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  1. Derek Lowe and the Braves are in a unique position. With their pitching depth, it makes more sense to just move him to the bullpen, as I expect Mike Minor to out perform his numbers next year (or Julio Teheran for than matter). Lowe’s Swinging strike percentage went up in 2011 due to his slider (weighted at 8.7). However, his sinking fastball was rated at -10. As a he relies on that pitch too much, it doesn’t make sense to give him a starting job when there are better alternatives. In a relief role he could be a sinker/slider pitcher with a great strikeout rate and help the team more in that role. His fastball doesn’t allow him to go through a lineup multiple times anymore.

    Comment by Ryan — October 10, 2011 @ 9:21 am

  2. Jonathon Niese:
    4.40 ERA – 3.27 SIERA = 1.13 difference.

    He barely missed the cut for leaders in difference, but IMO is a much better option next year than some of these guys w/ bigger differentials. Watch out for him too on draft day.

    Comment by Scott — October 10, 2011 @ 9:43 am

  3. Mike,

    Have you or anyone else ever studied how the top/bottom 10 or 20 pitchers in one season correlate yty across the different methods?

    Is SIERA better at predicting players at the extremes than say FIP,XFIP,tERA etc.?

    Thanks in advance. Love your stuff.

    Comment by rempart — October 10, 2011 @ 10:25 am

  4. Niese is a nice choice as well. Solid all around skills and should come rather cheaply.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — October 10, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  5. I think SIERA is better at predicting the extremes in terms of GB% and FB%. That’s where it has the biggest disagreement with xFIP and its methodology makes enough sense to me to believe it is the better metric for these pitchers.

    I have not performed any in depth study looking at the top and bottoms guys each year and how they performed the following year though. Maybe someone else has.

    Comment by Mike Podhorzer — October 10, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  6. Brewers defense was not bad this year: average to slightly above average depending on our metric. Please stop perpetuating this myth.

    Think Greinke’s above average BABIP is he groves too many pitches. Someone with his stuff and consistantly above average BABIP isn’t all defense. Certainly that doesn’t explain ALL of his extra high BABIP this year, but its definitely a career-trend.

    Comment by Abe Jaroszewski — October 10, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  7. How is John Lackey not on this list? 6.41 ERA, 4.36 SIERRA.

    Comment by RC — October 10, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  8. Niese is an interesting case and someone to watch closely next year. On the surface, he seems like a guy who does everything well but nothing superbly. He has above average command and GB% with and average K%. His BABIP has been high, but that could at least partly be accounted for by the Mets below average defense, particularly on the infield (In 2010 because Reyes missed time and Castillo and Wright were below average, in 2011 because Davis missed time and the guys playing 2B besides Tejada were below average along with Wright again). Its unclear how the Mets defense will look in 2012 outside of Wright and Davis, who basically wash to average on the corners, so a lot will be dependent on who they have up the middle. He’s also tended to have a slightly high HR/FB, which is odd for a pitcher who pitches half his games in CitiField, as well as low LOB%, which is probably a product of the high HR/FBs and BABIPs.

    What’s interesting is that in 2011 Niese drastically improved his BB%, but he did it by using his curveball more, his cutter less, and throwing fewer pitches in the zone (Zone% was down, which makes sense with the reliance on the curve, though it was still above average). This is pretty unusual. He did it by getting a higher O-Swing% and maintaining his F-Strike%, but given all that, you’d expect his SwStrike% would have spiked as well. Instead, it stayed about the same and his O-Contact% went up. His LD% was identical to 2010 as well, which is also a bit odd considering more of his contact has been coming on pitches out of the zone.

    My theory is that he’s doing something to tip his pitches, particularly his curve but perhaps his cutter as well. He stopped relying on his cutter early in the year when he wasn’t getting good results on it and started using his curve, which was effective initially, but he would often start getting hit very hard the second time through lineups and when he had to face the same lineups twice in a short period of time. This could also account for the high BABIP and the steady LD% despite all the contact he was getting outside the zone. It seemed like once he faced a batter more than once, they would be able to sit on his curve and swing aggressively at it and were still able to adjust pretty easily to his fastballs. If he can rectify this, he might be even better than we expect, as his BABIP might normalize and we might see the SwStrk% and K% spike we expected with heavier use of the curve outside the zone when he’s ahead in the count. If he can’t though, he may remain a guy who underperforms his peripherals and posts another high BABIP year. Should be interesting to watch.

    Comment by Mark — October 10, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  9. To follow up on this thought: If you look at Niese’s Pitch FX game charts compared to other pitchers, his release point chart looks much “cleaner” than a lot of other pitchers who rely so heavily on curves. Like most pitchers the release point of his curve is higher than his other pitches, but its much more clustered together in a sort of “island” that’s somewhat separate from his other pitches, and particularly in comparison to his cutter, which is clustered much lower. In 2010 the release point on his cutter seems a bit more deceptive as it tends to be a bit more centered around he throws his fastball, but in 2011 it drifts even lower. More importantly though, compared to other pitchers his curve is still consistently coming from a more distinct high release point. It becomes even more apparent when you look at the individual games. There’s typically quite a bit of white space between Niese’s curve release points and his other pitches. But if you look at other pitchers who throw a lot of Curves, while the release point tends to be higher, there’s not nearly as much white space between the curve release points and other pitches, and its especially extreme vs. Niese compared to his cutter, whereas when you look at other guys with curve/cutter or curve/slider combos the release points tend to be much closer together.

    Comment by Mark — October 10, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

  10. Guessing here … but I believe it’s because Lackey failed to reach 162 IP and therefore isn’t a qualified pitcher.

    That happens when a pitcher frequently is yanked in the 4th or 5th innings.

    Comment by Manolo — October 12, 2011 @ 12:44 am

  11. On Burnett …

    I’d stay away on draft day except in AL only and very deep mixed leagues.

    His zone % has plummeted to 40.2%. He threw 25 wild pitches and is regularly unable to find the strike zone. Blame his gopheritis if you wish as many other authors have pointed out that he’s been unlucky. However, but he’s almost in freefall when I examine his peripherals beyond SIERA, xFIP, ERA, etc.

    IMO, his HR tendencies stem from the complete inability to locate his pitches — forcing him to throw a cookie down the middle or accidentally putting a supposed-to-be corner pitch down broadway.

    There’s a lot to dislike about Burnett right now. I’ll admit he may make the necessary adjustments but I wouldn’t go near him on draft day.

    Comment by Manolo — October 12, 2011 @ 12:58 am

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