David Price Against the Rangers

Today marks, basically, the beginning of the postseason, as it’s now that good teams begin being eliminated. There are fewer games each day than before, with every game being more and more important, and there will be a corresponding level of daily analysis. People are going to try to find keys to individual baseball games, because this is how it’s always been, and it’s with that in mind that I’d like to issue you a quick reminder. Last year, MLB debuted the one-game wild-card playoffs. People tried to analyze Orioles vs. Rangers. They tried to analyze Cardinals vs. Braves. In the former game, Joe Saunders bested Yu Darvish. In the latter, the hosts were undone in large part due to errors by Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, and Andrelton Simmons. The point of the lead-up is to try to know; the magic of the game is that there is no knowing. This is forever going to be the truth.

But it’s still fun to try, to pretend like we could figure things out, and tonight the Rangers host the Rays as the teams battle in a one-game playoff for the right to make another one-game playoff. The starters are going to be Martin Perez and David Price, and there’s something about Price people have honed in on. Price, see, has an ugly history against Texas, and this information is presented to make people think he could struggle again in another big game.

I’ll just grab it from David Schoenfield:

OK, so what about Monday’s game? While Price is understandably the guy Maddon wants to give the ball to, it’s also true that the Rangers sort of have the whammy on him. Price is 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in eight regular-season starts against Texas and is 0-3 with a 4.66 ERA in three postseason starts.

We’ve all been trained not to worry too much about matchups, but here we are talking about 11 starts, and Price isn’t that old. The numbers aren’t sharp, suggesting Price hasn’t been sharp, suggesting Price won’t be sharp, again. The possibility is introduced that the Rangers kind of have David Price’s number.

So, of course, this ought to be investigated. Over those 11 starts against the Rangers, Price has thrown 63 innings, and he’s allowed a Volquez-ian 40 runs, or 5.7 per nine. With that kind of support tonight, Perez and the Rangers’ pitchers ought to be able to celebrate a victory. But we can skip right past the runs column to some of the other columns:

  • IP: 63
  • BB: 20
  • K: 58
  • HR: 8

Nearly a strikeout an inning, and nearly three strikeouts per walk. Despite all the runs, this would be good for an FIP right around 4. Still elevated, but not too elevated, considering the identity of the opponent. And we can go further, on account of something we observe about Price’s career. Price started in 2009, and he was all right. All of his run numbers were in the mid-4s, with his walks being too high and his strikeouts not being high enough. But, not to worry — Price was just gaining experience, and some young players take a little while to really get going. Price turned it up in 2010, and he turned it up again in 2011. Price has been a pretty great pitcher for about four years, and watch what happens when you look at his numbers against the Rangers over only that span:

  • IP: 49.2
  • BB: 10
  • K: 47
  • HR: 6

Price started three games against the Rangers in 2009, and they were not good, but 2013 David Price doesn’t have a lot in common with 2009 David Price, so long as you ignore the genetics. Here, we’re still looking at nearly five runs per nine innings, but we’re also looking at an FIP in the mid-3s, and a BABIP of .351. There’s a strikeout an inning and nearly five strikeouts per walk. As much as you’d like to think this might have to do with an opponent just being able to hit the ball harder against a guy, we know how to feel when an ERA doesn’t align with peripherals. The peripherals tend to win out, and Price’s important numbers have been solid.

Not to mention that the Rangers have changed, of course. Many of the players are still the same — the Rangers have had a fairly consistent core — but the Rangers Price faced in 2010 were a different ballclub. Looking at a player’s results against a team tends to be less analytical and more lazy. There are better ways to study what you’re trying to get to.

Here’s what we have: David Price has a certain track record against Texas. He also has a certain recent track record, overall. Probably, the latter is a lot more important, since the biggest factor ought to be Price, and not Price’s opponent. Here’s where Price ranks among 68 American League starters since the All-Star break:

  • ERA-: 16
  • FIP-: 8
  • xFIP-: 9

All of those numbers are outstanding. For the curious, here’s Perez:

  • ERA-: 29
  • FIP-: 31
  • xFIP-: 39

All of those numbers are fine. But they don’t match up with Price, and his last time out, Price dominated the Yankees. Since coming off the disabled list, Price has generated 12 walks and 98 strikeouts. Opponents have gotten on base a quarter of the time. At the end of the day, no matter what Price has done against the Rangers in the past, he’s still David Price, and Price now is as good as he’s ever been.

It’ll help the Rangers to have Nelson Cruz back. Their lineup isn’t going to have many lefties. It’ll help the Rangers that Desmond Jennings is limited by an injury. It’ll help the Rangers to have guys like Alexi Ogando and Matt Garza available in the bullpen. And it’ll help the Rangers to be facing David Price in Texas instead of Tampa. In six more career road innings, Price has allowed 53 more runs, and 17 more dingers. The ball goes different in Texas, and one ball in play can change a ballgame.

But among the things we know, here are the big ones: the Rangers and the Rays are both good, and while the Rangers will be starting a fine pitcher, the Rays will be starting an ace. Something else could easily determine the outcome, but if Price were to dominate, it wouldn’t at all be out of character. Over a small sample, Price has been vulnerable. Over a more meaningful sample, he’s been David Price.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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X
Guest
X
2 years 10 months ago

ITYM “good teams and also teams that have 17 wins against the Astros”.

Erick
Guest
Erick
2 years 10 months ago

Cleveland has 17 against Chicago. Texas lost games against crappy teams all season and beat good teams like Detroit/Boston/St.louis/Cincy/TB.

