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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Keri: Cleveland’s band of worm burners

In adding Lowe to a rotation that also includes Justin Masterson and Fausto Carmona, the Indians will feature three of this year’s top eight ground-ball-inducing starters. Throw in Ubaldo Jimenez and his above-average ground-ball rate and the Indians will field a staff unlike any other in the game. In a perennially weak division where little edges can mean a lot, the Indians may have found a new path to success, and just maybe a 2012 playoff berth.

To understand how extreme the Indians’ staff figures to be, let’s dive into some numbers. Lowe triggered grounders on 59 percent of the balls in play hit against him in 2011, Masterson 55.1 percent, and Carmona 54.8 percent. Over the past three seasons, Lowe, Masterson, and Carmona put up composite ground-ball rates of 58 percent, 56 percent, and 55 percent, respectively, three of the four highest marks in baseball. With apologies to some of the Tommy John-led staffs and other grounder-heavy rotations of the past, publicly available ground-ball data goes back just a decade. In that time, only five other teams have deployed three starters with GB rates of 50 percent or higher — four of them Cardinals staffs led by sinkerball fetishist/guru Dave Duncan. None had a higher aggregate ground-ball rate among its top three starters than what Lowe, Masterson, and Carmona put up this year.

Any way of getting more innings per start per starter sounds like a good idea to me.

Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: November 08, 2011 at 07:12 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: indians, sabermetrics

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   1. Jack Sommers Posted: November 08, 2011 at 11:10 PM (#3988862)
While he points out that Cabrera was last in UZR last year, he simply states

UZR hates shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but the Tribe think he's a lot better than the league-worst defender


They can think that all they want, but it's not just UZR that thinks he's a poor defender. Rdrs (-5) and Rtot (-6) concur.

Where this is going to hurt Cleveland is if they don't improve the DP%.

Because this staff is going to give up a lot of hits, due to the higher BABIP on GB than FB, they need to get a DP at a higher percentage than normal to really leverage all these ground ball pitchers. THAT is the secret to maximizing a GB staff. Cleveland had the 3rd worst percentage in baseball last year, when given the chance to turn a DP

LINK. This despite already having the 8th highest GB/FB ratio and 8th highest GB% in MLB.

Another way to look at the DP issue is from UZR's rGDP. Indians 5th worst in baseball. Link

The inability to turn two is going to kill them if they don't improve.


On the other hand

let's say Indians pitchers generated 200 more grounders per season than the rest of the league — an aggressive prediction. Now, say they turned ground balls into outs at a rate 4 percent above league average, another optimistic call. Under that scenario, assuming Indians infielders converted 80 percent of grounders into outs instead of the league average of 76 percent, you'd generate 160 more ground-ball outs in a season. On the other hand, if those 200 extra balls in play were fly balls that didn't leave the park, that could work out even better, since fly balls drop for hits far less often then ground balls do. All of which is to say, the direct effects could be minimal.


Why would he make the assumption here that none of those fly balls would leave the park ? per bb-ref, 7.3% of balls not hit on the ground left the ballpark, so that would come out to 15 homers.

If they manage to allow a dozen or so fewer homers, and the middle infield defense improves at turning the DP, then this strategy will work. Two pretty big if's in my opinion though, and it doesn't look like Cleveland is going to address the keystone combo.

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