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Thread: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

  1. #106
    Viva la Rolen kaldaniels's Avatar
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    I guess for me, it boils down to the question, "Mike Leake is the _______ best pitcher in baseball."

    And when I say best, to me that question is asking, if healthy (lets assume reasonable health for guys, feel free to knock chronically injured guys down a notch), would you have pitcher X or pitcher Y start a winner-take-all game for you.

    I'm fairly confident (that to date) there are at least 60 more guys in baseball I'd rather take the hill in a big game than Leake, which puts him in the #3 starter range. But if the winner-take-all game was tonight, and all pitchers were healthy, Leake would be my 5th option out of the Reds starters. Yet, I'm still a big fan of his.

    That's not me trying to slight him, that's just me interjecting my opinion into a thread that is raising the question if he is the BEST of all the starting pitchers for the Reds.

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  4. #107
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    You claim that Leake historically has given up more home runs per flyball than the average pitcher, so we should conclude that he will always give up lots of home runs. That flys in the face of decades of data that shows that pitchers tend to give up the same number of home runs per flyballs over their careers.
    Here's what I'm trying to figure out...

    You have, in the past, argued that BABIP variances could be explained not just by randomness; but because pitchers make bad pitches. So why then would jojo's suggestion that HR per fly ball rates be affected by similar mistakes be so distasteful a concept to you?. And to be sure, Leake's HR/FB rates have been historically high versus league averages; even during his best season (2013). Leake's career road splits (11.1% HR/FB) do show some improvement away from GAB, but are still higher than league average so park environment may not explain his variance at this point in time.

    On one hand, you've declared that it's incorrect to assume that almost no pitchers have the ability to control the results of one type of batted ball. But now you seem very quick to adopt a position that the results of another batted ball type is completely random. Seems to me that to make a consistent argument, you couldn't have it both ways.
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

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  6. #108
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brutus View Post
    Sure, if that's all it were, it would not be 'diminishing.' But it's pretty clear that is not all it is. When someone racks up nearly two dozen posts on the subject in such a short time, that's a pretty impassioned plea to the contrary. Given the history of showing up whenever a positive Leake thread/comment is made, one has to look at the big picture to see there's an agenda.

    The moral of the story is Leake is no Doug Fister.
    Two dozen posts discussing the topic in an on target manner versus a few posts seemingly specifically aimed at a person... I think the agenda is actually being revealed but not in the way some are arguing.
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

  7. #109
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSD View Post
    Here's what I'm trying to figure out...

    You have, in the past, argued that BABIP variances could be explained not just by randomness; but because pitchers make bad pitches. So why then would jojo's suggestion that HR per fly ball rates be affected by similar mistakes be so distasteful a concept to you?. And to be sure, Leake's HR/FB rates have been historically high versus league averages; even during his best season (2013). Leake's career road splits (11.1% HR/FB) do show some improvement away from GAB, but are still higher than league average so park environment may not explain his variance at this point in time.

    On one hand, you've declared that it's incorrect to assume that almost no pitchers have the ability to control the results of one type of batted ball. But now you seem very quick to adopt a position that the results of another batted ball type is completely random. Seems to me that to make a consistent argument, you couldn't have it both ways.

    In various threads we've heard that Leake=Homer, Leake=Cueto, Leake=Latos and now we've even seen an argument that seems to suggest it's a tell or somehow noteworthy that Leake isn't Fister.

    Here's Leake and Fister over the last three years (keeping in mind the Reds defense is ranked 2nd best while the Tigers defense is ranked 27th best in the majors over that period):

    Code:
    	ERA	FIP	IP	K/9	BB/9	K%	BB%	BABIP	LOB%	GB%   HR/FB%  Contact%	SwStr%	WAR
    Leake	3.88	4.21	558	5.95	2.1	15.9	5.6	0.284	74.8	49.0	14	84.1	7.0	4.3
    Fister	3.32	3.23	583	6.78	1.82	18.2	4.9	0.3	72.8	51.1	8.0	82.5	7.5	13.1
    Just like it's a tell that someone would argue Leake=Latos, it's also a tell that someone would argue that Leake=Fister. Fister misses more bats, has better command and he has superior batted ball tendencies. The only time you'd pick Leake over Fister would be if you needed a pinch hitter and even then Leake has barely been better (Leake's career wOBA=.273 while Fister's wOBA is .262). Now consider how things might change if Leake was pitching for the Tigers and Fister was pitching in front of the Reds defense. I kinda think most people can see the point pretty easily.

    The strange case of Leake, Latos, and Fister seems to be pointing to a glaring deficiency in the understanding of some concerning how to statistically evaluate pitchers.

