A couple of random thoughts before the Giants kick off their series with Arizona tonight. For those keeping track at home, the Giants are currently winless (0-6) on the road this year. With Tim Lincecum moving up for the start tonight, maybe the Giants can bring home the first road W this season.
My first random though, and graph, is about Zito’s last start. If you were watching the game on TV, Zito’s velocity did appear to be slightly better than what we’ve seen before. Let’s check the PFX numbers to see if they are in agreement.
Zito’s velo was pretty poor at times last season — his average FB velocity in 2008 by PFX was 85.1 mph — but he mostly worked between 85-88 mph in his very-good start against the Padres. He almost reached 90 mph which was something he rarely did in 2008. Again, it’s one game, so you should treat it as such, but Zito was throwing a little harder in his last start than we’ve seen in recent times.
There’s been some discussion on how effective certain Giants’ starters are the 2nd or 3rd time through a batting order. Thanks to BB-Ref’s handy pitching splits page, we can shed some light on the matter.
(Remember, these numbers are from 2008)
A sOPS+ score of 100 means that during that particular PA — ie: 1st, 2nd, or 3rd — that the batter was an average hitter in that situation as compared to league average. Batters hit Zito no matter what time they faced him. Tim Lincecum ruined a lot of hitter’s days. Jonathan Sanchez was better than league average for most of the time — he was slightly over during his 3rd PA against. Matt Cain was very good against hitters during their 1st and 2nd PA against them, but he posted the worst sOPS+ score among our starters for the 3rd PA faced against — is he running out of gas? And, Randy Johnson was quite good at any point during his starts.
Part of my inspiration for this graph is the perception that Sanchez falls apart during his 2nd time through the order. By this graph, it’s just not true. Sanchez beat the league aveage sOPS+ score during both the 1st and 2nd PA a batter took against him last season. The 3rd time was above league average, but not hugely so. Anyways, an interesting idea to think about. It’s really amazing how well Lincecum did last season.