Guess the pitcher

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In classic Rob Neyer style, let’s do a little Player A vs Player B

Both performances are from relief pitchers prior to their 29th birthday. Both players had pretty uninspiring starts to their careers, bouncing between the majors and minors. But player B had a pretty clear advantage with the exception that he walked a couple more batters.

Player A is former Tiger lefty Jamie Walker. Walker was signed as a minor league free agent by Detroit after toiling in the minors for 3 years following his age 26 season. Walker of course went on to be a mainstay in the Tigers bullpen before heading to Baltimore and he’s one of the arms the Tigers are probably missing this year.

Player B is current Tiger lefty Bobby Seay. Seay was signed by the Tigers as a minor league free agent prior to the 2006 season after several short stints in the majors. The most recent having come in Colorado where he surrendered 11 runs in 11 2/3 innings on 3 homers.

Seay is going to be called on to help fill the void left by the departure of Walker and the injury to Joel Zumaya. So far this year he has been up to the task allowing only 6 baserunners in 9 2/3 innings. He has a decent career strikeout rate and has done a decent job keeping the ball in the park. Plus he halved his walk rate last year for Toledo.

Now I don’t mean to imply that Walker’s success will predict success for Seay. Afterall, there wasn’t a whole lot to like about Walker’s numbers and there are probably far more pitchers who had similar numbers and failed than who went on to get $12 million contracts. Plus I cherry-picked the stats I wanted. But I just wanted to point out that Seay has some favorable indicators and could be come a valuable member of the pen.

12 Comments

  1. Rob

    May 8, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Gotta admit those numbers are a bit of an eye opener. Walker was probably one of the top 2 or 3 lefty specialists in the majors the past few years in Detroit and the possibility that Seay could do what he did is intriguing.

    Like you said, it’s probably not likely. But it is possible.

  2. Mark P.

    May 8, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Nice analysis. It makes you remember how much Walker developed as a Tiger. I definitely don’t miss though huge HRs Walker would give up, like to Hafner this weekend. I didn’t know that Seay had such a good K/BB ratio. I do having a feeling that Seay will start to breakout this year as a quality reliever. He seems to have a toughness and determination to him, kinda like Robertson yet more subdued. I am sure all the call ups and demotions to the minors created some of this character. I don’t think he will ever become the lefty specialist that Walker developed into, but he should be a decent reliever in the majors.

  3. Kyle J

    May 9, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Noticed the favorable K/9 rate myself yesterday. Hopefully, he’s got the mental make-up to be the guy who comes in the 6th or 7th when the stater’s pitched himself into a jam.

  4. Mike R

    May 9, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Completely unrelated, but I read an article outlying that the K/9 stat should largely be changed towards a K/Plate Appearance stat, as pitchers shouldn’t be judged on an average of 9 IP because they don’t pitch 9 innings every time out.

    It’s an interesting read. I read it on http://www.projectprospect.com which is a site ran by this guy Adam Foster who started the site, since graduated college and I believe is working in part with BaseballAmerica.com.

    http://www.projectprospect.com.....ed-metric/

    That’s the article. Interesting read.

  5. billfer

    May 10, 2007 at 7:32 am

    The trouble with K/PA is that it results in a fraction that is harder for the general public to interpret, context is tougher to find. Besides, ERA is already scaled to 9 innings. At least that’s consistent.

    His second point I find to be more compelling, but I typically will also look at bb/9 or k/bb as well so I get some of that information.

    One measure that I do find interesting, and it is reported on Baseball Analysts site is K/100 pitches. Now you’re measuring strikeouts and efficiency.

  6. Mark S.

    May 10, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    I disagree. You make the point that not everyone throws nine innings every time they go out, SO WHAT!!!!!!!! Not everyone faces the same number of batters everytime they go out. I mean… Bonderman runs a marathon and Joel Zumaya only runs a 5k, off course Zum’s average mile time is going to be faster. The bottom line is… stats like this will only be valid among pitchers who face a similar work load. You can’t compare apples and oranges.

  7. Mark S.

    May 10, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    parden my running analogy. I don’t mean to imply that they run… my point is, Zumaya throws an inning or two every 3-4 games while Boderman and the rest of the starters go out for 6-8 innings every 5 days.

  8. Mike R

    May 11, 2007 at 3:33 am

    Weird, my response didn’t show up, I don’t think.

