By George, the Numbers!
I know I'm taking a HUGELY jinx-able risk here with this post, but I wanted to bring some stuff into the forefront a bit. Don't worry, elsid and family, I've knocked quite hard on my oak kitchen/dining room table several times, of course, just in case.
What follows are a couple of things you might not have known about George's performance thus far in 2006. Not only is George the only pitcher (that's been on the roster for the entire year) who hasn't given up a home run, but he has also yet to allow any of his ERA-affecting runs to score himself. Sure, I suppose you could argue that Hargrove's choke-chain leash-snappings minimize this a bit, and that its moreso due to the LOOGY factor than anything. Still, he's made 41 appearances (to the tune of ~25 innings) and that's AT LEAST 41 opportunities to give up a long ball. That he hasn't is really quite remarkable. Even if he has faced mostly lefties.
Actually, though, while he has faced more lefties than righties, George's splits show that that gap isn't as far as it seems. Well, true, the gap between the RESULTS of George's lefty-righty splits is quite wide (but narrowing every day). But he's only faced 5 more lefties than he has righties. It felt a lot more like 2- or 3-to-1 to me.
Looking at the numbers, George has had 9 runners which he's left on base score. If I'm reading ESPN's stats correctly (and I don't know where else to find such stats), I see that he's inherited 34 baserunners (IR) and allowed 8 of them to score (IS). Elsid and I were chatting about this the other day, and he mentioned that JJ Putz is the bullpen leader, percentage-wise, in this stat (5 IS/25 IR according to JJ's ESPN stats), George is second and Soriano's 10/34 is third.
So, the IRAS (Inherited Runners Allowed to Score) for George is about even with his BRAS (Bequeathed Runners Allowed to Score). His K/BF and K/9 ratio is still quite good (over 9 K/9). The one thing that's affecting him are his hits, as well as his nearly doubled BB/9 and his well-weakened K/BB rate. He's putting a ton more guys on base in the first place this year. That it's continued past the halfway point is somewhat worrysome. Of course, we're probably rather biased (okay, there's no "probably" about it), but it does appear that George's strikezone is very inconsistent. Even on Opening Day it seemed to be apparent that George will have to get guys to swing in order for them to strike out. That could explain a bit of the jump in BAA (for righties anyway -- Fortunately George is still pretty much death to most lefties).
A consequence of leaving baserunners, multiplied with the LOOGY-choke-chain factor, is that his ERA is totally dependent on others' performances -- not that ERA is a good measure, of course, of a pitcher (especially a reliever). I know it isn't, and that looking at relievers' ERAs and judging them is total folly. But anyway, I digress...
Last year, it seemed to be JJ Putz or Jeff Nelson that padded George's ERA. This year, it seems to be Mateo. So, to be fair to Julio, I actually tried to put together a list of the guilty -- the guys who allowed George's runners to score once he left the game. As with all hypotheses, I wanted to verify my assumption and possibly gather some data to throw at folks when they ask me why I want the next move the M's make to be the Julio Mateo DFA (if they're not going to DFA Everett and Fire Hargrove).
So, I went back to George's Game Log on Yahoo (since it was the first place I found it) to track down when George was charged with a run. I then looked at the game logs and play-by-play data (not pitch-by-pitch, although I can totally see how much more helpful that might be to analyze) to see who gave up the run(s) and how.
I did my work first in Excel, and exported it into an HTML file, since that's the only way I know how to display tables in Blogger. The results? Of the 9 runs that other pitchers have surrendered on behalf of George, the breakdown appears as follows:
JJ Putz: 2
Sean Green: 2
Rafael Soriano: 3
Julio Mateo: 3
So, my theory that the load was unbalanced in Mateo's favor didn't pan out to be true. Soriano's equally guilty. I suppose that if I'm going to go deep into an anti-Mateo rant using those situations as an example, I'd be less than honest, and would have to bring Soriano into the discussion.
I know sample size is a huge issue here, but still. There's no conclusive data that points to the conclusion I wanted to make with it. Now you know why I rarely dabble in the numbers ;-) Still, although this tiny piece of analysis doesn't really support my original theory, the fact that Mateo leads the club in IRAS (with Woods being a close second -- and having a higher percentage) is cause for concern. Is it because he's getting a ton of inherited runners? Nope, he's 10 behind George and Raffey. Mateo and Woods are not the types of pitchers you want to have coming to the mound with runners on base.
But, unfortunately, Mateo's the guy that Hargrove loves to pull in to clean up the 'mess'. Here's to hoping that Lowe's confidence is built up by his success and that Hargrove's trust in Lowe develops him further.
And that George is allowed to clean up his own messes. I'm sick and tired of that sinking feeling when someone else is called upon to do so. They often don't get the job done...