Monday, May 7, 2012

Hughes' Good Start Raises More Questions

Hey! Look! I can still do it!

I'm sure a lot of Yankee fans are happy that Phil Hughes finally gave the Yankees a quality start. And by "quality start" I'm not simply talking about that silly stat used in place of wins in fantasy baseball leagues. Philthy went 6.2 innings, giving up three earned runs off of six hits, while walking only one and striking out seven. And although averaging a little over 17 pitches an inning isn't spectacular, it is a hell of a lot more efficient than Hughes has been so far this season (going into yesterday's start Phil was averaging over 20 pitches per inning).

Phil Hughes' locker does not have this logo above it.

Personally I'm a bit torn about Phil's game last night. That seems really weird at first, because I should be happy about any good start coming from the Yankees. Yankee starters have the 4th worst ERA in the American League (5.44), while the Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles have the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best ERAs respectively (the Red Sox have the 2nd worst ERA in the AL, at 5.88). 

But it comes down to really being intrigued by seeing guys like David Phelps get a chance to start games. David didn't exactly slay Goliath in his debut last Thursday against the Royals, going four innings and allowing two earned runs. However he did strike out five batters, while walking zero, which makes me think better days are ahead of him. 

Not Pictured: Royals and David Phelps

Although Ivan Nova has had it rough his last two outings, having given up a total of 11 earned runs over 11.2 innings, on top of a K:BB ratio of 8:7, I think his spot in the rotation is fairly secure. After all, Freddy Garcia didn't get yanked out of the rotation until his ERA ballooned to 12.51. It also took Nova 20 games since he lost on June 3rd of last year to add another "L" to his Win-Loss record. 

And as for CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, you can rest assured that we'll be seeing their name listed under "Starter" for the foreseeable future. 

So when Andy Pettitte makes his Yankee return, who will get the ax? Well, I think it'll be Phelps. Although ultimately I believe Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman will do what's best for the team, I can't help but think they'll keep giving Hughes a shot at starting until he makes it abundantly clear that he can't do it. In fact, if it wasn't for Mariano's injury, then there wouldn't be a good place for Hughes to fit outside of the rotation. Not with a bullpen already filled with more than enough arms to get them from the 7th through the 9th innings. Now that Rivera's out, a good spot seems to be there for Hughes. The only question is... how long before the team decided to put him here, and giving somebody like David Phelps a real shot?

Understand Sabermetrics : On Base Percentage (OBP)

The entire premise of the movie Moneyball, and the whole moneyball craze, was the thought that defense did not matter, home runs did not matter, batting average did not matter, the only thing that mattered was getting on base. I , without doing hours of research and still not getting a 100% correct  answer, would say that OBP was the first SABR stat that started it all when it comes to being in the mainstream media and being used to calculate value for players. OBP basically calculates the players ability to reach base without the help of a fielding error, fielders choice, dropped third strikes, fielders obstruction, or catchers interference.

The highest OBP ever posted, career wise, was Ted Williams when he posted a .482 OBP. The lowest ever was .194 OBP by Billy Bergen. The highest total for a single season was Barry Bonds when he posted a staggering .609 OBP.

 Here is how OBP is calculated:

On-base percentage (OBP) = (H + BB + HBP) / (AB + BB + HBP + SF)

Basically what you do is add the players number of hits, walks, and hit by pitches, and put that number aside to be used later. You then add the number of at bats, walks, hit by pitches, and sacrifice flies while putting that number aside. You then will divide the first number you got by the second number you got and you will have the players OBP.

Let's use a Yankee's 2011 season stats as a way to hopefully simplify it. Let's use Nick Swisher only because he was the first "moneyball" player that Billy Beane ever drafted using the system because he was the only player that he and traditional scouts could agree on.

In 2011 Nick has 137 hits, 95 walks, and 5 hit by pitches adding up to 237.

He had 526 at bats, 95 walks, 5 hit by pitches, and 8 sacrifice flies adding up to 634.

You will then divide 237 by 634, getting Nick's OBP of .374.

The modern era league average for OBP is considered to be .340. A good way to measure a "good" OBP is to compare it to the players batting average. Nick's 2011 batting average was only .260, meaning he has a OBP 114 points higher then his batting average. Anything over 100 points higher then your batting average is above average at getting on base. Anything 50-100 points is considered below average to average. If it is possible to be below 50 points would mean you are terrible at getting on base. Nick Swisher, Mr. Money Ball, is a great example of what Billy Beane was trying to draft when this craze started.

Yankees Off Day -- Music Recommendation

Monday May 7th 2012 is an off day for the Yankees so rather then me take an off day too I wanted to recommend yet another band/person that you may or may not have ever heard of. Today's lucky band is my personal favorite band, Smile Empty Soul. I am very excited because they have a new cd coming out this month on May 22nd.

Enjoy the music and enjoy the off day.