August 2008

Work fast, change speeds, throw strikes

Those are pretty much the three golden rules of pitching, but are they really true?

Well, the “throw strikes” part is easy to test… check the ERA leaders and then check out each pitcher’s walk rate. This is pretty easy to validate: of the top 20 pitchers in ERA, with a minimum of 100 IP this season, only two have given up more than four walks per inning: Edinson Volquez and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Volquez has of course compensated with 9.41 strikeouts per nine innings, while Daisuke has been a little lucky in holding opposing batters to a combined .210 average. Still with 18 of the 20 passing a simple test, this rule would look to be true.

The second one we can test thanks to Pitch-f/x is the “work fast” part. The Pfx data includes a time stamp for every single pitch, so you can simply look to see the average number of seconds between each pitch for each pitcher, from a low of 17.2 seconds (Mark Buehrle) to a high of 26.0 seconds (Josh Beckett)… throw the damn ball! Here are the correlations between average pitch time and a few key indicators of pitching quality, for all pitchers with 100 or more IP:

ERA = -0.016

K/BB = 0.003

K/9 = 0.196

BB/9 = 0.127

Suffice it to say, there is no correlation between working fast and key pitching indicators. I supose I could break this down a few other ways to perhaps find some pattern, but in a general sense, this doesn’t wash.

CubsWin712.jpgFYI, Rich Harden has a 2.04 ERA this season and throws a pitch every 18.9 seconds. I just picked him ‘cuz he’s on a roll and I wanted to use this picture!

(Thanks to Dan Brooks for aggregating the time data, check out his blog.)

As for changing speeds, well, that is an open question for the Pfx research crowd and I’m sure some of them are working on it right now. But for now, the Pfx data would seem to disprove at least one of these time-honored rules.

Here’s the
complete spreadsheet for this season if anyone is interested… stats are for all MLB season-to-date. Note that the Time value is missing from some players, so there may be some selection bias involved, but that probably wouldn’t bridge the gap from essentially a zero correlation to something meaningful.

Have a great weekend folks!


P.S. – Francisco Liriano just got called up! Siano, rejoice!

P.S. #2 – If you’re on Facebook, become a fan of the 411! Almost four dozen members and growing!🙂


Unreads for 8/1

I have a chance to get Dan Uggla via trade in my 10-team 5×5 (non-keeper) league, to solidify my 2B position (I’m using Jose Lopez, etc. now) in exchange for Joakim Soria and Big Erv Santana.  Those two pitchers have treated me well all year, but I never know what to expect from Uggla.  I’m inclined to decline the offer as I’m not sure Lopez’s 300 BA, etc is so bad that I should give up two studs for a slight improvement. Also, is Big Erv wearing down?  I could still plug Uggs in at a U position. Thanks for the great show!
Jim from Hong Kong

Hey Jim,

Despite his strong numbers, especially in the RBI department where he has 59, you need a better starting second baseman than Lopez in a 10 team league.  Lopez’s abundance of RBIs can be explained by a .337 batting average with runners in scoring position, a .455 average (5 for 11) with a runner on third, and a .444 mark (4 for 9) with the bases loaded.  While these are all impressive stats, it’s hard to believe that Lopez will continue producing at this level in these kinds of situations.  Although Soria and Big Erv is a lot to give up for Uggla, it’s pretty close to fair value.  Uggla’s on pace for a ridiculous 41 homers and 104 RBI, numbers unheard of for any player at his position perhaps outside of Chase Utley.  His averages of 29 home runs and 89 RBI over his first two full seasons in the majors suggests that this is no fluke.  The upgrade from Lopez to Uggla is more than just a slight improvement.  As for Big Erv, his ERA has risen steadily each month, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about him wearing down.  Santana’s still pitching deep into games, and the solid strikeout numbers are there.  I’d try to work on this trade a bit more to see if you can get another piece in return, possibly a decent closer to replace Soria.  But this is definitely not an unreasonable price to pay for Uggla, particularly if you’re lacking in the power categories.

Zach Steinhorn

Hey guys,

So, right after the Manny trade, I traded away Jair Jurrjens and Vernon Wells for Matt Kemp and Scott Baker in a standard 5×5 league.  Can you please evaulate the trade?  The owner pulled the trigger because he was scared of the crowded outfield in LA.

Bill in Chicago

Hey Bill,

I still think you’ve done well in acquiring Kemp. Joe Torre may have been rotation-happy earlier in the season when he was placing Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier and Kemp between right and left fields, but I expect that Torre has more confidence in Kemp now than earlier this season. After all, Kemp batted .342 with a .402 on-base percentage, stole 10 bases and clubbed five homers in July. Even Torre, in all his rotation happiness, knows better than to keep production like that on the bench.

