By the Numbers: Lack-ing owner support
There are still a few owners out there who don't believe in John Lackey. Our Al Melchior examines his stat trends as well as a bunch of others in his latest By the Numbers.
If you have been reading this "Lucky/Unlucky" feature for awhile, you have probably noticed that some players' good or bad luck has persisted for much of the season. Ramon Vazquez , Justin Duchscherer and Armando Galarraga have all maintained improbably favorable H/BIP rates for weeks on end, while Mark Ellis , Andrew Miller and Randy Johnson have been "unlucky" for so long, you have to start wondering if they will ever turn things around. For better or worse, some of these players may keep up their fluky performances for most or all of the season, but sometimes it just takes a player a while to come back down (or up) to earth. John Lackey is one of these players. A longtime regular on the "Lucky Pitchers" list, Lackey has been gliding along most of the year with a sub-2.00 ERA that was bolstered by a mid-20s H/BIP percentage. Just as it was starting to look like he was immune to bad luck, Lackey’s H/BIP finally changed course over the last couple of weeks.
After his first four stars, Lackey had a miniscule 1.80 ERA, but not all owners were buying it, as he was still either on waivers or reserves in 19 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. There was good reason for skepticism, as his strikeout (6.0 per nine innings) and home run (1.2 per nine innings) ratios were unimpressive and his ERC was a more humdrum 3.10. If you take Lackey's ratios at that point and project his stats with a more normal rate of hits per balls in play, you're looking at a pitcher with an ERA in the upper 3.00s who isn't helping much with Ks.
Despite the recent adjustment in Lackey's H/BIP, things have worked out well for his owners. It may not seem that way, as he has given up 11 runs and 23 hits over his last two starts, but his skill stats have been improving steadily, even through those two disastrous appearances. This is an encouraging sign for Lackey owners, because those two bombs were not a sign of him falling apart; it's just a streak of bad luck that was roughly equal to his earlier streak of good luck. With a 28 percent H/BIP and 2.92 ERC, now you can trust Lackey's stats. And they're pretty darn good: 6-2, 2.46 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 66 Ks in 80 1/3 innings. He is still not on an active roster in 17 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, so it's time to claim or activate him.
It's harder to know what's more strange: seeing Fernando Tatis name in boxscores again, or seeing him on this week's "Good Stats, Good Skills" list. His numbers, such as his .765 OPS, are actually pretty ordinary for an outfielder, but they are probably better than anyone expected. Tatis' .293 average and 19 RBI in 116 at-bats are also a reflection of some genuine power skills and not a disproportionate number of seeing-eye singles. His 35 percent H/BIP may seem high, but it's right on target for someone hitting a lot of hard grounders (1.9 ground ball-to-flyball ratio, .147 Isolated Power). His skill stats and H/BIP so far look just like those for Aaron Rowand , and that's not a bad skill set to emulate.
All statistics below are for season-to-date performances through Saturday, July 12.
