Pitcher Tables

I’m like a kid with a new toy. Having built a spreadsheet that creates batted-ball tables with just a couple of clicks, I’ve spent a lot of time at my computer clicking away. Since last week’s article, I’ve reformatted the tables based on feedback from my Baseball Graphs readers (thanks, guys), and I think they now tell a pitcher’s story really well. This article will be the test.

First up is Mariano Rivera. I called Rivera the “anti-DIP” a couple of weeks ago because he seems to have a talent for yielding batted balls that can more easily be caught for outs. Over the last four years, his batted-ball stats have been phenomenal…

Rivera, Mariano

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 187 -0.04 0.21 -0.09 25% 22% 47% 9% 22% 7% -1.4 5.8 -5.4 -2.0 -7.8 -11.1 -2.2
2003 279 0.04 0.27 -0.12 25% 18% 54% 6% 23% 6% 2.1 9.4 -12.6 -1.5 -13.1 -15.8 -2.1
2004 316 0.04 0.35 -0.11 21% 11% 60% 7% 21% 8% 2.0 8.5 -14.4 -4.3 -11.2 -20.8 -2.5
2005 306 -0.01 0.11 -0.08 26% 14% 56% 4% 26% 7% -0.5 3.1 -9.7 -1.8 -16.1 -25.2 -3.1
Avg. 272 0.01 0.24 -0.10 24% 16% 55% 6% 23% 7% 0.6 6.8 -10.3 -2.3 -12.5 -18.3 -2.6
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 2.1 14.4 -8.6 -2.0 -5.0 0.5 0.1

Rivera is not only a groundball pitcher; he is unique in that he doesn’t allow line drives (16% vs. 21% MLB average), and the ones he does allow don’t hurt very much (.24 net runs instead of .36). When you combine those with his strikeout/walk ratio and the fact that he has only allowed 6% of his outfield flies to be home runs, you see just how much he stands above everyone else. For comparison, let’s check out the new closer in New York, who has also demonstrated some anti-DIP tendencies in the past:

Wagner, Billy

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 289 -0.08 0.46 -0.15 35% 20% 42% 8% 30% 8% -5.0 16.2 -10.7 -1.5 -17.9 -20.0 -2.6
2003 335 -0.01 0.28 -0.14 33% 21% 42% 10% 31% 8% -0.9 11.3 -11.4 -2.5 -22.1 -26.6 -3.0
2004 182 -0.04 0.54 -0.10 35% 14% 45% 10% 32% 4% -1.7 8.7 -4.9 -1.5 -14.4 -14.9 -3.1
2005 297 -0.03 0.15 -0.09 30% 19% 46% 9% 29% 8% -1.7 5.1 -7.8 -2.5 -17.9 -25.0 -3.2
Avg. 276 -0.04 0.33 -0.12 33% 19% 43% 9% 31% 7% -2.2 10.3 -8.6 -1.9 -19.0 -22.1 -3.0
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 2.1 14.6 -8.7 -2.0 -5.1 0.5 0.1

Although he’s no Rivera (no one is), Billy Wagner’s strikeout/walk ratio is tremendous, and he doesn’t let outfield flies do as much damage as the typical major leaguer. Only 9% of his outfield flies have crossed the fence, and he gets more outs on those that do stay in the park. (89% vs. MLB average of 84%; not in the chart. Sorry.) Wagner’s chart made me curious about the other free agent reliever signed by the Mets, the one with the weird delivery:

Bradford, Chad

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 311 0.05 0.35 -0.09 14% 15% 66% 6% 18% 6% 1.7 12.7 -14.0 -2.8 -10.1 -12.3 -1.5
2003 322 0.10 0.46 -0.16 15% 19% 64% 19% 19% 11% 3.1 18.7 -22.1 -1.3 -6.3 -7.5 -0.9
2004 251 0.06 0.16 -0.11 21% 16% 61% 13% 14% 12% 2.1 4.6 -12.3 -1.3 -0.8 -7.3 -1.1
2005 104 0.01 0.39 -0.10 7% 23% 65% 17% 10% 7% 0.0 7.4 -5.4 -1.0 -0.6 -0.6 -0.2
Avg. 247 0.06 0.34 -0.12 15% 17% 64% 13% 16% 9% 1.6 10.0 -12.8 -1.5 -5.2 -7.8 -1.2
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 1.9 13.1 -7.8 -1.8 -4.6 0.4 0.1

Chad Bradford is an extreme groundball pitcher, which is fitting since he tends to scrape the ground with his knuckles when he delivers the ball. In his good years, he keeps his line drive rate under control and, like many groundball pitchers, outfield flies hurt him more than the average pitcher.

