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FLUKE OR NOT?-- PART ONE

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FLUKE OR NOT?

STARTING PITCHERS

From Myers to Burrell to Utley to Lidge, it seems that a lot of Phillies are performing quite differently than expected.  In the next few posts, I’m going to discuss some of the peripheral statistics for these guys and see what’s different and whether these performance changes are likely to persist.  For today, I’ll work on a couple of starting pitchers.

 

Brett Myers:

 

Actual: 5.52 ERA

Projected (ZIPS): 3.31 ERA

 

Myers is still striking people out, slightly below his strike out rate from years past as a starter, but still a solid 7.73 K/9.  His walk rate is up slightly to 3.44 BB/9.  Both of those are as a result of recent performances, and probably unwise adjustments after being unlucky on balls in play and homeruns/flyball in his earlier starts.  I would guess he rebounds to around three walks per game and 8 strikeouts per game. 

 

A lot of his change in performance is luck.  His BABIP is high-- .337.  His career rate is a very normal .304, and my guess is that’s what he’ll have from here out.  It seems that he’s having some problems in the first inning—he’s given 16 first inning runs in 12 games, good for an ERA of 12.00, and his ERA after the first inning has been 4.29.  That seems like a mental problem to me, and those things are easier to fix than rotator cuffs.  These things both indicate he's likely to turn it around.


His homeruns/flyball rate is still very high at 18.3% but it has been falling for a few starts now (I think it was up at 25.1% a few weeks ago).  Apparently his career homeruns/flyball is very high—15.1%.  For someone who plays half his games in CBP, you would expect that number to be around 12.5%.  I’ve read that there is very little evidence that pitchers have much control on homeruns/flyball, but his 15.1% rate is much higher than that-- in fact, the difference is statistically significant at the 98% level.  That leaves very little room for a claim that it is a fluke.  It’s still possible, but I would guess Myers does have some tendency to give up longer flyballs than other pitchcers.  Certainly, it should go down from here.

 

My guess: FLUKE.  Myers will probably have an ERA of around 4.00 from here out and finish around 4.50 for the year.  There’s simply nothing in his performance that makes me think we shouldn’t count on him as our number 2 from here out.  The team needs to work on keeping his first inning nerves down, or perhaps simply telling him that it’s the second inning and that he is actually in for an 8-inning save each time out.  Either way, I think he’ll sort out his head enough to succeed.

 


Adam Eaton:

 

Actual: 4.63 ERA

Projected (ZIPS): 5.53 ERA

Adam Eaton has a 4.63 ERA.  Many people correctly guessed that he would improve this year, but a nearly league average ERA seemed impossible.  His walk rate is 3.31, definitely better than last year’s 3.95, but his strikeout rate is down from 5.40 to 5.02.  His BABIP is pretty normal, and his HR/FB rate is a little low, but not terribly.  I’m not quite sure why he is doing much different.  Some of it seems to be luck based, and when I looked at the numbers a couple weeks ago, it seemed a lot more like a fluke but his last couple games have been good.  I think he’s probably going to maintain most of this, with a little bit of regression to his subpar mean.  I don’t think he can really be counted on to turn into an average pitcher, but I think he’ll keep doing better than last year.

My guess: PARTIAL FLUKE.  His K-rate is still low, His BB-rate is still pretty high, and his HR/Flyball is bound to spike up a little bit.  I think he’ll probably have an ERA a little above 5 from here out, but that should give him a decent year overall.

 

Hamels, Moyer, and Kendrick have been performing quite consistently with expectations thus far, so I'm not going to analyze them here.  Let me know what you think about Myers and Eaton.  Will Myers stay bad?  Will Eaton stay average?

Tomorrow, I'll post about some hitters-- specifically on the disappointing seasons thus far of Ruiz and Howard, and the superb seasons thus far of Utley and Burrell.