... rodent Angels 1


PROPS TO BASEBALL'S BEST STARTING PITCHER ... well, we may be exaggerating, but only a little.  In Erikkk's last nine starts -- since he kicked the rust off -- have you recognized anybody?

  • 8+ strikeouts, 1+ walks, 0.3 homers, 1+ ERA ... Erikkk
  • 7+ strikeouts, 1+ walks, 0.6 homers, 2+ ERA ... Cliff Lee, 2008-10

Cliff Lee has always had one (1) edge on Erik Bedard:  innings pitched.  But if there were a 6-7 inning Cliff Lee with health questions, that would be Erik Bedard.

As a matter of fact, when Bedard's right, he's probably even a skosh better than Lee is.  Of the two of them, Erik Bedard is the man with an "80" plus-plus-plus strikeout pitch (Erik's curve, of course).

Or, to flip that, Cliff Lee is what Erik Bedard would be, if Bedard were a workhorse (and an amiable-sheriff type from Rawhide).  He ain't, but that don't mean I don't want him on my side in October.  

Any team with Erik Bedard on the mound can beat the Yankees in Game 7.


This week we'd gone back and listed to some audio podcasts from April, just taking the edge off the boredom as we did some mindless work.  Everybody and I mean EVERYBODY agreed that Erik Bedard's April problem was that he'd lost his good velocity.

Sigh.  Fortunately for those good amigos, they had it pegged wrong.  Eric Wedge had it pegged exactly right:  it was fastball command.


Erik Bedard threw 89-92 tonight, and his command was so tear-jerking that (we kid you not) he did not even BOTHER to hit the knees or the letters.  He was every blinkin' inch the painter that Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine EVER was.



Maybe it's just me, but Erikkk reminds me more and more of an old fave, Sid Fernandez (who, by the way, was THIS close to coming to Seattle for Randy Johnson one time).  Erikkk comes more and more sidearm -- to LHB's he finishes with the wide tripod foot plant.  He works that outside corner to LHB's, leaving them totally helpless.

The swings that hitters were taking -- they reminded of swings against Randy Johnson's 97 fastball.  Erikkk hides the ball that well, he sets it up with the yakker so well, that when he reaches back he just detonates them.

In, out, up and in, drop the yakker, out, out, yakker, in, in.... he's a Rob-O-Tronic death machine.


Bobby Abreu was 1-for-3 with a strikeout.  This wasn't the K, but it illustrates Bedard's new El Sid shtick against tough lefties:

Forget 8 and 10 for a second.  The first pitch is a tempting FB up the ladder; Abreu is trying to force Bedard to throw something else, and the ump blows the call.  1-and-0.

Pitches 2, 3, and 4, Bedard drops down a bit and crossfires 91-92 fastballs to HAIR-FINE spots on the black.  BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!  And from that angle, they might as well be 97...

On 1-2, if Abreu is leaning out to get them, here's a jam pitch that not only in -- but UP just a few inches.  That pitch, gentlemen, cannot be hit.  By anyone.  Not with that setup.

Pitches 6, 7, and 9 were also crossfire FB's on the black ... actually starting outside and, due to armside fade, coming back in and nipping the outside corner as if they were backdoor sliders at 90 mph.

Pitch 10, Bedard meant as a 3-2 jam pitch, four inches farther over, to ensure against the BB.  But that's another story.

If you'd like to enjoy the GameDay animation of this convincing example of Bedard's craftsmanship, here's the link.  This Abreu AB was in the 6th inning.

Anybody like to bet whether LHB's will hit .200 against Erik Bedard this year?

Here's the video.  On the first K, you can see the crossfire effect as he fans Abreu.  On the third one, you can see the Randy Johnson 97 mph effect as a good RH fastball hitter is miles behind a high fastball.


We remember in 2008 or 2009 asking, "Is Erik Bedard THE best starter in baseball?"  To which Sandy didn't hesitate:  "It's not a question, Doc.  He is."

Erikkk needed 4 starts to loosen up the arm.  Since then, his last 9 consecutive starts:

  • 9 GS, 4-0, 1.85 ERA
  • 58.1 IP
  • 41 H
  • 53 K, 12 BB, 2 HR

Translate that to 6-odd complete games and there is your 8+ strikeouts, 1+ walks, and 0.3 homers.  Not in a hot month, gentlemen, but as Erik Bedard's standard game.  Cliff Lee, but better.


PROPS TO BRANDON LEAGUE.  He's mixing pitches completely to my satisfaction now.  In case you were wondering.  Somebody please text him and put his mind at ease.

