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Entries in Madison Bumgarner (7)


Bumgarner or Sale: Who's the Best Young Southpaw after Kersh?

No one will argue that Clayton Kershaw isn't the best pitcher in Major League Baseball at 25 years old or under, and I doubt many will refute the idea that he's well on his way to being the best pitcher of my generation. Heck, he just signed a seven-year, $215 million deal with the Dodgers -- giving him the largest average annual salary for a player in baseball history -- and has led all qualified starters in ERA in each of the past three seasons. Based on these facts alone, we can conclude that Kershaw takes the cake when it comes to dominant pitchers (both young and old).

But who's the next-best 25-or-under southpaw in baseball right now? This is a difficult question to answer, if only because there aren't many elite lefties. While Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg, and Jose Fernandez are the obvious leaders of an insanely talented crop of young right-handed pitchers, the same cannot be said for young southpaws outside of Kershaw. Two names stand out above the rest, however, and that's Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner.

Both are 24 years old. Both are entering their fifth full season in the majors. Both own career ERA marks around 3.00 (3.08 for Bumgarner, 2.97 for Sale). Both finished in the top 10 for their respective league's Cy Young Award voting last season. Both are exceptionally towering in stature (Bumgarner is 6'5", 235; Sale 6'6", 180) and both played for teams that didn't make the playoffs in 2013. The similarities are almost uncanny, am I right?

Unnaturally similar resumes aside, though, these two have clearly established themselves as the top 25-or-under southpaws in baseball after Kershaw. Which one is "better", you ask? Let's find out by evaluating the two in these areas: Command, ability to generate strikeouts and batted ball results.


Though Sale and Bumgarner boast similar pitch frequency heat maps over the past two seaons, one holds a distinct advantage in respect to command and control -- an aspect that is crucial to consider when evaluating starting pitchers. You can pump upper-90s fastballs around the plate all day long, but if you can't hit the mit where you need to, you won't last long in the majors.

  • Pounding the zone: Since 2012, Sale owns a 52.9% zone rate compared to Bumgarner's 49.9% mark. Yes, throwing more pitches in the zone doesn't always lead to success, but in this case it does: Sale's 37.9% called strike rate (third best among LHP since 2012) trumps Bumgarner's 32.5%.
  • Restricting free bases: Given his ability to pound the strike zone and paint the corners at a high rate, a lower walk rate has followed suit. Sale owns a 5.9% walk rate over the past two seasons while Bumgarner retains a slightly higher 6.7% walk rate, which is nearly at the 7.2% league average mark.

Command Advantage: Sale.

Strikeout Ability

If command is the most important means by which to evaluate a starter, then strikeout capacity and ability is an easy second, at least for me. Fortuitously, this is an area in which both Sale and Bumgarner have excelled to this point in their respective careers.

But the way in which the two go about punching out opponents is different; a whopping 49.8% of Sale's strikeouts occur in the strikezone (third-highest among qualified lefties since 2012) while Bumgarner uses his deception to expand opponents zones, as 59.4% of his strikeouts transpire outside the zone.

  • Expanding the zone: Since 2012, Sale owns a 30.4% chase rate juxtaposed to Bumgarner's 29.1%, so Sale gets the slight nod here. Neither are dominant in this area, though, as the league average mark in the last two seasons is 28.5%. We should consider that opponents swing more frequently at Bumgarner's stuff (47.7%) than Sale's (45.4%), however.
  • Swing and a miss: Sale separates himself from Bumgarner a bit more in generating swings-and-misses, however, as he owns a 25.2% miss rate opposed to Bumgarner's 23.6% miss rate. Neither are exceptional in this respect, again, as the league mark is 21.2% and league lead is owned by Francisco Liriano at 30.7%. The two are nearly identical when it comes to swinging strikes, with Sale boasting an 11.5% swinging strike rate and Bumgarner an 11.2% rate.
  • Simple Strikeouts: Then there's the generic strikeout rate. Sale reigns supreme here again, holding true to a 25.5% strikeout rate (sixth-best since 2012) compared to Bumgarner's 23.6%.

Strikeout ability advantage: Sale.

Batted Ball Results

Though I'm not the biggest proponent of evaluating pitchers strictly off opponents' numbers against them, they do maintain at least some merit. Looking at how batters fare against a pitcher statistically (i.e. SLG% against) can sometimes shed light on how effective (or uneffective) a pitcher's stuff is from a broad perspective.

  • Limiting XBH: While Sale maintains an advantage in command and strikeouts, Bumgarner gets the nod for holding opponents to lower success rates. Over the last two seasons, he's held batters to a .348 SLG% (ninth lowest among qualified starters) while Sale is just percentage points behind at .362 compared to the .402 league average.
  • More grounders: The ability to generate ground balls is an elite (and frankly unteachable) attribute for any pitcher, and Bumgarner again outperforms Sale in this regard. With a 47.5% ground ball rate since 2012, he outmatches the 44.7% league mark and trumps Sale, as well, whose 45% ground ball rate is essentially average.
  • In play or no? When it comes right down to it, pitchers are considered effective when they limit the amount of pitches that opponents put in play -- less pitches put in play generally leads to less hits. It's really that simple. For Bumgarner, this is another edge over Sale, as he owns a 36.9% in-play rate (fifth-best among lefty starters last season) compared to Sale's 38.8% mark.

