Good Pitches from Bad Pitchers* Pt. 2

*Bad in this case is a 4.50 ERA or higher^ in 2019

^Except for one guy, who had a 4.49

Yesterday I looked at some quality four-seamers, sliders, and cutters coming from these so-called “bad” pitches – again, we’re talking about bad in the fantasy realm as most leagues won’t have major use for someone with an ERA north of 4.50 – and today we’re looking at changeups, curveballs, and splitters.


Lg. average: .653 OPS, 22% K, 17% SwStr, 38% Chase

Daniel Norris, DET | .532 OPS, 31% K, 20% SwStr, 42% Chase

Here’s our guy with the 4.49 ERA, by the way. Norris also had a solid slider, but like so many guys I covered yesterday, his fastball held him back. He allowed a 1.024 OPS with his heat including 19 of his 25 home runs. Homers have been a career-long issue for Norris, too, but especially the last two years with a 1.6 HR/9 in both seasons.

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Brad Johnson Baseball Chat: 1/14/2020

We chatted. Past tense. Behold, a transcript.

Brad Johnson: Let’s get things rolling.

Cito’s Mustache: What’s your prediction on Alex Cora’s punishment – has to be harsher than Hinch’s, right?

Brad Johnson: More than one year seems pretty extreme though. Perhaps 2 “sentences” and thus 2 years?

Brad Johnson: I’m of the opinion that the Astros penalty was light, but it’s not the suspensions to Hinch and Luhnow that were soft.

Brad Johnson: And they did basically issue the maximum allowed penalties.

Vic: How many times out of 10 do you take deGrom over Cole?

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Should Projections for Astros Hitters be Tempered?

Yesterday, I noticed someone slid into my DM’s and I got my hopes up but instead I got this:

Maybe. Many of the Astros players didn’t think it helped.

Some Astros players told my investigators that they did not believe the sign-stealing scheme was effective, and it was more distracting than useful to hitters.

We just don’t know for sure of the effects of cheating so I guess I better take a stab and find out.

To start with, I went to the projection sources to find out how the projections weigh each year’s results. The weighted averages, along with some aging adjustments and regression, create the final projections. ZiPS is up first.

Dan Szymborski uses individual weightings for each component (strikeouts, doubles, etc) but at the end, the weighting is close to 8-5-4-2 where ‘8’ is the last season. According to the commissioner’s report, the Astros “only” cheated at home in 2017 so only 2 units (half of four, the third value) of the weighting will be boosted. The percentage of the projection’s input from the cheating is 10.5% (2/[8+5+4+2] or 2/19).

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Upgrading a Deserved Barrel%

New year, new deserved barrels metric. In October, I took a crack at devising a “deserved barrels” metric in which I took the basic components of a barrel — a hitter’s exit velocity (EV) and launch angle (LA) — and determined the capacity in which the components relate to Statcast’s barrel rate metric (barrels per batted ball event, or “Brls/BBE %” on Baseball Savant). I included squared terms (EV2, LA2) assuming the relationship is not linear. (A launch angle that’s too steep is detrimental, for example.)

Further offseason research led me to additional insights:

There exist many measures of contact quality; barrel rate captures how often a hitter produces high-quality contact. (Hard-hit rate functions similarly but ignores launch angle, to my knowledge, making barrel rate arguably superior.) It only made sense, then, that the latter finding above — that launch angle tightness matters to batted ball quality — should be incorporated into my deserved barrels work somehow.

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2019 Review — FB Pull% Decliners

Yesterday, I discussed surgers in the final important component of my xHR/FB rate equation, FB Pull%. Today, I’ll move on to the decliners. What follows is a list of the hitters whose FB Pull% declined by at least 10 percentage points from 2018.

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Good Pitches from Bad Pitchers* Pt. 1

*Bad in this case is a 4.50 ERA or higher^ in 2019

^Except for one guy, who had a 4.49

We all know that ERA isn’t an end-all, be-all on skill, but those of us in the fantasy realm don’t roster guys with ERAs at 4.50 or higher so using that as a cutoff for this exercise felt right. The purpose here is to find some useful pitches these guys could build upon to get them on the right side of a 4.50 ERA going forward.

