Daily Notes, With Rousing Facts About No. 9 Hitters

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Rousing Facts About No. 9 Hitters
2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Rousing Facts About No. 9 Hitters
Regarding Dan Straily’s Wednesday Start, One Thing About It
The attentive reader will likely be aware by now that Oakland right-hander and emitter of soft, warm light Dan Straily‘s Wednesday start was not — neither in the strictest sense of the phrase, nor even in the more liberal sense of it — was not what one’d call a “rousing success.” While he (i.e. Straily) managed to post a 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the game, he also only induced two grounders of the 16 batted-balls he conceded (box). That he allowed four home runs is likely the product of unusually bad luck/bad pitches, but none of the home runs was decidedly cheap, either.

Regarding Dan Straily’s Wednesday Start, Another Thing
The other thing about Dan Straily’s Wednesday start is that there will be no further discussion of it in this edition of the Notes — except insofar as to how it relates to the home run he (i.e. Straily) conceded to Chris Iannetta.

Regarding Chris Iannetta’s Home Run
After Chris Iannetta’s second-inning home run, the Oakland television broadcast team suggested something to the effect that conceding a homer to the No. 9 hitter is an unfortunate thing to have happen. While likely true, it’s also the case that Chris Iannetta is not a very typical No. 9 hitter. Indeed, he’s posted a career 100 OPS+ (and a 101 wRC+), while the average No. 9 hitter in the American League has posted a 76 OPS+ this season, for example — and posted the exact same figure last year.

What the Author Wondered
The author wondered — at first idly, but then slightly less idly — the author wondered who was batting ninth for the various American League teams this year, and who among them might be the best.

What the Author Found
Using Baseball Reference’s batting-order pages, the author found the 14 players who’d started in the ninth spot most often for their respective teams.

What the Author Did Right After That
After finding these Official No. 9 Hitters, the author made a custom leaderboard including same — a custom leaderboard that can be accessed by clicking this hyperlinked text and which looks very much like this (click to embiggen):

A brief inspection of the custom leaderboard in question reveals that Craig Gentry leads all Official No. 9 Hitters both in park- and league-adjusted batting (that is, wRC+) and also WAR — and also WAR per 600 plate appearances (at 8.4, with Brendan Ryan‘s 3.8 WAR/600 a distant second).

Another Thing, Though
Another thing, though, is how what a batter has done over the course of a season is different from what we might call that player’s “true talent” — which, “true talent” is maybe the thing about which we’re curious in this case.

What the Author Did Next
To identify the most “talented” of the AL’s Official No. 9 Hitters, I found the ZiPS rest-of-season projections for the above-named 14 batters. Here are those same batters, in a sortable table, accompanied by projected rest-of-season plate appearances, wOBA, WAR, and WAR per 600 plate appearances:

Name Team PA* wOBA WAR WAR/600
Craig Gentry Rangers 118 .318 0.8 4.1
Bobby Wilson Angels 66 .287 0.3 2.7
Mike Aviles Red Sox 156 .311 0.7 2.7
Brendan Ryan Mariners 144 .277 0.6 2.5
Alcides Escobar Royals 199 .315 0.8 2.4
Russell Martin Yankees 157 .315 0.6 2.3
J.P. Arencibia Blue Jays 163 .312 0.6 2.2
Cliff Pennington Athletics 177 .288 0.6 2.0
Jamey Carroll Twins 152 .294 0.5 2.0
Gordon Beckham White Sox 186 .296 0.5 1.6
Ramon Santiago Tigers 99 .284 0.2 1.2
Jack Hannahan Indians 115 .279 0.2 1.0
Elliot Johnson Rays 117 .289 0.2 1.0
Robert Andino Orioles 149 .284 0.1 0.4

In this case, Gentry still leads all No. 9 hitters in wOBA and WAR and WAR/600 — although his lead in wOBA here is certainly less considerable than in the to-date 2012 leaderboard. From a pure hitting perspective, any one from Alcides Escobar, Russell Martin, J.P. Arencibia, or Gentry could have a case made for him as the best of this group. Gentry and Escobar (about whose defense ZiPS is probably too pessimistic) are likely the best overall players from this group.

More Findings
From this list we find three catchers, four mostly second baseman, one third baseman, five shortstops, and a center fielder.

One Other Observation
Craig Gentry has neither batted ninth, nor played at all, since August 2nd. Either Mike Olt or Mitch Moreland has occupied the nine hole in the six games hence. Josh Hamilton has played center field for those same six games.

Today’s Notable Games
Miami at New York NL | 12:10 ET ***MLB.TV Free Game***
Josh Johnson (133.1 IP, 89 xFIP-, 3.5 WAR) opposes R.A. Dickey (153.1 IP, 79 xFIP-, 3.9 WAR), which is better than a kick in the face.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: New York NL Television.