Be Afraid,

Dr D



... being as Bedard's xFIP is now inside the AL's top 10.  Despite the four mulligans to start the year.
Felix, Pineda, and Bedard also all in the top 10 for K/9.
All in the top 15 for K/BB.
All in the top 20 for ERA, and for K.
Big Three all in the top 15 for WHIP.


On pace to earn these 2011 salaries, based on FIP:
$25m - Felix
$18m - Pineda
$17m - Fister (!)
$11m - Bedard
$9m - Vargas
They're actually earning $17m if Bedard gets all his bonuses, about 22% of value.

ghost's picture

Hilarious how good and how cheap this rotation is...of course next year, to keep it, Bedard will cost 8 mil and King Felix will cost 19.5 mil and Vargas will cost about 4 mil in arbitration so the bargain starts to disappear a bit...but still...the game is fun when your pitchers are this good.

glmuskie's picture

I get giddy thinking about Jack Z getting in to talks about trading Bedard to the Yankees at the deadline for Montero+.  Just so he can pull out of the deal at the very last second.  : )
I hate the idea of trading Bedard, and I think the chances of him being traded with the M's in the hunt are very small - Jack Z is a fighter.  But the more Bedard pitches like this, the more silly things other teams might do to try to get him.

M-Pops's picture

Agreed, Spec.
Seems to me that the Bedard and Z camps have an easy and mutually beneficial relationship right now. It would be a real shame to foul it up, I say.
Also seems that Jack Z is enjoying the depth he has built up, and wouldn't make a move to significantly change that. I would love if Z rented an expensive reliever or SP for the stretch. Someone on JAC's site recommended Kuroda, which I would favor this.
The M's strength has been their pitching. I would like to see a move to help insure it remains that way. Go M's!


Maybe he can ignite an epidemic.  29 teams bailing on the Yankees on July 31...

ghost's picture

...would be whether the mariners' high LD% allowed was caused by the home field scorer having a strong bias (I believe he does have some bias...the Ms routinely have huge out of zone play rates...that does not square with observations really...I think the OOZ is from the scorer thinking too many fly balls are line drives.  But that's jsut a guess.
Otherwise the method is sound...and I DO think the Ms are better than their DER and UZR claim.


The more interesting aspect of the analysis is the tacit acknowledgement of UZR's failure. By UZR, the M's are the worst defense in the majors. By DER, they are quite good. Once it is appreciated that the M's pitchers give up a lot of line drives the defense looks even better. The UZR apologists make arguments about the instability of UZR until you have as much as 3 years of data. Three years to be stable and you want me to see value in the statistic!?!
All of this will be validation to Sandy and Ghost who have pushed team defensive stats.


But its advocates typically TREAT is as perfect -- bashing the idiotic GM's who deviate from their $/WAR opinion of correct (which is heavily rooted in UZR).  
Raul Ibanez' Phillies contract was an example.  The resistance to Mike Carp's LF callup is the most recent one.
If UZR were simply used in appropriate context, it would be one of sabermetrics' better tools.    But as used, it's a scourge of those trying to truly *think* about player value, rather than automating its estimation.
In April, SSI flatly disagreed with UZR's indications about the Mariners' defense.  If published on fangraphs, that would have met with derision, an "eyeball" assessment daring to contradict a "scientific finding."
That which is true is often ridiculed.  Fortunately, these days UZR has less and less leash to do so.

Steen#'s picture

I understand your annoyance, Doc, but I don't see the dogmatic reverance toward WAR you rail against. It feels like a bit of strawman. The dominant opinion I see is pretty cirmcumspect on the value of WAR, especially so in relation to roster construction. Even more so for defensive metrics.

ghost's picture

You know what's great about my own defensive metric (PCA)...it would automatically get this hidden line drive problem right.  PCA defensive wins aren't perfect either, but because it apportions runs between the pitching and each of the three defensive units (C, IF, OF) before giving runs to the players...without having to "see" the line drives, it already knows exactly what's going on with the pitchers and takes that out of the equation before the defensive analysis begins.
The funny thing is...even after you give the Ms "credit" for allowing a ton of line drives, their pitching still looks fabulous...as does their fielding.  UZR has a ton of problems, but the first and most important is...it just doesn't see the defensive game for what it is...a team sport.


