All Forums > SimLeague Baseball > MLB > 2014 Orioles Thread (88-59): Magic Number at 5
9/2/2014 3:43 PM
That's a lot better than I expected, if it's true.

Alright, you're more credible than I gave you credit for.  Though I don't know what you saw from Kazmir that makes you think he was ever in the neighborhood of his stats.  The reality is that he's never been able to command any pitch but the fastball.  He still throws as hard now as he ever did, but he doesn't have the movement he once did.  It's still not what you would call a flat fastball, which is why he's still a Major League pitcher.  But in order to be a top of the rotation ML starting pitcher, you need more pitches.  Kazmir probably throws less fastballs than Tillman, but Tillman can consistently throw his changeup and cutter/slider for strikes.  On good days he can also throw the curve for strikes, though he seems to prefer to use it as a strikeout pitch.  Frankly think that's a misutilization; he pitches much better when he throws a curve over the corner for strike one, and I wish he'd go back to doing that more often.
9/2/2014 4:07 PM
I'm in Southern California so we get a lot of AL West games here.

His two seamer still has great velocity and movement. PitchFX type categories are still a work in progress, but compare Kazmir's FT (two seam fastball) velocity/movement to other starters known for throwing a tough two seamer. I think you'll be surprised. 

For example 

Kazmir : Kazmir's two seamer sits in the low 90's, averaging about 10 inches of vertical movement.
David Price : Price probably throws it a little harder, but the movement is about the same.

9/2/2014 4:25 PM

I don't give the PitchFX data a lot of credit since it seems to be fairly inconsistent with what observation and results indicate.

Kazmir's 2-seamer has an over 87% contact rate, a groundball percentage against of only 40%, and a LD% over 30%.  Price's has a contact rate around 83%, a slightly better GB%, and a much lower LD%.  It's not really significant how much PitchFX thinks the pitch moves.  It's pretty clear that the hitters are telling a different story.  The reality may be that most of the difference is really a result of the fact that Price can throw several kinds of fastballs for strikes, several different types of curves for strikes, and a changeup for a strike.  Against Kazmir, as I referenced above, you really only have to worry about the fastball.  He'll throw other stuff, but he can't consistently command any other pitch.  Many days he doesn't have one reliable secondary pitch.  So Kazmir doesn't have to be as good as Price with his fastball.  He has to be better.  And he's not.

9/2/2014 4:48 PM
Of course he's not as good as Price. I was addressing your point about Kazmir not having much movement. He does.

Somehow Kazmir is able to strikeout 7.5 per 9. Tillman's at 6.2.

If you're going to argue that one guy is succeeding with smoke and mirrors, I'd look at Tillman first.
9/2/2014 5:39 PM
We're never going to agree on guys like Tillman because you refuse to acknowledge that pitchers can induce weak contact.

While I don't have the time or the inclination to get involved in an in-depth discussion on this issue right now, I find it ironic - borderline laugh-out-loud funny - how the same set of mainstream stat guys can tell you in one breath that strikeouts are irrelevant for hitters, while they are one of only 3 relevant statistics for pitchers.  The reality is that how hard you hit the ball matters, and contrary to increasingly popular belief, both the hitter and the pitcher have a role to play in how frequently balls are squared up.

Yes, Tillman is 7th of 95 qualifying pitchers in terms of BABIP against.  Lucky?  Maybe.  But last year he was 17th out of 85 qualified pitchers.  And in 2012 he was 2nd amongst 170 pitchers with 80+ innings pitched.  So maybe he's been lucky for two and a half years.  That's what mainstream sabermetric thinking would seem to want you to believe.  Personally, I think it's because he has the truest overhead delivery of any starting pitcher in the game right now.  He's showing hitters a look they just don't see, so he's harder to hit.  It makes his fairly pedestrian stuff play up, and it's why his ERA will likely continue to average .5+ runs/game below his FIP for some years.  Same phenomenon you see with submarine guys.  Darren O'Day has a career ERA over a run better than his FIP, and has been at least at least a run better than FIP every year since his rookie season except 2012, in which he was .68 runs/game better than his FIP.  Since 2006 Javier Lopez has been over a run better than his FIP, with only one season of 11 IP in which he wasn't better than FIP suggested.  Pat Neshek is over a run/game better than FIP in his career.  Brad Ziegler is .83 runs better.  Aaron Loup is .57 better.  Mitch Stetter is .59 better.  I can't think of anybody else off the top of my head submarining right now, but if you can, throw the name out there and I'll be happy to do the legwork for you.
9/2/2014 6:10 PM
I think you're misunderstanding the argument here:
 I find it ironic - borderline laugh-out-loud funny - how the same set of mainstream stat guys can tell you in one breath that strikeouts are irrelevant for hitters, while they are one of only 3 relevant statistics for pitchers
It's not that strikeouts are irrelevant for hitters, it's that outs are outs. There isn't much of a difference, in terms of run scoring, between a strikeout and a groundout. On the other hand, a pitcher that allows a lot of balls in play is going to give up more hits.

Kazmir and Tillman have essentially the same H/9 rate but Kazmir walks less batters and strikes out more batters. Is Tillman really better?
9/2/2014 7:10 PM
I don't think I'm misunderstanding anything.  I'm a member of SABR, I've read plenty of articles espousing these very beliefs, I get the argument.  It's just bullshit.  If outs are outs in your first paragraph, then why, in your second paragraph, do you have to tell me who strikes out more batters once you've told me they have the same hit rate?  Don't pretend you don't refer repeatedly to FIP and other three true outcomes analysis, because I've seen you do it for years, and so has everyone else who's been around these forums.

