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Things I've Thought Recently

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Over the past few months, I've realized that I constantly find myself noticing little things, somewhat noteworthy things, while devouring spreadsheets and box scores. I mean, I could write articles about all of them, but that would likely lead to a lot of short (and borderline worthless) posts as well as the demise of my social life. Given that I like to make my posts worthwhile (at least I think I do..) and I like my friends, too, I thought that it would be easier to just group all of the notes together posts.

This way, I don't evolve into the social equivalent of the Royals, and I can offer some content for those that don't like to read about the same thing for more than a few lines. This is going to end up looking a lot like my "Some Numerical Observation" pieces that I've put up recently, but hopefully I can get into the groove of doing these frequently, and it can speak some nice discussion.

Justin Masterson hasn't figured out how to get out lefties yet

Masterson got some attention in April for his hot start, with the outlooks being both good and bad. Now, his record sits at 0-3 with an ERA over 5, but his FIP sits at 3.84 and his 3.00 xFIP is the third best in the game, behind Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay. But while Masterson's peripheral statistics indicate that he's pitched well so far, Dave Cameron noted in the less optimistic FanGraphs article that, "He still hasn’t shown any ability to get lefties out regularly, and that will be the key to him remaining in the rotation."

It's not surprising that Cameron would think this. Continuing a career-long pattern, Masterson has a 1.78 FIP (1.50 xFIP) against right-handers, and a 6.28 FIP (4.77 xFIP) against left-handers. Even with his struggles against LH hitters, Masterson should be able to stick in the rotation in the short-term if he continues to dominate right-handers like he has. But he won't maintain anything near a 3.00 xFIP until he can develop the offspeed stuff to get out lefties.

The Dodgers' outfield defense is really, really bad

Right now, LA's outfield of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez covers about as much ground as Franklin Gutierrez does all on his lonesome. The three outfielders have combined for a -22 DRS and a -23.4 UZR so far, easily the worst marks of any outfield in the game. Presumably Kemp's league-worst defensive marks should improve, but Ethier and Manny have long-established themselves as two of the poorest defensive outfielders in the game. Yeah, they've even been worse than the Young/Span/Cuddyer outfield in Minnesota, which has a collective DRS of -5 and a collective UZR of -5.2 so far. Of course all of the sample size stuff applies, but LA's outfield has been uniquely horrific so far.

If only strikeouts counted for two outs, you know?

I'm guessing that's what Toronto's Brandon Morrow is thinking. Morrow currently has the lowest contact rate in the AL along with the league's best strikeout rate, but has a 4.42 FIP and a gnarly 6.69 ERA in 35 innings so far. He's been the victim of a brutal strand rate and an unlucky BABIP, but even so, his underlying performance has essentially been league average so far in spite of all of the strikeouts. Even though Morrow has been inducing swing-and-misses like never before as a starter, he still has serious command issues (6.7 BB/9) and he'll never be much of a groundball pitcher. Generally speaking, pitchers who give up as little contact as Morrow thrive. Only Tim Lincecum is giving up less contact than Morrow, and the three guys behind him are Clayton Kershaw, Dan Haren and Josh Johnson. Morrow obviously isn't nearly as good as any of those guys, but when it comes to giving up contact that's good company to be in.