A Simple Kind of Fan. Saying No to Everyday Loe – 6.21.11
Ron Roenicke has shown a penchant for stubbornly sticking with square peg solutions to round holed problems. For example, he has remained steadfast in his preposterous belief that Mark Kotsay can play centerfield. He has also continued to stick with McGehee in the five hole despite providing virtually zero protection for Prince in the last month. Finally, Ron Roenicke is convinced that sinkerballer Kameron Loe needs to pitch everyday to remain an effective set up reliever. He has reiterated this on numerous occasions. Apparently he has said it so many times, that now he truly believes it to be fact. But is it fact? Are all sinkerballers created equal? Does Loe pitch better without having rest? Let’s take a closer look at this fallacy in action.
My guy JP over at BrewCrewBall has thankfully done some of the work for me. He put together a great piece on how effective Loe has been as a major league reliever, based on the amount of rest he received before each appearance. He was able to draw some interesting conclusions based on some significant data. Over the course of his career, Loe is MOST effective when given 1 day off between appearances.
0 days off: .268/.315/.420/.736 slash line, 3.53 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
1 day off: .242/.299/.379/.678 slash line, 2.16 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
I guess Ron Roenicke must be looking at data that is less than factual to make his flawed conclusion. It is clear that as a major league reliever, Kameron Loe is clearly more effective with one day of rest versus zero days of rest. I would encourage you to read JP’s article as he examine much more than these basic stats I have cherry picked. Now that we have established that Kameron Loe does not pitch better on zero days of rest as a major league reliever, perhaps Ron Roenicke is looking at his career stats as a minor league reliever?
Kameron Loe was drafted for a second time in the 20th round of the 2002 draft by Texas. They obviously liked Loe’s size and saw potential as a front line starter, as evidenced by spending much of his seven minor league seasons as a starting pitcher. After washing out in that role in the big leagues, Texas worked on converting him to a reliever during the 2008 season. In 2009, Loe pitched in Japan with disappointing results as a starter. Thus, Doug Melvin took his contractually required ex-Rangers flier on the former starter floundering overseas.
In 2010, Loe started 10 games for AAA Nashville before being called up to the big show. He had success for the Sounds as a starter, touting a 3.16 ERA in almost 63 innings of work. Why was he able to have success as a starter if he needs to pitch as much as possible to remain sharp? He showed up on June 1st for Milwaukee and was very successful in a relief role for Ken Macha’s Brewers. Macha loved to extend Loe and Axford for multiple inning appearances and it worked great for a bullpen short on talent. In fact, Loe had just one appearance last year where he surrendered three earned runs or more. He already has three such appearances this year on a heavy workload.
My point is that for Roenicke’s theory to be true about a sinkerballer needing to pitch every day without rest, Loe should have been bashed as a starter. But the opposite took place. In fact, it was Loe’s solid effort as a starter in Nashville that got him the call up in the first place. If we look at JP’s chart on Loe’s numbers after days of rest, simple math will show that Loe has a 2.23 ERA in 32 innings as a reliever when receiving four or more days rest (like a starter). A small sample size surely, but one more piece of damning evidence mounting against Runnin’ Ron Roenicke’s assumption that Loe needs to pitch every day to be effective.
In conclusion, I would like to state that Roenicke’s theory that Kameron Loe has to pitch frequently to stay effective as unmitigated bologna. The numbers clearly show that Loe pitches better with a day of rest before an appearnace. I think RRR’s tendency to have strictly defined roles in the bullpen role says more about his preferences as a manager. Much like NFL coaches who try to “not lose the game”, MLB managers just feel more comfortable having set tendencies. This allows them to not be distracted thinking about matchups after the 7th inning. Crunching the numbers on these matchups, or going with hunches, is deemed irrelevant when they have a lead and can just punch in the 8th and 9th inning relievers. The approach reduces second guessing, and also reduces winning in my opinion. It is ironic that Loe was inserted into the 8th inning role due to Macha’s flexibility in using the bullpen, as now he is being saved in that role because of Roenicke’s lack of flexibility.
It was just another average crummy week for Yuni. Counsell is stealing playing time as he continues to struggle with the bat. It certainly was amusing watching him hit against the knuckleballer Wakefield on Sunday. He couldn’t help but swing all day. His week consisted of 6 hits in 26 at bats. Yuni also has 4 RBIs all week, and that came on only two at bats last Wednesday. His slash line is .228/.251/.328. The on base percentage continues to hover at .250. This is simply not major league caliber and it’s becoming more and more obvious that a move is going to have to be made. It was quite possible the worst week Yuni has had in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform.
The Casey Close Up
In the interest of staying high in the batting order of my Tuesday Night Softball League, I have followed the advice of my softball manager Josh from the comments section last week. He suggested that I start a new feature that peers much closer at the past week for Casey McGehee. It has been a tough year so far for McGehee. He has underachieved and, more likely, seems to be regressing statistically towards the mean. Casey has been putting together better at bats as of late, and has done an improved job of going the other way. In fact, McGehee currently is working on an eight game hitting streak. He has also been victimized by tremendous defense and plain bad luck over the past week. In fact, this season Casey has a BABIP of only .261. He certainly hasn’t been catching many breaks.
