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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 13, 2011 at 03:12 PM (#3729360)
I should say that graph overstates things a bit. The Fangraphs data source appears to have started logging more of what it used to call fastballs as two-seam or cut fastballs in 2010, continuing a trend from 2009. Before 2009 there basically weren't any two-seamers or cutters in the fangraphs data, now they represent nearly a quarter of all pitches thrown. So, almost all pitchers' charts have added crap in 2010.

Nonetheless, you can see the same things I'm talking about in Beckett's rates of throwing curves, changeups, and fastballs, and the value he got out of those pitches.

69% fastballs, 27% curveballs, 4% changeups - 2007
74% fastballs, 24% curveballs, 1% changeups - 2008
72% fastballs, 26% curveballs, 3% changeups - 2009
70% fastballs, 18% curveballs, 12% changeups -2010

Beckett's rate of throwing cut fastballs (which I lumped in with fastballs above) jumped significantly based on my observation, but I don't think the degree to which that changed can be parsed out of the fangraphs data, since their methodology appears to be inconsistent season-to-season. Nonetheless, I think Beckett's change in approach was more significant than just the FA/CU/CH numbers show, since a much bigger chunk of his 2010 fastballs were actually cut fastball.

What I hoped the game-to-game numbers would show is also that Beckett was inconsistent in his mixing of these pitches. I realize that it's possible that the inconsistency shown above is just inconsistency in the fangraphs data source. So, maybe I can't show the inconsistency because I don't have good enough data, but I am quite convinced that, watching Beckett pitch, he was wildly inconsistent game to game in his deployment of pitches.
   2. tfbg9 Posted: January 13, 2011 at 05:26 PM (#3729451)
The term "sucks" began as a "homophobic taunt".
I'm sure our boy MCoA believes we can all do better.

I'd take Lackey's year every year for the rest of his contract.
Slightly above average ERA+ (for a starter) and 215 IP. I'd settle for that.
   3. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: January 13, 2011 at 06:20 PM (#3729495)
The term "sucks" began as a "homophobic taunt".
I'm sure our boy MCoA believes we can all do better.

I remember that thread, but I hope this is snark.

Anyhow, I am heartened by this analysis of Lackey. The Beckett extension, however, looks Yankee-level bad right now.
   4. Cat Named Manny Posted: January 13, 2011 at 10:04 PM (#3729685)
We can debate the predictability of this, but I'm heartened by Lackey's 1st/2nd half splits. It's mostly coincidental, I'm sure, that Lackey's results began improving in his first start after the All-Star break, but it does prevent me from having to do math:

1st half (18 games): 4.78 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, .331 BABIP
2nd half(15 games): 3.97 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9, .307 BABIP

Lackey's FIP and xFIP by month:

FIP: 4.11-5.82-3.36-3.60-3.74-2.87
xFIP: 4.93-5.54-4.49-4.28-3.39-3.71

His three highest months by xFIP were April, May and June. Incidentally, his highest BABIP month was August, and his lowest strand rates by month all occurred in the second half. I wonder if the explanation is as simple as needing some adjustment in the first half. After all, it's not every day you go from living and working half your games in Los Angeles to living and working half your games in Boston, never mind the difference in competition, etc.
   5. Jim Wisinski Posted: January 13, 2011 at 11:30 PM (#3729733)
From the title I thought this was a preview of the Red Sox 2011 catching situation! ;-)
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 13, 2011 at 11:38 PM (#3729739)
Paul - that's good to see. I'd like to point out I totally called it at the end of May. All year, Lackey pretty much pitched like himself. Just for a couple months, he pitched like a less good version of himself.

I don't know if I'd go for the "adjustment" explanation. From watching him pitch, I don't think John Lackey changed anything before 2010 or toward the second half of 2010. I just think he started executing better without changing his plan or style at all.
   7. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: January 14, 2011 at 04:43 PM (#3730056)
Just for a couple months, he pitched like a less good version of himself.

Which was worth $16.5/yr for 5 years? I guess Lackey's contract was the Carl Crawford contract before the Carl Crawford contract.
   8. Paxton Crawford Ranch Posted: January 14, 2011 at 05:18 PM (#3730104)
There might just be something to Lackey's 1st/2nd half splits. I remember being concerned mid-season that his fastball velocity was down 1+ mph over 2009 (somewhere around 90.3), but by the end of the year he was up to 91.5. His velocity charts show that he was indeed throwing harder in the second half. He looks to have bottomed out in his 12th start with a sub-90 FB, ticked up a bit the next two starts, then sat 92+ for most of the rest of the season. I wouldn't expect that going forward, but if he can just average 91.5 for a full year, I think you'd see a Lackey more like his career 114 ERA+ than the 99 of last year.
   9. Valentine Posted: January 15, 2011 at 01:38 PM (#3730534)
Lackey may also have had some issues with Victor Martinez. As with Matsuzaka, Lackey had a higher K/BB when throwing to Martinez but at the cost of some hard-hit balls. Didn't help that Nava, Hermida, and McDonald were patrolling the outfield for most of the season. The range of a tree stump stuck in a glacier.

As best I can tell, Beckett had no stamina. I suspect his back was never right? He was effective for an inning or two, then imploded. Maybe he should have a go at closing? He can't be any worse than Papelbon in relief. (Likewise, Papelbon couldn't be any worse than Beckett in the rotation.)
   10. Darren Posted: January 17, 2011 at 01:52 PM (#3731261)
There are two things I really like about this post. First, the graphs are actually useful and put in context by the article. That's a sharp contrast to some other sites where every thread on every pitcher has 50 graphs showing location, velocity, ERA, height, etc in graph form, but making very little case for why those trends are important.

And second, the title is just perfect--the perfect mix of literary and sophomoric.

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