Batted ball results advantage: Bumgarner.

So, Who's (Second) Best?

Considering everything we've just discussed, it seems as though Sale is the "better" pitcher, holding advantages in command and strikeouts. However, this is more of a question of preference; do you want a pitcher whose command is slightly better and who strikes out more batters (Sale), or do more ground balls and fewer pitches placed in-play tickle your fancy?

I'll take Sale, but we all know Kershaw is the most elite arm in the game.


Slip slidering away

The slider is a great pitch.
It's the fastest breaking pitch thrown, but not as fast as a four-seam or two-seam fastball. It is faster than a curveball with a later horizontal break.
This season, batters are hitting .207/.249/.335 against the slider.

Pitchers who love the slider

Pitchers who have thrown the most sliders through 9/12/13
Yu Darvish (TEX) 1169
Madison Bumgarner (SF) 1108
Ervin Santana (KC) 1143
Bud Norris (BAL) 995
Ryan Dempster (BOS) 810
Ricky Nolasco (LAD) 832
Kyle Lohse (MIL) 747
Mat Latos (CIN) 726
Kevin Correia (MIN) 715
Matt Cain (SF) 748

Throwing it doesn't mean throwing it well

Half of the top 10 have a higher BAA
Pitchers who have thrown the most sliders through 9/12/13
Yu Darvish (TEX) 1169 .151 .212 .236
Madison Bumgarner (SF) 1108 .215 .282 .321
Ervin Santana (KC) 1143 .170 .204 .307
Bud Norris (BAL) 995 .259 .295 .378
Ryan Dempster (BOS) 810 .275 .357 .468
Ricky Nolasco (LAD) 832 .181 .208 .295
Kyle Lohse (MIL) 747 .263 .297 .410
Mat Latos (CIN) 726 .182 .207 .268
Kevin Correia (MIN) 715 .267 .306 .462
Matt Cain (SF) 748 .194 .234 .325
I hope you notice there are some very good pitchers on this list
2013 pitchers (min 400 sliders)
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) 505 131 .288 .313 .520
Dylan Axelrod (CWS) 515 137 .288 .350 .512
Ryan Dempster (BOS) 810 252 .275 .357 .468
Homer Bailey (CIN) 464 131 .273 .290 .414
Lance Lynn (STL) 444 134 .273 .331 .430
Dillon Gee (NYM) 495 139 .272 .288 .412
Jason Hammel (BAL) 429 121 .268 .322 .491
Kevin Correia (MIN) 715 225 .267 .306 .462
Kyle Lohse (MIL) 747 231 .263 .297 .410
Jason Marquis (SD) 578 193 .260 .344 .414

Then there are slider aficionados

These pitchers are having very good seasons and you can see how the slider has helped them
2013 Most Effective Sliders Pitchers (min. 400 sliders)
Justin Masterson (CLE)792220.110.183.180
Patrick Corbin (ARI)666217.121.190.201
Jhoulys Chacin (COL)486166.123.170.221
Chris Sale (CWS)865217.140.207.235
Max Scherzer (DET)546141.141.177.200
Sergio Romo (SF)418123.144.171.220
Francisco Liriano (PIT)786239.150.232.215
Yu Darvish (TEX)1169358.151.212.236
Tyson Ross (SD)541179.152.223.177
Adam Ottavino (COL)570162.158.217.226

No report on Sliders would be complete without the Indians mascot


Nine to Know: The Giants win 2-0, Up 2-0

1. Just a thought for Tigers fans - The Giants won Game 2 of the World Series and held the Tigers to two hits and won 2-0. On October 5, 1962, in Game 2 of the World Series, the Giants held the Yankees in San Francisco to three hits and won 2-0.

  • The winning pitcher for the Giants was Jack Sanford and the losing pitcher for the Yankees in Game 2 1962 was Ralph Terry.
  • In Game 7, 1962, in San Francisco, the Yankees won, 1-0, and the winning pitcher was Terry, the loser was Sanford.

2. Last night was the 50th postseason game in which the losing team was held to two hits or less and the 24th in World Series play.

3. Madison Bumgarner was brilliant last night mixing his pitches and changing location while striking out eight.

  1. In the 1st, Bumgarner struck out Austin Jackson looking at an 86 MPH slider.
  2. In the 1st, Bumgarner struck out Omar Infante swinging at an 88 MPH slider.
  3. In the 2nd, Bumgarner struck out Avisail Garcia swinging at an 88 MPH slider.
  4. In the 3rd, Bumgarner struck out Doug Fister swinging at an 87 MPH slider.
  5. In the 3rd, Bumgarner struck out Austin Jackson swinging at an 91 MPH four seamer.
  6. In the 5th, Bumgarner struck out Delmon Young swinging at an 75 MPH curveball.
  7. In the 6th, Bumgarner struck out Gerald Laird swinging at an 89 MPH four seamer.
  8. In the 6th, Bumgarner struck out Omar Infante swinging at an 89 MPH four seamer.

