Saturday, February 09, 2013

The remarkably similar careers of Tim Hudson and Roy Halladay

Before launching further into the thought process of the bombastic heading of this post, some declarative statements need to be made. First, Roy Halladay has been a much more valuable pitcher over his career than Tim Hudson. Roy Halladay has won two Cy Young Awards and probably should have won another. Tim Hudson has never won a Cy Young Award and probably never will. Roy Halladay has accumulated ten more wins above replacement in his career according to and twenty more according to Fangraphs. But all that being said, a lot of the same end results are remarkably similar.

Let's start with some basic (and now mostly discredited statistics):

Roy Halladay: 199-100 .666 winning percentage,  3.31 career ERA
Tim Hudson:  197-103  .654 winning percentage, 3.42 career ERA

That's pretty darned close, isn't it? Halladay has pitched 403 times and compiled 2,687.1 innings. Hudson has pitched 406 times with 2,682.1 innings. Those numbers are virtually identical.

Tim Hudson has given up 2,504 hits and 210 homers. Roy Halladay has given up 2,594 hits and 224 homers. Those numbers are pretty darned close too.

For his career, Roy Halladay has allowed a .666 OPS against with 3,811 total bases allowed. Tim Hudson has allowed a .674 OPS against with 3,675 total bases allowed.

Roy Halladay has allowed 987 earned runs. Tim Hudson has allowed 1,019. That is a total difference of 32 runs for virtually the same amount of innings pitched.

Roy Halladay has faced 11,005 batters in his career. Tim Hudson has faced 11,157. Roy Halladay has induced batters to hit into 248 double plays. Tim Hudson has turned 282 ground balls into double plays. Tim Hudson has allowed 55 sacrifice flies, Roy Halladay, 59.

Roy Halladay has a .625 winning percentage on the road. Tim Hudson has a .620 winning percentage on the road. Roy Halladay has won 90 games on the road. Tim Hudson has won 93.

Roy Halladay has pitched 94 times when his own team scored two runs or less and has won 19 of those games. Tim Hudson has pitched 91 times when his own team scored two runs or less and has won 19 of those games.

A batter leading off an inning against Roy Halladay has hit a home run 69 times against Roy Halladay in 2,737 chances. A batter leading off an inning against Tim Hudson has hit a home run 67 times in 2,764 chances.

Roy Halladay has a combined OPS against of .672 against non-pitchers. Tim Hudson has a combined OPS against of .688 against non-pitchers.

Tim Hudson has only loaded the bases with no outs 28 times in his career. Roy Halladay has only put himself in that position 32 times. Roy Halladay has an OPS against of .661 in high leverage situations. Tim Hudson has an OPS against of .657 in high leverage situations.

Are a lot of these statistics cherry-picked? Well, yes, sure. And in the final analysis, Roy Halladay has been the better pitcher. His K/BB ratio is much better, his xFIP is much better and so forth. The purpose of this post was not to build a case that Tim Hudson has been as good as Roy Halladay. But perhaps the purpose has been to show the final results have been much more similar than you might have thought.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

From the department of meh - Alberto Callaspo

The off-seasons is filled with the news of signings. As such, MLB Rumors never gets shut down on this computer. Some of those signings bring a stir of interest as a team will sign a budding star to a contract to avoid arbitration or an interesting free agent that might make the team out of Spring Training. But an awful lot of them are of the kind that leave you simply making a mental checklist of the event. These are the "department of meh" signings. This week's main candidate was the two year contract the Angels gave Alberto Callaspo.

Now Callaspo is not without his usefulness. Since he has moved to third base, he has become a good fielder there and his last two seasons have shown his walk rate to record its highest numbers of his career as he has suddenly become a very patient hitter. For example, he only swung at pitches out of the strike zone less than twenty percent of the time in 2012.

But those two facts above are the only two reasons to have any kind of warmth for him as a player. When you think of third basemen, you think of guys with at least a little bit of thump. Guys like Headley for the Padres, Longoria for the Rays, Wright for the Mets and Beltre for the Rangers. Thump is not a word you would ever associate with Alberto Callaspo. He hit twenty doubles in 2012 with ten homers. He has a career ISO of .108. Compare that to Beltre's .196 or even Lowrie, the A's new third baseman, whose career ISO is .177.

It is this lack of thump along with a series of seasons of offensive ups and downs that have kept Callaspo as one of the weaker offensive performers for his career. That career now spans since 2006 with four full seasons and three partial ones. For his career, Fangraphs gives him a -7.7 score as an offensive player (runs above replacement). gives him a big fat zero, so that site is more bullish.

If we go by the Fangraphs number and look at all batters in that same time frame, Alberto Callaspo ranks 268th among his peers in baseball for offense. He is tied at that number with Jason Bartlett. Just above him is Hank Blalock and Ryan Sweeney. So yeah, that is hardly impressive company.

