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  1. No mention of his L/R splits? To me, this seems likely to be his biggest hurdle to becoming something special.

    Comment by Everett — September 8, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  2. Also, I’m pretty sure Masterson is a righty.

    Comment by Everett — September 8, 2010 @ 10:18 am

  3. Jhonny Peralta is Dhetroit Tiger now.

    Comment by Jon E — September 8, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  4. No mention of his crazy platoon split?

    He has an xFIP of 4.81 against lefties (in 191 IP), versus an xFIP of 3.45 against righties (in 193 IP). Keith Law has repeatedly said in ESPN chats that it’s because of his arm slot:

    “I wouldn’t put Masterson in [the 2010 rotation] since he doesn’t get lefties out and probably never will from that arm slot – he’d be Disasterson against a lefty-heavy lineup…Lefties continue to pound him. If he’s pitching against you, start the damn batboy if he hits left-handed.”

    Are we sure that he’ll ever be a starter if he can’t get lefties out?

    Comment by Adam — September 8, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  5. This was exactly his problem in Boston. I loved the kid against righties, but going up against teams like the Yankees with a strong, lefty lineup was terrifying. He’s better suited to relief than starting long term.

    Comment by Jonathan — September 8, 2010 @ 10:40 am

  6. Agreed with all of the above. The more interesting angle to me, re: 2011 Masterson, is comparing the value he’d bring as a closer/high leverage RP vs. SP next year. Obviously, there’s a ton more inherent value for SPs, but he seems like a good case study for trying to pinpoint the line at which the net value swings from SP to RP value.

    Comment by MFG — September 8, 2010 @ 10:59 am

  7. Masterson has potential… to be a middle reliever. That’s about it.

    He’s been unlucky for the better part of two-and-a-half seasons…that’s it. That’s why lefties have an .833 OPS against for his career (.821 in 2010). It’s all luck…

    Not sure what the point of this post was if you’re not going to mention platoon splits.

    Comment by Tank the Frank — September 8, 2010 @ 11:03 am

  8. That might be interesting, too bad it wouldn’t be with a team in contention.

    Comment by KG — September 8, 2010 @ 11:33 am

  9. Its been said, but is he prone to more XBH’s vs lefties than an average pitcher with a more normal arm slot? And if so, is that why he’d always have an ERA above his XFIP?

    Comment by tpain — September 8, 2010 @ 11:56 am

  10. Masterson v. R: 8.65 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, 13.6% LD, 61.5% GB, 7.3% HR/FB

    Masterson v. L: 5.22 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, 16.9% LD, 58.9% GB, 13.7% HR/FB

    Also of interest is his 8% IFH. I’m not an expert on the stat, but it seems high. It’s not on the leaderboards, so I can’t completely back that up at the drop of a hat.

    The splits, as mentioned, are probably a result of his 3/4-style arm slot. They’re not encouraging, but I’m hard-pressed to believe that he’s been worse than Mitch Talbot or most of the other goons my favorite team puts on the hump every night. The defense is atrocious, although it’s the same guys that Carmona and Talbot get.

    I do think that luck has been a significant factor this year, but he’s still a giant enigma. He’s only 25, so he’ll be interesting to watch going forward.

    Comment by TribeFanV — September 8, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

  11. Forgot this split:

    Righties: .332 BABIP

    Lefties: .334 BABIP

    I know that BABIP treats a pop-up the same as a liner in the gap. But even if lefties hit the ball harder (which they certainly seem to against him), that’s an awfully high BABIP for righties given his batted ball/strikeout tendencies.

    Comment by TribeFanV — September 8, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

  12. Masterson is not a lefty, he’s right handed. Maybe it was just a blond moment, but it ain’t good when an article starts out with such a huge error of fact.

    Comment by geo — September 8, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  13. For his career, his BABIP splits are:

    Righties: .283 BABIP
    Lefties: .332 BABIP

    Where did you get those other numbers from?

    Comment by Adam — September 8, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

  14. And no mention of the platoon splits, or including Peralta on the Indians even though he got traded to Detroit over a month ago. Jack usually does an excellent job, which is what makes having these three fairly large mistakes in one article so surprising.

    Comment by Adam — September 8, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  15. Speaking of Klaw, he’s also mentioned multiple times that Masterson could be used a sort of super-reliever, getting 2-3 IP per appearance and 120-140 IP a season. Considering he could be leveraged in this way against righties more, and moving starters into relief tends to improve ‘stuff’ and results, he could be fairly valuable in such a role if a team had the guts to try something different.

    Comment by Matt — September 8, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

  16. fangraphs articles were decent when they started out. The quality has severely diminished since then. It’s a steep fall from “inaccurate analysis” to “inaccurate handedness”, but here it is. Their lists are “CBS Sportsline bad”…..which is um, really really bad.

    Comment by this guy — September 8, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  17. I’ve seen about half of Masterson’s starts this year, and if I were to guess just based on what I’ve seen, I’d say his ERA would be a full run lower if not for atrocious defense: which is about what xFIP is saying as well. He’s been “unlucky” for 2 years? No, he’s been pitching for the Indians for 2 years, when he was with Boston he had a lower than expected BABIP and his ERA beat his xFIP, which have actually stayed about the same every year: 4.26, 4.05, 4.14.

