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Friday, April 13, 2007

2007 Reds Spring Training in Review (pt. 2) Pitching and Defense

This post continues my look at the Reds' 2007 spring training. See this post for the introduction and hitting analysis.

Pitching

As with the hitters, I was liberal in who I allowed onto these graphs. There was less of a clear drop-off in innings pitched this time around, but 7 IP was the lowest total by anyone who made the opening day roster (Stanton), so I went with that.

As before, the usual caveats apply--I do make comments about performance, but spring training stats are about the least reliable you can get given the context in which the games are played, and the small sample sizes most players achieve. So don't get too caught up with trying to predict performance from these stats (I hope I haven't). Nevertheless, I think they have at least some value, especially if you're careful in what you look at.

How They Got Hit - OBP and HR/9
An overall view of how Reds' pitchers got hurt, or conversely, shut down their opponents. Vertical and horizontal lines are 2006 NL averages. The cluster of players near the bottom center reads: Coffey-Shearn-Livingston-Coutlangus-Stanton-Belisle-Cormier.

Comments:
  • The place to be in this graph is the lower-left.
    • Santos had an incredible spring training, allowing almost no one to reach base and allowing zero home runs. While I noted on my initial profile on him that he might be able to contribute to the staff, he separated himself from the rest with his performance and ultimately became the only non-roster invitee to make the opening day squad (thanks in part to injuries to Majewski, Bray, and Milton, among others).
    • Arroyo and the Coffey-Shearn-Livingston-Coutlangus-Stanton-Belisle cluster also had nice springs
  • On the flip side, Harang, Milton, and Hermanson got killed. Hermanson's performance ultimately cost him his chance at the closing job for the Reds.
  • Weathers and Lohse both gave up a lot of home runs, though their allowed OBP's were nice. I'd like to know what their fly ball rates were, as home rates that high are typically the result of small sample sizes and bad luck. If their fly ball rates weren't substantially worse than usual, these totals would be no cause for concern.
Control of the Strike Zone - %BB vs. %K
Strikeout and walk rates for Reds pitchers in spring training. Horizontal and vertical lines are 2006 NL averages. Santos and Hermanson overlap a bit near the center.
  • The best spot in this graph is the upper-left hand corner, and the Reds very happily had three of their opening day starters in that quadrant, plus the most likely AAA call-up in Livingston.
  • The other good news was that no one was in the lower-right quadrant.
  • Causes for concern?
    • Jared Burton flashed a great arm, but also was wild as all heck, at least near the end of spring training. Might be a long season if we keep him on the roster all year, as it seems a like a year in AAA might have been good for him as he harnesses his control. It will be interesting to see what other injuries the Reds can invent for the guy. :)
    • Paul Wilson seemed to have some of his stuff back (decent strikeout rate), but had very poor location. He was also rather unlucky (see below). I have to say that I wouldn't be surprised if Wilson turned up somewhere else this year and contributes.
    • Milton's strikeout rate was down from last year, and some of my prior work on him has indicated that a substantial indicator of his effectiveness is his strikeout rate. Hopefully, now that his back issues have (apparently) subsided, he'll rebound for the regular season.
    • Mike Stanton's strikeout rate was also a bit of a surprise. I'm not going to get too bent out of shape about 7 innings (2 k's) worth of work, but it will be worth tracking his k-rate early on, as you can't help but worry that the 39-year old's skills might collapse (right now he has 2 k's in 3 IP, which is just fine).
    • Weathers showed good control, but didn't have a very good strikeout rate. More on him below.
Good performance, or just good luck?
This graph contrasts actual ERA with FIP, which is an estimate of ERA based on peripherals. The diagonal line indicates a perfect match between ERA and FIP. Individuals in the upper-left quadrant underperformed, meaning that their peripherals indicate that they pitched better than they actually did. In the lower-right quadrant are the overperformers, who had a better ERA than their FIP indicates they should have.

Comments:
  • First, let's talk about those who were probably better than their ERA indicates:
    • The big name in this section was Harang, who battled the devil to the tune of a 6.66 ERA this spring. He had fine peripherals (7.7 k/9, 0.7! bb/9, 1.4 hr/9), but a ridiculous 0.428 BABIP, which indicates that he had a much larger number of batted balls fall in for hits than is typical. His HR rates were a little bit high, but Harang is a fly ball pitcher. I'm not worried in the least.
    • The story was similar for Cormier (0.345 BABIP), Hermanson (0.368 BABIP), and Wilson (0.413 BABIP). For the latter two individuals, it's kind of disappointing, as these data indicate that they might have had a shot at contributing in a positive way to the Reds staff. Hermanson, in particular, had decent peripherals (6.2 k/9, 1.2 bb/9, 1.2 hr/9) and 4.02 FIP (albeit in just 7.7 IP). I have to wonder if choosing Santos over him will, in fact, turn out to be the better choice in the long run.
    • Stanton didn't have a particularly high BABIP, but he might have been victimized by a clustered bout of hitting. That's not uncommon with such low sample sizes as these. I could go back into the game logs and check, but I don't wanna--it's just spring training, after all. :)
    • Tom Shearn sure had a hell of a spring, eh? A glance at his numbers over the last few years shows a guy who generally puts up pretty good (though not great, especially given his age) strikeout numbers, but also a guy who walks a lot of batters. I don't see him as a contender for space on the active roster this year, though I'm sure his chances are a little better now than they were before the spring.
  • Causes for concern?
    • Weathers...he had a very high HR rate in the spring and a fairly poor strikeout rate. His ERA is respectable only because of an 0.167 BABIP. And he's coming off a year in which his peripherals all took a big hit. And he's 37. I'm worried.
    • Lohse's fall below the line was primarily driven by his HR-allowed rate, which can fluctuate a lot with low IP's due to the randomness that underlies whether a fly ball will become a homer or an out. I'm much more encouraged by his strikeout and walk rates than I am discouraged by his HR-rates.
    • Oh, and don't worry about Livingston's drop below the line. FIP just doesn't go that low very often...and I think we can all agree that a 1.02 ERA indicates a fair amount of luck, eh? His FIP was still a stellar 3.29.
  • Milton, by the way, shows almost perfect agreement between his ERA and FIP. Not good, considering both show him over 6.05. ... I just hope his back is really better now.
Defense