Speaking of groundball pitchers, I posted Felix’s Hernandez’s table at Baseball Graphs, and one poster wondered how Felix compares to other “similar” major league pitchers. Based on an eyeball search, these three starters seem to be most similar to King Felix:

Zambrano, Carlos

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 477 -0.01 0.42 -0.12 24% 19% 54% 10% 19% 14% -1.0 24.2 -20.1 -2.0 -6.2 -7.6 -0.6
2003 907 -0.07 0.35 -0.12 21% 21% 55% 5% 19% 11% -9.2 45.3 -40.9 -3.8 -16.3 -29.4 -1.2
2004 886 -0.01 0.32 -0.10 27% 18% 51% 8% 21% 11% -1.4 34.4 -29.0 -5.0 -22.8 -26.4 -1.1
2005 909 0.00 0.29 -0.12 27% 20% 50% 10% 22% 10% -0.1 34.9 -34.2 -4.5 -29.1 -36.9 -1.5
Avg. 795 -0.03 0.34 -0.11 25% 20% 52% 8% 20% 11% -3.2 33.8 -30.1 -3.8 -19.5 -26.1 -1.2
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 6.1 42.2 -25.0 -5.9 -14.7 1.3 0.1

Hudson, Tim

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 983 0.03 0.38 -0.13 23% 20% 55% 8% 15% 7% 4.4 55.3 -51.8 -4.3 -22.1 -20.2 -0.8
2003 967 -0.05 0.32 -0.14 20% 19% 58% 10% 17% 7% -6.7 42.7 -55.9 -5.3 -24.6 -51.4 -2.0
2004 793 0.08 0.24 -0.09 20% 18% 59% 6% 13% 7% 10.2 25.9 -33.1 -4.8 -12.1 -15.9 -0.8
2005 817 0.05 0.34 -0.10 19% 21% 59% 12% 14% 9% 6.0 41.9 -34.9 -2.0 -10.2 -1.7 -0.1
Avg. 890 0.02 0.32 -0.11 21% 19% 58% 9% 15% 8% 3.4 41.1 -44.0 -4.0 -17.4 -22.9 -1.0
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 6.9 47.2 -28.0 -6.6 -16.4 1.5 0.1

Carpenter, Chris

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2004 746 0.13 0.29 -0.11 27% 18% 52% 16% 20% 6% 18.9 28.5 -31.0 -3.8 -29.4 -18.3 -0.9
2005 953 0.04 0.36 -0.15 25% 19% 55% 10% 22% 6% 6.7 47.3 -53.9 -2.3 -44.7 -49.0 -2.0
Avg. 850 0.08 0.33 -0.13 26% 19% 54% 12% 21% 6% 12.3 37.5 -42.1 -3.0 -37.6 -34.6 -1.5
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 6.6 45.1 -26.8 -6.3 -15.7 1.4 0.1

Carlos Zambrano may be overlooked a bit compared to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, but he is an excellent pitcher. His strikeout/walk ratio may not reach the heights of his teammates’, but he’s a hard-throwing groundball pitcher who also manages to keep fly balls in the park. That is a lethal combination.

Before 2005, Tim Hudson was very similar to Zambrano, but he gave up more home runs last year. Still, he sports a great profile. For Chris Carpenter, I’ve listed his two most recent years, when he’s been one of the best in the business. Like Hernandez, he’s been a groundball pitcher with an outstanding strikeout/walk ratio.