    Billfer: I agree it’s kind of hard to digest, however, it essentially says that Yovani Gallardo (according to the chart) struck out 1 of every 3 batters that came to the plate last year. While it’s funky, and takes getting used to, it’s not impossible for people to get used to it. It’s, I think, meant to be used in terms with other stats to judge pitchers. Much in the way that I think and use Fielder’s Independent Pitching (FIP) as a substitute for ERA as FIP takes the defense and luck out of it and focuses on what the pitcher can control (HR, BB’s, HBP. . .).

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/t.....038;page=1

    That shows the FIP’s of AL Pitchers and Bondo’s 4th at 2.95 which indicates he’s gotten unlucky (The few infield hits in his last start that led to runs). We all know, from watching his starts, that he’s pitched like a top pitcher in the AL but has little to show for it. If a pitcher is getting unlucky/pitching in front of a poor defense, their FIP will be lower then their ERA and vice-versa for those pitching in front of great defenses or are getting lucky. I should’ve prefaced this with “I’m a total stat head and love reading/implimenting these sorts of things.”

    Mark S: I’m not comparing Zumaya to Bonderman, however, using K/PA would be a much better way to compare starters and relievers (why you’d want to I don’t know, aside from maybe comparing someone who’s done both to figure out which he’s been better at. . .), as it would show the rate of how many batters they K relative to plate appearances. Their percentages shouldn’t be that much different, just because Bondo faces more batters doesn’t mean he’ll have a higher K/PA rate. Say Zumaya K’s 20 batters out of 100 that he faces. That’s 20%. Now say bondo K’s 200 out of 1000 batters faced, that’s 20% as well.

  9. Mike R

    May 11, 2007 at 4:40 am

    Weird, my response didn’t show up, I don’t think.

    Billfer: I agree it’s kind of hard to digest, however, it essentially says that Yovani Gallardo (according to the chart) struck out 1 of every 3 batters that came to the plate last year. While it’s funky, and takes getting used to, it’s not impossible for people to get used to it. It’s, I think, meant to be used in terms with other stats to judge pitchers. Much in the way that I think and use Fielder’s Independent Pitching (FIP) as a substitute for ERA as FIP takes the defense and luck out of it and focuses on what the pitcher can control (HR, BB’s, HBP. . .).

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/thtstat…&league_filter[0]=1&orderBy=fip&direction=ASC&page=1

    That shows the FIP’s of AL Pitchers and Bondo’s 4th at 2.95 which indicates he’s gotten unlucky (The few infield hits in his last start that led to runs). We all know, from watching his starts, that he’s pitched like a top pitcher in the AL but has little to show for it. If a pitcher is getting unlucky/pitching in front of a poor defense, their FIP will be lower then their ERA and vice-versa for those pitching in front of great defenses or are getting lucky. I should’ve prefaced this with “I’m a total stat head and love reading/implimenting these sorts of things.”

    Mark S: I’m not comparing Zumaya to Bonderman, however, using K/PA would be a much better way to compare starters and relievers (why you’d want to I don’t know, aside from maybe comparing someone who’s done both to figure out which he’s been better at. . .), as it would show the rate of how many batters they K relative to plate appearances. Their percentages shouldn’t be that much different, just because Bondo faces more batters doesn’t mean he’ll have a higher K/PA rate. Say Zumaya K’s 20 batters out of 100 that he faces. That’s 20%. Now say bondo K’s 200 out of 1000 batters faced, that’s 20% as well.

  10. Mike R

    May 11, 2007 at 5:00 am

    Actually, I completely messed up with my example so please disregard that. It’s late and I should be in bed, haha.

  11. Mark S.

    May 11, 2007 at 8:56 am

    My point is, zumaya will have alot more b/c he only throws an inning at a time.

  12. Mike R

    May 11, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Actually, I guess I was right last night. Their percentages would be about the same. Say Zumaya K’d 100 out of 500 batters faced, he’d be at 20% K rate and if Bondo K’d 200 of 1000 batters faced, he’d be at 20% as well. Obviously these are very well rounded numbers, but I just calculated it for the 2006 season. It depends on the numbers, but just because Zumaya throws 1 inning at a time doesn’t mean he’ll automatically have more K/PA. His Batter Faced total will be lower, but so will his K’s.

    Bonderman: 202 K’s divided by 893 batters faced = 22.6% K/PA rate.

    Zumaya: 97 K’s divided by 300 batters faced = 28.2%

    Zumaya struck out batters at a higher rate then Bondo, but the number isn’t higher because he’s a reliever.