Unfortunately, good defensive metrics aren't available from spring training games, so this section will largely need to be omitted. Look for more to be done with it as the season progresses. For now, I'll just report that the Reds had a Defensive Efficiency Ratio (the proportion of balls turned into outs among all balls hit into play) of 0.693. That's right at the 2006 NL average last season, and better than the '06 Reds mark of 0.684. ... A step in the right direction.

Pitching statistics
Here are some relevant pitching stats from this Spring.
Player GP GS R ERA IP SO BB HR ER HBP OBP BABIP FIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Harang 6 6 20 6.66 25.7 22 2 4 19 0 0.403 0.428 3.74 7.7 0.7 1.4
Arroyo 5 5 7 2.38 22.7 13 4 1 6 1 0.297 0.272 3.29 5.2 1.6 0.4
Lohse 5 5 11 4.74 19 16 5 5 10 3 0.317 0.236 6.20 7.6 2.4 2.4
Livingston 6 4 2 1.02 17.7 14 3 0 2 2 0.314 0.303 2.47 7.1 1.5 0.0
Saarloos 6 1 9 4.32 16.7 11 1 2 8 0 0.292 0.310 3.62 5.9 0.5 1.1
Belisle 5 3 6 2.87 15.7 10 4 0 5 1 0.328 0.296 2.88 5.7 2.3 0.0
Santos 9 0 0 0.00 15.7 11 3 0 0 0 0.204 0.181 2.37 6.3 1.7 0.0
Milton 4 4 12 6.59 13.7 6 3 3 10 1 0.391 0.350 6.05 3.9 2.0 2.0
Wilson 5 2 13 8.10 13.3 11 7 1 12 1 0.435 0.413 4.33 7.4 4.7 0.7
Coffey 11 0 2 0.84 10.7 11 3 0 1 0 0.289 0.312 1.99 9.3 2.5 0.0
Burton 10 0 5 4.35 10.3 13 5 1 5 1 0.367 0.381 3.69 11.4 4.4 0.9
Coutlangus 12 0 5 2.79 9.7 8 4 0 3 0 0.317 0.280 2.79 7.4 3.7 0.0
Cormier 8 0 6 5.63 8 6 3 0 5 1 0.359 0.345 3.20 6.8 3.4 0.0
Weathers 8 0 2 2.25 8 4 2 2 2 0 0.267 0.167 6.20 4.5 2.3 2.3
Hermanson 8 0 8 7.36 7.3 5 1 1 6 0 0.371 0.368 4.02 6.2 1.2 1.2
Stanton 7 0 5 5.14 7 2 1 0 4 0 0.323 0.310 3.06 2.6 1.3 0.0
Shearn 3 0 2 2.57 7 9 1 0 2 0 0.296 0.368 1.06 11.6 1.3 0.0
Salmon 6 0 5 0.00 5.7 4 4 0 0 0 0.333 0.181 3.90 6.3 6.3 0.0
Ligtenberg 5 0 1 1.69 5.3 4 0 0 1 1 0.238 0.252 2.26 6.8 0.0 0.0
Meadows 5 0 2 3.38 5.3 1 0 1 2 0 0.286 0.251 5.28 1.7 0.0 1.7
Ramirez 2 0 1 1.80 5 1 0 0 1 1 0.333 0.263 3.40 1.8 0.0 0.0
Shackelford 6 0 2 1.80 5 3 2 0 1 0 0.286 0.235 3.20 5.4 3.6 0.0
Bailey 3 1 8 19.64 3.7 3 3 2 8 2 0.524 0.331 12.66 7.3 7.3 4.9
Bray 3 0 0 0.00 3 4 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 0.53 12.0 0.0 0.0
Kershner 3 0 1 3.00 3 2 1 0 1 0 0.385 0.364 2.87 6.0 3.0 0.0
Majewski 2 0 0 0.00 2 1 2 0 0 0 0.333 0.000 5.20 4.5 9.0 0.0
Medlock 2 0 2 9.00 2 0 2 0 2 0 0.538 0.455 6.20 0.0 9.0 0.0
Gosling 2 0 1 6.75 1.3 1 0 1 1 0 0.200 0.000 11.66 6.9 0.0 6.9
Dumatrait 1 0 0 0.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 0.333 0.000 6.20 0.0 9.0 0.0
Flannery 1 0 0 0.00 0.3 1 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 -3.47 30.0 0.0 0.0
Wilkerson 1 0 2 54.00 0.3 0 1 1 2 0 0.667 0.000 56.53 0.0 30.0 30.0