Status Update 7/11/18: Silly, Spurious, and Special Splits (Pt 1.) – Generals Pitchers

Yoan Lopez stretch
Despite some struggles in May, Yoan Lopez has proved one of Jackson’s most effective relievers. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

NOTE: This is the first post in a two-part examination of split and component stats. Check out our hitting-focused post coming Thursday, July 12! 

BILOXI, MISS.One of the more fascinating things about the game of baseball is the way certain component numbers deviate from one another when breaking down overall statistics. Some guys are great in day games, while others play better at night. Why is that, and who knows it? There are certainly answers for some of these oddities, but do they all matter? It depends on whom you ask. Let’s take a look at a few of the interesting season splits for the Generals, through 7/8/18:

MILB.COM – SELECT PITCHING SPLITS (Opponents’ Batting Average)

Pitchers Home/Road Day/Night 0 Outs/2 Outs Ahead/Behind in Count Bases Empty/Men On
Atkinson .276/.224 .191/.268 .296/.250 .180/.386 .253/.246
Bellow .294/.167 .321/.220 .138/.209 .244/.314 .120/.350
Donatella .224/.212 .191/.227 .181/.212 .190/.273 .182/.277
Gibson .364/.200 .500/.250 .292/.333 .364/.150 .265/.294
Ginkel .241/.147 .000/.250 .190/.174 .111/.188 .111/.296
Goldberg .000/.143 .000/.074 .200/.000 .071/.000 .000/.059
Huang .161/.154 .250/.139 .267/.071 .048/.417 .208/.100
Jeter .245/.143 .500/.195 .231/.250 .292/.143 .146/.275
Lopez .232/.167 .133/.216 .188/.174 .116/.160 .227/.173
Payamps .218/.195 .194/.207 .273/.133 .114/.367 .212/.192
Takahashi .281/.246 –/.263 .333/.222 .190/.367 .188/.378
Widener .202/.193 .148/.208 .178/.158 .153/.218 .209/.178

For the record, DL pitchers and pitchers who joined the team in July aren’t on this list.

*It’s not a shock that Taylor Widener, Brad Goldberg, and Yoan Lopez hold some of the team’s best marks across each of the above categories. Those three have been among the most consistent pitchers on staff, notwithstanding a difficult month of May for Lopez. A few team trends stand out:

*Jackson’s record in road contests this year is a pedestrian 11-9, including 4-7 since the end of April. That’s strange, if only because none of the Generals’ four starters who have pitched in daytime games have allowed opponents to hit over .200 in the daylight.

*Every Generals pitcher has held opponents to a batting average below .250 on the road. Only eight of the twelve have BAs against them at home that are under .250.

GoldbergRaw3
After coming over from the Chicago White Sox organization in an early June trade, Brad Goldberg has been an extremely useful bullpen arm for Doug Drabek and Shelley Duncan. (Photo credit: Mark Cunningham)

 

*In addition to Widener and Lopez, Kevin Ginkel has held opposing hitters at or beneath the Mendoza line in both none-out and two-out situations. The same is true for Ginkel, Goldberg, and Lopez when both ahead in the count and behind.

*Half of the Generals’ staff have strong marks with men on base, but the other six in the list have allowed batting averages at or above .275 with ducks on the pond. Sometimes the difference in those splits can be traced to a change in delivery, based on the fact that some pitchers perform differently in the stretch rather than in the wind-up. That said, those numbers (especially the ones that approach or exceed .300) are the kind that make fans squirm, particularly with regard to relievers.

FANGRAPHS.COM – SELECT PITCHING DATA

PITCHERS P/IP LD% IFFB% HR/FB K-BB% LOB% FIP/xFIP
Atkinson 17.0 19.8% 20.6% 11.3% 15.8% 66.6% 4.52/4.11
Bellow 16.9 15.7% 9.7% 3.2% 1.5% 70.2% 4.48/5.25
Donatella 16.5 18.9% 27.9% 5.8% 11.4% 72.1% 3.91/4.37
Gibson 14.7 13.5% 20% 0% 13.2% 65.4% 2.91/4.23
Ginkel 15.6 21.6% 38.5% 7.7% 28.4% 82.2% 2.22/2.33
Goldberg 17.3 0% 20% 20% 30% 100% 3.04/2.34
Huang 15.3 21.4% 30% 0% 23.5% 92.3% 2.38/3.24
Jeter 17.2 20.3% 35.5% 0% 11.8% 70.4% 2.91/4.45
Lopez 16.2 26.3% 33.3% 10% 24.2% 62.5% 3.06/2.94
Payamps 15.3 18.7% 26.9% 7.7% 25.8% 76.3% 2.71/2.84
Takahashi 16.5 21.3% 25% 19.4% 20.2% 60.8% 5.55/3.93
Widener 16.0 16.8% 29.5% 8.4% 25.6% 82.7% 3.00/3.06

*Giving up a line drive is not the same thing necessarily as giving up hard contact (which FanGraphs doesn’t measure in the minor leagues), but line drives usually lead to more hits than ground balls or fly balls. Goldberg’s current embargo on line drives is unlikely to remain that low for a long period of time, but it’s certainly part of what has made him successful (he has allowed one home run with Jackson on a fly ball). Lopez’s success in spite of giving up a significant percentage of line drives is also accurate – he allowed three late-inning home runs in May that were crushed, but he’s missed a lot of barrels as well, given his infield fly ball rate and K percentage.

*Anybody who has watched Bo Takahashi knows that home runs have been a recent pitfall for him. The elevated rate of home runs hit against him is way above the norm, but for a 21-year-old in his first month at Double-A, it’s not that surprising. Over time, Takahashi should be able to make fewer mistakes against good hitters and lower it down to the 8%-12% range, which is generally the range that guys pitch to in the Major Leagues. (Recall that one of the homers hit against him was inside-the-park as well.)

*Strikeout and walk percentages relate in a peripheral way to a Left On Base percentage, given that a pitcher with a high strikeout rate and a low walk rate tends to put fewer hitters on base and strand more runners when they do reach base.  The guys ranked highly therein have been as difficult to hit as any on the team, aside from former General Colin Poche.

*FIP and xFIP, for the uninitiated, are measured on the same scale as ERA but use fielding-independent measurements (home runs, strikeouts, walks, hit batsmen) to calculate a pitcher’s expected allowance on a per-nine-innings basis. FIP is best frame as a tool to frame how a pitcher has already performed, while xFIP speaks a bit more accurately to how their numbers might change in the future (it replaces home runs allowed with a league-average rate of home runs per fly ball). This is not to say that certain guys will definitively be better or worse in coming weeks or months, but it’s OK to be a little more optimistic for the Second Half outputs from Ryan Atkinson and Takahashi if you were on the fence.  If FIP and xFIP are close already, web developers would put that performance in “wizzy-wig” territory, i.e. WYSIWYG (what you’ve seen is what you’ll get).

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