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Thread: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

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    Lark11 11BarryLarkin11's Avatar
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    Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Well, maybe that's overstating it a bit, but at least it got your attention.

    Anyway, there has been much discussion about Eric Milton and his potential for a bounceback season in 2006, so I thought I'd take a look at his performance over the past two seasons.

    Let's take a look at Milton's 2005 season in comparison to his 2004 season. In 2004, Milton posted an ERA of 4.75. In 2005, Milton posted an ERA of 6.47. What accounts for this significant difference in performance?

    To me, the three main determinants of successful pitching are Walk Rate, Strikeout Rate, and GB/FB ratio (or HR Rate). Successful pitching to me is about limiting baserunners (high strikeout rates and low walk rates) and limiting the damage done by those runners who manage to get on base (keep the ball in the yard). So, let's look at those three and see if we can determine what happened to Milton.

    2004
    BB/9: 3.36
    K/9: 7.21
    HR/9: 1.93

    2005
    BB/9: 2.52
    K/9: 5.94
    HR/9: 1.93

    2005-2004 Difference
    BB/9: -.84
    K/9: -1.27
    HR/9: 0.00

    Milton in 2005 is a very interesting case. Comparing 2005 to 2004, Milton cut his walk rate (-.84 BB/9) and saw his strikeout rate decline (-1.27 K/9), while his HR/9 was EXACTLY the same. So, one of the determinants (Walk Rate) improved, one got worse (K Rate), and one stayed exactly the same (HR Rate).

    Now, the declining strikeout rate should result in more hits, as more balls in play means more hits. But, you'd think that the increased number of batters who reached by the basehit would be offset to a certain degree by the reduced walk rate. More hits, but fewer walks, should result in a similar total number of baserunners allowed.

    If we can conclude that his total baserunners allowed was very similar, why did he give up so many more runs? Why was his performance so much worse in 2005 (ERA: 6.47) than 2004 (ERA: 4.75)?

    Well, simply put, he got pounded. His hit rate skyrocketed at an unexpected, illogical rate.

    H/9 for Eric Milton
    2004: 8.78
    2005: 11.46

    The question becomes, why did he give up so many more hits in 2005 than 2004?

    Well, as mentioned above, with the decline in strikeouts, there are more balls put into play. With more balls put into play, there should be a corresponding increase in hits. But, while I would certainly expect more hits allowed, there shouldn't have been such a MASSIVE increase in hits allowed.

    What are the possible reasons for the increase in hits allowed? Here are some possible reasons for the increase that I've come up with:

    1. Park Effects: But, the ballpark change (from Citizen's to GABP) SHOULD NOT have had much of an effect, as both are extreme hitter's ballparks. In fact, it's possible that a change to GABP should have helped Milton, as Citizen's is a more offense friendly park than GABP. At the very least, it shouldn't have hurt him.

    2. Team Defense: I haven't looked into it in depth, but the Reds 2005 defense was probably a bit worse than the 2004 Phillies defense, which could account for some additional hits, due to the decreased range. But, again, this shouldn't have resulted in a big difference.

    3. Luck: And, finally, I suspect that the MAIN culprit is just luck. Milton was "hit lucky" in 2004 and very "hit unlucky" in 2005.

    Batting Average on Balls in Play for Eric Milton
    2004: .271
    2005: .317

    If you believe in the Voros McCracken theory, then the pitcher has no control over whether or not a ball put into play results in a hit. As such, it boils down to luck. If true, then Milton was lucky in 2004 and very unlucky in 2005.

    To summarize, Milton's declining strikeout rate from 2004 to 2005 resulted in more balls being put into play. And, of those balls in play, a HIGHER percentage of them resulted in hits. He wasn't necessarily being hit harder, as his identical 2004/2005 HR rate indicates, rather more hits in general were just falling in.

    The mass media lambasted this signing as terrible (due to Milton's flyball tendencies in a homer friendly ballpark) and point to his 2005 performance as evidence. However, in 2005 Milton gave up HRs at EXACTLY the same rate as in 2004, but his overall performance was much, much WORSE. Accordingly, he WAS NOT done in by his homers, as commonly believed, but rather by the illogical increase in hit rate.

