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  1. Who has the best LH pickoff move?

    Comment by Nick — August 30, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

  2. WAR has no idea what to do with Posey, or catching defense, obviously.

    Comment by lester bangs — August 30, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

  3. This is a great article. I’m really digging FDP.

    Comment by White Blood Cells — August 30, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  4. Cueto is an expert at pulling off the “balk move” without the umps calling it. Left foot moves first, w/ heel coming up. He executes it so fluidly/rapidly that he gets away with it.

    Comment by Brian — August 30, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

  5. I wonder if using FIP and then having LOB as part of the FDP essentially double counts. That is to say, I imagine that HR rates and LOB% are highly correlated. Allow lots of homers and your FIP will go up and your LOB% will go down and vice versa.

    Johnny Cueto gets both groundballs and controls the running game. But he’s also excellent at suppressing homers — and he’s getting double credit for that.

    Comment by RMR — August 30, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

  6. I think my favorite part of the pickoffs is that he’s got a RH 1B too. It takes a certain level of badass to pick righty off with a right handed 1B. Brings back memories of Game 2 of the ’07 WS with Papelbon (A guy with no pickoff whatsoever) gunning it to Youkilis to get Holliday.

    Comment by Jonathan — August 30, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  7. Dave, your thoughts on this analysis?:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/johnny-cueto-sell-high-candidate/

    Comment by Scott — August 30, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  8. No, he’s not. The only way HRs can affect LOB-wins is if they’re not evenly distributed – say, for instance, if a pitcher gives up a great percentage of their home runs without men on base. In that instance, a pitcher’s FIP would overstate the penalty for their HRs by using the 1.4 run linear weight value, and LOB-wins would make up the difference, so that everything added up to his RA9.

    Cueto’s given up four solo home runs and five home runs with men on base, so that’s not really the issue here.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 30, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  9. terry mulholland.

    Comment by ccoop — August 30, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

  10. This year’s Cy Young requires no analysis. R.A. Dickey, just for being R.A. Dickey.

    Comment by Oliver — August 30, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

  11. Mulholland was good, but since the question is present tense, I’d nominate Buehrle.

    On topic, doing what Cueto has done in terms of innings and W-L while putting up a sub-3 ERA in that park is certainly worthy of the award.

    Comment by James — August 30, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  12. You are right about Mulholland, his stolen base attempts against are almost unreal:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mulhote01.shtml#standard_fielding::none

    40% more pickoffs than successful steals!

    Comment by Schlom — August 30, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  13. Clayton Kershaw has picked off the most guys and his LOB wins are (1.3)?

    Comment by Ben — August 30, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  14. Looking forward to the AL equivalent of this article, as I wonder what it does to separate the Felix / Verlander / Price / Weaver pack.

    Comment by Snowblind — August 30, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

  15. Yep you can see it pretty clearly in the first GIF if you focus on his left knee.

    Comment by Justin — August 30, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

  16. Agreed, in the first GIF especially, his left leg was definitely moving as if he was coiling for his delivery. But kudos to him. Andy Pettitte has balked nearly his entire career.

    Comment by Brandon — August 30, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  17. Leaving Strasburg out of the analysis seems like a missed opportunity. I assume he was left out because he’s getting shut down, which will ultimately hold him back on the value stats compared to others. But his current stats put him in contention, and I think he would have made for an interesting comparison here because of his FDP numbers.

    Strasburg’s FDP stats are actually in the negative. His BIP might be tossed up to luck, but his LOB is perhaps tied to his inexperience. The Nats as a team haven’t been good at dealing with runners this year, and Strasburg in particular might be having trouble. So whereas FDP reveals additional value in Cueto’s performance, it actually reveals a flaw in Strasburg’s.

    So while I agree that Strasburg probably won’t be in the actual CY race because he’ll miss the last month, I think he would have made for an interesting comparison in an analysis like this.

