Another Blown Save From Lidge

Brad Lidge blew another save last night. He has been a major story this year, after amazing results last year in the Phillies’ championship season he has totally fallen apart this year. Obviously his true talent then was not as good as he pitched and his true talent now is not as bad as he is pitching. The issue for the Phillies is just were that true talent is. Here I am going to look at some pitch-level indicators to see how things have changed for Lidge in the past three years (those covered by the pitchf/x data).

First off Lidge throws about 50% four-seam fastballs and 50% sliders, and the two pitches have a nice separation in movement.
movement

The average speed on each of these pitches has declined steadily since about 2005. And both have seen a corresponding drop in whiff (misses per swings) and o-swing (percent of pitches out of the zone swung at) rate. [The pitchf/x system was installed during the course of the 2007 season so the numbers from 2007 cover 400 of the 1100 pitches Lidge threw that year].

Whiff Rate
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|          |  2007 |  2008 |  2009 |  LgAv |
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
| Fastball |  0.15 |  0.14 |  0.11 |  0.14 | 
| Slider   |  0.52 |  0.49 |  0.46 |  0.29 |
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
O-Swing Rate
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|          |  2007 |  2008 |  2009 |  LgAv |
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
| Fastball |  0.19 |  0.19 |  0.17 |  0.24 |
| Slider   |  0.44 |  0.39 |  0.36 |  0.30 |
+----------+-------+-------+-------+-------+

Lidge’s slider was (and still is) a really nasty pitch missing lots of bats and inducing lots of swings outside the zone. While his fastball has always just been ok; used to set up the slider. But all of these rates have moved in the wrong direction over the past three years. This gives at least partial support to his big drop in strike outs and rise in walks so far this year.

Beyond that though, his poor success has been the result of factors he has less control over: a horrid BABIP, HR/FB and LOB% (all of which were unsustainably good last year). We expect these values to regress to more reasonable levels and his performance going forward should improve, the tricky question is by how much.



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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.


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neuter_your_dogma
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neuter_your_dogma

I have read many theories on Lidge, including “lack of confidence,” “tipping pitches,” and “injured knee.” I agree that his misfortunes should regress, but as a Phillies Phan, I’d not only like to know “how much,” but “when.”

B
Guest
B

Well conceptually, the whole idea of regression to the mean is going forward (so every game in the future starting with the very next game), on average, he should perform at the level his peripherals suggest he would perform at without any good or bad luck involved. Basically there’s no real reason to think what happened in the past, if it’s simply a product of bad luck, will have any effect on what happens in the future.

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