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And for my next trick...

It’s miscellaneous numbers day here at VEB and I intend to start w/ the dominance of our pitching staff. One of the truest measures of a pitcher’s dominance is his ability to induce swinging strikes. If a pitcher can get a hitter to swing and miss, he’s got good stuff. Which pitcher has the highest percentage of swinging strikes on our staff? The answer is Dennys Reyes, coming in at a robust (you didn’t think I could mention his name w/o some sort of pun, did you?) 19%. (He’s actually tied w/ Mitch Boggs.) Here are the numbers in full:

# of strikes % looking % swinging
Reyes 223 29 19
Boggs 231 26 19
Miller 241 29 17
Wainwright 1419 31 15
Carp 895 28 15
Motte 392 27 15
Franklin 368 32 14
Wellemeyer 1096 26 13
Lohse 751 32 12
McClellan 415 28 12
Pineiro 1164 29 9

It’s something that Pineiro, w/ his success this year, is at the bottom of this list but you should also notice that only Wainwright’s thrown more strikes this year and, in fact, he’s averaging only 3.43 P/PA – lowest on the team outside of Brad Thompson. To me, Boggs’ appearance at the top of this list is notable in light of Wellemeyer’s struggles this year. To me, despite the fact that he’s thrown just 400 pitches so far this year, his 19% swing and miss rate is an indicator that he can get big league hitters out. I’m not Tony, of course, but I’d trust him more than Wellemeyer every 5 days. (I’m posting this Sunday night as I’m heading to St. Louis to watch the series against the Dodgers so hopefully by Thursday, Boggs will have replaced Wellemeyer in the rotation.)

Next, we all know that "there is no such thing as ‘personal catchers’ w/ Tony so you can dismiss this next bit of information as completely irrelevant.

Pitchers’ ERAs by catcher in 2009:

Yadi 3.71
LaRue 4.44

Yadi’s clearly the better catcher, right? Pitchers perform better w/ Yadi behind the plate, correct? Now try this one on for size:

Games started by pitcher w/ Jason LaRue behind the plate:

# of starts
Wellemeyer 8
Thompson 2
Lohse 2
Pineiro 1
Boggs 1

Maybe we can’t tell much from catchers’ ERAs after all.

Finally, one of the unheralded elements of baseball is a player’s ability to run the bases. Generally speaking, faster players are better base runners than slower runners, ceteris paribus, b/c their speed allows them to take the extra base more often. They also steal more bases than slower base runners, by and large. So let’s take a look at some of the Cards’ base running stats for the season so far.

First of all, BP – which most agree does base running stats as well or better than anyone – has the Cards as the majors’ 9th best base running team so far this season and 5th in the NL. They have us as adding 2.56 runs as a team just by being able to take the extra base and steal bases well. Now, it’s important to understand that that’s only a quarter of 1 win but it translates to about 4 runs over a full season. So while base running matters, the difference between the majors’ best base running team and the worst is about 3 – 3.5 wins over a full season. Last year the difference was 33 runs – about 3 1/3 wins.

As far as our best and worst base runners go, it should come as no surprise that Yadi and Joe Thurston are at the bottom – Yadi b/c he’s slower than D.C. rush hour traffic and Thurston b/c it seems like every time he reaches base he’s pulling a Suppan-in-the-’04-Series base running snafu. At the top of the list is that guy who still has a lot to learn about playing this darn game. EQBRR is Equivalent Base Running Runs which is equal, essentially, by players advancing on hits, ground outs, fly balls, as well as stolen bases. Lugo’s, DeRosa’s, and Holliday’s numbers include their numbers from their previous teams.

Rasmus 2.38
Ludwick 1.56
Schumaker 1.47
Ryan 1.00
Lugo 0.00
Ankiel -0.09
Pujols -0.58
DeRosa -0.68
Holliday -0.74
Thurston -1.07
Yadi -2.84

Rasmus’s numbers place him 25th in the majors while Yadi’s place him (gulp!) 687th. Many of you are saying, "Bullshit! Albert’s one of the best base runners in baseball. Proof is in the fact that he leads the team in steals!" My response to that is that Albert does the best he can w/ what he’s got but he’s just not very fast. He does run the bases extremely well but he also has physical limitations that don’t allow him to take as many extra bases as many other players take. Albert is actually least effective in taking the extra base on hits and on what BP calls "Equivalent Other Advancement Runs" which, I suppose, means advancing on wild pitches, passed balls, taking the extra base on overthrows or going to third on bad pickoffs at 1st…stuff like that. Again, as you see, the difference between the team’s best and the team’s worst nearly 2/3 of the way through the season is about half a win but, as close as this division is and will likely be the rest of the way, every half a win counts.