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View Full Version : The best pitch in baseball: why Bobby L rather than Homer will start 5-13-07



jojo
05-12-2007, 08:10 PM
The best pitch in baseball isÖÖ a strike. Recently there was a thread (http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57416&highlight=jojo+leverage) suggesting that strike two is the pitch that specifically gives the pitcher the greatest advantage over the hitter. Since strike one is a prerequisite for strike two, it stands to reason then that the ability to throw strikes is essential to a pitcherís success. Despite differences of opinions on several issues, when it comes to evaluating pitchers, statheads and scouts alike agree that the ideal pitcher would excel in the following characteristics and in this order:

command (low BB/9) > ďmake Ďem missĒ ability (high K/9) >>>>> groundball tendencies (high GB%).

Throwing strikes is essential to success at the major league level. However that in and of itself doesnít guarantee effectiveness since too much is left up to the defense and to chance (pitchers canít control the fate of a pitch once it is put into play). The ability to throw strikes that are difficult to hit greatly increases a pitcherís effectiveness and separates him into a whole other class of arm. Also, since a pitcher canít control whether a flyball is a harmless out or a homerun and since groundballs lead to more double plays, a pitcher that induces groundballs gains an advantage. However, desirable ball in play (BIP) tendencies donít trump the ability to make batters miss for reasons that are obvious (see the '07 Reds bullpen). The reality is that most pitchers are aggregate compromises of the peripheral trifecta. Therefore, prospects that fit the ideal are rightfully held in highest regard (everybody knows who King Felix is for instance even though at the tender age of 21 he hasnít really accomplished anything yet).

The Reds have a stud arm in Louisville in Homer Bailey that every team in the major leagues finds desirable (power arm with GB tendencies). So the question becomes, why is Bobby Livingston (a junkballer that scouts have largely soured on) pitching against LA tomorrow rather than Homer? Homer has a dominating ERA of 1.83 in Louisville while Livingstonís ERA is 3.23. Consequently several opinions that arenít very complementary of the Reds FO have been floated on local sports talk radio recently to explain why the Reds chose Bobby (i.e. service time and PR issues). However the twoís peripheral trifecta suggest another answer that perhaps reflects more favorably upon the Reds FO as well as possibly surprises a lot of Reds fans. Hereís a summary chart of the two pitchers' '07 Louisville peripherals thru today:

http://img143.imageshack.us/img143/5403/homerbobby2ym4.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

This indicates several things:

1. While Homerís ERA looks dominating, in reality he hasnít been nearly as effective as his ERA suggests. A closer look at his peripherals is revealing. His FIP is a more human 4.05 (solid but not dominating). His BABIP is an unsustainable .200 and his HR rate is also low enough to expect a regression to the mean. His ERA isnít reflective of where his true performance level has been so far in Louisville.

2. Homerís command/Ēmake Ďem missĒ peripherals raise flags. Homerís K rate isnít that impressive while his walk rate is indicative of command issues. In 2006, only 2 qualified starting pitchers in the majors had both a BB/G greater than 4 and an ERA under 4.00 (Zito and Zambrano). There were no such pitchers in 2005 or 2004. In 2006, both Zambrano and Zito were greatly aided by positive bumps in luck factors (i.e. high LOB%) that likely artificially lowered their ERAs in an unrepeatable fashion. The command issues are really a red flag. Also Homerís INN/G is a low 5.2 a game. His K rate likely indicates a trend for him to rely less on his fastball as he tries to establish his change and breaking stuff since there have been no reports of velocity issues. Basically his peripherals indicate heís a pitcher still learning to pitch and working on endurance. I think itís reasonable to wonder if Homer will even break into the Reds rotation before the middle of í08. I'd love to hear some of the zone's resident minor league experts comment on this issue.

3. Livingston has been the more effective pitcher in Louisville this season and it hasnít even been close. His FIP is excellent. He has extreme groundball tendencies that are a step up from Homerís good ones. Livingstonís K rate has rebounded to levels before Seattle gave up on him while his BB rate has simply been obscene. While Iím skeptical these will translate into the majors consistently (sample size may be a factor here), his current performance is difficult to ignore. Heís clearly a pitcher who has nothing to gain by pitching more innings in the minors having logged over at least 130 innings three previous seasons (two seasons over 170). He doesn't need to learn about adjusting to the second and third times thru the lineup, pacing himself, or work on endurance. He's a reasonable bet to eat innings.

