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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Quick Look at Players in the Dodgers, Red Sox Trade

According to Dodgers LA Times beat writer, Dylan Hernandez, the trade sending Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers from the Red Sox is official.  I am not going into the winners or losers of the trade, what the trade might mean for Bobby Valentine’s future with the Red Sox, money, etc.  I am just going to give a little information on the players involved, according to MLB Trade Rumors, in the trade.

The Red Sox Receive:
RHP Rubby De La Rosa
RHP Allen Webster
INF Ivan De Jesus
OF/1B Jerry Sands
1B James Loney

Rubby De La Rosa was the Dodgers minor league pitcher of the year in 2010.  He was their third highest rated prospect in the Dodgers organization in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook in 2011.  He did not qualify as a prospect in the 2012 edition.  De La Rosa started 10 games and appeared out of the bullpen 3 times for the Dodgers in 2011 pitching to a 3.71 ERA.  Coming off Tommy John he has pitched 12 minor league innings in 2012 and 0.2 innings in the majors.  He has not allowed a minor league earned run in 2012.  He allowed 2 earned runs in his 0.2 innings with the Dodgers.  The Baseball America Prospect Handbook in 2011 his fastball sits at 95-96 mph and has registered as high as 102 mph.  He is able to hold the velocity deep into games & can find an extra gear when needed.  He has two promising secondary pitches in his changeup and slider.  The changeup sits at 85-89 mph with late fade.  The slider has sharp, late break when he stays on top of it.  Baseball America says he has the potential to become a No. 2 starter or a closer.

Allen Webster is a converted shortstop.  The Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2012 has Webster as the second highest rated Dodger prospect with a 55-Medium grade.  According to them his repertoire includes a 90-95 mph fastball that peaks at 97 mph with plenty of sink.  He also throws a slider and a curveball that are plus pitches at times, but he can get caught between the two because he has trouble staying on top of his curveball.  A changeup that features sink and fade at 79-83 mph might be his best pitch.  Some scouts argue that he tips it by slowing his arm speed however.  He compares to Derek Lowe and has the potential to become a No. 2 starter according to one Dodgers official in the Prospect Handbook.  So far in 2012, Webster has pitched all season at Double-A Chattanooga and over 121.2 innings he has a 6-8 record with a 3.55 ERA.

Ivan De Jesus is ranked as the 26th best prospect in the Dodgers organization according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2012.  They graded him as a 40-Low.  De Jesus has spent time in 2012 between AAA Albuquerque and the Dodgers.  According to the Prospect Handbook he has an inside-out swing producing line drives from gap to gap with solid bat speed and he fits best at second base.   He has gone 9-33 (.273) with 3 walks in his limited plate appearances with the Dodgers in 2012 scoring 5 runs and knocking in 4 RBI.

Jerry Sands lost his prospect title for the 2012 edition of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.  In the 2011 edition he was ranked as the sixth best prospect in the Dodgers system.  He set multiple school records for NCAA Division II Catawba before being drafted in the 25th-round of the 2008 draft.  He hit 35 homers between Low A Great Lakes and AA Chattanooga in 2010 on his way to being named as the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year.  The 2011 Prospect Handbook says he has had some trouble laying off high fastballs at times, but he shows an aptitude for handling breaking pitches so he shouldn’t just be a one-dimensional slugger.  He has spent time in the majors in 2012, but has spent the majority of his time at AAA Albuquerque batting .303/.380/.531 with 24 homers.

James Loney being sent to Red Sox has by far spent the most time in the majors of any player being sent the Red Sox way.  He has never been a big time power threat at first base, but had a respectable .346 OBP from 2006-2011 for the Dodgers.  But he has struggled in 2012 at the plate with a .646 OPS.  From 2006-2011 he had a .778 OPS.

The Dodgers Receive:
RHP Josh Beckett
1B Adrian Gonzalez
OF Carl Crawford
INF Nick Punto

Josh Beckett has taken the mound for the Red Sox since 2006.  He went 89-58 with a 4.17 ERA in his Boston career.  In 2012, however he has gone 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA in 127.1 innings.  When looking at his PitchFx (Fangraphs) you can notice a sharp drop in his average fastball velocity between 2011 and 2012.  In 2011 his fastball averaged 93.1 mph, which has dropped to 91.6 mph in 2012.  He also has gone away from throwing his fastball as much as he has done over his career.  Over his career he has thrown his fastball 62.1 percent of the time, and in 2012 he has gone under 50 percent for the first time at 47.6 percent.  Given, he has developed a cutter and has begun throwing it more.  I just point it out because I think the drop in velocity has contributed a more prominent role for his cutter.