Speaking of Hernandez, the boys at USS Mariner may be interested in some good news regarding his new rotation mate:

Washburn, Jarrod

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 852 -0.09 0.38 -0.04 43% 19% 31% 6% 16% 7% -24.2 46.7 -8.6 -11.0 -21.0 -19.2 -0.9
2003 876 -0.02 0.37 -0.09 40% 22% 32% 11% 13% 7% -5.7 56.3 -19.8 -9.5 -13.7 5.2 0.2
2004 640 0.06 0.35 -0.10 37% 20% 38% 9% 13% 7% 10.6 35.1 -19.4 -5.5 -11.2 8.3 0.5
2005 740 0.01 0.35 -0.15 36% 21% 39% 10% 13% 8% 1.2 41.9 -32.7 -5.5 -8.8 -3.0 -0.2
Avg. 777 -0.02 0.36 -0.09 39% 21% 35% 9% 14% 7% -3.9 44.8 -19.3 -7.9 -13.8 -1.2 -0.1
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 6.0 41.2 -24.5 -5.7 -14.3 1.3 0.1

Jerrod Washburn was a pretty big surprise in 2005 and, as we discussed a couple of weeks ago, he’s not very likely to post a 3.20 ERA again. Still, check out that groundball trend of his. Over the past four years, he’s induced more ground balls each year (and fewer fly balls), and they’ve been more fieldable each year, too. Think he’ll keep it up? Inquring Mariner fans want to know.

How about another one of the big surprises of 2005?

Garland, Jon

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 827 0.02 0.36 -0.16 31% 21% 42% 10% 14% 11% 3.8 46.5 -42.2 -10.0 -3.9 -4.9 -0.2
2003 813 0.01 0.35 -0.14 29% 22% 45% 11% 13% 10% 2.4 48.1 -40.2 -4.8 -7.1 -2.9 -0.1
2004 923 0.06 0.32 -0.11 34% 17% 46% 11% 12% 9% 15.4 38.0 -34.7 -7.0 -8.0 3.7 0.2
2005 901 0.01 0.28 -0.14 27% 22% 46% 11% 13% 6% 1.3 45.7 -45.8 -6.8 -16.4 -23.1 -1.0
Avg. 866 0.03 0.33 -0.14 30% 21% 45% 11% 13% 9% 5.4 44.7 -40.9 -7.1 -9.3 -7.5 -0.3
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 6.7 45.9 -27.3 -6.4 -16.0 1.4 0.1

It’s pretty well known that Jon Garland had much better control last year, which was key to his breakout. But check out his net runs per ground ball, where he rates much better than average in three of the last four years. Is he a fluky guy, someone who gives up “fieldable” ground balls? Or is this just a result of the infield playing behind him? To see if we can figure that out, let’s compare his stats to a couple of his teammates’:

Garcia, Freddy

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 955 0.04 0.40 -0.12 32% 22% 41% 12% 19% 7% 8.6 61.0 -34.2 -7.8 -30.8 -4.3 -0.2
2003 862 0.03 0.37 -0.12 33% 21% 41% 14% 17% 10% 6.7 49.2 -31.2 -7.8 -16.0 1.6 0.1
2004 878 0.05 0.35 -0.10 35% 17% 43% 9% 21% 8% 11.5 36.2 -25.2 -6.8 -31.0 -17.9 -0.8
2005 943 0.00 0.37 -0.12 28% 21% 49% 11% 15% 7% 0.1 54.1 -41.0 -5.8 -22.7 -17.3 -0.7
Avg. 910 0.03 0.37 -0.11 32% 20% 44% 12% 18% 8% 6.5 49.8 -32.8 -7.0 -25.0 -9.3 -0.4
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 7.0 48.2 -28.7 -6.7 -16.8 1.5 0.1

Buehrle, Mark

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 984 -0.04 0.41 -0.15 28% 22% 47% 8% 14% 7% -8.2 69.2 -54.6 -6.3 -18.9 -20.5 -0.8
2003 978 -0.03 0.34 -0.12 30% 23% 44% 7% 12% 7% -7.9 61.3 -39.4 -7.0 -13.9 -6.7 -0.3
2004 1016 0.07 0.31 -0.09 29% 19% 49% 12% 16% 6% 15.3 45.3 -36.1 -7.3 -29.2 -11.3 -0.4
2005 971 -0.04 0.34 -0.11 30% 21% 46% 7% 15% 5% -9.7 55.3 -37.1 -6.0 -29.3 -29.0 -1.1
Avg. 987 -0.01 0.35 -0.12 29% 21% 46% 9% 14% 6% -2.5 57.5 -41.8 -6.6 -22.7 -16.8 -0.6
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 7.6 52.4 -31.1 -7.3 -18.2 1.6 0.1

