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Another Blown Save From Lidge

Posted By Dave Allen On September 24, 2009 @ 12:00 pm In Daily Graphings | 15 Comments

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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