Thursday, December 06, 2012

Fun with Randy Choate

The Cardinals have signed the ultimate LOOGY and got Scrabble a playmate. Randy Choate is a Cardinal. And not only is the 37 year old going to be the other "left-handed specialist" for the St. Louis club for 2013, his contract is for three years.

Now how can you call Choate the ultimate LOOGY? After all, there was Tony Fossas and Graeme Lloyd and Alan Embree that came before Choate. But Choate has taken things to the extreme. How so? How does this grab you? Of all the pitchers in history that have pitched in 475 or more games--and there have been 197 of them all told--none have pitched less total innings than Randy Choate's 309.

"But, William," you might ask, "a lot of those guys pitched in more games, right?" Well, yes, that's right. But it doesn't end there. All of those 197 pitchers and their innings pitched and games were moved over to a spreadsheet. Then the innings pitched were divided by the games. And of all those 197 pitchers, only one other pitcher had fewer innings pitched per outing.

Mike Myers pitched from 1995 to 2007 and averaged .613 innings per outing. Randy Choate has averaged .649 innings pitched per outing. So you could call Myers the king perhaps. But Randy Choate is right there.

But it goes beyond even that. Take Randy Choate's 2012 (Please!): Choate became the only pitcher in baseball history that pitched in more than 75 games in a single season and compiled less than 40 total innings. He actually pitched 80 times and 38.2 innings.

And there is more. Randy Choate is the only pitcher in history who made at least 80 appearances in a season and compiled less than 45 innings pitched. And he has done it twice! There was last season and he also did it in 2010.

But there is a reason, perhaps, why Choate continues to make a decent living. Of all the 197 pitchers who have more than 475 outings, none of them have given up less hits and less homers than Randy Choate. He has made up for the hit stat a bit by giving up too many walks in his career, but even so, that is pretty impressive.

Except Randy Choate is not impressive. His fastball zips in there at 86 MPH. His slider at 76 MPH is slower than most pitchers' curves. Even so, his career OPS allowed against left-handed batters is .563. For his career, left-handed batters have batted .201 with a .278 on-base percentage. His work against lefties would compare to a 68 OPS+. That's pretty amazing.

And yet, batters from the right side have gotten on base against him at a .404 clip. That kind of split has created what he has become. And what he has become is a guy who only faces lefties and if he ever faces a right-handed batter, it is by accident. 52 batters got that pleasure in 2012 and reached base at a .474 clip.

That is Randy Choate in a nutshell. He is the ultimate "left-handed relief specialist." And while people snicker at the longevity of his career and the slop he throws up there, he makes a very good living just the same and really does have the last laugh..

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