May 7 MLB Stat Dump

White Sox 1B, Jose Abreu, leads the MLB with 12 home runs.  Angels 1B, Albert Pujols, has hit 10 home runs.  Pujols did not hit his tenth home run last season until June 9.
Marlins OF, Giancarlo Stanton, leads the MLB with 38 RBI.
Dodgers 2B, Dee Gordon, leads the MLB with 19 stolen bases.
Among batters with at least 110 plate appearances; Jays OF, Jose Bautista, leads the MLB with a 22.5 percent walk rate.  Brewers OF, Kris Davis, has the lowest walk rate in the MLB at 0.8 percent.  Brewers teammate and SS, Jean Segura, has the second lowest rate at 1.7 percent.
Recently optioned demoted to AAA Mariners OF, Abraham Almonte, has struck out at the highest rate in the MLB – 35.4 percent.  Tigers DH/1B/C, Victor Martinez,strikes out at the lowest rate of plate appearances in the MLB at 4.2 percent.
Rangers OF, Shin-Soo Choo, currently leads the MLB with a .443 BABIP.  Choo’s career BABIP is .353, so one would expect some regression.
Indians 3B/DH/C, Carlos Santana‘s .148 BABIP is currently the worst in the MLB.  Santana’s career .273 BABIP is a relatively low batting average on balls in play to start with.  Santana’s struggles look like more than just bad luck however.  His line drive percentage has dropped to a career low 10.8 percent.  That is a 54.4% drop from his career best line drive percentage in 2013 of 21.8 percent.
Rockies SS, Troy Tulowitzki, leads the MLB in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.  His line looks like .421/.522/.794.  Therefore his 1.317 OPS obviously is the best in the MLB.  That OPS is .259 better than second place Jose Bautista. Just to describe how big of a lead that is:  Diamondbacks OF, Cody Ross, has a .268 OPS on the season by himself.  So basically, Tulowitzki leads second place Bautista by a whole MLB player.
For those who prefer wOBA to OPS – Tulowitzki’s .549 is also best in the MLB.  Bautista is second again with a .458 wOBA.
Tulowitzki also leads the MLB with a 3.3 fWAR (Fangraphs WAR).  Second place is Angels OF, Mike Trout at 2.6.
White Sox OF, Adam Eaton, leads the MLB with 9 infield hits.
Nationals OF, Denard Span, currently has seen the highest percentage of pitches that are fastballs in the MLB at 77.2 percent.  Pirates 3B, Pedro Alvarez, has seen the lowest percentage of pitches that are fastballs at 45.6 percent.
Mariners SS, Brad Miller, has swung at the highest percentage of pitches outside of the zone – 42.9 percent.  Shin-Soo Choo, at 14.7 percent, has swung at the lowest percentage of pitches outside the zone.
Kris Davis at 16.9 percent has swung and missed at the highest rate of pitches.  Victor Martinez on the other hand has only swung and missed at 3.0 percent of the pitches he has seen – the best rate in the majors.
Base runners have stolen 22 bases with Wellington Castillo catching.  That is the most off any one catcher in the MLB.  Only 3 base runners have been caught with Castillo catching.  In comparision base runners have only stolen 8 bases with Yadier Molina catching.  Molina has thrown out 9.
Reds RHP, Johnny Cueto, has pitched 55 innings on the season to lead the majors.
Stephen Strasburg‘s 13.05 K/9 rate is the best among innings qualified pitchers.  Twins RHP, Kevin Correia, at 3.97 K/9 has the lowest strike out rate in the majors.
Cardinals RHP, Shelby Miller, at 5.26 BB/9 has walked the highest rate of batters among innings qualified pitchers.  Second place is Red Sox RHP, Jake Peavy, at 5.02 BB/9.  Somewhat surprising to me is the two pitchers with the highest BB/9 rate have have pretty good ERAs.  Miller has a 3.20 ERA and Peavy has a 2.87 ERA.  The lowest walk rate in the MLB belongs to Giants RHP, Tim Hudson, with a 0.50 BB/9 rate (3bb in 54.1ip).
The highest BABIP allowed in the MLB is .388 by Stephen Strasburg.  Johnny Cueto has only allowed a .188 BABIP, which is the lowest in the MLB.  Cueto also has a 1.31 ERA, which is best in the MLB.  Kevin Correia’s 6.09 ERA is the highest in the majors.
Among pitchers, the highest fWAR is Red Sox RHP, Jon Lester, at 1.9.  Shelby Miller has a -0.5 fWAR which is worst.
Pirates RHP, Charlie Morton, has hit the most batters in the MLB with 7.  Diamondbacks LHP, Wade Miley, has thrown the most wild pitches with 6.  Twins RHP, Samuel Deduno, has balked the most times in the majors with 3.
