Tag Archives by the numbers

Entering 2012 the jury still seemed to be out on Adam Jones. He had showed very good power throughout his major league career but had poor plate discipline. His defense seemed enigmatic with different advanced metrics placing him anywhere from awesome to awful in center field. However, he was only 26 and it seemed possible that the potential tools scouts saw in him might come together into a top tier MLB player.

This year Jones has realized that potential. He has been the most valuable Oriole offensively in terms of advanced metrics (wRC, wRAA, wOBA) and traditional ones (most Hits, RBIs, HRs). This performance begs the question: What has changed with Jones in 2012? Why is he hitting the ball so much harder than he ever has in his career? Is he just entering his prime as an MLB player in terms of strength or has he significantly changed his approach at the plate? Analysis after the jump.

Image Provided By Associated Press.

On Saturday night, Jason Hammel one-hit the Atlanta Braves. This week in By The Numbers we break down Hammel’s performance to see exactly why he was so dominant. This season Hammel has been a five-pitch pitcher using a four-seam fastball (FF), two-seam fastball (FT), slider (SL), curveball (CU) and changeup (CH). The graphic below shows Hammel’s pitch arsenal on Saturday night. The size of the circles indicates usage of the pitch type and the color indicates velocity. In the graphic, the concern is not where a pitch actually ended up, but how it got there. The point of view from the catcher’s eyes and the axes represent change in horizontal and vertical location due to spin, not absolute location. It is important to note that horizontal movement that is positive moves away from right-handed batters while negative horizontal movement is directed towards right-handed batters. Change in location compares a pitch’s final location at the front of the plate as opposed to where it would be expected to end up given no spin at all. Graphs and analysis after the jump.

By The Numbers

Now that the dust has settled on the MLB 2012 draft let’s take a quantitative gander back at the Orioles choices in the first 200 picks. The idea here is to apply research of several known variables to evaluate how well the Orioles did in drafting, given the talent available. I encourage the By the Numbers enthusiast to check out the background material, but essentially we will be using a regression model created by Sky Andrecheck that gives a baseline of how many Wins Above Replacement (WAR) you can expect from a given pick in the MLB. Sky’s model is shown in the graph. As you can see there is a major penalty for choosing a pitcher, especially early in the draft, and a smaller penalty for choosing a high school player.

Expected WAR Draft Regression Model

On Sunday, Adam Jones signed a six-year contract extension paying him $85.5 million. For the Orioles the decision to lock up Jones at this price through 2018 was a no-brainer for two reasons:

  1. The price tag for Adam Jones was only going to go up the longer the Orioles waited to sign him.
  2. The contract doesn’t assume he’ll be any better in the future than his career averages so far.

After the jump we’ll explore these aspects of the contract in more detail.

What’s up with Jake Arrieta? He began the year with improved velocity and through May 2nd he had two outings where he gave up 0 runs and only one disastrous outing (a 4 inning, 5 run outing in LA against the Angels). However, since May 2nd Arrieta appears to have turned into a pumpkin. On May 8th against the Rangers Arrieta gave up 6 runs in 6 and 1/3 innings and yesterday as the O’s appeared poised for a sweep of a hobbled Tampa Bay team, Arrieta was chased in 3 and 2/3 innings after giving up 7 earned runs.

It’s undebatable, right? Arrieta was good, then something happened and now he isn’t good anymore. However, Arrieta’s skills (strikeout rate and walk rate) in his two bad starts appear strong. The factors that are causing Arrieta to look inept (high batting average on balls in play, a high home run to fly ball rate and a low strand rate) are typically considered “random” or “luck-based”. Here we’ll look at Arrieta’s skills (strikeout rate and walk rate) in more detail and explain why Arrieta doesn’t have as much control as you may think he does over the three factors that have doomed his last two starts. Analysis after the jump, all graphs in the posts are courtesy of our friends at Fangraphs.

