The Only Stats That Matter: One Pitcher vs. One Batter


With the caveat that Berra The Yogi was right—“In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”—let’s try to discover stats that will likely allow us to predict something about baseball; especially batters and pitchers.

Have you ever heard this nonsense?

Baseball announcer:

“Boswell has hit well against the Pirates; his lifetime batting average against Pittsburgh is .455.”

It’s useless information, Boswell has not been batting against ALL the Pirates for the past 9 years; he hasn’t even been battling against ALL the Pirates’ pitchers.

He HAS had at bats against certain Pirates pitchers over the years, but he has not batted against the Pirate pitcher on the mound in the game today.

>>>POINT: The only relevant stat for Boswell [or any batter] is the one on the mound today; the only potentially valid stat is this batter’s past record against the pitcher he is currently facing in the game today.

 

Suppose Boswell is facing Ralph Rush in the game against the Pirates. And, to make it interesting, suppose Boswell has faced Rush, when the pitcher was previously with the Phillies and the Mets.

Then, the announcer should be provided all the ABs that Boswell had against Rush, regardless of the team that Rush pitched for.

Also, suppose Boswell has played for other teams as well; then all of his ABs against Rush, regardless of the team Boswell batted for are significant.

Thus, Boswell has had great success against Rush; in 55 total ABs, Boswell has his .455 with 6 HRs, and 22 RBIs.

How many times have you heard a baseball announcer say?

“Johnson has pitched well against the Red Sox; his lifetime ERA average against them is 2.88.”

More nonsense.

Johnson has not been pitching against ALL the Red Sox batters for the past five, or more, decades.

He HAS pitched to certain Red Sox batters over the years; he has even pitched against the Boston batter at the plate in this game.

>>>POINT: The only relevant stat for Johnson [or any pitcher] is his past record against the batter he is currently facing in the game today.

Hence:

“Johnson has baffled McDuffy over the years; McDuffy has a career record of just .125 in 64 ABs and has only managed 4 singles and a walk.”

In the Pre-internet Era, print media and TV/radio announcers were provided with “inside” stats by the MLB teams.  Today, any fan with internet access, can find out how any batter has fared against any pitcher.

Find the Pitcher’s page on MLB and use the “Batter vs. Pitcher” link and choose the opposing team.  EX:  we choose the Tampa Bay Rays, a possible WC winner and Sox ALDS opponent.

FELIX DOUBRONT CAREER STATS

Doubront vs.

PLAYER

SEASON

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Escobar, Yunel 2013 10 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 .200 .333 .200 .533
Jennings, Desmond 2013 11 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 0 0 .182 .308 .182 .490
Johnson, Kelly 2013 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Joyce, Matt 2013 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Lobaton, Jose 2013 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Loney, James 2013 8 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 .125 .222 .125 .347
Longoria, Evan 2013 11 2 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 .364 .417 .455 .871
Molina, Jose 2013 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .250 .400 .250 .650
Myers, Wil 2013 8 0 3 0 0 0 3 1 0 1 2 0 .375 .444 .375 .819
Roberts, Ryan 2013 2 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 2.000 2.500
Rodriguez, Sean 2013 10 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 0 .100 .100 .200 .300
Scott, Luke 2013 10 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 3 0 0 .200 .250 .200 .450
Zobrist, Ben 2013 8 1 2 0 0 0 0 3 0 2 1 0 .250 .455 .250 .705
TOTAL 2013 89 6 20 2 0 1 6 11 0 22 3 0 .225 .314 .281 .595

While the sample size effects the predictive value, we note that Myers has 3 hits and 3 RBIs; Scott and Rodriguez cannot buy a hit against Doubront; Longoria does well.

http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=467094#gameType=%27R%27&sectionType=bvp&statType=2&season=2013&level=%27ALL%27&bvpTeam=139&bvpPlayer=

Suppose the Sox face Francona’s Indians in the ADLS and the Game One starters are Lester and Jimenez.

To find out how the Sox batters fared against Jimenez, you would start on the Indians’ team page:

http://cleveland.indians.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=cle

Click on the ROSTER choice at the top of the page and you are here:

http://indians.mlb.com/team/roster_active.jsp?c_id=cle

Find Jimenez and click on his name and you are here:

http://indians.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=434622#gameType=%27R%27

Scroll down to about the first ¼ of the page and find:

UBALDO JIMENEZ CAREER STATS

Click on the last choice “Batter vs. Pitcher” and you will see:

UBALDO JIMENEZ CAREER STATS

Jimenez vs. [CHOOSE]

Please choose an opposing team or player to see results.

Use the drop-down menu to select the Boston Red Sox.

Bingo! You have a list of the Sox batters and their stats against Jimenez:

PLAYER

SEASON

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Ciriaco, Pedro 2013 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 - .000 - .000
Ellsbury, Jacoby 2013 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Garcia, Avisail 2013 5 1 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 .400 .500 .600 1.100
Gomes, Jonny 2013 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 1.000 - 1.000
Middlebrooks, Will 2013 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 1.000 - 1.000
Napoli, Mike 2013 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000
Nava, Daniel 2013 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Pedroia, Dustin 2013 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .500 .000 .500
Ross, David 2013 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 - 1.000 - 1.000
Victorino, Shane 2013 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .500 .000 .500
TOTAL 2013 11 5 4 2 0 0 4 6 0 2 1 0 .364 .556 .545 1.101

Given the small number of ABs, there isn’t much of stat value here.

Now you know how each Boston batter did against this pitcher.

We found Lester’s page and discovered that Asdrubal Cabrera “owns” Lester with a .571 BA, 4 for 7.

http://redsox.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=452657#gameType=%27R%27&sectionType=bvp&statType=2&season=2013&level=%27ALL%27&bvpTeam=114&bvpPlayer=

 

Cabrera, Asdrubal 2013 7 1 4 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 0 .571 .571 .714 1.286

We also noted that Lester has not given up a HR against the primary batting order.

Also, Lester “owns” Mark Reynolds:

Reynolds, Mark 2013 13 1 3 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 .231 .333 .385 .718

Since, with a large enough sample of ABs, it should be more predictive of performance, you may find that you can anticipate–even predict–how a Red Sox batter might hit during a particular game in 3 or 4 ABs against a certain starter.

Why do some batters “own” certain pitchers?

We will speculate on that question in our next article:

“Why do some batters “own” certain pitchers?”

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Tags: Performance Pitcher Vs. Batter Prediction Stats

  • jimfetterolf

    Good piece, that’s the stuff coaches and managers see and make decisions on. Big stats are fun and useful for fantasy, but in the real world they need to be weighted down to individual match-ups.

    • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

      Jim, Great thanks for the encouragement. Next up, “Why do some batters “own” certain pitchers?” We take a look at arcs and angles.
      Will look forward to your comments.
      Earl

  • Eric Davis

    I agree with your general premise that the most important stat is likely the history of an individual pitcher against an individual batter. However I do think you are leaving out park effect, which could have a tangible influence as well. The particular tendencies of hitters and where the ball tends to land off of their bats is a consideration here. A line drive hitter can pepper the green monster for doubles and long singles or they might homer in a park without that big left field fence. Conversely, a player who flies out to left in most parks might hit homers like crazy at Fenway. So in cases like that to say a hitter doesn’t hit a “team” well, although it might be more accurate to say they don’t hit well in a particular park – but then again what team are they facing in that park? ;-)