but his dERA was within 0.6 of his ERA from 133 batters onward. He had a very inconsistent year, but his dERA and his ERA were not as far out of line with each other as we're seeing right now with Matsuzaka.

Personally I think part of the situation with Matsuzaka is a function of the offenses he's faced. His meltdown innings were 4/17 4th vs. Toronto (K, H, W, H, W, W, K, F8), maybe 4/22 1st vs. NY (F6, F9, W, HBP, D, G43), and 4/27 4th vs. NY (W, W, W, H, K, F5, H, H, F7). Those are the best offenses, and as the season goes on those should even out with better results against worse teams. Whether he will improve against those teams as the season goes on, or continue to melt down in the occasional inning against them, or melt down once per game regardless of the caliber of the opponent, I don't know. But like you, I'm not particularly worried about it.

It's interesting that 60% of his walks this year have come in 6% of his innings.
   23. dave h Posted: May 03, 2007 at 08:57 PM (#2353613)
I didn't mean to tick you off so much Darren, I thought I was asking reasonable questions. Let me try to explain again what I'm thinking.

1) ERA based on defense independent pitching statistics over a whole season is a better predictor than actual ERA for actual ERA the next year, fine. That does not mean that a) It's the best predictor (though I realize the small number of inputs required is an advantage) nor that b) It does equally well no matter what the sample size is. This is especially true because when we talk about a few starts by a pitcher we're not just talking about small sample sizes, we're talking about a large portion of the sample being against a few batters. Therefore any characteristics of the batters are going to make a big difference. One part of that is obvious - Matsuzaka faced the Yankees twice so we expect his ERA to be somewhat higher than against average competition. All I'm saying is that for DIPS ERA, or whatever else like it you use, the tendencies of those batters to hit HR, walk, and K can introduce systematic bias. In just five starts, it's easy to construct a scenario where this would have an impact. Two of the five starts against the Yankees, for instance.

2) I'm not convinced that not considering singles and doubles is more accurate. It may work great for the portion of pitchers that give up singles and doubles at the league average, but we don't know ahead of time if a given pitcher is in that category or not. I'm willing to be convinced, but stating it as fact will not do that.

3) The stats I've looked at pretty much always include batters faced, so it seems just as easy to calculate. I'm not saying everyone here should do it themselves, just wondering out loud why people who were doing these things seriously didn't. I fail to see how looking at stats per game isn't even worse, unless batters faced by a pitcher in a game tends to be constant. Seems like you should naturally strike out more batters if you pitch deeper in the game though. That being said, I agree that it probably doesn't make much difference.

Again, I say that I'm optimistic about Matsuzaka specifically. He has a league average ERA against some better than league average offenses. He has pitched well the vast majority of the time. It's possible that the couple innings of control problems he's had are a real problem, and not just bad luck, but even that can presumably be addressed.

On another note, I read Sox Therapy a lot, though I rarely post because what I think is often already being said. In this case I thought I had something to add, and even commented on the common ground I had with Darren. I don't see why after my second response I should get a line-by-line response that consists of seemingly angry assertions of fact without an attempt to actually explain or discuss anything, other than that I was wrong in each point. Maybe I'm overreacting, but it doesn't make me want to increase my posting frequency, and I'm told I'm someone who does like to argue.
   24. Darren Posted: May 04, 2007 at 10:45 AM (#2354169)
Looking back at it, my response sounds a bit snarky, so for that, my apologies. But the line by line style was just used so that I could address specific things that you brought up (it's used often here). I do think that I made an effort to discuss those points, rather than make angry assertions. For example, I thought that I explained that I did consider other things than just Dice-K's DIPS stats.

As to your other points, its seems that you are trying to say that DIPS/FIP have their imperfections, which is certainly true. I still think that they are more accurate than actual ERA, or at the very least that they add another layer of understanding and are worth including. I think that in most cases adding singles and doubles is going to cause more harm than good, so it's best not to (except as a sort of side note or as additional information). I don't think you've made a strong case that Dice-K is is the small minority of pitchers for which DIPS/FIP are not a good metric.

