June 15, 2012 9:52 am
When Matt Cain threw a Perfect Game for the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, he became the fifth pitcher in the last four years to do so (no, Galarraga’s game doesn’t count). Perfect Games are also No-Hitters, and there have been a startling 22 no-hitters in the past six seasons (here I am including Halladay’s post-season no-hitter two years ago).
Since the end of the Steroid Era in baseball, pitching has been under a resurgence. Last year was called The Year Of The Strikeout by some, and this year is, so far, exceeding last year’s number. In addition, runs per game and hits per inning have been in decline for the past decade, too. But this isn’t just because batters aren’t hitting as hard or fielding has improved. Walks per inning, too, are at their lowest point in 20 years.
Improved pitching means a better chance of No-Hitters and Perfect Games. Does that explain it completely? Is the recent surge in pitching gems a coincidence — in which case we can expect the frequency to revert to the mean — or a result of improving pitching? I started collecting data to answer this question myself (which you can see after the break), but during the course of my research I found an article by Rebecca Sichel, Uri Carl and Bruce Bukiet titled Modeling Perfect Games and No-Hitters in Baseball.
September 21, 2011 12:42 pm
The following records have been set in the first two weeks of the 2011 NFL season:
- Most total yards passing in a game by both teams – Brady and Henne, week 1 (906)
- Most yards passing by a rookie – Newton tied it week 1 (422) and then broke it week 2 (432)
- Most yards passing in the first two weeks of a season – Newton (854), and then a couple hours later Brady broke it (940)
- Most total touchdowns by all teams in the first two weeks of a season (172)
- Most total passing yards by all teams in the first two weeks of a season (15,771)
- Most consecutive 400+ yard passing games – Newton and Brady tied it at 2
- Most QBs with 300+ yard passing games in one weekend – week 1 (14)
- Longest field goal – tied by Janikowski (63 yards) week 1
- Most penalties by both teams in a single game – Raiders vs Broncos (25)
There’s more if you count near-records. Brady’s week 1 performance of 516 passing yards was a team record and a Monday Night record, but only the fifth-best ever. And his 940 passing yards over two games was the most in the first two weeks of a season, but was five yards short of the record for any two consecutive games.
So far, a weird high-scoring season. It’ll be left to be seen if this is just a result of the shortened offseason (thanks to the lockout), or bigger strategic changes across the league.
September 13, 2011 1:03 pm
Imagine two hypothetical pitchers. Their ERAs are very close together and both pretty average: 3.40 and 3.41. They’ve both pitched just over 200 innings in 30 starts with just a couple weeks of the season remaining. But one pitcher has had some pretty advantageous matchups: he’s played the Padres four times, the Reds and Rockies twice each, the Pirates, the Mets, the Royals — all teams with records under .500. The other pitcher, on the other hand, has had a harder schedule: four games each against the Yankees and the Red Sox, two against the Rangers, and one in Detroit. Are these equivalent pitchers?
I set out to determine if pitchers we accept as “elite” are truly that great, or if some might have an unfair advantage due to schedules. I downloaded all of MLB’s gamelogs for the 2011 regular season up through yesterday, and then I parsed them, tracking a few key pieces of information. First, the number of innings each pitcher pitched against each team. Second, the average number of earned runs each team scores per inning. Then, for each pitcher, I calculated what their ERA would be if they allowed exactly their opponent’s average for each appearance. Here are the results (for pitchers who have enough innings pitched to qualify for the ERA title):
Expected ERA – after 2011-09-12
One interesting takeaway is that there aren’t any huge surprises. Of the pitchers with the ten best actual ERAs, only one of them (Cole Hamels) isn’t in the top ten for the best differential. Another interesting fact is how much a pitcher’s expected ERA is affected by simple rotation timing, and not just the team’s schedule. The Phillies have played against a lot of sub-.500 teams this year, and Cole Hamels has one of the lowest expected ERAs. But his teammate Cliff Lee hasn’t been so lucky — his expected ERA is higher than most.
But there are some people who get a nudge from good to great with this analysis. Oh, and those two hypothetical pitchers I mentioned? They aren’t hypothetical. They’re Daniel Hudson of the Diamondbacks and David Price of the Rays, respectively. This puts a little context on the fact that Price’s record is 12-12 and Hudson’s is 16-9.
May 2, 2011 12:53 pm
While looking for a little preview on tonight’s Red Sox – Angels game (which I’ll be heading to), I happened upon these blog posts about Why We Watch baseball and a neat statistic to help find the great matchups. I read them in reverse, but here they are in chronological order:
Tonight’s pitchers are Clay Buchholz (with bad year so far and a NERD of 0) and Jared Weaver (7), both of whom were scheduled to start Sunday but were pushed back a day for (unrelated?) illnesses. Both teams have a NERD of 4, which gives the game a NERD of 4. I’m hoping that Clay pitches like he did last year, and it could turn out to be more exciting game than the stat predicts.
March 22, 2011 6:33 pm
I just finished my Fantasy Baseball league draft. Every time it was my turn to pick, I picked the highest remaining guy from my scientific list. (Except I didn’t pick anyone for my bench until I had a full roster.) Here’s my resulting team:
My co-workers think I’ll be crawling to them for offense in a few weeks, but I think they’ll be crawling to me for pitching.