09-06-2012, 09:19 AM #21
Since '06 the Twins have the lowest walk rate in baseball, and its not particularly close. By your logic, that should help to place them among the elite. Instead they are 19th in ERA. Why? Becuase they hold the 3rd worst contact rate and the 5th worst strikeout rate.
Low walks and high strikeouts aren't mutually exclusive. that is a strawman
09-06-2012, 09:27 AM #22
The Twins spent a decade near the top of the list in walks issued and coincidentally, they had some pretty decent pitching staffs during that time. I don't think that's entirely a coincidence but it's not the entire story, either.
"Pitch to contact" is a fine philosophy. The Twins rode it for years, taking marginal guys and getting decent production from them by avoiding walks and letting the defense make outs. On the other hand, when it was working, the Twins also had several pitchers with real talent (Radke, Santana, Baker) who missed a few bats as well. Remove that pitching talent and no matter how much you either tell a guy to "miss bats" or "let the defense play", it doesn't matter. Your pitching staff is going to be bad because your pitchers are bad.
09-06-2012, 09:39 AM #23
Pitchers that can't miss bats + below average defense= Disaster (2011, 2012 Twins)
09-06-2012, 10:21 AM #24
Liriano wasn't a marginal talent, he has swing and miss stuff. why did they tell him to pitch to contact? Was Andy trying to get an 08-09 Nick Blackburn out of him?
09-06-2012, 10:40 AM #25
Liriano has swing and miss stuff. Swing and miss stuff only works if the batter actually swings at the pitches thrown. Liriano's success revolved around his ability to locate his fastball and set up the slider for a swing and miss. If he's not locating his fastball and guys are sitting on the pitch, it all goes to hell because nobody can consistently get a good slider over the plate. The very point of the pitch is to bait people into thinking it's a fastball and swinging as the pitch drops out of the zone. Unsurprisingly, his Zone% (number of pitches thrown in the strike zone) tells a similar story, going from 48% in 2010 and dropping to 43.5/42.3% in 2011/2012.
As an aside, it should be noted that much of Liriano's success revolves around him throwing harder, which he did in 2010 and has done in 2012, though he's struggling again in 2012 because he's throwing too many balls, which batters lay off and end up taking the walk instead of inducing weak contact or striking out. Whether you call it "pitch to contact", "pound the zone", or whatever you like, it's a simple philosophy in baseball and few pitchers are truly elite without that trait.
09-06-2012, 11:29 AM #26
You are letting the slogan drive your argument rather than the principle of it Willihammer. "Pitch to contact" is nothing more than the team's way of telling pitchers that they shouldn't be afraid of batter contact if the reverse means falling behind. Better to get ahead and get hit earlier in the count than get behind in the count. You see exactly that in Cooper's response too - he doesn't like that Liriano is trying so hard to be cute and avoid contact that he is pitching constantly from behind. No ace pitches like that and its one of many reasons why Liriano is not an ace.
09-06-2012, 01:59 PM #27
And the funniest thing about all of this is that IF Liriano had been able to heed the Twins' advice last year he probably would have had a fine season. He allowed the lowest BABIP and line drive rate of his career, and was basically fine when the threw the ball where batters could hit it. Liriano did the exact opposite of what the Twins asked and had a horrendous season because of it. How can people ignore this??
09-06-2012, 02:31 PM #28
BABIP scales inversely with velocity and k-rate, and gb rates scales positively with velocity. HR/FB rate scales inversely too.
You can't assume the BABIP stays constant while the approach changes to pitch to contact.
09-06-2012, 03:26 PM #29
(Steve Carlton is the guy I think I heard this said of first.)
09-06-2012, 03:34 PM #30
Anyway, that's how I've always viewed it. I think "Pitch to Contact" is being read too literally by some posters on this forum. John and I were talking about it at lunch today and he mentioned that it should be referred to as "Challenging the Hitter" or something like that. It's not about putting every ball into play, it's about getting ahead of batters and making them beat you early in the count instead of having to serve up a meatball in a 3-2 or 3-1 count.
09-06-2012, 04:05 PM #31
09-06-2012, 05:58 PM #32
A strikeout averages 4.8 pitches, with a standard deviation of only .15. Compare to the Twins league leading 3.73 p/PA over the last 2 years, adjust for a BABIP of .303 (3rd worst), and you have on average, 4.87 pitches required to get the first out via contact only. Factor in double plays, and you're talking roughly 4.5-4.6 pitches per out. Clearly the savings in pitches and increase in innings pitched, if there is a correlation at all there (there is evidence that the correlation is actually an inverse one: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/201...ing-to-contact) - clearly it doesn't outweigh the bases and runs you will give up in the process.