On the K/G, BB/G, etc., I think you're missing my point. They are not per "game" stats, but per XX number of batters, where XX represents the number of batters in average game during the season in question, which is usually around 38.
   25. PJ Martinez Posted: May 04, 2007 at 01:23 PM (#2354189)
What happened last night?
   26. bunyon Posted: May 04, 2007 at 02:40 PM (#2354228)
Regression to the poor.
   27. chris p Posted: May 04, 2007 at 02:47 PM (#2354230)
he used to throw lots lots more between starts right? and now he doesn't seem as sharp, although when he's on, he can dominate .... hmmmm.
   28. tfbg9 Posted: May 04, 2007 at 02:48 PM (#2354231)
What happened last night?


Bad call flustered Dice K?
   29. dave h Posted: May 05, 2007 at 05:16 PM (#2355186)
Thanks for the response Darren. I didn't know that's how you used /G, but it seems we're on the same page there. As for DIPS or FIP (which I'm not really familiar with), I think it's largely a better predictor because it uses component stats, not because they're defense independent. I still think playing the Yankees twice could mess with both his ERA and his FIP systematically (ERA lower and FIP higher). However, there's clearly a larger problem.

BB, BB, BB, FC, HBP, 2B - those were the first six batters in his last start. Against the Yankees 4/27 - BB, BB, BB, 1B, K, F5, 1B, 1B. Toronto on 4/17 - K, 1B, BB, 1B, BB, BB. His walks have been amazingly concentrated, and a few weak hits (or errors) have been devastating in those innings - 11 runs (out of 23 on the season) on 9 walks (out of 15 on the season). It seems quite likely that this tendency is real, and it's not just luck that these walks have been strung together. I still think it can be fixed.
   30. tfbg9 Posted: May 05, 2007 at 05:18 PM (#2355188)
Throwing 80% fastballs on the 0-0 count will help, dave h.
   31. Chip Posted: May 05, 2007 at 05:23 PM (#2355192)
Last year's Hot Young Ace threw too many fastballs. This year's doesn't throw enough. Go figure.
   32. tfbg9 Posted: May 05, 2007 at 05:47 PM (#2355207)
Well, Beckett did, and Dice doesn't. I can't tell if you're in agreement with me about Dice, or not, Chip.


he used to throw lots lots more between starts right? and now he doesn't seem as sharp


Crossed my mind also, maybe he's out of his comfort zone for lack of a better term.
   33. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 09, 2007 at 06:21 AM (#2359127)
I'm really worried about Matsusaka's start tonight. I'm afraid that he sucks.
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 09, 2007 at 12:40 PM (#2359204)
I'm really worried about Matsusaka's start tonight. I'm afraid that he sucks.
Interesting. I'm not in the least way afraid. Matsuzaka is allowing an OPS against of 650, and he's got four major league pitches. It's weird - I usually am at least a little worried on things like this, waiting for him to come around, but in this case, I'm serenely confident. There's no way that Daisuke Matsuzaka isn't one of the best pitchers in the league. The results are inevitable, barring injury.
   35. JC in DC Posted: May 09, 2007 at 12:52 PM (#2359210)
I think he's going to be good, but let me ask a general question. People talk about the adjustments he'll make as he learns the league, and no doubt he will. But often, when a guy first starts out and starts out hot, they'll talk about how the league will adjust to him. If both the league and the guy are adjusting to each other, is adverting to one or the other's adjustments as forecasting improvement a bit silly?
   36. Backlasher Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:05 PM (#2359222)
He doesn't pitch as well out of the stretch either?

Is that true or is he not pitching as well with runners on base? (small but important distinction) I don't know, I am really asking. I haven't seen all his starts. When I have seen him, it looks more like jitters. That he is getting nervous in his first few major league games. He is locating his outpitches way out of the zone and getting too much plate with his other pitches. That very well could be because he loses performance in the stretch, but I haven't seen enough to know if that is systematic at all times during the stretch.

Nerves will go away after awhile. It will not be a major press event every time he pitches. If there is a problem off the stretch, it must be caught and corrected, which can be an iffy proposition.

