Stathead team now has two-fifths of a rotation

Leave a comment

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.

Theo Epstein on sportswriters: “The life of a sportswriter is pretty lonely. You kind of work by yourself, sit there by yourself…”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 07:  Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein stands on the field during batting practice before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on October 7, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Rick Morissey of the Chicago Sun-Times published an article on Sunday giving a bit of insight into Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. When Epsten was younger, he dabbled in sportswriting, but quickly realized the trade wasn’t for him.

As Morissey details, when Epstein was 19 years old writing for Yale’s student newspaper, he wrote an article suggesting the school’s football coach should be fired during what would become a 3-7 season. Epstein was told during the meeting that one writer would defend the coach and one would call for his job. “It was a lesson in the way that the world of journalism sometimes works. It was an eye-opener for me. I regret it, and I’ve happily moved on.”

Epstein continued, “I realized I didn’t want to be a sportswriter when I was interning with the Orioles back in ’92, ’93, ’94. I did do a lot of media-relations stuff, and I saw that the life of a sportswriter is pretty lonely. You kind of work by yourself, sit there by yourself in the press box, go back to the hotel bar. Not to generalize.” He added, “But I really respect writing and respect sportswriters.”

He’s not wrong, and he seems to have found his calling as a front office executive. His Cubs are back in the World Series for the first time since 1945.

Jason Kipnis injured his ankle celebrating the pennant with Francisco Lindor

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 17:  Jose Ramirez #11, Francisco Lindor #12, Jason Kipnis #22 and Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians celebrate after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays with a score of 4 to 2 in game three of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis tweeted on Sunday, “Got a little too close to [Francisco Lindor] during the celebration!! Freak accident but should be good to go by Tuesday! #cantkeepmeoutofthisgame!”

Per’s Jordan Bastian, manager Terry Francona said Kipnis is dealing with a low ankle sprain, but he’s expected to be ready to go when the World Series begins on Tuesday. Kipnis went through fielding drills on Sunday.

Kipnis is hitting .167/.219/.367 with a pair of homers and four RBI in eight games this postseason.