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  1. You are scaring me Cistulli! I just had this conversation with a fantasy league mate this morning and comped Milone based on FB velocities of LHP.

    Comment by Mike Newman — December 29, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

  2. However, talent evaluators like Keith Law … think Milone‚Äôs lack of velocity.

    What do they think!? Dear god, I must know what they think.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — December 29, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

  3. The R^2 explains % of variation, not R, so it’s more like 17% than 40

    Comment by bender — December 29, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  4. Yes, what he said.

    Comment by BillPetti — December 29, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  5. burrrrnnnnn, don’t let him talk ’bout you like that CC, your math is solid!

    Comment by CistulliIsABurnVictim — December 29, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

  6. Since DIPS theory (and specifically the FIP formula) weights BBs by pitchers as more harmful than a strikeout is beneficial (and correct me if I’m interpreting this incorrectly), is this notion that ‘soft-tossing control artists are less likely to succeed against higher levels of competition’ incorrect, or maybe just not as true as it appears?

    Depending on how one views this, it totally changes perspective on that Sergio Santos/Nestor Molina trade.

    Also, given how Milone isn’t necessarily held in high regard, I got a kick out of switching his first name from Tom to Tim later in the article.

    Comment by Resolution — December 29, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

  7. You are giving me the benefit of the doubt, suggesting that the “Tim” was on purpose.

    I’ll take it.

    Comment by Carson Cistulli — December 29, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  8. Milone prefers “Tommy,” not “Tom,” “Tim,” or “Tim-MEH!”

    From Ben Goessling’s 9/10/11 post on his blog for the Nat’s broadcaster, MASN:
    http://www.masnsports.com/1masnsports/mt/mt-search.cgi?blog_id=4&tag=tommy%20milone&limit=20

    “First things first: Tom Milone would prefer that you call him Tommy. He’s been Tommy since a young age – probably because it’s a better fit with his father, Tony – and he’s always stuck with it. So we’ll refer to him here as Tommy Milone.”

    Link was not accessible today.

    Comment by JCA — December 29, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

  9. If people are right and he is pretty mediocre at the major league level, Tim-meh might be rather apropos.

    Comment by Resolution — December 29, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  10. And then you ‘fixed’ it.

    :-(

    Comment by Resolution — December 29, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

  11. How wide the gap is between the CU and the FB has to be a major factor in Ks.

    Comment by TexPantego — December 29, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

  12. Great article, CC.

    Comment by YazInLeft8 — December 29, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

  13. So if the conclusion is that soft tossing lefties can be successful at the major league level then Mark Buehrle and Jaime Moyer would like to say “been there, done that.”

    Comment by MikeS — December 29, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  14. I think the more interesting area for exploration is does velocity predict whether or not a pitcher will over or under perform his MLEs and projections when he breaks into the majors.

    To some extent, Milone’s lack of velocity is already priced in when we look at his minor league numbers. It might be true that major league hitters will hit soft tossers better than minor league hitters to an extent far greater than guys with more velocity, but that isn’t really indicated here.

    Good work, in any case.

    Comment by mattsd — December 29, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

  15. Interesting stuff but there are issues with the stats
    1. as another comment mentioned R-square is the fraction of variance explained by the linear relation, not R. Basically the “linear” relationship between velocity and strike out ration only explains 17.37% of the variance in the sample. that means that 82+ % is NOT explained by velocity.
    Visually that is highlighted by the dispersion of the dots above and below the regression line – a stronger correlation would have a much narrower distribution.
    When it comes down to it, it takes a 6 mph increase in velocity to raise the strikeout from rate 15% to 20% – and that is among all pitchers (excluding the knuckelballers ..), which again is interesting – a 33% increase in strikeout rate – but does that yield a lower ERA – (after controlling for the player’s team)? or does the higher velocity also … propel more home runs?
    And then again that brings up control – how many men on base … etc etc
    Not so simple. Cluster or discriminant analysis may help differentiate the statistics of ‘finesse’ pitchers vs. power pitchers and journeymen.
    Just food for thought.

    Comment by alexp — December 29, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

  16. The best “reasonable positive outcome” for him is already on his own team: Dallas Braden. Granted, he’ll never win a Cy Young, but he’s clearly a valuable asset.

    Comment by Paul Thomas — December 30, 2011 @ 12:22 am

  17. I’m confused by the assertion that Keith Law knows anything about anything.

    Comment by Paul Thomas — December 30, 2011 @ 12:23 am

  18. He does seem well-read.

    Comment by H.R. Haldeman — December 30, 2011 @ 5:28 am

  19. Wow. I just lost some respect for fangraphs. Isn’t coefficient of determination a freshman stats concept?

    Comment by Drew — December 30, 2011 @ 7:49 am

  20. He may struggle at first but I expect he’ll be a 2-3 war guy for years, topping higher. Lilly-esque, Buehrle-esque. There may be many soft-tossers who don’t make it, but a sub 1 bb/9 in AAA is quite rare, let alone mixed with a 9.4 k/9. If he ks 6+/9 and keeps the BBs sub 2, he’ll make it. OK, maybe a lefty Kevin Slowey. Still serviceable rotation member. Who does Law think will be the better choice as 5th starter in Oakland?