I’d expect to see Torre shift Juan Pierre and Andre Ethier. Look for Kemp to keep his right field spot while Andruw Jones or Juan Pierre roams center field. Kemp will shift to center field when Torre feels like playing Ethier in right field. I just don’t see how Kemp will sit out, considering the pace at which he has developed this season. Stay confident with the trade you made.

Kyle Stack

Here Comes Liriano????


looks like he could take the pill tonight or at worst Sunday. Rejoice and about freaking time!!!!!!

Unread from 7/31

Who is the best option to fill in as my starting catcher while Brian McCann is hurt?
Dioner Navarro
Bengie Molina
Chris Iannetta
Kelly Shoppach
Justin from Pennsylvania

Hey Justin,

Although the veteran Molina might be the safest choice among this group, I like Iannetta the most.  After an extremely disappointing 2007, the former top prospect has rebounded nicely, especially of late.  Since the beginning of June, Iannetta’s hitting .281 with 8 home runs, 27 RBI, and a .553 slugging percentage.  He plays in an extremely favorable park for hitters and simply has the highest upside of the bunch.  Though Shoppach’s last two months (10 HR  28 RBI) have undoubtedly been the best stretch of his career, I’m just not convinced this will last.  McCann’s expected back relatively soon, so I’d ride Iannetta’s hot bat for now.  But with these kinds of names out on the wire, don’t be afraid to change course should Iannetta struggle and McCann remain sidelined.

Zach Steinhorn  

POD for Sunday-Monday


Pitch:  Lackey, Dice-K, Galarraga, Shields, Greinke, Olsen (a gamble), Sheets, Campillo, Cueto (another gamble), Maine, Zambrano, Young, Myers (Yeah, you read it right!)

MONDAY (some starters have yet to be announced)

Pitch:  Lee, Garza, Chamberlain, Buchholz (last chance), Meche (red hot!), Saunders (Saundo!), Dempster, Parra, Arroyo, Haren, Jurrjens, Cain

Trade Dilemma


I’m in a bit of a (fantasy) pickle.

I’m Alex Cushing and I represent in mixed Tout Wars. On Tuesday, I agreed to trade Alex Rios, Mike Jacobs and Randy Wolf to another owner for Jermaine Dye and Milton Bradley. Later that night, Bradley strained his quad (surprise, surprise). He hasn’t returned since, and the Rangers haven’t provided a specific return date.

Now, league rules say I can cancel the deal before 5 PM this evening.

My question is — what would you do?

Would you back out of the trade after agreeing to it on good faith and sending it to the commissioner’s office? Would you ask for more back in return? Or would you back out entirely?

All feedback is welcome, kids, before or after 5 PM.

– Alex Cushing,

Tout Faabaganza and Post Show Blog for 8/1/08

If you have been following Tout this year the crew is holding it’s own. Alex “The Kid” Cushing is leading mixed by 2pts this morning. I am in 2nd in AL Only and just made two blockbusters to catch Sam Walker (Net Trade is I get Kendrick, Youkilis, Edwin jackson and Darrel Rasner for Cliff Lee, Dice-K, Brooks Conrad, Wes Bankston and Bryan LaHair, I have 54.5 pithcing points and 32 hitting) and Cory is sturggling some in NL but he is still the master. Anyway last night was a 3 hour open window to bid on guys that changed leagues. Obviously AL had a barn full of names, but Manny at least injected life into the NL side. below are the results. 


Mark Teixeira: Moyer 92

Jason Bay: Sheehan 74

Xavier Nady: Wilton 53

Ken Griffey: Latkin 48

Damaso Marte: Siano 16 *was willing to overpay for a possible 2-5 saves and ERA and WHIP help.

Ron Mahay: Siano 6 *You could see Mahay clear waivers and get dealt. Both Mahay and Marte were being bid on by Sam Walker so two less guys for him makes a man feel good.

Shawn Riggans: Siano 0 *have to cut jose molina, don’t ya love non-mixed?

DJ Carrasco: Walker 0

Darren Oliver: Wilton 0


Manny Ramirez: Collette 58

Casey Kotchman: Pianowski 57

Casey Blake: Becker 56

Anibal Sanchez: Van Riper 46 (wow)

Brandon Moss: Kreutzer 44 (wow wow)

Craig Hansen: Melnick 11

Kory Casto: Colton/Wolf 4

Jeff Karstens: Van Riper 3

JJ Happ: Melnick 0

Nick Masset: Melnick 0

Sergio Romo: Walton 0

Mike Lincoln: Walton 0

Brian Bixler: Walton 0

Garrett Mock: Van Riper 0

Arthur Rhodes: Leibowitz 0

Henry Blanco: Colton/Wolf 0

Denny Bautista: Schwartz 0