Monday, October 03, 2011

Lee Not Bad, Just Unlucky

According to Phillies Twitter experts, Cliff Lee pitched a gem last night. He didn't give up 12 hits in 6 innings, luck did. He didn't allow 5 runs in 6 innings, luck did. Nope, he was stellar as always, because he struck out 9, only walked 2, and didn't surrender any homeruns.

Malarkey!

I'm sick of all this BABIP nonsense. Not all pitches are created equal. Not all balls in play are created equal. To suggest the pitcher has no control over whether a batted ball is an out or a hit is silly. I love me some stats, but people that feel the need to quantify everything through the means of numerical "evidence" are a bit much for me.

Because the Cardinals's were batting .600 (12-20) when they put the ball in play, that's considered astronomically high above the average BABIP (AVG- .300), so Lee's outing is chalked up to being extremely unlucky, as if he is in no way at fault for blowing a 4 run lead.

I get it, sometimes a pitcher makes his pitch, but the batter bloops a hit anyway. However, when a guy is getting beat to death (3 doubles, 2 triples), then it's obviously the pitcher not making quality pitches. I'll concede luck does play a minor role, but to excuse a pitcher from fault or a poor outing because the BABIP wasn't in line with the norm is a complete misunderstanding of the game. BABIP supporters also eliminate homeruns from the equation like they don't count. And as everyone knows, homeruns are nothing but luck induced (dripping with sarcasm).

Cliff Lee's last 3 playoff appearances: 0-3, 17.2 IP, 26 H, 3 BB, 22 K, 14 ER, 7.13 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, and a .464 BABIP (26-56), but only 1 HR allowed. Yeah, totally unlucky.

So there you have it. Have no fear, Lee will regress to the mean next game and everything will be hunky-dory. Unless, we get bad lucked right out of the playoffs.

Twitter:
@GMCarson- Awesome season by Lee. Shitastic start tonight. Complete downer. He has to be better.

Others in response to me- Seriously? Blaming Lee for this? Sigh.

FWIW, 9 K's, 2 BB's, 0 HR's is basically what we've come to expect out of Lee. Not his fault every ball's found a hole.

No. BABIP'd to f**king death than some.

They were 12-20 on balls in play. That is so unbelievably unlucky.

You simply don't understand which things are under a pitcher's control and which aren't.

Pitching is entirely luck and random chance. A coin toss more or less.

That you bitched about Lee's outing in the way that you did suggests, in fact, you don't know anything about baseball.

I know your opinion. I'm saying it's objectively wrong.

8 comments:

GM-Carson said...

An email I received from Corey:

Per your babip argument, I'm so sick of of this shit but I will say this...

Consider Kyle Lohse from game one. Only one walk and four k's in 5 innings. Only 7 hits. 1 unearned run. He gave up more runs than Lee on less hits. That's unlucky, isn't it? Especially considering his HR/fly ball rate was super high and that also is unlucky. Of course, HR aren't part of babip --> ( http://bleacherreport.com/articles/821364-sabermetrics-since-when-is-a-home-run-not-a-batted-ball-in-play ) so his babip probably wasn't that high, so you can't call him unlucky. Weird.

But you watched the game and saw how Lohse got smashed around in basically one inning. His babip in that inning was very high. Would anyone in their right mind call that hanging change to Howard unlucky? To the babip nutso's that think you can argue Lee was unlucky - pose this argument --> Kyle Lohse was awesome in game one, but had one severely unlucky inning with high babip and high hr/FB.

Just off the cuff, here's is why I would not accept the babip/unlucky argument for Lee last night. The biggest part of babip as a measure of luck is the regression to the mean, which accounts for data over an extended period. You can't expect hit numbers to regress to the mean over nine innings. Instead, you have to consider the other variables. 1)defense 2)skill level of batter and pitcher - this is the big , big argument. How much control of babip does the pitcher have. Even the most die hard saber-nut says the pitcher does have some control, but they usually say "not significant" or something like that, because they cannot quantify this variable. Which I find funny, that a group that argues everything down to the number, disregards a variable b/c they can't quantify it. Classic "ostrich in the sand." If they can't figure it out, just disregard it. So hypocritical. In fact, there are many instances where pitchers do control their babip - loogy's vs lefties, for instance. There is usually a big difference between RH and LH batters. Why? b/c pitchers can control this. But not elsewhere to any significant degree? Bullshit. or 3) luck. This is one babip guys always attribute high babip over one game...but not for low babip for one game. They usually attribute that to good pitching. Huh? Weird.

