Sometimes, finding nothing is interesting. It’s obviously not exciting as finding *something*, but it’s not a waste of time.
For example, Blake Murphy went looking for an expected walk rate for pitchers given different plate discipline peripherals. You’d think, if given a pitcher’s percentage of pitches in the zone, and batters’ propensity to reach (and miss) for pitches outside the zone, you might be able to get a sense of their future walk rate. After all, not walking a guy is as simple as throwing the ball in the zone, and getting batters to turn a couple walks into strikes for you, right?
Murphy couldn’t predict walk rate any better than previous walk rates. This, after finding some success predicting strikeout rates using velocity and swinging strike rates (FanGraphs’ Michael Barr had similar findings). That might be because there are confounding factors that aren’t easy to quantify — repeatability of mechanics, consistency of release points, and the severity of movement on the pitches — or it might be because we need to weight each of the variables differently to get there. Control (and command) is a difficult thing to suss. Even guys with similar walk rates have different levels of control and command.
But this wouldn’t be a good column if I just shrugged and said — eh, we can’t know! (Who knows if it’s a good column anyway, but there’s no need to give the opposition more evidence.)
I may be referring to myself more than I’d like to admit when I suggest that as human beings, we’re probably not as open as we should be to such things as nuance when seeking answers to big questions. We tend to like things that are simple because we’re pretty simple ourselves. Unfortunately, the simplest answer doesn’t necessarily share very much in common with the most accurate answer.
In baseball, this is best represented by our collective curiosity over what we consider to be the best pitches. Water cooler conversation was practically invented for conversations sparked with questions along the lines of: “Who do you think has the best curve ball in the Majors?”
Ichiro! Kris Medlen and the beginning of the end for the Washington Nationals. It is the last Getting Blanked show of your week, featuring a very special Geekin’ Out with Eric Thames of the Seattle Mariners, who brings Dethklok into the conversation. For real.
Avoid delays and get the Getting Blanked Show to your ear holes tout de suite, please subscribe on iTunes or to the Youtube feed right here. The podcast and other life-changing materials are also available via the RSS feed.
On today’s Getting Blanked Show, we lament/celebrate the rise and continued success of the Baltimore Orioles, express our amazement over Atlanta Braves starter Kris Medlen’s recent success, pretend to feel pity for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and then discuss the merits of the six man rotation. This, and a whole lot more that has a much better chance than any Shins song of actually changing your life.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be posting these a little bit later than usual. To avoid these delays, and get the Getting Blanked Show to your ear holes in a more timely manner, please subscribe on iTunes or to the Youtube feed right here. The podcast and other life-changing materials are also available via the RSS feed.