Not only did Zack Greinke claim a victory for statheads everywhere by winning the AL Cy Young yesterday despite only 16 wins, afterward he outed himself as a believer in sabermetrics thanks to stathead teammate Brian Bannister:
I’m also a follower … of sabermetric stuff and going into details of stats about what you can control. That’s pretty much how I pitch, to try to keep my FIP as low as possible.
FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching, which is a stat that you’ll see me and the rest of the Circling the Bases crew quoting in this space frequently. It attempts to separate pitching from defense by focusing on the things that a pitcher can specifically control: strikeouts, walks, and homers.
Bannister explained that not only has Greinke become a believer in the value of FIP and similar stats, he’s actually used them to improve his pitching:
He’s extremely bright, and he’s really picked up on using all the information out there to make his game better. He’s always had the talent. His confidence level, which is extremely high, combined with his knowledge of the numbers behind the game now, definitely makes him one of the best pitchers in the world. David DeJesus had our best zone ratings, so a lot of times, Zack would pitch for a fly ball at our park instead of a ground ball, just because the zone rating was better in our outfield and it was a big park.
Max Scherzer of the Diamondbacks has previously talked about his interest in sabermetrics and modern baseball analysis, so the statheads are building a pretty nice rotation with Greinke, Scherzer, and Bannister. Something to think about the next time you see someone dismiss the impact and value of sabermetrics. We’re not all non-athletes who live in our parents’ basements. Some of us win Cy Young awards, marry ex-Cowboys cheerleaders, and live … well, somewhere in Kansas City.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.