    Comment by Rex Manning Day — August 30, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  18. Ended Jason LaRue’s career in a fit of manic rage, and no one ever talks about it for some reason. He got a 7-game suspension, and all anyone wants to talk about is how the penalties aren’t strict enough for PED users.

    He ends a guy’s career, and Brett Myers physically assaults his wife in public, and yet the fans reserve their boos for Ryan Braun. Awesome.

    Comment by Dan — August 30, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  19. Are we still on about that? If you must know, Cueto gets booed by the “best fans in baseball” whenever he is in St. Louis.

    Comment by Desertfox — August 30, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  20. Cueto’s “kick” was just 1 in 18 concussions LaRue suffered. To blame him for him stopping playing is foolish and naive.

    Comment by Jason LaRue — August 30, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  21. Yeah, I don’t get this part

    Comment by Frank — August 30, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  22. Dave might have to excuse himself from that one.

    Comment by Bip — August 30, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

  23. Wait, so a proposed explanation for Cueto’s extra LOB wins are that he has a great pickoff move which has led him to have almost as many pickoffs as a guy whose negative LOB value is left totally unexplained? If Kershaw’s negative LOB value is due to bad luck, which I think it is, being as this year he has easily the lowest LOB% of his career, then that accounts for the gap between Cueto and Kershaw.

    Comment by Bip — August 30, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  24. and a brawl started by a st. louis catcher…

    Comment by tyke — August 30, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  25. Does it matter who started it? The bottom line is you don’t kick a person in the had with baseball cleats. That’s basic morality.

    Comment by Gavin — August 30, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  26. As long as Mulholland was brought up…

    go back to Paul Doyle circa 1970.

    8 pickoffs in his career. 0 succesful steals.

    Comment by Doug B — August 30, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  27. Don’t try to reason with WLB’s fans. Their players can do no wrong.

    Comment by GlennBraggsSwingAndMissBrokenBat — August 30, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

  28. You do realize that Cueto was the smallest guy on the field and had a bunch of angry mouth breathers coming after him, right?

    He had every right to defend himself. No offense to LaRue, but he was one of the aggressors.

    Comment by GlennBraggsSwingAndMissBrokenBat — August 30, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  29. Kris Medlen’s has quite a pick off too.

    Comment by Josh — August 30, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

  30. Got not has.

    Comment by Josh — August 30, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  31. I’m having trouble accepting that a pitcher should get more credit for quality of LOB- over quality of BIP-, as Dave suggested in a previous article and implies in this one. I’m far from the foremost expert as I skipped “constructing pitcher evaluation metrics 101″ and know little of linear weights. In my amateur opinion, it seems that we are looking at something like: “quality of inducing contact that produces outs, mitigated by non-pitcher-controlled results of weakly hit balls finding holes and subpar defensive play” (BIP-), as opposed to “quality of ‘buckling down’ on hitters, mitigated by many, many non-pitcher-controlled factors involved with runners not scoring once they are in base.” (LOB-)
    Agree/disagree?

    Comment by ODawg — August 30, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  32. Keep dredging the brawl up and trying to play the victim Cards fans. It just makes you look weak and even more whiny than usual.

    Comment by Mark McGwire's Steroid-driven 70 homers — August 30, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  33. And they’re wrong to do so?

    Comment by Wat — August 30, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  34. Who said that they were wrong to do so? My point was that he does get booed.

    Comment by Desertfox — August 30, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  35. Kershaw’s splits suggest he gets even better with runners on base and in scoring position. Being a pickoff artist as well, there’s obviously something else hurting his LOB runs. I just can’t figure out what…

    Comment by Matthias — August 30, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  36. Are Cain’s numbers park adjusted? 5.1 RA/9 Wins seems to be too high.

    Comment by Izzy Hechkoff — August 30, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  37. Yes, I was going to post that in the first GIF, it looked like he balked but you beat me to it.

    Comment by Danny — August 30, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

  38. Sac flies and RBI ground outs? It seems like those things don’t happen enough for it to have a significant effect on LOB% but it’s worth considering.

