Sunday, May 20, 2012

Live-Blogging the Blue Jays Broadcast: Game 42

[I'm starting this one a bit late, and missed most of the first inning!]

1st inning

Pat: "Batters are hitting over .500 against [Dillon Gee] when they swing at the first pitch."

There are all sorts of problems with this statement. First, Pat means to say that they're hitting over .500 when they put it play or hit it out of the park. That number doesn't account for instances where the batter misses or fouls the ball off. Also, only 15 at bats vs. Gee have been resolved on the first pitch. That's hardly evidence of, well, anything.

2nd inning

Buck: "The Mets, by starting the runner, stay out of the double-play."

One of my pet peeves about Buck and Pat is how they never critique the decision to hit-and-run. The problem with hit-and-run is that it's often a bad idea - it forces the batter to swing at pitches that he wouldn't otherwise swing at, and to take slapping contact-swings rather than full, proper ones. (It's tough to prove, mind you, but the general consensus is that it's a toss-up, at best. And that the degree to which it is a good idea depends, substantially, on the quality of the base-runner.)

Buck: "[Henderson Alvarez]'s a little rushed. He's always quick to the plate."

Alvarez has been averaging more than 20 seconds between pitches this year. That's above average, but only by a second or two. (Among starting pitchers, he's almost exactly average.)

Buck: "I think there are more good teams in the American League than in the National League right now."

I'm not sure that's an "I think" situation - you can pretty easily prove it. Buck went on to talk about win-loss records, which makes no sense - prior to Interleague play, which began on Friday, the leagues had only played amongst themselves, so the overall record in each league would be .500.

Buck: [after Gee throws a first-pitch breaking ball] "Gee picked up that the Blue Jays are looking to ambush on the first pitch."

That's probably a good read. He just watched a rookie hit a liner off a first-pitch fastball, so it's reasonable for him to assume that they're looking for it. (Also, his fastball is terrible. So, the Jays should look for it.)

3rd inning

Buck: [in reference to a chart that shows the Blue Jays have the best starters' ERA in the AL] "We mentioned how well the starting pitching has been playing. ... The Blue Jays also have 19 starter wins. They're tied with Texas for second."

The weird thing, first, is that they're graphic shows a 3.33 ERA for starters, while Fangraphs says 3.16. Dunno what accounts for that difference. 

But this is an interesting topic, because those same pitchers - who have the best ERA in the AL and 4th best in the Majors - have posted a very bad FIP: at 4.49, it's 11th in the AL 26th overall. (SIERA says 24th; tERA says 25th/) So, that's a huge disagreement between ERA and the advanced metrics. Usually, the numbers are quite close - only one other team has a 1.00 difference, and the numbers are quite close for most teams - which implies that the Jays' fielding has been exceptional (which is another interesting argument), that their pitchers are amazing with runners on base (which has been shown to be very rare for individual pitchers, much less a whole team), or that they've been very, very lucky. My guess? When all the metrics say this starting staff if below-average and should have an ERA over 4.00, we're probably going to see a regression to that range over the rest of the season.

4th inning

Buck: "Nick Markakis and Adam Jones have been doing a great job."

Markakis - .258/.335/.440, for a 118 wRC+ - has been better than I thought, though not especially "great". That's basically how he's compared to league-average through his entire career, which is "good" but nothing amazing. (Considering, especially, that the most common assessment of Markakis is that he's failed to live up to his potential.) Impossible to argue with his observation about Adam Jones, though.

Buck: "[Kelly Johnson]'s predominately a pull-hitter."

But the graphic they showed seemed to be saying the opposite - less than 40% of his balls-in-play were pulled, which is equal to the number of hits to center. Actually, I have no idea what that graphic was actually showing - it showed 36 balls in play, but Johnson has put more than 100 balls in play. Weird. I can only guess that it was actually fly balls plus non-fly home runs. (Assuming that three of those homers were classified as line-drive and not flies.) That actually makes it seem like he's even less of a pull-hitter, then, since hitters tend to pull in the air and put balls on the ground when they push.

5th inning

Buck: "What makes Wright such a good hitter?"
Pat: "...A good RBI-man."

Good RBI-man means that he always hits 3rd in the line-up, where even an average hitter is virtually a lock for 90 RBI if he plays every day. That said, Wright fell well short of 90 in 2009, and would have only had roughly that many RBI last year, if your project to fill the time he was injured. (To be fair, though, the Mets were absolutely terrible on offense in 2009. But Buck and Pat don't talk about how important "opportunity" is to racking up RBI. As everyone who reads about RBI would know, RBI are almost entirely a product of a) the quality of the hitter, regardless, and b) how many base-runners you have.)

Hmm... Buck and Pat just don't seem to be saying anything, anymore. Probably, in part, this is because the Jays are losing 6-2 and don't seem to be doing much on offense. I may just graciously bow-out right now and promise to stick with it next time...

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