DMB News June 2002
Diamond Mind Email Newsletter
June 25, 2002
Written by Tom Tippett
Welcome to the third edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter for the year 2002. Through these newsletters, we will try to keep you up to date on the latest product and technical information about the Diamond Mind Baseball game, related player disks, and our ongoing baseball research efforts. Back issues are available on our website.
Topics for this issue:
On June 27-28 (Thursday and Friday), our office will be open during our normal hours of 9am to 5pm Eastern time, but our technical staff will be attending the national convention of the Society for American Baseball Research.
Unfortunately, this means our ability to provide technical support during those two days will be severely limited. If you have an urgent need for support during that period, contact us at DiamondMnd@aol.com or 800-400-4803. If possible, we'll have someone call you back or reply to your email. If you have questions of a non-emergency nature, please contact us before or after those dates. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this might cause.
Our office will be closed for the Independence Day holiday on Thursday, July 4th and Friday, July 5th.
It has been a VERY long time since we last updated the Season Disk Exchange page on our web site. Long enough that some of you may have never heard of it or may have figured we'd given up on it entirely.
This page allows customers to share any season disks they have created for use with Diamond Mind Baseball version 7 or 8. Anything posted on this page is available for download by Diamond Mind customers at no charge. These seasons are provided on an as-is basis; in other words, we have not tested them beyond making sure they install, we cannot provide technical support, and any questions or comments should be directed to the author of the season disk.
To find the Season Disk Exchange page, go to www.diamond-mind.com, click on "About the Game" on the banner at the top of the page, then (after the next page appears) click on the Season Disk Exchange link.
We have just finished posting version 8 editions of the Pacific Coast League seasons that Stephen Davis created a few years ago. Stephen has upgraded some of those seasons and added some new ones. We'll try to find time to maintain this page monthly from this point forward.
If you wish to contribute a home-grown season disk, please send it along. To do so, please use the Backup command in DMB8 and send the backup file to us as an email attachment. We'll do our best to find time to give it a quick look and to post it to the Exchange page within a few weeks.
We are now in the 30th season of the Designated Hitter era, and while that notion is not a pleasant one for fans who prefer to see pitchers hit, it's part of our baseball reality.
And because many Diamond Mind customers enjoy playing in draft leagues that draw players from both leagues, it means that we need to take the DH rule into account when we rate players. We do so by rating everyone relative to league averages, but only after adjusting those averages for park effects and the presence or absence of the DH.
Last year, for example, the overall NL batting average was .261, but that represents a combination of a .267 average for non-pitchers and a .140 average for pitchers. Over in the AL, the non-pitchers batted .266 and the pitchers only .134. As has often been the case, the overall batting averages would have been about the same had pitchers batted with equal frequency in both leagues. (By the way, after adjusting for the DH rule, there were quite a few more homers in the NL than the AL last year, probably due to homer-friendly parks like Coors, Miller, and Enron plus the shorter fences at Cinergy.)
The effect of the DH rule isn't just felt in the batting averages. Compared to position players, pitchers walk a lot less, strike out a lot more, and hit for less power. They also ground into fewer double plays, mainly because they are asked to bunt in most situations where a double play might be a possibility.
They are also hit by pitches much less often. NL position players were hit by a pitch once every 101 plate appearances in 2001, while pitchers were hit only once every 270 times they took a bat in their hands.
NOTE: Since 1992, AL position players have been hit by pitches once every 92.2 plate appearances (PA). The rate was one per 92.7 PA in the NL. In other words, there isn't any evidence to suggest that AL pitchers have taken liberties because they haven't had to fear being thrown at themselves.We've been making these league-wide adjustments for the effects of pitcher hitting for as long as we've been in business, so that's nothing new. But ever since Randy Johnson switched leagues and his strikeouts jumped by about 60 per season, I've wondered how many of those additional Ks were chalked up against opposing pitchers.
This question brought to mind Bob Gibson's autobiography ("Stranger to the Game", written by Gibson with Lonnie Wheeler), in which Nellie Briles described some advice Gibson gave him when Briles was getting started:
"Let me tell you who I [Gibson] strike out. If I get nine strikeouts in a game, I'll probably strike out the sixth and seventh batters once or twice. I might strike out the eighth batter twice and I'll strike out the pitcher every time. That's about seven or eight right there. The good hitters are going to hit the ball most of the time no matter what I do. If you try to strike out the good hitters, that's when you make mistakes."