    BTW, I've described Leake this way while patiently laying out a sabermetric argument for the opinion:

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    You do realize that Leake was the 8th overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft don't you? He is an unmitigated success story being a pitcher drafted in the first round that is on track to give the Reds 1100 IP during his control years. There is no way to really criticize that-it's a great thing and a GM should take that kind of draft result every day of the week. That being said, I don't get the need to construct some halo narrative about Leake. He is what he is-a great success in many regards who is also a back end starter over those 1100 IP. And he is a guy that should be fairly easy to replace without breaking bank.
    What do you think Steel? Is that an unreasonable, biased opinion?
    Last edited by jojo; 04-16-2014 at 08:23 PM.
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  8. #110
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Leake started off well last season and wasn't very good in the latter part of the season.
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  9. #111
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaldaniels View Post
    Yep. A purge is coming.
    It seems like just yesterday that the Reds had a bunch of talented kids they controlled for a "long time". I need to remember to enjoy it the next time it happens, that window closes far too quickly.
    Last edited by paintmered; 04-16-2014 at 09:02 PM.
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  10. #112
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSD View Post
    Here's what I'm trying to figure out...

    You have, in the past, argued that BABIP variances could be explained not just by randomness; but because pitchers make bad pitches. So why then would jojo's suggestion that HR per fly ball rates be affected by similar mistakes be so distasteful a concept to you?. And to be sure, Leake's HR/FB rates have been historically high versus league averages; even during his best season (2013). Leake's career road splits (11.1% HR/FB) do show some improvement away from GAB, but are still higher than league average so park environment may not explain his variance at this point in time.

    On one hand, you've declared that it's incorrect to assume that almost no pitchers have the ability to control the results of one type of batted ball. But now you seem very quick to adopt a position that the results of another batted ball type is completely random. Seems to me that to make a consistent argument, you couldn't have it both ways.
    I do not find the suggestion that Leake's HR/FB rate is within his control to be distasteful. I just don't think the facts back it up. In 2013, he improved his HR/FB rate by 20% over his career rate. Had he stayed in the same range in 2013, I would be more open to this suggestion. But he didn't. He showed significant improvement in that rate and in his HR rate overall, and in his overall production.

    Maybe 2013 was an anomaly. Maybe in 2014, Leake will go back to his 14% HR/FB rate. But the fact that, at the age of 26, when most pitchers mature, Leake improved the one stat that was his achilles heel, leads me to believe that he has actually improved as a pitcher, and has reduced the number of home runs that he gives up. I guess we'll see.

    Now, here's what I'm trying to figure out...

    When I was arguing that a pitcher who consistently, over many years, out performs him xFIP, is likely to continue to outperform his xFIP, JoJo was the poster who was telling that me that that was impossible, that all pitchers eventually regress to similar BABIP. Why aren't you asking him the same question you asked me? If I'm trying to have it both ways, then so is JoJo. For the record, I don't think either of us are trying to have it both ways, but I do find it curious as to why you only think I am.
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  11. #113
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    What do you think Steel? Is that an unreasonable, biased opinion?
    Nope and I agreed with it when you first posted it. I don't think folks realize how closely related Leake is to someone like an early-career Joe Blanton either. Guys like that are good to have around to stabilize rotation back-ends when they're cheap. But they become an issue when they actually get Paid.
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

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  12. #114
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Every starter becomes an issue when they get paid. Seriously, the number of pitchers who give their teams value over the course of a 4+ year contract is so vanishingly small as to be negligible.

    I have absolutely no reason at all to believe an oft injured arm like Bailey's going to produce anything like 100 million in value to this team over the course of his contract.

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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaldaniels View Post
    I guess for me, it boils down to the question, "Mike Leake is the _______ best pitcher in baseball."

    And when I say best, to me that question is asking, if healthy (lets assume reasonable health for guys, feel free to knock chronically injured guys down a notch), would you have pitcher X or pitcher Y start a winner-take-all game for you.

    I'm fairly confident (that to date) there are at least 60 more guys in baseball I'd rather take the hill in a big game than Leake, which puts him in the #3 starter range. But if the winner-take-all game was tonight, and all pitchers were healthy, Leake would be my 5th option out of the Reds starters. Yet, I'm still a big fan of his.

    That's not me trying to slight him, that's just me interjecting my opinion into a thread that is raising the question if he is the BEST of all the starting pitchers for the Reds.
    No one would have guessed that the best pitched game the Reds have seen in the playoffs this millennium was thrown not by Bailey, Latos, or Cueto, but by Arroyo.

    I'll take a hot-hand Leake any day in the playoffs. I'd be comfortable with Cueto, Bailey, or Latos too, provided they're not nursing one of their frequent ailments.

    That's not a criticism of the Reds' hard throwing trio, it's just the facts as they are.

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  16. #116
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    Now, here's what I'm trying to figure out...

    When I was arguing that a pitcher who consistently, over many years, out performs him xFIP, is likely to continue to outperform his xFIP, JoJo was the poster who was telling that me that that was impossible, that all pitchers eventually regress to similar BABIP. Why aren't you asking him the same question you asked me? If I'm trying to have it both ways, then so is JoJo. For the record, I don't think either of us are trying to have it both ways, but I do find it curious as to why you only think I am.
    By looking at the data, I asked jojo the question silently before posting. What I found was that even away from GAB, Leake puts up HR/FB rates that are higher than league average. This means that the data supports jojo's contention rather than yours, so the question got answered. Knowing that Mike Leake pitches in front of the best defensive club in the NL, we get a pretty good understanding that his BABIP would almost certainly regress to the mean should he play in front of a worse defensive club. As we know that HR/FB rates may vary based on environment but not defense, we cannot make an assumption that Leake's HR/FB rates will regress considering that he hasn't been at league average even in neutral environments thus far.