    Accordingly, Milton will likely have better luck in 2006, which should result in his performance regressing back towards his career mean.

    As such, there is hope that Milton will be significantly better in 2006. In fact, I'd be very surprised if he isn't. Now, mind you, that doesn't mean that he'll be a GOOD pitcher, but he should return to his league average self next season. And, with the offensive talent in Cincy, consistent league average pitching is all the Reds really need. So, while he won't be the savior, he will be better in 2006.

    And, a league average Milton is something devoutly to be wished.
    Last edited by 11BarryLarkin11; 01-03-2006 at 07:58 PM.

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    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Allow me to assist you in your in depth analysis.

    He sucks.

    I hope that helped.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    What are the possible reasons for the increase in hits allowed? Here are some possible reasons for the increase that I've come up with:

    1. Park Effects: But, the ballpark change (from Citizen's to GABP) SHOULD NOT have had much of an effect, as both are extreme hitter's ballparks. In fact, it's possible that a change to GABP should have helped Milton. At the very least, it shouldn't have hurt him.

    2. Team Defense: I haven't looked into it in depth, but the Reds 2005 defense was probably a bit worse than the 2004 Phillies defense, which could account for some additional hits, due to the decreased range. But, again, this shouldn't have resulted in a big difference.

    3. Luck: And, finally, I suspect that the main culprit is just luck. Milton was "hit lucky" in 2004 and very "hit unlucky" in 2005.
    4. Pitching to contact.
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    Lark11 11BarryLarkin11's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck
    4. Pitching to contact.
    lol

    If that's the case, then it's about as effective as I always thought that it would be.

    Pitching to contact is a terrible philosophy, let's just hope that that isn't the real reason. Or, if it is, then that the Reds are smart enough to realize that it doesn't work.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Eric Milton has Bert Shepards Knee and Kevin Browns contract, he is the Reds very own Cardiff Giant.

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    Lover of Trivialities Doc. Scott's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    11BL11, I appreciate your attempt to explain and mitigate Mr. Milton's suckalicious performance. Now, the begged question: why did Eric's K rate decline so much?

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    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    the Reds very own Cardiff Giant.


    Wow, cool. So, we've got that going for us. Which is nice.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    ~ Mark Twain

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    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc. Scott
    11BL11, I appreciate your attempt to explain and mitigate Mr. Milton's suckalicious performance. Now, the begged question: why did Eric's K rate decline so much?


    Yes, I agree. I didn't mean to belittle your attempt to explain his increased rate of suckage.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    ~ Mark Twain

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    Lark11 11BarryLarkin11's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc. Scott
    11BL11, I appreciate your attempt to explain and mitigate Mr. Milton's suckalicious performance. Now, the begged question: why did Eric's K rate decline so much?
    Well, that I can't explain due to my outsider status. Two thoughts leap to mind. 1) Mr. Milton's mysterious knee injury, which made him forget how to pitch downhill, or whatever bizarre explanation he proffered last season. 2) Pitching to contact.

    But, the good news is that both of the aforementioned explanations are fixable. If he is healthy, then he could see his K/9 rate increase. An increase in K rate would/should result in a reduced hit rate. Fewer baserunners means fewer runs allowed.

    And, if it is pitching to contact, god forbid, then Milton would/should be smart enough to realize that it doesn't work. Accordingly, he'll go back to the philosophy that enabled him to become the league average pitcher that we all know and love.

    But, my money is on the knee injury. I don't think you pick up a seasoned veteran who has had "success" in the past and get him to immediately adopt a new pitching philosophy.

    That's the best I can do. Fingers crossed!!
    Last edited by 11BarryLarkin11; 01-03-2006 at 09:27 PM.

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    Lark11 11BarryLarkin11's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc. Scott
    11BL11, I appreciate your attempt to explain and mitigate Mr. Milton's suckalicious performance. Now, the begged question: why did Eric's K rate decline so much?
    Ok, you stoked my curiosity. So, I took a look at his stats month by month:

    Month: K/9
    April: 4.63
    May: 5.98
    June: 5.26
    July: 6.94
    August: 5.48
    September: 7.00

    So, after half a season of struggling, Milton either abandoned the "pitch to contact" debacle or got over his mysterious knee ailment and starting striking guys out again. His increasing K/9 rate is another positive sign for 2006. If he posts a higher K/9 next season, then batting practice will actually only occur BEFORE games in 2006.
    Last edited by 11BarryLarkin11; 01-03-2006 at 08:21 PM.

