Daily Notes, With Rousing Facts About No. 9 Hitters

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

1. Rousing Facts About No. 9 Hitters
2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Rousing Facts About No. 9 Hitters
Regarding Dan Straily’s Wednesday Start, One Thing About It
The attentive reader will likely be aware by now that Oakland right-hander and emitter of soft, warm light Dan Straily‘s Wednesday start was not — neither in the strictest sense of the phrase, nor even in the more liberal sense of it — was not what one’d call a “rousing success.” While he (i.e. Straily) managed to post a 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the game, he also only induced two grounders of the 16 batted-balls he conceded (box). That he allowed four home runs is likely the product of unusually bad luck/bad pitches, but none of the home runs was decidedly cheap, either.

Regarding Dan Straily’s Wednesday Start, Another Thing
The other thing about Dan Straily’s Wednesday start is that there will be no further discussion of it in this edition of the Notes — except insofar as to how it relates to the home run he (i.e. Straily) conceded to Chris Iannetta.

Regarding Chris Iannetta’s Home Run
After Chris Iannetta’s second-inning home run, the Oakland television broadcast team suggested something to the effect that conceding a homer to the No. 9 hitter is an unfortunate thing to have happen. While likely true, it’s also the case that Chris Iannetta is not a very typical No. 9 hitter. Indeed, he’s posted a career 100 OPS+ (and a 101 wRC+), while the average No. 9 hitter in the American League has posted a 76 OPS+ this season, for example — and posted the exact same figure last year.

What the Author Wondered
The author wondered — at first idly, but then slightly less idly — the author wondered who was batting ninth for the various American League teams this year, and who among them might be the best.

What the Author Found
Using Baseball Reference’s batting-order pages, the author found the 14 players who’d started in the ninth spot most often for their respective teams.

What the Author Did Right After That
After finding these Official No. 9 Hitters, the author made a custom leaderboard including same — a custom leaderboard that can be accessed by clicking this hyperlinked text and which looks very much like this (click to embiggen):

Findings
A brief inspection of the custom leaderboard in question reveals that Craig Gentry leads all Official No. 9 Hitters both in park- and league-adjusted batting (that is, wRC+) and also WAR — and also WAR per 600 plate appearances (at 8.4, with Brendan Ryan‘s 3.8 WAR/600 a distant second).

Another Thing, Though
Another thing, though, is how what a batter has done over the course of a season is different from what we might call that player’s “true talent” — which, “true talent” is maybe the thing about which we’re curious in this case.

What the Author Did Next
To identify the most “talented” of the AL’s Official No. 9 Hitters, I found the ZiPS rest-of-season projections for the above-named 14 batters. Here are those same batters, in a sortable table, accompanied by projected rest-of-season plate appearances, wOBA, WAR, and WAR per 600 plate appearances:

Name Team PA* wOBA WAR WAR/600
Craig Gentry Rangers 118 .318 0.8 4.1
Bobby Wilson Angels 66 .287 0.3 2.7
Mike Aviles Red Sox 156 .311 0.7 2.7
Brendan Ryan Mariners 144 .277 0.6 2.5
Alcides Escobar Royals 199 .315 0.8 2.4
Russell Martin Yankees 157 .315 0.6 2.3
J.P. Arencibia Blue Jays 163 .312 0.6 2.2
Cliff Pennington Athletics 177 .288 0.6 2.0
Jamey Carroll Twins 152 .294 0.5 2.0
Gordon Beckham White Sox 186 .296 0.5 1.6
Ramon Santiago Tigers 99 .284 0.2 1.2
Jack Hannahan Indians 115 .279 0.2 1.0
Elliot Johnson Rays 117 .289 0.2 1.0
Robert Andino Orioles 149 .284 0.1 0.4

Findings
In this case, Gentry still leads all No. 9 hitters in wOBA and WAR and WAR/600 — although his lead in wOBA here is certainly less considerable than in the to-date 2012 leaderboard. From a pure hitting perspective, any one from Alcides Escobar, Russell Martin, J.P. Arencibia, or Gentry could have a case made for him as the best of this group. Gentry and Escobar (about whose defense ZiPS is probably too pessimistic) are likely the best overall players from this group.

