Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Some lazy morning's graphing

This is just some puttering around with Excel, the database and my plotter. This isn't supposed to be mistaken for serious analysis.

That said - this morning I was discussing Bob Howry over at Bleed Cubbie Blue, and we got to discussing the fact that when Bob Howry is pitching, hitters are batting .320 on ground balls. When other people pitch, the league average is something like .230. This is a large part of Howry's problem - he actually has the lowest walk rate in the bullpen right now. But is this really Howry's fault?

There really isn't much evidence that Howry is pitching drastically differently this year - his ground ball/fly ball/line drive splits are all right in line with his career numbers. So is his velocity - he's throwing more sliders than he has in years past, for what it's worth.

So - and my play-by-play data for the season only covers through about the first week of August - I did a plot of ground balls hit off Howry. Blue dots are outs, red dots are hits:

howry_ground_balls

Tell me what you see here.

I will submit to you that the

I will submit to you that the best indicator of Howry's troubles stem from the amount of homeruns he gives up.

From June 23rd until August 5th, when he was his most flammable, Howry gave up 10 hits. 4 were not contained by the ballpark. THAT is a serious problem.

The home run rate isn't "good" or anything.

But again - a player can go on good/bad runs without that making them a good or bad player. Howry has been very good at preventing home runs the past few seasons; what's changed? There's a significantly non-zero possibility that his increased home run rate is simply a fluke that will self-correct.

And one problem exacerbates the other. Even with his high home run rate, if his in-park hit rate were to fall back into the league average rate his ERA would be around the 4.50 range, not great for a short reliever but not the Gascan Howry we've seen this season. And I don't think that the hit rate is anything but an aberation, an artifact of small sample size.

If we were able to employ a 'short fielder', like in softball...

...Howry could be the King of the Court.

Identify the Axes

I'm not sure what I see. Could you explain what is being plotted on the x- and y-axes, and what is in the box?

It's a plot of the location on the field.

The box represents the baseball diamond.

Huh?

I only see three infield hits. It looks like everything in the outfield is a hit and everything in the infield is an out. I must be confused.

It's all ground balls...

...61 of them, actually. Three times there were infield singles, the rest of them got past the defender and into the outfield. Infield singles are rarer than outfield singles, even on grounders - most of the time when a fielder makes a play on a ball he converts it for an out.

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