  12. #11
    Member SteelSD's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    If you believe in the Voros McCracken theory, then the pitcher has no control over whether or not a ball put into play results in a hit. As such, it boils down to luck. If true, then Milton was lucky in 2004 and very unlucky in 2005.
    Milton WAS significantly BABIP-lucky in 2004, but he wasn't signficantly BABIP-unlucky in 2005. MLB average BABIP hovers right around .305-.310. Given that the Reds posted one of the lowest Defensive Efficiencies in MLB in 2004, Milton got pretty much what he deserved from a BABIP perspective. There was really nothing unexpected or illogical about it.

    Because he regressed to the mean, his BA Against jumped and his SLG Against hit a ridiculous .543. And we need to realize that Milton posted an atrocious .493 SLGA in 2004. For Milton to revert to league average form, he'd have to increase his K rate and then hope to get significantly BABIP-lucky again (even moreso than in 2004). But especially considering his knee issues, the former is a faint hope at best and the latter is an unreasonable expectation.

    And let's also remember that while getting significantly lucky in 2004, Milton still posted a .810 OPSA. That's nowhere near league average.
    Last edited by SteelSD; 01-03-2006 at 08:23 PM.
    "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 that’s over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a ball in a tough spot.”
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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Quote Originally Posted by 11BarryLarkin11

    3. Luck: And, finally, I suspect that the MAIN culprit is just luck. Milton was "hit lucky" in 2004 and very "hit unlucky" in 2005.

    Batting Average on Balls in Play for Eric Milton
    2004: .271
    2005: .317
    If only that were true.

    You've got the BABIP's right, but your luck designation is off.

    In 2004 the average Phillies pitcher had a .296 BABIP, making Milton the benficiary of some good luck, In 2005 the average Reds pitcher had a .323 BABIP, meaning Milton was once again a wee bit hit lucky in 2005. A better defense could help (unfortunately that hasn't been pursued), though there's only so much help you can give to a pitcher who allows a .240 ISOPW.

    So Milton's hit increase was fairly logical. And the K decrease? Look no farther than a degenerative knee which prevents him from following through the way he should on his pitches.

    Also, the days of Eric Milton's league average self haven't been seen since 2001. He was below average in 2002 and 2004, injured in 2003 and last year what you saw is what happens to somewhat bad pitchers as they reach age 30, they become really bad pitchers. It should be noted that in Milton's better days his ISOPW averaged about .170. This is a guy who's become a punching bag.
    Last edited by M2; 01-03-2006 at 08:26 PM.
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    I think if you look at all the REDS pitchers in the second half of the season (post Guillet) they had an improvement. A lot of people here bag out both Milton and Ortiz but if you look at their stats from latter half you will find that they put up decent numbers.

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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Quote Originally Posted by Nugget
    I think if you look at all the REDS pitchers in the second half of the season (post Guillet) they had an improvement. A lot of people here bag out both Milton and Ortiz but if you look at their stats from latter half you will find that they put up decent numbers.
    You know, a simple fact check could tell you otherwise.

    Post All-Star Game Ortiz had a 4.50 ERA and .811 OPS against. That isn't decent though the ERA was a bit lucky (should have been higher with bad peripherals like that) and, as a result, it was only mildly poor. Milton had 5.87 ERA and .857 OPS against. That's horrid.

    If you want to do the full post-Gullett autopsy I'll leave it to you to crunch the secondary numbers, but Milton had a 5.56 overall ERA and Ortiz was at 4.79.
    Last edited by M2; 01-03-2006 at 08:49 PM.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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    You're soaking in it! MartyFan's Avatar
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    Re: Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???

    Quote Originally Posted by RFS62
    Allow me to assist you in your in depth analysis.

    He sucks.

    I hope that helped.
    Okay, wait a minute, let me get this right...he sucks? Okay, got it...technical jargon and all I think I can break that one down.
    "Sometimes, it's not the sexiest moves that put you over the top," Krivsky said. "It's a series of transactions that help you get there."


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