Offseason Notes for December 7th

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

1. Graph: Vertical Fastball Movement Vs. Ground-Ball Percentage
2. Projecting: ZiPS for Minnesota
3. Crowdsourcing Broadcasters: Chicago (AL) Television

Graph: Vertical Fastball Movement Vs. Ground-Ball Percentage
Yesterday (Tuesday), site founder David Appelman added Pitch Fx leaderboards to the site. I’m not lying when I say I wanna make, like, a thousand graphs of that data and then take each one of those graphs out individually to a romantic dinner or Will Smith concert.

As mystic philosopher Lao Tzu once said, though, “A journey of a thousand graphs starts with one, uh, graph.” So we’re starting with this one graph right here.

For this one, I made a sweet custom report including the vertical movement (or, z-movement) for two-seamers (FT) and sinkers (SI) — along with the overall ground-ball percentages — for every starter from 2011 (with more than 10 innings). I was curious as to how well vertical movement on those pitches correlates with ground-ball percentages.

In fact, the correlation was much higher than I anticipated. There’s probably some confirmation bias here — that is, pitchers with betters sinkers or two-seamers probably throw those pitches more often — but, speaking anecdotally, there seemed to be a pretty reasonable spread in usage.

Here are the results for the 210 pitchers who threw one or the other of the aforementioned pitches this season:

A couple notes:

• You’ll notice that one pitcher threw a fastball that averaged negative vertical movement. That’s Justin Masterson, who threw his sinker 40.2% of the time in 2011.

• Also in the top ten: Derek Lowe (2nd), Aaron Cook (6th), Charlie Morton (7th), Trevor Cahill (8th).

• The 210 pitchers who were recorded throwing either a two-seamer or sinker posted an average ground-ball rate of 44.6%. The other 36 pitchers? They posted an average ground-ball rate of 38.5%.

Projections: ZiPS for Minnesota
Dan Szymborski has published his ZiPS projections for the Minnesota Twins. Below are some of the notable ones. (All numbers assume major league competition. OPS+ and ERA+ are park-adjusted.)

Joe Mauer, C, 29: .302/.380/.432, 120 OPS+
Justin Morneau, 1B, 31: .272/.348/.456, 116 OPS+
Jason Kubel, RF, 30: .265/.333/.445, 109 OPS+
Michael Cuddyer, RF, 33: .269/.332/.430, 106 OPS+
Denard Span, CF, 28: .273/.342/.367, 93 OPS+

These are the top-five offensive projections for the Twins — which, that bodes poorly for the club, owing to how Mauer, Morneau, and Span all dealt with serious, lingering health problems in 2011 and how Kubel and Cuddyer are both free agents. Fortunately, Mauer and Span have both been declared healthy. Per Jon Heyman, the Twins have made an offer of three years, $25 million to Cuddyer just yesterday. It remains to be seen how Cuddyer responds.

Brian Dozier, SS, 25: .254/.313/.353, 81 OPS+
Dozier struck out in only 11.7% of his plate appearances this year between High- and Double-A while walking 9.4% of the time. His projected OPS+ is only a single point below likely starter Jamey Carroll‘s, and he doesn’t have the same questions about his defense — which the internet informs us is solid-average — that Carroll does.

Liam Hendriks, RHP, 23: 137.2, 81 K, 31 BB, 11 HR, 97 ERA+
Hendriks, who pitched 23.1 innings in the majors this year after splitting most of the season between Double- and Triple-A, hasn’t posted particularly devastating strikeout numbers in the minors, but demonstrated good control and an ability to limit the home run — and, in fact, posted a 46.2% ground-ball rate against 100 batters exactly during his September call-up. Hendriks rates better than Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, and prospect Kyle Gibson.

Crowdsourcing Broadcasters: Chicago (AL) Television
This offseason, FanGraphs is asking readers to rate the broadcast teams for all 30 major-league clubs. (Click here for more on this project.)

Rate other teams: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston.




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

7 Responses to “Offseason Notes for December 7th”

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  1. carlcrawfordisawesome says:

    I just posted vertical fastball movement vs GB% in the forum last night.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. MikeS says:

    It’s really ahrd to rate the Chicago (AL) broadcast booth.

    As annoying as Hawk is with his “Hawkisms,” his homer-ism, the excuse making and his hatred of new metrics, he does tell a really good story. Of course the punchline to most of those stories is “…Yaz!” I imagine it would be fun to paly a round of golf with him and hear the stories he can’t tell on the air. Still, as a White Sox fan he is painful to listen to when they are losing although it almost gets into so-bad-it’s-good territory. I would imagine that if you are not a White Sox fan it would be horribly painful to listen to him when they are winning.

    Stone is really sharp on color commentary. I can’t count the number of times he has said “If he throws this pitch here, he’ll get this result” and he’s right on the money.

    The dislike between the two is palpable and detracts from the broadcast.

    Overall, Hawk is a pretty big net negative and they would be better off with a play by play man who was more about the game and less about himself.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • James says:

      This is pretty spot on, not really a need to vote beyond this comment. Stone’s analysis is above average, but I think he lacks in the charisma department… Hawk’s gimmicky nature is borderline intolerable. I ALWAYS muted the TV in favor of Rooney.

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  3. Jim Lahey says:

    Can someone explain the Z-movement side of the graph to me? I don’t get the data. Does everyone but Justin Masterson throw a fastball that rises?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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