San Francisco at St. Louis | 13:45 ET
According to NERD, the infallible watchability metric devised by the author, a game that includes Adam Wainwright (138.1 IP, 77 xFIP-, 3.2 WAR) pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals is the closest thing at the moment to an entirely watchable tandem of team and pitcher.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio (although, note: the San Francisco feed might not utilize the excellent St. Louis center-field camera).

Kansas City at Baltimore | 19:05 ET
Highly rated shortstop prospect Manny Machado has been recalled from Double-A Bowie and will make his major-league debut for Baltimore tonight, reports MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Baltimore Radio.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from MLB.com and RotoWire. The average NERD Game Score for today is 4.7.

Note: the following Game Scores include the poorly conceived playoff-odds adjustment discussed in a recent edition of Daily Notes. Also note: the following table is entirely sortable.

Away   SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP   Home Time
Josh Johnson MIA 7 2 5 3 10 NYN R.A. Dickey 12:10
Hiroki Kuroda NYA 6 7 6 5 8 DET Doug Fister 13:05
Hend. Alvarez TOR 4 6 5 4 6 TB Matt Moore 13:10
Mad. Bumgarner SF 9 4 9 10 9 STL Adam Wainwright 13:45
Joe Saunders AZ 3 7 5 5 4 PIT Wandy Rodriguez 16:05
Felix Doubront BOS 7 5 2 3 0 CLE Ubaldo Jimenez 19:05
Will Smith KC 4 7 3 0 5 BAL Wei-Yin Chen 19:05
Mike Leake CIN 7 4 3 1 3 CHN Chris Volstad 20:05
Jor. Zimmermann WAS 8 5 4 5 5 HOU Lucas Harrell 20:05

To learn more about Pitcher and Team NERD scores click here.
To learn how Game NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
* = Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

25 Responses to “Daily Notes, With Rousing Facts About No. 9 Hitters”

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  1. Mike M says:

    Two days ago, Baltimore had a team NERD of 10. Today they’re at 0, with an uber-prospect taking over the hot corner, and their Japanese ace on the mound and going against a pitcher whose name is no relation to the “Getting Jiggy With It” musical artist.

    I’m watching this game tonight.

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      A couple of recent editions of the Notes were written by my good-for-nothing colleagues. Feel free to disregard their claptrap.

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      • Not enough Mike Trout in this Daily Notes. And why are the Angels not the notable game for the third day in a row? (Don’t care that they’re not playing.)

        Can we get that Baumann guy to Wally Pipp the otherwise charming and generous Dear Author of this daily bloggerel?

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      • Robert J. Baumann says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        I only need to be asked once, Brazen Reader.

        Cistulli, watch out fer yer Pippin’.

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    • Leighton says:

      If you read the paragraphs just before the NERD scores from 2 days ago, you would notice that Baltimore scored a 10 based on the Comeliness of their uniforms, not by Señor Cistulli’s completely infallible proprietary metric. And Carson doesn’t assign scores except when his handsomeness must because a pitcher has fewer than 20 innings pitched. Math does the scoring for him (mathemagics at work!).

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    • Fletch says:

      Minor nitpick but Chen is Taiwanese not Japanese. Otherwise I totally agree with you.

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    • Gregory says:

      and how does Houston have a NERD of 5, same as Washington?

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  2. Pinstripe Wizard says:

    You do know that the team NERD score from two days ago was done of the attractiveness of the uniforms, right?

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  3. Will says:

    The Nationals #9 hitter through 41 PA has a .410 wOBA, 1.0 WAR and a 14.6 WAR/600.

    It’s a shame that Strasburg can only bat every 5th game…

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  4. Daniel says:

    finally some stuff about my man craig gentry! he hasn’t played much recently because, unfortunately, Ron Washington has decided to make Murphy a full-time player, reducing Gentry to a PR bench spot. Very sad, considering the wiser move would probably be moving Hamilton or Murphy to DH, release Michael Young and put the excellent defender Gentry in center. And send Olt down or just flat out make him a bench player. He has done the same thing with countless prospects; bring him up to a platoon situation and never give him a chance to prove himself as an everyday player. (talking Moreland, Leonys Martin, Gentry) Olt’s time is for when Hamilton and Napoli depart next season.

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  5. Adam D says:

    The lack of playing time for Craig Gentry is a point of contention amongst Rangers fans right now…

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    • JR says:

      Do you think if Hamilton leaves next season, that they would enter the season with either Gentry or Martin as their CF? Or would they make a trade/FA acquisition in the off-season?

      I’d love to see Gentry in there, actually. But am not a Texas fan in Texas, so don’t know if Washington just doesn’t trust him or what.

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  6. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Regarding the Substitute Daily Notes Authors, their Excellence

    Their excellence was notable.

    Regarding the Possibility of Commendations Being in Order

    The present author most decidedly believes that commendations are, in fact, in order, for Messrs. Dubuque and Baumann both, and that, furthermore, the Fangraphs Silver Cross of Merit shall be appended to their right breasts, clothed or otherwise.

