Bare Naked Pitchers – Part I

The Pittsburgh Pirates committed the 11th highest number of team errors in Major League Baseball last year. That’s a heap of errors by anyone’s standards when you consider that the Pirates are built to win with pitching and defense.

One of the things I wanted to know was, which pitcher tended to be more exposed to errors when they were on the rubber?

Here’s what I found:

First the coding — E Bat + Run is the total number of exposed players that pitcher had. That means, if nobody was on base and an error was made on that batter’s ball in play (BiP), the pitcher received 1 point. If two men were on base on the same play, then there were three players exposed so he received 3 points.

BF = number of batter’s faced. BB+K+HR+HBP is how many batters that pitcher faced that didn’t put the ball in play in the playable field. BF-HR simply subtracts BB+K+HR+HBP at bats from all batters faced to get to how many BiP that pitcher had he could have been exposed on.

% exposed takes the total number of exposed players on error plays (E Bat + Run) and divides it by the number of balls in play (BF – HR) that pitcher saw over the year.

BF Ave OPS is the median OPS of all batter’s faced. LEV is the leverage rate that reliever had in 2006 minus 1.0, which is start of game leverage condition. Follow the link above under LEV to learn more about leverage.

It isn’t perfect science but it does give us a good quick look at which pitcher was more exposed to team errors. The obvious answer to that is Roberto Hernandez. He was absolutely mauled and left naked by his defenders.

Ironically, Hernandez was the player who called the player’s only meeting last year stressing the players needed to step it up. No wonder he called a meeting – almost 16% of his runners and/or BiP batters were left exposed by his defenders. That’s enough to make you wonder who your friends are real quick.

And look at old man Marte – he saw over 10%. You have to wonder if he has many friends on the field as well. Gorzelanny had 9%. That had to be a huge blow to his confidence last year and it makes you wonder if he opens up this year trying to overpower everyone instead of pitching to contact.

McLeary was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time in mop up assignments and being left hung out to dry after he gave up hits that blew open a couple of games, so don’t take his 10% as meaning a whole lot.

On the other side of the spectrum look at Mike Gonzalez’s numbers and you quickly see one reason why he was in demand. Not only did he match up against the 3rd hardest OPS batters on opposing teams of any of our pitchers, his leverage was 1.65 over start of game conditions – which is a bit high even for closers, and he only saw 2% of his BiP runners and/or batters exposed. That’s outstanding for a closer and it is a figure that is going to be very hard for someone else to pickup on in 2007.

If you want to look through the group for a potential closer next year, Marte, Grabow, Torres, and Capps were all handed the ball in high leveraged situations by Jim Tracy last year. Torres and Capps fared the best in front of their defense and Bayliss might be the sleeper.

If you want to look at who had the most error-free friends behind them when they toed the rubber last year, it looked to be kewl man Kip Wells who faced 127 BiP opportunities and didn’t have to deal with one error. I hear you thinking out loud – Wells combined with the Cardinals defense might spell trouble. Yep – that’s probably exactly what Tony La Russa is thinking too.

Ok.. so now we know which pitchers were left naked by their defenders. Now we need to know who those defenders were and I’ll post that part next week (Part II is here).

– Additional Tidbit Information –

– 1 error was committed every 1.5 games in the first half vs every 1.7 games in the second half.

– The Pirates committed 104 team errors last year. There were a total of 100 men on base in those 104 BiP at bats. Two plays saw more than one error in the same BiP at bat.

2 Comments

this is kinda out of the blue, but do you know if nady was any good defensively at 3B in the minors, or if he even played 3B in his minor league career? A friend of mine claimed he did, and was alright defensively, and then thought that the pirates should put him at 3rd if they get an entertaining offer (like a jacque jones type) for RF.
Also, are you more of a Jose Castillo or Jose Bautista fan?

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