|'Lucky' Hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||'Lucky' Pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Jerry Hairston , OF, Cincinnati||40%||8.2||Brandon Morrow , RP, Seattle||18%||1.93|
|Howie Kendrick , 2B, L.A. Angels||39%||5.8||Andrew Brown , RP, Oakland||21%||2.69|
|Ramon Vazquez , 3B, Texas||38%||6.9||Justin Duchscherer , SP, Oakland||21%||1.61|
|Edgar Gonzalez , 2B, San Diego||37%||4.5||Gavin Floyd , SP, Chicago White Sox||22%||3.47|
|Nick Punto , 3B, Minnesota||37%||6.1||Armando Galarraga , SP, Detroit||23%||3.15|
|Fred Lewis , OF, San Francisco||36%||5.7||Tim Wakefield , SP, Boston||23%||3.37|
|Clete Thomas , OF, Detroit||36%||5.3||Cory Wade , RP, L.A. Dodgers||24%||2.98|
|Brian Buscher , 3B, Minnesota||35%||5.1||Kevin Gregg , RP, Florida||24%||2.76|
|Ray Durham , 2B, San Francisco||35%||6.0||Scott Olsen , SP, Florida||25%||3.65|
|Miguel Montero , C, Arizona||35%||4.4||Oliver Perez , SP, N.Y. Mets||26%||4.77|
|Unlucky' Hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||'Unlucky' Pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Kenji Johjima , C, Seattle||22%||2.5||Jorge De La Rosa , SP, Colorado||37%||6.01|
|Carlos Ruiz , C, Philadelphia||23%||2.3||Bronson Arroyo , SP, Cincinnati||36%||6.34|
|Austin Kearns , OF, Washington||23%||3.0||Andrew Miller , SP, Florida||35%||4.79|
|Ronnie Belliard , 2B, Washington||23%||5.4||Rafael Betancourt , RP, Cleveland||35%||5.14|
|Freddy Sanchez , 2B, Pittsburgh||25%||2.3||Brian Wilson , RP, San Francisco||34%||4.31|
|Ramon Hernandez , C, Baltimore||25%||3.7||Darrell Rasner , SP, N.Y. Yankees||34%||5.06|
|Mark Ellis , 2B, Oakland||25%||4.7||Randy Johnson , SP, Arizona||34%||4.76|
|Kevin Millar , 1B, Baltimore||25%||4.7||Manny Corpas , RP, Colorado||34%||4.90|
|Willie Harris , OF, Washington||25%||4.5||Nate Robertson , SP, Detroit||34%||5.19|
|Jeff Francoeur , OF, Atlanta||26%||3.4||A.J. Burnett , SP, Toronto||34%||4.47|
|Good stats, good skills - hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||Good stats, good skills - pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Josh Willingham , OF, Florida||31%||7.5||Kerry Wood , RP, Chicago Cubs||30%||2.07|
|Marcus Thames , OF, Detroit||27%||6.5||Cliff Lee , SP, Cleveland||29%||2.21|
|Eric Hinske , OF, Tampa Bay||29%||6.2||Jorge Campillo , RP, Atlanta||28%||2.71|
|Troy Glaus , 3B, St. Louis||29%||6.0||John Danks , SP, Chicago White Sox||28%||2.81|
|Fernando Tatis , 3B/OF, N.Y. Mets||35%||4.9||John Lackey , SP, L.A. Angels||28%||2.92|
|Poor stats, poor skills - hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||Poor stats, poor skills - pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Matt Murton , OF, Oakland||26%||1.9||Miguel Batista , SP, Seattle||32%||6.88|
|Brendan Ryan , SS, St. Louis||30%||2.9||Brandon Backe , SP, Houston||30%||5.99|
|Michael Bourn , OF, Houston||27%||3.0||Mark Redman , SP, Colorado||32%||5.64|
|Yuniesky Betancourt , SS, Seattle||28%||3.2||Josh Fogg , SP, Cincinnati||30%||5.61|
|Gary Sheffield , DH, Detroit||25%||3.4||Garrett Olson , SP, Baltimore||32%||5.48|
Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27) -- An estimate of how many
runs a lineup would produce per 27 outs if a particular player
occupied each spot in the order; ex. the RC/27 for Miguel Cabrera
would predict the productivity of a lineup where Cabrera (or his
statistical equal) batted in all nine spots; created by Bill James
Component ERA (ERC) -- An estimate of a what a pitcher's ERA would be if it were based solely on actual pitching performance; created by Bill James
Base Hits per Balls in Play (H/BIP) -- The percentage of balls in play (at bats minus strikeouts and home runs) that are base hits; research by Voros McCracken and others has established that this rate is largely random and has a norm of approximately 30%
Isolated Power -- The difference between slugging percentage and batting average; created by Branch Rickey and Allan Roth
Walk Rate -- Walks / (at bats + walks)
Whiff Rate -- Strikeouts / at bats
Al Melchior was recently a Fantasy columnist and data analyst for Baseball HQ and will be providing advice columns for CBSSports.com. Click here to send him a question. Please put "Melchior" in the subject field.
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