Angels LHP, C.J. Wilson, has received the most run support in the majors, with an average of 8.5 RS/9 (Runs support per nine innings).  Pirates LHP, Francisco Liriano, has recieved the least amount of run support at 1.67 RS/9.
C.J. Wilson has thrown 814 pitches so far in 2014 – the most in the majors.
Mets RHP, Bartolo Colon, has thrown the highest percentage of pitches being fastballs in the MLB at 88.1 percent.  Jays RHP, R.A. Dickey, has thrown the least percentage of fastballs in the MLB at 14.6 percent.  Dickey’s fastball is also the slowest average fastball so far in the MLB among innings qualifiecd pitchers at 82.0mph. Royals RHP, Yordano Ventura, at 96.7mph has the fastest average fastball velocity.
Batters have swung at 39.9 percent of Yankees RHP, Masahiro Tanaka‘s pitches outside the zone to start 2014 – the most in the majors.
Rays LHP, David Price, has thrown a first pitch strike 74.1 percent of the time – the most in the MLB.  Angels RHP, Garrett Richards has thrown the least amount of first pitch strikes – at 45.8 percent.
Among innings qualified pitchers Rays RHP, Chris Archer, takes the most times between pitches – 26.6 seconds.  The pitcher who take the least amount of time between pitches is Jays LHP, Mark Buehrle at 16.0 seconds.
As a team the Colorado Rockies have hit the most home runs in the majors, with 49.  The Kansas City Royals have hit the least with 14.  The Rockies have scored the most total runs as well with 206.  The San Diego Padres have scored the least amount of runs so far with 91.
The most stolen bases as a team belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers with 37 (19 by Dee Gordon).  The Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals each have 9 stolen bases as a team – the lowest in the MLB.
The Minnesota Twins have a 11.5 walk percentage to lead the majors.  The Padres have the lowest walk rate at 6.1 percent.
The Atlanta Braves have struck out at a major league high 24.2 percent of plate appearances.  The Royals at 15.4 percent have struck out in the least amount of plate appearances.
With a .354 OBP the Rockies lead the MLB in OBP.  The Padres and their .265 OBP bring up the rear in this category as well.
The Cleveland Indians and Dodgers each have committed 33 errors on the season to lead the majors.  The Toronto Blue Jays have committed 11, which is the least amount in the MLB.
Washington Nationals pitchers have struck out the highest rate of batters with a 9.34 K/9.  Minnesota Twins pitchers at 5.58 K/9 are the worst staff at racking up the strikeouts so far in 2014.  The Chicago White Sox are walking 4.41 batters per 9 innings – the most in the MLB.  The San Francisco Giants are best at not allowing free bases at 2.45 BB/9.
The best ERA as a team belongs to the Braves at 2.64.  The Houston Astros pitching staff has been the worst with a 5.04 ERA.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have blown the most saves as a team so far in 2014, with 9.  The Padres however have only blown 1 save.
White Sox pitchers have thrown the most pitchers as a team so far with 5,436.  The Detroit Tigers have only thrown 4,144 pitches as a team so far – the least in the majors.
Cardinals pitchers have thrown the highest percentage of fastballs so far in 2014 at 66.8 percent.  The Giants on the other hand have thrown fastballs at the lowest rate in the majors at 51.5 percent.  Florida Marlins pitchers at 93.4mph average the fastest fastballs thrown as a team.  The only team that does not average over 90mph on their fastballs is the Arizona Diamondbacks at 89.5mph.
As a team the Pirates are throwing the most first pitch strikes at 62.6 percent.  The Angels are throwing the least first pitch strikes at 54.4 percent.
The pitchers with the slowest pace in the MLB are the Rays at 26.6 seconds between pitches.  The Blue Jays at 21.4 seconds as a team average the least amount of time between pitches.
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Source:  Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. Fangraphs stats accurate as of 4:54 AM ET, May 7, 2014. Baseball-Reference stats accurate as of 7:17 PM ET, May 7, 2014.

