Archive for June, 2004

I’m Back

I just got back from vacation so I should be more regular at posting than I have been. In the next few days I will address some of the comments I have received on my Hardball Times article. If you have sent me an e-mail, I will be getting back with you shortly. Also, I plan to review The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers and the new Harry Potter movie soon. Plus, I’ll have some more thoughts on the Braves.

Support for the Moral Hazard Theory of Hit Batsmen

From the WSJ Science Journal:

In January, I described a study concluding that the reason there are more hit batsmen in the American League than the National League (15% more since the AL adopted the designated hitter rule in 1973) isn’t that the DH puts one more strong, aggressive hitter into the lineup. (Hurlers are likely to pitch inside to strong hitters; too inside and the batter is hit.) Instead, AL pitchers, who never bat, don’t risk retaliation for plunking opposing batters.

Just in case any fans still retain their naiveté on this, Hank Allessio of Walden Consultants Ltd., Hopkintown, Mass., analyzed what he calls “intent to intimidate.” He graphed walks allowed (a measure of wildness) against hit batsmen per nine innings, using career stats through the 2003 season. Many top pitchers, including Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens and Bob Gibson, fall roughly in the middle, issuing three to four walks and plunking one batter every three games or so.

But some pitchers with excellent control hit a batter almost twice as often. The pitcher with the most extreme walks-to-plunks record: Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez. Coincidence? Mr. Allessio, a self-described “Yankees fan in eastern Massachusetts,” thinks not. After Martinez moved from the NL to Boston in 1998 and no longer needed to worry about being the victim of retaliation, his control improved but his rate of hit batsmen rose.

Toot! Toot!, yes she is referring to the research by Doug Drinen and myself in the first paragraph. Anyway, this study looks interesting. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will look for it.

Braves Richmond Notes:

I had to do it. After awaking on the couch to see the Braves triumph in the bottom of the ninth over the Expos last night, I had blog about the Braves. In particular I have a few comments about some Richmond call-ups.

Nick Green: There is no doubt that he has played well. Green’s .875 OPS has been a welcome addition to Atlanta in the midst of the injury parade. But, I have wondered, how good is Nick Green, really? He has only has 60 ABs (70 PAs) since his call-up. Certainly, this is a small sample size to judge the long-term quality of a player. Currently, he is putting up .300/ .391 /.483, which is nice. Doing a little math on his MLB numbers, I find there is a 95% probability that Green’s true OBP lies between .316 and .465 and his SLG lies between .366 and .600. So at his worst, his OBP is better than DeRosa, LaRoche, and Garcia. But I am not so sure that worst case thinking is needed here. Compared to his Richmond numbers his MLB hitting is not all that surprising. In nearly 90 PAs in Richmond he batted .377/ .443 /.455. Only his SLG is better in the big leagues, while his BA and OBP are down a good bit from AAA as we would expect. Even extracting Greens two HRs, his SLG is still higher with the big club. I suspect his power will fall, but his OBP and BA are probably near his true ability. I would not be surprised if they declined, but I am not waiting for the fall.

Travis Smith: Before I left for vacation, I was analyzing the numbers of Richmond pitchers. One pitcher floored me, and it just happenned to be Travis Smith, whom the Braves called up on Sunday to start for Ramirez. In 51 innings Smith has struck out 44, walked 13, and given up only 2 HRs. That’s a FIP ERA of -0.88! So, I was very happy to see him get the call-up, and he pitched well. The guy is 31, so I don’t what the future is for him, but he sure looks good now.