Sunday, May 25, 2008

Red Sox vs Joe Blanton

Joe Blanton will be taking the mound on Sunday vs the Red Sox. Blanton has been a subject of numerous trade rumors over the past two season as teams have tried to bolster their staffs. On a young team like the A's who will most likely slip out of the race come the summer, Blanton would seem like a perfect trade target for a contending team come July. Below is a look at what he brings each start:

Pitch Type Pfx_x Pfx_z Speed Spin Angle
FB -5.47 9.81 89 209.17
CB 5.59 -7.11 75 38.67
CH -6.58 6.52 82 225.42
CU -1.63 11.44 89 188.02
SL 5.35 4.56 82 131.19

Here is an average speed vs spin angle chart. I am borrowing Mike Fast's method on this, with his permission of course. If you would like more information on this subject, read his great post about it here:

Blanton is a five pitch guy and most pitches are fairly easy to distinguish. One interesting thing I found about Blanton is his cutter. While researching this article, I saw no mention of the fact that he throws a cutter. Neither Baseball Info Solutions or Inside Edge lists him with a cutter. But after looking at the pitch f/x data, it is fairly easy to see he does throw a cutter. As pitch f/x data becomes better utilized in the future, I wonder if this trend will continue. Finding pitches that can't be easily seen through television is a key factor in the continued development of this data.

These next three charts show his pitch selection by both count and pitch result. In terms of analyzing a pitcher, I find these more useful. But you can't get to this point without doing the above work.
Blanton by count

Blanton by result

BABIP 0.225 0.267 0.275 0.198 0.333
Strike % 56.38% 67.11% 67.86% 65.37% 59.00%
Contact % 88.06% 84.62% 89.89% 92.35% 83.72%

Along with these two charts I have used before, for the first time I have calculated a pitchers BABIP and contact % by pitch type. In the future I hope to add slugging percentage and some other nice features.

The biggest thing I can take away from Joe Blanton's pitch f/x data is his lack of an out pitch. Look at his contact percentage. Contact percentage is simply the amount of times the hitter made contact divided by every time he swung. Having a contact percentage over 80 for each pitch he throws is alarming. For example, Chad Billingsley has a 58% contact rate on his curveball and a 64% rate on his slider.

Now with this said, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But looking at his contact rate and BABIP together, we see that he has been fairly lucky so far. With a BABIP of .198 against his fastball along with a contact percentage of 92%, well all signs point to an increase of runs against.

In Oakland he has had a good fielding defense behind him. If he gets traded this summer, teams without a strong defense must be aware that he will struggle.


Harry Pavlidis said...

Jay - Are you defining strike by a strike zone? Or swings/calls?

Blanton's whiff rates are alarming, no pitch misses bats. Funny you mention Billingsley, he's facing the Cubs tomorrow and is the subject of my current analysis. I come up with almost identical whiff/contact #'s, which is a good thing, using my own pitch id's. Are the id's you show Gameday or your own at this point? Eventually, I think Ross Paul's neural net will be sufficient for me to abandon id'ing new pitches. He's testing a new version now, actually.

Jay Paradise said...

Hey Harry. I am defining a strike as anything indicated so in the game, regardless of strike zone. I figure that would work better than using only the strike zone for this.

The lack of swinging strikes was very surprising. I just don't understand how he can get outs so frequently without the ability to miss bats.

Glad to hear our Billingsley numbers are close. In fact, ours are probably exact, but I was using the numbers from a chart I made early last week, so I believe I am missing his last start or two in those numbers. I figured that would suffice as an example for now.

I am still identifying on my own. It's a little more time consuming than just taking it from Paul's, but I am happy with the results so far, so i'll continue.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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