    Comment by Bip — August 30, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  39. To add to GlennBraggs: Cueto was backed against the brick backstop with a crowd surging on him; at that point survival instincts kick (ha) in, and that makes people do crazy things.

    To imply that Cueto was purposefully trying to break LaRue’s skull with his flailing legs is just ludicrous.

    Comment by gweedoh565 — August 30, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  40. I’m no Dave Cameron, but I wrote exactly the piece you’re asking for after I read Dave’s piece about FDP yesterday.

    http://replacementlevel.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/fdp-and-king-felix/

    In fact, I’d planned to write this piece about Cueto tonight, but it would have been the same article Dave wrote, minus the situational splits,embedded GIFs, and general wisdom about LOB-wins.

    Comment by Bryan — August 30, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

  41. Manic rage? Really? Try panic. Cueto was trapped against the screen by a fight he had nothing to do with. He panicked. Was it the right thing to do? No. Was it a mistake? Absolutely. But to characterize this unfortunate episode as “manic rage” speaks to an inability see beyond the prism of your Cardinals fandom.

    Meanwhile, Jason LaRue was 36 years old. He sported a line of .196/.274/.321 at the time of that fight. His 12 year MLB career was already done. May it rest in peace.

    Comment by Monroe — August 30, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  42. Hmmm, pretty weird that Kershaw would get penalized because of Juan Rivera, Dee Gordon, and other subpar defenders on the Dodgers

    Comment by Frank — August 30, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  43. Dave I appreciate the analysis, but you do realize that you just showed Johnny Cueto balking that baserunner into making a mistake? It is illegal for the front knee to move first. This move is taught to every right handed pitcher in college and/or high school. The skill comes in deceiving the umpire into thinking its a legal move while deceiving the baserunner into seeing the front knee move first.

    Either way it is a balk, and thus I do not believe should be credited as a good pickoff move. Is a player more skilled because he cheats more effectively?

    Comment by Patrick — August 30, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  44. Cueto wears his hat sideways. That should disqualify him, it is obnoxious.

    Comment by eric — August 30, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  45. That is a great pickoff move. How is this different from selling the umpire on a pitch 2 inches off the plate as a strike? Playing to the limits of the rules as defined by the umpire is a fundamental of baseball.

    Comment by deflated — August 30, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

  46. Cueto’s had a pretty cake schedule, he gets to face the Cubs and Astros several times, plus lower tier AL teams. And he faced Pitt early in the season when they couldn’t hit anything. Dickey’s struck out more and works in front of the more defensively challenged team. He’s got more Ks, more complete games, he’s been more dominant. Cueto’s had the greater amount of babip luck, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him with a couple bad starts down the stretch. FIP is unfair to knuckleballers, I vote Dickey.

    Comment by Dave G. — August 30, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  47. Oh, so he kicked a player with a prior history of concussions. That’s much better.

    Comment by DJG — August 30, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  48. Dave mentioned in a previous article that because we can’t accurately partition credit between defense and pitching, FG chose not to include BIP-wins and LOB-wins in WAR. But since we can accurately give credit to pitchers for pickoffs can’t we roll that info into WAR? That might have the effect of reducing the number of unaccounted-for runs between RA9-wins and WAR.

    Comment by Dr. Chaleeko — August 30, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  49. To clarify, by “that” info I meant pick offs. Basically pull it out of LOB-Wins and put it into WAR in some way.

    Comment by Dr. Chaleeko — August 30, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

  50. Greg Smith tied the pickoff record with 16 in 2008.

    Comment by Mac — August 30, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  51. Also, that pick off is clearly a balk. His front knee bends before he lifts back foot off the rubber. Can’t do that. It’s deceptive, because it’s illegal. Dickey also has an amazing pick off move that’s a borderline balk.

    Comment by Dave G. — August 30, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  52. “and unless Dickey or Cain close with a great final month, the Cy Young Award should end up in Cincinnati.”

    Any reason why Kershaw is left off here?