So in summary: Livingston is pitching tomorrow because he can throw strikes and he gives the Reds a better chance of winning than Homer does right now.

I wonder how many reds fans would be surprised by that statement?

jojo
05-13-2007, 04:52 PM
A tough start for Livingston...... 3 runs in the first two innings....

reds44
05-13-2007, 04:52 PM
Can you say junkballer?

jojo
05-13-2007, 04:54 PM
Can you say junkballer?

Nobody ever accused him of having a good fastball.... :cool:

dougdirt
05-13-2007, 05:00 PM
Nobody ever accused him of having a fastball.... :cool:

Fixed that for ya Jojo :thumbup:

reds44
05-13-2007, 05:03 PM
Fixed that for ya Jojo :thumbup:

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

jojo
05-13-2007, 05:04 PM
Fixed that for ya Jojo :thumbup:

He's been gassing it up there today between 87-89 mph.... :cool:

Thru three he's had 44 pitches and 30 strikes.....

Would you have brought up Homer?

dougdirt
05-13-2007, 05:26 PM
He's been gassing it up there today between 87-89 mph.... :cool:

Thru three he's had 44 pitches and 30 strikes.....

Would you have brought up Homer?

Nope. Given the exact situation I would have made the same move they did. I think Dumatrait was more likely a better pitcher than Livingston but with the way his spot in the rotation was, it wasn't a possibility.

Bailey made the least amount of sense due to him not being on the 40 or 25 man roster and that would have required moves that we all know this team is too stupid to make (you know like letting a reliever with an ERA of about 7.70 stay on the team despite the fact that he is about 39 years old).

jojo
05-13-2007, 05:29 PM
Nope. Given the exact situation I would have made the same move they did. I think Dumatrait was more likely a better pitcher than Livingston but with the way his spot in the rotation was, it wasn't a possibility.

Bailey made the least amount of sense due to him not being on the 40 or 25 man roster and that would have required moves that we all know this team is too stupid to make (you know like letting a reliever with an ERA of about 7.70 stay on the team despite the fact that he is about 39 years old).

I think the roster while a factor was the lessor of the reasons to keep Homer in Louisville. He walked another 4 in a 5 inning stint yesterday....

dougdirt
05-13-2007, 05:35 PM
I think the roster while a factor was the lessor of the reasons to keep Homer in Louisville. He walked another 4 in a 5 inning stint yesterday....

Yeah, I listened to the game. His game was not as bad as it looked. For some reason after 99 pitches in 5 innings he was sent back out for the 6th inning.

jojo
05-13-2007, 05:42 PM
Yeah, I listened to the game. His game was not as bad as it looked. For some reason after 99 pitches in 5 innings he was sent back out for the 6th inning.

That's what is starting to give me a bit of a bad feeling in my stomach.... 99 pitches in 5 innings.... I'm wondering if some of the luster is wearing off of Homer's star... many of us fans might be expecting him to be the cavalry sooner than he'll be ready to be...

dougdirt
05-13-2007, 05:51 PM
That's what is starting to give me a bit of a bad feeling in my stomach.... 99 pitches in 5 innings.... I'm wondering if some of the luster is wearing off of Homer's star... many of us fans might be expecting him to be the cavalry sooner than he'll be ready to be...

He is throwing A LOT of offspeed stuff. Its not there yet. Its getting better though. I recall him striking out 1 batter on 3 straight curveballs yesterday. Really, I give about 2 craps about what his numbers in AAA are as long as he continues to improve his offspeed pitches.

jojo
05-13-2007, 06:00 PM
He is throwing A LOT of offspeed stuff. Its not there yet. Its getting better though. I recall him striking out 1 batter on 3 straight curveballs yesterday. Really, I give about 2 craps about what his numbers in AAA are as long as he continues to improve his offspeed pitches.

Right that was pretty much the point of the thread-its precisely his command issues that make his Louisville numbers pretty meaningless (i.e. ERA etc...)

Homer would likely be closer to a disaster than a savior if he was brought up right now...

Far East
05-13-2007, 11:06 PM
I hope that Livingston gets a few more starts. Aside from Kent's big fly, he kept the ball in the park, had a GB-FB ratio of 11 to 4, and when he missed he usualy missed low. He's no ace, but he could be decent 5th starter.