    Regarding the Future Performance of These Commended Valiants

    The author, possessed of infinite free time, a bounteous Sleep Number mattress, and an entire plate of waffles to finish, has compiled a table showing rest-of-season ZiPS projections for every Notgraphs writer…

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    • Dr_Caligari says:

      So, I finally got through that awful blueberry Leinenkugels, and I just picked up a celebratory 22 of Southern Tier Pumking. I’ll let you know how it is when it gets cold and I have a chance to try it.

      And have you tried the Australian brand Cooper’s? I had one of their stouts and liked it quite a bit. It wasn’t quite as good as Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, but it was definitely enjoyable.

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      • Just finished off 12 bottles of Pliny the Elder this week. Not bad ‘t’all. And one bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 12 year. Very yummy.

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        Dr Caligari, I admire the fact that even though that beer was awful and disgusting, you resolutely drank the whole thing. On ‘cider weekend’ my friends and I discovered that our growler of Crispin Artisan Cider “with Irish stout yeast and organic molasses” was –

        Friend: This is odd.
        WBE: We’re drinking soy sauce!!

        and yet we finished the entire growler of soy sauce. The resemblance is uncanny. We are now facetiously planning a night of pouring that cider into little dishes and dipping potstickers into it.

        Pumking sounds delicious and would be an ideal gift for my friend’s Oct 27 birthday. I’ll have to see if it’s available anywhere in Austin. Still craving Bell’s, and will try Cooper’s if I see it.

        My main discovery this week was that Einhorn of the Austin (TX) Beer Works was either (a) an ill-kept tap, or (b) disgusting.

        Brazen Reader, never ever change your website link.

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      • Dr_Caligari says:

        Brazen Reader, I’ve still not gotten a chance to try the Pappy Van Winkle, but I’m hoping to get some of it soon. I’ve got some other stuff that I will probably get to first just because it is easier to find, but it is on my list of stuff to get.

        And yeah, Well-Beered, I am proud that I suffered through it, but it may have ruined blueberries for me. It’s just not good for a beer.

        Also, thanks for the heads up on the Crispin Artisan Cider… I was actually looking at ciders earlier today while I was in a nicer liquor store today in the southwest suburbs, and who knows what I’d have ended up getting. I’d love some potstickers, however. Looks like I’ve got something to make this weekend. (I won’t be dipping them in cider, however.)

        And the pumking is interesting. Definitely worth a try. I will certainly be getting it again, but it’s not an everyday drink. Cooper’s, to me, is really good for drinking regularly. Pumking is an experience.

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  7. Anon says:

    Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio (although, note: the San Francisco feed might not utilize the excellent St. Louis center-field camera).

    So San Francisco Radio might not use a camera? Astounding!

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    • PrettyRicky says:

      Watched the San Francisco television feed these last three days, and I can say they have used the excellent center-field camera.

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  8. Muchado Denada says:

    How about commenters? Are there ZiPS scores for the minor leagues of commenteering and projections to disclose whom, alongside the well-beered, would be more than replaceable?

    In any case, I’m happy to have real NERD scores back. The last few days I was out of sorts in their absence, wondering if I should, indeed, value every game in contrast to a world without baseball affairs.

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  9. phoenix2042 says:

    I liked the slider NERD scores. I actually think there might be something in there that speaks to what is fun to watch: pitches with crazy movement. Might you, Carson, add a NERD bump to pitchers with extremely breaky breaking balls?

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  10. Rick says:

    re: Dan Straily’s last start.
    He was forced to pitch w/a home plate umpire who had no business being behind the plate. Umpire Bill Miller was beaned square in the face in the bottom of the 1st inning, and from that point on until he was removed in the 6th, he had no clue what he was doing. I’m not exaggerating, simply stating that the concussed umpire really had no clue what he was doing behind home plate, and it made things difficult for the pitchers.
    For example, pitchers who pitched to Bill Miller had a Strike% of 58%, while pitchers who pitched to Dale Scott (who replaced the concussed Bill Miller) had a Strike% of 72%. This is even including Dan Straily’s first inning (before B. Miller was concussed) in which he struck out Trout, Hunter, and Pujols. All 10 base on balls were called by Bill Miller, and they all came after he was concussed. It made for an interesting game when the home plate umpire would not indicate a call when runners were moving on 3-2 counts, and the catchers would not know if they should throw or not; the multiple times when Bill Miller would give the big ring ’em up called strike three dance when the hitters had only one strike on them; let alone that he seemed to not be able to see any pitch unless it was up in the zone, meaning you wouldn’t get a called strike unless you threw a pitch belt high.

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  11. Tex Pantego says:

    Gentry is also an EXTREMELY good CF…. But I’m going mostly on memory, since Ron Washington won’t play Gentry because…. Hell, I have no clue why.

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