That type of information is far more important than all the DIPS garbage.
   37. villageidiom Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:22 PM (#2359235)
JC, I think a fair amount of it is an attempt to explain what is really regression to the mean. The difficult part is trying to discern which cases will simply regress and which cases involve actual, significant adjustments.

I honestly have no clue, but I can logically understand how switching from Japan to the U.S. or vice-versa would be a significant adjustment, while switching from AAA to MLB or NL to AL might not be as big. Maybe I'm misreading it.
   38. Backlasher Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:23 PM (#2359238)
But often, when a guy first starts out and starts out hot, they'll talk about how the league will adjust to him. If both the league and the guy are adjusting to each other, is adverting to one or the other's adjustments as forecasting improvement a bit silly?


IMHO, it depends on the type of adjustment being made.

For instance, let's take one example of your starting hot pitcher -- Hideo Nomo. Two important criteria for his early success was the dominance of his split finger fastball and his delivery. There is a limit to how much the league is going to adjust to that pitch. They may learn a little about when he likes to throw it, and they may recognize it better, but if he continues to throw it for strikes, its still going to have an impact. The delivery can be adjusted to, and its a matter of the timing. It may still have some effect, but the large majority of that effect will be later lost. A current example of a pitcher that I'd think could suffer from league adjustment would be Okijima with that trick delivery. It will still have value, but players will learn how to time it better.

For Dice-K, I think the adjustment being talked about above is where he locates the fastball. If he is not getting a call, he is used to getting, he should adjust to that.

In short, I think the league can usually catch up to something that is gimmicky such as a delivery or one special pitch. Those things may still have value, but the value is diminished.

A pitcher that has ML skills can usually catch up to a change in leagues, or an aggregate profile in hitters.

What I presume tends to balance itself out are the adjustments made on pitching patterns and hitter weaknesses. As long as a player doesn't have a fatal flaw that precludes them from the league, those types of adjustements may oscillate with one another.

The only recurring concern mentioned is the "pitching from the stretch" flaw. If he does lose effectiveness when pitching from the stretch, it will adversely effect his performance. Right now, that is far more important than some flawed designer statistics in a small set of performances.

We should be comfortable that DiceK will be good, because we have seen his array of pitches, and because of his success in the Japanese leagues. There should not be many flaws that would allow success in that league but preclude success in MLB (as opposed to a pitcher that can have success in the minors but not the majors). If he does not have success, we may be able to isolate said flaw. But those macro statistics aren't going to do that. In addition to what is already mentioned, the small space of performance is also more dependent on environmental conditions, injury, adjustment period, and just generalized mood. Using any of macro stastic is not far removed from saying, well he struck out Giambi therefore he is going to be a good pitcher.
   39. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:30 PM (#2359247)
What are the odds that he'll wind up with a better Major League career than Phil Hughes?
   40. Backlasher Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:31 PM (#2359248)
I don't think it's jitters, BL. Most innings he dominates. It just seems that he has one horrible inning/game, which explains the great peripherals but the mediocre ERA.


I agree. I probably didn't articulate that well. I mean that when those runners get on (particularly after the other team may have scored), he may lose the command b/c of nerves (although not necessarily because of the stretch). As I mentioned, I am mainly thinking about the Yanks game, where during the big innings, it did see to be a command issue. He was getting a lot of the plate on strikes, and throwing those other pitches way out of the zone. (but that might not be true if just a single runner gets on with a big lead, etc.) I really don't know which is why I am asking.
   41. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:36 PM (#2359250)
A current example of a pitcher that I'd think could suffer from league adjustment would be Okijima with that trick delivery. It will still have value, but players will learn how to time it better.


You really think Okajima is really going to fool MLB hitters with that delivery alone? The Changeup and Curveball are quality pitches, otherwise he'd be just another pitcher in a long line of "krappy left handers that don't last more than 5 outings with the Red Sox"
   42. Backlasher Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:41 PM (#2359260)
You really think Okajima is really going to fool MLB hitters with that delivery alone?