Fair question ... but, do you read Fangraphs or USSM?
Every time there is a statement a la "the correct salary for Raul Ibanez was at most $5m per year, but the Phillies paid $10.5m, per, making this one of the worst overpays of the decade"-- as was in fact adjudged with Ibanez' Philadelphia contract --
This incorporates the assumption that UZR's assessment of -14 runs per season must be included in the "correct" evaluation of him.  (14 runs = $5-6m of value per season).
EVERY time a fangraphs or USSM author "calculates" an overpay, and bashes the GM for his stupidity, the UZR values are the basis.
The culture of UZR-is-the-intelligent-basis-of-valuation is what permeates discussions around the blog-o-sphere ... and leads to the "why do I even have to mention this; science solved it years ago" comments that Mike Carp and Carlos Peguero will obviously give back any offensive runs with their gloves.  (But they are tolerated at the moment, only because the M's are BELOW RLP at so many positions.)
Every time you read "a run saved is as good as a run scored", that means "the third column on this chart is as valid as the first one."
Straw man?  UZR dogma is the monster that ate Cleveland.  :- )
You can google examples as well as I can, so will leave that to you, but we've already been through this to the tune of 10's of 1000's of words here at SSI, bro'.  You can site-search KGaffney's comments on the subject for a start.
True, lately the opposing army has been retreating from foxhole to foxhole, due to incoming fire such as Raul Ibanez' fluctuating UZR's following their condemnation of his contract.  
Nowadays you hear a lot of hedging along the lines of "well, maybe it takes at least 3-4 years' worth of UZR to get a reliable fix."  This retreat is in large part due to sites like SSI that opposed the superficial GM-bashing and the UZR dogma that underlaid it. 
Fair Q.  Hope that answers it.


Is in many cases the only way I see to "capture" everything going on in a complex world...
That way, you might assign some variables to the wrong factor, but at least they are "seen" ...


I think most people would say Ichiro hasn't been his normal great defensive self, but look at the rate stats versus the counting stats.  He is making outs at a higher rate than the average RF, but has 70% of the number of balls hit to his zone than the average right fielder.  He's also made less than the average number of out of zone plays, but it seems logical given that less balls are hit in his zone.  Why are there less balls hit in his zone?  I don't have any numbers, but I'll bet it has to do with Felix, Pineda, and Erik.  Ichiro is probably playing about average defense, not the nearly one win below average Fangraphs has him at.
The numbers below come straight from Fangraphs.  I'm comparing Ichiro against average team results because Ichiro has played nearly every inning in RF.
Ichiro Range:  -9.1 runs so far this year.  He didn't make an out on 6 plays and has three errors.  Is the average value of a ball hit to the OF greater than one run?
Ichiro RZR:  .923
Average RF RZR:  .919
Ichiro Balls in Zone:  78 (72 plays made)
Average Team Balls in Zone:  112 (103 plays made)
Ichiro Out of Zone Plays Made:  31
Average Team Out of Zone Plays Made:  36


Have never bothered to tear apart the formula by which UZR estimates a defensive run value, but your question is perplexing.
Per the eye, Ichiro has been good at minimum in RF.  Remember, local fans compare Ichiro to his own previous years, but UZR (and all defensive stats) are comparing him to Nick Swisher, Nick Markakis, Jay Bruce, Jeff Francoeur and Jayson Werth.
There just isn't a way in the world that you pick up sides and prefer Nick Swisher out in RF to Ichiro out in RF.  But right now UZR says that Swisher's glove has been 11 runs better than Ichiro's already.

ghost's picture

He started WS with team run data. Modern saberists like starting with all of the individual plays because they (rightfully) point out that runs include luck factors. The Mariners, in 2009, for example, scored about 50 runs fewer than their batting line says they should have. A deep analysis of the number of plate appearances with RISP that went to each hitter (given their normal production) would tell you whether that was luck or bad skill, but the point is that runs, being the outer result stat aren't perfect.
But I would counter with the note that if you ignore the reality, you can't measure the reality. I think if you start with the reality (R) and then figure out how to apportion it using the play-specific data...your answers will be way more stable than UZR. I've shown this with PCA already. UZR fielding data is ALL OVER THE PLACE...PCA is, by comparison, like an elite marksman shooting at a target. The target might not be exactly the truth, but at least the reading is relatively stable.