Choo
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Good timing for the return of Cruz. Small sample, but he has owned Price to the tune of .429/.478/.905.

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd
2 years 10 months ago

Lol, the whole point of the article was that this type of information is useless because it includes data that is several years old.

Choo
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Dammit. I made it all the way to game #163 without being “that guy.” You know, the guy that throws a comment out there before reading the article. Shame.

That Guy
Guest
That Guy
2 years 10 months ago

What did you say?

Choo
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Nothing, That Guy. Carry on, as you were.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 10 months ago

And now, Cruz officially hits only pretty well against Price, after his latest 0 for 4 performance. ;) Silly small samples, so prone to adjustment.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 10 months ago

Might have been some rust from being off 50 games, ya think?

Rule of Law
Guest
Rule of Law
2 years 10 months ago

David Price is David Price. Also, a baseball player.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 10 months ago

The Price is all-right.

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 10 months ago

Cruz should not be playing. Not sure the Rays should be pitching Price. It will be an interesting game for sure. Go Rays.

Glorpo
Member
Glorpo
2 years 10 months ago

Every other member of the rotation would be on short rest. The only other starter options would be Enny Romero (4.2 major league innings) or Jake Odorizzi (37.0 major league innings). Going with either of them over the reigning Cy Young Award Winner would destroy Price’s confidence and be the most roundly mocked managerial decision ever.

In addition, The bullpen got a little over extended the last two days so piecing together a bullpen game a la the article on a pipe dream strategy for the Pirates in right out the window.

J. D. KaPow
Guest
J. D. KaPow
2 years 10 months ago

Absolutely agreed. We shouldn’t make big decisions like this based on small data samples. We should make our decisions based on how we imagine they will affect these professional veteran players’ confidence.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 10 months ago

Seconded. When I read this article, I basically could have stopped at “David Price vs. Martin Perez” because my first thought was, “That sounds like a pretty favorable matchup from the Rays standpoint.”

Has Texas hit Price well? Sure, they’ve had some good games. But Price is still one of the best pitchers in the league, while Texas has not hit nearly as well this year as they have in the last few years (had they, they would not be in this position). I sure wouldn’t expect a shutout, but there’s no doubt who I’d want on the mound.

Scott J Marcus
Guest
Scott J Marcus
2 years 10 months ago

Why don’t you think Cruz should be playing?

I can sort of agree with an argument that Cruz shouldn’t play, because he hasn’t seen live pitching in almost two months, and might very well not be able to offer much production.

But if the argument has to do with him being suspended, then I couldn’t disagree more. He was caught cheating, he chose to serve out his MLB mandated suspension/punishment, which is now complete, and now he has every right to play going forward; unless and until he is caught cheating again.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 10 months ago

Are you now convinced that Price may have been the right choice? I sure am.

Nombre
Guest
Nombre
2 years 10 months ago

I think we can use this game to once and for all solve the issue of production from hitters and pitchers with small sample sizes.

If the Rangers win, there’s something to that.
If the Rays in, there’s nothing to that.

That feeling you got is what we in the biz call “irony”

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 10 months ago

A single game can never determine a thing like that.

David
Guest
David
2 years 10 months ago

I find that the best way to deal with results that don’t jibe with small sample sizes is to fall back on the WILL TO WIN that can only be found in prior recipients of major press awards.

Oh, Beepy
Guest
Oh, Beepy
2 years 10 months ago

Not to mention guys with lots of Post Season Experience ™

JKB
Guest
JKB
2 years 10 months ago

The Rangers are a fast ball club that steals a lot (MLB top 3 in 2013, versus bottom 10 in 2012). The 2013 Rays are not as fast and don’t steal as much as past Tampa Bay teams (bottom 10 in 2013, versus top 10 in 2012).

The Rays are near or superior to the Rangers on most other metrics this year. So the Rays want to try to minimize the Texas running game by pitching their starter with the lowest WHIP, lowest BB/9, and highest K/BB this year, and over the past two years. Price also has the best HR/9 of the current Rays staff this year and over the past two years.

Oh, Beepy
Guest
Oh, Beepy
2 years 10 months ago

He’s also their ace.
Are there a lot of teams where their best pitcher doesn’t lead the team in peripheral pitching categories?

JKB
Guest
JKB
2 years 10 months ago

The Reds and the Pirates are interesting examples of that in regards to BB/9, WHIP, K/BB, etc…

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 10 months ago

In other words, they will try to beat Texas by preventing their batters from reaching base or hitting home runs? Neat!

JKB
Guest
JKB
2 years 10 months ago

Versus not pitching Price at Texas because he had been bad historically in a small sample of games there…

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 10 months ago

Price is clearly the right choice to start. Any other ideas are purely silly.

Ron Washington
Guest
Ron Washington
2 years 10 months ago

Silly article. No way they should start Price.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
2 years 10 months ago

So what you’re saying is that David Schoenfield is an idiot and is terrible

The Humber Games
Guest
The Humber Games
2 years 10 months ago

You hit the most important point, which is that matchup stats for just this year care too small a sample, while matchup stats going back years assume that teams and skill are static.

Football announcers are even worse about this because the teams are even more variable yet we want to talk about matchups going back into the 70s as if they have a bearing on today

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 10 months ago

Football teams will play most other teams not even once a year, and will have only one home games against their division rivals each year. This allows crazy thing like a head-to-head home winning streak spanning 10 years. If a team goes 0-10 in another’s home park, it is interesting but not a big deal. If that streak spanning 10 seasons however, it feels like a much bigger deal.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 10 months ago

If a *baseball* team goes 0-10 I meant.

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