Not from the delivery alone. Mike Myers couldn't fool players with his delivery alone, but it is still going to add something to effectiveness, because its a pretty big change in timing from what players are going to be in a rhythm of seeing.
   43. Daryn Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:51 PM (#2359272)
I'll be at the game tonight and report back on what I see when he gets men on, if the Jays get any men on.
   44. chris p Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:55 PM (#2359277)
One thing Okajima has going for him is that really tough Orosco-like lefty slider of his that he can consistently throw for strikes. Even the righties scuffle trying to get wood on it.

okajima has 3 quality pitches that he can throw for strikes--a high 80s fastball that he can spot well, a change-up that he can spot on either half of the plate, and the breaking ball that he can throw for a strike or bounce to get a swinging strike. that's legit major league stuff ... i have no doubt that he'll continue to be successful if he maintains command of his pitches.
   45. chris p Posted: May 09, 2007 at 01:58 PM (#2359283)
you could also call the change-up a forkball or splitter ... it reminds me of gagne's ... although obviously, he doesn't throw nearly as hard as gagne.
   46. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:03 PM (#2359286)
One thing Okajima has going for him is that really tough Orosco-like lefty slider of his that he can consistently throw for strikes. Even the righties scuffle trying to get wood on it.

Slider what?

He's got the huge 11.5-5.5 curveball at 70ish mph, the 80mph changeup which drops, and a fastball that he can relatively locate (dones't move a lot, isn't all that fast). Supposedly he's got some forkball thingy in Japan, but Ihaven't seen him throw it here yet. Haven't seen a slider?

Okajima's delivery's effect is overrated. It's not THAT weird. Myer's has a weird delivery. Fuentes has a weird delivery. Even Foulke's delivery I would classify as weird. Okajima? Unorthodox, but not weird.
   47. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:12 PM (#2359290)
Okajima's change is the forkball thingy. He throws it with his fore and middle fingers split wide on the ball. The difference between a forkball and a splitter, as I understand it, is one of degree, not kind, and Okajima's pitch is about as far away from a splitter as you get.
   48. Backlasher Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:14 PM (#2359291)
Supposedly he's got some forkball thingy in Japan, but Ihaven't seen him throw it here yet.

Could he not get it through customs?

I haven't seen his Japan games, but could that "changeup" be his forkball? As crispy mentions, he has some late downward movement on that pitch.
   49. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:23 PM (#2359301)
I'm not sure how much difference this makes in his effectiveness, but Okajima's release is one of the more unorthodox I've seen. See picture - in order to get his left arm almost directly over the top, he turns his head away as he releases the ball. It's a no-look pitch.
   50. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:28 PM (#2359308)
I honestly have no clue, but I can logically understand how switching from Japan to the U.S. or vice-versa would be a significant adjustment, while switching from AAA to MLB or NL to AL might not be as big. Maybe I'm misreading it.

At this point (I'm only counting guys who stuck in the majors for more than a year), the only real Japanese import to have lasting success in the bigs is Ichiro. You could make an argument for Sasaki and Nomo, but I think both of their MLB careers qualify as "disappointments".

If it only the leap between the quality of Japanese baseball vs. American? Or is there something else there at work? I know that people here pooh-pooh the "softer", not quantifiable factors. But I've done a bit of touristing in my life; there is a certain mental strain involved in living in a country where your countrymen are few and far between; where something simple like food shopping is really complicated because of the language barrier, where the food is strange to you. The Sox (and other MLB clubs) try to assuage this as best they can, but the results thus far are not too encouraging.

That said, I think Matsuzaka will be fine. I don't think he'll settle in to "top ten in baseball" status, but there's significant value even in his realistic downside.
   51. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:28 PM (#2359310)
Could he not get it through customs?

