Paxton's No-Hitter
And an ESPN junk stat

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Q.  What did the Mainframe like best about Zeus' lightning storm?

A.  Some very kind amigo on D-O-V referred to the idea that it's fun to see a game through somebody else's eyes.  For some reason that just pinned me to the back of my seat.  At this point, it's not always necessarily the case that we can tell you anything you don't know about this roster.  But it can be info-taining to compare points of reference.

I'll remember that!  :- )  Thanks Gentle Denizen.

...

Paxton came out with casually dominant body language, the "Ain't No Thang" feel that we've been longing for.  Usually, even when K-Pax wins a game, he's teetering and tentative, as though he could suddenly run off the rails at any moment - Randy Johnson, 1991-1992.  His CG always looks uncertain, even timid.

He wasn't throwing the ball his best; the pitch speeds were 94-96, even dipping to 92 where it became a little tough to differentiate between foshball and fastball.  BUT!  Whether he wound up for a fastball, or a curve, or a "slider"/slashball, he pushed forward into a confident extension, and accelerated the CG through confidently and smoothly.  

No, not confidently; he accelerated the CG easily, in a Zen-positive way.  Dr. D can't paint a word picture to express his joy.  The curveballs were crackling in to BOOM thunder at the knees, or else they barely missed, too far inside.  Almost never high.  The foshball hit its spot or it came in shin high, or popped a cloud of dirt into Zuumball's mask.

99 MPH or not, THAT is what we're looking for in Paxton.  Three pitches, one foot plant, one release point, total command of himself, of his own three pitches, and therefore total command of the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Q.  What then was the pitch mix?

A.  60-25-15.

But it was a Moyer 60-25-15, not a Paxton 60-25-15 in which the 25-15 are for show (except for two strikes; then ONE of the offspeed pitches is used as a putaway).  The Moyer 60-25-15, the pitcher reaches back for any pitch at any time.

Zeus was 15-for-23 on the curve ball, and the other 8 were mostly inside, back foot to righties.  It was beautiful, man.

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Q.  How much of a luck factor in the no-hitter?  Was it a defensive masterpiece by Seager and the gang?

A.  There's no such thing as a no-hitter the pitcher didn't deserve.

But to answer the question, I thought the luck factor was about average for a no-hitter.

.....

There were 'only' 7 strikeouts (and 15 whiffs), but the Jays hit very few balls hard in the first 6-7 innings.  There was Gordon's weird, circular route to take away a short single, and a nice play by Seager.

In the 7th-9th, there were two or three great plays.  Kyle Seager laid out down the 3B line for a ball and then one-hopped it to 1B; very nice, but let's not make it the end of the world.  He's protecting the line with a 5-run lead late.  It was a good play; Luis Aparicio performing a miracle, maybe not.  Not to be pusallanimous, I give the play a 7-8 on a scale of 10.

Ben Gamel caught a ball running against the fence; if he doesn't catch it, he's ..... well, he's Ichiro.  Gordon caught a 105 MPH knuckleball right at him on the next play.  For some reason on the M's website you can catch the alternative theory that the M's awesome defense turned a 4-run, 8-hit game into a no-no.  :: shrug ::  to each his own.  Fangraphs has the Jays for 10 grounders (mostly fungo balls right at infielders), 7 flyouts (all skied and only Gamel's near the wall), and 2 line drives.

But Paxton humped up in the 9th, hitting 97, then 98, then 99, and then 100 on his 99th pitch of the game.  When Seager smothered the last out, Paxton had taken one more step towards believing that he is a great pitcher.

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Q.  Anything else?

A.  ESPN had a junk stat.  Only 2 pitchers have thrown back-to-back 15K, no-hit games.  Paxton and Scherzer.  Dipoto pointed out that in the 16K game, the spin rate on Paxton's fastball was the highest of his career.  In other words, Pax was snapping the fingers with extra 'elan, and we were hoping to see that again yesterday.  Alas, no.  What we did see was the attitude carry through.

It's a new point of reference to watch in every Paxton start, whether he gets that vicious fingersnap, ergo that ferocious spin and life and ergo that high fastball that cannot be touched.

For some reason Sully missed that point in this long article on the 16K game, but it's still a great read.  The Baseball Savant graph is worth the clickthrough alone.

Dr. D refers to Paxton as a "young pitcher" because K-Pax continues to remind so much of Randy Johnson, just before the Unit.

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BABVA,

Dr D

Blog: 

Comments

1
hanjag's picture

That was awesome.

 

On a side note, It has been a month you were missed.

3
Balkyboy's picture

Remembering the protracted, stuttering, but amazing development of Randy Johnston, I think maybe there was more than a few of us that thought when Paxton was drafted, "I want to watch this".  You saw this gangly creature, parts all there but not fully assembled, waiting for the tightening, the integration, the sychronization.  The final form in motion:  a gazelle but with longer stride than the others on the grass.  The left arm a catapult of extra leverage.

4

Why yes...yes he did.

Went to brooks to check it out and, of the 63 fastballs he threw last night, 43 were belt high or higher.

