FanGraphs Baseball


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  1. This is a really interesting concept, although it doesn’t really mean anything to me without context. What does the average pitcher’s WPA vs pitch count look like? I imagine it wouldn’t be all that different…

    Comment by Bill — May 4, 2010 @ 10:07 am

  2. Another thing to take note of with regards to Harden (at least this year), is that his velocity has fallen off. Given his repertoire, this is disconcerting. Which brings me to my question…

    Is there a game-by-game log on this website of velocity for pitchers? I know that Harden’s velocity has been way down this year, but looking at his velocity chart, the last plotted point (I assume last night’s start) spikes to his career norms. I can only assume this is heavily correlated to his 9 K’s. I’d like to be able to view this in terms of a mph number instead of estimating based on the charts. Is this possible?

    Comment by ryco218 — May 4, 2010 @ 10:11 am

  3. Isn’t this mostly selection bias? Any pitcher will use fewer pitches in a good inning, thus the correlation should always be pretty high. I think the key is compare Harden’s curve with other pitchers or the average starter.

    Comment by Red Sox Talk — May 4, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  4. Am I missing something? Of course fewer pitches per inning correlates with a higher WPA. Fewer pitches per inning correlates with fewer batters faced per inning, which means that the pitcher is getting more of those batters out. Saying “if Harden can keep his pitches per inning below 16, he will almost certainly enjoy some level of success in his starts” is saying “if Harden can get more batters out, he will be more successful.” Well, yeah.

    How does Harden’s WPA correlate with pitches per batter faced?

    Comment by jfpbookworm — May 4, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  5. It’s funny…I was thinking about this exact thing during the game. They showed a line score from a start he made against the rangers 3 years ago. He threw a two-hit shutout on a very Maddux-like 81 pitches. I miss that Rich Harden.

    Comment by suicide squeeze — May 4, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  6. Seconded

    Comment by The A Team — May 4, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  7. “How does Harden’s WPA correlate with pitches per batter faced?”


    Another interesting question: what is the difference between those 9 BB/9 IP outings and the 1BB/9 ones? Is he consistently running 3-0 and 3-1 counts instead of getting ahead of batters, or is he simply getting unlucky with pitches on 3-2 counts?

    Comment by Erik — May 4, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  8. Thirded. This is a silly question to ask.

    Comment by Ian — May 4, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  9. What’s confusing to me is that while he’s never had the best control, his walk rates have really spiked the past two seasons. As he essentially only throws two pitches, this is pretty odd. If he can get back to a 3.6bb/9 rather than a 4.3, he should be fine. Has he been nibbling more?

    Comment by resolution — May 4, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  10. This is what should be looked at. Pitchers per inning is pure selection bias.

    Comment by DSMok1 — May 4, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  11. Duh. The only way you are throwing 25 pitches per inning is if you are giving up baserunners. Baserunners generally = bad. If you are only throwing 15 pitches per inning, you probably aren’t giving up those runners. Maybe pitches/batters faced would show something more insightful? I doubt it will be, but it might.

    Comment by AK707 — May 4, 2010 @ 11:31 am

  12. This is poor again, Jack.

    As others have (rightfully!) pointed out, pretty much any pitcher that can get through innings quickly is going to do better. Correlation does not imply causation!

    In fact, the root cause is surely, that if you are throwing 30 pitches an inning, you have probably faced 6-7 batters, which probably means you have given up a run or three.

    Furthermore, even if you are pitching excellently, striking out person after person on a 3-2 count, you will probably only get through 5-6 innings at 20+ pitches an inning, which won’t add much to the wpa, versus a 9 inning gem.

    The next thing you are going to tell me is that throwing more balls than strikes isn’t a formula for success either.

    In short, at least Cameron has conviction, and is interesting, even when dreadfully wrong. Carson is entertaining, and geunine when he writes. 2/3 of your articles are dross.

    Comment by TheUnrepentantGunner — May 4, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  13. I just ran a quick regression of Harden’s WPA to his Pitches/batter faced.

    There is basically no correlation (R^2=.01)

    Comment by DSMok1 — May 4, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  14. A little digging on THT pulled up a few related articles:

    7/5/07: Should Scott Kazmir try to promote BIP over K to increase IP?

    8/27/07: What is an “efficient” pitcher? Are they preferable to “inefficient” pitchers? (part III of a series)

    Both of these articles conclude that pitch efficiency (i.e., pitches / PA) does not correlate with getting hitters out. This agrees with DSMok1′s analysis above.

    This is little more than rephrasing what I had written previously, but how about figuring why guys like Harden and Kazmir can be high K/IP guys with what seems to be unpredictable control that leads often leads to high BB/IP? Do they actually have bad control, or do they simply “nibble” too much leading to high BB rates? Do they throw an unusually high number of pitches within 2″ (or some other range) of the edge of the strike zone?

    Comment by Erik — May 4, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  15. Is R^2 = .37 really a strong correlation?

    Comment by Hank — May 4, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

  16. Beyond the issues raised above, why is WPA being used here? Wouldn’t the amount of runs being scored by Harden’s team affect that number? So why not use a context-neutral stat (xFIP?) instead? Although it would probably end up being the same result given the selection bias raised previously.

    Comment by Ritom — May 4, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

  17. Some starters can get away with just 2 (plus) pitches; AJ Burnett threw his FB or curve 94.1% of the time last year, been around that same ratio the last few years and he has success.

    But from watching him and Harden, if they dont have their top stuff, it’s usually a bad outing- where a pitcher who can throw 3-4 pitches can still put in a ‘quality start’ if one of his pitches is ineffective for a game.
    Think sinkerballers can be the same way, if they only have a sinker (like Wang) then they can be great when its on, but if its up they get hit around and cant make any adjustments because they have nowhere to go

    Comment by Zack — May 4, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

  18. Selection bias?


    Comment by Ryan M — May 5, 2010 @ 3:24 am

  19. I guess now that I think about it, his control should be better since I believe neither of them are true breaking balls… His changeup just does crazy stuff…

    Comment by resolution — May 5, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  20. Great correlation.

    Comment by eric — January 5, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

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