Racist Tariffs
   52. bunyon Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:37 PM (#2359316)
I think Erik makes a good point about living abroad. How is Dice-K's english? It must be weird to play on a team where you can't actually talk to your teammates. I think the idea that he is now pitching in a "foreign" rotation (i.e. not as often or, presumably as long) might be significant too. Throw all that in with an increase in opposition talent and you have a recipe for trouble.
   53. chris p Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:45 PM (#2359320)
At this point (I'm only counting guys who stuck in the majors for more than a year), the only real Japanese import to have lasting success in the bigs is Ichiro. You could make an argument for Sasaki and Nomo, but I think both of their MLB careers qualify as "disappointments".

oh come on. nomo won over 100 games, sazaki came over late and had 3 good years (at age 32, 33, and 34) before getting hurt, iguchi has been solid, and otsuka has been solid. those are just off the top of my head.
   54. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:50 PM (#2359325)
There's a lot of "solid". Even on my team, Matsui has been pretty good. But (again, with Ichiro! as the exception) none were lasting good/great performers, as Matsuzaka is expected to be. I don't have the Japanese stats here, but I think we have to throw out All-Star appearances - fan voting being what it is. But how many MVP/Cy Young votes do we see from the writers for all non-Ichiro Japanese players combined?
   55. chris p Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:55 PM (#2359330)
tve, i think the problem is that so many of the japanese players don't get an opportunity to come over until their 30s. with the posting rules, only the best japanese players get a chance to come over early enough and are good enough to be effective into their late 30s.
   56. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:55 PM (#2359331)
Matsui was a 50-home run monster in Japan - one of the inner-circle greats of the outfield over there, from what I understand. I don't know what the Yankees thought they were getting exactly, but I think it's fair to compare Hideki to "Paul O'Neill lite".
   57. Backlasher Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:56 PM (#2359332)
oh come on. nomo won over 100 games, sazaki came over late and had 3 good years (at age 32, 33, and 34) before getting hurt, iguchi has been solid, and otsuka has been solid. those are just off the top of my head.


H. Matsui has been solid as well. In fact, the disappointments aren't that long:

Irabu - definately underperformed
K. Matsui - He was a met so I didn't expect much.
Yoshii - decent years, did we expect much more
Komiyama - Supposedly the Japanese Greg Maddux, wasn't even the Japanese Mike Maddux
   58. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 09, 2007 at 02:57 PM (#2359334)
But how many MVP/Cy Young votes do we see from the writers for all non-Ichiro Japanese players combined?
The only NPB superstars to come to the US have been Ichiro, the Matsuis, and Matsuzaka. Ichiro's been a star and an MVP, Hideki Matsui has been a consistent championship-quality performer, Kaz Matsui has sucked, and we're waiting on Daisuke. Nomo, for instance, wasn't all that great in NPB, and had a very good career in America nonetheless. Why are you throwing out one of the major data points?
   59. Backlasher Posted: May 09, 2007 at 03:03 PM (#2359337)
But how many MVP/Cy Young votes do we see from the writers for all non-Ichiro Japanese players combined?


I think Sasaki has some; I think Nomo has some.

Matsui was a 50-home run monster in Japan - one of the inner-circle greats of the outfield over there, from what I understand. I don't know what the Yankees thought they were getting exactly, but I think it's fair to compare Hideki to "Paul O'Neill lite".

There are a lot of teams that would be very happy to have had Matsui production. What were you expecting -- Barry Bonds.

The expectation is so high on Dice-K because you are getting him for his prime years. Moreover, you don't have to look at Japanese league equivalency or other junk stats, you can see the array of what he can do. Many people saw him pitch in the WBC, and saw his repitoire of pitches.
   60. chris p Posted: May 09, 2007 at 03:08 PM (#2359341)
Matsui was a 50-home run monster in Japan

it's been established that power numbers do not translate well.
   61. Sexy Lizard Posted: May 09, 2007 at 03:09 PM (#2359342)
At this point (I'm only counting guys who stuck in the majors for more than a year), the only real Japanese import to have lasting success in the bigs is Ichiro. You could make an argument for Sasaki and Nomo, but I think both of their MLB careers qualify as "disappointments".