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Clay Buchholz 2012 vs. 2013

Wednesday night, Toronto Blue Jays broadcasters Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris started the debate that has got the baseball world talking.  Buchholz pitched a good game – 7ip 2h 8k 3bb 0r – Hayhurst and Moris began questioning if Buchholz was “cheating”.

He very clearly kept going to touch his left forearm with the index and middle fingers on his pitching hand.  There was also a certain shine to that left forearm that was not there on his right arm, and that shine was not on his left arm during 2012 or Spring Training this year.

Here he is during Spring Training in 2013:
Here is a screenshot I took from that video:

clay spring training 2013

Click for Full Size.

This is Clay Buchholz, again pitching in Toronto, on September 15, 2012:

Here is a screenshot I took from this video:

clay 2012

Click for Full Size.

Here is the video that started the discussion from Wednesday.

No great spot to clearly point out the shininess in a screenshot here.  So I went to Twitter and found a picture:

Clay Wednesday

Source: Twitter

This picture is a much better close-up than the best screenshot I tried to take from the video.  But they are from the same start.

Buchholz has offered a response and many have speculated.  My opinion is that there is a very apparent shine to that arm.  But the questions “What really is it?” and “Is it cheating?” are not up to me to decide.  If I were to speculate, I would most likely be wrong too.  Is it baby lotion?  Is it pine tar?  Is sun tan lotion?  Is it something else?  Is it a combination of things?  Or is it simply that his left arm sweats more than his right arm out of the blue this season?

Here is Tom Verducci’s take on SI.com.
Here is the story by Gordon Edes on ESPN.

Here is Buchholz’s 2012, 2013 and career statistics to compare.

Year Age Tm W L ERA GS CG SHO IP R ER HBP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2012 27 BOS 11 8 4.56 29 2 1 189.1 104 96 12 1.326 8.9 1.2 3.0 6.1 2.02
2013 28 BOS 6 0 1.01 6 0 0 44.2 5 5 0 0.963 5.4 0.2 3.2 9.5 2.94
7 Yrs 52 32 3.73 111 5 3 681.0 311 282 24 1.314 8.3 0.9 3.5 6.8 1.95
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2013.

No matter what is going on, cheating or not, Buchholz is pitching at a very high level.  There are also a few things that need to be remembered, again cheating or not.  The first thing to remember is Buchholz threw a no-hitter in his second career start, on September 1, 2007, against the Baltimore Orioles while striking out nine batters.

Buchholz was also named the No. 51 prospect in baseball at the end of the 2006 season by Baseball America.  This is before he threw the no-hitter. Then at the end of 2007, coming into 2008, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 4 prospect in baseball — only behind Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria and Joba Chamberlain.

The third thing to take into account is that before an injury plagued season in 2011, he went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in 2010.  He was an All-Star and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young ballot.  Which leads me to my final thing to be taken into account — he entered this 2013 season at age 28.  This is about the age where many players begin to reach their peaks.

He had the potential to be a dominate pitcher all along.  Then when he was just 25 he put up the above mentioned 2010 numbers.  So the fact that he is really good should be no surprise to anyone.  He had injury issues in 2011, only starting 14 games. Then in 2012, there was the well-publicized Boston scenario that led to their manager, Bobby Valentine, being fired after one season and them trading away star players.

Now let’s look at some interesting sabermetric differences, while keeping in mind that the sample size is pretty small – at only 44.2 innings pitched so far in 2013.

Buchholz is having a career year in terms of striking out batters.  He is currently striking out 9.47 batters per nine innings.  His career, which includes the 2013 numbers has him averaging 6.85 batters per nine innings.

Batters have also only hit a .176 average off of Buchholz so far in 2013. This is not just a “lucky” fluke because of the small sample size either.  If you add thirty-two points to his batting average allowed, which is  the difference in his career BABIP and his 2013 BABIP, hitters would still be only hitting .208 off of him on the season. That is an average allowed, that over a season most any starter would take in a heart beat.

Buchholz has also left 91.4 percent of baserunners on base so far in 2013.  Fangraphs also has him speeding up his pace, taking less time between pitches than he ever has.

Buchholz has been getting more movement on his pitches this year which is where the substance really is playing into in the minds of people and leading to the above mentioned results.
Vertical MovementHorizaontal Movement
Click for Full Sizes.

That’s it.  I have given you all the tools.  Pictures, videos and statistics.  Now you should better be able to come to a conclusion about what is going on with Buchholz and the effect of recent allegations.

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