Yesterday, I listed and discussed surprises among the barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB) leaders. Today, let’s flip to the laggards and discuss surprising names at the bottom. We’re going to have to include a much longer list of names to find surprises, compared to the leader list.
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In just a 60 game season, all the numbers and rates I typically analyze and include as components in my various equations will look wackier than normal. The small the sample size, the greater the chance a rate settles in at the extreme end of expectations. This is why we’ll have to heavily regress this year’s numbers when developing 2021 projections. That said, it’s still worth reviewing 2020 rates, as skill changes obviously still did occur. So we’ll start with one of my favorite metrics, barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB). This is my own metric that is used as a component in my xHR/FB rate equation. It simply takes Statcast’s barrel and divides by Fangraphs’ fly balls minus infield fly balls.
Back in late August, about a month into the season, I proclaimed that the big Kevin Gausman breakout has arrived. At the time, he had thrown 31 innings and was sitting with an unattractive 4.65 ERA. How could a pitcher’s breakout have arrived if his ERA was actually worse than the 4.48 MLB average?! It’s easy really, it’s all about the peripherals, or underlying skills as I call them. ERA, especially over a small sample like 31 innings, is pretty meaningless and doesn’t tell you a whole lot about how a pitcher has actually pitched. So we dive deeper, look at those underlying skills, which ultimately drive SIERA, a much better indicator of a pitcher’s performance, again, especially over a small sample. We now know that since I posted my breakout article, Gausman posted a sterling 2.51 ERA the rest of the way over 28.2 inning. So yeah, the breakout arrived. Let’s see if anything actually changed though, or if it was merely the luck metrics (BABIP, HR/FB, LOB%) that reverted back toward the league average.
Yesterday, I reviewed the hitters that enjoyed a fly ball rate surge early on in the season to see how they performed the rest of the way. Today, let’s review the decliners. Did they rebound back to their 2019 level or was the early season slump an indication of a season-long decreased FB%?
I love batted ball distribution changes (hitting more fly balls or ground balls), because they are usually under the hood and require a review of the hitter’s statistical profile to uncover. Typically, when we see a home run breakout, it’s usually because of the obvious — the hitter has raised his HR/FB rate. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes he’s hitting home runs on his flies at the same rate, but simply hitting more fly balls. That’ll get you to the same destination, but following a different route. So in early/mid August, I identified and discussed the hitters that had increased their fly ball rates the most versus 2019. At that point, the sample size was still small, of course, so I was curious how these hitters performed the rest of the way. Did they maintain their FB% spikes or did those marks fall back to their 2019 levels over the rest of the season? Let’s find out.
Yesterday, I reviewed the list of early fly ball + line drive exit velocity (we’ll just call it EV here) surgers compared with 2019 and looked at their performance over the rest of the season to determine how sustainable the gains were. Today, I’ll review the decliners to see if they rebounded toward their 2019 marks. Was their early season EV declines just a small sample slow start or a sign of a seriously disappointing season?
After only about a week and a half of the season, I decided to peruse the average fly ball + line drive exit velocity (let’s just call it EV in this article) leaderboard and compare the then-current marks to 2019. Even though the sample was tiny, perhaps we could get an early read on some breakout hitters by identifying the early surgers. So let’s review the original list of surgers and find out how these hitters performed the rest of the way. Did their EV remain at those elevated marks, rise even higher, or regress right back down to or toward their 2019 marks?
Today, I continue reviewing my early season velocity change articles to see how the starting pitchers with the biggest gains and losses versus 2019 ended up performing the rest of the year. I’ll move on to the velocity decliners I posted on July 30, which were velocities as of July 28. Did these pitchers regain their lost velocities over the rest of the season or not?
On Monday, I reviewed my first starting pitcher velocity surger post. However, since it was so early in the season, not every starter had actually pitched yet. So I posted another one two days later, which I’ll review now.
Yesterday, I reviewed how the starting pitchers that increased their fastball velocities the most after their first start fared over the rest of the season. Today, let’s check in on the velocity decliners. Since the article was typed on July 27, that means it includes velocities through July 26. Did these pitchers rebound off their first start declines?