Monday, September 30, 2013

Excerpt: "Streaking Into the Postseason"

"This improvement wasn't evenly distributed. The Indians didn't just sneak up on the the field because of a soft September slate, but because they improved during the season. At the All-Star break, their starters had a 4.42 ERA. After, it was 3.21. That's a mix of talent and good fortune; the Indians went from the highest HR/FB in AL in the first half (12.9%) to the second-lowest in the second (7.4%). (Thanks, Fangraphs.) Ubaldo Jimenez gave up three homers in the second half while allowing 118 fly balls, and those numbers are "1" and "107" over his final 12 starts. That, as much as the velocity change and his strikeout rate, is why he kept runs off the board -- and as those team-level splits show, controlling the rate of home runs on fly balls isn't a skill most pitchers have. The Indians' pitching staff is improved, but its second-half performance may overrate that improvement, and that is why they may be a little overrated heading into the playoffs."