The reality is that for whatever reason, the modern baseball statistician believes that hitters can strike out without overly hurting their stat lines, but pitchers need Ks to be effective.  That's an oversimplification, but except in the case of extreme outliers (pitchers who don't walk anybody, K anybody, or give up any home runs still have decent FIP) most cases boil down to that sentence.  It doesn't take a particularly deep analysis of the statistics considered to recognize exactly what I stated above: statisticians seem to believe that hitters control the quality of contact they make (obviously true), while pitchers do not.  If the ball isn't a home run, it has a flat probability of being converted into an out, being an XBH, etc.  This is absurd.

9/2/2014 7:21 PM
One other factor we haven't considered is how well each guy holds baserunners.  Kazmir's the lefty, but he's quite bad at holding runners - 12 out of 13 base stealing attempts against him this year have been successful.  Tillman, on the other hand, is one of the hardest pitchers in baseball to steal against.  Only 3 attempts all season, and only 1 made it.  Last year base thieves went 1/9 with Tillman on the mound.  That's almost unheard of from a righty.
9/2/2014 7:34 PM
Posted by dahsdebater on 9/2/2014 7:10:00 PM (view original):
I don't think I'm misunderstanding anything.  I'm a member of SABR, I've read plenty of articles espousing these very beliefs, I get the argument.  It's just bullshit.  If outs are outs in your first paragraph, then why, in your second paragraph, do you have to tell me who strikes out more batters once you've told me they have the same hit rate?  Don't pretend you don't refer repeatedly to FIP and other three true outcomes analysis, because I've seen you do it for years, and so has everyone else who's been around these forums.

The reality is that for whatever reason, the modern baseball statistician believes that hitters can strike out without overly hurting their stat lines, but pitchers need Ks to be effective.  That's an oversimplification, but except in the case of extreme outliers (pitchers who don't walk anybody, K anybody, or give up any home runs still have decent FIP) most cases boil down to that sentence.  It doesn't take a particularly deep analysis of the statistics considered to recognize exactly what I stated above: statisticians seem to believe that hitters control the quality of contact they make (obviously true), while pitchers do not.  If the ball isn't a home run, it has a flat probability of being converted into an out, being an XBH, etc.  This is absurd.

Tillman has allowed a .259 BABIP this year but has a league average LD%. How likely is it that Tillman can control the quality of the contact that he allows but not the amount of line drives he allows?
9/2/2014 9:27 PM
Soft line drives, maybe?  I don't really have a good answer to that question.  That being said, O'Day also has a basically league-average LD% this year.  Don't know about the other submarine guys I listed.
9/2/2014 9:49 PM
I look at it this way: there's so much going on in any given at-bat, it can be difficult to determine what things are or are not correlated, and what things can and cannot be controlled by the players.  Intuitively we would assume that a high LD% would correspond to a high BABIP against, low to low, etc.  And to an extent I'm sure this is true - I would expect that if all the data was tabulated, those stats would be correlated.  All the same, with so many variables to reconcile, at times you have to bow to empiricism.  You would be hard put to find a statistical analysis by which Tillman's probability of putting together 3 consecutive years with such low BABIP against without any personal contribution is as high as 1%.  It's quickly becoming quite improbable that he would maintain such low numbers by random chance/good luck.  Thus, it is empirically quite likely that he IS doing something to limit opponents' BABIP.
9/2/2014 10:15 PM
I think his delivery is a big reason for it, as you previously mentioned. Once he altered his windup in 2012, his career turned around. Not to mention he's 6'6 and when the ball leaves his hand, it's probably only like 54 feet from the plate. Hitters don't get a good look at his pitches while they're being delivered.
9/2/2014 11:51 PM
Posted by dahsdebater on 9/2/2014 9:49:00 PM (view original):
I look at it this way: there's so much going on in any given at-bat, it can be difficult to determine what things are or are not correlated, and what things can and cannot be controlled by the players.  Intuitively we would assume that a high LD% would correspond to a high BABIP against, low to low, etc.  And to an extent I'm sure this is true - I would expect that if all the data was tabulated, those stats would be correlated.  All the same, with so many variables to reconcile, at times you have to bow to empiricism.  You would be hard put to find a statistical analysis by which Tillman's probability of putting together 3 consecutive years with such low BABIP against without any personal contribution is as high as 1%.  It's quickly becoming quite improbable that he would maintain such low numbers by random chance/good luck.  Thus, it is empirically quite likely that he IS doing something to limit opponents' BABIP.
I'm sure you're better at crunching the numbers than me, but it doesn't seem like Tillman would have to get that lucky to post a couple seasons with a better than average BABIP.

Think about it, what's he allowing? 550 or 600 balls in play over a season? The difference between .260 and .285 is, what, 15 hits? The Orioles have a good defense, the entire staff has one of the top 5 or 6 BABIPs allowed, I don't think it's really far outside the realm of possibility that Tillman has mixed a little luck with great defense for a couple seasons and had better than expected results.
9/2/2014 11:52 PM
HIghway robbery from the M's.
9/3/2014 12:40 AM
Well nobody's debating that...

We even got an All-Star season out of Sherrill.

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