It seems as if Gibson was saying that he expected to pick up about three strikeouts per game against the opposing pitcher. We don't have enough play-by-play data from the 1960s to see whether Gibson was right about this, but we can do it for modern seasons.
So we wrote a program to compile stats for pitchers based on the batter's defensive position. The program shows us how Johnson did against opposing shortstops and right fielders, too, but we were really only interested in seeing how he did against opposing pitchers.
Let's get to the numbers, starting with the pitchers who struck out the most enemy hurlers in 2001:
Randy Johnson 33 Kerry Wood 30 Curt Schilling 29 Brad Penny 28 Kevin Appier 26 Jason Bere 26
Before running the program, I guessed that Johnson's total would be higher, and I'll bet Gibson would have predicted a higher number as well. But it turns out that he didn't face all that many pitchers, for reasons that now seem obvious:
- pitchers bat ninth, so they don't get up as early or often as other players,
- Johnson had more than his share of 1-2-3 innings, so the pitcher spot came around even less often than usual,
- his team was winning most of these games, so he usually saw a series of pinch hitters after the opposing pitcher had batted a couple of times, and
- he faced the DH in two inter-league starts.
Pitchers batted .055 with no extra-base hits and three walks against the Big Unit last year. Pinch hitters didn't exactly wear him out, either, averaging .185 with one double, two walks, and 13 strikeouts in 27 atbats. Not all of those pinch hitters were batting for the pitcher, but most were. (By comparison, Roger Clemens allowed opposing DHs to bat .250 with five doubles, two homers, and seven walks, striking out 25 in 88 atbats.)
The bottom line is that Johnson's move to the NL has helped his strikeout total. His strikeout rate against pitchers is higher than against position players, and it's also possible that he can conserve a little energy when facing a pitcher and deploy that energy against the other batters. And it's true that strikeout rates have been trending up for everyone. But Johnson has raised his game, too.
And while we're on the subject of pitcher hitting...
... want to make your manager really angry? Try walking the opposing pitcher. Here are the guys who did that most often in 2001:
Matt Clement 8 Russ Ortiz 6 Mike Hampton 6 AJ Burnett 5 Wade Miller 5
Clement's 8 walks came in only 58 plate appearances, meaning that he walked the opposing pitcher 14% of the time. That's more often than he walked position players last year.
When I saw Clement's name at the top of the list, it reminded me that I caught one of his starts on the dish a couple of months ago. When he took the hill against San Diego on April 30th, he was coming off back-to-back starts in which he struck out 24 and walked only one, making me wonder whether he'd finally gotten over his control problems. But in that San Diego game, he walked the pitcher the first two times up. Mental block, maybe?
Now, if you want to avoid ticking off your manager in that fashion, you've got to throw those pitchers some strikes. And sometimes those strikes will get hit. They might even get hit hard.
Pitchers hit 27 homers in 2001, and four hurlers (Kent Bottenfield, Miguel Batista, Jimmy Haynes, and Wade Miller) coughed up two each. Honorable mention goes to Felix Heredia, who served up a dinger to the only pitcher he faced all year, Mike Hampton. In Wrigley, not Coors, by the way.
San Diego's Bobby Jones did not have a good year in 2001. Despite working half his games in a pitcher's park, he posted a record of 8-19 with a 5.12 ERA and 250 hits allowed in 195 innings. And 37 of those hits were homers. It's hard to believe he was given 33 starts.
Even more amazing, however, were the 19 hits in 60 atbats he allowed to enemy pitchers. That's a .317 batting average if you're scoring at home. The leaders in hits allowed to opposing pitchers:
Bobby Jones 19 Livan Hernandez 15 Kevin Tapani 12 Shane Reynolds 10 Tony Armas 10 Woody Williams 10 Brad Penny 10
The leaders in batting average allowed to opposing pitchers (minimum 20 atbats):
Bud Smith 9 for 23 .391 Bobby Jones 19 for 60 .317 Lance Davis 8 for 26 .308 Joe Beimel 9 for 33 .274 Kevin Tapani 12 for 47 .255
For most hurlers, it's a welcome sight when their counterparts stroll toward the plate with bat in hand. Not so for these guys.