There are different levels of success. Hideki Matsui has been a solid ML left fielder, which is success, but he's a failure if you were looking for someone hitting 50 home runs a year.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in at age 28 with no pedigree or expectations. He threw 9 years with a 124 ERA+ and an All-Star appearance in his brilliant 2003. He was never a star, but he was a good foot soldier. That's success.
   62. Miko Supports Shane's Spam Habit Posted: May 12, 2007 at 11:43 PM (#2362103)
Matsui was a 50-home run monster in Japan

That's a bit misleading, as Matsui hit 50 once, and hit 50 exactly. But he was a monster over there and it probably wasn't all Yomimuri-style hype. His HR totals from age 20 on:

22, 38, 37, 34, 42, 42, 36, 50

Those were in about 80% of the AB's he had in his 1st NYY years.
   63. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: May 13, 2007 at 01:25 AM (#2362161)
Just looking his splits (I haven't really seen him pitch a lot), I see this:

imes Facing Oppin Game
 I Split         G   PA   AB   R   H  2B 3B HR  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF ROE GDP  SB CS Pk   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  BAbip sOPS
tOPSSplit
+-+------------+---+----+----+---+---+--+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+------------+
   
1st PA in G    7   63   54   8  11  3  0  0   6   0  15   2   0   1   1   1   0  0  0  .204  .302  .259  .561  .275    60    72 1st PA in G  
   2nd PA in G    7   63   53   4  10  1  0  0   8   0  16   2   0   0   1   1   0  0  0  .189  .317  .208  .525  .270    48    62 2nd PA in G  
   3rd
PA in G   7   68   64  11  19  4  0  3   4   0  16   0   0   0   0   2   0  1  0  .297  .338  .500  .838  .356   110   156 3rdPA in G 


Now, batters on average do better against starters in the 3rd PA. But the sOPS+ is adjusted for the split; Matsuzaka has been doing worse than the average on that split.

This indicates to me that most of the damage done against him is crowded into that third time around the order. Whenever you crowd all that damage in such close quarters, a guy's gonna give up more runs than his peripherals would indicate.

I would suspect that the distribution of hits against him will even out, and his ERA and Component ERAs (DIPS, FIP, etc.) will converge as the season proceeds.
   64. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: May 13, 2007 at 01:26 AM (#2362164)
Hasegawa was absolute success, btw.
   65. Darren Posted: May 15, 2007 at 02:55 AM (#2364482)
I have found the key to success for Dice-K: give up at HR.

Games with a HR allowed: 30 IP, 2.70 ERA, 30 K, 5 BB.
Games with no HR allowed: 24 IP, 6.00 ERA, 22 K, 13 BB.

Mostly just for fun, but perhaps it indicates that he is more successful when going after hitters than when nibbling. Tonight's win was also great because it came against one of the league's top offenses.
   66. villageidiom Posted: May 15, 2007 at 03:08 AM (#2364490)
After Matsuzaka's meltdown against Seattle: 5.45 ERA, 3.36 dERA.
After his next start, last week vs Toronto: 4.80 ERA, 3.45 dERA.
After his start this evening vs the Tigers: 4.17 ERA, 3.46 dERA.

Hmmm... I see a 3.50 ERA in his future... which would be around a 125 ERA+ right now. It'd be nice if he improves on that, naturally, but that depends on whether he'll continue with the meltdown innings.
   67. villageidiom Posted: May 15, 2007 at 03:17 AM (#2364500)
Tonight's win was also great because it came against one of the league's top offenses.


Toronto was once one of the league's top offenses. Then they played Boston.

Seriously, twice I've led off Game Chatter for a series (once TOR, once NYY) saying that it was a good test for Boston's pitching because they were going up against a good offense. I've grown tired of saying that. It's now worth saying that Boston's pitching is a good test for whatever good offense du jour is facing them.
   68. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 15, 2007 at 02:36 PM (#2364732)
So, 124 pitch complete game. One thing I noted, though, was that the math comes out to under 14 pitches per inning. Matsuzaka never threw more than 18 pitches in an inning, and he was particularly efficient toward the end of the game.

It's interesting, though, that the Sox have decided they're perfectly comfortable letting Daisuke throw 120 pitches. Not every night, certainly, but occasionally.

There's a discussion on SoSH of the Globe report that the Sox decided, after the Seattle start, to let Daisuke increase the intensity of his workout pattern such that it's closer to what he did in Japan, even having him toss 100+ pitches in a side session. Dunno if that's responsible for the recent turnaround, but it's worth noting.
   69. tfbg9 Posted: May 15, 2007 at 02:47 PM (#2364741)
Well, if he thinks it is, then let him keep doing it.

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