Adrian Gonzalez has had a productive and respectable 2012 season, but it has not been up to his standards set the past few years.  His batting line from 2009-2011 was .306/.403/.536.  In 2012, it has dropped to .300/.343/.469.  This has led to a Fangraphs WAR drop from 6.6 in 2011 to 2.7 in 2012.  He still offers possible gold glove defense at first base when healthy.

Carl Crawford was not the same player with the Red Sox that he was in Tampa Bay.  That has been well documented.  Part of that is injury, some say Boston was not a good fit for him, but for whatever the real reason the result has been a lower performance with the Red Sox.  Crawford had a 7.6 Fangraphs WAR in 2010, his final year with the Tampa Bay Rays.  But he had a combined 0.6 WAR in his year and a half in Boston.  When playing a full season with the Rays he never stole less than 46 bases.  He only totaled 23 stolen bases in his time with the Red Sox.  I like sabermetrics in general, but one I do not completely side with are the defensive sabermetics.  That being said it is worth noting his UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) saw him lose a great deal of range in the outfield.  His UZR was never lower than 15.8 from 2008-2010.  His UZR in 2011 was -2.2 and -1.7 in 2012.  I question what role the Green Monster played in this, but either way I am just throwing the stat out there for you.

Nick Punto can play multiple defensive positions, but his hitting skills have never really stood out.  He has a career .649 OPS.  In 2011, he had a nice stink with the Cardinals on his way to a .809 OPS in 63 games.  But in a comparable amount of plate appearances so far in 2012 he has seen his current .573 OPS.  He has proved to be a nice utility player to have on a roster.  He will fill in to the role Jerry Hariston Jr. had before getting injured.

 

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My 2012 MLB All-Star Ballot

The Starters:

National League:
Catcher:  Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
First Base:  Joey Votto, Reds
Second Base:  Brandon Phillips, Reds
Third Base:  David Wright, Mets
Shortstop:  Jed Lowrie, Astros
Outfield:  Ryan Braun, Brewers     Michael Bourn, Braves     Melky Cabrera, Giants
DH:  Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

American League:
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
First Base:  Paul Konerko, White Sox
Second Base:  Robinson Cano, Yankees
Third Base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Shortstop:  Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Rangers     Adam Jones, Orioles     Mike Trout, Angels
DH:  Derek Jeter, Yankees

Pitching Staffs:

National League:
R.A. Dickey, Mets (Starter)
Craig Kimbrel (Closer)
Matt Cain, Giants
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
Johnny Cueto, Reds
Lance Lynn, Cardinals
Aroldis Chapman, Reds
Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies
Wade Miley, Diamondbacks
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Tyler Clippard, Nationals
Santiago Casilla, Giants
Joel Hanrahan, Pirates
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
James McDonald, Pirates

American League:
Justin Verlander, Tigers (Starter)
Fernando Rodney, Rays (Closer)
Chris Sale, White Sox
C.J. Wilson, Angels
Jake Peavy, White Sox
CC Sabathia, Yankees
Ryan Cook, Athletics
Joe Nathan, Rangers
Chris Perez, Indians
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Jim Johnson, Orioles
Scott Downs, Angels
Tim Collins, Royals

Bench:

National League:
Backup Catcher:  Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Starlin Castro, Cubs
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
Chase Headley, Padres
Dan Uggla, Braves
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Martin Prado, Braves

American League:
Backup Catcher:  Joe Mauer, Twins
Alex Gordon, Royals
Mark Trumbo, Angels
David Ortiz, Red Sox
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays
Mike Moustakas, Royals
Adam Dunn, White Sox
Josh Reddick, Athletics
Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox

Final Vote: 

National League:
Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
Jose Reyes, Marlins
Jose Altuve, Astros (My Choice)
Jay Bruce,Reds

American League:
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Josh Willingham, Twins
Chris Davis, Orioles
Adrian Beltre, Rangers (My Choice)