Monday, November 11, 2013

The obscure pitching awards of 2013

I have spent about a week now covering the darker side of baseball statistics encompassing the 2013 season. Call it a balancing of the books when it comes to the regular Awards Season that spends most of our time celebrating the greatness of players during this past season. For every Gold Glove, there are iron ones. For every Rolaids Relief Pitchers there were those that gave the heartburn. What follows are some of the more obscure pitching awards that will not be celebrated when they hand out the trophies.

The Lack of Deception Award
These starting pitchers did not make a living fooling anybody. Cole Hamels led starting pitchers by getting batters to swing at 37.7% of pitches outside the strike zone. These pitchers? Not so much. The four starting pitchers (minimum 100 innings) who least enticed batters to swing at pitches out of the strike zone were:

  1. Sam Deduno - 24.1%
  2. Jason Marquis - 24.5%
  3. Felix Doubront - 24.9%
  4. Nathan Eovaldi - 25%

The relief pitchers with the least amount of swings out of the strike zone were:

  1. Sam LeCure - 25.4%
  2. Kevin Gregg - 25.5%
  3. David Robertson and Dale Thayer - 25.8%

The Starting Off With the Left Foot Award
Everyone makes a big deal out of first pitch strikes. "Get ahead on the count," the adage goes. Throwing a first pitch strike would be getting the at bat off on the right foot. These pitchers are not listening. The relief pitchers with the lowest percentage of first pitch strikes were:

  1. Ryan Pressly - 45.7%
  2. Jim Henderson - 48.6%
  3. Josh Roenicke - 50.4%
  4. Yoernis Medina and Tim Collins - 51.9%

The starting pitchers with the lowest percentage of first pitch strikes were:

  1. Matt Moore - 50.9%
  2. Samuel Deduno - 51.4%
  3. Zack Wheeler - 52%
  4. Ivan Nova - 52.7%  (pronounced, "Nover," if you are Jerry Remy)

Not that the opposite guaranteed success. Phil Hughes led the Majors in first pitch strike percentage (over 70%!) and that did not exactly lead him to a good season.

The Here It Is, Hit It and Hit It and Hit It Award
Everyone loves a pitcher that can miss bats. Francisco Liriano missed more bats than anyone in the Majors in 2013, followed closely by Yu Darvish. These starting pitchers did not miss many bats at all. The starting pitchers with the lowest percentage of swinging strikes were:

  1. Jake Westbrook and Jeremy Guthrie - 5.1%
  2. Lucas Harrell - 5.2%
  3. Mike Pelfrey - 5.3%
  4. Ryan Vogelsong - 5.4%

The relief pitchers with the lowest swinging strike percentages were:

  1. Burke Badenhop - 5.9%
  2. Seth Maness - 6.6%
  3. Kevin Gregg - 7.0%

The Duck for Cover Award
The relief pitchers with the highest line drive percentages allowed were:

  1. Robbie Ross - 28.4%
  2. Jim Henderson - 28.3%
  3. Greg Holland - 27.3%
  4. Junichi Tazawa - 27.2%

The starting pitchers with the highest line drive percentages were:

  1. Wade Davis - 28.6%
  2. Ryan Vogelsong - 27.1%
  3. Corey Kluber - 26.3%
  4. Barry Zito - 25.5%

The Confound the Fielding Scouts Award
How do you set your defense when your pitcher's offerings always seem to find a hole in that defense? The starting pitchers with the highest opposing BABIPs were:

  1. Wade Davis - .376 - which makes sense with his LD percentage.
  2. Joe Blanton - .351
  3. Barry Zito - .347

The relief pitchers with the highest BABIPs allowed were:

  1. Jose Mijares - .410    Holy smokes!
  2. Carter Capps - .365
  3. Oliver Perez - .361

No one else was close!

The Outfielder Whiplash Award
Everyone loves the long ball...unless you are a pitcher. The relief pitchers with the highest percent of their fly balls going over the fence were:

  1. Chris Perez - 20%
  2. Brandon League - 19%
  3. Carter Capps - 18.8%
  4. Heath Bell - 18.5%
  5. Kelvin Herrera - 18%

The starting pitchers with the highest percentage of fly balls going over the fence were:

  1. Roberto Hernandez - 21.1%  (!)
  2. Esmil Rogers - 18.5%
  3. Jason Marquis - 18.2%
  4. Joe Blanton - 18%

The Conga Line Award
These pitchers gave up the most base runners of any starting pitcher

  1. Joe Saunders - 308
  2. Jeff Samardzija and Jeremy Guthrie - 307
  3. CC Sabathia - 304

These relief pitchers (90% or more appearances were in relief) with the most base runners were:

  1. Anthony Swarzak and Josh Collmenter - 116
  2. Adam Warren and TJ McFarland - 114

The Cannot Be Blocked Award

These starting pitcher led all of baseball with wild pitches:

  1. Matt Moore and Trevor Cahill - 17
  2. Edinson Volquez - 16

The Pitching From the Stretch Award

  • Three Colorado Rockies' players tied for the lead with the most balks at three: Rex Brothers, Edgmer Escalona and Wilton Lopez. I think the Rockies need to hold a seminar on this thing as they easily led the Majors with 15 balks. No other team had more than eight. Stephen Strasburg also had three.

The Free Pass Award

  • I don't know if this award should go to the manager or the pitcher...probably the manager. But Ronald Belisario walked the most batters on purpose with ten. Three others tied with eight.

The Aren't Walks and Strikeouts the Same Award
These starting pitchers (100 IP minimum) had the lowest strikeout to walk ratios in the Majors:

  1. Jake Westbrook - 0.88  The only pitcher with more walks than strikeouts.
  2. Lucas Harrell - 1.01
  3. Jason Marquis - 1.06

The relief pitchers (40 IP minimum) with the lowest strikeout to walk ratios were:

  1. Sandy Rosario - 1.20
  2. Josh Roenicke - 1.25
  3. Bryan Morris - 1.32
  4. Tom Wilhelmsen - 1.36

The Let's Not Turn Two Award

  • Aaron Harang gets special mention here. Despite allowing 199 base runners via hit, walk or HBP, Harang only induced four double-plays all season. Amazing.

The Run at Will Award

  • Yovani Gallardo, Matt Moore, Brandon McCarthy, Joe Blanton, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez pitched a combined 807.2 innings and not a single base steal attempt was stopped while they were pitching. At least Gallardo and Eovaldi picked one guy off.
  • John Lackey led all of baseball with 36 successful base steals against. Scott Feldman was second with 30.

The Not Left On Base Award
Five starting pitchers ended up having 35% or more of all the base runners they put on base score. That could be bad luck, bad pitching, bad fielding, whatever. But it is what it is. The lowest left on base percentages for starters were:

  1. Jordan Lyles - 62.8%
  2. Edwin Jackson - 63.3%
  3. Lucas Harrell - 64.3%
  4. Edinson Volquez - 64.4%
  5. Ryan Vogelsong - 64.7%

I probably could go on all day here, but after a couple of hours, my stomach is grumbling. Happy Veterans Day!

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