For the week Casey is 8×28 with 7 RBIs and three doubles. He has done a decent job of driving in runs as well. Of course, when he hits fifth every night, Braun and Fielder are constantly on base and provide ample opportunities to drive in runs. The unfortunate part of the season really boils down to his slash line of .232/.289/.327. The .327 slugging is 100% unacceptable for the hitter providing protection behind Prince. It is a miracle any team pitches to Prince with McGehee scuffling.
There have been calls to replace Casey. I will answer simply: who? Counsell or Wilson? If these guys were any good, they would already be playing SS. Gamel? Braun? They have about the same defensive prowess at 3B, which is none. In short, instead of complaining about what we don’t have at third base, fans should be happy we have Casey at all. He has been durable and someone the team can depend on. In my opinion, if Ron Roenicke wants to heat up McGehee, he should hit him between Rickie and Braun for a week. He would see so many fastballs that he will have no choice but to right the ship. Remember, it worked for Corey Hart in 2010.
Finally, Toby Harrmann from Disciples of Uecker does a nice job of laying out the possible scenario of calling up 3B Taylor Green. Green looks to be healthy and has been hitting the ball well at AAA, in particular against right handers. If used properly in a platoon, perhaps the left handed hitting Green and McGehee can combine to produce numbers above average at the position (which wouldn’t be hard because third base stinks in the NL this season) over the remainder of the season. I am not saying the team should bench McGehee, but they should be fearless and proactive in protecting Prince in the lineup.
The “What the F*&# does that stat mean” Stat of the Week.
As regular readers of this blog know, I’m not a fan of using only wins, losses, and ERA in the analysis of a pitcher. There so many other statistics available, it is just foolish not to take additional information under advisement. Today I will be discussing the pitching statistic SIERA.
SIERA, Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average estimates ERA through walk rate, strikeout rate, and ground ball rate. What this essentially does is help eliminate the effects of park, defense, and luck. When comparing similar types of pitchers, having as much statistical data as possible can help make the correct determination on true talent. SIERA works great for separating pitchers who have a similar ground ball rates and relatively average strikeout rates. Additionally, it works very well for comparing above average pitchers, in terms of overall quality, making it a useful tool for fantasy baseball draft preparation.
If you recall, there is another stat called FIP that I discussed in a previous blog. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders performed. Using SIERA and FIP together, in addition to ERA, will allow us to get a much more comprehensive analysis of a pitcher. Of course, using these statistics together will also afford a smart fantasy baseball fan the ability to draft the correct pitchers in the middle rounds, where all leagues are won and lost.
A Season You Have Probably Forgotten About By Now
The 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates were decidedly average. The Pirates finished 4th in the National League with a 78-76 record. Offensively, the team was mediocre on several fronts. For example, no individual Pirates achieved a .300 season, 30 HRs, 80 RBIs, or 15 SBs. They were simply…..average. Defensively, the team was charged with an NL leading 154 errors in 156 games. Obviously that is not good. Finally, the six starting pitchers for the ’59 Pirates had a cumulative record of 56-69. They were obviously not very successful either. Clearly the Pirates had little offensive punch, a poor defense, and below average starting pitching. The question that begs to be asked is, “How in the heck did the 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates manage to win more game than they lost?”
The answer is simple, Roy Face and his incredible forkball. Face had an 18-1 record with 10 saves as the team’s closer in 1959. The specialization of a bullpen, that is now standard operating procedure, was still being established as a legitimate way to properly manage a bullpen. Roy Face was the closer for the Pirates, yet he was used much differently than modern day closers. For example, Face pitched 93 innings and appeared in 57 games during the ’59 campaign. He had 30 games in which he pitched more than one inning. In fact, over the course of the season, he had 24- two inning appearances and 9- three inning appearances. He even had two appearances where he pitched 4 and 5 innings apiece and picked up the win in each game! For some perspective, Roy Face entered a game 20 times with men on base and only lost once.
What is even more incredible than an odds defying 18-1 record is the fact that Face’s numbers were above average, but certainly not league leading. He had a 2.70 ERA to go with a 1.24 WHIP. In fact, when taking a minimum of 90 innings pitched in the NL, here are Face’s ranks in the following statistics: ERA (5th), WHIP(15th ), BABIP( 5thworst), FIP( 1st), and LOB%(3rd).
Some rudimentary analysis of the numbers reveals two points. First, clearly Face was living the good life as a reliever. He was able to get out of tough spots and give up runs in the right situations that hurt the team minimally. Second, while he did get as lucky as any player has in baseball history, he still was the 5th unluckiest pitcher when it came to BABIP that year. When taking this into account with his feeble offense and stinky defense, Face had a season that can only be described as highly, highly improbable.
If you want to learn more about Face and a season you have probably forgotten about by now, SABR’s Baseball Biography Project has you covered with a great piece. Gary Gillette had a nice quote from a longtime Pittsburgh PR member Sally O’Leary that sums up how Face did it, “[T]he Pirate starters love to tell stories of how they would start a game, pitch really well, and somehow the game would get tied—Elroy would come in—and get the win!”
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