My 2013 MLB All-Star Ballot

Please note:  I vote for players who I feel are currently having the best years — not just for stars.  I also try to factor the portion of of the previous season that follows the All-Star game in a little.

Catcher
American League:  Joe Mauer
National League:  Yadier Molina

First Base
American League:  Chris Davis
National LeagueJoey Votto

Second Base
American League:  Robinson Cano
National League:  Brandon Phillips

Third Base
American League:  Miguel Cabrera
National League:  David Wright

Shortstop
American League:  Jed Lowrie
National League:  Troy Tulowitzki

Outfield
American League:  Mike Trout, Jose Bautista, Adam Jones
National League:  Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen

Designated Hitter
American League:  Edwin Encarnacion

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Pitch Counts, Bronson Arroyo, Stat Dump

A few days ago it came to my attention that Bronson Arroyo, of the Cincinnati Reds, has not thrown 100 pitches or more in a game since September 14, 2012. This stretch totals 11 starts (Last 3 starts of 2012, first eight starts of 2013).

I personally dislike how pitchers are coddled in today’s game, and believe they should be able to throw a lot more innings and pitches.  If a pitcher has not shown any major injury concerns and has shown durable they should be able to throw 120-130 pitches if need be.  Heck, Baseball-Reference does not even have the pitch count of Nolan Ryan’s s game log until 1988!  That season, my math says Ryan threw 108.6 pitches per game.

That being said, the mythical “100 pitch count” has become more than just an arbitrary number.  It has become the standard.  A standard, which promotes pitchers just pitching through the sixth inning many times – depending on pitch efficiency and batter patience.

But I doubt even the people who believe that the 100 pitch count is a good thing for Major League Baseball see much of a difference between a pitcher throwing 97 and 100 pitches on a given start; just in terms of the number itself.  The only difference is how the given pitcher executes those three extra pitches.  *Side note:  I am in favor of some sort of pitch count for kids playing Little League.*

I make the point of 97 vs. 100 pitches because while I relate it all back to Arroyo, he has come close to throwing 100 pitches a couple times.  It is also the National League he is pitching in, so pinch hitting and game scenarios could lead him to exiting a game where an American League pitcher would not.

While I do not believe in the “100 pitch count” the point being made did spark my curiosity.  It led me into wanting to look further into what Arroyo has been doing; which I will do now:

Bronson Arroyo’s average pitch count per game with Cincinnati:

  • 2006:  109.9 (35g, 240.2ip)
  • 2007:  100.8 (34g, 210.2ip)
  • 2008:  101.0 (34g, 200.0ip)
  • 2009:  103.2 (33g, 220.1ip)
  • 2010:  98.7 (33g, 215.2ip)
  • 2011:  103.2 (32g, 199.0ip)
  • 2012:  92.4 (32g, 202.0ip)
  • 2013:  89.6 (8g, 52.2ip)

There has definitely been a drop off in terms of pitches thrown per start by Arroyo.  Keep in mind Arroyo was around the age where many players are hitting their peak, 29, to start the 2006 season.  He has started the 2013 season at age 36.

Stat Dump Time….

Bronson Arroyo has pitched 1,541,9 innings and thrown 25,165 pitches since the start of 2006.  Both rank sixth in the MLB over that time span.  Arroyo’s career total of 2,129.3 innings pitched ranks 12 among active pitchers.

Arroyo has made the All-Star game once, 2006.

Arroyo has a career .971 fielding percentage.  League average is .956 for pitchers since the start of Arroyo’s career through today.

Arroyo has a career .129 batting average with 6 home runs and 29 RBI.  He has grounded into 7 double plays over his career and stole 1 base.

Arroyo has a 1-0 record with a 4.60 ERA in postseason play over a career 29.1 innings pitched.  Most of the struggle was with Boston, because he has only allowed 1 earned run in 12.1 innings, in 2 postseason starts with Cincinnati.

Arroyo has a career 4.22 ERA while winnings 127 games and losing 119.  He has pitched 13 career complete games, 5 being shutouts.

He has led or tied for the league lead in the following categories, in the following seasons:

  • 2004:  20 batters hit.
  • 2006:  35 starts, 240.2 innings pitched.
  • 2008:  34 starts.
  • 2009:  2 shutouts.
  • 2011:  112 Earned Runs and 46 home runs allowed.