Oh, and the thing I keyed in on starting the in the third when he escaped his only jam of the night...of those 63 fastballs, only 13 were away, the rest were middle or in on the righties with the peak location being belt high and near the inside corner.

And, to confirm Doc's comments, he threw 23 curveballs, and only 8 were above the thighs, as well as 13 cutters, of which only 3 were above the thighs. With the breaking stuff, only 3 cutters missed away and only 4 curves missed away.

So...let's just put that together, shall we? Doc preaches about the need for power pitchers, especially power lefties, to whipsaw up/down (high heat, low offspeed). 99 documented pitches (my count was 100...we're missing one...must have glitched the system), and he was in the whipsaw 68 times.

I preach about the need for power pitchers to take the inside corner very aggressively. And of those 99 pitches, he was pounding the inside half of the zone 79 times.

He might have only been on his B game in terms of power and zing, but it don't get any more A-gamey than that regarding pitch sequencing.

5

...seems to be that Pax was getting SQUEEZED early on. I'm pretty darn confident he had a pair of walks he didn't deserve, and likewise is missing a pair of strikeouts he earned. And that's comping Pax's strikezone to the other guy's, which was not exhibiting the same discrepancy (to my off-the-cuff recollection).

If I am accurate in this assessment, that only adds to the magnificence of what Big Maple pulled off last night.

6

According to Brooks, Paxton was denied 7 strikes and gifted 1 while the Blue Jays, on net, were denied 3 strikes and gifted 9

7

...my RSS feed isn't noting either this article or its predecessor as showing up. Is that still broken? I can't find old OR new feeds for SSI when I search, or semi-intelligently try to guess. And RSS is by far the easiest way to find when new articles are posted... any thoughts?

10

Doc, Paxton's last two games vindicate everything you've said all along about Paxton. I've often said he was a rockhead who fell apart when the going got tough. I wondered if he would realize his obvious potential. Injuries could still derail him but if they don't and he ever captures the consistency of a season-long ace, he will be as much a treat to watch as was Randy Johnson.

I mean, really, 16 strikeouts in 7 innings? C'mon man!

11

This is playing like every superhero movie ever.  Paxton flashes inconsistent potential, finds his true power after periods of self doubt and setback and then obliterates his enemies with lightning and prejudice. 

   

I like the complete game Madduxy Paxton more than the 16 strikeout man if that's possible. The other team is always trying to run up the pitch count on Paxton.  Now that he has turned into Chris Sale, he has no natural enemies.  The book against him now says:

"Paxton has mastered command of his offspeed pitches to the extent that the fastball cannot be anticipated.  The fastball sits in the 94 mph range with a sharp downward angle.  There is a nearly 20 mile per hour separation between Paxton's fastball and curveball.  He touches 99 at will.  This can be considered a fourth pitch.  The old plan of running up Pax's pitch count needs to be revised.  Recommendation:  Schedule the bad starters for Paxton day to mitigate damages and hope for rain."

Good shtick as always Doc.

Regarding the SSI site: It is back completely except when you type in "baseball.seattlesportsinsider.com" That link wont open.  Interestingly, if you click on the baseball link, it does work.  

12

Let me translate the statcast data on the team into a more familiar scale (OPS+)

Haniger: 179 (141 PA)
Cano: 152 (148)
Cruz: 144 (106)
Heredia: 132 (46)
Zunino: 127 (58)
Healy: 126 (67)
Vogelbach: 111 (63)
Seager: 100 (145)
Freitas: 95 (42)
Segura: 91 (153)
Gordon: 81 (147)
Marjama: 51 (29)
Gamel: 47 (49)
Suzuki: 33 (47)

Segura and Gordon add value with their legs (Gordon adds a lot of value). So, offensively, the only regular who isn't at least average with the bat (including baserunning) is Gamel. This is the OPS+ we should expect from their launch angles and velocities, mind you.

Seager looks scary on the stat sheet, but, although his skills do appear to be eroding, it's not as bad as it currently appears in the stat line.

The offense, to date, has produced an expected OPS+ of 111, good for third in the game (Boston and Toronto are ahead with 120 and 115 marks respectively - Houston's vaunted offense is limping along at merely average (.335 xwOBA compared to .333 game average) and below average for an AL team (DH vs. pitch ABs shift the league average by a good 18 points).

It should improve from there (111 includes a lot of ABs taken by terrible hitters that aren't returning replaced by guys who can, in fact, hit some). Gotta believe if Gamel keeps floundering this badly, he's gone in a month or six weeks or whathaveyou.

13

If the new Seager is a 90-100 OPS+ bat with above average defense, I'd take it. That's basically a David Bell type, and he was good enough to play for the 2001 M's.

14

Both DRS and UZR peg Seager as below average with the glove this year after six straight seasons in the black.

UZR is particularly down on Kyle at -3 runs already while DRS had him down four plays.

16

Appearances can be deceiving. I'll agree that he still looks like he is consistent, and he definitely still has that remarkably accurate arm and good instincts. So it very well could be noise. Just not assuming that yet. Waiting for further evidence.

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