Great article. As a former LHP, current pitching coach, and career stats addict … I’m practically foaming at the mouth with the information you presented. *Deep Breath* Well done, brother.
As I was reading the information regardinf his vBABIP, my first thought was “he’s a barrell hitter” (i.e., he misses “in the zone too often” or “doesn;t pitch to the corners enough”.
Then you presented the pitch location information and that seems to be the case.
As to what Manny can do …
 Move his plant foot on the rubber — This is most basic thing he can do. I don;t know where he places his plant/left foot, but if he’s on the 3rd base side of the strip, then his release point is likely “right down the middle”, leading to him throwing some ‘straight arrows’. He could move right or left on the rubber, and not change anything else, and *maybe* change the final location of his fastballs.
 Screw the 4-seamer. He could go with a 2-seamer and from the grip alone, get *some* movement. He could use finger pressre to get movement both left (pressure on index finger) or right (pressur on middle finger), or simply just slide both fingers to straddle the left seam (move right) or the right seam (move left), depending on what he is comfortable with.
Whatever the case, when a pitcher’s BABIP is high, more than be ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’, it’s (IMO) more of a result of batters hitting the ball hard or not. Obviusly hard ground balls (solid contact) are going to be harder to field and go for more hits than weaker contact (slower ground balls).
His BABIP, compared to other MIL starters, is MUCH higher … so, I don’t think one can just chalk it up to poor defense or bad luck. Rather, Manny is allowing much more solid contact OR opponents are just that much better making good contact against LHPs (both are possible).
I have never coached an MLB pitcher, but if I were working with him, I’d try and get him to do the things I typed earlier, and expect him to “John Tudor” (or Tommy Glavine, if you will) the outside corner (vRHB) all day long and force them to either hit the ball the other way or (more likely) pull the ball to the left side (3B, SS) more often with less contact. Whether he can do that, or learn to do that, is unknown. But what is evident, is that he currently does not have the ability to pitch successfully, throwing his 4-seamer too much over the plate.
I think all most casual fans know of Parra is that Prince was going to beat his @$$ in the dugout one time, after parra gave up a big lead …. which, makes me wonder if he’s a bit of a flake (non-thinker). He could also be a “pitch tipper” or something else. I don;t (from memory) know how he brings the ball back and up into position, but he could be showing his grip far too early.
I’ll certainly be watching him this year, due to your article, to see what he is doing or what he could be doing. Maybe some MIL fans can chime in, and help us out with what seemingly “goes wrong” during the games.
Again, thanks for the article. Beautiful stuff.
Comment by circlechange11 — December 19, 2009 @ 10:08 pm
Sounds like he’ll be Dave Duncan’s next Genius turnaround.
If there was a stat for pitchers that throw the wrong pitch at the wrong time, he would rate among the leagues best (worst). Parra is definately a non thinker, and when got paired with Brewer backup catchers not named Jason Kendell he would struggle. Throwing 1-2 fastballs down the cobb, or other obvious no strike situations. He definately has flaws beyond his pedestrian fastball, but as the above stated, hopefully good coaching can turn his career around. Randy Wolfe, Yovani and Parra is definately a lot better than Randy Yo and anyone else.
Great article; Parra’s just a frustrating player like Jonathan Sanchez. Too many walks at the wrong times in the majors, but all the potential in the world. I love the guys of his type like Ubaldo Jimenez, Sanchez, Brandon Morrow and Andrew Miller, but the walks make them high risk despite the high reward. Sadly, you cannot draft all five of these guys and package a quality producing team, but hell, with your last draft pick, any one makes a great upside guy.
BABIP should be compared to a players career rate and when you do that 90% of the time it is just a luck based stat. There are also certain levels where it can live long term and if you exceed those you probably had bad luck. If you are getting hit hard it shows everywhere, you don’t K as many, you give up more HR etc, it doesn’t generally just show up in BABIP.
In Parra’s case his sample is too small to really know where his BABIP should be, but I have a hard time saying that a .365 doesn’t have at least a little bad luck involved.
Parra has pitched worse with Kendall than with the other three catchers he’s had in the majors.
Over 991 PAs, Parra has an .834 OPS against with Kendall. With Mike Rivera (421 PA), he has a .763 OPS against. While we’re dealing with sample size issues here, this does kinda show that Kendall’s reputation as a “game manager” is overblown. He’s probably the main reason Gallardo wasn’t an elite pitcher this year. I can’t tell you how many times he’d get ahead 0-2, and Kendall would try to get the guy to chase 3 pitches in a row. Then we’re standing at 3-2. Seeing as Gallardo doesn’t have pinpoint control, he’d miss that last pitch a decent amount of the time. It truly was frustrating to watch.
You can look at all kind of stats, and not quite figure out what’s up with Parra. It may simply be that the injuries he’s worked through has sapped his ability to command his pitches. He surely has enough talent to eventually work through it. I know I’d be reluctant to give up on him. Then again, how long is it going to take him to figure it out?
Hey Dave, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. What do you make of a team’s HR/FB?
The Brewers as a team had a 12.0% HR/FB last year, highest in the majors. And, just for reference, here are the numbers for their top 5 starters, with their career HR/FB in parentheses.
When a pitcher’s HR/FB percentage strays really far one way or another from that 11-12% average, I would expect at least some regression toward the mean. That is an interesting trend with Milwaukee’s rotation, but the career averages for all but Gallardo are right around the league average.
Dan Turkenkopf compiled a HR/FB park factor for each stadium last month:
Miller Park does appear to inflate homers per fly ball hit- eight percent above a neutral park in 2009 and six percent over the past four seasons. A pitcher’s home ballpark can certainly make a difference in HR/FB rate. That’s why I’m a fan of xFIP, which uses a normalized HR/FB rate.
Comment by David Golebiewski — December 20, 2009 @ 5:53 pm
This really was masterful analysis of Parra. As a full time Brewer fan and part time scouting enthusiast, I must say your breakdown did capture Parra.
Let me add as a Brewer fan that probably has watched most of Parra’s starts. Manny Parra is indeed a flake. He is mentally fragile. The casual fan can pick this up just after watching a few Parra starts. This is something that I don’t think the data will be able to isolate, although you nearly did just that.
Parra’s stuff and even stats point to a better pitcher than what is reality. Here is where I think scouting provides invaluable insight.
When Parra is frustrated, which is often, he seems to get hammered. It reminds me of HS football…..players that play tentative, get hurt. This is true of Parra. Your observation of Prince laying out Parra is correct. Prince grew up around the game so you can safely assume he has an old school approach and innate deep knowledge of the game. Parra’s a baby and Prince won’t stand for babies.
If Parra can grow up then I think he can turn it around. Until then, his talent won’t ever add up. Sadly I’d expect it will take a trade to get Parra to snap out of it.
Comment by Bernie Brewer — March 28, 2010 @ 7:36 pm
Having watched Parra pitch numerous times, he’s definitely the anti-Maddux. But one thing my eyes tell me is that he has serious issues pitching out of the stretch. I’d be curious if the numbers bear that out, for him and for other guys who are prone to big innings and who have low strand rates.