    Comment by Table — August 30, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

  53. Well, B-Ref’s rWAR is saying the same thing. Cueto’s ERA+ is 170, Dickey is at 137. Cueto has 6.0 rWAR and Dickey 4.0.

    Comment by bstar — August 30, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

  54. “Chapman’s in the mix because he’s having one of the great relief seasons of all time.”

    Where is Craig Kimbrel in your evaluation? The ONLY thing Chapman has done better than Kimbrel this year is pitch more innings. Chapman has gotten tons of press this year for his strikeouts, but Kimbrel has surpassed Aroldis in both K/9(16.1 vs. 15.9) and K%(49.4 vs. 46.5). Kimbrel is precipitously close to striking out every other batter he’s faced this year. Needless to say, both these marks are currently MLB all-time records.

    Craig Kimbrel is also currently holding MLB single-season records for BA against(.117), SLG against(.160), OPS against(.339), and OPS+ against(-5).

    All these marks surpass Chapman’s numbers. Kimbrel also has a better FIP(0.81 vs. 1.12) and ERA+(360 vs. 335). But hey, since Cincinnati has had more save opportunities this year than Atlanta, let’s continue with the fallacy that Aroldis Chapman has been better than Craig Kimbrel in 2012.

    Comment by bstar — August 30, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

  55. I was going to argue that it is certainly up for debate that Chapman is better than Kimbrel rather than a “fallacy”, but then I looked at the numbers, and the case for Chapman over Kimbrel is pretty strong.

    Chapman leads Kimbrel in WPA (3.17 to 2.77), and by a wide margin in fWAR (3.5 to 2.6). Plus, the K/9 and K% are nearly identical (Kimbrel just surpassed Chapman this past week in the former- expect them to bounce back and forth for the lead over the last month of the season).

    Yes, it’s not Kimbrel’s fault he hasn’t pitched as many innings, but that’s a nonsensical argument for superiority when Chapman has pitched 33% more innings at a nearly identical effectiveness. By this logic, a pitcher who throws a single inning, strikes out the side, and then sits out the rest of the year should win the CYA.

    Comment by gweedoh565 — August 30, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

  56. I should add: I do agree that Kimbrel should definitely have at least been mentioned in the article.

    Comment by gweedoh565 — August 30, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

  57. It looks like Cueto balks when he picked off Melky.

    Comment by Alex — August 31, 2012 @ 1:22 am

  58. Pretty observant to call balk on the first gif. Now, watch it in full speed and tell me you see the same thing.

    Comment by beeviss — August 31, 2012 @ 6:31 am

  59. But hey, since you managed to completely ignore the quantity each player has contributed, let’s continue the “fallacy” a little longer.

    Comment by I Agree Guy — August 31, 2012 @ 8:28 am

  60. And hey, this reply belonged under bstar, not gweedoh.

    Comment by I Agree Guy — August 31, 2012 @ 8:29 am

  61. Weaver isn’t even in the top five for AL Cy Young.

    Comment by Cole — August 31, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

  62. Weaver isn’t even in the top five for AL Cy Young.

    Comment by Jon — August 31, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

  63. Realistically he’s not going to win the Cy Young this year. The award goes to the player with the best narrative, and Cain, Cueto and Dickey are the ones who people have been talking about all year. All people can say regarding Kershaw this year is that he’s not the same guy he was last year. Also, wins are the still the biggest statistical contributor to that narrative, so unless Kershaw wins enough games to catch up to them, he won’t be in the discussion.

    Comment by Bip — August 31, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

  64. Cueto plays in Great American as his home park and has a better ERA on top of it… case closed, IMO
    (and BTW, Dickey has had more BABIP luck this year)

    Comment by big red machine — August 31, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

  65. Uhhhh, I specifically mentioned that the only thing Chapman has done better than Kimbrel is “pitch more innings”, which is true.

    Comment by bstar — August 31, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

  66. Every lefty in the game nowadays uses a “balk move”

    Comment by EmanRedsFan — September 1, 2012 @ 6:19 am

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