    Comment by wobatus — December 30, 2011 @ 8:22 am

  21. Actually, closest comp I found for him is Matt Maloney, lefty soft-tosser with decent AAA k rates and very good walk rates, although Milone threw a tick harder in his cup of coffee. Ugh. Although Maloney’s xfip in 80 major league innings is 4.57.

    But even though Maloney had good k rates and great walk rates in AAA international, Milone easily ranks first over the last 6 years (just using fangraphs international league leaders back to 2006) in lowest walk rate (at .97 to next lowest, Slowey having a season of 1.21) and in k/bb (9.69 to again, Slowey, next best at 5.94, so milone far and away the best k/bb in International league last 6 years).

    Milone is 6th last 6 years in best k/9 in an international league season as a starter, at 9.4, behind Happ at 10.07, Alex Torres at 9.59, and Hellickson at 9.41, as well as back of JP Howell and Bill Murphy.

    OK, not a muderers’ row, but Milone is far and away the best overall there.

    Thin margin for error, but I think he has a shot. I know there’s only 1 Mark Buehrle.

    Comment by wobatus — December 30, 2011 @ 11:13 am

  22. Interesting thoughts.

    I would also be interested to see the K% vs. FBv plotted for both RHP and LHP (2 separate plots), and see the models for both. It seems like the author is making the argument that FBv is less important as a predictor of K% for LHP than it is for RHP, so why not show the two plots, fit simple linear models and compare the R% (and dispersion).

    I agree however, that discussion of K% in a vacuum is a bit odd. It’s not the only thing that matters (suppressing HR is also important, as is not walking dudes or allowing consistent good contact, i.e. LD%).

    Comment by AngMohClay — December 30, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  23. Assuming Milone can get to the 6.0 k/9 mark, that would mean that he has the possiblity to be a very good ML starter – certainly no “fifth starter” or “spot starter” like I’ve seen in some evaluation. There were 5 pitchers last year that put up over 4.0 WAR while having less than 7 k/9 – Doug Fister, Justin Masterson, DAniel Hudson, Brandon McCarthey, and Matt Harrison.

    Comment by A'sFanDFW — December 30, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  24. Yes I would do that regression but only for LHP’s, not all pitchers. It seems for whatever reason that soft-tossing lefties are far more common than soft-tossing righties.

    Comment by MC — December 30, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  25. A comp might be Eric Surkamp, with the Giants.

    Comment by channelclemente — December 30, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  26. Um, you forgot the apostrophe in D’Aniel Hudson.

    Comment by Robert J. Baumann — December 31, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  27. Bill Groundhog-Day Ghostbustin’-Ass Murphy

    Comment by Robert J. Baumann — December 31, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  28. Tim seems to be a very successful starting pitcher name these days.

    Comment by Bip — January 1, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

  29. I’ve got Surkamp and Milone stashed on my 14×30 Dynasty Team. If either pans out then I’ll be thrilled. We use K/9 and QS as well as the standard 5 categories (holds too) and their low walk rates and big ballparks should generate a lot of quality starts.

    Comment by Jimmy Wahl — January 17, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  30. Dan Haren throws an 85 MPH cutter nearly 50% of the time; Milone’s cutter is thrown at about the same speed. Why wouldn’t he be able to succeed if he throws his cutter frequently?

    Comment by Feeding the Abscess — April 1, 2012 @ 3:06 am

  31. All this is very interesting. But not necessarily prophetic re: Milone’s future in the Bigs. Can he get Big Leaguers out consistently, if his fastball averages only 87.8 mph? Is that what you want to know? Because Milone is a pitcher and not a thrower, he should do very well.

    Wonder how fast southpaws like Carl Hubbel, Whitey Ford, Mike Cuellar and Tommy John threw. Or how hard does Jamie Moyer throw? These guys, like Milone, are/were true pitchers. Had the Nats kept him, Milone would have been a great change of pace in the middle of their hard-throwing rotation. Milone’s the kind of pitcher, on-deck hitters salivate over, then come back to the dugout shaking their heads. Cuz he has command of all his pitches. He’s got Satchel Paige’s B-pitch. “It be where he need it to be.”

    If he stays healthy, Milone should have a long, healthy Big League career. Not a sermon, just a thought.

    Comment by Dixie Wells — April 18, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

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