Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

8-7

Posted by Mike on April 18, 2006

It's only the 8th inning, but I feel pretty safe projecting tonight's game as a loss. 

The top half of the 6th inning felt like late-2005 all over again.  Miguel Tejada seemingly didn't even try to catch a cut-off throw, Brian Roberts got caught on his heels on what should have been a double play ball, and then Nick Markakis showed one more time that he is not yet a major league CF.  For that matter, Markakis hasn't looked much like a major league hitter since the opening series against Tampa Bay.  And I think I could've collected a few hits against that pitching staff…

That's not to say that a 15 game sample is enough to draw any broad conclusions off of, but the same could be said for his performance in spring training.  Everyone is marveling at Markakis' plate discipline, but part of getting ahead in counts is that you force the pitcher to throw in your comfort zone.  If the pitcher is able to pipe a fastball down the middle in a 2-0 count, while you take it and hope it's a ball, then you actually need to be more aggressive.  It sure would be nice if there were some sort of infrastructure in place that allowed Markakis to play everyday and work on this against a more age-appropriate competition… 

I'm rooting for the kid, I really am.  It's just that it should have dawned on everyone by now that Markakis is not Albert Pujols part deux.  And, like I'll probably bring up fifty more times throughout the season, what is the point of burning a year of Markakis' service time if he A) isn't the difference between contending and not contending and B) still has things to learn in the minors?  Even just an average regular making the league minimum is a very valuable thing, but the O's seem content to waste that potential value in favor of "seeing what the kid's got".  Meanwhile, about eight other outfielders line the O's bench. 

Speaking of which, can anyone explain to me why Corey Patterson didn't get into the game until the 7th inning?  Even then, why couldn't he have batted for Gibbons instead of just pinch-running?  Was Perlozzo hoping that Gibby would launch one of his patented 13-run homers?  These are exactly the types of games when you need to swap out your regulars for those who are hungry to prove themselves.

Bruce Chen "pitched" tonight and left after 4+ innings with the following line:

4.0 ip, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 K, 3 BB, 2 HR

Yup, two more HR's.  That's 6 altogether through 16.7 ip, or 3.24/9 ip.  Not good. 

Last year, Chen gave up 1.51 HR/9 ip.  Looking at his batted ball data, he gave up a HR on 15% of his flyballs.  Since we can expect that top regress towards the mean (13-14%), it only seems reasonable that he would give up slightly less HR's this year.  In fact, PECOTA projects 28 HR's over 197.0 ip, or 1.28/9 ip. 

Just for kicks, I decided to take a look at pitcher seasons that met the following criteria:

  1. Occurred in 1990 or later
  2. Logged at least 110 innings

The first thing I want to look at is HR rate.  Out of 1,982 such seasons, Chen's 2005 ranks as the 143rd worst in HR rate.  The worst was Jeff Fassero's 1999, in which he gave up 34 moonshots in 139.0 innings.  The two best HR rates are held by Greg Maddux– in 1992 and 1994. 

Now, let's filter out all of these pitcher seasons where the HR rate was less than 1.3.  Even in this sample, Bruce Chen has a below average HR rate- 143rd out of 368.  But let's compare this sample to those filtered out before we get ahead of ourselves- pitchers with 1.3 HR/9 or more vs. pitchers with <1.3 HR/9.

                           1.3 HR/9+               <1.3 HR/9         Chen's 2005

n=                            368                            1614                     1

K/9=                        5.73                            6.24                   6.07

BB/9=                      3.18                            3.02                   2.87

ERA=                        5.07                            3.95                   3.83

To be honest, I was a little bit surprised that the pitchers who kept the ball in the park came out on top in every category.  I assumed there would be some selection bias in play (ie pitcher X doesn't walk anybody so HR's hurt him less and that's how he still holds a starting gig despite giving up lots of them).  Nevertheless, the differences are not significant at either the 90% or 95% level, so feel free to conclude that HR rate is not a decisive indicator of K rate or BB rate. 

If there is one thing you take away from these numbers with respect to Chen, it should be that he is well within the average range in every respect- except for giving up lots of home runs.  So if he doesn't start keeping the ball in the park, a 5.00+ ERA seems a lot more likely than the sub-4.00 ERA he posted in 2005. 

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6 Responses to “8-7”

  1. Justin said

    “Even just an average regular making the league minimum is a very valuable thing”

    Are you saying that markakis is just an average regular? Do you think he’ll be better than that ever?

  2. bradley said

    okay, so i kind of freaked out about this in the comments section of the roch blog, but i think johnson averaged about 10 or 11 pitches per inning. it seems to me that plate patience was also an issue in the hendrickson sho.

    in fact, johnson was finally yanked when markakis and roberts worked him for about 19 or 20 pitches in consecutive pa’s.

  3. Mike said

    Are you saying that markakis is just an average regular? Do you think he’ll be better than that ever?

    I think the jury is still out on how good Markakis will be in 2006. I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if he was an "average regular".  I think that he'll eventually be an above-average regular, a la Brady Anderson.  Perhaps as soon as next year, though I think 2008 is more realistic.

    Bradley-

    I actually wrote my entry before Markakis got a base hit in the 8th- go figure.  Johnson was pounding the strike zone (70 of 101 pitches for strikes), but 0 walks?  That's inexcusable.  On the year, the O's have 36 BB's and 518 AB's.  By way of comparison, in 2 less AB's, the Indians have 47 BB's. Boston- 65 in 475 AB's. NYY- 57 in 456 AB's.

    Somebody needs to start a new site- FireTerryCrowley.com

  4. bradley said

    so what are these guys doing? luis terrero? yet another pointless signing.

    bring me cody ross! i’ll bet craig wilkson could still be had for nothing!

  5. Mike said

    Personally, I’d rather see Terrero up than Majewski. At least Val will get the reps he needs in Ottawa. Seems to me that we have enough trouble getting PT for the OF’s we already have up. I wouldn’t mind taking a peak at Eddy Garabito though.

  6. bradley said

    hey, how about that corey patterson? mercy.

    so, now that matos is on the dl, too, i guess the scramble for abs will be elss intense.

    the lopez/chen situation is a much greater concern to me than the bullpen, but i guess they both kind of go hand in hand, huh?

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