Largely Irresponsible Leaderboard: Spring Training Pitchers

Over each of the past three Mondays, the present author — who has written the majority of what follows while seated alongside his shockingly loquacious grandfather — has published a largely irresponsible leaderboard of regressed pitching leaders from spring training so far. This particular Monday, the author has produced another of those same kind of leaderboards — in this case, such as are current through Sunday, March 24th.

As noted last week, the existence of these leaderboards is predicated on three conditions, as follow:

(a) Spring-training stats don’t appear to be very predictive of regular-season stats; but

(b) The return of baseball is exciting, and invites consideration of some sort; and

(c) Research suggests that, of all spring-training stats, pitcher strikeouts and (to a lesser degree) walks are probably the closest thing to predictive.

Below is the current SCOUT leaderboard for all spring-training pitchers. SCOUT- combines regressed strikeout and walk rates in a kwERA-like equation to produce a number not unlike ERA-, where 100 is league average and below 100 is better than average. Note that xK% and xBB% stand for expected strikeout and walk rate, respectively.

Player Team G GS IP TBF K BB xK% xBB% SCOUT-
James Shields KC 5 5 20.2 74 24 0 32.4% 4.5% 55
Max Scherzer DET 5 5 20.0 76 24 1 31.6% 5.0% 59
Drew Hutchison TOR 3 3 9.2 36 16 1 32.0% 6.8% 63
Drew Pomeranz OAK 7 0 11.0 49 18 2 31.3% 6.8% 64
Lance Lynn STL 4 3 11.1 51 19 4 32.2% 7.9% 65
Alex Cobb TB 3 3 11.2 46 16 1 29.3% 6.4% 68
Joaquin Benoit SD 7 0 6.1 25 12 1 29.2% 7.4% 71
Taylor Jordan WSH 5 3 15.0 65 18 1 27.1% 5.5% 72
Edwin Jackson CHC 4 4 14.0 64 18 2 27.3% 6.1% 73
Justin Masterson CLE 5 5 19.0 71 20 4 28.2% 7.0% 73

Here’s a second leaderboard — in this case of the top-10 spring-training pitchers to have also recorded starts in at least half their appearances:

Player Team G GS IP TBF K BB xK% xBB% SCOUT-
James Shields KC 5 5 20.2 74 24 0 32.4% 4.5% 55
Max Scherzer DET 5 5 20.0 76 24 1 31.6% 5.0% 59
Drew Hutchison TOR 3 3 9.2 36 16 1 32.0% 6.8% 63
Lance Lynn STL 4 3 11.1 51 19 4 32.2% 7.9% 65
Alex Cobb TB 3 3 11.2 46 16 1 29.3% 6.4% 68
Taylor Jordan WSH 5 3 15.0 65 18 1 27.1% 5.5% 72
Edwin Jackson CHC 4 4 14.0 64 18 2 27.3% 6.1% 73
Justin Masterson CLE 5 5 19.0 71 20 4 28.2% 7.0% 73
C.J. Wilson LAA 5 5 21.2 96 28 8 29.2% 8.2% 73
Ivan Nova NYY 5 5 19.2 80 21 2 26.3% 5.4% 74

Finally, here are some notes of various utility:

  • Leaderboards such as those featured above are at their best probably when they’re populated mostly by players one might otherwise expect to find within them. For this reason, the appearance atop these lists of the very excellent James Shields and just as excellent Max Scherzer — which tandem combined for 10 wins last season — is promising. Also promising, then, has been Drew Hutchison‘s spring — the third-best one, according to the probably infallible metric devised by the author. One curious note regarding that, however: despite being a favorite to earn a spot in Toronto’s rotation, Hutchison hasn’t recorded a spring appearance since March 14th, when he struck out seven Red Sox batters in 4.2 innings.
  • Left-hander Drew Pomeranz, acquired by Oakland this offseason in the trade that sent Brett Anderson to Colorado, made his first four relief appearances as a major-leaguer last September, over the course of which he threw 2-3 mph harder and recorded a 6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio against 17 batters over 5.0 innings. His strikeout and walk rates have been considerably better against left-handed batters (30.6% K, 8.2% B) over his career than right-handed ones (15.4% K, 12.2% BB), so it follows that working out of the bullpen might suit him. It has so far this spring, it seems.
  • The author has previously considered Washington rotation candidate Taylor Jordan‘s slider in these electronic pages. Here, for the Edification and Amusement of the Public, are two animated GIFs of Jordan’s changeup this time, from his most recent start against Houston.

    First, to Dexter Fowler for a swinging strike:

    Jordan Changeup 1

    And, second, to Jonathan Villar:

    Jordan Changeup 3


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Detroit Michael
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Detroit Michael
2 years 3 months ago

Drew Hutchison news from March 22: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140322&content_id=69874094&notebook_id=69879074&vkey=notebook_tor&c_id=tor

He pitched in a minor league and did fine.

Remote User
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2 years 3 months ago

He is not a reporter, he’s an analyst. You don’t need accurate data to analyze, just gramatical composition.

Alex
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Alex
2 years 3 months ago

For what it’s worth, Hutchison made a minor league appearance on Saturday.

https://twitter.com/Wilnerness590/status/447402175862685696

Greg
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Greg
2 years 3 months ago

So Hutchison’s numbers are now:

G S IP BF K BB
4 4 16.2 59 22 2

And you can figure out the other three. Still leaves him in third place, I think.

One of the commentators on Saturday said they’re “hiding” Hutch in the minors.

Double J
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Double J
2 years 3 months ago

Why is Taylor Jordan pitching in a minor league game?
oh wait it’s just the Astros.

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