And have you made your case to Tango to get your system some pub?  
Alternatively, you might package it attractively and send it to some MLB teams.  We understand they are very interested in improving their defensive measurements.
I guess if nothing else, we could put it on the marquee here in an "Announcing PCA, Baseball's 7th Defensive Metric" or somesuch.


but I did want to look at how UZR's public data on Fangraphs compared to itself.  It just looks like the numbers of balls hit to Ichiro's zone impacts his overall ranking.  It doesn't make any sense that Ichiro is being penalized because batters aren't hitting the ball in his direction.

ghost's picture

PCA is calculated year to year because I don't have access to an automatically updating daily statistical archive that feeds me up to the second info like some of the big sites.  And I haven't had time to do the full calcs since 2006 for all of PCA and since 2007 for DNRA (hopefully you remember the basic ideas behind DNRA, if not all of the details).
I can calcualte it for individual people when I need to, though, and for fielding metrics, I have reasonably accurate back-of-the-envelop calculations for in-season analysis.
PCA's defensiv emodel starts with marginal runs saved.
Seattle has allowed 255 runs in 69 games.  The league is averaging 297 runs in that time span.  The replacement level used by PCA is .250 at the team level (and the basic linear assumption that this replacement level implies holds up very well for team-level analysis for the most part).  Using the standard PythagenPat equations, we expect the Mariners, if they have an average offense, to win at a .569 clip.  Meaning an equivalent offense would score 346 runs.  The margin for an equivalent offense is 162 runs.  So the Mariners as a team are 184 runs above the .250 margin for defense.
Then you figure out the pitching component using DNRA (if they had an average defense, they would allow how many runs with the same DIPS pitching line - tweaked to account for things like pitcher assists, park home run factors etc) and assume that the defense explains the difference.
The Mariners have a team DNRA this year (thus far) of 3.98 - good for 6th in the AL, heavily weighed down by Vargas and a mediocre bullpen, FWIW.  That means if the Mariners had an average defense, they'd have allowed 275 runs...not 255.  Meaning the team defense is 20 runs above average (good for 4th in the AL).
20 runs above average...how does that compare to the fielding margin.  Keep in mind that the margin for each half* (pitching accounts for about 60% of the defensive game...not the 70% that James estimated...at least as the numbers appear to tell me when I do the analysis on my own...I could be wrong, but that's where PCA is at the moment) of the defensive game is higher than the margin for the whole team.  PCA uses a .350 margin for pitching in isolation (meaning we're giving the pitchers about 8.9 wins above margin when you take thte total of 18.6 WAM and break out the pitching marginal credit vs. the fielding marginal credit) and a .350 margin for each of the defensive units except the catching position, whose margin is .400 - this is based on empirical analysis of the distribution of marginal unit winning percentages when calculated assuming the rest of the defense was average.
The catcher (Olivo) comes out barely above average so far (PCA does not yet have a sophisticated technique for trying to put value on game calling, though I have not given up hope on that front yet) and has thus far earned 0.9 or so defensive WAM (bare in mind again...my magin is lower than fangraphs' replacement level) and Giminez/Moore virtually no value.
The infield has been weighed down by Figgins' lackadasical play at third and Wilson's mental problems at second, but Ryan and Smoak are above average for their positions...the outfield has been led by Gutierrez/Saunders and, yes, Ichiro.  The 18.6 wins of defensive creidt got split about this way (based on marginal value):
8.9 wins to the pitchers (a bit of a lower estimate than fangraphs...DNRA is not as bullish as FIP and PCA gives less credit to pitchers for run prevention than the WAR system does anyway - assuming a larger role for defense)
0.9 wins to the catchers (no metric in PCA for pitching selection and game calling...though I have not given up hope for trying to measure that some day)
3.6 wins to the outfield
5.2 wins to the infield/pitchers for infield defense
back-of-the-envelop estimates for the fielding staff::
Ryan: +1.7 WAM (on pace for a very nice season in the vecinity of 4-4.5 defensive wins...puts him in contention for a gold glove, typically)
Figgins: +0.7 WAM (horrible year defensively, thus far...but may yet improve)
Smoak: +1.0 WAM (on pace to be in the top five in the AL in PCA defense at first)
Wilson: +0.2 WAM
Rodriguez: +0.5 WAM
Kennedy: +0.8 WAM (on pace, prorated to be a near-average defensive second baseman...not bad for an old guy)
The Entire Pitching Staff: +0.3 WAM (pitchers on this team are fielding rather poorly as a unit - especially Pineda, Bedard and the formerly outstanding fielding Felix Hernandez)
Saunders: 1.0 WAM (in about 1/3 of a season...not too shabby)
Gutierrez: 0.8 WAM (considering the partial playing time...very impressive)
Ichiro: 1.2 WAM (PCA still thinks Ichiro's on pace to best the typical average of 2.0 wins/162 in RF)
Langerhans: 0.3 WAM (not good in CF but very good in LF)
Bradley: -0.2 WAM (yep...he was that bad)
Wilson: 0.0 WAM
Peguero: 0.3 WAM
Halman/Carp: 0.2 WAM (in very limited PT)
These aren't precise...just based on play made distribution vs. league average broken down by position and the players at the position after the value is apportioned to the units.

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