More Findings
From this list we find three catchers, four mostly second baseman, one third baseman, five shortstops, and a center fielder.

One Other Observation
Craig Gentry has neither batted ninth, nor played at all, since August 2nd. Either Mike Olt or Mitch Moreland has occupied the nine hole in the six games hence. Josh Hamilton has played center field for those same six games.

Today’s Notable Games
Miami at New York NL | 12:10 ET ***MLB.TV Free Game***
Josh Johnson (133.1 IP, 89 xFIP-, 3.5 WAR) opposes R.A. Dickey (153.1 IP, 79 xFIP-, 3.9 WAR), which is better than a kick in the face.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: New York NL Television.

San Francisco at St. Louis | 13:45 ET
According to NERD, the infallible watchability metric devised by the author, a game that includes Adam Wainwright (138.1 IP, 77 xFIP-, 3.2 WAR) pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals is the closest thing at the moment to an entirely watchable tandem of team and pitcher.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio (although, note: the San Francisco feed might not utilize the excellent St. Louis center-field camera).

Kansas City at Baltimore | 19:05 ET
Highly rated shortstop prospect Manny Machado has been recalled from Double-A Bowie and will make his major-league debut for Baltimore tonight, reports MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Baltimore Radio.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from MLB.com and RotoWire. The average NERD Game Score for today is 4.7.

Note: the following Game Scores include the poorly conceived playoff-odds adjustment discussed in a recent edition of Daily Notes. Also note: the following table is entirely sortable.

Away   SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP   Home Time
Josh Johnson MIA 7 2 5 3 10 NYN R.A. Dickey 12:10
Hiroki Kuroda NYA 6 7 6 5 8 DET Doug Fister 13:05
Hend. Alvarez TOR 4 6 5 4 6 TB Matt Moore 13:10
Mad. Bumgarner SF 9 4 9 10 9 STL Adam Wainwright 13:45
Joe Saunders AZ 3 7 5 5 4 PIT Wandy Rodriguez 16:05
Felix Doubront BOS 7 5 2 3 0 CLE Ubaldo Jimenez 19:05
Will Smith KC 4 7 3 0 5 BAL Wei-Yin Chen 19:05
Mike Leake CIN 7 4 3 1 3 CHN Chris Volstad 20:05
Jor. Zimmermann WAS 8 5 4 5 5 HOU Lucas Harrell 20:05

To learn more about Pitcher and Team NERD scores click here.
To learn how Game NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
* = Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.

We hoped you liked reading Daily Notes, With Rousing Facts About No. 9 Hitters by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Mike M
Guest
Mike M

Two days ago, Baltimore had a team NERD of 10. Today they’re at 0, with an uber-prospect taking over the hot corner, and their Japanese ace on the mound and going against a pitcher whose name is no relation to the “Getting Jiggy With It” musical artist.

I’m watching this game tonight.

Leighton
Guest
Leighton

If you read the paragraphs just before the NERD scores from 2 days ago, you would notice that Baltimore scored a 10 based on the Comeliness of their uniforms, not by Señor Cistulli’s completely infallible proprietary metric. And Carson doesn’t assign scores except when his handsomeness must because a pitcher has fewer than 20 innings pitched. Math does the scoring for him (mathemagics at work!).

Fletch
Guest
Fletch

Minor nitpick but Chen is Taiwanese not Japanese. Otherwise I totally agree with you.

Brazen Reader
Guest

That is not a minor nitpick in certain heavily populated parts of the world.

Gregory
Guest
Gregory

and how does Houston have a NERD of 5, same as Washington?