So instead of preaching PTC, blaming guys who struggle to throw strikes on their lack of appreciation of the PTC approach, the Twins might be better served focusing on the mechanical issues like, in Liriano's case, his balance. To get them to throw strikes, and get ahead, but with the aim at putting guys away via strikeout.
09-06-2012, 06:12 PM #33
Also, assuming it's really true that Joe Mauer takes a lot more first-pitches than the average batter, doesn't that mean Joe expects most pitchers not to be PTC believers?
Finally, I wonder what a pitcher like Samuel Deduno would do when embracing PTC. If your only non-crazy pitch is a meatball down the middle, what do you do on 0-0?
09-06-2012, 06:32 PM #34
09-07-2012, 12:51 AM #35
09-07-2012, 07:33 AM #36
09-07-2012, 07:43 AM #37
The Twins weren't harping on Liriano when he was throwing strikes in 2010. They may have asked him to get a few more pitches over the plate in hopes that he'd be a 7-8 inning pitcher instead of a 5-6 inning pitcher but almost any team would ask that from the guy. Finding ways to build on success is natural.
On the other hand, we only heard about the team preaching PTC to Francisco after he turned into an awful pitcher that couldn't throw strikes and was walking 80% more batters and throwing 5% less strikes (and therefore, 5% more balls). While you say they should have worked on his mechanics, do we have any kind of assurance that they didn't do just that? I think you're getting hung up on the terminology here, not factoring in what the team was actually trying to say and instead of paying so much attention to the word "contact". They were trying to get Liriano to throw more strikes, which makes him a better pitcher because his slider is more lethal with a located fastball preceding it. The Twins weren't trying to get him to stop striking guys out. Strikeouts happen naturally if you get the ball over the plate and have good movement on your pitches.
It should also be noted that in the course of his career, Scott Baker has gradually increased his K/9 with the Twins (and posted a 8.2 k/9 to Liriano's 7.5 just last season). The team hasn't done anything to stop this progression. Why? Because Scott has never had issues with his command and therefore, there was nothing to be concerned about. This team isn't against strikeouts, it's against guys who don't throw strikes.
09-07-2012, 11:06 AM #38I am not so quick to assume this is 100% the result of below average talent, and not a philosophy that has been employed for years. Indeed, 3 of the top 10 SP's in contact rate, going back to 2002 (min 400 IP) are or were notable Twins Blackburn, Slowey, and Silva. These are "organizational" guys.
You can't actually believe this, can you?
Look, coaches and players, when asked about this, have explained the philosophy in detail. Are you so blinded by the word "contact" in the phrase that you simply refuse to believe them?
"I'm not out there gunning for strikeouts," Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter told a St. Louis reporter, echoing Blackburn. "I'm out there attacking. I have the confidence in my stuff and in what I'm trying to do that I want them to swing. I'm trying to make them swing.''
"It's nothing more than trying to pitch in the strike zone, and then when the guy does make contact, hope it doesn't go too far," Blyleven said. "Everyone is basically saying the same thing: don't try to be too fine, pitch to contact, trust your stuff, stay in the zone.""I don't tell my guys to 'pitch to contact,' " Anderson said. "We say, 'Blackie, attack the strike zone in the lower half. And we tell our guys to get outs on two or three pitches, instead of trying to throw five, six, seven pitches. We've always been good at throwing the ball over the plate.''
09-07-2012, 11:39 AM #39
Yes, contact is the operative word. As Anderson says above, if you are aiming for an out in the first 2 pitches, then you are trying to have your pitches hit. As opposed to throwing additional pitches with the aim to get a strikeout and take BABIP and luck out of the equation.
Its impossible to say what the strikeout ceiling is for our guys unless they are allowed to aim for them instead of aiming for contact.
09-07-2012, 11:43 AM #40
Pitching to Contact and Striking out hitters has nothing to do with each other. It's all about Pitch Counts. Keeping your starters in the game longer by reducing the number of pitches thrown if possible. Keeping your defense behind you awake. Keeping the game moving along. If you reduce the number of pitches... You cut down on the free passes naturally and your defense won't drift away on you. .
Pitching to contact does not mean... Here you go... Have a cookie.
It's a negative term in these parts recently because our pitching hasn't been very good.
All Managers want the team back in the dugout ready to hit as quickly as possible.