Latos dealing with Great American Ballpark

After an offseason trade that sent Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal to the Padres, the Reds ended up with Mat Latos. As a strikeout pitcher who is by no means a flyball pitcher, it was debatable excatly how much Latos would struggle leaving the friendly home of Petco Park. The switch has been worse than anyone could have predicted so far, but is Latos doomed to be a mediocre pitcher in a home run park?

Mat Latos (US Presswire)

Through 15 starts this season, Latos has been almost the exact same pitcher as before when you break down his numbers. His velocity is the same, as well as his strikeouts and walks per inning pitched. He still has a ratio of groundballs to flyballs that is close to one.

The only difference is that this season Latos has given up 17 home runs in 15 starts, while he gave up 16 long balls in 31 starts last year. The season before, he gave up the exact same 16 home runs in 31 starts.

The problem clearly is Great American Ball Park, as his home park accounts for 12 of his home runs compared to just five on the road. His teammates have suffered the same fate, with only Johnny Cueto among the starters having a HR/FB rate under 10 percent.

The team as a whole has suffered from higher HR/FB rates since calling Great American Ball Park home. The league average has been down the past few years but still around 10 to 11 percent each year. The Reds pitchers, though, have had to deal with a higher rate. Since 2009, their rate has only been below 12 percent once.

All of this would make an expectation of Latos’ HR/FB rate returning to his “normal” range—or even the league average—tough to predict. His xFIP stands at 3.92, which is up a bit from his career level of 3.58. That 3.92 is probably still out of reach since that projects a HR/FB mark of 11 percent.

It’s difficult to see anything else besides home runs being a problem for Latos this season. His movement is right in line with historical data, as well as his velocity. The only pitch that stands out as a concern might be his sinker or two-seamer depending on the Pitch-f/x classification. According to Fangraphs, it has been costing the Reds 3.36 runs for every 100 thrown.

That pitch historically has been his worst for home runs with a HR/(FB+LD) rate of 12.5 percent, but in 2012 that rate now stands at 17.9 percent. Seems like something he should cut back on, as it had been average before but is terrible in the new park.

If Latos could stop throwing the two-seamer without making any other changes, he could perhaps improve his numbers, even with the overall home run troubles still hanging around. In the end, he still wouldn’t be anywhere near his numbers in San Diego. The Reds gave up a lot to add Latos as a rotation anchor and have to be a bit disappointed what they have received so far, but to have expected him not to struggle would have been short sighted.

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  1. Patrick said...

    Your analysis is lousy.
    Guess what even with the 12 HR at home he has a 3.47 ERA at home so the increased HR rate at GABP is not what is causing his numbers to be down.  Also he has pitched 59 innings at home and 29 on the road. The problem is his whip on the Road too many walks and hits not the home run.

    So I guess you are saying his home park is affecting his 7.45 ERA on the road. 

    Based on this article you need to give up writing on baseball if you can not fully research and or analyse statistics. Epic fail on this article.

  2. Steve said...

    Patrick’s right. Meanwhile I can’t get a writing job but Troy over here can throw up on the internet and get paid for it. Go #### yourself Troy

  3. TomH said...

    IMHO the analysis in this article beats the pants off the responses.

    Fact1: Latos has given up many HR at home. Far more than he has when he was in S.D. Implication: His home ERa, and thus oevrall ERA, would be lower if he was back pitching for the Padres.

    Fact2: He has pitched a mere 29 road innings in 2012. Hello, small sample! One cannot reasonably conclude that this ha smuch meaning beyond chance.

    The article’s conclusion is solid: “In the end, he still wouldn’t be anywhere near his numbers in San Diego. The Reds gave up a lot to add Latos as a rotation anchor and have to be a bit disappointed what they have received so far, but to have expected him not to struggle would have been short sighted.”

  4. Analysis said...

    Isn’t the HR rate allowed pretty much the same? 12 HR vs 5 HR in 59.67 vs 29 IP.

    That seems almost the same to me.

  5. Paul G. said...

    Latos is giving up more home runs at home.  He gave up 8 last year in 91.2 and has already surrendered 12 in 59.2 this season.  This is true.  But looking at his home splits otherwise he is, at least superficially, the same pitcher.  The home BA and OBP are nearly identical between 2011 and 2012. The home ERA has only risen 3.24 to 3.47 which is to be expected based on park factors.  (NOTE: The components may tell a different story.)

    The problem so far this year is he is getting obliterated on the road.  29 road innings does seem like a small sample but that is in six starts (compared to nine at home).  He’s averaging less than 5 innings a start away from Great American including 3 unmitigated fiascos.  The good news: BABIP 388.  I doubt that is sustainable especially when he’s striking out more than a batter an inning.

    On the other hand, this is a pitcher with a 101 ERA+ in 2011.  It was 126 in 2010.  Will the real Mat Latos please stand up?

  6. TomH said...

    and a pitcher with an ERA+ of 83 in 2009. A career ERA+ of 103. His performance this year isn’t great, but you could find probably 25% of all SP who have that much difference in less than half of a season. Let’s wait until Sept before we write his obit. Unelss you thought Pujols was done in May, and of course Dunn would never hit again after last year.
    First rule of baseball talent evaluation: judge slowly.

  7. Ken said...

    I think the human element has affected Latos more than anything this season. He’s talked openly about the pressure of coming to Cincinnati after the Reds gave up so much in return.  So when the wheels fall off for him, they do so badly.

    Latos has had two disaster starts (one at home, one in Cleveland) where he’s allowed 8 of his 17 HRs. Without doing the math, that should bring his HR/9 down to about 0.9 – a tick above what he’s been in the past two years.

    On his pitch selection, he used his slider much less frequently in the first month or so of the season (fangraphs noted this).  I haven’t checked lately but I believe he’s still going with it less. Which may be way lefties are KILLING him this year (967 OPS).

  8. Brian said...

    Latos has had two disaster starts (one at home, one in Cleveland) where he’s allowed 8 of his 17 HRs

    He actually won the game at home.  that was the infamous 5 solo home run game, where those were the only baserunners he allowed.  Reds won 7-5 and Latos got the win.  Latos has rocked the house his last 2 starts, 18ip, 2er, 1hr, 2bb, 20k.

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