As for what determines a good pitch, I took a look at the average OPS, K%, SwStr%, and Chase% among starters with at least 700 fastballs thrown and 200 thrown of all the other pitches (slider, curveball, changeup, cutter, and splitter) and then found the strongest offerings of each pitch from those who struggled in 2019. The pitches didn’t have to be better than average in all four categories, but at least two of the four and in most cases, it’s better than three of the four.

I’m going to make this a two-parter with four-seamers, sliders, and cutters today and curves, changeups, and splitters later this week (probably tomorrow).

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Alex Wood Will Try to Bounce Back With the Dodgers

When Alex Wood reached an agreement with the Dodgers on a one-year, $4 million contract on Sunday, it didn’t quite get the attention of, say, Gerrit Cole’s megadeal with the Yankees. The Dodgers are bringing the 29-year-old lefty back after a one-year hiatus in Cincinnati to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation, so it shouldn’t have been a headline-grabbing move. Yet it has only been three years since Wood was one of the biggest stories in fantasy, ranking as a top 10 starting pitcher despite totaling 152.1 innings. After having missed much of 2016 with an elbow impingement, Wood went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a 24.6 percent strikeout rate.

If 2019 hadn’t happened, this would have been a much more celebrated move, but as it turns out, 2019 did happen. Wood developed back issues in spring training, and he did not make his debut with the Reds until July 28. He started off decently enough, allowing two runs in each of his first two starts, but then he went on to roll off a string of four starts that produced 18 runs (16 earned) in 18.1 innings. He rebounded with a quality start against the Marlins, though all three runs he allowed were solo homers, giving him a total of 11 allowed in 35.2 innings. After that start, Wood’s back stiffened up again, and he would not take another turn in the Reds’ rotation. He finished with only one win and a 5.80 ERA.
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Dances With Rules

It was a drama-filled week in my patron league Dynasty To Be Named Later (DTBNL). Last Friday, I penned a blow-by-blow account of the events leading up to and immediately following a Christian Yelich blockbuster trade in this 25-team, keep 30, roster 45 league. Now it’s time to tell episode two of the tale. It’s Dances With Rules, starring Kevin Costner.

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2019 Review — FB Pull% Surgers

The last major component of my xHR/FB rate equation is fly ball pull percentage (FB Pull%). Since hitters generally can generate more power to their pull side and distance along the lines are always shorter than toward center, a higher pulled fly ball rate is almost always better for HR/FB rate. Pulled fly ball rate is a skill, as I calculated soon after revealing my xHR/FB equation, so a change is worth noting. That said, as usual, regression toward individual averages are always inevitable, so typically the batter enjoying a spike or enduring a decline reverses courses and moves back toward their average the following year. Remember that when reading this list and commentary.

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Assessing My Big Differences with ADP, Pt. 1

I recently released my top 125 starting pitchers for 2020 and I couldn’t believe that nobody had a single question about them and everyone who saw them found them to be perfect top to bottom. OK, dumb joke. Anyway, I appreciate everyone getting in the comments and discussing the rankings with me. I’m still responding to questions and comments if you want to ask me about someone in the rankings.

Today I want to look the biggest differences between my rankings and the early average draft position (ADP) information at the NFBC in their Draft Champions leagues (50-round draft-and-hold format). On their list, they group all pitchers together so I took out the relievers making it more of a 1:1 comparison with my SP ranks. This will be a two-part piece with the first being the pitchers where I’m higher.

10 Where I’m Higher

Jeff Samardzija, SF | 107th SP in ADP; 52nd SP by me

I wouldn’t even say I’m a huge fan of The Shark, but his current ADP seems like a great price for someone who finished 33rd among SP on Razzball’s Player Rater last year. Even if you don’t fully buy the 3.52 ERA, he offers high volume with a strong WHIP. At the very least, he has Oracle Park protecting him for half of his starts. It’s a boring investment, but I’ll gladly take him outside the top 100 SPs.

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