Arroyo has a career 71.9 percent left on base and a 23.4 total Fangraphs WAR.  His best Fangraphs WAR in one season was 4.1 in 2006.

Arroyo has intentionally walked 56 batters in his career, the most being 7 in 2006.  He has also hit a 94 career batters, 21.2 percent of those being his 20 hit batters in 2004.  He has balked 4 times in his career and thrown 38 wild pitches.

Arroyo has thrown a career first pitch 62.7 percent of the time.  He has a career 7.4 swinging strike percentage.

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Source:  Fangraphs & Baseball-Reference.  Stats as of Wed. May 15, 2013 5:58 AM ET

Phil Hughes: 2011 vs. 2012

Yankees Starting Pitcher Phil Hughes won 18 games and was selected as an All-Star in the 2010 season.  But then his 2011 season was a disappointment going 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA.  Thus far in 2012, Hughes has almost pitched as many innings as he did in all of the 2011 season.

It looked like Hughes might be heading toward another season like 2011 after struggling in his first five starts.  In those five starts he went 1-4 with a 7.48 ERA while never lasting longer than 5 2/3 innings.

But in his last seven starts, he has gone 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA while never lasting any LESS than 5 1/3 innings.  That includes a start where Hughes gave up seven earned runs to the Angels

Hughes has had his ups and downs in his first 12 starts of 2012.  He is currently quite close to his innings pitched from 2011.  So I felt now was a good time to compare the production the Yankees are getting out of him.  Hughes was a former big name prospect, fourth overall on the Baseball America Top 100 in 2007.

Hughes has already pitched 68 innings in 2012.  He did not reach 68 innings pitched in 2011 until September 6.  He finished 2011 with 74.2 innings pitched.

It was well noted during the struggles of Hughes in 2011 that his fastball had lost velocity, specifically in the early part of the season.  But according to Fangraphs, Hughes has regained the average velocity that he had in 2010.

2010:  92.5 mph     2011:  91.3 mph     2012:  92.4mph

Hughes K/9 ratio has skyrocketed from 5.67 in 2011 to 8.34 in 2012.  Also his BB/9 has decreased from 3.25 in 2011 to 2.38 in 2012.  He was worse than league average in both of those statistics in 2011, while he is better than league average in 2012.

In 2011, hitters hit for a .277 average off of Hughes while 2012 hitters are hitting .264 off of him.  The 2012 batting average allowed is still worse than league average, .248, but still it’s an improvement.  The improved walk rate and batting average allowed has resulted in a WHIP improvement of 1.49 to 1.34.

Hughes is stranding more batters on base as well.  His LOB% has dropped from 65.4% in 2011 to 74% in 2012.

One troubling statistic about Hughes in 2012 is that he has allowed a home run in every one of his 12 starts.  He is allowing 1.99 HR/9 which is third highest rate of any innings qualified pitcher as of this posting.

Hitters are making contact slightly less in 2012, 83.3%, than they did in 2011, 86.6%, off of Hughes.  In 2011 his swinging strike percentage was 6.2% and it is currently 7.6% in 2012.

Over Hughes career left handed and right handed hitters have hit for a similar average off of Hughes.  Left handed batters have hit .256 off of Hughes, while the right handed batters have hit .248 over his career.  But he has seen opposite ends of the spectrum in both 2011 and 2012.

2011:     LHB:  .312 avg     RHB:  .234 avg

2012:     LHB:  .195 avg     RHB:  .352 avg

What the leadoff hitter of each inning does usually sets the tone for the rest of that inning.  Hughes has really seen an improvement here.  Hughes has allowed as following over the past two seasons to batters leading off an inning:

2011:  .300 avg     .372 OBP     .429 SLG     .800 OPS

2012:  .212 avg     .288 OBP     .394 SLG     .682 OPS

In 2012 Hughes has yet to allow a stolen base as well.  He allowed six in 2011.

Overall outside the rate of home runs he has allowed, Hughes has improved most areas of his game in hopes of a bounce back season.

 

*Note: Ralph Terry currently holds the New York Yankees record for most home runs allowed, 40, in a single season.  He did that while pitching 298.2 innings in 1962.  If Hughes stays at his current rate of 1.99 HR/9 allowed he will tie that record at 181.1 innings pitched.

**Note about the Note:  Ralph Terry ended that 1962 season with a 23-12 record and 3.19 ERA on his way to being named an All-Star, winning the 1962 World Series MVP, and being 14th in regular season MVP voting.

 

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