4. Of the 52 teams to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series, 41 have gone on to win the title including 14 of the last 15.

5. The critical moment in this game came in the 2nd inning when Prince Fielder was thrown out at the plate with no one out. Had Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont made the correct call and held Fielder at third, Jhonny Peralta would have been the batter with runners on second and third and no out.

Peralta with runners on second and third and no out this season

  • During the regular season, with a runner on third and less than two outs, Peralta was successful in getting the runner home 11 times (39%).
  • During the season with runners on second and third and no out, Peralta was 7-for-24 (and two walks) with two doubles, one homer, four strikeouts, and seven RBI.

6. Now they know how the Yankees felt - In the ALCS, the Tigers pitchers had a 1.38 ERA and a 0.872 WHIP. In Games 1 and 2 of the World Series, the Giants pitchers had a 1.50 ERA and a 0.778 WHIP.

7. The Tigers always held lead sweeping the Yankees and have never held the lead in losing Games 1 and 2 of the World Series.

8. Striking out much?

  • The Giants have struck out 16 times in the first two games of the Series with Hunter PenceGregor Blanco and Brandon Belt whiffing three times each. In 14 postseason games, the Giants have whiffed 106 times (7.57 strikeouts per game) with Brandon Belt whiffing 15 times and Hunter Pence whiffing 14 times.

  • The Tigers have struck out 17 times in the first two games of the Series with Austin Jackson striking out four times and Omar Infante whiffing three times. In 11 postseason games, the Tigers have whiffed 86 times (7.81 strikeouts per game) with Austin Jackson whiffing 14 times and Omar Infante whiffing 12 times.

9. Time to shut up out

Postseason shutouts by the Giants

DateSeriesGm#Tm ▴OppRsltIPHBBSO
1905-10-09 WS 1 NYG PHA W  3-0 9.0 4 0 6
1905-10-12 WS 3 NYG PHA W  9-0 9.0 4 1 8
1905-10-13 WS 4 NYG PHA W  1-0 9.0 5 3 4
1905-10-14 WS 5 NYG PHA W  2-0 9.0 5 0 4
1913-10-08 WS 2 NYG PHA W  3-0 10.0 8 1 5
1917-10-10 WS 3 NYG CHW W  2-0 9.0 5 0 5
1917-10-11 WS 4 NYG CHW W  5-0 9.0 7 1 7
1921-10-13 WS 8 NYG NYY W  1-0 9.0 4 5 3
1922-10-06 WS 3 NYG NYY W  3-0 9.0 4 1 2
1923-10-12 WS 3 NYG NYY W  1-0 9.0 6 3 4
1962-10-05 WS 2 SFG NYY W  2-0 9.0 3 3 6
1987-10-07 NLCS 2 SFG STL W  5-0 9.0 2 4 6
2003-09-30 NLDS 1 SFG FLA W  2-0 9.0 3 0 5
2010-10-07 NLDS 1 SFG ATL W  1-0 9.0 2 1 14
2010-10-19 NLCS 3 SFG PHI W  3-0 9.0 3 3 7
2010-10-28 WS 2 SFG TEX W  9-0 9.0 4 3 2
2010-10-31 WS 4 SFG TEX W  4-0 9.0 3 2 8
2012-10-19 NLCS 5 SFG STL W  5-0 9.0 7 1 8
2012-10-22 NLCS 7 SFG STL W  9-0 9.0 7 4 8
2012-10-25 WS 2 SFG DET W  2-0 9.0 2 2 9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/26/2012.

Detroit's postseason games in which they have been shut out:

DateSeriesGm#TmOpp RsltIPHBBSO
1907-10-12 WS 5 CHC DET W 2-0 9.0 7 1 4
1908-10-13 WS 4 CHC DET W 3-0 9.0 4 0 4
1908-10-14 WS 5 CHC DET W 2-0 9.0 3 4 10
1909-10-16 WS 7 PIT DET W 8-0 9.0 6 1 1
1934-10-09 WS 7 STL DET W 11-0 9.0 6 0 5
1935-10-02 WS 1 CHC DET W 3-0 9.0 4 4 1
1940-10-07 WS 6 CIN DET W 4-0 9.0 5 2 2
1945-10-03 WS 1 CHC DET W 9-0 9.0 6 5 4
1945-10-05 WS 3 CHC DET W 3-0 9.0 1 1 1
1968-10-02 WS 1 STL DET W 4-0 9.0 5 1 17
1972-10-08 ALCS 2 OAK DET W 5-0 9.0 3 0 2
2006-10-24 WS 3 STL DET W 5-0 9.0 3 0 6
2012-10-09 ALDS 3 OAK DET W 2-0 9.0 4 2 11
2012-10-25 WS 2 SFG DET W 2-0 9.0 2 2 9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/26/2012.