And so that means that all of his value as a player, the value that leads the Angels to shell out just a shade under $9 million for his next two seasons, comes from his glove and his positional or replacement value. Those figures calculated by the stat sites make sense most of the time, but personally, whenever a player's entire value comes from his glove and from the positional value of the position he plays, that is a bit of an off-put here.

According to Fangraphs' valuation system, that salary comes in below what he was worth to the Angels as a player in each of the last two seasons. There is no argument here on how their valuation system works. But when a guy is a negative, or at best, a league average offensive player (depending on the site), is not a great base runner, then paying for just his glove and his position hardly seems attractive. No doubt, it could be worse. He could have a meh glove too. But his contract would present just a bit more interest if some of his value at least came from offense.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Phillies' Erik Kratz is a very good catcher

Erik Kratz proves something I have been saying for an awfully long time. Year after year of watching guys like Olivo and Barajas and a half dozen other old catchers playing for a couple of mil a years is kind of stupid. There has to be catchers in the minors that can do just as well or better than the geriatric "clubhouse" guys who general managers and manager seem to adore. Erik Kratz played eleven minor league seasons and played 766 games down there. Most of that time was spent in the Toronto organization that drafted him in the 29th Round of the 2002 draft. Thankfully, and fittingly, Kratz got some playing time in 2012 for the Phillies, and ended up opening some eyes.

Kratz spent 2009 and 2010 in the Pirates' organization. He sat in Triple-A while the Pirates decided to start Doumit, everyone's worst catcher in baseball for the last several seasons. Puzzling. At least him sitting at Triple-A for the Phillies is a little more understandable in 2011 because the Phillies have had a very good catcher in Ruiz. But when Ruiz got hurt, Kratz got a chance to play and he did not disappoint.

I have long been fascinated with catching metrics that are not in your every day stats. The kind of work that Mike Fast did before getting hired by the Astros was groundbreaking but still hasn't become mainstream. Lookout Landing, that hotbed of inspiring stat work recently included a post by "Matthew" that was basically written to see where the Mariners were in their catching work. But he came up with his own stats that in large part agreed with what Fast did, but also included 2012. While Matthew does not deliver his entire list, he rated Erik Kratz as fifth best in baseball at framing pitches.

It should be stated that catching for the Phillies means catching guys like Lee and Halladay who are going to get some calls other pitchers do not. But still, coming in fifth gives Kratz a huge amount of value.

Then add in that Kratz threw out 45% of base steal attempts when the league average is 27% and we are getting someplace fast. Add to all these goodies in that Kratz held his own on offense and finished with a 114 OPS+ and it is easy to say, "Where you been, big fella?"

Kratz is a big reason why the Phillies do not have to be overly concerned about Ruiz serving his suspension to start the season. Kratz is terrific and should have gotten a chance in the majors a long time ago. At least a couple times a year, I will rant and rave on how and why GMs and teams hang on to these revolving door catchers that add no value and get contracts year after year simply because they are "veteran catchers." Kratz is Exhibit A on why that has always been a bad model and cheaper and more effective catchers simply have to be out there among all those minor league receivers.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Super Bowler

What do you do when you wake up on a lazy Sunday morning and all you have to look forward to is Super Bowl commercials? Yeah, if you have no emotional investment in the two teams that are playing and a halftime show of Beyonce throwing her boobs and butt around, inspiration is hard to come by. And there is little sense writing some epic piece on baseball when half the world is waiting for a football game. So what is an uninspired writer to do on a Super Bowl Sunday like that? Find a baseball connection.

Let's drift back to 1952 and a pitcher named, Joseph Super. Super was born in 1932 according to his page and only pitched one year in the minors for  D-League teams in Georgia. One of them was an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, which leads me to believe that it might be this guy. The part in his obituary about him playing in an old timers' league and being inducted into its Hall of Fame is fairly strong but still speculative evidence.

Anyway, old Joe Super wasn't that super in his one year of minor league play. It looks like he did pretty well for the Fitzgerald Pioneers but struggled for Brunswick Pirates. He had 176 professional baseball innings pitched and then disappeared from B-R's view.

Now we need a "Bowl." Well, the closest we could come there is to Grant Bowler. Grant at least made it to the majors.

Grant Tierney Bowler was born on October 24, 1907 in Denver, Colorado. He also died there in 1964 and is buried here. He pitched for the Chicago White Sox in 1931 and 1932. He did not do very well. He never won a game, though he did have one complete game in his three big league starts. He had one hit in ten MLB at bats.

Bowler also played four years in the minors and was not very good there either with a 15-27 record that included a 4.94 ERA. His minor league career followed a brief pitching experience at DePaul University where he did not pitch very effectively either. How he ever made it to the majors is a mystery.

There you have it. Here is my Super Bowler post about two nondescript players you'll probably never hear about again. I hope the commercials are funny at least.