So, here would be my argument in a nutshell - for one game, when a pitcher has high K and low BB with expected defensive performances behind him, and he has either a very low hit count or a very high hit count, it is a due to the combination of luck AND batter and pitcher skill level. The significance of each variable cannot be accurately defined, therefore "blame" must be attributed to both. Excusing 12 hits in one game as merely unlucky is wrong, just as attributing a one hit shutout merely to luck would be wrong, just as attributing 12 hits in one game solely on the pitcher sucking. The truth lies in the undefinable middle.

Sturgeon General said...

You have a point to a degree. The statement "Not all contact is created equal" is absolutely right. Frankly up until about 2 years ago that was an argument I often made.

But thats why newer statistical metrics have been created to take that into consideration. Where in the past people used FIP which literally just looked at K's, Walks and HRs... now people try to adjust for type of contact. (SIERA is the best now in my opinion, plus it was created by a Phillies fan which makes it even better)

Line drives obviously are going to fall for hits at a higher rate than fly balls and ground balls are going to do even less damage than fly balls.

There is certainly skill in being able to induce ground balls. The best pitchers K a ton of batters and follow that up with lots of ground ball outs. Lee is capable of that.

When watching last night there were a few times the Cards hit Lee hard. But for the most part it seemed like they kept getting ground balls in the hole or soft looping singles just into the outfield.

I cannot fault a pitcher for inducing a grounder that just happens to hit the hole. That is beyond his skill level to place exactly where a hitter will put the ball in play.

He can make it likely the hitter goes to the left side or the right side of the infield... but is it really the pitcher's fault that the ball wasn't a few feet further over where a fielder would have gotten it? Maybe you can but to me that is something I just cannot come to accept as blame on a pitcher.

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GM-Carson said...

Jimmy Rollins called the fans out after the game for being "waaay to quiet". As if it was their fault for the Phils inability to get anything off the Cards bullpen over 6 innings or him getting picked off 1st base.

Let J-Roll run his mouth. I've enjoyed his time here and hope he has a strong finish to his Phillies career with a World Series ring (that'll he'll probably be presented next season when the Mets or Giants visit town).

SirAlden said...

The Issue night was the Umpire not calling the inside Strike for Lee,
and the randomness of his Strike Zone.

Both Managers (LaRussa went out to talk to the Ump) and of course the best Phillies' Broadcaster

Larry Anderson were pointing this out and going nuts.

Asst.GM-RK said...

It's simple, the guy did not pitch well enough to win. He was given a 4 run lead and didn't hold it. He didn't hit his spots at times and got rocked. It happened to Cliff earlier this year when he wasn't throwing shutouts and tended to have one bad inning. "Lucky" are the Cardinals that Victorino did not catch that ball. Hopefully Charlie will out manage the Zombie behind the Cardinals bench. Collars up.

Asst.GM-RK said...

Please retract statement. After writing I should have realized how successful that organization has been and how well the manager and his team have performed. My apologies. Please remove entire statements. Thank you GMs.

PHinBK said...

I'm no math whiz but concluding high BABIP as a determinant of luck fails to take into consideration the quality of contact made by the hitter.

How is it luck if hitters are smacking line drives, putting balls back up the middle or launching fly balls to the wall? to me even pulling a ball in the whole means the hitter got sufficient contact to get the ball past the fielder.

I think if a pitcher is falling victim to a high BABIP it means the batter may be squaring the barrell on the ball.

Clifton was leaving a lot of pitches over the plate and to dismiss the quantity of successful contact as unlucky disparages the hitter's skill.