    And if you want to look at xFIP in this situation, you won't find that Leake has consistently outperformed it. In fact, he's underperformed it for his career and 2013 is the only season in which he did so in any significant way. He's going to have a difficult time repeating a near-78% strand rate while not being a high-K rate pitcher. Additionally, Leake's xFIP in 2013 was 3.91 to an NL average ERA of 3.78 for all pitchers and 3.87 for starting pitchers. That means that even if we normalize those HR/FB rates, we still get a guy who was a slightly below league average. But, again (and as jojo notes) there's nothing wrong with Mike Leake being that.
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

    "The single most important thing for a hitter is to get a good pitch to hit. A good hitter can hit a pitch thatís over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a ball in a tough spot.Ē
    --Ted Williams

  17. #117
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Sometimes the actual games get it wrong. Leake isn't as good as he has been.
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  19. #118
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    Now, here's what I'm trying to figure out...

    When I was arguing that a pitcher who consistently, over many years, out performs him xFIP, is likely to continue to outperform his xFIP, JoJo was the poster who was telling that me that that was impossible, that all pitchers eventually regress to similar BABIP. Why aren't you asking him the same question you asked me? If I'm trying to have it both ways, then so is JoJo. For the record, I don't think either of us are trying to have it both ways, but I do find it curious as to why you only think I am.
    Maybe this will help figure it out. I've never argued that a luck metric "ALWAYS" regress to the mean because ignoring environment, players with deficiencies can sustain worse than normal rates of a luck metric such as babip or HR/FB. Its generally a good sign of injury, declining talent or simply deficient talent. That said significantly better than expected rates are much, much, much rarer.

    Leake has location issues but no real out pitch. He's a bit of a ticking time bomb concerning long fly balls. He is the pither that Arroyo has aged into...
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

  20. #119
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSD View Post
    By looking at the data, I asked jojo the question silently before posting. What I found was that even away from GAB, Leake puts up HR/FB rates that are higher than league average. This means that the data supports jojo's contention rather than yours, so the question got answered. Knowing that Mike Leake pitches in front of the best defensive club in the NL, we get a pretty good understanding that his BABIP would almost certainly regress to the mean should he play in front of a worse defensive club. As we know that HR/FB rates may vary based on environment but not defense, we cannot make an assumption that Leake's HR/FB rates will regress considering that he hasn't been at league average even in neutral environments thus far.

    And if you want to look at xFIP in this situation, you won't find that Leake has consistently outperformed it. In fact, he's underperformed it for his career and 2013 is the only season in which he did so in any significant way. He's going to have a difficult time repeating a near-78% strand rate while not being a high-K rate pitcher. Additionally, Leake's xFIP in 2013 was 3.91 to an NL average ERA of 3.78 for all pitchers and 3.87 for starting pitchers. That means that even if we normalize those HR/FB rates, we still get a guy who was a slightly below league average. But, again (and as jojo notes) there's nothing wrong with Mike Leake being that.
    Whether Leake is league average or not in regards to HR/FB rate is irrelevant to this argument.

    Let me break down the argument, since it has been hard to follow.

    I have argued that Leake's xFIP is the best way to judge his production, since it includes batted ball tendencies, such as HR/FB rates.

    JoJo countered that Leake's xFIP is not a good way to judge his production, since his HR/FB rate has been historically high. Therefore, we should assume that he will continue to have a high HR/FB rate the rest of his career. xFIP assume that his HR/FB rate will regress downward.

    I countered that while it is true that Leake has has an historically high HR/FB rate during his career, last year, he showed significant improvement in that rate, which resulted in fewer HR's and better overall production. Therefore, since Leake has already shown that he can improve his HR/FB rate, we cannot assume that it will continue to stay high, and therefore, using his xFIP is the best way to judge his production. It makes no difference if Leake's HR/FB rate stayed above average, even when he lowered it. All that is important for this discussion is that he lowered it significantly, as xFIP assumed he would.

    And for the record, I have never argued that Leake has outperformed his xFIP. That was another argument about pitchers in general. Funny thing is that I share a very similar overall view of Leake and his value with you and JoJO. He's very close to a league average pitcher. However, I noticed that Latos and Bailey really have only been slightly above average over the last few years. The difference between the three isn't as big as I thought it was, before I examined the stats.
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  21. #120
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Mike Leake, Best of the Bunch?

    A) Johnny Cueto just reminded us who the "best of the bunch" is when it comes to the Reds pitching.

    B) Bronson Arroyo proved that we shouldn't obsess over the HR rates of a fundamentally good pitcher. Leake strikes me as a guy whose ERA will run consistently ahead of his FIP/xFIP, which is a pretty good guy to have around.
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