A flummoxed Jake Arrieta. Picture Courtesy of CSN Baltimore.

Yesterday, Chris Davis became the first position player to record a win in the last 40 years. Here we’ll look at Davis’ win By The Numbers. First we’ll look at how clutch Davis’ performance was in the 16th and 17th innings and then we’ll look at the “stuff” Davis brought with him to the mound.

By the numbers, Chris Davis is a clutch pitcher. Fangraphs has recorded how important a particular situation is in a baseball game depending on the inning, score, outs, and number of players on base for every game since 1974. The statistic that quantifies the importance of a situation is referred to as the leverage index. It is considered a smart practice to use a team’s best pitcher in situations with the highest leverage index. The informed reader will have no trouble guessing most of the names whose average usage has come during the highest leverage situations. The list of names of the top 10 pitches in terms of highest leverage average usage since 1974 includes Brian Wilson, Bruce Sutter and Mariano Rivera. However, currently Chris Davis leads them all. In his only (and thus 2.35 leverage index average) usage the innings Davis pitched were more important than the average usage of the top closers in baseball, and during those innings Davis was successful.

Chris Davis' first splitter/change/something

Jason Hammel is one of the largest reasons for the Orioles hot start to the 2012 Season. The 6’6 right hander who was acquired in the offseason for former opening day starter and perennial fan favorite Jeremy Guthrie, has posted a 1.73 ERA in 26 innings while accumulating 3 wins.

As the attentive reader knows, statistics like ERA and wins are often not celebrated in By The Numbers. Instead, we focus on metrics that are predictive of what will happen in the future. However, even under the predictive metric microscope Jason Hammel shines. In short, Hammel is demonstrating several new skills making him a different pitcher than he has shown previously in his career. After the jump, we’ll look at Hammel’s new skills and discuss why we believe that he will continue go ham in 2012.

Jason Hammel is going ham in 2012.

One of the skills of good pitchers is the ability to get hitters to swing at pitches outside of the strike zone. This week, we’ll look at the Orioles starting staff in this regard. Among AL starting pitchers the median rate for coaxing hitters to swing at pitches outside the strike zone (O-Swing %) is ~28%. But it’s not enough to just get guys to go after pitches out of the zone, pitchers need hitters to miss too. For American League pitchers the median contact rate (O-Contact %) when swinging at pitches out of the strike zone from starting pitchers is ~68%. In contrast the American League median contact rate (Z-Contact %) for hitters when swinging at pitches in the strike zone from starting pitchers is ~87%. Let’s see how the Orioles starting staff stacks up against these averages. It is important to note that it is mid April and increased sample sizes will make these numbers more reliable. However, for now, small samples are all we have and these types of plate discipline statistics stabilize more quickly than more traditional metrics such as strikeouts.

Opposing hitters struggle when they chase Jason Hammel’s pitches outside the zone.

Analysis after the jump.

The return of April baseball has begat the rebirth of By The Numbers. This week we try and weed through the myriad of “on-pace” numbers that come along with the first week of actual MLB games and identify three statistics that are likely to identify real trends.

We’ll start down on the farm after the jump:

Game by Game Rush DVOA

The graph above shows the weekly Rush DVOA for the 2011 and 2010 incarnations of the Baltimore Ravens. Rush DVOA is a percentage, so a team with a Rush DVOA of 10.0% is 10 percent better at running the ball than the average team. Its also important to note that Rush DVOA measures not just rushing yardage, but the importance of the rushing yardage. For example, five yards on third-and-4 are worth more than five yards on first-and-10 and much more than five yards on third-and-12. Rush DVOA is also adjusted for the quality of the opponent, so a run against the 49ers is worth more than a run against the Browns. The data for the graph and the statistics in this post are all courtesy of Football Outsiders. The photos in the body of the post are courtesy of the linked websites.

An indepth look at all the contributors to the Ravens running game in 2011 follows after the jump.