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Thursday
Jun022011

Hellickson Pops to the Top

Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL pitcher of the month award for May.  He posted a 1.36 ERA for the month despite an okay strikeout rate and a poor walk rate.  His strength lay in controlling the long ball, giving up just one home run in the month.

Looking beyond the three true outcomes, however, Jeremy did something else to induce outs.  The following table shows the distribution of balls in play based on hit type:

 

Hellickson in May 2011
Ball in play typeNumberBA against
Ground balls 32 .125
Fly balls 25 .160
Line drives 17 .647
Pop ups 16 .000

 

His distribution of pitches explains the first data line of that table:

Jeremy Hellickson, pitch frequency, May 2011.Hellickson kept the ball down, inducing a good number of ground balls.  With the good Rays defense behind him, most of those turned into outs.  What it doesn't explain is the fourth line of the chart.  Hellickson forced players into pop up almost as often as batters tagged his pitches for line drives.  Everyone of those pops came down in the glove of a fielder. 

To pop a ball up, the batter must get under it.  That's difficult to do when the pitcher is keeping the ball low.

Jeremy Hellickson, pop up pitch frequency, May 2011.Nine of these pop ups came on pitches in the middle or low in the strike zone.  The batter had to work to get under those.  It seems that Hellickson got batters so used to looking for low pitches, they started swing lower in the zone, and ended up under the ball.  His 16 pops induced ranked fifth in the majors in the month of May, helping him to the lunar cycle honor.

Thursday
Jun022011

Three Up Three Down - Rob Neyer

Today we launched our Three Up Three Down series with our Rob Neyer interview. Please check it out.

Three Up Three Down will post daily interviews with writers, celebrities, bloggers, fans and just about anyone that shares a passions for baseball. BaseballAnalytics.org. Please be sure to check it out every day.

Rob Neyer on being the MLB Commish:

I would probably be know for lasting about three months in the job, because both the owners and the players would probably hate my guts from the get-go. I think baseball should be run for the fans, while the owners think it should be run for the owners, the players for the players. I say a pox on both their houses. read more...

Thursday
Jun022011

Rob Neyer - SBNation.com

1. What's your favorite statistic / metric to use when evaluating the effectiveness of a pitcher?

You know, I don't really have one anymore. Lately I've found myself just sort of eyeballing the strikeouts and the walks and the home runs. But sure, I'll check out FIP and BABiP when I feel like making the extra effort.

2. If you were the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (BTW: we would have to call you “Bud”), what would you be known for?

Hmmm ... I would probably be know for lasting about three months in the job, because both the owners and the players would probably hate my guts from the get-go. I think baseball should be run for the fans, while the owners think it should be run for the owners, the players for the players. I say a pox on both their houses.

3. It’s time to play “Which and Why”. Which would you rather win and why?
• The Oscar for Best Actor
• MVP of the World Series 
• Dancing with the Stars Champion

This is an easy one ... MVP of the World Series, because it means I got to play baseball, and be good at it. The only thing that would compare, for me, would be writing a great novel. Which is nearly as unlikely as me playing in the World Series.

 

You can read more from Rob Neyer on SBNation.com. You can also follow Rob on Twitter at @RobNeyer.