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Entries in walks (4)

Wednesday
Aug142013

The Freak Getting Hitters to Chase 

While the San Francisco Giants won't have the chance to defend their World Series title this October, Tim Lincecum has plenty riding on the rest of the 2013 season.

The 29-year-old righty hits the free agent market this winter sporting two Cy Young Awards but also a combined 73 ERA+ over the 2012-13 seasons, worst among starting pitchers throwing at least 300 innings over that time frame. From 2007-11, by contrast, he had a 137 ERA+.  (An average ERA+ is 100, with a score over 100 indicating that a pitcher has performed better than the average, and a score below 100 pointing to below-average performance.) 

Lincecum's core stats -- strikeouts, walks, grounders -- suggest he deserves better than the middling 4.18 ERA that he carries into his Wednesday start against the Nationals as indicated by his fielding-independent ERA of 3.49 (FIP determines the quality of a pitcher's performance by eliminating plate appearance outcomes that involve defensive play. The basic pitcher-dependent outcomes are home runs, walks and strikeouts.). What's especially promising for Lincecum's 2014 free-agent prospects is how he has dramatically lowered his walk rate over the course of the season. 

Lincecum's declining walk rate

Lincecum issued a free pass to 13.2% of batters faced in April, well north of the 7.4% average for National League starting pitchers.

That walk rate has declined each month since then, however: 

  • 8.9% of batters faced in May
  • 7.9% in June
  • Just 6.6% in July-August. 

The Freak didn't suddenly start firing more pitches over the plate -- his percentage of pitches thrown within the strike zone has hovered around 50% most of the season, and is actually lower since the beginning of July (45%). Rather, Lincecum has induced more hitters to chase his stuff off the plate.

Check out his opponent chase rate by pitch location:

April

May

June

July-August

Lincecum got hitters to expand their strike zones just 21.4% of the time in April, a far cry from the 27% MLB average. His chase rate has steadily climbed since then: 24.6% in May, 25.9% in June, and 32% in July-August. With that, his batting average against has benefited dramatically because it's hard to get wood on pitches out of the zone. His BAA in May was .294, in June .263, in July .212, in August it's .140.

He's getting more chases with both his changeup and breaking stuff, and most of those wild swings are coming on pitches thrown at or below the knees.

In April, Lincecum had a 25.4% chase rate on pitches tossed to the lower third of the zone. That lower-third chase rate has soared: 26.8% in May, 35.3% in June, and 40.1% in July-August.

It remains to be seen as to whether his value in off-season will soar as well.

Friday
Mar082013

Scatter Charts: Did Moneyball Die in 2012?

We recently gained access to a new scatter chart tool that allows us to look at related statistics. During some initial research we were very surprised to find that in 2012 a team walks were not statistically related to runs scored.

2012 Team walks to runs scored


However, if you look at 2011, 2010 and 2009 you can see the significant relationship between walks and runs scored.
This prompts the question: Did Moneyball die in 2012?

The caveat being that the at the time Moneyball was written, the goal was to exploit market inefficiency, which was walks at the time.

Compare the differences


In 2012, walks were likely over-priced since more of them didn't correlate to scoring more runs, since a team potentially gives up hits up to get them.  

What are your thoughts?
Tuesday
Aug212012

Pence's Impatience Costing Him with Giants

Hunter Pence, by all accounts, is an enthusiastic fellow. Pence runs out routine grounders like he's squaring off against Usain Bolt. He's known to crash into walls and even the occasional sliding glass window. But Pence has been a little too gung-ho in the batter's box since being traded from the Phillies to the Giants on July 31. And it's costing him and his new club.

Pence wasn't exactly a strike-zone guru with Philly, but both his 8.4% walk rate and 19.3% strikeout rate were right around the MLB average in 2012. With San Francisco, however, Pence has drawn a walk just 4.8% of the time and he has punched out 26.2%.

With the Phillies, Pence swung at plenty of high pitches out of the zone. Despite that, his overall 29.2% chase rate was close to the MLB average (28.5%):

Pence's swing rate by pitch location with the Phillies, 2012

 

Since changing coasts, Pence's strike zone has practically stretched from Philly to San Fran:

Pence's swing rate by pitch location with the Giants, 2012

 

Pence has chased 37% of pitches thrown out of the zone in San Francisco. He's 1-for-24 on those outside pitches, striking out 16 times in the process. While Pence's pep endears him to teammates, he's got to tone it down at home plate to help the Giants' playoff prospects.

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