XM MLB Chat

Friday, May 12, 2006

STATS GUYS HATE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS---Congratulations to Chien-Ming Wang

IN WANG'S VICTORY ON FRIDAY NIGHT: 8 IP
  • 0 strike-outs
  • 8 Double plays
  • 20 Ground-outs
  • 3 hits
  • 85 pitches
  • 2 BB
  • 25 BF
  • 0 runs
But, the stats guys will fill up pages trying unsuccessfully to refute the success or even the existence of ground-ball pitchers. I recently read such an article in Sports Illustrated for which I assume the author was paid money. His thesis was that so-called ground ball pitchers had to work at least as hard as other kinds of pitchers (throw as many pitches while taking as much out of their arm) for no advantage, gave up lots of home runs, etc. Why is it so repugnant to these guys that a ground-ball pitcher may exist?

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6 Comments:

  • I thought you said in yesterday's entry that you quit.

    By Anonymous XM Fan, at 9:54 AM  

  • Susan,

    I wouldn't paint all "stats guys" with the same broad brush. Wang certainly has his uses, and the fact that he's such an extreme ground ball pitcher (only 1 HR allowed so far, 2.63 G:F ratio) makes him viable. What worries analysts about him are his utter lack of strikeouts - more balls in play, ground/line/fly altogether = more chances for hits. It's been shown over time (and that's the key phrase) that most pitchers have a hit rate of 30% with balls in play. Wang has actually been unlucky in that department, meaning that there's hope for some improvement.

    Wang is the upside represented with top groundball pitchers that don't also strike guys out. The downside would be someone like Carlos Silva, who had similar splits last year, but has imploded this year. I'm not saying that they're the same, or that Wang is due for a fall, but that risk is apparent.

    Is Wang underappreciated? Probably so, which is ironic for a Yankee pitcher, at least in terms of the attention that the team gets from all forms of media (not that all the attention that they get is positive, by any means - only that the spotlight is always on).

    As always, the issue bears further study.

    By Anonymous Jeff Erickson, at 7:20 PM  

  • i too was befuddled by the "stats guys" comment. who do you think came up with something called "GB/FB ratio" in the first place, anyway?? indeed, Baseball Prospectus 2006 has GB% as one of its 23 stats in the pantheon that is otherwise heavily weighted towards their proprietary stats like VORP. i've read many articles by "performance analysts", as they smugly like to call themselves instead of sabermetricians, that have relied on GB/FB arguments.

    so, i'm guessing the comment is based primarily on this particular Sports Illustrated writer's article. it does like sound dubious analysis.


    p.s., thanks for continuing the blog! i don't have or listen to XM radio, but i find your blog uniquely entertaining, and i visit it regularly. keep it up!

    By Anonymous margin, at 8:06 PM  

  • Thanks Jeff & Margin for your comments--I agree it must've been a 'stats' guy who came up with the measure in the 1st place! I was reacting to the article I mentioned as well as to entries I've read on a very
    popular baseball site. They may agree that gbs exist, but don't want to credit a pitcher for predictably getting them. If a sample size, # of appearance is great enough, give the
    pitcher the credit. The other areas this may get to here for me are whether a pitcher's career can be elongated by not having to be a power pitcher (Greg Maddox is frequently used as an example, but I'm thinking
    of people like Mariano Rivera who's
    done 11 regular & 11 post seasons while being instructed to let his
    fielders get the ball, not to try &
    strike everyone out, & it has worked). I understand about the 30%
    chance the ball will be flubbed, but
    if the guy can keep it on the ground, at least for a late inning
    reliever, that's what you want. I can see that might not be the priority with a starting pitcher. Anyhow, thanks for your comments.

    By Blogger susan mullen, at 8:36 PM  

  • More about Wang and G/F ratio in general.

    http://www.rotowire.com/baseball/features/rounding.htm

    E-mail (jeff at rotowire.com) if you don't have access to the site already.

    By Anonymous Jeff Erickson, at 5:59 PM  

  • Thanks for the info, Jeff. I also heard you reference the G/F stats on
    your Tuesday show. It's especially
    interesting to me in relation to late
    inning relievers. Certain late inning
    relievers who've received media accolades but turned into flashes in the pan had fairly high fb rates & gave up some bad home runs.

    By Blogger susan mullen, at 3:50 AM  

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