Freddy Garcia pitched for Seattle in 2002 and 2003, split 2004 between the Mariners and White Sox and spent all of 2005 in the Windy City. As you can see, his net run value per ground ball in 2005 was about the same as 2002 and 2003. In other words, the White Sox’s infield doesn’t seem to have impacted his results a lot. On the other hand, Mark Buehrle had a great year with his ground balls in 2002, but he was about average in his other years.

I’ve got to admit that, in the past, I would have scoffed at the idea that a pitcher can have an impact on the “fieldability” of his ground balls. Now, I wonder. On Baseball Graphs, I posted the Mark Prior table, which showed that he doesn’t have as good a result on his ground balls. It may be entirely due to fielders, maybe not. Here’s a similar pitcher to Prior who hurls his pitches a couple of hours north of Chicago:

Sheets, Ben

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 934 0.00 0.39 -0.09 26% 24% 46% 10% 18% 9% -0.6 63.9 -26.9 -6.0 -24.1 3.9 0.2
2003 931 0.02 0.33 -0.05 31% 20% 44% 13% 17% 5% 3.7 46.9 -17.1 -7.5 -30.0 -5.1 -0.2
2004 937 0.08 0.36 -0.07 36% 17% 43% 11% 28% 4% 17.0 37.3 -18.0 -6.8 -64.8 -36.3 -1.5
2005 633 0.02 0.27 -0.07 38% 21% 37% 10% 22% 4% 4.2 25.5 -11.6 -4.0 -32.2 -20.4 -1.2
Avg. 859 0.03 0.34 -0.07 32% 21% 43% 11% 21% 6% 5.6 42.8 -18.2 -6.0 -37.8 -15.4 -0.7
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 6.6 45.6 -27.1 -6.3 -15.8 1.4 0.1

Ben Sheets also seems to give up fewer fieldable ground balls, though he’s not as pronounced as Prior. But check out his strikeout/walk ratio in 2004. That -64.8 in 2004 NIP (balls Not In Play) is pretty dang good. However, it’s not the best of the last four years. Here’s the guy who had the best NIP season in the last four years:

Schilling, Curt

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
BFP OF LD GB OF% LD% GB% HR K BB OF LD GB IF NIP Tot R/G
2002 1017 0.00 0.37 -0.08 32% 23% 41% 11% 31% 4% 0.3 54.0 -20.0 -7.0 -79.7 -54.3 -2.0
2003 673 0.00 0.34 -0.07 33% 21% 42% 10% 29% 5% 0.1 31.1 -12.2 -4.3 -45.0 -34.3 -1.9
2004 910 0.05 0.26 -0.08 33% 20% 42% 9% 22% 4% 10.0 33.9 -20.8 -9.8 -46.0 -33.9 -1.4
2005 418 0.08 0.44 -0.04 37% 23% 34% 10% 21% 6% 8.5 30.7 -4.5 -4.8 -17.3 12.1 1.1
Avg. 755 0.03 0.34 -0.07 33% 22% 40% 10% 27% 5% 4.0 35.4 -13.6 -6.1 -51.3 -33.3 -1.7
MLB Avg. 0.03 0.36 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 11% 17% 10% 5.8 40.0 -23.8 -5.6 -13.9 1.3 0.1

When it comes to batted balls, Curt Schilling is as average as can be. But when it comes to watching, swinging and missing, he’s the tops. And I’ll end this week’s installment of pitcher tables on that note. If there are other pitchers you’d like to see, drop me an e-mail or leave a comment at Baseball Graphs, where I’ll post some more. Coming soon: batter tables.

References & Resources
Thanks to Baseball Info Solutions for the great batted-ball data.

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