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Pitching intangibles

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Pitching intangibles

Postby biju » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:15 pm

I was thinking this morning about all of the intangible qualities that help a pitcher. Skill is a huge piece of the puzzle but I was wondering what else contributes and I figured by posting it here maybe some folks could come up with more, or better yet actual pitchers that would benefit/suffer due to these intangibles. Maybe you even think this has little overall effect and would like to say why.

Anyway, here's what I came up with so far:

- NL (and pitching against a pitcher) vs. AL (and the DH position
- The pitcher's team's overall offensive ability
- coach's pitch count decisions and batting order decisions
- Pitcher's park vs. hitter's park
- team defense (good infield for a groundball pitcher/good outfield for a flyball pitcher)
- pitching coach (Mazzone!)
- order in the rotation and contrast between pitchers
- solid relief/closer
- warm weather vs. cold weather, especially in April (I think this is why RJ had a slow start in NY after being in Arizona)
- team making a playoff run or not

My long term goal here is to have a list of intangibles for each team and rank them accordingly. I think, especially at the end of the draft, it will be easier to differentiate between some breakout potential pitchers vs. the good stuff/bad situation players that tended to frustrate me last year.

-M
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Postby AcidRock23 » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:24 pm

'Guile' is something Baseball Forecaster takes into consideration, w/o putting a nubmer on it. Another thing that you could add would be AGE. RJ isn't the only older SP who seemed to take a while to get going...Maddux and Glavine are two others that come to mind off the top of my head.

For a pretty interesting explanation of the 'business' of pitching, I'd suggest Tim McCarver's book Baseball for Brain Surgeons. He goes into a lot of detail about mixing pitches, ballpark stuff, mental things that figure into the game. It's a few years old but I like to read baseball books that don't have columns of stats too.
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Postby biju » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:44 pm

I agree that age and experience are certainly factors and I like where your head is at, but these are directly related to skill IMO. For that matter, the pitching coach is also directly related to skill too as well as the learning ability of the pitcher in question, but that quality is often overlooked and why I put it in here.

Another intangible could be something like "contract" and whether they are playing for a new one or sitting back on a fat one (although I personally don't believe this has much effect, I think it needs to be thrown out there).
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Postby biju » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:45 pm

Oh, and I wanted to thank you for the suggestion of the "Forecaster". I've seen it before but had forgotten about it until now. It looks like it's time to go grab it. ;-D
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Postby AcidRock23 » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:54 pm

Note, it just has a short bit about guile, suggesting that some pitchers who can work pitch selection, make faces or whatever can get an extra boost which is not really quantifiable. Their modus operandi is (caution: approaching gross oversimplification) to look at rates of ground balls, fly balls and line drives and then compare that to other, more traditional strats. They also have 'strand rate' calculated for pitchers as well.

Despite all the number crunching, there are some guys who, for whatever reason, end up doing better than their 'BPI' number would suggest. The short (maybe a column and a half?) article suggests that this could be described as a pitcher with 'guile', since luck can be quantified. I do think that their methodology is very interesting though and that you would find the book useful. There's kind of too many #s to just toss them out though, you really have to read it to get the picture of why it works.

By age, I wasn't meaning so much 'experience' as much as 'wear and tear'. I'm 37 and have a GREAT DEAL of empathy for players just getting into a groove at the start of a season.
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Postby biju » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:22 pm

AcidRock23 wrote:Note, it just has a short bit about guile, suggesting that some pitchers who can work pitch selection, make faces or whatever can get an extra boost which is not really quantifiable. Their modus operandi is (caution: approaching gross oversimplification) to look at rates of ground balls, fly balls and line drives and then compare that to other, more traditional strats. They also have 'strand rate' calculated for pitchers as well.

Despite all the number crunching, there are some guys who, for whatever reason, end up doing better than their 'BPI' number would suggest. The short (maybe a column and a half?) article suggests that this could be described as a pitcher with 'guile', since luck can be quantified. I do think that their methodology is very interesting though and that you would find the book useful. There's kind of too many #s to just toss them out though, you really have to read it to get the picture of why it works.

By age, I wasn't meaning so much 'experience' as much as 'wear and tear'. I'm 37 and have a GREAT DEAL of empathy for players just getting into a groove at the start of a season.


Ah, thanks for the clarification. I still think it sounds like they're hitting on some of the things I'm interested in. I also think there are other factors I haven't considered (or rather unwilling to make those hundreds of calculations) that they are able to quantify.

As for the "wear and tear", I get what you're getting at now. I think the best way to actually look at it might be a cumulative effect based on a few factors such as age, innings pitched *last year*, injury history (and the contributing factors to the injury), years in the majors, etc. Good point for sure and not something I was thinking of breaking down further but I bet there's a couple points I was about to overlook because of oversimplification.

I'll run some numbers tonight and see if I can come up with a few good examples of players I think will over or under produce based on these influences.

;-D
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