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Off-day fun, 4/30 edition (with fun videos at the end!) … FUN!

May 1, 2012

Giants:

It’s a nice coincidence that this comes on the last day of April, when, in my book, it officially becomes useful to look at a few stats. (Yeah, I know it’s technically a few hours after the off-day. I been busy, punctual reader.)

First, a look at the standings:

Pythagorean winning percentage and win-loss records are expected totals based on the relationship between runs scored and runs allowed, and were originally conceived by Bill James. Pythagorean winning percentage is a better than regular winning percentage at predicting future winning percentage. After just one month these numbers mean basically nothing, but I like that the Dodgers fare worse under Pythagorean percentage. Their pitching staff will not continue to allow fewer runs than the Giants, I’m sure of that.

***

The last time we had off-day fun, I said it was too early to worry about Lincecum and his dip in velocity. Well, even though he has won his last two starts, his fastball velocity has shown no signs of increasing. The following flurry of information is all according to Brooks Baseball:

Pitch Count Frequency H. Mvt V. Mvt Mph
Fourseam (FA) 203 37% 0.98 -13.62 90.56
Sinker (SI) 83 15% -5.54 -15.38 90.42
Slider (SL) 70 13% 3.86 -31.94 84.08
Curveball (CU) 62 11% 5.01 -44.69 78.83
Changeup (CH) 133 24% -1.50 -28.37 83.65

Lincecum’s fastball doesn’t look like it will get back up to 92 mph this season, but that might not pose that big of a problem. That table and the following graph show that his five pitches work at roughly three different speeds.

Tim’s fastball and sinker operate at around 90 mph, his changeup and slider at 83 and his curveball at 78. There is a large enough gap between those three tiers that as long as he mixes his pitches effectively, he should be able to keep hitters off balance.

It doesn’t hurt that his changeup is still great. Its downward dive is still lethal (just check the -28.37 Vertical Movement in the table above), and he is smart enough to rely on it in two-strike counts.

Pitch Counts Ball Call Str. Swings Fouls Whiffs
Fourseam (FA) 45 46.67% 4.44% 46.67% 31.11% 4.44%
Sinker (SI) 15 40.00% 6.67% 53.33% 6.67% 13.33%
Slider (SL) 24 29.17% 70.83% 20.83% 16.67%
Curveball (CU) 20 40.00% 5.00% 55.00% 25.00% 30.00%
Changeup (CH) 57 43.86% 3.51% 52.63% 15.79% 21.05%

This table only shows pitches thrown in two-strike counts. Lincecum throws the changeup more than any other pitch in these situations, getting a whiff, and thus a strikeout, with it more than once every five times (21.05 percent).

Because of Tim’s changeup, and to a lesser extent his slider and curveball, he is able to get batters to swing and miss on 10.6 percent of all pitches thrown (his career average is 11.0 percent and anything over 10 is very good for a starting pitcher). So I’m willing to bet that this year he will be just as effective as his younger self. However, if this trend of decreasing velocity continues, I wonder if the Giants would be willing to re-sign him in two years when his contract is up.

***

Bruce Bochy and the front office spent much of the offseason saying that Brandon Crawford was making great strides at the plate. His current triple-slash of .203/.225/.333 would seem to scream “NUH UH” right in their big, stupid faces. Oh what do we make of this?

Giants announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow have said on more than one occasion that Crawford has been snakebit (a folksy synonym for unlucky) so far, so I did a rudimentary test to see if that was true. A player’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) can fluctuate wildly, often because of luck. The xBABIP calculator at Fangraphs aims to remove luck from the equation and provide a player’s expected BABIP. Simply enter the player’s batted ball data and wait less than a second.

Crawford’s actual BABIP is .228. The calculator says it should be…

.325! Holy canoli! Of Crawford’s, 69 at-bats, 11 have ended in strikeouts and one in a home run. That leaves 57 at-bats that resulted on balls in play. Instead of the 13 hits he actually has in those at-bats, he should have closer to 18 or 19 hits with that rate, giving him a nice hypothetical average of either .275 or .290. With his stellar defense, a .275-hitting Crawford would be quite valuable.

***

Around-ish the League:

I get caught up in numbers too often, so let’s watch some highlights, even though I can’t show them here because Bud Selig is Scrooge McDuck.

This is the biggest hit of Brandon Belt’s career. Now there is no way Bochy can deny him consistent playing time.

Ryan Braun had three home runs and a triple—at Petco Park. You know, the worst park for hitters in the majors. I’m guessing that’s the best game anyone has ever had there. He certainly accounted for more offense than the entire Padres team does on most nights.

Wow Zack Cozart, shortstop of the Cincinnati Reds. You remind us of all that once was good, and could be again.

Giancarlo Stanton finally went deep for the first time in 2012. Still, we wait for one so thoroughly powerful that it makes us instinctively yelp in a mixture of, a) ecstasy at having witnessed the upper reaches of human potential and, b) fear at what men who have that potential can do to us at night, in the streets, or even when we are on our most vigilant guard. Stay in my screen, Giancarlo, and away from me.*

*I mean, if you wanted to hang out, I would too. Want to, I mean. Ha ha. Gee, I’m usually not so…so…so, uh, silly. Hey, have you seen The Lucky One yet?

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