Straily and Pujols: A Little of This and That

Dan Straily – Dan started for the A’s this past Friday going 6 innings, striking out 5 and only walking 1 batter. It was the 23 year-old’s first MLB start after dominating the minors this past year. While it was just one start, there are some encouraging data from the right-hander.

* In the AA and AAA this season, he averaged 11.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. While these numbers will not be as good in the majors, some decent results should be expected from him.

* He threw 102 pitches in his first MLB start. It seems that the A’s aren’t going to hold him back too much during a game. He should get plenty of strikeout chances.

* He should not be shutdown at the end of the season since he is already stretched out for being a starter. In 2011, he threw 160 innings. Using some conventional wisdom that teams only like to see pitchers jump by 40 IP per year, he should be able to go 200 innings this season. That would put him at 55 more innings in 2012. He is looking at 8 to 10 more starts.

* He was able to maintain a relatively constant fastball velocity throughout the game. He showed no signs of tiring.

* The one problem I did notice was that the difference between his fastball and change-up was only 7 MPH. A difference around 10 MPH would be more encouraging.

Albert Pujols – This past week while building a house, I heard some announcer on the radio state that Albert is turning his season around because he is facing AL starting pitchers for the 2nd time. I decided to do a quick study on just Albert to see if it might be a good strategy to look for hitters facing starters in a new league for the 2nd time.

I took his complete results in games when he faced a starter for the 1st and then a 2nd time. As of this weekend, he had 26 of these instances. Here are his results:

1st time facing the pitcher: .238/.306/.356
2nd time facing the pitcher: .303/.369/.495
Increase: .065/.063/.139

It is true that Pujols is hitting better the second time he faces a pitcher, but that is far from the whole story. I divided his results in games that starters only faced him once into two groups; those he faced in the first 61 games of the season and those he faced over the rest of the season (this group of starters should be expected to be a little worse in talent since that are not making as many appearances).

1st part of season: .264/.314/.560
2nd part of season: .344/.425/.644
Increase: .081/.111/.084

He is crushing 1st time pitchers now. The difference is almost the same (.202 vs 0.194 OPS) as when he sees pitchers for the 2nd time. I know this study is way too small to make any huge conclusions, but Pujols doesn’t seem to have a any real advantage facing a pitcher the 2nd time compared to other pitchers he faces. It is just that he is hitting better in the 2nd half of the season.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

13 Responses to “Straily and Pujols: A Little of This and That”

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  1. JR Ewing says:

    Excellent look at Pujols there! Thanks for the work.

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  2. TheoK says:

    I’m really glad I didn’t trade Pujols early in the season. Although, I was offered Strasburg, so maybe it would have worked out.

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  3. Bob Barker says:

    His change up was right around 83-84 on the gun most of the game, which looks consistent with the chart above. I watched the whole game and it looks like a fastball when it leaves his hand (same arm speed/motion as well), then it dies and dives. It’s a really good pitch.

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  4. Schide says:

    Take Straily ROS over Liriano or Samardzija? Or Blanton I guess for that matter.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      ROS, damn. I like him long term compared to rest. I would go:


      I could easily be convince to swap the top 3.

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      • Schide says:

        Haha, man, I must have been way higher on Liriano ROS than I should have been. He hasn’t been that bad since I picked him up though. Thanks for the response.

        Technically it’s in a keeper league but I don’t think I’d take Straily as one of my keepers anyway.

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      • Pic says:

        You sound like someone who has never owned Liriano. Heed my advice and save yourself the headache. He’ll put together one great outing and you’ll think ‘Oh he’s back to the 2006 guy we all know!’ Then you’re rostering him as he blows up and walks 6 guys in each of his next two starts and fails to make it out of the third inning. You have been warned.

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  5. Choo says:

    Would somebody please curse the A’s scouting/development team and their never-ending train of quality pitchers? Seriously though, how do they continue to hit jackpot on such a high percentage of pitching talent?

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  6. Scott says:


    Love the work and always enjoy the sabermetric approach you bring to Rotographs. But I have one pet peeve with your articles: the graphics. Those charts you post for pitch velocity within a game, or velocity across seasons, or direction of home runs (like in regards to Ellsbury in your “bold predictions” post) – they all seem designed to obscure the point, not elucidate it. In this case, what is the x-axis supposed to be? Why are pitches grouped like that?And doesn’t it seem like his fastball dropped over the course of the game?

    Yes, I could probably infer the correct answers to most questions, and I also may reveal myself as “less of an expert” for not knowing these answers already, and I may be a stickler here, but simplicity and lucidity are a wonderful things.

    Maybe, if there isn’t a better way to present the data, a primer on interpreting the typical charts encountered on Fangraphs could be added to the glossary?

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    • Scott says:

      Yes, lucidity is a wonderful things indeed. At least I wasn’t complaining about proofreading…

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    • Mikey says:

      Yeah, I consider myself an intelligent guy (of course, I suppose one is not the best judge of one’s own intelligence), and yet the graphs did more to hurt than to help the article. A graph is supposed to portray information quickly and simple: specifically, more quickly and more easily than can be explained by the text. If I’m looking at a graph for more than 5 seconds and I have yet to figure out everything I’m supposed to figure out, than I’m going to skip it. And I’m sure many–if not most–people do the same. And in this case, you summarized the contents of the graph in the text above, so I had no real reason to study it more. If I can just skip a graph because a) it was confusing and b) it added no valuable information to the article, you’re doing something wrong.

      Now, on the other hand, I can’t say that it detracted from this fabulous article in the slightest. In fact, I doubt I would have even bothered to say this if it weren’t for Scott’s comment.

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  7. Timiny Cricket says:

    Is there a correlation between mph difference between fastball/changeup and effectiveness?

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  8. Lezz says:

    Drop Matt Harvey (shut down around 170 IP) for Straily in a H2H redraft league?

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