Stathead team now has two-fifths of a rotation

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Royals right-hander Brian Bannister has always been very open about how statistical analysis has helped him post a 4.51 ERA in 85 career starts despite relatively underwhelming raw stuff, saying recently that “if Bill James had a 90-mph fastball he’d be me.”
Bannister now has some company in the official stathead rotation, as Diamondbacks right-hander Max Scherzer revealed earlier this week that he also applies sabermetrics to his pitching. Here are some details on Scherzer from Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:
He values the pitching statistics that take fielding out of the equation and recently has become particularly interested in a stat called tERA, which assigns values to every batted ball based on trajectory, velocity and location. He also has taken time to examine his Pitch-f/x data, the information drawn from cameras that trace every pitch thrown in every big-league game. …
For his first full season in the majors, Scherzer has set the goal of being at least a four-win pitcher. As in, four Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP), a stat that tries to express the difference between a player and an average fill-in type, such as a readily available Triple-A call-up. … As if he needs a reminder, Scherzer’s brother will sometimes needle him. “He sends me text messages all the time saying, ‘Why can’t you be a four-win pitcher?'” Scherzer said, laughing. Maybe he will be. He was at 2.5 wins entering Thursday.

I’m amused that the actual players are seemingly more open to sabermetrics than most of the media members covering them.
Bannister has turned himself into a solid big-league starter when he might otherwise be a long reliever or Triple-A veteran, but in Scherzer’s case he already had the overpowering mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider to be an ace. It’ll be interesting to see if embracing the ever-increasing amount of data and information available to smart, open-minded baseball fans can help turn him into an elite, Cy Young-caliber pitcher.
So far this season Bannister has a 3.59 ERA and 79/39 K/BB ratio in 123 innings to bounce back from an ugly 2008, while Scherzer has a 4.01 ERA and 120/40 K/BB ratio in 116.2 innings as a 24-year-old in his first full season. Oh, and their xFIPs are 4.35 and 3.96, respectively.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.