    Masterson has struggled to limit damage, for example, some guy will hit a little dribbler down the 3rd base line, which a more mobile 3rd baseman would make a play on but with the Indians is an automatic infield single, next guy Masterson starts overthrowing and walks on 5 pitches, or starts elevating his fastball, and the inning will get worse from there. It also doesn’t help that Masterson fields his position poorly and gives up a lot of weak ground balls in his direction that would be an out if it were, say Jake Westbrook on the mound, but with Masterson are a hit or error.

    I’m curious whether Masterson’s splits have improved this year as the season went on. If I recall correctly, lefties were hitting above .400 against him well into May. I feel like he’s done a much better job of going after left handed hitters as the season wore on. Either way, I think he can be a decent starter, lefties will probably always do okay against him, but if he can learn to better control his emotions and if he can get better fielding behind him, he’ll do well.

    Comment by isavage — September 8, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  18. Coming from someone with your comment history, I’m sure the Fangraphs staff will lose plenty of sleep over it.

    Comment by Not David — September 8, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

  19. For some reason I couldn’t reply directly to you. The splits that I posted are for this year only (they should be write unless I copied the wrong numbers from here). I think they show that there has been an element of bad luck/shoddy defense. It’s definitely good to know the career numbers, though — thanks for providing them.

    Comment by TribeFanV — September 8, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  20. Right, not write. Oops.

    Comment by TribeFanV — September 8, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  21. In Jack’s defense, he was talking about the defense that Masterson had behind him throughout the season. Peralta played in the majority of the Indian’s games this season and certainly could have had an effect on masterson’s era.

    Comment by Mitchello — September 8, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

  22. *Snicker*

    Comment by Jason B — September 8, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

  23. Great point, Mitchello, I didn’t think about that.

    Comment by Adam — September 8, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

  24. We all know that I am the golden standard for terrible fantasy sports writing! I make CBS Sportsline’s writers look like Posnanski in comparison. DURR

    Comment by Brad Evans — September 8, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  25. That write up was really bad.
    Masterson is a righty. Valbuena has been horrible at 2nd this year.
    And this line was a dousy
    “As usual, the ground ball was the most prevalent ball in play type for Masterson on Tuesday night, as he allowed eight grounders, seven flies, and three line drives in a start which saw far more balls in the air than the typical Justin Masterson start.”
    So the groundball was the most prevalent ball in play?? 8 grounders and 10 balls in the air??

    Comment by Victor — September 8, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

  26. “…most prevelant ball in play TYPE” (ie. between GB, FB, and LD).

    That sentence could have been constructed more carefully, but it wasn’t logically incorrect.

    Comment by Adam — September 8, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

  27. I disagree, a line drive is a fly ball (too subjective to distinguish). He gave up more balls in the air than on the ground.

    Comment by Victor — September 8, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  28. I didn’t know those were from 2010 only; now I understand what you were going after. His BABIP is pretty high, and it’s definitely not carried by his L/R split. Good point.

    Comment by Adam — September 8, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  29. Here’s an eerily similar article i submitted to the site 4 days ago….not as heavily statistic based but it focuses more on the L/R split and what the team should do with it.

    Comment by Joe Werner — September 8, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

  30. Let me clarify one thing. By my “eerily similar comment” I only meant that I, too, thought Masterson still belongs in the rotation.

    Comment by Joe Werner — September 8, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

  31. I stopped reading this article at this point, “and that is LEFT handed starting pitcher Justin Masterson” ??????????

    Could this be an error, sure, but proofread!!!

    Comment by Michael T — September 8, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  32. his 7% increase in gb% over last year’s numbers probably is not worth the cost of his 1.5k/9 fall from last year. if he can get the k/9 back up with that same gb% he would be something real useful, even with the rough platoon splits.

    Comment by dutchbrowncoat — September 8, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  33. “As usual, the ground ball was the most prevalent ball in play type for Masterson on Tuesday night, as he allowed eight grounders, seven flies, and three line drives in a start which saw far more balls in the air than the typical Justin Masterson start.”

    This really makes no sense, he allowed 8 grounders and 10 balls in the air. Sure I suppose “grounder” is the largest batted ball type, and then the sentence goes on to contradict itself in tone by admitting this is subpar for Masterson. Coupled with the lack of analysis into Masterson’s splits and the glaring error about what hand he throws with makes me question what part of this article is ‘hard hitting sabermetric analysis’

    Comment by tenfingers — September 8, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

  34. those guys who’ve played third after they’ve traded Peralta are actually much worse than even Peralta … Nix and Valbuena, who are second basemen, mixed with a little Andy Marte, who seemingly forgot how to play third base as well

    Comment by isavage — September 8, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

  35. After watching him in Boston, my personally belief is Masterson belongs in the Red Sox bullpen than the Indians rotation.

    I think he was always going to struggle in the rotation because of his ground ball rates needing a top defense and not having the best stuff to overcome that.

    A late inning reliever that could be leveraged more often to RH bats, he would be gold, team him with a lefty specialist and you could nail down the 8th inning.

    I think I remember reading the Red Sox were interested in him at the deadline, and I am sure they were not thinking about the rotation.

    Comment by quint — September 9, 2010 @ 4:41 am

  36. i really don’t understand the thought that he belongs in the bullpen. unless you have one of the best rotations in baseball, masterson is a useful starter. he has about a league average fip and his era would match that if he had a competent defense and/or better luck. and besides, he is still only 25 and is making just about the league minimum.

    Comment by dutchbrowncoat — September 9, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  37. @Not David – Smart people like to know when they suck. Stupid people (i.e. you) are worried about people “losing sleep”.

    Comment by this guy — September 9, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

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