FanPost

Midseason 2013 Update: Fielding- And Ballpark-Independent Outcomes of Hooks' and RedHawks' Starting Pitchers

USA TODAY Sports

Background

This is a companion piece to the FanPost that I published a week ago which examined how the Lancaster and Quad Cities starting pitchers are performing in 2013 at 4 mutually-independent fielding- and ballpark-independent outcomes. Now let us gaze similarly upon the starters of the Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City farm clubs.

Objective

The purpose is to grade the 2013 performance to date of the arms who have pitched semi-regularly in the Hooks’ and/or RedHawks’ starting rotations and have faced at least 150 batters on the minor league season (through games of June 24). A secondary aim is to identify how each pitcher has improved or worsened relative to their 2012 performance at the same skills.

Methods

Here again are the 4 statistics evaluated:

  1. BB&HBP%: Walks plus hit batsmen, divided by batters faced.
  2. K%: Strikeouts divided by batters faced.
  3. LD&OFFB %: The percentage of nonbunted batted balls that are line drives or outfield flyballs. Slugging on batted balls (and run allowance, logically) increases even as this increases.
  4. OFLD&OFFB Pull %: The percentage of outfield line drives and outfield flyballs that are hit to the batter’s pull-field third of the field. Slugging on batted balls increases even more as this increases.

Performance scores are generated for each of these stats based on how many standard deviations (SD) better/worse the player has been this season versus the mean of same-handed "starters" who pitched at the same level during 2012 (I’m deferring calculations of non-Astros starters’ 2013 statistics until the end of the season). A 20-to-80 scouting-type grading scheme is used where a 50 score indicates level-average performance, scores above 50 are better than level-average, and any 10 point change in the score amounts to 1 SD. An Overall Score is also computed by weighting the 4 statistical scores disproportionately (20% BB&HBP Score, 36% K Score, 22% LD&OFFB Score, 22% OFLD&OFFB Pull Score) and scaling the result away from 50 such that 10 points again amounts to 1 SD. Two SD better than average is outstanding (pitcher is equaling or bettering 97% of their peers); one SD better than average is also good (pitcher is equaling or bettering 84% of their peers).

Results

In the tables, scores that beat level-average by at least 1 SD are highlighted in green while those that trail it by at least 1 SD are in yellow. The number in parentheses indicates how many points by which the pitcher has improved versus his 2012 score.

Corpus Christi

Foltynewicz’ 2013 stats also include Lancaster data and have been updated to reflect games pitched since the prior post. Quevedo pitched almost exclusively in relief during 2012, and thus lacks reference data for his scores.

2013ccsp-midseasonupdate14pt_zps8b4ec88f_large

Breaking down Foltynewicz’ 2013 data by level would reveal a small step backward in BB&HBP Score (34 in AA vs 39 in High A), a small improvement in K Score (66 vs 62), a large 1.5 SD improvement in LD&OFFB Score (65 vs 49), and no change in OFLD&OFFB Pull Score. Being a bit better than level-average at each of the 4 stats enables Doran to rate very well on Overall Score and place a close 2nd to the sexier Foltynewicz. Martinez and Buchanan grade out similarly, rating 1.5 to 2 SD better than level-average at control and about 1 SD better than level-average avoiding line drives and outfield flyballs. Tropeano’s K Score (56 vs 64) and OFLD&OFFB Pull Score (45 vs 58) have each dropped by about 1 SD versus 2012 with the other 2 scores remaining rather stable. The recently-turned 22 Alaniz’ semi-aggressive promotion to AA has resulted in one noteworthy statistical change versus his 2012 Lancaster data – his K Score has fallen to 1 SD worse than level-average. Quevedo and Heidenreich have their similarities, each rating 1 SD better than level-average at control while struggling to collect strikeouts and avoid dangerous batted balls.

Oklahoma City

Only 5 pitchers qualified due to a slew of injuries (Alex White, John Ely, Rudy Owens, Wes Musick), major league promotions (Paul Clemens, Dallas Keuchel, Jose Cisnero, Jordan Lyles), and major league demotions (Philip Humber). Wojciechowski’s and Seaton’s stats also feature data accumulated while at Corpus Christi.

2013okcsp-midseasonupdate14pt_zps1da8e392_large

Cosart remains a pitcher of statistical extremes; an almost 2 SD 2013 improvement in K Score has him rating about 2 SD better than level-average at both strikeouts and avoiding line drives and flyballs, while a step backward in control puts him nearly 2 SD worse than level-average at BB&HBP Score. That Oberholtzer rates better than level-average at all 4 scores pushes his Overall Score up accordingly. In the early going of his 2013 Pacific Coast League campaign, Peacock is performing a bit better than level-average with the biggest change versus his 2012 same-league Sacramento data being a 1 SD improvement at avoiding line drives and outfield flyballs. Comparing Wojciechowski’s 2013 AAA data to his 2013 AA data shows no change in BB&HBP Score, a 1 SD decrease in K Score (59 in AAA vs 69 in AA), a 2.5 SD decrease in LD&OFFB Score (32 vs 58), and a 3 SD decrease in OFLD&OFFB Pull Score (37 vs 70); the batted ball data trends cast him as a pitcher who is surviving more so than thriving in his first taste of AAA competition. Seaton’s strikeout and control scores have really suffered in 2013 with 1 SD and 2 SD decreases versus his AA-biased 2012 scores, respectively, and batters continue to pull him at an alarming rate when they hit a line drive or flyball to the outfield.

Bonus: Age Scores and Organizational Performance Rankings

When grading the statistical performance of a pitcher, their age relative to level peers is also worthy of scrutiny. Similar to how the above scores were computed, an Age Score can be generated to quantify how many SD the player’s age is low or high relative to the mean of same-handed starters who pitched at that level in 2012. As before 50 indicates level-average age, an Age Score above 50 means that the player is young for their level, and any 10 points of Age Score amounts to 1 SD. Here are all of the full-season ball starters’ statistical scores, sorted by Age Score (scores of A and High A pitchers were computed using data through games of June 16, rather than through games of June 24). Percentiles have been added in parentheses to help illustrate what percentage of same-handed starters at the same level(s) the pitcher would stand to be outperforming on each score.

2013okcccsp-midseasonupdateagescorespercentiles14pt_zps6a30429d_large

Looking beyond Age Score and purely at Overall Score, the organization's Top 10 performing starters per this method for the first half of 2013 would be:

  1. Brian Holmes 73
  2. Jarred Cosart 67
  3. Lance McCullers 65
  4. Luis Cruz 63
  5. Aaron West 63
  6. Mike Hauschild 62
  7. Mike Foltynewicz 61
  8. Brett Oberholtzer 61
  9. Bobby Doran 59
  10. Brady Rodgers 57

More generally, that 20 of the 28 qualified starters who were examined in the two FanPosts rate level-average or better at Overall Score bodes well for the future of Astros' pitching. So which pitcher's scores do you find most surprising?

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